The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 5
(... continued from file 4)

Sermon 4. 
Concerning the Work of the Spirit, as the internal, and most 
effectual Mean of the Application of Christ. 
John 6: 44. 
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw 
    Our last discourse informed you of the usefulness and influence 
of the preaching of the gospel, in order to the application of 
Christ to the souls of men. There must be (in God's ordinary way) 
the external ministerial offer of Christ, before men can have union 
with him. 
    But yet, all the preaching in the world can never effect this 
union with Christ in itself, and in its oven virtue, except a 
supernatural and mighty power go forth with it for that end and 
purpose. Let Boanerges and Barnabas try their strength, let the 
angels of heaven be the preachers; till God draw, the soul cannot 
come to Christ. 
    No saving benefit is to be had by Christ, without union with 
his person, no union with his person without faith, no faith 
ordinarily wrought without the preaching of the gospel by Christ's 
ambassadors, their preaching has no saving efficacy without Gods 
drawings, as will evidently appear by considering these words and 
the occasion of them. 
    The occasion of these words is found (as learned Cameron well 
observes) in the 42d verse, "And they said, is not this Jesus the 
son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" Christ had been 
pressing upon them in his ministry, the great and necessary duty of 
faith; but notwithstanding the authority of the preacher; the 
holiness of his life; the miracles by which he confirmed his 
doctrine; they still objected against him, "is not this the 
carpenter's son?" From whence Christ takes occasion for these words; 
"No man can come unto me, except my Father which has sent me, draw 
him," q. d. In vain is the authority of my person urged; in vain are 
all the miracles wrought in your sight, to confirm the doctrine 
preached to you; till that secret, almighty power of the Spirit be 
put forth upon your hearts, you will not, you cannot, come unto me. 
    The words are a negative proposition, 
    In which the author, and powerful manner of divine operation in 
working faith, are contained: these must be drawing before 
believing, and that drawing must be the drawing of God: every word 
has its weight: we will consider them in the order they lie in the 
    "Oudeis", - No Man] not one, let his natural qualifications be 
what they will, let his external advantages, in respect of means and 
helps, be never so great: it is not in the power of any man; all 
persons, in all ages, need the same power of God, one at well as 
another; every man is alike dead, impotent, and averse to faith in 
his natural capacity. No man, or - not one, among all the sons of 
    "Dunatai" - Can] or is able: he speaks of impotency to special 
and saving actions, such as believing in Christ is: no act that is 
saving can be done without the concurrence of special grace. Other 
acts that have a remote tendency to it, are performed by a more 
general concourse and common assistance; so men may come to the 
word, and attend to what is spoken, remember and consider what the 
word tells them; but as to believing or coming to Christ, that no 
man can do of himself, or by a general and common assistance. No man 
    "Echtein pros me", - Cone unto me,] i.e. believe in me unto 
salvation. Coming to Christ, and believing in him, are terms 
aequipollent, and are indifferently used to express the nature of 
saving faith, as is plain, ver. 35. "He that comes to me shall never 
hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst:" it notes 
the terms from which and to which the soul moves, and the 
voluntariness of the motion, notwithstanding that divine power by 
which the will is drawn to Christ. 
    "Ean me ho Pater", Except my Father] not excluding the other 
two Persons; for every word of God relating to the creatures is 
common to all the three Persons; nor only to note that the Father is 
the first in order of working: but the reason is hinted in the next 
    "Ho pempsas me", - Who has sent me,] God has entered into 
covenant with the Son, and sent him, stands obliged thereby, to 
bring the promised seed to him, and that he does by drawing them to 
Christ by faith: so the next words tell us the Father does, 
    "Elkuse auton". - Draw him.] That is, powerfully and 
effectually incline his will to come to Christ: "Not by a violent 
co-action, but by a benevolent bending of the will which was 
averse;" and as it is not in the way of force and compulsion, so 
neither is it by a simple moral suasion, by the bare proposal of an 
object to the will, and so leaving the sinner to his own election; 
but it is such a persuasion, as has a mighty overcoming efficacy 
accompanying which more anon. 
    The words thus opened, the observation will be this: 
    Doct. That it is utterly impossible for any man to come to 
    Jesus Christ, unless he be drawn unto him by the special and 
    mighty power of God. 
    No man is compelled to come to Christ against his will, he that 
comes, comes willingly, but even that will and desire to come is the 
effect of grace, Phil. 2: 13. "It is God that worketh in you, both 
to will and to do of his own good pleasure." 
    "If we desire the help and assistance of grace, (saith 
Fulgentius) even the desire is of grace; grace must first be shed 
forth upon us, before we can begin to desire it." "By grace are we 
saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of 
God," Eph. 2: 8. Suppose the utmost degree of natural ability; let a 
man be as much disposed and prepared as nature can dispose or 
prepare him, and to all this, add the proposal of the greatest 
arguments and motives to induce him to come; let all these have the 
advantage of the fittest season to work upon his heart; yet no man 
can come till God draw him: we move as we are moved: as Christ's 
coming to us, so our coming to him are the pure effects of grace. 
