The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 8
(... continued from file 7)

Sermon 7. 
John 1: 12. 
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the 
sons of God; even to then that believe on his name. 
    The nature and excellency of saving faith, together with its 
relation to justification, as an instrument in receiving Christ and 
his righteousness, having been discoursed doctrinally already; I now 
come to make application of it, according to the nature of this 
weighty and fruitful point. 
    And the uses I shall make of it will be for our, 
    1. Information,    |    3. Exhortation, and, 
    2. Examination,    |    4. Direction. 
                      First Use of Information. 
    Use 1. And in the first, this point yields us many great and 
useful truths for our information: As, 
    Inference 1. Is the receiving of Christ the vital and saving 
act of faith, which gives the soul right to the person and 
privileges of Christ? Then it follows, That the rejecting of Christ 
by unbelief, must needs be the damning and soul-destroying sin, 
which cuts a man off from Christ, and all the benefits purchased by 
his blood. If there be life in receiving, there must needs be death 
in rejecting Christ. 
    There is no grace more excellent than faith; no sin more 
execrable and abominable than unbelief. Faith is the saving grace, 
and unbelief the damning sin, Mark 16: 16. "He that believeth not 
shall be damned." See John 3: 18, 36. and John 8: 24. 
    And the reason why this sin of unbelief is the damning sin is 
this, because, in the justification of a sinner, there must be a 
co-operation of all the con-causes that have a joint influence on 
that blessed effect. As there must be free grace for an impulsive 
cause, the blood of Christ as the meritorious cause, so, of 
necessity, there must be faith, the instrumental cause, to receive 
and apply what the free grace of God designed, and the blood of 
Christ purchased for us. For where there are many social causes, or 
con-causes to produce one effect, there the effect is not produced 
till the last cause be in act. 
    "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, 
whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins," Acts 
10: 43. Faith in its place is as necessary as the blood of Christ in 
its place: "It is Christ in you the hope of glory," Col. 1: 27. Not 
Christ in the womb, not Christ in the grave, nor Christ in heaven, 
except he be also Christ in you. 
    Though Christ be come in the flesh; though he died and rose 
again from the dead; yet if you believe not, you must for all that 
die in your sins, John 8: 24. And what a dreadful thing is this! 
better die any death whatever than die in your sins. If you die in 
your sins, you will also rise in your sins, and stand at the bar of 
Christ in your sins: you can never receive remission, till first you 
have received Christ. O cursed unbelief, which damns the soul: 
dishonours God, 1 John 5: 10. slights Jesus Christ, the wisdom of 
God, as if that glorious design of redemption by his blood, the 
triumph and master-piece of divine wisdom, were mere foolishness, 1 
Cor. 1: 23, 24. Frustrates the great design of the gospel, Gal. 4: 
11. and consequently it must be the sin of sins, the worst and most 
dangerous of all sins; leaving a man under the guilt of all his 
other sins. 
    Inf. 2. If such a receiving of Christ, as has been described, 
be saving and justifying faith, when faith is a work of greater 
difficulty than most men understand it to be, and there are but few 
sound believers in the world. 
    Before Christ can be received, the heart must be emptied and 
opened: but most men's hearts are full of self-righteousness and 
vain confidence: this was the case of the Jews, Rom. 10: 3. "Being 
ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their 
own righteousness have not submitted themselves to the righteousness 
of God." 
    Man's righteousness was once in himself, and what liquor is 
first put into the vessel, it ever afterwards savours of it. It is 
with Adam's posterity as with bees, which have been accustomed to go 
to their own hive, and carry all thither; if the hive be removed to 
another place, they will still fly to the old place, hover up and 
down about it, and rather die there than go to a new place. So it is 
with most men. God has removed their righteousness from doing to 
believing; from themselves to Christ, but who shall prevail with 
them to forsake self? Nature will venture to be damned rather than 
do it: there is much submission in believing, and great self denial: 
a proud self-conceited heart will never stoop to live upon the stock 
of another's righteousness. 
    Besides, it is no easy thing to persuade men to receive Christ 
as their Lord in all things, and submit their necks to his strict 
and holy precepts, though it be a great truth that "Christ's yoke 
does not gall, but grace and adorn the neck that bears it;" that the 
truest and sweetest liberty is in our freedom from our lusts, not in 
our fulfilling them; yet who can persuade the carnal heart to 
believe this? And much less will men ever be prevailed withal, to 
forsake father, mother, wife, children, inheritance, and life it 
self, to follow Christ: and all this upon the account of spiritual 
and invisible things: and yet this must be done by all that receive 
the Lord Jesus Christ upon gospel terms; yea, and before the soul 
has any encouraging experience of its own, to balance the manifold 
discouragements of sense, and carnal reason, improved by the utmost 
craft of Satan to dismay it: for experience is the fruit and 
consequent of believing. So that it may well be placed among the 
great mysteries of godliness, that Christ is believed on in the 
world, 1 Tim. 3: 16. 
    Inf. 3. Hence it will follow, That there may be more true and 
sound believers in the world, than know, or dare conclude themselves 
to be such. 
    For, as many ruin their own souls by placing the essence of 
saving faith in naked assent, so some rob themselves of their own 
comfort, by placing it in full assurance. Faith, and sense of faith, 
are two distinct and separable mercies: you may have truly received 
Christ, and not receive the knowledge or assurance of it, Isa. 1. 
10. Some there be that say, Thou art our God, of whom God never 
said, You are my people: these have no authority to be called the 
sons of God: others there are, of whom God saith, These are my 
people, yet dare not call God their God: these have authority to be 
called the sons of God, but know it not. They have received Christ, 
that is their safety, but they have not yet received the knowledge 
and assurance of it; that is their trouble: the Father owns his 
child in the cradle, who yet knows him not to be his Father. 
