The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 6
(... continued from file 5)

Sermon 5. 
Of the Work of the Spirit more particularly, by which the 
Soul is enabled to apply Christ. 
Eph. 2: 1. 
And you has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. 
    In the former sermons we have seen our union with Christ in the 
general nature of it, and the means by which it is effected, both 
external, by the preaching of the gospel, and internal, by the 
drawing of the Father. We are now to bring our thoughts yet closer 
to this great mystery, and consider the bands by which Christ and 
believers are knit together in a blessed union. 
    And if we heedfully observe the scripture expressions, and 
ponder the nature of this union, we shall find there are two bands 
which knit Christ and the soul together, viz. 
    1. The Spirit on Christ's part. 
    2. Faith on our part. 
    The Spirit, on Christ's part, quickening us with spiritual 
life, whereby Christ first takes hold of us, and faith on our part, 
when thus quickened, whereby we take hold of Christ; accordingly, 
this union with the Lord Jesus is expressed in scripture sometimes 
by the one and sometimes by the other of the means or bands by which 
it is effected. Christ is sometimes said to be in us; so Col. 1: 27. 
"Christ is in you the hope of glory." And Rom. 8: 10. "And if Christ 
be in you, the body is dead because of sin." At other times it is 
expressed by the other band on our part, as 1 John 5: 20. "We are in 
him that is true, even in his Son Christ Jesus." And 2 Cor. 5: 17. 
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." 
    The difference betwixt both these is thus aptly expressed by a 
late author. Christ is in believers by his Spirits 1 John 4: 13. 
"The believer is in Christ by faith, John 1: 12. Christ is in the 
believer by inhabitation, Rom. 3: 17. The believer is in Christ by 
implantation, Rom. 6: 35. Christ is in the believer as the head is 
in the body, Col. 1: 18. As the root in the branches, John 15: 5. 
Believers are in Christ as the members are in the head, Eph. 1: 2,3. 
or as the branches are in the root, John 15: 1, 7. Christ in the 
believer implies life, and influence from Christ, Col. 3: 4. The 
believer implies communion and fellowship with Christ, 1 Cor. 1: 30. 
When Christ is said to be in the believer, we are to understand it 
in reference to sanctification. When the believer is said to be in 
Christ, it is in order to justification." 
    Thus we apprehend, being ourselves first apprehended by Jesus 
Christ, Phil. 3: 12. ate cannot take hold of Christ till first he 
take hold of us; no vital act of faith can be exercised till a vital 
principle be first inspired: of both these bands of union we must 
speak distinctly, and first of "Christ quickening us by his Spirit, 
in order to our union with him," of which we have an account in the 
scripture before us, "You he has quickened, who were dead in 
trespasses and sins". In which words we find these two things noted, 
    1. The infusion of a vital principle of grace. 
    2. The total indisposedness of the subject by nature. 
    First, The infusion of a vital principle of grace, You has he 
quickened. These words [has he quickened] are a supplement made to 
clear the sense of the apostle, which else would have been more 
obscure, by reason of that long parenthesis betwixt the first and 
fifth verses, "for as the learned observe, this word "humas", you, 
is governed by the verb "sunedzo-opoiese", has he quickened, ver. 5. 
So that here the words are transposed from the plain grammatical 
order, by reason at the interjections of a long sentence, therefore, 
with good warrant our translators have put the verb into the first 
verse, which is repeated, ver. 5. and so keeping faithfully to the 
scope, have excellently cleared the syntax and order of the words." 
Now this verb "sunedzo-opoiese", has he quickened, imports the first 
vital act of the Spirit of God, or his first enlivening work upon 
the soul, in order to its union with Jesus Christ: For look;, as the 
blood of Christ is the fountain of all merit, so the Spirit of 
Christ is the fountain of all spiritual life, and until he quicken 
us, i.e. infuse the principle of the divine life into our souls, we 
can put forth no hand, or vital act of faith, to lay hold upon Jesus 
    This his quickening, work is therefore the first in order of 
nature to our union with Christ, and fundamental to all other acts 
of grace done and performed by us, from our first closing with 
Christ throughout the whole course of our obedience; and this 
quickening act is said, ver. 5. to be together with Christ. Either 
noting (as some expound it) that it is the effect of the same power 
by which Christ was raised from the dead, according to Eph. 1. 19. 
or rather, to be quickened together with Christ, notes that new 
spiritual life which is infused into our dead souls in the time of 
our union with Christ: "For it is Christ to whom we are conjoined 
and united in our regeneration, out of whom, as a fountain, all 
spiritual benefits flow to us, among which this vivification or 
quickening is one, and a most sweet and precious one." 