    Three things require explication in this point before us. 
    First, What the drawing of the Father imports. 
    Secondly, In what manner he draws men to Christ. 
    Thirdly, How it appears that none can come till they be so 
    First, What the drawing of the Father imports. 
    To open this, let it be considered, that drawing is usually 
distinguished into physical and moral. The former is either by co- 
action, force, and compulsion; or, by a sweet congruous efficacy 
upon the will. As to violence and compulsion, it is none of God's 
way and method, it being both against the nature of the will of man, 
which cannot be forced, and against the will of Jesus Christ, who 
loves to reign over a free and willing people, Psal. 110: 5. "Thy 
people shall be willing in the day of thy power." Or, as that word 
may be rendered, they shall be voluntarinesses, as willing as 
willingness itself. It is not then by a forcible co-action, but in a 
moral way of persuasion, that God the Father draws men to Jesus 
Christ: He draws with the bands of a man, as they are called, Hos. 
11: 14. i.e. in a way of rational conviction of the mind and 
conscience, and effectual persuasion of the will. 
    But yet by moral persuasion, we must not understand a simple 
and bare proposal or tender of Christ and grace, leaving it still at 
the sinners choice, whether he will comply with it or no. For though 
God does not force the will contrary to its nature, yet there is a 
real internal efficacy implied in this drawing, or an immediate 
operation of the Spirit upon the heart and will, which, in a way 
congruous and suitable to its nature, takes away the rebellion and 
reluctance of it, and of unwilling, makes it willing to come to 
Christ. And, in this respect, we own a physical, as well as a moral 
influence of the Spirit in this work; and so scripture expresses its 
Eph. 1: 19, 20. "That we may know what is the exceeding greatness of 
his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his 
mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from 
the dead." Here is much more than a naked proposal made to the will; 
there is a power as well as a tender; greatness of power; and yet 
more, the exceeding greatness of his power; and this power has an 
actual efficacy ascribed to it, he works upon our hearts and wills 
according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in 
Christ, when he raised him from the dead. Thus he fulfils in us all 
the good pleasure of his will, and the work of faith with power, 2 
Thess. 1: 11. 
    And this is that which the schools call gratia efficax, 
effectual grace; and others victrix delectatio, an overcoming, 
conquering delight: thus the work is carried on with a most 
efficacious sweetness. So that the liberty of the will is not 
infringed, whilst the obstinacy of the will is effectually subdued 
and overruled. For want of this, there are so many almost Christians 
in the world; hence are all those vanishing and imperfect works 
which come to nothing, called in scripture, a morning cloud, an 
early dew. Had this mighty power gone forth with the word, they had 
never vanished or perished like embryos as they do. So then, God 
draws not only in a moral way, by proposing a suitable object to the 
will, but also in a physical way, or by immediate powerful influence 
upon the will; not infringing the liberty of it, but yet infallibly 
and effectually persuading it to come to Christ. 
    Secondly, Next let us consider the marvellous way and manner in 
which the Lord draws the souls of poor sinners to Jesus Christ, and 
you will find he does it, 
    1.  Gradually, 
2.  Congruously, 
3.  Powerfully, 
4.  Effectually, and 
5.  Finally. 
    First, This blessed work is carried on by the Spirit gradually; 
bringing the soul step by step in the due method and order of the 
gospel to Christ; illumination, conviction, compunction, prepare the 
way to Christ; and then faith unites the soul to him: without 
humiliation there can be no faith, Matt. 21: 32. "Ye repented not, 
that ye might believe." It is the burdensome sense of sin, that 
brings the soul to Christ for rest, Matt. 11: 28. "Come unto me all 
ye that are weary and heavy laden." But without conviction there can 
be no compunction, no humiliation; he that is not convinced of his 
sin and misery, never bewails it, nor mourns for it. Never was there 
one tear of true repentance seen to drop from the eye of an 
unconvinced sinner. 
    And without illumination there can be no conviction; for what 
is conviction, but the application of the light which is in the 
understanding, or mind of a man, to his heart and conscience? Acts 
2: 57. In this order, therefore, the Spirit (ordinarily) draws souls 
to Christ, he shines into their minds by illumination; applies that 
light to their consciences by effectual conviction; breaks and 
wounds their hearts for sin in compunction; and then moves the will 
to embrace and close with Christ in the way of faith for life and 
    These several steps are more distinctly discerned in some 
Christians than in others; they are more clearly to be seen in the 
adult convert, than in those that were drawn to Christ in their 
youth; in such as were drawn to him out of a state of profaneness, 
than in those that had the advantage of a pious education; but in 
this order the work is carried on ordinarily in all, however it 
differ in point of clearness in the one and in the other. 
