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fed with doubts and fears, and made to walk in darkness. Once more, some finners are brought in by deep and long humiliation, and are almost distracted with legal terrors, while others are powerfully, though sweetly, constrained by the cords of divine love. All these “ worketh the " self same spirit, who divideth to every man se“ verally as he will." I defire, that what has now been said, may be still kept in mind; fo that if the evidences of a faving change can be produced, there need be little solicitude about the time or manner of its being wrought.
What I propose to offer on this part of the subject, is not to be considered as in the least de. gree contrary to, or inconfiftent with, thefe truths. Nay, I am not to lay down a plan and say, this is the ordinary way in which finners are brought to the saving knowledge of God, leaving it to him, in some few, uncommon, and extraordinary cases, to take sovereign steps, and admit exceptions from the ordinary rules. This is a way of speaking common enough ; but tho' it may be very well meant, I apprehend it hath not in it much, either of truth or utility. The falvation of every child of Adam is of free, ab. folute, sovereign grace: and the actual change may be wrought at any time, in any manner, by any means, and will produce its effects in any measure, that to infinite wisdom shall seem pro
per. Neither ought we to pretend to account for the diversity in any other manner than our Saviour does : “ Even so, Father, for so it seem" ed good in thy fight *.” Therefore what I have in view, is to speak of such steps in the change as are, in substance at least, common to all true converts. It will be a sort of anaJysis, or more full explication of the change itself, and serve, among other uses, further to distinguish the real from the counterfeit. Too much can hardly be said on this subject : " For « what is the chaff to the wheat? faith the “ Lord.” It will also illustrate the divine wirdom, as well as sovereignty, by showing how that diversity of operation, fo remarkable in different subjects, produces in all at last the same blesled effect.
There must be a discovery of the real nature of Goch IN the first place, one important and necessary * step in bringing about a saving change, is that the finner get a discovery of the real nature, the infinite majesty, and transcendent glory of the living God ! Perhaps some will be surprised, that, as usual, a conviction of fin is not mentioned first, as the preliminary step. I enter in
• Luke x, 21.
to no quarrel or debate with those who do fo; but I have first mentioned the other, which is but seldom taken notice of, from a firm persuafion, that a discovery of the nature and glory of the true God lies at the foundation of all. This alone can produce salutary convictions of fin; for how can we know what fin is, till we know him against whom we have sinned. The same thing only will point out the difference between real conviction, and such occasional fears as never go farther than a spirit of bondage.
In support of this, you may observe, that in fcripture, those wbo are in a natural or unconverted state, are often described as lying in a state of ignorance or darkness. They are said to be such as know not God: “ Howbeit then when “ ye knew not God, ye did service unto them « which by nature are no gods *." See also the following description': “ Having the under66 standing darkened, being alienated from the « life of God, through the ignorance that is in " them, because of the blindness of their hearts 7." Agreeably to this, the change produced in them is represented as giving them light or understanding, in opposition to their former ignorance; 66 to open their eyes, and to turn them from “ darkness to light, and from the power of Sa. 66 tan unto God I. But if our gospel be hid; it . Gal. iv. 8. † Eph. iv. 18. Acts xxvi, 18..
" is hid to them that are loft, in whom the god
of this world hath blinded the minds of them " which believe not, left the light of the glo" rious gospel of Christ, who is the image of 16 God, should shine unto them.--For God, who us commanded the light to shine out of darknefs, " hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of 44 the knowledge of the glory of God in the face " of Jesus Christ *." In this way is the matter represented in scripture, much more frequently than is commonly observed ; and, as the understanding is the leading faculty in our nature, it is but reasonable to suppose that the change should begin there, by a discovery of the nature and glory of God, as the foundation of all that is afterwards to follow.
This will be further evident, if we reflect upon the account formerly given, and sufficiently supported from the holy scriptures, of the nature of this change, That it consists in a supreme regard to the glory of God, and an habitual prevailing desire of his favour. To this it is absolutely neceflary, as a preliminary, that there be a discovery of the real nature and transcendent glory of God. How can any man have that as the chief and leading motive of action, which he doth not understand ? How can any man have that as the supreme object of desire, which he . 2 Cor. ix. 4.6.
doth not know? Neither of these is poffible; there must, therefore, be some such discovery as I have mentioned above. It is true, this is but imperfect at first; there will be in the truly regenerate a growing discovery of the glory of God, as well as a growing delight in him, as its consequence: yet there must be some view of his nature, as the beginning of the change, and the ground-work of every holy disposition.
This discovery of God implies two things, which, as they are both necessary, so they deserve our particular attention ; and it is not improper to distinguish carefully the one from the other. 1. It must be a discovery of his real na. ture. 2. A discovery of the worth and excellence of his nature, which is, properly speaking, the glory of God.
1. It must be a discovery of the real nature of God. He must be seen to be just such a Being as he really is, and no false or adulterated image must be placed in his room, or adored in his stead. He must be seen in his spiritual nature, as al. mighty in his power, unsearchable in his wisdom, inviolable in his truth ; but, above all, he must be seen as infinite in his holiness and hatred of fin, as impartial in his justice, and determined to punish it. Such is the scripture representation of God, as “ glorious in his holiness.-- Evil can" not dwell with him, and sinners cannot stand