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SER M. fect kind of salvation, which they owe to our Lord,
and in regard whereto he may be called in a fort their Saviour.
But although the torrent of natural pravity hath prevailed so far, as that we cannot assign, or nominate any (among those, who have lived out of the pale) who certainly or probably have obtained falvation, yet doth it not follow thence, that a sufficient grace was wanting to them. The most universal practice contrary to the intents of grace doth not evince a defect of graces. For we see that the same cause hath in a manner universally overborne and defeated other means and methods designed and dispensed by
God for the instruction and emendation of mankind. Gen. ti. 3.
God's Spirit did long strive with the inhabitants of Pet. iii. 20.
the old world ; yet no more than one family was bet
tered or saved thereby. God by his good spirit inNah, ix. 20. structed the Israelites in the wilderness (as Nehemiah
saith); yet no more than two persons did get into Canaan: that people afterward had afforded to them great advantages of knowledge and excitements to piety (so that God intimates, that he could not have
done more for them, in that regard, than he had done). Ifa.. 4. Yet, There is none that understandeth, or seeketh after
God, was a complaint in the best times. The Pagans Rom. i, 21. had the means of knowing God, as St. Paul affirm
eth, yet generally they grew vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened ; from which like cases and examples we may infer, that divine grace might be really imparted, although no effect correspondent to its main design were produced. Neither, because we cannot alledge any evident instances of persons converted or saved by virtue of this grace (this parcior occultiorque gratia, more Sparing and secret grace, as the good writer de Voca
tione Gentium calls it), are we forced to grant there sKings xix. were none such; but as in Israel when Elias said, the
Children of Israel have forsaken God's covenant, thrown down his altars, and sain his prophets with the sword;
and I, I only am left; there were yet in Israel, living s ER M. closely, seven thousand knees, who had not bowed to Baal: lo among the generations of men, commonly gvergrown with ignorance and impiety, there might, for all that we can know, be divers persons indiscernible to common view, who, by complying with the influences of God's grace, have obtained competently to know God, and to reverence him ; sincerely to love goodness, and hate wickedness; with an honest heart, to observe the laws of reason and righteousness, in such a manner and degree which God might accept ; so that the grace afforded might not only suffie cere omnibus in teftimonium (Juffice to convince all men); but quibusdam in remedium (to correct and cure fome), as that writer de Voc. Gent, speaks. The confideration of God's nature and providence doth serve farther to per- Plal.cxlv.g. suade the truth of this affertion. If God be rich in merry and bounty toward all his creatures, as such, (and such he frequently afferts himself to be) if he be allpresent, and all-provident, as he certainly is, how can we conceive him to stand as an unconcerned spectator of what men do, in affairs of this consequence? That he should be present beholding men to run precipitantly into desperate mischiefs and miscarriages, without offering to stay or obstruct them; ftruggling with their vices and follies, without affording them any relief or furtherance; affaulted by strong temptations, without yielding any support or luccour; panting after rest and ease, without vouchfafing some guidance and affistance toward the obtaining them? How can he see men invincibly erring and inevitably finning, without making good what the Psalmist says of him: Good and upright is the Pfal. xxv. 84 Lord, therefore will be teach finners in the way; to withhold his grace in such cases, seemeth inconsistent with the kind and compassionate nature of God, especially such as now it stands, being reconciled to mankind, by the Mediator of God and meri, Christ Jesus. He also, that is so bountiful and indulgent toward all men in regard to their bodies and tempo
Acts xiv. 17.