    Secondly, He draws sinners to Christ congruously, and very 
agreeably to the nature and way of man, so he speaks, Hos. 11: 4. "I 
drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love," Not as 
beasts are drawn; but as men are inclined and wrought to compliance, 
by rational conviction of their judgements, and powerful persuasion 
of their wills: the minds of sinners are naturally blinded by 
ignorance, 2 Cor. 4: 3, 4. and their affections bewitched to their 
lusts, Gal. 3: 4. and whilst it is thus, no arguments or entreaties 
can possibly prevail to bring them off from the ways of sin to 
    The way therefore which the Lord takes to win and draw them to 
Christ, is by rectifying their false apprehensions, and shewing them 
infinitely more good in Christ than in the creature and in their 
lusts; yea, by satisfying their understandings, that there is 
goodness enough in Jesus Christ, to whom he is drawing them. 
    First, Enough to out-bid all temporal good, which is to be 
denied for his sake. 
    Secondly, Enough to preponderate all temporal evils, which are 
to be suffered for his sake. 
    First, That there is more good in Christ than in all temporal 
good things, which we are to deny or forsake upon his account. This 
being once clearly and convincingly discovered to the understanding, 
the will is thereby prepared to quit all that which entangles and 
withholds it from coming to Christ. There is no man that loves money 
so much, but he will willingly part with it, for that which is more 
worth to him than the sum he parts with to purchase it, Matth. 13: 
45, 46. "The kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant man, seeking 
goodly pearls, who when he has found one pearl of great price, goes 
and selleth all that he has buyeth it. 
    Such an invaluable pearl is Jesus Christ; infinitely more worth 
than all that a poor sinner has to part with for him; and is a more 
real good than the creature. These are but vain shadows; Prov. 23: 
5. Christ is a solid, substantial good: yea, he is, and by 
conviction appears to be a more suitable good than the creature: The 
world cannot justify and save, but Christ can. Christ is a more 
necessary good than the creature, which is only for our temporal 
convenience, but he is of eternal necessity. He is a more durable 
good than any creature comfort is, or can be: "The fashion of this 
world passeth away," 1 Cor. 7: 13. But durable riches and 
righteousness are in him, Prov. 8: 17. Thus Christ appears in the 
day of conviction, infinitely more excellent than the world; he 
out-bids all the offers that the world can make; and this greatly 
forwards the work of drawing a soul to Jesus Christ. 
    Secondly, And (then to remove every thing out of the way to 
Christ) God discovers to the soul enough in him to preponderate, and 
much more than will recompense all the evils and sufferings it can 
endure for his sake. 
    It is true, they that close with Christ close with his cross 
also: they must expect to save no more but their souls by him. He 
tells us what we must trust to, Luke 14: 26, 27. "If any man come to 
me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and 
brethren and sisters; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my 
disciple." And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, 
cannot be my disciple. 
    To read such a text as this, with such a comment upon it, as 
Satan and our flesh can make, is enough to fright a man from Christ 
for ever. Nor is it possible by all the arguments in the world to 
draw any soul to Christ upon such terms as these, till the Lord 
convince it, that there is enough, and much more than enough in 
Jesus Christ to recompense all these sufferings and losses we endure 
for him. 
    But when the soul is satisfied that those sufferings are but 
external upon the vile body, but that the benefit which comes by 
Christ is internal in a man's own soul; these afflictions are but 
temporal, Rom. 8: 18. But Christ and his benefits are eternal: This 
must needs prevail with the will to come over to Christ, 
notwithstanding all the evils of suffering that accompany him, when 
the reality of this is discovered by the Lord, and the power of God 
goes along with these discoveries. Thus the Lord draws us in our own 
way, by rational convictions of the understanding, and allurements 
of the will. 
    And it is possible this may be the reason why some poor souls 
misjudge the working of the Spirit of God upon themselves, thinking 
they never had that wonderful and mighty power of God in conversion, 
acting upon their hearts, because they find all that is done upon 
their hearts that way is done in the ordinary course and method of 
nature; They consider, compare, are convinced, and then resolved to 
choose Christ and his ways; whereas they expect to feel some strange 
operations, that shall have the visible characters of the immediate 
power of God upon them, and such a power they might discern, if they 
would consider it as working, in this way and method: but they 
cannot distinguish God's acts from their own, and that puzzles them. 
    Thirdly, The drawings of the Father are very powerful. "The arm 
of the Lord is revealed in this work," Isa. 53: 1. It was a powerful 
word indeed that made the light at first shine out of darkness, and 
no less power is required to make it shine into our hearts, 2 Cor. 
5: 14. That day in which the soul is made willing to come to Christ, 
is called, "the day of his power," Psal. 110: 3. The scripture 
expresseth the work of conversion by a threefold metaphor, viz. 
    That of a resurrection from the dead, Rom. 4: 4. 
    That of creation Eph. 2: 10. And 
    That of victory or conquest, 2 Cor. 10: 4, 5. All these set 
forth the infinite power of God in this work; for no less than 
Almighty Power is required to each of them, and if you strictly 
examine the distinct notions, you shall find the power of God more 
and more illustriously displayed in each of them. 
