Page images

“ late, and study hard, and read much, and devour the “ marrow of the best authors, and when you have done « all, unless God give a blessing unto your endeavours, “ be as thin and meagre in regard of true and useful “ learning,as Pharoh's* lean kine were afterthey had eaten * “ the fat ones. It is God that both ministereth seed to “ the sower, and multiplieth the seed sown; the princi6 pal and the increase are both his.”

“ It is clear that all Christian virtues and graces, “ though wrought immediately by us, and with the free 66 consent of our own wills, are yet the fruit of God's “ Spirit working in us. That is to say, they do not pro

ceed originally from any strength of nature, or any « inherent power in man's free will; nor are they ac« quired by the culture of philosophy, the advantages of « education, or any improvement whatsoever of natural “ abilities by the helps of art or industry: but are in “ truth the proper effects of that supernatural grace « which is given unto us by the good pleasure of God “ the Father, merited for us by the precious blood of God the Son, and conveyed into our hearts by the

sweet and secret inspirations of God the Holy Ghost. “ Love, joy, and peace are fruits, not at all of the flesh, “but merely of the Spirit.

“ All those very many passages in the New Testa6 ment which either set forth the unframableness of “ our nature to the doing of any thing that is good, 6 (not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think a good " thought; in me, that is in my flesh, there dwelleth no good " thingt; and the like,) or else ascribe our best perform“ ances to the glory of the grace of God, (without me you can do nothing. All our sufficiency is of God. Not 66 of yourselves; it is the gift of God. It is God that

* Genesis xli. 21.

+ 2 Cor. ii. 5. Romans, vii. 18.

« worketh in you both the will and deed*; and the like,) “ are so many clear confirmations of the truth. Upon “ the evidence of which truth it is that our mother the “ church hath taught us in the public service to beg at " the hands of almighty God that he would endue us «.with the grace of his Holy Spirit, to amend our lives « according to his holy word: and again, (consonantly to “ the matter we are in hand with, almost in terminis,) “ that he would give to all men increase of grace to hear

meekly his word, and to receive it with pure affection, " and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. As without “ which grace it were not possible for us to amend our *"lives, or to bring forth such fruits, according as God “ requireth in his holy word.

“ And the reason is clear: because as the tree is such “ must the fruit be. Do men look to gather grapes of thorns, or fige of thistlest; Or can they expect from a « salt fountain other than brackish water? Certainly, “ what is born of flesh can be no better than flesh. “ Who can bring a clean thing out of that which is un“ clean ? Or how can any thing that is good proceed “ from a heart, all the imaginations of the thoughts whereof are only and continually evil||? If we would have the “ fruit good, reason will (and our Saviour prescribeth “ the same method) that order be taken, first to make the tree good **.

« But you will say, it is impossible so to alter the “ nature of the flesh as to make it bring forth good spi“ ritual fruit; as it is to alter the nature of a crab or “ thorn, so as to make it bring forth a pleasant apple. “ Truly, and so it is: if you shall endeavour to mend “ the fruit by altering the stock, you shall find the la

* John, xy. 7. 2 Cor. iii. 5. Eph. ii. 8. + Mat. vii. 16. | Job, xiv. 4. .** James, i. 21.

Phil. ii. 13.

|| Gen. vi. 5.

« bour altogether fruitless;~a crab will be a crab still, " when you have done what you can: and you may as “ well hope to wash an Ethiopian white, as to purge « the flesh from sinful pollution.'

“ The work therefore must be done quite another way: “ not by alteration, but ADDITION. That is, leaving the “old principle to remain as it was, by superinducing « ab extra a new principle, of a different and more kindly " quality. We see the experiment of it daily in the “ grafting of trees; a crabstock, if it have a cion of some “ delicate apple artfully grafted in it; look what branches 6 are suffered to grow out of the stock itself, they will 6 all follow the nature of the stock, and if they bring “ forth any fruit at all, it will be sour and stiptic. But " the fruit that groweth from the graft will be pleasant “ to the taste, because it followeth the nature of the “ graft. We read of donos en qulos, an engrafted word. “Our carnal hearts are the old stock; which, before the “ word of God be grafted in it, cannot bring forth any " spiritnal fruit acceptable to God: but when, by the “ powerful operation of his Holy Spirit, the word which “ we hear with our outward ears is inwardly grafted “ therein, it then bringeth forth the fruit of good living. “ So that all the bad fruits that appear in our lives come 6 from the old stock, the flesh: and if there be any good “ fruit of the Spirit in us, it is from the virtue of that “ word of grace that is grafted in us.”

What modern philosopher or divine can rival this great prelate? His Pralectiones rank him with Aristotle; his piety, with the chief of the apostles.


Bishop Smalridge on the absolute Necessity of Grace..

" HE who is not convinced of the absolute neces6 sity of God's grace to invigorate his obedience to the « divine laws, must be a perfect stranger to himself, as a well as to the word of God; and must have been as “ careless an observer of what passes within his own « breast, as of what is written in the holy scriptures. 6 When one gives himself leisure to take a survey of « his own faculties, and observes how dark-sighted he is “ in the perception of divine truths; with what reluc« tance he sometimes chuses what his understanding “ plainly represents to him as good, and refuses what « his own conscience directly pronounces to be evil; « how apt his affections are to rebel against the dictates ~ of his reason, and to hurry him another way than he « knows he should, and in his sober mind, very fain “ would go; when he sets before his thoughts the great « variety of duties commanded, and of sins forbidden, « and the perverseness of his own depraved nature, « which gives him an antipathy to those duties and a « strong inclination to those sins; when he reflects on « the power and cunning of his spiritual enemies, always « alluring him to sin, and seducing him from the prac« tice of virtue; when he weighs with himself the necesu sity of practising every duty, and forsaking every kind of 6 wickedness, in order to secure a good title to the pra« mises of the gospel; when he takes a view of those

particular obstacles which hinder him in the exercise

of several graces, and of the strong temptations which “ prompt him to the commission of several sins; when « he considers the aptness of human nature to grow 16 weary of performing the same things, though in them

“selves never so pleasant, and its still greater disposi“tion to grow faint, when the actions continually to be “repeated are burdensome to flesh and blood; when he "compares the necessity of perseverance with the dif“ ficulty of it, the prevalence of things present and sen“sible with the weakness wherewith those objects " affect us that are absent and spiritual; when, I say, a “considering man puts all these things together, he “ cannot but be convinced, that narrow is the path that " leads unto everlasting life, and that without ILLUMI“ Nation from the Spirit of God, he shall not be able "rightly to discern it; that strait is the gate which opens " an entry into heaven; and that he cannot, by the force of “ his own natural strength, without new power given ." him from above, and the secret influences of God's "Holy Spirit, adding force and energy to his own en." deavours, force his way through it. Conscious, there"fore, of his own weakness, he will acknowledge the " necessity of God's grace; and being ready to sink " through his own natural weight, unless supported by “ foreign help, he will cry out with St. Peter, Save me, Lord, or ELSE I perish,

“Some philosophers of old flattered the pride and “ vanity of men, by teaching them that they wanted “nothing to make them virtuous, but only a firm and " steady resolution of being so; that this resolution they " themselves were masters of, and might exert at their “own pleasure. They confidently boasted that their " happiness was a thing wholly in their own power; " that they need not ask of the gods to be virtuous, nor “consequently to be happy, since they could be so with“out their aid or concurrence, or even in despite of " them. The Pelagians afterwards raised their here“ sies upon the principles which these heathen philoso“phers had first broached; they engaged in the quarrel “ of depraved nature against divine grace: all our disor

« PreviousContinue »