ŞER M, ral estate; who preserveth their life from destruction,
who protecteth them continually from danger and
mischief; who openeth his hand, and satisfieth the dePfal. ciii
. 4. fires of every living thing, who satisfieth the longing cvii.9. foul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness ; who
(as St. Paul speaketh) filleth men's hearts with food and gladness; is it likely that he should altogether neglect their spiritual welfare, and leave their souls utterly destitute of all sustenance or comfort ; that he should suffer them to lie fatally exposed to eternal death and ruin, without offering any means of redress or recovery? To conceive so of God, seeined
very unreasonable even to a Pagan philosopher : Do Max. Tyr. you think (faith Max. Tyrius) that divination, poetry,
and such like things, are by divine inspiration insinuated into men's fouls, and that virtue (so much better, and fo much rarer a thing) is the work of moral art? * You have for
footh a worthy conceit of God, who take him to be liberal in bestowing mean things, and sparing of betAas xvii. ter things. He that (as St. Paul saith) giveth to all
men life, breath, and all things, will he withhold from any that best of gifts, and most worthy of him to give, that grace whereby he may be able to serve him, to praise him, to glorify him, yea, to please and
gratify him; to save a creature and subject of his; Akts xiv., the thing wherein he so much delighteth? From Rom. i. 19. hence also, that God hath vouchsafed general testi
monies of his goodness, inducements to seek him, footsteps whereby he may be discovered and known, a light of reason and law of nature written upon men's hearts ; attended with satisfactions, and checks of conscience; so inany dispositions to knowledge and obedience (as St. Paul teacheth us), we may collect that he is not deficient in communicating interior assistances, promoting the good use and improvement of those talents; for that otherwise the bestow
* Η πολλού άξιος νομίζεις το θείον, προς μεν τα φαύλα καλώς και αφθονως παρεσκευασμένον, προς δε τα κρείτίω άπορον.
ing them is frustraneous and useless ; being able to SERM. produce no good effect; yea, it rather is an argument of unkindness, being apt only to produce an ill effect in those, upon whom it is conferred ; an aggravation of fin, an accumulation of guilt and wrath
If it be said, that having fuch grace is inconfiftent with the want of an explicit knowledge of Christ, and of faith in him ; why may not we say, that as probably (fo St. Chryfoftom, vid. Mont. App. I.) moft good people before our Lord's coming received grace without any such knowledge or faith; that as, to idiots and infants, our Saviour's meritorious performances are applied (in a manner unknowable by us) without so much as a capacity to know or believe any thing; that so we (to whom God's judgments are infcrutable, and his ways uninvestigable) know not Rom. xi. 33. how grace may be communicated unto, and Christ's merits may avail for other ignorant persons. In respect to whom we may apply that of St. John ; The John i. 5. light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. However, that such persons may have a grace capacitating them to arrive to that knowledge and faith, to which fuller communications of grace are promised ; so that in reasonable esteem (as we shall presently shew) the revelation of evangelical truth, and the gift of faith, may be supposed to be conferred upon all men-fo that we may apply to them that in the Revelation ; Behold, I stand at the door and Apoc. iii. knock; if any man will hear my voice, and open the mi,
Εί τυφλοί ή. door, I will come in unto him, and fup with him, and te, vix is in be with me; (that is, Behold, I allure every man to the diseapa the knowledge and embracing of Christianity; if Joh. ir. 41. any man will open his mind and heart, so as to comply with my solicitations, I am ready to bestow upon him the participation of evangelical mercies and blessings) and to such persons those promises and rules in the Gospel may appertain ; He that asketb, Luke xi, receiveth; be that seeketh, findeth; to bin that knocketh 10. i 3.
SER M. it shall be opened : The heavenly Father will give the
. (faithful in the use of the least grace) shall be reLuke xix. warded. And, to him that hath (or that diligently 37. 19. 26.
keepeth and husbandeth what he hath) shall more be given.
And how God sometimes dealeth with such perfons the eminent instances of St. Paul and Cornelius do fhew. But concerning this point I spake somewhat before, and have perhaps been too large now; I shall only add that saying of the wise writer de Voc. Gen. * A pious mind (faith he) Jould not, I think, be troubled at that question, which is made concerning the conversion of all, or not all men; if we will not obscure those things which are clear, by those things which are secret ; and while we wantonly infift upon things shut up, we be not excluded from those which are open and plain : Which in effect is the same with this; that since we are plainly taught, that our Lord is the Saviour of all men; and it is consequent thence, that he hath procured grace sufficiently capacitating all men to obtain salvation; we need not perplex the business, or obscure so apparent a truth, by debating how that grace is imparted; or by labouring overmuch in reconciling the dispensation thereof with other difpen. fations of Providence.
• Puto quod pius fenfus non debeat in ea quæstione turbari, quæ de omnium et non omnium hominum conversione generatur; fi ea quæ clara sunt non de his quæ occulta sunt obscuremus, et dum procaciter insistimus' claufis excludainur ab apertis, &c. Lib. i. cap. 8.