    Now there are two reasons why many believers, who might argue 
themselves into peace, do yet live without the comforts of their 
faith: and this may come to pass, either from, 
    First, The inevidence of the premises. 
    Secondly, Or the weighty importance of the conclusion. 
    First, It may come to pass from the inevidence of the premises. 
Assurance is a practical syllogism, and it proceeds thus: 
    All that truly have received Christ Jesus, they are the 
children of God. 
    I have truly received Jesus Christ. Therefore am the child of 
    The major proposition is found in the scripture, and there can 
be no doubt of that. The assumption depends upon experience, or 
internal sense; I have truly received Jesus Christ; here usually is 
the stumble: many great objections lie against it, which they cannot 
clearly answer: As, 
    Obj. 1. Light and knowledge are necessarily required to the 
right receiving of Christ, but I am dark and ignorant; many carnal, 
unregenerate persons know more than I do, and are more able to 
discourse of the mysteries of religion than I am. 
    Sol. But you ought to distinguish of the kinds and degrees of 
knowledge, and then you would see that your bewailed ignorance is no 
bar to your interest in Christ. There are two kinds of knowledge: 
                 1. Natural.     |    2. Spiritual. 
    There is a natural knowledge, even of spiritual objects, a 
spark of nature blown up by an advantageous education; and though 
the objects of this knowledge be spiritual things, yet the light in 
which they are discerned is but a mere natural light. 
    And there is a spiritual knowledge of spiritual things, the 
teaching of the anointing, as it is called, 1 John 2: 27. i.e. the 
effect and fruit of the Spirit's sanctifying work upon our souls, 
when the experience of a man's own heart informs and teacheth his 
understanding, when by feeling the workings of grace in our own 
souls we come to understand its nature; this is spiritual knowledge. 
Now, a little of this knowledge is a better evidence of a man's 
interest in Christ, than the most raised and excellent degree of 
natural knowledge: As the philosopher truly observes; Praestat 
paucula de meliori scientia degustasse, quam de ignobilori multa: 
One dram of knowledge of the best and most excellent things, is 
better than much knowledge of common things. So it is here, a little 
spiritual knowledge of Jesus Christ, that has life and savour in it, 
is more than all the natural, sapless knowledge of the unregenerate, 
which leaves the heart dead, carnal, and barren: it is not the 
quantity, but the kind, not the measure, but the savour: If you know 
so much of the evil of sin, as renders it the most bitter and 
burdensome thing in the world to you, and so much of the necessity 
and excellency of Christ, as renders him the most sweet and 
desirable thing in the world to you, though you may be defective in 
many degrees of knowledge, yet this is enough to prove yours to be 
the fruit of the Spirit: you may have a sanctified heart, though you 
have an irregular or weak head: many that knew more than you are in 
hell: and some that once knew as little as you, are now in heaven: 
In absoluto et facili stat aeternitas: God has not prepared heaven 
only for clear and subtle heads. A little sanctified and effectual 
knowledge of Christ's person, offices, suitableness, and necessity, 
may bring thee thither, when others, with all their curious 
speculations and notions, may perish for ever. 
    Obj. 2. But you tell me, that assent to the truths of the 
gospel is necessarily included in saving faith, which, though it be 
not the justifying and saving act, yet it is pre-supposed and 
required to it. Now I have many staggering and doubtings about the 
certainty and reality of these things; many horrid atheistical 
thoughts, which shake the assenting act of faith in the very 
foundation, and hence I doubt I do not believe. 
    Sol. There may be, and often is, a true and sincere assent 
found in the soul, that is assaulted with violent atheistical 
suggestions from Satan; and thereupon questions the truth of it. And 
this is a very clear evidence of the reality of our assent, that 
whatever doubts, or contrary suggestions there be, yet we dare not 
in our practice contradict or slight those truths or duties which we 
are tempted to disbelieve, ex. gr. We are assaulted with atheistical 
thoughts, and tempted to slight and cast off all fears of sin, and 
practice of religious duties, yet when it comes to the point of 
practice, we dare not commit a known sin, the awe of God is upon us; 
we dare not omit a known duty, the tie of conscience is found strong 
enough to hold it close to it: in this case, it is plain we do 
really assent, when we think we do not. A man thinks he does not 
love his child, yet carefully provides for him in health, and is 
full of griefs and fears about him in sickness: why now, so long as 
I see all fatherly duties performed, and affections to his child's 
welfare manifested, let him say what he will as to the want of love 
to him, whilst I see this, he must excuse me if I do not believe 
him, when he saith he has no love for him. Just so is it in this 
case, a man saith I do not assent to the being, necessity, or 
excellency of Jesus Christ; yet, in the mean time, his soul is 
filled with cares and fears about securing his interest in him, he 
is found panting and thirsting for him with vehement desires, there 
is nothing in all the world would give him such joy, as to be well 
assured of an interest in him; while it is thus with any man, let 
him say or think what he will of his assent, it is manifest by this 
he does truly and heartily assent, and there can be no better proof 
of it than these real effects produced by it. 
    Secondly, But if these, and other objections were never so 
fully answered for the clearing of the assumption, yet it often 
falls out, that believers are afraid to draw the conclusion; and 
that fear partly arises from, 
    First, The weighty importance of this matter. 
    Secondly, The sense of the deceitfulness of their own hearts. 