    Zanchy Bodius, and many others, will have this quickening to 
comprise both our justification and regeneration, and to stand op 
posed both to eternal and spiritual death, and it may well be 
allowed; but it most properly imports our regeneration, wherein the 
Spirit, in an ineffable and mysterious way, makes the soul to live 
to God, yea, to live the life of God, which soul was before dead in 
trespasses and sins. In which words we have, 
    Secondly, In the next place, the total indisposedness of the 
subjects by nature: Yet, as it is well noted by a learned man, "the 
apostle does not say of these Ephesians that they were half dead, or 
sick, and infirm, but dead wholly; altogether dead, destitute of any 
faculty or ability, so much as to think one good thought, or perform 
one good act." You were dead in respect of condemnation, being under 
the damning sentence of the law, and you are dead in respect of the 
privation of spiritual life; dead in opposition to justification, 
and dead in opposition to regeneration and sanctification: And the 
fatal instrument by which their souls died is here shewed them; you 
were dead in, or by trespasses and sins, this was the sword that 
killed your souls, and cut them off from God. Some do curiously 
distinguish betwixt trespasses and sins, as if one pointed at 
original, the other at actual sins; but I suppose they are 
promiscuously used here, and serve to express the cause of their 
ruin, or means of their spiritual death and destruction: this was 
their case when Christ came to quicken them, dead in sin; and being 
so, they could not move themselves towards union with Christ, but as 
they were moved by the quickening Spirit of God. Hence the 
observation will be this, 
    Doct. That those souls which have union with Christ, are 
    quickened with a supernatural principle of life by the Spirit 
    of God in order thereunto. 
    The Spirit of God is not only a living Spirit formally 
considered; but he is also the Spirit of life, effectively or 
casually considered; And without his breathing, or infusing life 
into our souls, our union with Christ is impossible. 
    It is the observation of learned Camero, "that there must be an 
unction before there can be an union with Christ. Unction is to be 
conceived efficiently as the work of God's Spirit, joining the 
believer to Christ, and union is to be conceived formally, the 
joining itself of the persons together:" We close with Christ by 
faith, but that faith being a vital act, presupposes a principle of 
life communicated to us by the Spirit; therefore it is said, John 
11: 26. "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die". The 
vital act and operation of faith springs from this quickening 
Spirit: So in Rom. 8: 1, 2. The apostle, having in the first verse 
opened the blessed estate of them that are in Christ, shows us in 
the second verse how we come to be in him: "The Spirit of life 
(saith he) which is in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law 
of sin and death." 
    There is indeed a quickening work of the Spirit, which is 
subsequent to regeneration, consisting in his exciting, recovering, 
and actuating of his own graces in us; and from hence is the 
liveliness of a Christian; and there is a quickening act of the 
Spirit in our regeneration, and from hence is the spiritual life of 
a Christian; of this I am here to speak, and that I may speak 
profitably to this point, I will in the doctrinal part labour to 
open these five particulars. 
    First, What this spiritual life is in its nature and 
    Secondly, In what manner it is wrought or inspired into the 
    Thirdly, For what end, or in what design, this life is so 
    Fourthly, I shall show this work to be wholly supernatural. 
    And then, Fifthly, Why this quickening must be antecedent to 
our actual closing with Christ by faith. 
    First, We shall enquire into the nature and properties of this 
life, and discover (as we are able) what it is. And we find it to 
consist in that wonderful change which the Spirit of God makes upon 
the frame and temper of the soul, by his infusing or implanting the 
principle of grace in all the powers and faculties thereof. 
    A change it makes upon the soul, and that a marvellous one, no 
less than from death to life; for though a man be physically a 
living man, i.e. his natural soul has union with his body, yet his 
soul having no union with Christ, he is theologically a dead man, 
Luke 15: 24. and Col. 2: 13. Alas, it deserves not the name of life, 
to have a soul serving only to season and preserve the body a little 
while from corruption: to carry it up and down the world, and only 
enable it to eat, and drink, and talk, and laugh, and then die: Then 
do we begin to live, when we begin to have union with Christ the 
Fountain of life, by his Spirit communicated to us: From this time 
we are to reckon our life as some have done: There be many changes 
made upon men besides this, many are changed from profaneness to 
civility, and from mere civility to formality, and a shadow of 
religion, who still remain in the state and power of spiritual 
death, notwithstanding: but when the Spirit of the Lord is poured 
out upon us, to quicken us with the new spiritual life, this is a 
wonderful change indeed: It gives us an esse supernaturale, a new 
supernatural being, which is therefore called a new creature, the 
new man, the hidden man of the heart: The natural essence and 
faculties of the soul remain still, but it is divested of the old 
qualities, and endowed with new ones, 2 Cor. 5: 17. Old things are 
passed away, behold, all things are become new. 
    And this change is not made by altering and rectifying the 
disorders of the life only, leaving the temper and frame of the 
heart still carnal; but by the intrusion of a supernatural permanent 
principle into the soul, John 4: 14. "It shall be in him a well of 
water:" principles are to a course of actions, as fountains or 
springs are to the streams and rivers that flow from them, and are 
maintained by them: and hence is the evenness and constancy of 
renewed souls in the course of godliness. 
    Nor is this principle or habit acquired by accustoming 
ourselves to holy actions, as natural habits are acquired by 
frequent acts, which beget a disposition, and thence grow up to an 
habit or second nature, but it is infused, or implanted in the soul 
by the Spirit of God. So we read, Ezek. 36: 25,26. "A new heart also 
will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:" It grows 
not up out of our natures, but is put or infused into us: as it is 
said of the two witnesses, Rev. 11: 11. who lay dead in a civil 
sense, three days and a half, that the Spirit of life from God 
entered into them: so it is here in a spiritual sense, the Spirit of 
life from God enters into the dead, carnal heart: it is all by way 
of supernatural infusion. 
