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and all be damned that are sickly, aged, weak, children, and most women.
Doubt 11. O but I have been a grievous sinner, before I came home, and have fallen foully since, and I am utterly unworthy of mercy! Will the Lord ever save such an unworthy wretch as I? Will he ever give his mercy and the blood of his Son, to one that hath so abused it?'
Answ. 1. The question is not, with God, what you have been, but what you are? God takes men as they then are, and not as they were. 2.' It is a dangerous thing to object the greatness of your guilt against God's mercy and Christ's merits. Do you think Christ's satisfaction is not sufficient? Or that he died for small sins and not for great? Do you not know that he hath made satisfaction for all, and will pardon all, and hath given out the pardon of all in his covenant, and that to all men, on condition they will accept Christ to pardon, and heal them in his own way? Hath God made it his great design in the work of man's redemption, to make his love and mercy as honourable and wonderful, as he did his power in the work of creation ? And will you after all this, oppose the greatness of your sins against the greatness of this mercy and satisfaction? Why, you may as well think yourself to be such a one, that God could not or did not make you, as to think your sins só great, that Christ could not or did not satisfy for them,' or will not pardon them, if you repent and believe in him. 3. And for worthiness, I pray you observe; there is a two-fold worthiness and righteousness. There is a legal worthiness and righteousness, which consisteth in a perfect obedience, which is the performance of the conditions of the law of pure nature and works. This no man hath but Christ; and if you look after this righteousness or worthiness in yourself, then do you depart from Christ, and make him to have died and satisfied in vain: you are a Jew and not a Christian, and are one of those that Paul so much disputeth against, that would be justified by the law. Nay, you must not so much as once imagine that all your own works can be
any part of this legal righteousness or worthiness to you. Only Christ's satisfaction and merit is instead of this our legal righteousness and worthiness. God never gave Christ and mercy to any but the unworthy in this sense. If you know not yourself to be unworthy and unrighteous in the
sense of the law of works, you cannot know what Christ's righteousness is. Did Christ come to save any but sinners, and such as were lost? What need you a Saviour, if you were not condemned? And how come you to be condemned, if you were not unrighteous and unworthy? But then, 2. There is an evangelical personal worthiness and righteousness, which is the condition on which God bestows Christ's righteousness upon us; and this all have that will be saved by Christ. But what is that? Why, it hath two parts : 1. The condition and worthiness required to your union with Christ, and pardon of all your sins past, and your adoption and justification; it is no more but your hearty and thankful acceptance of the gift that is freely given you of God by his covenant grant; that is, Christ and life in him; 1 John v. 10–12. There is no worthiness required in you before faith, as a condition on which God will give you faith ; but only certain means you are appointed to use for the obtaining it: and faith itself is but the acceptance of a free gift. God requireth you not to bring any other worthiness or price in your hands, but that you consent unfeignedly to have Christ as he is offered, and to the ends and uses that he is offered ; that is, as one that hath satisfied for you by his blood and merits, to put away your sins, and as one that must illuminate and teach you, sanctify, and guide, and govern you by his word and Spirit; and as King and Judge will fully and finally justify you at the day of judgment, and give you the crown of glory. Christ on his part, 1. Hath merited your pardon by his satisfaction, and not properly by his sanctifying you. 2. And sanctifieth you by his Spirit, and ruleth you by his laws, and not directly by his bloodshed. 3. And he will justify you at judgment as King and Judge, and not as Satisfier or Sanctifier. But the condition on your part, of obtaining interest in Christ and his benefits, is that one faith which accepteth him in all these respects (both as King, Priest and Teacher) and to all these ends conjunctly. But then, 2. The condition and worthiness required to the continuation and consummation of your pardon, justification, and right to glory, is both the continuance of your faith, and your sincere obedience, even your keeping the baptismal covenant that you made with Christ by your parents, and the covenant which you in your own person made with him in your first true believing. These indeed
are called Worthiness and Righteousness frequently in the Gospel. But it is no worthiness consisting in any such works, which make the reward to be of debt, and not of grace (of which Paul speaks) but only in faith, and such Gospel-works as James speaks of, which make the reward to be wholly of grace and not debt.
Now if you say you are unworthy in this evangelical sense, then you must mean (if you know what you say,)
, that you are an infidel or unbeliever, or an impenitent, obstinate rebel, that would not have Christ to reign over him; for the Gospel calleth none unworthy, (as non. performers of its conditions, but only these. But I hope you dare not charge yourself with such infidelity and wilful rebellion.
Doubt 12. Though God hath kept me from gross sins, yet I find such a searedness of conscience, and so little averseness from sin in my mind, that I fear I should commit it if I lay under temptations; and also that I should not hold out in trial if I were called to suffer death, or any grievous calamity. And that obedience which endureth merely for want of a temptation, is no true obedience.'