    First, The conclusion is of infinite importance to them, it is 
the everlasting happiness of their souls, than which nothing is, or 
can be of greater weight upon their spirits: things in which we are 
most deeply concerned, are not lightly and hastily received by us: 
it seems so great and so good, that we are still apt (if there be 
any room for it) to suspect the truth and certainty thereof, as 
never being sure enough. 
    Thus when the women that were the first messengers and 
witnesses of Christ's resurrection, Luke 24: 10,11. came and told 
the disciples those wonderful and comfortable tidings, it is said, 
"That their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed 
them not." They thought it was too good to be true; too great to be 
hastily received; so it is in this case. 
    Secondly, The sense they have of the deceitfulness of their own 
hearts, and the daily workings of hypocrisy there, makes them afraid 
to conclude in so great a point as this is. 
    They know that very many daily cozen and cheat themselves in 
this matter; they know also that their own hearts are full of 
falseness and deceit; they find them so in their daily observations 
of them; and what if they should prove so in this? Why then they are 
lost for ever! They also know there is not the like danger in their 
fears and jealousies, that would be in their vain confidences and 
presumptions; by the one, they are only deprived of their present 
comfort, but by the other, they would be ruined for ever: and 
therefore choose rather to dwell with their own fears (though they 
be uncomfortable companions) than run the danger of so great a 
mistake, which would be infinitely more fatal. And this being the 
common case of most Christians, it follows that there must be many 
more believers in the world than do think, or dare conclude 
themselves to be such. 
    Inf. 4. If the right receiving of Jesus Christ, be true, 
saving, and justifying faith, then those that have the least, and 
lowest degree and measure of saving faith, have cause for ever to 
admire the bounty and riches of the grace of God to then therein. 
    If you have received never so little of his bounty by the hand 
of providence, in the good things of this life, yet if he have given 
you any measure of true saving faith, he has dealt bountifully in 
deed with you: this mercy alone is enough to balance all other wants 
and inconveniences of this life, "poor in the world, rich in faith, 
James 2: 5. O, let your hearts take in the full sense of this bounty 
of God to you; say with the apostle, Eph. 1: 3. "Blessed be the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all 
spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus", and you 
will in this one mercy, find matter enough of praise and 
thanksgiving, wonder and admiration to your dying day, yea, to all 
eternity: for, do but consider, 
    First, The smallest measure of saving faith which is found in 
any of the people of God, receives Jesus Christ; and in receiving 
him, what mercy is there which the believing soul does not receive 
in him, and with him? Rom. 8: 32. 
    O believer, though the arms of thy faith be small and weak, yet 
they embrace a great Christ, and receive the richest gift that ever 
God bestowed upon the world: no sooner art thou become a believer, 
but Christ is in thee the hope of glory; and thou hast authority to 
become a son or daughter of God; thou hast the broad seal of heaven 
to confirm thy title and claim to the privileges of adoption, for 
"to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the 
sons of God." [To as many] be they strong, or be they weak, provided 
they really receive Christ by faith; there is authority or power 
given, so that it is no act of presumption in them to say, God is 
our Father, heaven is our inheritance. O precious faith! the 
treasures of ten thousand worlds cannot purchase such privileges as 
these: all the crowns and sceptres of the earth, sold at full value, 
are no price for such mercies. 
    Secondly, The least degree of saving faith brings the soul into 
a state of perfect and full justification. For if it receives Jesus 
Christ, it must needs therefore in him, and with him, receive a 
free, full, and final pardon of sin: the least measure of faith 
receives remission for the greatest sins. "By him all that believe 
are justified from all things," Acts 13: 39. It unites thy soul with 
Christ, and then, as the necessary consequent of that union, there 
is no condemnation, Rom. 8: 1. "ouden katakrima", not one 
condemnation, how many soever our sins have been. 
    Thirdly, The least measure or degree of saving faith, is a 
greater mercy than God has bestowed, or ever will bestow upon many 
that are far above you in outward respects: All men have not faith: 
nay, it is but a remnant among men that believe. Few of the nobles 
and potentates of the world have such a gift as this: they have 
houses and lands, yea, crowns and sceptres, but no faith, no Christ, 
no pardon; they have authority to rule over men, but no authority to 
become the sons of God, 1 Cor. 1: 26, 27. 
    Say therefore in thy most debased, straitened, afflicted 
condition, "Return to thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt 
bountifully with thee." 
    Fourthly, The least degree of saving faith is more than all the 
power of nature can produce. There must be a special revelation of 
the arm of the Lord in that work, Isa. 53: 1. Believers are not born 
of the flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God," 
John 1: 12,13. A11 believing motions towards Christ, are the effects 
of the Father's drawing, John 6: 44. A glorious and irresistible 
power goes forth from God to produce it, whence it is called "the 
faith of the operation of God," Col. 2: 12. 
    So then, let not believers despise the day of small things, or 
overlook that great and infinite mercy which is wrapt up in the 
least degree of saving faith. 
    Infer. 5. Learn hence the impossibility of their salvation, who 
neither know the nature, nor enjoy the means of saving faith. 
    My soul pities and mourns over the infidel world. Ah! What will 
become of the millions of poor unbelievers! there is but one door of 
salvation, viz. Christ; and but one key of faith to open that floor: 
and as that key was never given to the Heathen world: so it is laid 
aside, or taken away from the people by their cruel guides, all over 
the Popish world; were you among them, you should hear nothing else 
pressed as necessary to your salvation but a blind, implicit faith, 
to believe as the church believes; that is, to believe they know not 
    To believe as the pope believes; that is as an infidel 
believes, for so they confess he may be, and though there be such a 
thing as an explict faith sometimes spoken of among them, yet it is 
very sparingly discoursed, very falsely described, and exceedingly 
slighted by them as the merest trifle in the world. 