    Nor is it limited to this or that faculty at the soul, but 
grace or life is poured into all the faculties: "Behold, all thing 
are become new," 2 Cor. 5: 17. The understandings, will, thoughts, 
and affections, are all renewed by it: the whole inner man is 
changed, yea, the tongue and hand, the discourses and actions, even 
all the ways and courses of the outward man are renewed by it. 
    But more particularly, we shall discerns the nature of this 
spiritual life, by considering the properties of it; among which, 
these are very remarkable. 
    First, The soul that is joined to Christ is quickened with 
divine life, so we read in 2 Pet. 1: 4. where believers are said to 
be partakers of the divine nature: a very high expression, and 
wearily to be understood. Partakers of the divine nature: not 
essentially; so it is wholly incommunicable to the creature, nor yet 
hypostatically, and personally; so Christ only was a partaker at it; 
but our participation of the divine nature, must be understood in a 
way proper to believers; that is to say, we partake of it by the 
inhabitation of the Spirit of God in us, according to 1 Cor. 3: 16, 
17. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit 
of God do dwelleth in you?" The Spirit, who is God by nature dwells 
in, and actuates the soul whom he regenerates, and by sanctifying 
it, causes it to live a divine life: from this life of God the 
unsanctified are said to be alienated, Eph. 4: 18. but believers are 
partakers of it. 
    Secondly, And being divine, it must needs be the most 
excellent, and transcendent life that any creature does, or can live 
in this world: it surmounts the natural, rational, and moral life of 
the unsanctified, as much as the angelical life excels the life of 
flies and worms of the earth. 
    Some think it a rare life to live in sensual pleasures; but the 
scripture will not allow so much as the name of life to them; but 
tell, us, "they are dead while they live," 1 Tim. 5:6. certainly it 
is a wonderful elation of the nature of man to be quickened with 
such a life as this. There are two ways wherein the blessed God has 
honoured poor man above the very angels of heaven. One was by the 
hypostatical union of our nature, in Christ, with the divine nature: 
the other is by uniting our persons mystically to Christ, and 
thereby communicating spiritual life to us: this latter is a most 
glorious privilege, and in one respect a more singular mercy than 
the former; for that honour which is done to our nature by the 
hypostatical union, is common to all, good and bad, even they that 
perish have yet that honour; but to be implanted into Christ by 
regeneration, and live upon him as the branch does upon the vine, 
this is a peculiar privilege, a mercy kept from the world that is to 
perish, and only communicated to God's elect, who are to live 
eternally with him in heaven. 
    Thirdly, This life infused by the regenerating Spirit, is a 
most pleasant life. All delights, all pleasures, all joys, which are 
not fantastic and delusive, leave their spring and origin here, Rom. 
8: 6. "To be spiritually minded is life and peace," i.e. a most 
serene, placid life, such a soul becomes, so far as it is influenced 
and sanctified by the spirit, the very region of life and peace: 
when one think is thus predicated of another, in casu recta, (saith 
a learned man) it speaks their intimate connection: peace is so 
connatural to this life, that you may either call it a life that has 
peace in it, or a peace that has life in it: yea, it has its 
enclosed pleasures in it, "such as a stranger intermeddles not 
with," Prov. 14: 10 Regeneration is the term from which all true 
pleasure commences; you never live a cheerful day, till you begin to 
live to God: therefore it is said, Luke 15: 24. when the prodigal 
son was returned to his father, and reconciled, then they began to 
be merry. 
    None can make another, by any words, to understand what that 
pleasure is which the renewed soul feels diffused through all its 
collies and affections, in its communion with the Lord, and in the 
sealings and witnessings of his spirit. That is a very apt and well 
known similitude, which Peter Martyr used, and the Lord blessed to 
the conversion of that noble marquis Galeacus: if, said he, a man 
should see a company of people dancing, upon the top of a remote 
hill, he would be apt to conclude they were a company of wild 
distracted people, but if he draw nearer, and behold the excellent 
order, and hear the ravishing sweet music that are among them, he 
will quickly alter his opinion of them, and be for dancing himself 
with them. 
    All the delights in the sensual life, all the pleasure that 
ever your lust gave you, are but at the putrid, stinking waters of a 
corrupt pond, where loads lie croaking and spawning, compared to the 
crystal streams of the most pure and pleasant fountain. 
    Fourthly, This life of God, with which the regenerate are 
quickened in their union with Christ, as it is a pleasant, so it is 
also a rowing increasing life, John 4:14. "It shall be in him a well 
of water springing up into everlasting life". 
    It is not in our sanctification, as it is in our justification; 
our justification is complete and perfect, no defect is found there; 
but the new creature labours under many defects: all believers are 
equally justified, but not equally sanctified. Therefore you read, 2 
Cor. 4: 16 that "the inward man is renewed day by day:" And 2 Pet. 
