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before. The word Jeheliphu which we render renew, signifies change; they shall have for their own, his strength; a weak believer, and his strong Saviour, will be too hard for all that can rise against
them : it is here fit, hominem cum basi metiri, as in • statues, to measure the main with the basis on which
he stands; and there is no taking the right measure of a Christian but that way.
Thou art now, indeed, exposed to great storms and tempests, yet he builds thee on himself, makes thee, by believing, to found on him; and so, though the winds blow and the rain fall, yet thou standest
, being built on him thy rock! And this, indeed, is our safety, the more we cleave to our rock and fasten on himn : this is the only thing that establishes us, and perfects and strengthens us ; therefore, well is that word added Jeuersáoas, found you, or settle you, on your foundation. This is the firmness of the church against the gates of hell; he is a strong foundation for establishment, and a living foundation; having influence into the building for perfecting it; for it is a living house, and the foundation is a root sending life to the stones, that they grow up, as this apostle speaks
It is the want of this activity of faith on Jesus, that keeps us so imperfect, and wrestling still with our corruptions without any advancement. We wrestle in our own strength too often, and so are justly, yea necessarily, foiled; for it cannot be otherwise, till we make him our strength. This we are still forgetting, and we had need to be put in mind of it, and frequently to recollect it. We would be at doing for ourselves, and insensibly fall into this folly, even after much smarting for it, if we be not watchful against it; there is this wretched natural independency in us, that is so hard to beat out. All our projectings are but castles in the air, imaginary buildings without a foundation, till once laid on Christ. But never shall we find heart peace, sweet peace, and progress in holiness, till we be driven from it, to make him all our strength; till we be brought to do nothing, to attempt nothing, to hope or expect nothing, but in him; and then shall we indeed find his fulness and all-sufficiency, and be more than conquerors through him who hath loved us!!
i Matt, vii. 25.
1 Epist. ii. 4, 5.
But the God of all grace.] By reason of our many wants and great weakness, we had need to have a very full hand and a very strong hand to go to, for supplies and support. And such we have indeed; our Father is the God of all grace, a spring that cannot be drawn dry, no, nor so much as any whit diminished.
He is the God of all grace : the God of imputed grace, of infused and increased grace, of furnished and assisting grace.
The work of salvation is all grace from beginning to end. Free grace in the plot of it, laid in the counsel of God, and performed by his own hand all of it. His Son sent in the flesh, and his Spirit sent into the hearts of his chosen, to apply Christ. All grace is in him, the living spring of it, and flows from him; all the various actings, and all the several degrees of grace; he is the God of pardoning grace, that blots out the transgressions of his own children, for his own name's sake", that takes up all quarrels, and makes one act of oblivion serve for all reckonings betwixt him and them. And, as the God of pardoning grace, so he is also the God of sanctifying grace, who refines and purifies all those he means to make up into vessels of glory, and hath in his hand all the fit means and ways of doing this; purges them bý afflictions and outward trials, by the reproaches and hatreds of the world. The profane world little know how serviceable they are to the increase of the graces and comforts of a Christian, when they indignify and cute him; yea, little doth a Christian himself sometimes think how great his advantage is by those things, till he find it, and wonders at his Father's 1 Rom. viii. 37.
m Isa. xlii. 25.
wisdom and love. But most powerfully are the children of God sanctified by the Spirit within them, without which, indeed, no other thing could be advantage to them in this. That divine fire kindled within them is daily refining and sublimating them; that Spirit of Christ is conquering sin, and, by the mighty flame of his love, consuming the earth and dross that is in them; making their affections more spiritual and disengaged from all created delights: and thus as they receive the beginnings of grace freely, so all the advances and increases of it. Life from their Lord still flowing and causing them to grow, abating the power of sin, strengthening a fainting faith, quickening a languishing love, teaching the soul the ways of wounding strong corruptions, and fortifying its weak graces : yea, in wonderful ways advancing the good of his children by things not only harsh to them, as' afflictions and temptations, but by that which is directly opposite in its nature, sin itself
, raising them by their falls, and strengthening thern by their very troubles; working them up to humility and vigilance, and sending them to Christ for strength by the experience of their weaknesses and failings.