    First, It is but sparingly discoursed of: they love not to 
accustom the people's ears to such a doctrine; one of themselves 
confesses that there is so deep a silence of explicit, particular 
faith in the Romish church, that you may find many every where, that 
believe no more of these things than Heathen philosophers. 
    Secondly, When it is preached or written of, it is falsely 
described: for they place the whole nature and essence of justifying 
and saving faith in a naked assent, which the devils have as well as 
men, James 2: 19. No more than this is pressed upon the people at 
any time, as necessary to their salvation. 
    Thirdly, And even this particular explicit faith, when it is 
spoken or written of, is exceedingly slighted. I think if the devil 
himself were in the pulpit, he could hardly tell how to bring men to 
a more low and slight esteem of faith; to represent it more as a 
very trifle, or a quite needless thing, than these his agents have 
done. Some say if a man believe with a particular explicit faith, 
i.e. if he actually assent to the scripture-truths once in a year, 
it is enough. Yea, and others think it too much to oblige people to 
believe once in twelve months; and, for their ease, tell them, if 
they believe once in twelve years it is sufficient; and, lest this 
should be too great a task, others affirm, that if it be done but 
once in their whole life, and that at the point of death too, it is 
enough, especially for the rude and common people. Good God! what a 
doctrine is here! It was a saying long ago of Gregory (as I 
remember,) Malus minister est nisius diaboli: A wicked minister is 
the devil's goshawk, that goes a birding for hell; and O what game 
leave these hawks of hell among such numerous flocks of people! O, 
bless God while you live for your deliverance from popery; and see 
that you prize the gospel, and means of grace you enjoy at an higher 
rate, lest God bring you once more under that yoke, which neither 
you nor your fathers could bear. 
                     Second use for examination. 
    Does saving faith consist in a due and right receiving of the 
Lord Jesus Christ? Then let me persuade you to examine yourselves in 
this great point of faith. Reflect solemnly upon the transactions 
that have been betwixt Christ and your souls; think close on this 
subject of meditation. 
    If all you were worth in the world lay in one precious stone, 
and that stone were to be tried by the skilful Lapidary, whether it 
were true or false, whether it would fly or endure under the smart 
stroke of his hammer, sure your thoughts could not be unconcerned 
about the issue. Why all that you are worth in both worlds depends 
upon the truth of your faith which is now to be tried. 
    Therefore read not these lines with a running, careless eye, 
but seriously ponder the matter before you. You would be loth to put 
to sea, though it were but to cross the channel, in a rotten leaky 
bottom: And will you dare to venture into the ocean of eternity in a 
false rotten faith! God forbid. You know the Lord is coming to try 
every man's faith as by fire, and that we must stand or fall for 
ever with the sincerity or hypocrisy of our faith. Surely, you can 
never be too exact and careful about that, on which your whole 
estate depends, and that for ever. 
    Now there are three things upon which we should have a very 
tender and watchful eye, for the discovery of the sincerity of our 
faith, and they are, 
         / Antecedents  \ 
    The |  Concomitants | of Faith. 
         \ Consequent   / 
    As these are, so we must judge and reckon our faith to be. And, 
accordingly they furnish us with three general marks or trials of 
    First, If you would discern the sincerity of your faith, 
examine whether those antecedents, and preparative works of the 
spirit, were ever found in your souls, which use to introduce and 
usher it into the souls of God's elect: Such are illumination, 
conviction, self-despair, and earnest cries to God. 
    First, Illumination is a necessary antecedent to faith: You can 
not believe till God has opened your eyes to see your sin, your 
misery by sin, and your remedy in Jesus Christ alone: You find this 
act of the Spirit to be the first in order both of nature and time, 
and introductive to all the rest, Acts 26: 18. "To turn them from 
darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God." As faith 
without works (which must be a consequent to it) is dead, so faith 
without light, which must be an antecedent to it, is blind: Faith is 
the hand by which Christ is received, but knowledge is the eye by 
which that hand is directed. 
    Well then, has God opened your eyes to see sin and misery in 
another manner than ever you saw them before? For certainly, if God 
has opened your eyes by saving illuminations, you will find as great 
a difference betwixt your former and present apprehensions of sin 
and danger, as betwixt the painted lion upon the wall or a 
sign-post, and the real living lion that meets you roaring in the 
    Secondly, Conviction is an antecedent to believing: Where this 
goes not before, no faith can follow after: The Spirit first 
convinces of sin, then of righteousness John 16: 8. So Mark 1: 15. 
"Repent ye, and believe the gospel". Believe it, O man! that breast 
of thine must be wounded, that vain and frothy heart of thine must 
be pierced and stung with conviction, sense, and sorrow for sin: 
Thou must have some sick days, and restless sights for sin, if ever 
thou rightly close with Christ by faith. It is true, there is much 
difference found in the strength, depth, and continuance of 
conviction, and spiritual troubles in converts; but sure it is, the 
child of faith is not ordinarily born without some pangs. Conviction 
is the application of that light which God makes to shine in our 
minds, to our particular case and condition by the conscience; and 
sure, when men come to see their miserable and sad estate by a true 
light, it cannot but wound them, and that to the very heart. 
    Thirdly, Self-despair, or a total and absolute loss in 
ourselves about deliverance, and the way of escape, either by 
ourselves, or any other mere creature, does, and must go before 
    So it was with those believers, Acts 2: 37. "Men and brethren, 
what shall we do?" They are the words of men at a total loss: It is 
the voice of poor distressed souls, that saw themselves in misery, 
but knew not, saw not, nor could devise any way of escape from it, 
by any thing they could do for themselves, or any other creature for 
them: And hence the apostle uses that emphatical word, Gal. 3: 23. 
