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to stand before God upon terms of the law, which spoke nothing but irrevocable death to him who transgressed in the least iota, had God continued this inexorable sentence, it would of necessity have wrought in man these two things:
1. Horror of despair, 33. 2. Height of malice, 34.
God therefore assumes to himself the most endearing description in these words, which consist of two parts, 37.
I. A declaration of mercy in these words, There is forgiveness with thee; and the greatness of it is displayed in the consideration of three things.
(1.) The principle from which it flows. It is from the free, spontaneous motion of God's good pleasure, 37. This evinced by sundry reasons, 38. His mercy shewn to be consistent with his justice, 40. and the former to be made glorious, first, In the relaxation of the law, which required of every
sinner a satisfaction in his own person ; second, That, as he was pleased to be satisfied with a surety, so he himself found and provided this surety, 41.
(2.) The sins that are the subject-matter of it: and the greatness of the pardon advances upon considering them, as they are heightened by these two properties; 1. Their number, 45.
2. Their greatness, 47. (3.) The persons on whom this pardon is conferred, who are men; that is, very worthless and inconsiderable creatures, in comparison of those to whom the same pardon is denied, 49.
II. The end and design of such a declaration, which is fear and obedience ; under which head are shewn,
1st, What that fear is, which is here intended. Now there are three sorts of fear. 1. An anxious, distracting, amazing fear; such as Moses felt upon the sight of God, 51. 2. A slavish and servile fear; such an one as is called the spirit of bondage, 52. 3. A filial, reverential fear; such an one as is enlivened with a principle of lovewhich is that alone that is designed in these words, 52.
2dly, How God's forgiveness may be an argument to enforce this fear. As, (1.) because the neglect of the fear of
God, upon supposal that he has forgiven us our sins, is
highly disingenuous, 54. (2.) Also most provoking and
: Hence we learn, 1. The different nature of Christ's spi-
ritual kingdom from all other kingdoms in the world, in
respect of the fear of the subject, 56. 2. Upon what
ground every man is to build the persuasion of the pardon
of his sins, namely, the effects this persuasion of God's
mercy works upon their spirits: for he, that from God's
mercy gathers no arguments for his fear, may conclude thus
much, that there is indeed forgiveness with God, but no
Yet the Lord has not given you an heart to perceive, nor
eyes to see, nor ears to hear unto this day. P. 59.
God's miraculous favours to the children of Israel are
shortly enumerated, and their invincible hardness, strange
unbelief, and frequent rebellion under them. An inter-
change of mercies on God's part and murmurings on theirs
being the continual custom and manner of their whole life,
Moses might well accompany the repetition of the covenant,
with this upbraiding reprehension, 59–61.
From the several phrases of the same signification in the
text, we may collect the exceeding stupidity and total igno-
rance of the Jews, in apprehending the divine dispensa-
tions; or refer them to those several means which God
suited to every apprehensive faculty of their soul, that he
might force his convictions upon them, 62.
The words afford us these observations.
1 Observ. That the heart may remain unaffected and
unconvinced in the midst of convincing means; so termed,
(1.) Because they do actually convince some, though they
miscarry in others. (2.) Because they have a fitness or
2 Obseru. That a perceiving heart is totally and entirely the free gift of God: free, 1. in respect of the motive; 2. in respect of the persons on whom it is conferred, 63.
3 Observ. That God's denial of such a perceiving heart does certainly infer (but not cause) the unsuccessfulness of all the means of grace, 64.
grace, 64. In handling of which is shewn, I. What is meant by God's giving to the soul a perceiving heart; which is here set out by such acts as are properly acts of knowledge, as understanding, seeing, hearing ; not because grace is placed only in the understanding, as some imagine; but, 1. Because the understanding has the precedency and first stroke in holy actions, as well as others, 65. 2. Because the means of grace are most frequently expressed by the word of truth, and the understanding is that faculty, whose proper office it is to close in with truth as such, 65.
To have a perceiving heart is not, 1. To understand and receive the word according to the letter and notion, by a bare assent to the truth of it, 67. But, 2. To have a light begot in the mind by an immediate work of the Spirit, whereby alone the soul is enabled to apprehend and discern the things of God spiritually, and to practise them effectually, 67.
II. Whence it is, that without this gift the soul cannot make any improvement of the means of grace. It arises from two reasons ;
1. From its exceeding impotence and inability to apprehend these things, 70.
2. From its contrariety to them, which chiefly consists, (1.) In carnal corruptions, 73. (2.) In carnal wisdom, 75.
III. That although, upon God's denial of a perceiving heart, the soul remain unprofitable under the means of grace, so as not to hear nor perceive ; yet this unprofitableness cannot at all be ascribed to God as the chief author of it, 77.
God's denial of a perceiving heart admits of a double acceptation.
(1.) It implies only a bare denial of grace. Now it is not this denial that causes us to reject the means of grace, but the immediate sinfulness of the heart, 77.
(2.) It includes also a positive act of induration. Now God, without begetting any evil disposition in the heart, may
harden it to sin; first, By affording a general influence or concurrence to the persuasions or suggestions of Satan or sinful men, so far as they are natural acts, 79. Secondly, By disposing and offering such objects and occasions, which though good in themselves, yet concurring with a corrupt heart have a fitness to educe that
corruption into act, 79. Thirdly, By affording his concurrence to those motions that such objects and occasions stir up
in the soul, so far as they are positive and natural, 80.
IV. How God can justly reprehend men for not hearing nor perceiving, when upon his denial of an heart there is a necessity lying upon them to do neither, 81.
For clearing this, it is already shewn, that God's denial of an heart is not the cause of the necessity of the soul's not perceiving, but its own native hardness. Now this hardness is the immediate product of the sin of Adam, which was most free and voluntary; and every man is as really guilty of this sin, as he was really represented in Adam,
Application. Use 1. This doctrine speaks refutation to that opinion, that states a sufficiency of grace in the bare proposal of things to be believed and practised, 82.
Use 2. is of exhortation ; that in the enjoyment of the means of grace we should not terminate in the means, but look up to God, who alone is able to give an heart to im
prove them, 85.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto
you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. P. 87. These words contain two general parts.
I. The promise of sending the Spirit: wherein we have a full description of him,
1. In respect of his person; he is said to proceed from the Father. There has been great controversy between the Latin and Greek churches concerning his procession : the former holding that he proceeds equally from the Father and the Son; and the latter, that he proceeds from the Father only by the Son, 87.
2. In respect of his office or employment in these two things. (1.) That he is a Comforter, 89. (2.) That he is the Spirit of truth, 92.
He is a Comforter, because he is the Spirit of truth : and truth has this comforting influence upon the mind; (1.) From the native congenial suitableness that it has to man's understanding, 93. (2.) From the sovereign virtue it has to clear the conscience; first, from guilt, 95. secondly, from doubt, 96.
II. The end of his being sent, which was to testify of Christ.
In which are considered,
1. What the Spirit was to testify of Christ ; which was, that he was the Son of God, the Messias, and Saviour of the world, 97.
2. By what ways and means he was to testify this of him; which were the gifts conferred by him upon the disciples; three of which seem more eminently designed for the great purpose of preaching the gospel. (1.) The gift of miracles, 97. (2.) The gift of tongues, 98. (3.) That strange, undaunted, and supernatural courage he infused into the disciples, 98. A full reflection
what has been said will furnish an infallible rule for trying men's pretences of the Spirit. If they find not only comment, but text also, and plead the spirit in defiance of the letter ; it is not God's Spirit that acts them, but the spirit of darkness and desolation, that