    To raise the dead, is the effect of Almighty Power; but then 
the resurrection supposeth pre-existent matter. In the work of 
creation, there is no pre-existent matter; but then there is no 
opposition: That which is not, rebels not against the power which 
gives it being. But victory and conquest suppose opposition, all the 
power of corrupt nature arming itself, and fighting against God: but 
yet not able to frustrate his design. 
    Let the soul whom the Father draws, struggle and reluctate as 
much as it can, it shall come, yea, and come willingly too, when the 
drawing power of God is upon it. O the self-conflicts, the contrary 
resolves, with which the soul finds itself distracted, and rent 
asunder! The hopes and fears; the encouragements and 
discouragements; they will, and they will not: but victorious grace 
conquers all opposition at last. We find an excellent example of 
this in blessed Augustin, who speaks of this very work;, the drawing 
of his soul to Christ, and how he felt in that day two wills in 
himself, "one old, the other new; one carnal, the other spiritual; 
and how in these their contrary motions and conflicts, he was torn 
asunder in his own thoughts and resolutions, suffering that 
unwillingly which he did willingly." And certainly, if we consider 
how deep the soul is rooted by natural inclination, and long 
continued custom in sin, how extremely averse it is to the ways of 
strict godliness and mortification; how Satan, that invidious enemy, 
that strong man armed, fortifies the soul to defend his possession 
against Christ, and entrenches himself in the understanding, will, 
and affections, by deep-rooted prejudices against Christ and 
holiness, it is a wonder of wonders to see a soul quitting all its 
beloved lusts, and fleshly interests and endearments, and coming 
willingly under Christ's yoke. 
    Fourthly, the drawings of God are very effectual: There is 
indeed a common and ineffectual work upon hypocrites and apostates, 
called in scripture a "morning cloud and early dew", Hos. 6: 4. 
These may believe for a time, and fall away at last, Luke 8: 13. 
Their wills may be half won, they may be drawn half way to Christ, 
and return again. So it was with Agrippa, Acts 26: 28. "en oligoi me 
peiteis", within a very little thou persuades me to be a Christian: 
But in God's elected ones it is effectual: Their wills are not only 
almost, but altogether persuaded to embrace Christ, and quit the 
ways of sin, how pleasant, gainful, and dear soever they have been 
to them. The Lord not only draws, but draws home those souls to 
Christ, John 6: 37. "All that the Father has given me, shall come to 
    It is confessed, that in drawing home of the very elect to 
Christ, there may be, and frequently are, many pauses, stands, and 
demurs; they have convictions, affections, and resolutions stirring 
in them, which, like early blossoms, seem to be nipt and die away 
again. There is frequently, (in young ones especially), an hopeful 
appearance of grace; they make conscience of avoiding sins, and 
performing duties: they have sometimes great awakenings under the 
Word, they are observed to retire for meditation and prayer; and 
delight to be in the company of Christians: and after all this, 
youthful lusts and vanities are found to stifle and cheek these 
hopeful beginnings, and the work seems to stand, (it may be some 
years), at a pause; however, at last, the Lord makes it victorious 
over all opposition, and sets it home with power upon their hearts. 
    Fifthly, To conclude, those whom the Father draws to Christ, he 
draws them finally and for ever. "The gifts and calling of God are 
without repentance," Rom. 11: 29. they are so, as to God the giver; 
he never repents, that he has called his people into the fellowship 
of his Son Christ Jesus: and they are so on the believer's part; he 
is never sorry, whatever he afterwards meets with, that he is come 
to Christ. 
    There is a time when Christians are drawn to Christ, but there 
shall never be a time in which they shall be drawn away from Christ, 
John 10: 29. There is no plucking them out of the Father's hand. It 
was common to a proverb, in the primitive times, when they would 
express an impossibility, to say, "You may as soon draw a Christian 
from Christ, as do it." When Christ asked that question of the 
disciples, "Will ye also go away? Lord, (said Peter, in the name of 
them all), to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal 
life," John 6: 68. They who are thus drawn, do with full purpose of 
heart, cleave unto the Lord. And thus of the manner and quality of 
effectual drawing. 
    Thirdly, In the last place, I am to evince the impossibility of 
coming to Christ without the Father's drawings; and this will 
evidently appear upon the consideration of these two particulars. 
    First, The difficulty of this work is above all the power of 
nature to overcome. 
    Secondly, That little power and ability that nature has, it 
will never employ to such a purpose as this, till the drawing power 
of God be upon the will of a sinner. 
    First, If all the power of nature were employed in this design, 
yet such are the difficulties of this work, that it surmounts all 
the abilities of nature. This the scripture very plainly affirms, 
Eph. 2: 8. "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of 
yourselves, it is the gift of God." To think of Christ is easy, but 
to come to Christ, is to nature impossible. To send forth cold and 
ineffectual wishes to Christ we may, but to bring Christ and the 
soul together, requires the Almighty power of God, Eph. 1: 19. The 
grace of faith by which we come to Christ, is as much the free gift 
of God, as Christ himself, who is the object of faith, Phil. 1: 29. 
"To you it is freely given to believe." And this will easily appear 
to your understandings, if you do but consider 
     / Subject, \ 
The |  Act, and  | of this work of faith, or coming to Christ. 