"sungkekleisminoi", i.e. shut up to the faith, i.e. as men besieged 
and distressed in a garrison in a time of storm, when the enemy 
pours in upon them through the breaches, and overpowers them: There 
is but one sally-port or gate, at which they can escape, and to that 
they all throng, as despairing of life, if they take any other 
course. Just so do men's convictions besiege them, distress them, 
beat them off from all their holds and entrenchments, and bring them 
to a pinching distress in themselves, shutting them up to Christ as 
the only way to escape. Duties cannot save me, reformation cannot 
save me; nor angels, nor men can save me; there is no way but one, 
Christ, or condemnation for ever. 
    I thought once, that a little repentance, reformation, 
restitution, and a stricter life, might be a way to escape the wrath 
to come; but I find the bed is too short, and the covering too 
narrow: All is but loss, dung, dross, in comparisons with Jesus 
Christ; if I trust to those Egyptian reeds, they will not only fail 
me, but pierce and wound me too: I see no hope within the whole 
Horizon of sense. 
    Fourthly, Hence come vehement and earnest cries to God for 
faith, for Christ, for help from heaven, to transport the soul out 
of this dangerous condition, to that strong rock of salvation; to 
bring it out of this furious, stormy sea of trouble, where it is 
ready to wreck every moment, into that safe and quiet harbour, 
    O when a man shall see his misery and danger, and no way to 
escape but Christ, and that he has no ability himself to come to 
Christ, to open his heart thus to receive him, but that this work of 
faith is wholly supernatural, the operations of God; how will the 
soul return again, and again upon God, with such cries as in Mark 9: 
24. "Lord, help my unbelief?" "Lord, enable me to come to Christ, 
give me Christ or I perish for ever; What profit is there in my 
blood? Why should I die in the sight and presence of a Saviour? O 
Lord, it is thine own work, a most glorious work: Reveal thine arm 
in this work upon my soul, I pray thee; give me Christ, if thou deny 
me bread? give me faith, if thou deny me breath. It is more 
necessary that I believe, than that I live." 
    O Reader, reflect upon the days and nights that are past, the 
places where thou hast been conversant: where are the bed-sides, or 
the secret corners where thou hast besieged heaven with such cries? 
If God have thus enlightened, convinced, distressed thy soul, and 
thus set thee a mourning after Christ, it will be one good sign that 
faith is come into thy soul; for here are certainly the harbingers 
and forerunners of it, that ordinarily make way for faith into the 
souls of men. 
    Secondly, If you would be satisfied of the sincerity and truth 
of your faith, then examine what concomitants it is attended with in 
your souls. I mean, what frames and tempers your souls were in, at 
that time when you think you received Christ. For certainly, in 
those that receive Christ, (excepting those into whose hearts God 
has in a more still and insensible way infused faith betides, by his 
blessing upon pious education) such concomitant frames of spirit may 
be remarked as these following. 
    First, The heart is deeply serious, and as much in earnest in 
this matter, as ever it was, or can be, about any thing in the 
world. This you see in that example of the gaoler, Acts 16: 29. "He 
came in trembling and astonished". It is the most solemn and 
important matter that ever the soul had before it in this world, or 
ever shall, or can have: How much are the hearts of men affected in 
their outward straits and distresses, about the concernments of the 
body? Their hearts are not a little concerned in such questions as 
these, "What shall I eat? what shall I drink?" wherewithal shall I 
and mine be fed and clothed? but certainly the straits that souls 
are in about salvation, must be allowed to be greater than these; 
and such questions as that of the gaoler's, "Sirs! what must I do to 
be saved?" make deeper impressions upon the heart, than what shall I 
eat or drink? Some indeed have their thoughts sinking deeper into 
these things than others: These thoughts lie with different degrees 
of weight upon men: but all are most solemnly and awfully concerned 
about their condition: All frothiness and frolics are gone, and the 
heart settles itself in the deepest earnest about its eternal state. 
    Secondly, The heart that receives Jesus Christ is in a frame of 
deep humiliation and self-abasement O, when a man begins to 
apprehend the first approaches of grace, pardon, and mercy by Jesus 
Christ to his soul: when a soul is convinced of its utter 
unworthiness and desert of hell; and can scarce expect any thing 
else from the just and holy God but damnation, how do the first 
dawnings of mercy melt and humble them! "O Lord, what am I that thou 
shouldst feed me, and preserve me! that thou shouldst but for a few 
years spare me and forbear me! but that ever Jesus Christ should 
love me, and give himself for me; that such a wretched sinner as I 
should obtain union with his person, pardon, peace, and salvation by 
his blood! Lord, whence is this to such a worm as I? and will Christ 
indeed bestow himself upon me? shall so great a blessing as Christ 
ever come within the arms of such a soul as mine? will God in very 
deed be reconciled to me in his Son? what, to me! to such an enemy 
as I have been! shall my sins which are so many, so horrid, so much 
aggravated, beyond the sins of most men, be forgiven? O what am I, 
vile dust? base wretch, that ever God should do this for me!" And 
how is that scripture fulfilled and made good, Ezek 16: 63 "That 
thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth 
any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified towards thee for 
all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." Thus, that poor 
broken-hearted believer stood behind Christ weeping, and washing his 
feet with tears, as one quite melted down, and overcome with the 
sense of mercy to such a vile sinner, Luke 7: 38. 
