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Yet he may be said not to be far from the kingdom of God, likewise, in a Fourfold respect.

1. In that he is far from that, which is furthest from grace : and that is gross, Aagitious, and notorious sins, which are farthest off from grace of all others; and these a natural man may be very far and free from, and therefore not far from grace.

2. He may have that, which very much resembles and counterfeits grace : so that, as to outward appearance, there is but very little dissimilitude discernible between them : now that, which is like another, may be said not to be far from that, which it is like.

3. He may be said not to be far from grace, because, as I told you before, in the ordinary works of the Spirit upon his soul, he may have those preparations and dispositions laid in them, which usually are previous and antecedent to grace, because these are wrought usually before grace; and therefore the person, that hath these wrought upon him, may be said not to be far from grace.

4. He may be said not to be far from grace, because, if he did proceed but a little farther, he would possibly attain to true grace. Had such but improved their natural power to such a degree farther, God would have come in with power supernatural; and have wrought that true and saving principle in their lives, which would have been sure to have brought them to eternal life. Grace, indeed, hath such a kind of dependance upon that which is natural: and that dependance is not so much of causality, as of order and consequence; which, though it be not necessary, yet is commonly granted on all hands.

Thus then, in the general, I have shewn you that unregenerate men may go far, yea very far towards grace. A man may be almost a Christian, and yet be out of Christ; be near the kingdom of heaven, and yet not in it; and, possibly, be for ever excluded and shut out of it,

progress a natural

iii. I shall proceed to the next thing propounded. As we have seen, in the general; so now let us consider, IN PARTICULAR, what

man may
make towards

grace. And that I shall do, by considering the several steps and degrees by which they may arise up to a great height and glory of outward profession. And this we cannot better do, than by shewing,

What grace is.

What resemblance that, which is wrought by a mere

carnal man, may carry in it like true grace. By comparing these together, we may see how near an unregenerate, carnal man may come to true and saving grace.

1. What Grace is.

I need not tell you, that I speak not now of an Objective Grace, inherent in God; but terminated on us, whereby a change is wrought in our relation to him: and this Objective Grace is nothing else, but the divine love, favour, and good will of God expressed in us. But I speak of a Subjective Grace, inherent in us; whereby a real change is made in our lives and natures. And, in brief, you may take this description of subjective or inherent grace: It is a supernatural habit, immediately infused into the soul by the Holy Ghost, residing in every power and faculty of the soul as a principle of holy and spiritual operation. And there is a Fivefold change wrought by it: Upon the Judgment, or the Direct Understanding, by

informing and enlightening it.
Upon the Conscience, in the Reflex Understanding, by

awakening and pacifying it.
Upon the Affections, by spiritualizing them.
Upon the Will, by converting it.

Upon the Life and Conversation, by reforming it. This Fivefold change is wrought upon the whole soul by the true and sanctifying grace.

2. Now, in the next place, I shall shew how far a natural man may attain to these, so as to be almost a Christian.

(1) As for his Mind or Understanding, he may be irradiated with a clear and sparkling knowledge of divine and spiritual objects, when yet the soul is not truly converted to God.

It is true, as, in the creation of the world, the light is numbered and reckoned aniongst the first of God's works; so likewise, in this new creation, the first work of the Spirit of God is to shed abroad his heavenly light in the understanding: and, therefore, we have this first in order, in that commission, which our Saviour Jesus Christ gives to St. Paul, Acts xxvi. 18. He sent him to the Gentiles, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light; and, then it follows, from the power of Satan unto God. But, yet, notwithstanding, there is an illumination about spiritual things, which may gild and beautify the understanding of a natural man; who, like a toad, may be full of poison, though he hath a precious stone in his head. The Apostle lays down this as one of those attainments that an unregenerate man may have, and yet be an apostate: Heb. vi. 4. He may not only have a deep knowledge of gospel mysteries, so as to see the whole compages and concatenation of the doctrine of Christ, and to unfold them to others; but may have also particular discoveries of the glory and beauty that there is in these things. We may see it clearly by Balaam's ecstasy, Numb. xxiv. 5. Such discoveries carnal hearts may have made to them, and see their lustre and beauty. Nay, further, a carnal man may be convinced, that there is no other way of recovery but by the grace of God through the merits of Christ, of the suitableness of Christ to his soul, of the freeness of God's love, of the riches of his grace, of the readiness of his heart to receive him, of the desirableness of happiness, and of the beauty of holiness; and yet, for all this, remain in a natural state.

But now, not to leave you under doubts and perplexities, such an illumination of a carnal man falls far short of true grace in these Two particulars.

[1] In that it is but lumen sterile, a barren light.