     \ Enemies  / 
    First, Consider the subject of faith in which it is wrought; or 
what it is that is drawn to Christ: It is the heart of a sinner 
which is naturally as indisposed for this work, as the wood which 
Elijah laid in order upon the altar was to catch fire, when he had 
poured so much water upon it, as did not only wet the wood, but also 
filled up the trench round about it, 1 Kings 18: 33. For it is 
naturally a dark, blind, and ignorant heart, Job 11: 12. And such an 
heart can never believe, till he that commanded the light to shine 
out of darkness do shine into it, 2 Cor. 4: 6. 
    Nor will it avail any thing to say, though man be born in 
darkness and ignorance, yet afterwards he may acquire knowledge in 
the use of means, as we see many natural men do to a very high 
degree: For this is not that light that brings the soul to Christ, 
yea, this natural unsanctified light blinds the soul, and prejudices 
it more against Christ than ever it was before, 1 Cor. 1: 21, 26. 
    As it is a blind, ignorant heart, so it is a selfish heart by 
nature: All its designs and aims terminate in self; this is the 
centre and weight of the soul, no righteousness but its own is 
sought after, that, or none, Rom. 10: 3. Now, for a soul to renounce 
and deny self, in all its forms, modes, and interests, as every one 
does that comes to Christ; to disclaim and deny natural, moral, and 
religious self, and come to Christ as a poor, miserable, wretched 
empty creature; to live upon his righteousness for ever, is as 
supernatural and wonderful, as to see the hills and mountains start 
from their bases and centres, and fly like wandering atoms in the 
    Nay, this heart which is to come to Christ, is not only dark 
and selfish, but full of pride. O, it is a desperate proud heart by 
nature, it cannot submit to come to Christ, as Benhadad's servant 
came to the king of Israel, with sackcloth on their loins, and ropes 
upon their heads. To take guilt, shame, and confusion of face to 
ourselves, and acknowledge the righteousness of God in our eternal 
damnation; to come to Christ naked and empty, as one that justifies 
the ungodly. I say, nature left to itself, would as soon be damned 
as do this; the proud heart can never come to this, till the Lord 
has humbled and broken it by his power. 
    Secondly, Let us take the act of faith into consideration also, 
as it is here described by the soul's coming to Jesus Christ; and 
you will find a necessity of the Father's drawings; for this 
evidently implies, that which is against the stream and current of 
corrupt nature, and that which is above the sphere and capacity of 
the most refined and accomplished nature. 
    First, It is against the stream and current of our corrupt 
nature to come to Christ. For let us but consider the term from 
which the soul departs, when it comes to Christ. In that day it 
leaves all its lusts, and ways of sin, how pleasant, sweet, and 
profitable soever they have been unto it, Isa. 55: 7. "Let the 
wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and 
let him return unto the Lord." Way and thoughts, i.e. both the 
practice of, and delight he had in sin, must be forsaken, and the 
outward and inward man must be cleansed from it. Now there are in 
the bosoms of unregenerate men such darling lusts, that have given 
them so much practical and speculative pleasure, which have brought 
so much profit to them, which have been born and bred up with them; 
and which, upon all these accounts, are endeared to their souls to 
that degree, that it is easier for them to die, than to forsake 
them, yea, nothing is more common among such men, than to venture 
eternal damnation, rather than suffer a separation from their sins. 
    And which is yet more difficult in coming to Christ, the soul 
forsakes not only its sinful self; but its righteous self, i.e. not 
only its worst sins, but its best performances, accomplishments, and 
excellencies. Now this is one of the greatest straits that nature 
can be put to. Righteousness by works was the first liquor that ever 
was put into the vessel, and it still retains the tang and savour of 
it, and will to the end of the world, Rom. 10: 3 "For they, being 
ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their 
own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the 
righteousness of God." "ouk hupetagesan", they have not submitted. 
To come naked and empty to Christ, and receive all from him as a 
free gift, is, to proud corrupt nature, the greatest abasement and 
submission in the world. 
    Let the gospel furnish its table with the richest and costliest 
dainties that ever the blood of Christ purchased, such is the pride 
of nature, that it disdains to taste them, except it may also pay 
for the same. If the old hive be removed from the place where it was 
wont to stand, the bees will come home to the old place, yea, and 
many of them you shall find will die there, rather than go to the 
hive, though it stand in a far better place than it did before. Just 
so stands the case with men. The hive is removed, i.e. we are not to 
expect righteousness as Adam did, by obeying and working, but by 
believing and coming to Christ; but nature had as soon be damned as 
do it is: It still goes about to establish its own righteousness. 