    Thirdly, The soul that receives Jesus Christ is in a weary 
condition, restless, and full of disquietness, neither able to bear 
the burden of sin, nor knowing how to be discharged from it, except 
Christ will give it ease, Mat. 11: 28, "Come unto me," that is, 
believe in me, "you that are weary and heavy laden:" If they do not 
look into their own souls, they know there is no safety, and if they 
do, there is no comfort. O! the burdensome sense of sin overweighs 
them; they are ready to fall, to sink under it. 
    Fourthly, The soul that rightly receives Christ, is not only in 
a weary, but in a longing condition: never did the hart pant more 
earnestly for the water-brooks: never did the hireling desire the 
shadow: never did a condemned person long for a pardon, more than 
the soul longs after Jesus Christ. O, said David, that one would 
give me of the water of the well of Bethlehem to drink. O, saith the 
poor humbled sinner, that one would give me of the opened fountain 
of the blood of Christ to drink! O for one drop of that precious 
blood! O for one encouraging smile from Christ! O now were ten 
thousand worlds at my command, and Christ to be bought, how freely 
would I lay them all down to purchase him! but he is the gift of 
God. O that God would give me Christ, if I should go in rags, and 
hunger and thirst all my days in this world! 
    Fifthly, The soul in the time of its closing with, or receiving 
Christ, is in a state of conflict: It hangs between hopes and fears, 
encouragements and discouragements, which occasions many a sad stand 
and pause in the way of Christ; sometimes the number and nature of 
its sins discourage it, then the riches and freeness of the grace of 
Christ erects his hopes again: there is little hope, saith unbelief; 
nay, it is utterly impossible, saith Satan, that ever such a wretch 
as thou shouldst find mercy; now the hands hang down. O but then 
there is a necessity, an absolute necessity, I have not the choice 
of two, but am shut up to one way of deliverance; others have found 
mercy and the invitation is to all that are weary, and to all that 
are athirst he saith, him that comes to him, he will in no wise cast 
out: now new hopes inspire the soul, and the hands that did hang 
down are strengthened. 
    These are the concomitant frames that accompany faith. 
    3. Mark. Lastly, Examine the consequents and effects of faith, 
if you would be satisfied of the truth and sincerity of it: and such 
    First, Evangelical meltings, and ingenuous thawings of the 
heart under the apprehensions of grace and mercy: Zech. 12: 10. 
"They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn." 
    Secondly, Love to Christ, his ways and people, Gal. 5: 6. Faith 
worketh by love, i. e. represents the love of God, and then makes 
use of the sweetness of it by way of argument, to constrain the soul 
to all acts of obedience, where it may testify the reality of its 
love to God and Christ. 
    Thirdly, Heart-purity, Acts 15: 9. "Purifying the hearts by 
faith:" It does not only cleanse the lands but the heart. No 
principle in man, besides faith, can do this: morality may hide 
corruption, but faith only purifies the heart from it. 
    Fourthly, Obedience to the commands of Christ, Rom. 16: 26. The 
very name of faith is called upon obedience: for it accepts Christ 
as Lord, and urges upon the soul the most powerful arguments in the 
world to draw it to obedience. 
    In a word, let the poor doubting believer, that questions his 
faith, reflect upon those things that are unquestionable in his own 
experience, which being well considered, will greatly tend to his 
satisfaction in this point. 
    It is very doubtful to you whether you believe, but yet in the 
mean time, it may be past doubt, (being a matter of clear 
experience) that you have been deeply convinced of sin, struck off 
from all carnal props and refuges, made willing to accept Jesus 
Christ upon what terms soever van might enjoy him. You doubt whether 
Christ be yours, but it is past doubt that you have a most high and 
precious esteem of Christ, that you heartily long for him, that you 
prize and love all, whether persons or things, that bear his image: 
that nothing in the world would please your hearts like a 
transformation into his likeness: that you had rather your souls 
should be filled with his Spirit, than your houses with gold and 
silver. It is doubtful whether Christ be yours, but it is past doubt 
that one smile from Christ, one token of his love would do you more 
good than all the honours and smiles of the world; and no thing so 
grieves you, as your grieving him by sin does. You dare not say that 
you have received him, nor can you deny but that you have had many 
sick days and nights for him; that you have gone into many secret 
places with yearning bowels after him. Whether he be yours or not, 
you cannot tell; but that you are resolved to be his, that you can 
tell. Whether he will save you is but a doubt, but that you resolve 
to lie at his feet, and wait only on him, and never go to another 
for salvation, is no doubt. 
    Well, well; poor pensive soul, if it be so, arise, lift up thy 
dejected head, take thine own Christ into thine arms. These are 
undoubted signs of a real closure with Christ, thou makes thyself 
poor, and yet hast great riches: Such things as these are not found 
in them that despise and reject Christ by unbelief. 
                       3. Use of Exhortation. 
    3.  Use. This point is likewise very improveable by way of 
      exhortation, and that both to 
                     Unbelievers and Believers. 
    First, To unbelievers, who from hence must be pressed, as ever 
they expect to see the face of God in peace, to receive Jesus Christ 
as he is now offered to them in the gospel. This is the very scope 
of the gospel; I shall therefore press it by three great 
considerations, viz. 
    First, that is in Christ whom you are to receive. 
    Secondly, What is in the offer of Christ by the gospel. 
    Thirdly, What is in the rejecting of that offer. 
                            First Motive. 
    First, Consider well what is in Christ, whom I persuade you 
this day to receive: Did you know what is in Christ, you would never 
neglect or reject him as you do: For, 
    First, "God is in Christ," 2 Cor. 5: 19. the Deity has chosen 
to dwell in his flesh; he is "God manifest in flesh," 1 Tim. 3: 16. 
a Godhead dwelling in flesh is the world's wonder; so that in 
receiving Christ, you receive God himself. 