Answ. 1. I have fully answered this before. If you can overcome the temptations of prosperity, you have no cause to doubt distrustfully, whether you shall overcome the temptation of adversity. And if God give you grace to avoid temptations to sin, and flee occasions as much as you can, and to overcome them where you cannot avoid them; you have little reason to distrust his preservation of you, and your stedfastness thereby, if you should be cast upon greater temptations. Indeed if you feel not such a belief of the evil and danger of sinning, as to possess you with some sensible hatred of it, you have need to look to your heart for the strengthening of that belief and hatred; and fear your heart with a godly, preserving jealousy, but not with tormenting, disquieting doubts. Whatever your passionate hatred be, if you have a settled, well-grounded resolution, to walk in obedience to the death, you may confidently and comfortably trust him for your preservation, who gave you those resolutions.'
2. And the last sentence of this doubt had need of great caution, before you conclude it a certain truth. It is true that the obedience, which by an ordinary temptation, such as men may expect, would be overthrown, is not well ground
ed and rooted before it is overthrown. But it is a great doubt whether there be not degrees of temptation possible, which would overcome the resolution and grace of the most holy, having such assistance as the Spirit usually giveth believers in temptation ? and whether some temptations which overcome not a strong Christian, would not overcome a weak one, who yet hath true grace? I conclude nothing of these doubts. But I would not have you trouble yourself upon confident conclusions, on so doubtful grounds. This I am certain of, 1. That the strongest Christian should take heed of temptation, and not trust to the strength of his graces, nor presume on God's preservation, while he wilfully casteth himself in the mouth of dangers; nor to be encouraged hereunto upon any persuasion of an impossibility of his falling away. O the falls, the fearful falls that I have known (alas, how often!) the most eminent men for godliness that ever I knew, to be guilty of, by casting themselves upon temptations. I confess I will never be confident of that man's perseverance, were he the best that I know on earth, who casteth himself upon violent temptations, especially the temptations of sensuality, prosperity, and seducement. 2. I know God hath taught us daily to watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation, and to pray,
« Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (I never understood the necessity of that petition feelingly, till I saw the examples of these seven or eight years last past.) This being so, you must look that your perseverance should be by being preserved from temptation; and must rather examine, whether you have that grace which will enable you to avoid temptations, than whether you have grace enough to overcome them, if you rush into them. But if God unavoidably cast you upon them, keep up your watch and prayer, and you have no cause to trouble yourself with distrustful fears.
Doubt 13. 'I am afraid, lest I have committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, and then there is no hope of my salvation.'
Answ. It seems you know not what the sin against the Holy Ghost is. It is this, When a man is convinced tha Christ and his disciples did really work those glorious mira cles which are recorded in the Gospel, and yet will not be lieve that Christ is the Son of God, and his doctrine true
though sealed with all those miracles, and other holy and wonderful works of the Spirit, but do blasphemously maintain that they were done by the power of the devil. This is the sin against the Holy Ghost. And dare you say that you are guilty of this? If you be, then you do not believe that Christ is the Son of God, and the Messiah, and his Gospel true. And then you will sure oppose him, and maintain that he was a deceiver, and that the devil was the author of all the miraculous and gracious workings of his Spirit. Then you will never fear his displeasure, nor call him seriously either Lord or Saviour! nor tender him any service, any more than you do to Mahomet. None but infidels do commit the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; nor but few of them. Unbelief is eminently called "sin" in the Gospel ; and that “ unbelief” which is maintained by blaspheming the glorious works of the Holy Ghost, which Christ and his disciples through many years time did perform for a testimony to his truth, that is called singularly, "The sin against the Holy Ghost!" You may meet with other descriptions of this sin, which may occasion your terror; but I am fully persuaded that this is the plain truth.
Doubt 14. * But I greatly fear lest the time of grace be past, and lest I have out-sat the day of mercy, and now mercy hath wholly forsaken me. For I have oft heard ministers tell me from the word, “ Now is the accepted time, now is the day of your visitation ; to-day, while it is called today, harden not your hearts, lest God swear in his wrath, that they shall not enter into his rest." But I have stood out long after, I have resisted and quenched the Spirit, and now it is I fear departed from me.'
Answ. Here is sufficient matter for humiliation, but the doubting ariseth merely from ignorance. The day of grace may in two respects be said to be over : The first (and most properly so called) is, When God will not accept of a sinner, though he should repent and return. This is never in this life for certain. And he that imagineth any such thing as that it is too late, while his soul is in his body, to repent and accept of Christ and mercy, is merely ignorant of the tenor and sense of the Gospel! For the new law of grace doth limit no time on earth for God's accepting of a returning sinner. True faith and repentance do as surely save at the last hour of the day, as at the first. God hath said,