And as he is the God of pardoning grace, and sanctifying grace in the beginning and growth of it, so also the God of supporting grace;
supervenient influence, without which the graces placed within us would lie dead, and fail us in the time of greatest need. This is the immediate assisting power that bears up the soul under the hardest services, and backs it in the sharpest conflicts, communicating fresh auxiliary strength, when we and all the grace we have within, dwelling in us, is surcharged. Then he steps in, and opposes his strength to a prevailing and confident enemy, that is at the point of insulting and triumph. When temptations have made a breach, and enter with full force and violence, he lets in so much present help on a sudden, as makes them give back, and beats them out. When the enemy comes in as a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against him"; and no siege can be so close as to keep out this aid, for it comes from above.
And by this a Christian learns that his strength is in God; whereas if his received grace were always party enough, and able to make itself good against all incursions, though we know we have received it, yet being within us, we should possibly sometimes forget the receipt of it, and look on it more as ours than his; more as being within us than as flowing from him. But when all the forces we have, the standing garrison, is by far overmatched, and yet we find the assailants beaten back; then we must acknowledge him that sends such seasonable relief, to be, as the Psalmist speaks, a very present help in trouble". All St. Paul's constant strength of
grace inherent in him, could not fence him so well as to ward off the piercing point of that sharp temptation, whatsoever it was, which he records o. The redoubled buffetings that he felt came so thick upon him, that he was driven to his knees by it, to cry for help to be sent down, without which he found he could not hold out, and he had an answer assuring him of help; a secret support that should maintain him, My grace is sufficient for thee?, though thine own be not; that is, that which I have already given thee; yet mine is, that is, that grace which is in me, and which I will put forth for thy assistance.
And this is our great advantage and comfort, that we have a Protector who is Almighty, and is always at hand; who can and will hear us whensoever we are beset and straitened. That captain had reason who, being required to keep Milan for the king of France, went up to the highest turret, and cried three times, King of France, and refused the service, because the king heard him not, nor nobody answered for him; meaning the great distance, and so the difm Isa. lix. 11. n Psal. xlvi. 1. • 2 Cor. xii. 7.
ficulty of sending aid, when need should require. But we may be confident of our supplies in the most sudden surprises. Our King can and will hear us when we call, and will send relief in due season.
be in apparent hazards, but we shall not be wholly vanquished; it is but crying to him in our greatest straits, and help appears. Possibly we see the host of the enemies first, and that so great, that there is no likelihood of escaping; but then praying, we espy the fiery chariots and horsemen, and may say, There are more with us than with them?
The Apostle St. Paul calls our God, the God of all consolation', as here he is styled the God of all grace: And this is our rejoicing, that in his hand is all good; our sanctification and consolation, as sistance and assurance, grace and glory. And this style suits most fitly with the present petition, that for our perfecting and stablishing, and strengthening in grace, we have recourse to the God of all grace, whose former gifts do not discourage us from seeking more, but indeed both encourage us, and engage him for the perfecting of it. It is his will that we have constant recourse to him for all we want. He is so rich, and withal so liberal, that he delights that we seek and draw much from him; and it is by believing and praying that we do draw from him. Were these plied, we would soon grow richer; but remember, all this grace, that we would receive from the God of all Grace, must be from God in Christ. There it flows for us, thither we are directed. It was the Father's good pleasure, that in him should all fulness dwell", and that for us, that we might know whither to go, and were to apply for it.
Now for the further opening up of his riches, expressed in this title, the God of all Grace, is added one great act of grace, which doth indeed include all the rest ; for we have in it the beginning and end of the work linked together. The first effect of 4 2 Kings vi. 16. r Rom. xv. 5.
s Col. i, iG.