    Secondly, The authority of God is in Christ, Exod. 23: 21. "My 
name is in him: Him has God the Father sealed," John 6: 27. he has 
the commission, the great seal of heaven to redeem and save you. All 
power in heaven and earth is given to him, Matth. 28: 18. he comes 
in his Father's name to you, as well as in his own name. 
    Thirdly, The wisdom of God is in Christ, 1 Cor. 1: 24. "Christ 
the wisdom of God," yea, "in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom 
and knowledge," Col. 2: 3. Never did the wisdom of God display 
itself before the eyes of angels and men as it has done in Christ. 
The "angels desire to look into it," 1 Pet. 1: 12. yet they are not 
so much concerned in the project and design of this wisdom in 
redemption as you are. 
    Fourthly, The fulness of the Spirit is in Christ, yea, it fills 
him so as it never did, nor will fill any creature, John 3: 34. "God 
giveth not the Spirit by measure to him: all others have their 
limits, stints, and measures; some more, some less; but the Spirit 
is in Christ without measure. O how lovely and desirable are those 
men that have a large measure of the Spirit in them! but he is 
anointed with the Spirit of holiness above all his fellows, Psal. 
45: 2, 7. Whatever grace is found in all the saints, which makes 
them desirable and lovely, wisdom in one, faith in another, patience 
in a third; they all centre in Christ as the rivers do in the sea, 
quae faciunt divisa beatum, in hoc mixta fluunt. 
    Fifthly, The righteousness of God is in Christ, by which only a 
poor guilty sinner can be justified before God, 2 Cor. 5: 21. we are 
"made the righteousness of God in him:" he is "Adonai Tsidkenu", 
"the Lord our righteousness," Jer. 23: 6. "the author of our 
righteousness", or the Lord who justifies us, by that name he will 
be known, and called by his people, than which none can be sweeter. 
    Sixthly, The love of God is in Christ, yea, the very yearning 
bowels of divine love are in him: What is Christ, but the love of 
God wrapt up in flesh and blood? 1 John 4: 9, 10. "In this was 
manifested the love of God towards us:" and herein is love, that God 
sent his Son; this is the highest flight that ever divine love made; 
and higher than this it cannot mount. O love, unparalleled and 
    Seventhly, The mercies and compassions of God are all in 
Christ, Jude, ver. 21. Mercy is the thing that poor sinners want, it 
is that they cry for at the last gasp; it is the only thing that can 
do them good. O what would they give to find mercy in that great 
day? Why, if you receive Christ, you shall with him receive mercy; 
but out of him there is no mercy to be expected from the hands of 
God; for God will never exercise mercy to the prejudice of his 
justice; and it is in Christ that justice and mercy meet and embrace 
each other. 
    Eighthly, To conclude, The salvation of God is in Christ, Acts 
4: 12. "Neither is there salvation in any other." Christ is the door 
of salvation, and faith is the key that opens that door to men. If 
you therefore believe not, i.e. if you so receive not Jesus Christ, 
as God has offered him, you exclude yourselves from all hopes of 
salvation. The devils have as much ground to expect salvation as 
you. You see what is in Christ to induce you to receive him. 
                              Motive 2. 
    Next, I beseech you, consider what there is in the offer of 
Christ to sinners, to induce you to receive him. Consider well to 
whom and how Christ is offered in the gospel. 
    First, To whom is he offered; not to the fallen angels, but to 
you; they lie in chains of darkness, Jude, ver. 6. as he took not 
their nature, so he designs not their recovery, and therefore will 
have no treaty at all with them: but he is offered to you, creatures 
of an inferior rank and order by nature; nor is he offered to the 
damned, the treaty of peace is ended with them: Christ will never 
make then another tender of salvation; nor is he offered to millions 
as good as you, now living in the world. The sound of Christ and 
salvation is not come to their ears, but he is offered to you by the 
special favour and bounty of heaven; and will you not receive him? 
Oh! then how will the devils, the damned, an the heathen upbraid 
your folly! and say, had we had one such tender of mercy, of which 
you have had thousands, we would never have been now in this place 
of torments. 
    Secondly, Consider how Christ is offered to you, and you shall 
find that he is offered, 
    1. Freely, as the gift of God, to your souls; you are not to 
purchase him, but only to receive him, Isa. 55: 1 "Ho, every one 
that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and you that has no money, 
let him come," &c. 
    2. Christ is offered importunately, by repeated intreaties, 2 
Cor. 5: 20. "As though God did beseech you, we pray you in Christ's 
name, be ye reconciled to God." O! what amazing condescension is 
here in the God of mercy! God now beseeches you, will you not yield 
to the entreaties of your God? O then what wilt thou say for 
thyself, when God will not hear thee, when thou shalt entreat and 
cry for mercy? Which brings us to 
    Motive 3. Consider the sin and danger that there is in refusing 
or neglecting the present offers of Christ in the gospel, and surely 
there is much sin in it; the very malignity of sin, and the sum of 
all misery lies here; for in refusing Christ, 
    1. You put the greatest contempt and slight upon all the 
attributes of God that is possible for a creature to do: God has 
made his justice, his mercy, his wisdom, and all his attributes to 
shine in their brightest glory in Christ. Never was there such a 
display of the glory of God made to the world in any other way. 
    O then, what is it to reject and despise Jesus Christ, but to 
offer the greatest affront to the glory of God that it is possible 
for men to put upon it? 
    2. You hereby frustrate and evacuate the very design and 
importance of the gospel to yourselves; you "receive the grace of 
God in vain," 2 Cor. 6: 1. As good, yea, better has it been for you, 
that Christ had never cone into the world, or, if he had, that your 
lot had fallen in the dark places of the earth, where you had never 
heard his name; yea, good had it been for that man if he had never 
been born. 