    Virtues, duties, and moral excellencies, these are the 
ornaments of nature; here is nature set off in its sumptuous attire, 
and rich embellishments, and now to renounce it, disclaim and 
contemn it, as dross and dung, in comparison of Christ, as believers 
do, Phil. 3: 8. this, I say, is against the grain of nature. We 
reckon it the strange effect of self-denial in Mahomet the Great, 
who being so enamoured with his beautiful Irene, would be persuaded, 
upon reasons of state, with his own hand to strike off her head: and 
that even when she appeared in all her rich ornaments before him, 
rather like such a goddess, as the poets in their ecstasies use to 
feign, than a mortal creature. And yet certainly this is nothing to 
that self-denial which is exercised in our coming to Christ. 
    Secondly, And if we look to the other term to which the soul 
moves, we shall find it acting as much above the sphere and ability 
of improved nature, as here it acts and moves against the stream and 
current of corrupted nature: for how wonderful and supernatural an 
adventure is that, which the soul makes in the day that it comes to 
Jesus Christ. 
    Surely, for any poor soul to venture itself for ever upon Jesus 
Christ whom it never saw, nay, upon Christ, whose very existence its 
own unbelief calls in question whether he be or no: and that when it 
is even weighed down to the dust, with the burdensome sense of its 
own vileness and total unworthiness, feeling nothing in itself but 
sin and misery, the workings of death and fears of wrath: to go to 
Christ, of whose pardoning grace and mercy it never had any the 
least experience, nor can find any ground of hope in it self that it 
shall be accepted; this is as much above the power of nature, as it 
is for a stone to rise from the earth, and fix itself among the 
stars. Well might the apostle ascribe it to that Almighty Power 
which raised up Christ from the dead, Eph. 1: 19, 20. If the Lord 
draw not the soul, and that omnipotently, it can never come from 
itself to Christ. And yet farther, 
    Thirdly, The natural impossibility of coming to Christ, will 
more clearly appear, if we consider the enemies to faith, or what 
blocks are rolled by Satan and his instruments into the way to 
Christ: to mention, in this place, no more but our own carnal 
reason, as it is armed and managed by the subtilty of Satan, what a 
wonder is it that any soul should come to Christ? 
    These are the strong holds, (mentioned 2 Cor. 10: 4.) out of 
which those objections, fears, and discouragements sally, by which 
the soul is fiercely assaulted in the way to Christ. 
    Wilt thou forsake all thy pleasures, merry company, and 
sensible comforts, to live a sad, retired, pensive life? Wilt thou 
beggar and undo thyself, let go all thy comforts in hand, for an 
hope of that which thine eyes never saw, nor hast thou any certainty 
that it is any more than a fancy! Wilt thou that hast lived in 
reputation and credit all thy life, now become the scorn and 
contempt of the world? Thinkest thou thyself able to live such a 
strict, severe, mortified, and self-denying, life, as the word of 
God requires? And what if persecution should arise, (as thou mayest 
expect it will,) canst thou forsake father and mother, wife and 
children, yea, and give up thine own life too, to a cruel and bloody 
death! be advised better, before thou resolve in so important a 
matter. What thinkest thou of thy forefathers, that lived and died 
in that way thou art now living? Art thou wiser than they? Do not 
the generality of men walk in the same paths thou hast hitherto 
walked in? If this way lead to hell, as thou fearest it may, think 
then how many millions of men must perish as well as thyself; and is 
such a supposition consistent with the gracious and merciful nature 
of God? Besides, think what sort of people those are, unto whom thou 
art about to join thyself in this new way? Are there not to be found 
among them many things to discourage thee, and cool thy zeal? They 
are generally of the lower and baser sort of men, poor and 
despicable: Sees thou not, though their profession be holy, how 
earthly, carnal, proud, factious, and hypocritical, many of them are 
found to be! And doubtless, the rest are like them, though their 
hypocrisy be not yet discovered. 
    O what stands and demurs, what hesitations and doubts, is the 
soul clogged with in its way to Christ! But yet none of these can 
withhold and detain the soul when the Father draws: Greater then is 
he that is in us, than he that is in the world. And thus you see the 
nature, manner, and efficacy of divine drawings, and how impossible 
it is for any soul to come to Christ without them. 
    The inferences and improvements of the point follow. 
    Inference 1. How deeply and thoroughly is the nature of man 
corrupted, and what an enemy is every man to his own happiness, that 
he must be drawn to it? John 5: 40 "You will not come unto me, that 
ye might have life." 
    Life is desirable in every man's eyes, and eternal life is the 
most excellent: yet, in this, the world is rather agreed to die and 
perish forever than come to Christ for life. Had Christ told us of 
fields and vineyards, sheep and oxen, gold and silver, honours and 
sensual pleasures, who would not have come to him for these? But to 
tell of mortification, self denial, strictness of life, and 
sufferings for his sake, and all this for an happiness to be enjoyed 
in the world to come, nature will never like such a proposition as 
    You see where it sticks, not in a simple inability to believe, 
but in an inability complicated with enmity; they neither call come, 
nor will come to Christ. It is true, all that do come to Christ, 
come willingly, but thanks be to the grace of God, that has freed 
and persuaded the will, else they never had been willing to come. 
Who ever found his own heart first stir and move towards Christ? How 
long may we wait and expect before we shall feel our hearts 
naturally burn with desires after, and love to Jesus Christ? 
