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The NATURE of salvation by CHRIST.
2 Tim. i. 9, 10. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling ;
not according to our works, but according to his owrz purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ
Jesus before the world began ; But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Sa
viour Jesus Christ ; who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.
'He first that I take notice of, is, that
the apostle doth as it were, interrupt himself
to make an ingenuous acknowledgment of God. For having but an occasion to speak of God, and of his goodness, respectively to us; he doth interpose here a most free and ingenuous acknowledgment, before he doth proceed in his argument, who hath saved us, &c.
I observe hence, that it becometh us, especially in what is saying and fovereign, to take notice of Go', and to acknowledge him : even there where we are concerned in point of duty; and have also a part to act. For the apostle is upon exhortation
to Timothy, to stir up the grace of God; to use the grace, and to apply himself to God according to the use of the means and directions he is giving. Having occafion to mention God, he doth interpose these two verses, wherein he doth make acknowledgment of God, in things that are of a saving and sovereign nature and quality. This is observable; this is by us imitable : and indeed this is to follow the example of the holy scripture, for the scripture doth abundantly teach, that to God is owing as principally, so primarily, whatsoever is of fovereign use or consequence to us. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. John iii. 16. And Christ is made to us of God, wisdom, righteousness sanctification and redemption, 1. Cor. i. 30. Him hath God raised up to be a prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Ifrael and remission of sin. Acts v. 31. God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing trespasses. 2 Cor. v. 19. It is God that werketh in us both to will and to do, Phil. ii. 13. It is creature-like to acknowledge God in all things : for in him we live, and move, and have our being, Acts xvii. 28. And of him, and through him, and to him are all things, Rom. xi. 36. By him we were made, and for his will and pleasure we are and were created, Rev. iv. 11.
But then it is also christian to acknowledge the gospel-benefits. For the benefits of the gospel are fuperadded ; they are over-plus, they are the gratuities of God ; they are things beyond the dues, the circumstances of the creation of God. We might
have been God's creatures, made in his image ; we might have been as he made us, or as we are ; and yet never invested with these gospel liberties, immunities, and priviledges. Therefore especially in things that are of a sovereign nature, we ought to fee, and acknowledge God. I dare say every good man doth this sincerely, and heartily, yea he is so free in this matter, that notwithstanding some of these are misrepresented, and suspected by their brethren, yet every one of them will heartily thank that person that will shew him, how he may acknowledge God more than he doth. For my part, I do not believe it otherwise, in any ages of the world paft, (I speak of the christian world) I will not exempt, nor leave out them who have been incompetently branded for hereticks. I do not think any honest man was ever faulty in this particular, to derogate from the grace of God, and to arrogate to himself : for my part, I have not power.
It is no prejudice to this great truth; but there is an injury done to the meaning and intention of those, who do thus distinguish ; and here lies all the difference. And if fo be you could thus distinguish, there were an end of contradiction and dispute.
Confider God as the author of nature, consider him also as the giver of grace. All that we have refers to God, upon one of these accounts, or other. If some attribute to him that as the author of nature which others do as the giver of grace ; however it is God that is acknowledged, and God as original, and it doth infer an equal engagement upon us to God; and they do not thereby lefsen, neither is it
their intention to abate, or lessen the grace of God, or to free men from engagement and obligation to God; when they distinguish upon this account, the gifts of nature, and the gifts of grace ; acknowledging God upon both accounts, the founder of intellectual natures, the invester of human nature with faculties, capacities and abilities ; and the giver of it, the upholder, maintainer of it; the director of it: and then (applying himself to the neceffity of the lapsed case of man) reinforcing, recovering, restoring him by a super-addition of grace. It is God in both cases ; God universally that is acknowledged ; in both cases acknowledgment is made, and observation given to the direction of wisdom. Commit thyself to the Lord, and lean not to thy own understanding ; in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths, Pro. iii. 5,6. Being fenfible that it is God that teaches the mind of man knowledge ; that it is God that instructs us more than the beasts of the field, Job xxxv. 11. That it is the inspiration of the almighty that gives understanding. For God instructs the husbandman even to plow, and saw, Isa. xxviii. 26. and to do every thing in his season, and to fit his soil with his grain, as the prophet Isaiah hath observed. And if he do the least, no doubt he will do the greater : and if he hath done so much, on the first account of nature, and in pursuance of his first creation ; no doubt but he will do equally and proportionably in his second creation, the regeneration, and restoration of lapsed, and ruined man.
But to tell you the plain of the case. There are in the world, persons of free minds and of ingenuous consideration, that think it an unadviseable thing to put the two great things of God so highly beneficial to men, to put them in an odious, and in an envious competition : I mean, the primary and original goodness of God, that is the perfection of his nature, and which makes him tender and compaflionate to us; and the other, the happy interpofition, mediation, and interceffion of our blefled Lord and Saviour, which was a voluntary undertaking on man's behalf, which doth further procure grace, favour and acceptance. Now here is the thing, divide between these two ; and what you
attribute solely to one, you
take away wholly from the other. But if you give me leave, declining an odious competiţion between these two tranfcendantand meritorious principles of good to all mankind, I will interpose with a distinction that we have in logick, that is mightily accommodate to this business.
There are two efficient, motive, impulsive caufes; that is, two motive principles, that do affect, i dispose, and incline the efficient cause. There is
that which doth inwardly affect and dispose the a
gent within himself, viz. the rectitude or goodness e
of his own constitution ; this is a motive, impulsive cause from within : then there
may ternal motive and impulsive cause, viz. the fight of something that doth highly please, and doth further excite and engage the agent to go on.
When we distinguish these, I will attribute one to God, and
the other to our Saviour. I will make the good
be after an ex