3: 18 Christians are exhorted "to grow in grace, and in the 
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour:" if this work were perfect, and 
finished at once, as justification is, there could be no renewing 
day by day, nor growth in grace. Perfectum est cui nihil deest & cui 
nihil addi potest; i.e. that is perfect which wants nothing, and to 
which nothing can be added. The apostle indeed prays for the 
Thessalonians, "that God would sanctify them," "holoteleis", wholly, 
perfectly, 1 Thess. 5: 23. And this is matter of prayer and hope; 
for, at last, it will grow up to perfection; but this perfect 
holiness is reserved for the perfect state in the world to come, and 
none but deluded, proud spirits boast of it here: but when "that 
which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done 
away," 1 Cor. 13: 9, 10. And upon the imperfection of the new 
creature in every faculty, that warfare and daily conflict spoken 
of, Gal. 5: 17. and experienced by every Christian, is grounded; 
grace rises gradually in the soul, as the sun does in the heavens, 
"which shineth more and more unto a perfect day," Prov. 4: 18. 
    Fifthly, To conclude, This life with which the regenerate are 
quickened, is an everlasting life. "This is the record, that God has 
given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son," 1 John 5: 
11. This principle of life, is the seed of God; and that remains in 
the soul for ever, 1 John 3: 9. It is no transient, vanishing thing, 
but a fixed, permanent principle, which abides in the soul for ever; 
a man may lose his gifts, but grace abides; the soul may, and must 
be separated from the body, but grace cannot be separated from the 
soul: when all forsake us, this will not leave us. 
    This infused principle is therefore vastly different, both from 
the extraordinary gifts of prophecy, wherein the Spirit was 
sometimes said to come upon men, under the Old Testament, 1 Sam. 10: 
6, 10 and from the common vanishing effects he sometimes produceth 
in the unregenerate, of which we have frequent accounts in the new 
Testament, Heb 6: 4 and John 5: 35. It is one thing for the Spirit 
to come upon a man in the way of present influence and assistance, 
and another thing to dwell in a man as in his temple 
    And thus of the nature and quality of this blessed work of the 
Spirit in quickening us. 
    Secondly, Having seen the nature and properties of the 
spiritual life, we are concerned in the next place to enquire into 
the way and manner in which it is wrought and infused by the Spirit, 
and here we must say, 
    First of all, that the work is wrought in the soul very 
mysteriously; so Christ tells Nicodemus, John 3: 8 "The wind bloweth 
where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not 
tell whence it comes, or whither it goes, so is every one that is 
born of the Spirit". There be many opinions among philosophers about 
the original of wind; but we have no certain knowledge of it; we 
describe it by its effects and properties, but know little of its 
original: and if the works of God in nature be so abstruse, and 
unsearchable, how much more so are these sublime, and supernatural 
works of the Spirit? 
    We are not able to solve the Phenomena of nature, we can give 
no account of our own formation in the womb, Eccl 11: 5. Who can 
exactly describe how the parts of the body are formed, and the soul 
infused? "It is curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth," 
as the Psalmist speaks, Psal 139: 16. but how, we know not Basil 
saith, divers questions may be moved about a fly, which may puzzle 
the greatest philosopher: we know little of the forms and essences 
of natural things, much less at these profound, and abstruse 
spiritual things 
    Secondly, But though we cannot pry into these secrets by the 
eye of reason, yet God has revealed this to us in his word, that it 
is wrought by his own mighty power, Eph. 1: 19. The apostle ascribes 
this work to the exceeding greatness of the power of God; and this 
must needs be, if we consider how the Spirit of God expresses it in 
scripture by a new creation; i e. a giving being to something out of 
nothing, Eph. 2: 10. In this it differs from all the effects of 
human power, for man always works upon some pre-existent matter, but 
here is no such matter; all that is in man, the subject of this 
work, is only a passive capacity, or receptivity, but nothing is 
found in him to contribute towards this work; this supernatural life 
is not, nor can it be educed out of natural principles; this wholly 
transcends the sphere of all natural power; but of this more anon. 
    Thirdly, This also we may affirm of it, that this divine life 
is infused into all the natural faculties. and powers of the soul, 
not one exempted, 1 Thess. 5: 23. The whole soul and spirit is the 
recipient subject of it, and with respect to this general infusion 
into all the faculties and powers of the soul, it is called a new 
creature, a new man, having an integral perfection, and fulness of 
all its parts and members; it becomes light in the mind, Johns 17: 
3. Obedience in the will, 1 Pet. 1: 2. In the affections an heavenly 
temper and tenderness, Col. 3: 1, 2. And so is variously denominated 
even as the sea is from the several shores it washes, though it be 
one and the same sea. And here, we must observe, lies one main 
difference betwixt a regenerate soul and an hypocrite; the one is 
all of a piece, as I may say, the principle of spiritual life runs 
into all, and every faculty and affections, and sanctifies or renews 
the whole man; whereas the change upon hypocrites is but partial and 
particular; he may have new light, but no new love; a new tongue, 
but not a new heart; this or that vice may be reformed, but the 
whole course of his life is not altered. 
    Fourthly, and lastly, This infusion of spiritual life is done 
instantaneously, as all creation work is; hence it is resembled to 
that plastic power, which, in a moment, made the light to shine out 
of darkness; just so God shines into our hearts, 2 Cor. 4: 6. 