    This aversion of the will and affections from God is one of the 
main roots of original sin. No argument can prevail to bring the 
soul to Christ, till this be mastered and overpowered by the 
Father's drawing. In our motions to sin we need restraining, but in 
all our motions to Christ we as much need drawing. He that comes to 
heaven may say, Lord, if I had had mine own way and will, I had 
never come here: if thou hadst not drawn me, I should never have 
come to thee. O the riches of the grace of God! Oh unparalleled 
mercy and goodness! not only to prepare such a glory as this for an 
unworthy soul, but to put forth the exceeding greatness of thy 
power, afterwards to draw an unwilling soul to the enjoyment of it. 
    Infer. 2 What enemies are they to God and the souls of men that 
do all they can to discourage and hinder the conversion of men to 
Christ? God draws forward, and these do all that in them lies to 
draw backward, i.e. to prejudice and discourage them from coming to 
Jesus Christ in the way of faith: this is a direct opposition to 
God, and a plain confederacy with the devil. 
    O how many have been thus discouraged in their way to Christ by 
their carnal relations, I cannot say friends! Their greatest enemies 
have been the men of their own house. These have pleaded (as if the 
devil had hired and feed them) against the everlasting welfare of 
their own flesh. O cruel parents, brethren, and sisters, that jeer, 
frown, and threaten, where they should encourage, assist, and 
rejoice! Such parents are the devil's children Satan chooses such 
instruments as you are, above all others, for this work: he knows 
what influence and authority you have upon them, and over them; and 
what fear, love, and dependence they have for you, and upon you; so 
that none in all the world are like to manage the design of their 
damnation so effectually, as you are like to do. 
    Will you neither come to Christ yourselves, nor suffer your 
dear relations that would? Had you rather find them in the ale-house 
than in the closet? Did you instrumentally give them their being, 
and will you be the instruments of ruining for ever those beings 
they had from you? Did you so earnestly desire children, so tenderly 
nurse and provide for them; take such delight in them and, after all 
this, do what in you lies to damn and destroy them? If these lines 
shall fall into any such hands, O that God would set home the 
conviction and sense of this horrid evil upon their hearts. 
    And no less guilty of this sin are scandalous and loose 
professors, who serve to furnish the devil with the greatest 
arguments he has to dissuade men from coming to Christ; it is your 
looseness and hypocrisy by which he hopes to scare others from 
Christ. It is said, Cant. 2: 7. "I charge you by the roes and hinds 
of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my beloved till he 
    Roes and hinds, like young converts and comers towards Christ, 
are shy and timorous creatures, that start at the least sound, or 
yelp of a dog, and fly away. Take heed what you do in this case, 
lest you go down to hell under the guilt of damning more souls than 
your own. 
    Infer. 3. Learn hence the true ground and reason of those 
strange, amazing, and supernatural effects, that you behold and so 
admire in the world, as often as you see sinners forsaking their 
pleasant, profitable corruptions and companions, and embracing the 
ways of Christ, godliness, and mortification. 
    It is said, 1 Pet. 4: 4. "They think it strange, that you run 
not with them into the same excess of riot." The word is "en hoi 
ksenidzontai", they stand at a gaze, as the hen that has hatched 
partridge eggs does, when she sees them take the wing and fly away 
from her. 
    Beloved, it is the world's wonder to see their companions in 
sin forsake them; those that were once as profane and vain as 
themselves, it may be more, to forsake their society, retire into 
their closets, mourn for sin, spend their time in meditation and 
prayer, embrace the severest duties, and content to run the greatest 
hazards in the world for Christ; but they see not that Almighty 
Power that draws them, which is too strong for all the sinful ties 
and engagements in the world to withhold and detain them. 
    A man would have wondered to see Elisha leave the oxen, and run 
after Elijah, saying, "Let me go, I pray thee, and kiss my father 
and mother, and then I will follow thee; when Elijah had said 
nothing to persuade him to follow him only as he passed by him, he 
cast his mantle on him, 1 Kings 10: 19, 20. Surely that soul whom 
God draws, must needs leave all and follow Christ, for the power of 
God resteth on it. All carnal ties and engagements to sin break and 
give way, when the Father draws the soul to Christ in the day of his 
    Infer. 4. Is this the first spring of spiritual motion after 
Christ? Learn then from hence, how it comes to pass that so many 
excellent sermons and powerful persuasions are ineffectual, and 
cannot draw and win one soul to Christ. Surely it is because 
ministers draw alone; and the special saving power of God goes not 
forth at all times alike with their endeavours. 
    Paul was a chosen vessel, filled with a greater measure of 
gifts and graces by the Spirit, than any that went before him or 
followed after him; and, as his talents, so his diligence in 
improving them was beyond any recorded example we read of amongst 
men; "He rather flew like a seraphim, than travelled upon his 
Master's errand about the world." Apollos was an eloquent preacher, 
and mighty in the scriptures, yet Paul is "nothing, and Apollos 
nothing; but God that gives the increase," 1 Cor. 3: 7. We are too 
apt to admire men, yea, and the best are but too apt to go forth in 
the strength of their own parts and preparations; but God secures 
his own glory, and magnifies his own power, frequently, in giving 
success to weaker endeavours, and men of lower abilities, when he 
withholds it from men of more raised, refined, and excellent gifts 
and abilities. 
