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And, indeed, what hinders the connexion of this assurance? Our works make good the truth of our faith; our faith makes good pur effectual calling; our calling makes good our election; therefore, even by good works we make our election sure.
Neither can it hurt us, that the Cardinal saith we hold this certainty to be before our good works, not after them; and, therefore, that it is not caused by our good works. We stand not nicely to distinguish how things stand in the order of nature : surely, this certainty is both before and after our works; before, in the act of our faith; after, in our works, confirming our faith. Neither do we say this certainty is caused by our good works, but confirmed by them. Neither doth this Betaíwois imply always a thing before uncertain; as learned Chamier well: but the completing and making up of a thing, sure before. To which also must be added, that these, rand épyu, good works, must be taken in the largest lati. tude: so as to fetch in, not only the outward good offices that fall from us in the way whether of our charity, justice, or devotion; but the very inmost inclinations and actions of the soul, tending towards God; our believing in him, our loving of him, our dreading of his Infinite Majesty, our mortification of our corrupt affections, our joy in the Holy Ghost, and whatsoever else may argue or make us holy. These are the means, by which we may and must endeavour to make our calling and election sure.
But, to let this clause pass as litigious; the undoubted words of the text go to no less, If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: THŪTA, these things, are the virtues precedently mentioned; and not falling, is equivalent to ascertaining our calling and election.
Not to instance, then, and urge those many graces, which are here specified, I shall content myself with those three theological virtues, singled out from the rest, Faith, Hope, Charity; for the making sure our calling and election.
For FAITH, how clear is that of our Saviour, He, that believes in him, that sent me, hath everlasting life; and shall not come into condemnation ; but hath passed froin death to life! John v. 24. This
grace, by which Christ dwells in our hearts; Eph. iii. 17: and whereby we have communion with Christ, and an assured testimony of and from him; For, he, that believeth in the Son of God, hath the witness in himself; i John v. 10. And what witness is that? This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son; verse 11: He, that hath the Son, haih life; verse 12. See what a connexion here is: eternal life, first: this life eternal is in and by Christ Jesus: this Jesus is ours, by faith : this faith witnesseth to our souls our assurance of life eterna).
Our HOPE is next; which is an dronepadonía, “a thrusting out of the head to look for the performing” of that, which our faith apprehends: and this is so sure a grace, as that it is called by the name of that glory which it expecteth; Col. i. 5: For the hope sake, which is laid up for you in heaven; that is, for the glory we hope for. Now, both faith and hope are of a cleansing nature: both agree in this, Purifying their hearts by faith • Acts xv. 9. Every one, that hath this hope, purifieth himself, even as he is pure ; 1 John iii. 3. The Devil is an unclean spirit: he fouls, wheresoever he comes: and all sin is nasty and beastly. Faith and hope, like as neat housewives when they come into a foul and sluitish house, cleanse all the rooms of the soul; and make it a fit habitation for the Spirit of God. Are our hearts lifted up then, in a comfortable expectation of the performance of God's merciful promises? and are they, together with our lives, swept and cleansed from the wonted corruptions of our nature, and pollutions of our sin? This is an undoubted evidence of our calling and election,
CHARITY is the last; which comprehends our love both to God and man: for, from the reflection of God's love to us, there ariseth a love from us to God again. The Beloved Disciple can say, We love him, because he loved us first; 1 John iv. 19. And, from both these, resulteth our love to our brethren; which is so full an evidence, that our Apostle tells us, We know we are passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; 1 John iii. 14. For, the love of the father is inseparable from the love of the son: he, that loves him that begets, loves him that is begotten of him.
Shortly, then, think not of a ladder to climb up into heaven, to search the books of God.
First, look into your own lives. Those are most open: we need no locks or keys to them. The Psalmist, in his fifteenth, will tell you who is for that blissful Sion: are your lives innocent; are your works good and holy; do ye abound in the fruits of piety, justice, Christian compassion ? Let these be your first trial. It is a Hat and plain word of the divine Apostle, Whosoever doth not righteousness, is not of God; 1 John iii, io.
Look, secondly, into your own BOSOMS; open to none but your own eyes.
If find there a true and lively faith in the Son of God; by whose blood ye are cleansed from all your sins; by virtue whereof ye can cry, Abba, Father: a sure hope in Christ, purifying your souls from your corruptions: a true and unfeigned love to your God and Saviour, who hath done so much for your souls; so as you dare say, with that fervent Apostle, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee: and, in him and for his sake, a sincere love to his children, as such; not as men, not as witty, wise, noble, rich, bountiful, useful, but as Christians; showing itself in all real expressions: These, these are excellent and irrefragable proofs and evictions of your calling and election. Seek for these in your hearts and hands; and seek for them, till ye find them; and, when ye have found them, make much of them as the invaluable favours of God, and labour for a continual increase of them, and a growth in this heavenly assurance by them.
What need I urge any Motives, to stir up your Christian care and diligence? Do but look, first, BEHIND you. See but how much precious time we have already lost; how we have loitered hitherto in our great work. Bernard's question is fit still to be asked by us of our souls; Bernarde, ad quid venisti? Wherefore are we here upon earth? To pamper our gut? To tend our hide?
To wallow in all voluptuous courses? To scrape up the pelf of the world; as if the only end of our being were carnal pleasure, worldly profit? O base and unworthy thoughts! What do we with reason, if we be thus prostituted ? It is for beasts, which have no souis, to be all for sense. For us, that have ratiocination and pretend grace, we know we are here but in a thoroughfare to another world, and all the inain task we have to do here in this life, is, to provide for a better. Oh then, let us recollect ourselves, at the iast; and redeem the time: and, over-looking this vain and worthiess world, bend all our best endeavours to make sure work for eternity.
Look, secondly, BEFORE you; and see the shortness and uncertainty of this, which we call a life. What day is there, that may not be our last ? What hour is there, that we can make account of as certain ? And think how many worids the dying man would give, in the late conscience of a careless life, for but one day more to do his negiected work: and shall we wilfully be prodigal of this happy leisure and liberty; and knowingly hazard so woeful and irremediable a surprisal?
Look, thirdly, BELOW you; and see the horror of that dreadful place of torment, which is the unavoidable portion of careless and unreclainable sinners : consider the extremity, the eternity of those tortures; which, in vain, the secure heart slightly hoped to avoid.
Look, lastly, ABOVE you; and see whether that heaven, whose outside we behold, be not worthy of our utmost ambition, of our most zealous and effectual endeavours. Do we not think, there is pleasure, and happiness, enough in that region of glory and blessed. ness, to make abundant amends for all our self-combats; for all our tasks of dutiful service; for all our painful exercises of mortification? Oh then, let us earnestly and unweariably aspire thither; and think all the time lost, that we employ not in the endeavour of making sure of that blessed and eternal inheritance: To the full possession whereof, he, that hath purchased it for us, by his most precious blood, in his good time happily bring us. Amen,
END OF THE FIFTH VOLUME,
C. WHITTINGHAM, Printer, Dean Street,