    It is true, a soul may be a long time under the preparatory 
works of the Spirit, he may be under convictions and humiliations, 
purposes and resolutions a long time; he may be waiting, at the pool 
of Bethesda, attending the means and ordinances, but when the Spirit 
comes once to quicken the soul, it is done in a moment: even as it 
is in the infusion of the rational soul, the body is long ere it be 
prepared and mounded, but when once the embryo or matter is ready, 
it is quickened with the spirit of life in an instant: so it is 
here; but O what a blessed moment is this! Upon which the whole 
weight of our eternal happiness depends; for it is Christ in us, 
i.e. Christ formed in us, who is the hope of glory, Col. 1: 27. And 
our Lord expressly tells us, John 3: 3. That except we be regenerate 
and born again, we cannot see the kingdom of God. And thus of the 
way and manner of its infusion. 
    Thirdly, Let the design and end of God, in this his quickening 
work, be next considered; for what end and with what design and aim 
this work is wrought. And if we consult the scriptures in this 
matter, we shall find this principle of life is infused in order to 
our glorifying God, in this world, by a life of obedience, and our 
enjoying of God in the works to come. 
    First, spiritual life is infused in order to a course of 
obedience in this world, whereby God is glorified. So we read in 
Eph. 2: 10, "Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has 
before ordained that we should walk in them:" habits are to actions, 
as the root is to the fruit, it is for fruit sake that we plant the 
root, and ingraft the branches. So in Ezek 36: 26, 27 "A new spirit 
will I also put within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, 
and ye shall keep my judgements and do them". This is the next or 
immediate design and end, not only of the first infusion of the 
principle of life into the soul, but of all the exciting, actuating, 
and assisting works of the Spirit afterwards. Now this principle of 
spiritual life infused, has a twofold influence into obedience. 
    First, This makes a sincere and true obedience, when it flows 
from an inward vital principle of grace. The hypocrite is moved by 
something ab extra, from without, as the applause of men, the 
accommodation of fleshly interests, the force of education or if 
there be any thing from within that moves him, it is but self- 
interest, to quiet a disturbing conscience, and support his vain 
hopes of heaven; but he never acts from a new principle, a new 
nature, inclining him to holy actions. Sincerity mainly lies in the 
harmony and correspondence of actions to their principles: from this 
infused principle it is, that men hunger and thirst for God, and go 
to their duties as men do to their meals, when they find an empty 
craving stomach. 
    O reader, pause a little upon this ere thou pass on, ask thy 
heart whether it be so with thee: are holy duties connatural to 
thee? Does thy soul move and work after God by a kind of 
supernatural instinct? This then will be to thee a good evidence of 
thy integrity. 
    Secondly, From this infused principle of life results the 
excellence of our obedience, as well as the sincerity of it; for by 
virtue and reason thereof, it becomes free and voluntary, not forced 
and constrained, it drops like honey, and of its own accord, out of 
the comb, Cant. 4: 11. or as waters from the fountain, without 
forcing, John 4: 14. An unprincipled professor must be pressed hard 
by some weight of affliction, ere he will yield one tear, or pour 
out a prayer, Psal 78: 14. "When he slew them, then they sought 
    Now the freedom of obedience is the excellency of it, God's eye 
is much upon that, 1 Cor. 9: 17. yea, and the uniformity of our 
obedience, which is also a special part of the beauty of it, results 
from hence: he that acts from a principle acts fluently and 
uniformly, and there is a proportion betwixt the parts of his 
conversation; this is it which makes us holy, "en pasei anastrofe", 
in all manner of conversation, or in every point and turning of our 
conversations, as the word imports, 1 Pet. 1: 15. Whereas he that is 
moved by this or that external accidental motive, must needs be very 
uneven, "like the legs of a lame man," as the expression is, Prov. 
26: 7. "which are not equal." Now a word of God, and then the 
discourse runs muddy and profane or carnal again; all that evenness 
and uniformity that are in the several parts of a Christian's life, 
are the effect of this infused principle of spiritual life. 
    Thirdly, Another aim and design of God in the infusion of this 
principle of life, is thereby to prepare and qualify the soul for 
the enjoyment of himself in heaven: "Except a man be born again he 
cannot see the kingdom of God," John 3: 3. All that shall possess 
that inheritance must be begotten again to it, as the apostle 
speaks, 1 Pet. 1: 3, 4. This principle of grace is the very seed of 
that glory; it is eternal life in the root and principle, John 17: 
3. by this the soul is attempered and qualified for that state and 
enjoyment. What is the life of glory but the vision of God, and the 
soul's assimilation to God by that vision? From both which results 
that unspeakable joy and delight which passeth understanding: but 
what vision of God, assimilation to God, or delight in God, can that 
soul have which was never quickened with the supernatural principle 
of grace? The temper of such souls is expressed in that sad 
character, Zech. 11: 8. "My soul loathed them, and their soul also 
abhorred me." For want of this vital principle it is, that the very 
same duties and ordinances which are the delights and highest 
pleasures of the saints, are no better than a mere drudgery and 
bondage to others, Mal. 1: 13. Heaven would be no heaven to a dead 
soul; this principle of life, in its daily growth and improvement, 
is our meetness, as well as our evidence, for heaven: these are the 
main ends of its infusion. 
    Fourthly, In the next place, according to the method proposed, 
I am obliged to show you, that this quickening work is wholly 
supernatural; it is the sole and proper work of the Spirit of God. 
So Christ himself expressly asserts it, in John 3: 6, 8. "That which 
is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit 
is spirit: the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou heareth the 
sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it 
goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." 
