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tatione adhibita, eum sensum ex ejusmodi verbis elicerem qui sibi constaret.' For my part, if this (doctrine) were extant and written in the holy Scripture, not once but often, yet would I not therefore believe it to be so as you do; för whereas it can by no means be so (whatever the Scripture saith), I would as I do with others in other places, make use of some less incommodious interpretation, whereby I would draw a sense out of the words that should be consistent with itself.' And how he would do this he declares a little before; Sacra verba in alium sensum, quam verba sonant, per inusitatos etiam tropos quandoque explicantur.' He would explain the words into another sense than what they sound or propose by unusual tropes. And indeed such uncouth tropes doth he apply as so many engines and machines, to pervert all the divine testimonies concerning our redemption, reconciliation, and justification by the blood of Christ.
Having therefore fixed this as their rule, constantly to prefer their own reason above the express words of the Scripture, which must therefore by one means or other be so perverted or wrested to be made compliant therewith, it is endless to trace them in their multiplied objections against the holy mysteries, all resolved into this one principle, that their reason cannot comprehend them, nor doth approve of them. And if any man would have an especial instance of the serpentine wits of men winding themselves from under the power of conviction by the spiritual light of truth, or at least endeavouring so to do, let him read the comments of the Jewish rabbins on Isaiah, chap. liii. and of the Socinians on the beginning of the Gospel of John.
2. The second branch of this repugnancy springeth from the want of a due comprehension of that harmony which is in the mystery of grace, and between all the parts of it. This comprehension is the principal effect of that wisdom, which believers are taught by the Holy Ghost. For our understanding of the wisdom of God in a mystery is neither an art, nor a science, whether purely speculative or more practical, but a spiritual wisdom. And this spiritual wisdom is such as understands and apprehends things, not so much, or not only in the notion of them, as in their power, reality, and efficacy, towards their proper ends. And there
fore, although it may be very few, unless they be learned, judicious, and diligent in the use of means of all sorts, do attain unto it clearly and distinctly in the doctrinal notions of it; yet are all true believers, yea, the meanest of them directed and enabled by the Holy Spirit as unto their own practice and duty, to act suitably unto a comprehension of this harmony, according to the promise that 'they shall be all taught of God.' Hence those things which appear unto others contradictory and inconsistent one with another, so as that they are forced to offer violence unto the Scripture, and their own experience in the rejection of the one or the other of them, are reconciled in their minds, and made mutually useful or hopeful unto one another, in the whole course of their obedience. But these things must be farther spoken unto.
Such an harmony as that intended there is in the whole mystery of God. For it is the most curious effect and product of divine wisdom; and it is no impeachment of the truth of it, that it is not discernable by human reason. A full comprehension of it no creature can in this world arise unto. Only in the contemplation of faith, we may arrive unto such an understanding admiration of it, as shall enable us to give glory unto God, and to make use of all the parts of it in practice as we have occasion. Concerning it the holy man mentioned before cried out, ὦ ἀνεξιχνιάστου δηpovpyías; 'O unsearchable contrivance and operation!' And so is it expressed by the apostle, as that which hath an unfathomable depth of wisdom in it, & ßálos rλoúrov, &c. 'O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his ways and his judgments past finding out;' Rom. xi. 33-36. See to the same purpose, Eph. iii. 8-10.
There is an harmony, a suitableness of one thing unto another in all the works of creation. Yet we see that it is not perfectly nor absolutely discoverable unto the wisest and most diligent of men. How far are they from an agreement about the order and motions of the heavenly bodies, of the sympathies and qualities of sundry things here below, in the relation of causality and efficiency between one thing and another. The new discoveries made concerning any of them, do only evidence how far men are from a
just and perfect comprehension of them. Yet such a universal harmony there is in all the parts of nature and its operations, that nothing in its proper station and operation is destructively contradictory either to the whole, or any part of it, but every thing contributes unto the preservation. and use of the universe. But although this harmony be not absolutely comprehensible by any, yet do all living creatures, who follow the conduct or instinct of nature, make use of it, and live upon it, and without it neither their being could be preserved, nor their operations continued.
