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and cleanse rebellious and wicked creatures. If he were obliged to sanctify us, he would be obliged not to punish us; but he is not obliged to forbear punishment; and therefore may justly leave us under the power of sin and corruption. Therefore, in order to acknowledge and glorify God's grace, we ought always to acknowledge, that whatever good things he works in the souls of sinners, it is not only the fruit of his power, but of his good pleasure, sovereign, free, undeserved mercy.

These properties of God's power ought to excite in us high and exalted thoughts of him, and to make us delight in meditating on and acknowledging it. For this end it is necessary to get our minds freed by God's grace of the many prejudices that are ready to rise against it. It is a principal part of that knowledge of God, against which Paul tells there are many high thoughts and imaginations that exalt themselves. There are weapons in God's word mighty through God for pulling down those high thoughts, and which ought to be made use of by us for that end.

VI. I shall therefore consider some of the chief grounds of prejudice against this comfortable and glorious doctrine, the efficacy of God's grace.

1. It is useful for us to consider, that the great ground of prejudice against it is unbelief, or forgetfulness of God's almighty strength and power, of that unlimited power that he has over all his creatures, and not acknowledging an absolute dependence upon him, or mean and weak thoughts of that power that belongs to God. These words are never to be forgotten that our Saviour has to the Sadducees concerning the causes of their error in his time, Matt. xxii. 29. "Ye err," says he, "not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." These are the two sources of all error, not knowing the Scriptures and God's power, particularly of the error about the truth we are now speaking of. Christ is there speaking about the resurrection from the dead, and the

change to be wrought upon the nature of men at that time. What makes it the more applicable to this present subject is, that the turning of souls to God is indeed a resurrection. It is a bringing It is a bringing a soul out of its grave, when it is turned to God, Ezek. xxxvii. The soul itself is a grave before that change be wrought, a sepulchre full of rottenness inwardly, however painted outwardly, as our Saviour expresses it about the hypocrite. Profane men are but sepulchres without that paint. It may seem to some, that there is not great need to insist upon so plain a truth as the almighty power of God. Yet David tells at the end of the 62d psalm, "God has spoken once, yea, twice I heard it, that power belongs to God." The unlimited power of God over all his creatures, the greatness of his power, and our dependence upon him, is a thing that we have need to have twice, that is frequently, repeated to us, and to have our minds much dwelling upon it. Nicodemus used to acknowledge God Almighty; yet when our Saviour discoursed him on the subject we are at present considering, he said, "How can these things be?" To which we may add this, the Scriptures frequently put us in mind of God's power to begin and carry on this work of grace in the souls of sinners. Such expressions are frequently in Paul's epistles," To him who is of power to establish you to the end," Rom. xvi. 25. Jude, at the end, says, "Who is able to keep you from falling" Let us consider also this in those scriptures that give the largest commendations of the faith of some eminent saints of God. Their faith in God's power is one of the chief things for which they are commended; as in that great commendation we have of Abraham's faith, Rom. iv. 20. "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief'; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able to perform: and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness." If we consider other scriptures about Abraham's faith, we shall find, a princi

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pal part of that faith for which he was commended, was the deep impression he had of God's almighty power. Another instance is the centurion's faith. We have two things in his discourse to our Saviour: 1. An acknowledgment of his own unworthiness, he unworthy that Christ should come under his roof;" but this is not so properly an exercise of faith as of repentance. 2. He acknowledged Christ's power, that if he would say the word, his servant should be whole. The commendation given of his faith has something in it extraordinary: Christ had not found so great faith in Israel. The high impres sions he had of the power of Christ is a principal thing for which his faith is commended. It is observed, both in the Old Testament and the New, that in those places that speak of the work of redemption, and of the work of grace, there are large accounts of God's power in the works of nature joined together, that the one may make us easily persuaded of the other: "God that commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts." In the 40th chapter of Isaiah, we have these great accounts of the almighty power of God brought in, in order to give due and right impressions, how in the work of redemption, "God would make bare his strength, and cause the lighting down of his glorious arm to be seen. We ought to have a due impression of the power of God. We are ready to speak of God's power over all creatures, as if the Spirit of man was. excepted; whereas, though it is a noble spirit, yet it is a creature, and consequently cannot resist the will of the Creator. God is called the Father of spirits, and the God of the spirits of all flesh; and it is useful for us to consider, that every moment we have experience of the dependence of our spirits upon him; that it is he that formed the spirit of man within him; and as it is said, Job xii. 10. " that he has the soul of every living thing in his hand." It is be that gives us to know more than the beasts that perish; and has an absolute power over our understandings,

will, and affections. There is nothing that men are more ready to think their own, and out of the power of outward causes, than this, their thoughts, their reason, the exercise of their reason. We see frequently how small a grain of matter, especially in the brain, will make the greatest wisdom turn to distraction. We ought to consider the subjection of our souls and spirits to him who is the Father of spirits, who could produce all those changes in the soul, though they were not united to the body at all. Job, chap. xii. gives several accounts that deserve our serious consideration, how God's unlimited power over his creatures can give wisdom, or take it away, as he pleases. And as he has power over our understanding, so also over our will, affections, desires, and inclination. He can turn the heart of man as the rivers of water, and fashion the hearts of men alike. He is the author of all that is good in our nature. How many natural affections and inclinations have we, that are in themselves good, though by the corruption of them they be evil! The Scripture finds fault with men for wanting natural affection. It is in itself good, though many abuse it. It is God that at first implanted in the soul of man natural affections; for example, the love of parents to children, and children to parents, hunger and thirst after the means of life, natural inclinations to society and company. If this were reflected on, it would be a means through God's grace, the easier to convince us of his power to give us hunger and thirst after righteousness, to implant in us a filial affection toward him as the Father of spirits, and inclination after communion and fellowship with the Father and his Son, which is unspeakably perferable to all society in the world. One of the greatest uses we can make of the consideration of God's power in general, is, by applying it to the subject in the text, to consider his almighty power, the strength of his arm, in order to see how easy it is for him to turn our hearts to him, and that, if he will, he can make us clean. And the

consideration of his power not being sufficient alone, we must also exercise faith in his word, his promise, his offer, his grace. This would be an excellent means to obtain from him those blessed operations of his power, to be often acknowledging that power belongs to God, and endeavouring to be more and more sensible of our absolute and continual dependence upon him, that so we may live in subjection to the Father of spirits.

2. Another particular prejudice against this great branch of the gospel of the grace of God, flows from its being mysterious. In the gospel there is both the hidden wisdom of God, and the hidden power of God, in a mystery. Many are ready to quarrel at it, as Nicodemus, How can these things be ?" For casting down these thoughts, it is useful for us to reflect,

(1.) It is not the works of grace only that are mysterious. All God's works, the works, for instance, of creation and providence, are so. Shall we therefore neglect them, because we cannot search them out fully? There is a dreadful threatening in Scripture against them that do so: "The Lord will not build them, but cast them down, who regard not the operation of his hand." We are taught, that all his works are unsearchable, and at the same time that they are sought out of all them that take pleasure in them. They may be known in part; and that imperfect knowledge that can be had of them is unspeakably preferable to the greatest knowledge that we can have of any other thing. It is indeed to be owned, that all the manifestations that God makes of himself to us have a mixture of light and darkness in them; yet even that darkness itself is what we might make use of, in order to submit ourselves to the infinite wisdom of God; and this itself is an useful knowledge, to know that the power of God, as well as his wisdom, passeth knowledge. In Hab. iii. 4. there is a remarkable expression to this purpose; "His brightness is as the light, he had horns coming

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