    Believers are the birth or offspring of the Spirit, who 
produceth the new creature in them in an unintelligible manner, even 
to themselves. So far is it above their own ability to produce, that 
it is above their capacity to understated the way of its production: 
as if you should ask, Do you know from whence the wind comes? No: Do 
you know whither it goes? No: But you hear and feel it when it 
blows? Yes: Why, so is every one that is born of the Spirit; he 
feels the efficacy, and discerns the effect of the Spirit on his own 
soul, but cannot understand or describe the manner of their 
production. This is not only above the carnal, but above the renewed 
mind to comprehend; we can contribute nothing, I mean actively, to 
the production of this principle of life, we may indeed be said to 
concur passively with the Spirit in it; i. e. there is found in us a 
capacity, aptness, or receptiveness of this principle of life: our 
nature is endowed with such faculties and powers as are meet 
subjects to receive, and instruments to act this spiritual life: God 
only quickens the rational nature with spiritual life. 
    It is true also, that in the progress of sanctification, a man 
does actively concur with the Spirit, but in the first production of 
this spiritual principle he can do nothing; he can indeed perform 
those external duties that have a remote tendency to it, but he 
cannot by the power of nature perform any saving act, or contribute 
any thing more than a passive capacity to the implantation of a new 
principle: as will appear by the following arguments. 
    Arg. 1 He that actively concurs to his own regeneration, makes 
himself to differ; but this is denied to all regenerate men, 1 Cor 
4: 7 "Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou 
that thou midst not receive?" 
    Arg. 2 That to which the scripture ascribes both impotence and 
enmity, with respect to grace, cannot actively, and of itself, 
concur to the production of it: but the scripture ascribes both 
impotency and enmity to nature, with respect to grace. It denies to 
it a power to do any thing of itself, John 15:5. And, which is less, 
it denies to it a power to speak a good word, Mat. 12: 34. And, 
which is least of all, it denies it power to think a good thought, 2 
Cor 3:5. This impotency, if there were no more, cuts off all 
pretence of our active concurrence; but then if we consider that it 
ascribes enmity to our natures, as well as impotency, how clear is 
the case! See Rom 8: 7 "The carnal mind is enmity against God". And 
Col 1: 21. "And you that were enemies in your minds by wicked 
works." So then nature is so far productive of this principle, as 
impotency and enmity can enable it to be so 
    Arg. 3 That which is of natural production, must needs be 
subject to natural dissolution, that which is born of the flesh is 
flesh, a perishing thing, for every thing is as its principle is, 
and there can be no more in the effect, then there is in the cause: 
but this principle of spiritual life is not subject to dissolution, 
it is the water that springs up into everlasting life, John 4: 14. 
The seed of God, which remaineth in the regenerate soul, 1 Johns 3: 
9. And all this, because it is "born not of corruptible, but of 
incorruptible seed," 1 Pet. 1: 23. 
    Arg. 4. If our new birth be our resurrection, a new creation, 
yea, a victory over nature, then we cannot actively contribute to 
its production; but under all these notions it is represented to us 
in the scriptures; it is our resurrection from the dead, Eph. 5: 14. 
And you know the body is wholly passive in its resurrection: but 
though it concurs not, yet it gives pre-existent matter: therefore 
the metaphor is designedly varied, Eph. 4: 24. where it is called a 
creation: in which there is neither active concurrence, nor pre- 
existent matter; but though creation excludes pre-existent matter, 
yet in producing something out of nothing, there is no reluctancy 
not opposition: therefore to show how purely supernatural this 
principle of life is, it is clothed and presented to us in the 
notion of a victory, 2 Cor. 10: 4. And so leaves all to grace. 
    Arg. 5. If nature could produce, or but actively concur to the 
production of this spiritual life, then the best natures would be 
soonest quickened with it; and the worst natures not at all, or at 
last, and least of all: but contrarily, we find the worst natures 
often regenerated, and the best left in the state of spiritual 
death: with how many sweet homilitical virtues was the young man 
adorned? Mark 10: 21. yet graceless: and what a sink of sin was Mary 
Magdalene, Luke 7: 37. yet sanctified. Thus beautiful Rachel is 
barren, while Leah bears children. And there is scarce any thing 
that affects and melts the hearts of Christians more than this 
comparative consideration does, when they consider vessels of gold 
cast away, and leaden ones chosen for such noble uses. So that it is 
plain enough to all wise and humble souls, that this new life is 
wholly of supernatural production. 
    Fifthly, and lastly, I shall briefly represent the necessary 
antecedence of this quickening work of the Spirit, to our first 
closing with Christ by faith: and this will easily let itself into 
your understandings, if you but consider the nature of the vital act 
of faith; which is the soul's receiving of Christ, and resting upon 
him for pardon and salvation: in which two things are necessarily 
included, viz. 
    1. The renouncing of all other hopes and dependencies. 
    2. The opening of the heart fully to Jesus Christ. 
    First, The renouncing of all other hopes and dependencies 
whatsoever. Self in all its acceptations, natural, sinful, and 
moral, is now to be denied and renounced for ever, else Christ cam 
never be received, Rom. 10: 3. not only self in its vilest 
pollutions, but self in its richest ornaments and endowments: but 
this is as impossible to the unrenewed and natural man, as it is for 
rocks or mountains to start from their centre, and fly like 
wandering atoms in the air: nature will rather chose to run the 
hazard of everlasting damnation, than escape it by a total 
renunciation of its beloved hosts, or self-righteousness: this 
supernatural work necessarily requires a supernatural principle, 
Rom. 8: 2. 
