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James in the text, styled wisdom, as correcting the depravity of nature, and enabling men to become wise unto falvation,
The gifts of God are free, and he bestoweth them as seemeth best to his wisdom. If he gives to one more liberally than to another, yet he who receives least has reason to be thankful, and no reason to demand an account of God of the unequal distribution of his favour. Were the gifts therefore of the Spirit to be considered as special favours only granted to fome, we should not be obliged, by the terms of our religion, to render an account of God's proceeding herein. But the promise of the Spirit being general to all Christians, and represented in Scripture as the purchase of Christ's obedience to the will of his Father, and as a principle of new life, by which they who are dead in fin are made alive to righteousness; it is evident that we cannot account for our being Christians, without Thewing a reason for the necessity of grace to render our hopes and afsurances of salvation effectual.
This is a point in which there is an essential difference between the Gospel and mere natural religion; and it is consequent to another point of difference relating to the state and condition of mankind before the Gospel. If men were in that state of original purity in which God muft, in justice to his divine attributes, be supposed to have made them, it will be hard to say what grace was wanting to enable them to attain the end of their creation.
. If they have fallen from that state, and contracted a corruption not to be cured by natural means, it will be hard for any man to dispute against the
grace of God, without having a reason to produce that shall render it impossible, or improper, for God to redeem the world. For, the fall of man supposed, it is more reasonable to think, because it is far more honourable to God, that he should destroy the power of sin by communicating a new principle of holiness, in order to the salvation of the world, than that he should honour fin so far, as to render finners both glorious and immortal. Since then there can be no redemption, but either by destroying sin, or by granting happiness to finners, unreformed finners, it is easy to judge which method is most suitable to the wisdom of God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.
It will be one means of shewing the necessity of grace, to fhew the effects ascribed to it in Scrip
For the Spirit of God is certainly given for the sake of those effects, which were to be produced by it in true believers : and he that can prove that the same effects generally are, or may be, attained by the mere strength of nature, will give the best argument against the necessity of grace in order to falvation. For, if men are naturally inclined to virtue and holiness, they will not want grace to make them fo. But this has never yet been the case; and if we may judge of those who shall be after us, by ourselves, and those who have lived before us, this never will be the cafe. : Now the works of the Spirit are described to us in many places of Scripture. They are in the text set forth to be pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. The Apostle to the
Galatians, chap. v. 22. reckoning up the fruits of the Spirit, places them in this order; Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and continuing his account, though varying his style, he adds, And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lufts.
Were the manners of any people to be described in this language, there is no one so little acquainted with human nature, but that he would suspect the, truth of the relation. Where must we go, to the east or to the west, to find a people pure and
peaceable, full of mercy and good works, without partial. ity, without hypocrisy, crucifying the flesh and the affections and lusts thereof? No history yet has presented us with such an idea of mankind. But, if we look into the account which the same Apostle gives of the works of the flesh, we shall find too great a correspondence between them, and the hiltorical accounts of all nations: they are, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, flrife, feditions, herefies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revel-, lings, and such like. These works we know where to find, and are sure of not mistaking in what country foever we seek them. You see the difference , between the works of nature and grace: and tell me, was it a work unworthy of God to send his Spirit to make the difference? If you think it not yet so sufficiently made, as to answer the pretensions of the Gospel, yet you must own that here is a work worthy of God to undertake; and that if we have not the Spirit already to produce these effects, it were much to be wished that we had : fo that natural reason shall
be forced to give this testimony to the Gospel, that the help it proposes is the thing in the world the most to be desired, the most honourable for God to give, the most advantageous for man to receive. If you ask us what evidence we have to shew, that we have received this promise of the Gospel ; it were well indeed if we had more evidence than we have, and that every man naming the name of Christ were a living testimony of the Spirit of God working in him ; and yet, I trust, we have enough to shew that the promises of God are not in vain. The Spirit is given to be a principle of religion, and not of force and mechanism; and consequently it must be maintained to be consistent with the freedom of man's will, without the suppofition of which it is impossible to have any notion of religion : and if many, who by their profession of Christianity are entitled to the promise of the Spirit, do shew no signs of the power of God working in them, they will be so many proofs indeed, that the grace of God is not irresistible: but no better argument can be drawn from their case to Thew that the pretences to grace are mere fiction, than
be drawn from the unreasonable actions of the generality of men to Thew that reason itself is a fiction, and that there is no such governing principle in mankind.
We have indeed the fullest proof, that there is such a thing as reason and natural understanding in men; and therefore the abuse of reason creates no suspicion against the being of it: but the Deist sees no proof of the reality of grace
in fects we ascribe to it, and which are the only visi
any; the ef.
ble evidences for its reality, are no other than what