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ning, our proceeding, our finishing as we ought, all are owing to that Grace and Spirit of God in our Souls. This, with regard to its Powers and Operations there, answers to that enlivening and invigorating Principle, that animates our Bodies. From whence it is easy to discern the Necessity of this Grace, and that the largeft Measures of the Thing, in either of the Two Senses foregoing, cannot suffice for our Salvation, but must wait for this Third, to complete and crown them with Success.
By thus explaining, how the Grace of God may be understood, it is easily discerned, how that Grace is received in vain, according to all these Acceptations of it.
1. Take it for Favour and Kindness in general: And thus it is received in vain, when we do not entertain our Blessings with Thankfulness, nor use them with Prudence, nor improve them to those Purposes, they were intended to serve. For the Goodness of God, in every fort and instance, leadeth to Repentance. In the Nature of the Thing, and the Design of the Giver, it is a powerful Motive to Amendment of Life. This, being the only Method we are capable of expressing our Gratitude by, if not produced, the Purpose of the Gift is defeated. And That is understood to be in vain, which disappoints our reasonable Expectations, and does not compass the End, it was done for.
2. Take this Grace then for the Gospel of Christ, and thus it is received in vain, when the Persons, to whom it is preached, do not live according to it. This indeed is thatGrace of God that bringeib Salvation : But how? It follows there, teach. Tit. I. 11, ing us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lufts, we jould live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world, &c. It is the only Difpenfation, whereby we can be faved. But neither can we be faved
Rom. ii. 4.
2 Tim. ii. 19. Rom. i. 13. Like xi. to
by It, without coming within the Conditions and Qualifications, on which its glorious Promises are suspended. To those Hypocritical Professors, who are Christians in Word ind in Name, but not in Deed and in
Truth; who profane Christ's Name, and prostitute his Word, by not departing
from iniquity; It reveals the wrath of God 47, 48.
from Heaven: And declares the more Stripes due to that wicked Servant, who knew his MaSier's will, and did it not, for that very reason, because he knew it. And, if any thing may be truly faid to have been received in vain; fure that must needs be fo, for which the Condition of the Receiver is not only never the better, but a great deal worse, than if he had not received it at all.
3. Once more. We receive the Grace of God, in the Last importance of the Word, in vain ; When we do not attend to, and comply with, the Suggestions and good Motions, which, I have observed before, the Spirit of God works in our Minds. For, if we would think and speak rationally concerning this matter, God must be conceived to deal with us on these occa fions, in a manner agreeable to those Faculties he hath given us. Now the whole of our Duty consists in a right knowledge first, and then in the Choice, of Good, and refusal of Evil. Consequently, the assistances of Grace are necessary, both for the informing our Judgment, and for inclining our Will. With
regard to the Former, God is said to Psal. cxix. 33.
teach us, to open our Eyes, to enlighten our Ephef. i. 17, 18. Understandings, to fill and enrich us with
Knowledge, and the like. With regard cxix. 35, 36, 37
to the Latter, he is said to renew in us a right Spirit, to incline our Hearts, to order
our Steps, to turn away our Eyes from Vanity, to lead us into the way of Righteousness, to make 25 go in the paths of his Commandments; and to do many
1 Cor. i. 4, 5. Psalm li. II.
cxxxiii. cxliii. 10.
Ezek. xi. 19. xviii. 31.
1 Cor. xv. 10.
other things of like Importance. But all these seem
We see by this time the plain meaning of the Ex-
The Words in Isaiah, from whom they are cited, are spoken to Christ, in the Person of God the Father; and accommodated here to his Members of the Church in Corinth. In which there is no manner of violence, because the whole stress of the Application lies in those two Words, the time accepted, and the day of
Salvation. And the Argument drawn from hence is, that when the Grace of God is offered, we must be very diligent to lay hold on, and improve it. And, because God hath certain Seasons and Periods, which we cannot promise our Selves the return of at Pleasure: therefore it concerns us to make the best of the present Opportunity, which we may know to be such a Season ; but cannot know whether it will be the last, that God ever intends to afford us.
This Argument implies Two Things. The Danger of nipping the present Opportunities of Grace and Salvation ; and the Certainty of Succeeding, if we lay hold on them.
1. The Former of these is what we could not but be sensible of; did we but reflect at all, That this Life is the utmost Period of the Day of Grace; That the continuance of this Life is the most uncertain thing in the World; And that we cannot be sure, God will extend to us the Opportunities of Grace, so long as Life does continue.
1. I need not, I hope, enlarge upon the first, that this Life is the utmost Period of the Day of Grace; after St. Paul hath so expresly said, that the matter, we are to be judged upon at the last Day, are the things done in our Bodies. And so our own Reason will tell us too. For look about through the whole Scheme of the Christian Religion, and you shall find no one Virtue or Vice, commanded or forbidden there, the Exercise whereof is not Suited to the present State. For notwithstanding the Perfection of Some Virtues be reserved for a future and better Life; yet the Beginnings even of These are enjoined us here; and do suppose a Soul united to a Body, in the first Practice and Progress of them. Faith, and Hope, and Trust in God, are recommended by an adherence to Objects unseen, and such as the Body keeps us at a distance from. Love of God, Contempt of the World, I leavenly-Mindedness, Subduing our Appetites
and Passions, suppose us present with the Creatures and the Passions we get above, which we can be in this Life only. Infidelity and Debauchery, Injuring our Neighbour, Dishonouring our Selves by beastly Lusts, giving Scandal to others by a wicked Life, and the like, are things confined to our present State. No State is capable of them, where the Soul lives and acts separately. And, since after its Separation by Death, we are not to expect any return to the Body, till the laft Trump shall raise that to Judgment; it follows, that this will be a Day not of Action but of Recompence; that the Recompence will proceed upon what was done, before these two parted; and consequently, our Condition, we must enter then upon for all Eternity, will depend upon, and be agreeable to, the Condition they left each other in, at their parting. They, who die in the favour of God, shall receive their Bodies again, to enter upon Bliss and Glory: They who died out of it, have the Sentence of Misery already begun to be executed upon them; and can have no fresh Tryal, no future Opportunity, of bettering their Condition, either in, or after, the Grave.
2. And is it not manifest, that we can none of us know, how soon this may be our own Condition? Do we not see careless Sinners daily snatched away in the Vigor of their Age, not live out half their Days, which by the Course of Nature they promised themfelves; and do not the number of such far exceed the Instances of Grey Hairs, and those Funerals, which come by gentle and leisurely decays? Why should we then fool our Selves, by fond and groundless Expectations of a Life, which the
very next Moment
take from us? Why presunie upon a quiet and firm poffefsion of that, which we have no manner of Security for ; of that which is often cut off without any warning; that hangs by a Thread so slender, so easily snapped in two, that no Accident how light soever, has not suffi