    Secondly, The openings the heart fully to Jesus Christ, without 
which Christ can never be received, Rev. 3: 20. but this also is the 
effect of the quickening Spirit, the Spirit of life which is in 
Christ Jesus. Sooner may we expect to see the flowers and blossoms 
open without the influence of the sun, than the heart and will of a 
sinner open to receive Christ without a principle of spiritual life 
first derived from him: and this will be past doubt to all that 
consider not only the impotence but the ignorance, prejudice, and 
aversations of nature, by which the door of the heart is barred, and 
chained against Christ, John 5: 40. So that nature has neither 
ability nor will, power nor desire, to come to Christ: if any have 
an heart opened to receive him, it is the Lord that opens it by his 
Almighty Power, and that in the way of an infused principle of life 
    Quest. But here it may be doubted and objected, against this 
position. If we cannot believe till we are quickened with spiritual 
life, as you say, and cannot be justified till we believe, as all 
say, then it will follow, that a regenerate soul may be in the state 
of condemnation for a time, and consequently perish, if death should 
befall him in that juncture. 
    Sol. To this I return, That when we speak of the priority of 
this quickening work of the Spirit to our actual believing, we 
rather understand it of the priority of nature, than of time, the 
nature and order of the work requiring it to be so: a vital 
principle must, in order of nature, be infused before a vital act 
can be exerted. First, Make the tree good, and then the fruit good: 
and admit we should grant some priority in time also to this 
quickening principle, before actual faith, yet the absurdity 
mentioned would be no way consequent upon that concession; for as 
the vital act of faith quickly follows that regenerating principle, 
so the soul is abundantly secured against the danger objected: God 
never beginning any special work of grace upon the soul, and then 
leaving it and the soul with it in hazard, but preserves both to the 
finishing and completing of his gracious design, Phil. 1: 6. 
                      First use of Information. 
    Inf. 1. If such be the nature and necessity of this principle 
of divine life, as you have heard it opened in the foregoing 
discourse, then hence it follows, That unregenerate men are not 
better than dead men. So the text represent them "you has he 
quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins" i. e. spiritually 
dead, though naturally alive; yea and lively too as any other 
persons in the world. There is a threefold consideration of objects, 
    1. Naturally 
    2. Politically 
    3. Theologically. 
    First, Naturally, To all those things that are natural, they 
are alive: they can understand, reason, discourse, project, and 
contrive, as well as others; they can eat, drink, and build, plant, 
and suck out the natural comfort of these things, as much as any 
others. So their life is described, Job 21: 12 "They take the 
timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ; they spend 
their days in wealth," &c And James 5: 5 "Ye have lived in pleasure 
upon earth," as the fish lives in the water its natural element, and 
yet this natural sensual life is not allowed the name of life, 1 
Tim. 5: 9 such persons are dead whilst they live; it is a base and 
ignoble life, to have a soul only to salt the body or to enable a 
man for a few years to eat, and drink, and talk; and laugh, and then 
    Secondly, Objects may be considered politically, and with 
respect to such things, they are alive also: they can buy and sell, 
and manage all their worldly affairs with as much dexterity, skill, 
and policy as other men: yea, "the children of this world are wiser 
in their generation than the children of light," Luke 16: 8. The 
entire stream of their thoughts, projects, and studies, running in 
that one channel; leaving but one design to manage, they must needs 
excel in worldly wisdom: But then, 
    Thirdly, Theologically considered, they are dead; without life, 
sense, or motion, towards God, and the things that are above: their 
understandings are dead, 1 Cor. 2: 14 and cannot receive the things 
that are of God; their wills are dead, and cannot move towards Jesus 
Christ, John 6: 65. Their affections are dead, even to the most 
excellent and spiritual objects; and all their duties are dead 
duties, without life or spirit. This is the sad case of the 
unregenerate world. 
    Inf. 2. This speaks encouragement to ministers and parents, to 
wait in hopes of success at last, even upon those that yet give them 
little hope of conversion at the present. 
    The world you see is the Lord's; when the Spirit of life comes 
upon their dead souls, they shall believe, and be made willing; till 
then, we do but plough upon the rocks: yet let not our hand slack in 
duty, pray for them, and plead with them: you know not in which 
prayer, or exhortation, the spirit of life may breathe upon them. 
Can these dry bones live? Yes, if the Spirit of life from God 
breathe upon them, they can, and shall live: what though their 
dispositions be averse to all things that are spiritual and serious, 
yet even such have been regenerated, when more sweet and promising 
natures have been passed by, and left under spiritual death. 
    It was the observation of Mr. Ward, upon his brother Mr Daniel 
Rogers, (who was a man of great gifts and eminent graces, yet of a 
very bad temper and constitution) Though my brother Rogers, saith 
he, has grace enough for two men, yet not half enough for himself. 
