« PreviousContinue »
that habitual grace, which is a certain argument or testimony of their being the children of God; but they do not at present discern it, through the weakness and indisposition of their minds, and too often of their bodies also; which indisposition the good and gracious God will some time or other, sooner or later, remove: and the same divine Spirit, which implanted that grace in them, will in due time illuminate their understandings, to perceive and see that blessed work of God within themselves.
And now to conclude this discourse : the best advice that can be given upon the whole matter is this; Let us carefully mind our duty wbich the word of God hath laid before us, and then leave our comfort to our good and gracious God, who will certainly dispense it in such measure as he sees best and fittest
There is many a one who might have been in a much more comfortable state of mind than he is, if he had minded his comfort less and his duty more; if he had studied more the pleasing of God, than the pleasure, peace, and satisfaction of his own mind; if he had laboured more to be a true obedient child of God, than to know that he is so. Do not therefore, as the manner of some is, lie down whining and crying for comfort and assurance, in the mean while neglecting thy duty; but rise up in the name and strength of God, and set thyself in good earnest to thy duty; honestly study to know and do the will of God; take heed of defiling thy conscience with any wilful sin; call upon God for his grace by constant and daily prayer; and in this way of well-doing commit thy soul to the goodness and mercy of God in Christ Jesus; and whilst thou dost so, be assured thou art safe, and canst never miscarry. For it is as certain that God is good and gracious, as that he is, and that therefore he will never cast off those who thus cast themselves upon him. Remember that ordinarily an abundant comfort is the reward of a fruitful piety, and therefore endeavour to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Peter iii. 18.
In a word, persist and persevere in thy duty, and thou canst not fail of that comfort which is convenient for thee; and to be sure, what is wanting in thy joy and comfort here, shall with infinite advantage be made up hereafter, in that fulness of joy, and those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore.
CONCERNING THE FIRST COVENANT, AND THE STATE OF
MAN BEFORE THE FALL, ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, AND THE SENSE OF THE PRIMITIVE DOCTORS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Written at the request of a Friend.
N all the transactions between God and man
kind, some promises have ever been condescended to on God's part, and some conditions have ever been required on our side, in order to obtain and preserve his favour. So it was in the state of innocency, as appears from the very original law given to man in Gen. ii. 16, 17, which was not established only with a threatening, but with a promise also annexed; and consequently was more than a mere law. So it continued after the fall, as is undeniable from those most remarkable words of God to Cain, recorded in Gen. iv. 7, and from the constant manner of God's proceeding with the patriarchs and others in the Old Testament. But then it ought nevertheless to be observed, that besides the seeds of natural religion sown in man's mind at the creation, he was also endowed with certain supernatural gifts and powers, in which his perfection chiefly consisted, and without which his natural powers were of themselves insufficient to the attainment of an heavenly immortality; and consequently that the law of nature as considered now in fallen man, without divine revelation, and without any supernatural assistance, is much less able to confer the heavenly immortality and bliss upon them that live up to it. Since both from Scripture, and the consentient testimony of the ancient catholic writers, it is plain, as I have elsewhere shewed, that there was a covenant of life made with man in his state of innocence, and not (as some pretend) only a law imposed upon him; that this covenant was by the transgression of the protoplast made void both to him and his posterity; that all his posterity as such were thereby wholly excluded from the promise of eternal life made in that covenant, and consequently subjected to a necessity of death without hope of any resurrection; that as such, they are only under the obligation of the law of nature, and the dictates of common reason; that this law is not a law of perfect obedience, or a rule of perfection; that it hath not the reward of eternal life annexed; and that there is no covenant of life eternal, which God ever entered into with the posterity of fallen Adam, but that only which is confirmed and ratified in Christ, the second Adam ; and which is by consequence the very same with the Gospel itself.
a See Life, p. 437.]
b The beginning of this MS. being wanting, that which is included between the two crotchets is added to supply the introduction, being extracted from the author's own writings.
But because from what I have already written on this head, it may not be sufficiently evident to all, what the nature of this covenant of life eternal was, which God made with man in his state of integrity,
c Appendix ad Animad. XVII. §. 2, &c.
and what were the means proportioned to it in order
d Here the manuscript in the bishop's own hand begins.
e This was long ago observed by Theophilus Antiochen. 1. II. ad Autolyc. p. 101. [c. 24. p. 366.] where, speaking of the law given to the first man, he hath these words, 'Evereiharo aŭro ånò trávrov των καρπών εσθίειν, δηλονότι και από του της ζωής, μόνου δε εκ του ξύλον του της γνώσεως ενετείλατο αυτό μη γεύσασθαι. .