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I shall now for application, infer two things.
First, That we ought to be thankful to God, and to acknowledge him, for the gracious assistance that he doth afford unto us : for this will be argumen enough against us at the day of judgment, that we were admonished, exhorted, shewn, taught ; all which would have been in vain, if we were not able to hear God's voice, and to obey him. That is therefore the first inference, that we do duly ace knowledge God, and be thankful unto him for the gracious assistance that he doth afford us.
The second is this, that we do make use of, and employ this divine affiftance; which is in the apostle's language, 2 Cor. vi. 1. Not to receive the grace of God in vain : And this we do, when the principle is without effect.
The EXERCISE and PROGRESS of a
CHRISTI A N.
PHILIPPIANS üi. 12. Not as though I had already attained, or were already
perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Observe out of these words three things. 1. Where the apostle profeffeth his faith, there
he teftifieth his humility. In the il verfe he did declare his faith and future expectation ; If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead. Here he declares his humility, not as tho I had already attained, or were perfect, &c.
2.: Where he doth testify his humility, there he doth engage himself to care and diligence. But I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended.
3. Where he doth engage himself to diligence, there he doth take notice of the grace of God. If that I may apprehend, &c. And so you see that his faith of the resurrection is accompanied with an humble sense of his own shortness, and pursued with great activity, industry, care and diligence.
In pursuit of these propositions, I say these three things.
i The faith of God, humility of spirit, and active care and diligence in the affairs of our falvation, are things that are united in the common root of truth and goodness.
2. They do comply with each other in their nature and difpofition.
3. They mutually promote each other in their feveral operations.
If you ask, what are the great things in religion? I will refer you to three texts of scripture : For that which is properly christian, Put on the Lord Jesus Christ: Rom. xiii. 14. For that which is a proper creature-disposition, Be cloathed with humility, I Pet. v. 5. For that which is our work and business in time, Work out your own salvation with fear
and diligence. Phil. ii. 12. He that puts on Christ must put off himself; for the image and form of Christ is felf-denial; for Christ put himself in the form of a servant, and a servant parts with his own will. He that will be like unto Christ, must live in entire felf-furrender ; and fo faith the apostle, As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, &c. Col. iii. 12. In lowliness of mind let each esteem other above himself, Phil. ii. 3. They that are Pharifaically conceited, must be unbelievers ; for do any of the Pharisees believe on bim? John. vii. 48. For, as pride and conceit do ill affect the subject in which it is, so it doth alienate from God; For God resifteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble, Jam. iv. 6. There is no better preparation for faith, than humility; for the humble he will teach, Psal. xxv. 9. And the humble hath submitted himself to be a fool, that he may be wise, i Cor. iii. 18. But the proud is in an indisposition, and horrid contradiction and opposition to faith : For this is the proud man's sense and language, if I may allude to the tree, Judges ix. 9. Shall I leave my fatness ? So faith the proud man, shall I relinquish all confidence in the good things of nature, my excellent gifts, my parts, my acquirements, improvements, my education, employment, my several virtues and great endowments, and various performances, my merit whereby I do transcend others; and shall I come to be beholden to any one? This was the temper of the proud Pharisee, this people that know not the law are cursed. John vii. 49. It doth not become such as
we are, to give up our confidence, and wholly to renounce and disclaim our felves. It is the humble; and modest, and ingenuous spirit that is the ready heliever; and we have many testimonies for this, Luke vii, faith our Saviour, I have not found so great faith, no not in Ifrael. Of whom doth our Saviour fpeak this ? Look the beginning of the chapter, and you shall find it of the centurion, whom the Jews reported to be worthy for whom he should do courtesy; he having done gallantly for their nation, and built them a synagogue. But he faith, that he was not worthy that our Saviour should come under bis roof. Of this man it is that our Saviour faith, that he had not found so great faith, no not in Israel. I make this further out in two particulars.
1. They that are humble and modest, are in a due disposition and fitness of mind for the belief of divine things; for the full foul loatheth the honeycom.b, Prov. xxvii. 7. Those that are in a disposition to come to our Saviour, are those that are weary and heavy laden, Matth. xi. 28.
2. These have the advantage of God's promises for it is said, That God will look to him that is of an humble and contrite fpirit, Ifa. lvii. 15. And these are the persons that God will take care of, and instruct. The humble he will lead in judgment, the meek he will teach his way,
9. So that these, and these only are the children of promise. But thus inuch for explication.
To make some improvement of this for the justification of religion, as the apostle faith, Rom. iii. 4. Let God be true, and every man a har. Let not
the unbelief of some, make the faith of God of none effect : fo in this case, let not the miscarriage of some who pretend to believe, tend to the discredit of our religion; but let us resolve that the troublefome, proud, and self-conceited ; that the wilful, boisterous, and tempestuous storming tempers be reputed false in their profession. For the christian temper and spirit is modeft and humble, sensible of its own shortness and imperfections, and want of growth; and knows its own dependence upon God both for the grace of favour and acceptance, as also for the grace of aid and affistance. Therefore let every one that professeth his faith, give proof of his humility. By this means we shall discharge religion from all imputation for if any one that profefseth christianity, be of a proud, troublesome, haughty, infolent, contentious, quarrelsome and unquiet spirit, let him be reputed false to his profeffion; but let religion be justified; for the christian spirit is modeft, humble, sensible of its own wants and imperfections; it is a calm mind, a gentle and benign spirit, and so the scripture speaks of it ; A good conversation with meekness of wisdom. Jam. iii. 13. and ver. 17. The wisdom that is from above, is pure and peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full
of righteousness and good fruits. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, &c. Gal. v. 22. With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. Eph. iv. 2. I do wonder how any man that professeth himself a christian, can read these plain texts ofscripture, and maintain himselfin self-will, self