    It is our great honour, who are the ministers of the gospel, 
that we are "sunergoi", workers together with God, 1 Cor. 3: 9. in 
his strength we can prevail; "the weapons of our warfare are mighty 
through God," 2 Cor. 10: 4. But if his presence, blessing, and 
assistance be not with us, we are nothing, we can do nothing. 
    If we prepare diligently, pray heartily, preach zealously, and 
our hearers go as they came, without any spiritual effects and 
fruits of our labours, what shall we say, but as Martha said to 
Christ, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died:" Had 
the Spirit of God gone forth with his especial efficacy and 
blessing, with this prayer, or that sermon, these souls had not 
departed dead and senseless from under it. 
    Infer. 5. Does all success and efficacy depend upon the 
Father's drawings? Let none then despair of their unregenerate and 
carnal relations, over whose obstinacy they do, and have cause to 
    What, if they have been as many years under the preaching of 
the gospel, as the poor man lay at the pool of Bethesda, and 
hitherto to no purpose? A time may come at last, (as it did for him) 
when the Spirit of God may move upon the waters; I mean put a 
quickening and converting power into the means, and then the desire 
of your souls for them shall be fulfilled. 
    It may be you have poured out many prayers and tears to the 
Lord for them; you have cried for them as Abraham for his son, "O 
that Ishmael might live before thee!" O that this poor husband, 
wife, child, brother, or sister, might live in thy sight; and still 
you see them continue carnal, dead, and senseless: Well, but yet not 
give up your hopes, nor cease your pious endeavours, the time may 
come when the Father may draw as well as you, and them you shall see 
them quit all, and come to Christ; and nothing shall hinder them. 
They are now drawn away of their own lusts; they are easily drawn 
away by their sinful companions; but when God draws, none of these 
shall withdraw them from the Lord Jesus. What is their ignorance, 
obstinacy, and hardness of heart, before that mighty power that 
subdues all things to itself? Go therefore to the Lord by prayer for 
them, and say, Lord, I have laboured for my poor relations in vain, 
i have spent my exhortations to little purpose; the work is too 
difficult for me, I can carry it no farther, but thou canst: O let 
thy power go forth; they shall be willing in the day of thy power. 
    Inf. 6. If none can come to Christ except the Father draw them, 
then surely none can be drawn from Christ except the Father leave 
them: That power which at first drew them to Christ can secure and 
establish them in Christ to the end. John 10: 29. "My Father which 
gave them me is greater then all, and non man is able to pluck them 
out of my Father's hand." 
    When the power of God at first draws us out of our natural 
state to Christ, it finds us not only impotent but obstinate, not 
only unable, but unwilling to come; and yet this power of God 
prevails against all opposition;  how much more is it able to 
preserve and secure us, when his fear is put into our inward parts, 
so that we dare not depart, we have no will to depart from him? Well 
then if the world say, I will ensnare thee; if the devil say, I will 
destroy thee; if the flesh say, I will betray thee; yet thou art 
secure and safe, as long as God has said, "I will never leave thee 
nor forsake thee,", Heb. 13:5. 
    Infer. 7. Let this engage you to a constant attendance upon the 
ordinances of God, in which this drawing power of God is sometimes 
put forth upon the hearts of men. 
    Beloved, there are certain seasons in which the Lord comes nigh 
to men in the ordinances and duties of his worship; and we know not 
at what time the Lord cometh forth by his Spirit upon this design: 
he many times comes in an hour when we think not of him! "I am found 
of them that sought me not", Isa. 65:1. It is good therefore to be 
found in the way of the Spirit. Had that poor man, that lay so long 
at the pool of Bethesda, reasoned thus with himself, So long have I 
lain here in vain expecting a cure, it is to no purpose to wait 
longer, and so had been absent at that very time when the angel came 
down, he had, in all likelihood, carried his disease to the grave 
with him. 
    How dost thou know but this very sabbath, this sermon, this 
prayer, which thou hast no heart to attend, and are tempted to 
neglect, may be the season and instrument wherein, and by which, the 
Lord may do that for thy soul which was never done before? 
    Infer. 8. To conclude, How are all the saints engaged to put 
forth all the power and ability they have for God, who has put forth 
his infinite Almighty Power to draw them to Christ? 
    God has done great things for your souls; he has drawn you out 
of the miserable state of sin and wrath; and that when he let others 
go, by nature as good as you, he has drawn you into union with 
Christ, and communion with his glorious privileges. O that you would 
henceforth employ all the power you have for God in the duties of 
obedience, and in drawing others to Christ, as much as in you lies, 
and say continually with the Church, "Draw me, we will run after 
thee," Cant. 1: 4. 
                 Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 6...)

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