Illumination, that is saving, is not only light, but influence too. As the light of the sun doth not serve only to paint the world, and varnish over the beauty and variety of the several creatures that are in it; but carries in it a grateful heat and cherishing influence, which operates into them and refreshes them; and, as the light discovers their beauty, so these influences increase it: so, saving illumination not only illustrates the soul by its light; but, likewise, by the congenialness of its influences, nourishes the soul, draws sap into it and fruit from it. Such is not the illumination of an unregenerate man: it is but a barren light, and only serves to paint his understanding; and hath no influence on it, to make the soul grow

in grace,

and bring forth the fruits of holiness, to the praise of God.

[2] It is an ineffectual, idle light.

That illumination, that is saving, is transforming : 2 Cor. ïi. 18. We all.....as in a glass, behold the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image, &c. If a beam of the sun fall upon a looking-glass, it not only makes it glitter with a glorious light, but it represents the very image of the sun in the glass; but, let it beat never so clearly and strongly upon a mud-wall, though it enlighten it, yet it doth not thereby leave its image upon it: 50, truly, illumination, that is saving, doth not only irradiate, but transform. If you look upon the sun when shining in its strength,

the light thereof will imprint the very shape and image of the sun upon your eye; and, look where you will, still you retain the appearance of the sun before you: so, every sight, that a true Christian hath of the Sun of Righteousness, will make as it were another sun in his soul. But the illumination of wicked men doth only enlighten, not change them : their understandings may be irradiated with glorious discoveries of God, and of Christ, and the things of heaven; but this doth not transform them into the image and likeness of those things. The illumination of godly men and true Christians is like the light, which breaks through the air, and turns every vast body throughout the world all into light. It is with wicked, unregenerate men, as with those that lie long in the sun-shine; which, though it enlightens them, yet doth but afterwards make them more black and swarthy: so, thou mayest have as much notional knowledge of God, and Christ, and the mysteries of the gospel, as any child of God hath, and possibly much more: yet this is no true sign of

grace; for this knowledge is not therefore saving because it is clear and comprehensive, but because it is influential and transforming. And, usually, we perceive, that where the light of knowledge shines into a wicked heart, it doth but tan and make the person more black and swarthy; more sinful, than before.

Thus, as to the Direct Understanding of the Judgment, a natural man may have a bright, clear, and glittering light concerning heavenly and spiritual objects.

(2) As for the Reflex Understanding of the Conscience: neither yet the peace nor the trouble of conscience, is such an attainment as a natural man cannot reach.

[1] A natural man may have a Quiet and Peaceable Conscience.'

Indeed, when this peace is true, it is always an effect of grace; and therefore we thus find them coupled together, Rom. i. 7. i Cor. i. 3 : yet there is that, which looks very like peace of conscience, though it be not such; and that is a supine presumption and a carnal stupidity and ossitancy: their consciences are never troubled at the sight of sin or the sense of wrath; but they are like those presumptuous sinners spoken of Deut. xxix. 19. And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, &c. Now this peace is founded only upon bold and confident persuasions of God's infinite mercy and gracious disposition: and, because God will exalt his mercy above all his name, therefore they conclude, that, as God hath exalted his power in creating and sustaining them, so he will much more exalt his mercy in saving them. Thus, as madmen often fancy themselves kings or some great personages, when indeed they are but wretched and miserable spectacles; so do these spiritual madmen : and, as the Devil appropriates to himself all the glory of the earth, so these look

upon heaven, and all the glory of it, and boldly call it all their own; yea, and, through their wretched security, are bold to cry out with Thomas, My Lord, and my God. To such I may say, with our Saviour in another case, God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living : God is not the God of such, as love and live in their sins and lusts; and that call him Father, whom yet they dishonour by a lewd and dissolute life. This is but to father one of the Devil's offspring upon the Holy God. Indeed men, by enormous and flagitious crimes, have so wounded and wasted their consciences, that now they retain not strength enough to accuse, molest, and trouble them; and this they call peace of conscience: such a peace, as Gallicus (in Tacitus) exprobrates the Romans with: when they have laid all waste, this they call peace: but this peace is rather deadness of conscience; and is far from that, which ariseth from the true grace of God. The Holy Ghost, in conviction, destroys this ill-grounded peace; and works in the soul horrors and terrors, and affrights the secure soul, when it shews it how it slept upon the top of the mast, and lay on the very brink of the infernal pit. As, therefore, we must not discourage a broken spirit, but embolden it to appropriate Christ and all the promises of the gospel to itself in particular: so we must let wicked men know, that, when they presume to call God, their God and their Father, and yet continue in their sins and wickedness, they will find, that, instead of being their Father, he will only be their Judge. Now it will appear that this peace of a carnal man is only from deep security, and the spirit of slumber that hath seized upon them: because, when we come to examine the grounds of it, they plead only the goodness of their hearts, and there is nothing more familiar and frequent than this they boast of; and, though they live in a constant neglect of holy duties, and wallow in the filth of customary sins, yet still they boast of this, that they have very good hearts, upright intentions. This is a mere delusion;

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