    It may be you have prayed and striven long with your relations 
and to little purpose, yet be not discouraged. How often was Mr John 
Rogers, that famous and successful divine, a grief of heart to his 
relations in his younger years, proving a wild and lewd young man, 
to the great discouragement of his pious friends; yet, at last, the 
Lord graciously changed him, so that Mr. Richard Rogers would say, 
when he could exercise the utmost degree of charity or hope, for any 
that at present were vile and naught, I will never despair of any 
man for Johns Rogers' sake. 
    Inf. 4. How honourable are Christians by their new birth! "They 
are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will 
of man, but of God," John 1: 13. i. e. not in an impure, or mere 
natural way, but in a most spiritual and supernatural manner: they 
are the offspring of God, the children of the Most High, as well by 
regeneration as by adoption; which is the greatest advancement of 
the human nature, next to its hypostatical union with the second 
person. Oh, what honour is this for a poor sinful creature, to have 
the very life of God breathed into his soul! All other dignities of 
nature are trifles compared with this. This makes a Christian a 
sacred hallowed thing, the living temple of God, 1 Cor 6: 19. The 
special object of his delight. 
    Inf. 4. How deplorable is the condition of the unregenerate 
world, in no better case than dead men? Now to affect our hearts 
with the misery of such conditions, let us consider and compare it 
in the following particulars, 
    First, There is no beauty in the dead, all their loveliness 
goes away at death; there is no spiritual beauty or loveliness in 
any that are unregenerate: It is true, many of them have excellent 
moral homilitical virtues, which adorn their conversations in the 
eyes of men; but what are all these, but so many sweet flowers 
strewed over a dead corpse? 
    Secondly, The dead have no pleasure nor delight; even so the 
unregenerate are incapable of the delights of the Christian life; 
"to be spiritually minded is life and peace," Rom. 8: 6. i.e. this 
is the only serene, placid, and pleasant life: when the prodigal, 
who was once dead, was alive, then he began to be merry, Luke 15:24. 
They live in sensual pleasures, but this is to be dead while alive, 
in scripture-reckoning. 
    Thirdly, The dead have no heat, they are as cold as clay; so 
are all the unregenerate towards God and things above: their lusts 
are hot, but their affections to God cold and frozen: that which 
makes a gracious heart melt, will not make an unregenerate heart 
    Fourthly, The dead must be buried, Gen. 23: 4. "Bury my dead 
out of my sight:" So must the unregenerate be buried out of God's 
sight for ever: buried in the lowest hell, in the place of darkness, 
for ever, John 3: 3. Wo to the unregenerate, good had it been for 
them had they never been born! 
    Infer. 5. How greatly are all men concerned to examine their 
condition with respect to spiritual life and death! It is very 
common for men to presume upon their union with, and interest in 
Christ. This privilege is, by common mistake, extended generally to 
all that profess the Christian religion, and practice the external 
duties of it, when, in truth, no more are or can be united to 
Christ, than are quickened by the Spirit of life which is in Christ 
Jesus, Rom. 8: 1, 2. O try your interest in Christ by this rule, if 
I am quickened by Christ, I have union with Christ. And, 
    First, If there be spiritual sense in your souls, there is 
spiritual life in them: there are "aisteteria", senses belonging to 
the spiritual as well as to the animal life, Heb. 5: 14. They can 
feel and sensibly groan under soul pressures and burdens of sin, 
Rom. 7: 24. The dead feel not, moan not under the burdens of sin, 
but the living do: they may be sensible indeed of the evil of sin, 
with respect to themselves, but not as against God, damnation may 
scare them, but pollution does not; hell may fright them, but not 
the offending of God. 
    Secondly, If there be spiritual hunger and thirst, it is a 
sweet sign of spiritual life; this sign agrees to Christians of a 
day old, 1 Pet. 2: 2. Even "new born babes desire the sincere milk 
of the word:" If spiritual life be in you, you know how to expound 
that scripture, Psal. 42: 1. without any other interpreter than your 
own experience: you will feel somewhat like the gnawing of an empty 
stomach making you restless during the interruption of your daily 
communion with the Lord. 
    Thirdly, If there be spiritual conflicts with sin, there is 
spiritual life in your souls, Gal. 5: l7. Not only a combat betwixt 
light in the higher, and lust in the lower faculties; not only 
opposition to more gross external corruptions, that carry more 
infamy and horror with them than other sins do: but the same faculty 
will be the seat of war; and the more inward and secret any lust is, 
by so much the more will it be opposed and mourned over. 
    In a word, the weakest Christian may, upon impartial 
observation, find such signs of spiritual life in himself (if he 
will allow himself time to reflect upon the bent and frame of his 
own heart) as desires after God, conscience of duties, fears, cares, 
and sorrows, about sin; delight in the society of heavenly and 
spiritual men; and a loathing and burden in the company of vain and 
carnal persons. 
    Object. O but I have a very dead heart to spiritual things! 
    Sol. It is a sign of life that you feel, and are sensible of 
that deadness; and besides, there is a great deal of difference 
betwixt spiritual deadness and death; the one is the state of the 
unregenerate, the other is the disease of regenerate men. 
    Object. Some signs of spiritual life are clear to me, but I 
cannot close with others. 
    Sol. If you can really close with any, it may satisfy you, 
though you be dark in others; for if a child cannot go, yet if it 
can suck; but if it cannot suck, yet if it can cry; yea, if it 
cannot cry, yet if it breathe, it is alive. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 7...)

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