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Sin is a hated thing, God now is all,
Love makes all common, for it makes all one.
Zeal for good works, patience in bearing wrong,
Were the true marks by which Christ's flock was known.
Had not Christ added this convincing seal,
Tongues, miracles, and sanctifying grace,
The wonder of redemption is so great,
That faith to unbelief must needs give place.
Apostles mortal were : before they die,
For future ages they Christ's sacred word,
His deeds, laws, doctrine, by the promised Spirit,
To guide the church, infallibly record.
As Moses gave the Jews the only law,
Which following priests and prophets were to teach,
So th' Holy Ghost by the Apostles wrote
The word which after-ages were to preach.
As Moses' law was seal'd with miracles,
When such the following ages did not need,
So Christ's apostles did by wonders seal
Those records which the after-ages read.
The Spirit promised to the Apostles was,
To lead them to all needful saving truth,
And bring Christ's words to their remembrance :
What they by his commission did, Christ doth.
Their writings are the Holy Ghost's own book;
Though human imperfection do appear,
In modes and phrases, it's no just offence,
But leaves the truth and use still sure and clear.
Words but the vehicle of matter be,
God's Spirit owns not the translator's words;
But if, as signs, they with his word agree,
The sense and matter of them is the Lord's.
This Spirit helps the church, but not to bring
Another gospel, law, or word from Heav'n,
Nor mend or change God's laws in words or sense,
But to preach and obey the word once given.
To bring new laws or messages from God,
A prophet's office is, and not a priest's;
To forge such, or make laws for all the church,
The authors prove false prophets, or false Christs.
Christian religion is one 'stablish'd thing,
Which all the church from first to last may know,
It is not human, changeable, or new,
Nor doth by men's decrees increase and grow.
If canons no part of religion be,
But laws for rites and things indifferent;
Why must all Christians needs in these agree,
Or not agreeing by church-wars be rent?
The church hath all one head, one perfect law,
All justified be by Christ's blood and merit;
All that are true, though weak, Christ doth receive,
For all are sanctified by one Spirit.
The Holy Ghost in all true Christians dwells,
He doth illuminate, and make them new :
This is Christ's agent, and his body forms,
His witness proving that his word is true.
This Spirit did the gospel first endite,
And on it did God's image first engrave,
And then by it, as his great instrument,
That image prints on all that he will save.
Though it belong of their resisting will,
That any of this grace deprived be;
Yet scripture and experience clearly tell,
That differencing, electing grace is free.
In children it appears, when God doth choose,
He gives a teachable and willing mind,
Good dispositions, and capacity,
By grace their nature is to good inclin'd.
Grace chooseth parents careful of their souls,
Helps them to educate them in God's fear,
To commend virtue, and disgrace all vice,
Teach them God's word, and causeth them to hear.
God's seed in such is often early sow'd,
And as they grow, it springs up by degrees;
As plants, and fruits, by sun and moisture grow'd,
Whose present growth and motion no man sees.
The first beginning of the Spirit's work
Is in the learning mind, and fear of sin,
A love and liking of good things and men,
'Gainst sins for duty conscience strives within.
Grace watcheth over them, provides them helps,
Meet teachers, books, examples, company;
Keeps off temptations, causeth them to hate
Lying, bad words and deeds, and ribaldry.
Bad children's hearts are quite aversed to good,
They love not virtue, relish not God's law;
Tempting discourse, examples, vanities,
Catch on their hearts, as fire doth on straw.
If early helps, parents and teachers fail,
And sin the childish mind and life pervert;
If folly, flesh, and tempting baits prevail,
Yet God his chosen will in time convert.
He'll either give them better company,
Or better helps and teachers whom he'll bless;
Or bring some useful book unto their eye,
And make their snares, and their temptations less :
Or he'll some sharp affliction on them lay,
Which may awake the harden'd sleepy heart;
Or conscience shall some quick’ning motion feel,
Tell them their sins, their danger, and desert.
O! how the case with sinners now is changed,
Things all appear now in another shape;
Sin now is madness; mad he calls himself
For loving death, and thinks now how to 'scape.
Now God is holy, just, his word is true,
He is in earnest, though sinners be in jest;
The face of all his works and ways seem new,
Those things seem worst, which formerly seem'd best.
The common texts and truths he daily heard,
Do now begin to bave some life and sense :
He wonders how he pass'd them by before,
As if they had been of no consequence.
That wounds, and shames, and grieves, and breaks
Which formerly was his delight and pleasure ;
That's vanity, and mortal poison now,
For which he hunger'd as his food and treasure.
Now the mad prodigal comes to himself,
Perhaps the world doth him its husks deny.
Why, saith he, did I leave a father's house?
There none do want; here I must starve and die.
O that I had not tasted Satan's bait,
Nor pamper'd Aesh, and pleased vain appetite,
Neglected grace, and things of greater weight,
Nor meddled with sin's poisonous delight!
But the time lost can never be recall’d,
The works of madness cannot be undone;
I have undone myself; is there no help?
I know all else is vain; there is but one.
A father's love affordeth me some hope,
The world gives none: I must return or die;
I'll go, and humbly all my sin confess,
And cast myself upon his clemency.
But God is just and holy : how can I,
Defil'd with sin and guilt, stand in his sight?
Now the sick soul a sure physician needs,
There is one Saviour, who is God's delight.
He is the way, by whom men come to God,
He is the truth, to save the world from error;
He is the life, to save from endless death
Self-murdering souls, subject to hellish terror.
And now the gospel's better understood;
Redemption seemeth not a needless thing;
His thoughts are precious of Christ's precious blood,
His mediator, prophet, priest, and king.
The gospel now is tidings of great joy,
Pardon of sin, adoption, peace with God,
Freedom from terror, Satan, sin, and hell,
Man's self-made, and God's just revenging rod.
He sees why love in man's repair must be
As much admired, as power in our creation,
Sinners cannot immediately God see,
But by a mediator have salvation.
Now all things else seem loss and dung for Christ;
Wisdom is folly where Christ is left out;
To know him is the true philosophy;
The rest doth teach men but to prate and doubt.
Some glimpse of God and Heav'n, blurr'd nature yields,
But it's but as a candle to the sun;
Others towards God and Heav'n may grope and creep,
Christians with joyful hope believe bnt run.