But in the mystery of God and his grace, the harmony and suitableness of one thing unto another, with their tendency unto the same end, is incomparably more excellent and glorious than that which is seen in nature or the works of it. For whereas God made all things at first in wisdom, yet is the new creation of all things by Jesus Christ, ascribed peculiarly unto the riches, stores, and treasures of that infinite wisdom. Neither can any discern it unless they are taught of God, for it is only spiritually discerned. But yet is it by the most despised. Some seem to think that there is no great wisdom in it, and some that no great wisdom is required unto the comprehension of it; few think it worth the while to spend half that time in prayer, in meditation, in the exercise of self-denial, mortification, and holy obedience, doing the will of Christ that they may know of his word, to the attaining of a due comprehension of the mystery of godliness, as some do of diligence, study, and trial of experiments, who design to excel in natural or mathematical sciences. Wherefore there are three things evident herein.
1. That such an harmony there is in all the parts of the mystery of God, wherein all the blessed properties of the divine nature are glorified, our duty in all instances is directed and engaged, our salvation in the way of obedience secured, and Christ as the end of all exalted. Wherefore, we are not only to consider and know the several parts of the doctrine of spiritual truth, but their relation also one unto another, their consistency one with another in practice, and their mutual furtherance of one another unto their common end. And a disorder in our apprehensions about any part of that, whose beauty and use ariseth from its harmony, gives some confusion of mind with respect unto the whole.
2. That unto a comprehension of this harmony in a due measure, it is necessary that we be taught of God, without which we can never be wise in the knowledge of the mystery of his grace. And herein ought we to place the principal part of our diligence, in our inquiries into the truths of the gospel.
3. All those who are taught of God to know his will, unless it be when their minds are disordered by prejudices, false opinions, or temptations, have an experience in themselves and their own practical obedience, of the consistency of all parts of the mystery of God's grace and truth in Christ among themselves, of their spiritual harmony and cogent tendency unto the same end. The introduction of the grace of Christ into our relation unto God, makes no confusion or disorder in their minds, by the conflict of the principles of natural reason, with respect unto our first relation unto God, and those of grace with respect unto that whereunto we are renewed.
From the want of a due comprehension of this divine harmony it is, that the minds of men are filled with imaginations of an inconsistency between the most important parts of the mystery of the gospel, from whence the confusions that are at this day in Christian religion do proceed.
Thus the Socinians can see no consistency between the grace or love of God, and the satisfaction of Christ, but imagine if the one of them be admitted, the other must be excluded out of our religion. Wherefore, they principally oppose the latter under a pretence of asserting and vindicating the former. And where these things are expressly conjoined in the same proposition of faith; as where it is said, that we are justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood;' as Rom. iii. 24, 25. they will offer violence unto common sense and reason, rather than not disturb that harmony which they cannot understand. For although it be plainly. affirmed to be a redemption by his blood, as he is a propitiation, as his blood was a ransom or price of redemption, yet they will contend, that it is only metaphorical, a mere deliverance by power, like that of the Israelites by Moses.. But these things are clearly stated in the gospel, and there,
fore not only consistent, but such as that the one cannot subsist without the other. Nor is there any mention of any especial love or grace of God unto sinners, but with respect unto the satisfaction of Christ as the means of the communication of all their effects unto them. See John iii. 16. Rom. iii. 23-25. viii. 30-33. 2 Cor. v. 19-21. Eph. i. 7, &c.
In like manner they can see no consistency between the satisfaction of Christ, and the necessity of holiness or obedience in them that do believe. Hence they continually clamour, that by our doctrine of the mediation of Christ, we overthrow all obligations unto a holy life. And by their sophistical reasonings unto this purpose, they prevail with many to embrace their delusion, who have not a spiritual experience to confront their sophistry withal. But as the testimony of the Scripture lieth expressly against them, so those who truly believe, and have real experience of the influence of that truth into the life of God, and how impossible it is to yield any acceptable obedience herein without respect thereunto, are secured from their snares.
These and the like imaginations arise from the unwil lingness of men to admit of the introduction of the mystery of grace, into our relation unto God. For suppose us to stand before God on the old constitution of the covenant of creation, which alone natural reason likes and is comprehensive of, and we do acknowledge these things to be inconsistent. But the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in Christ, cannot stand without them both.
So likewise God's efficacious grace in the conversion of sinners, and the exercise of the faculties of their minds, in a way of duty, are asserted as contradictory and inconsistent. And although they seem both to be positively and frequently declared in the Scripture, yet say these men, their consistency being repugnant to their reason, let the Scripture say what it will, yet is it to be said by us, that the Scripture doth not assert one of them. And this is from the same cause; men cannot in their wisdom see it possible that the mystery of God's grace should be introduced into our relation and obedience unto God. Hence have many ages of the church, especially the last of them, been filled with endless disputes, in opposition to the grace of God, or