    3. Hereby a man murders his own soul. "I said therefore unto 
you, that you shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I 
am he, ye shall die in your sins," John 8: 24. Unbelief is 
self-murder; you are guilty of the blood of your own souls: life and 
salvation were offered you, and you rejected them. Yea; 
    4. The refusing of Christ by unbelief will aggravate your 
damnation above all others that perish in ignorance of Christ. O, it 
will be more tolerable for heathens than for you; the greatest 
measures of wrath are reserved to punish the worst of sinners; and 
among sinners, none will be found worse than unbelievers. 
    Secondly, To believers, this point is very useful to persuade 
them to divers excellent duties; among which, I shall singly out two 
principal ones, viz. 
    1. To bring up their faith of acceptance, to the faith of 
    2. To bring up their conversations to the principles and rules 
of faith. 
    1. You that have received Jesus Christ truly, give yourselves 
no rest till you are fully satisfied that you have done so; 
acceptance brings you to heaven hereafter, but assurance will bring 
heaven into your souls now. O, what a life of delight and pleasure 
does the assured believer live! What pleasure is it to him to look 
back and consider where he once was, and where he now is? To look 
forward, and consider where he now is, and where shortly he shall 
be! I was in my sins, I am now in Christ. I am in Christ now, I 
shall be with Christ, and that for ever, after a few days. I was 
upon the brink of hell, I am now upon the very borders of heaven; I 
shall be in a very little while among the innumerable company of 
angels and glorified saints, bearing part with them in the song of 
Moses, and of the Lamb, for evermore. 
    And why may not you that have received Christ, receive the 
comfort of your union with him? There be all the grounds and helps 
of assurance furnished to your hand, there is a real union betwixt 
Christ and your souls, which is the very ground-work of assurance. 
You have the scriptures before you which contain the signs of faith, 
and the very things within you that answer those signs in the word. 
So you read, and so, just so, you might feel it in your own hearts, 
would you attend to your own experience. The Spirit of God is ready 
to seal you, it is his office and his delight so to do. O therefore, 
give diligence to this work, attend the study of the scriptures and 
of your own hearts more, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God, and 
you may arrive to the very desire of your hearts. 
    2. Bring up your conversations to the excellent principles and 
rules of faith; "As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk 
in him," Cor. 2: 6. Live as you believe; you received Christ 
sincerely in your first close with him, O maintain the like 
seriousness and sincerity in all your ways, to the end of your 
lives: you received him entirely and undividedly at first, let there 
be no exceptions against any of his commands afterward. You received 
him exclusively to all others, see that you watch against all self- 
righteousness and self-conceitedness now, and mingle nothing of your 
own with his blood, whatever gifts or enlargements in duty God shall 
give you afterwards. 
    You received him advisedly at first, weighing and considering 
the self-denying terms upon which he was offered to you; O show that 
it was real, and that you see no cause to repent the bargain, 
whatever you shall meet with in the ways of Christ and duty 
afterwards: convince the world of your constancy and cheerfulness in 
all your sufferings for Christ, that you are still of the same mind 
you were, and that Christ, with his cross, Christ, with a prison, 
Christ, with the greatest afflictions, is worthy of all acceptation: 
"As ye have received him, so walk ye in him." Let him be as sweet, 
as lovely, as precious to you now, as he was in the first moment you 
received him; yea, let your love to him, delights in him, and 
self-denial for him, increase with your acquaintance with him, day 
by day. 
                          Use of direction. 
    Use: Lastly, I will close all with a few words of direction to 
all that are made willing to receive the Lord Jesus Christ; and sure 
it is but needful that help were given to poor Christians: in this 
matter, it is a time of trouble, fear, and great temptation; 
mistakes are easily made of dangerous consequence; attend heedfully, 
therefore, to a few directions. 
    Direction 1. First, In your receiving Christ, Beware you do not 
mistake the means for the end. Many do so, but see you do not. 
Prayer, sermons, reformations, are means to bring you to Christ, but 
they are not Christ; to close with those duties is one thing, and to 
close with Christ is another thing. If I go into a boat, my design 
is not to dwell there, but to be carried to the place whereon I 
desire to be landed: so it must be in this case, all your duties 
must land you upon Christ; they are means to bring you to Christ. 
    Direct. 2. Secondly, See that you receive not Christ for a 
present help, but for your everlasting portion. Many do so; they 
will enquire after Christ, pray for Christ, cast themselves (in 
their way) upon Christ, and the satisfaction of his blood, when the 
efficacy and terror of conscience is upon them, and they feel the 
sting of guilt within them; but as soon as the storm is over, and 
the rod that conscience shaked over them laid by, there is no more 
talk of Christ then: alas! it was not Christ, but quietness that 
they sought; beware of mistaking peace for Christ. 
    Direct. 3. Thirdly, In receiving, Christ, come empty-handed 
unto him: "believing on him who justifies the ungodly," Rom. 4: 5. 
and know that the deepest sense of your own vileness, emptiness, and 
unworthiness, is the best frame of heart that can accompany you to 
Christ. Many persons stand off from Christ for want of fit 
qualifications; they are not prepared for Christ as they should be, 
i. e. they would not come naked and empty, but have something to 
commend them to the Lord Jesus for acceptance. O! this is the pride 
of men's hearts, and the snare of the devil. Let him that has no 
money come: you are not to come to Christ because you are qualified, 
but that you may be qualified with whatever you want; and the best 
qualification you can bring with your is a deep sense that you have 
no worth nor excellency at all in you. 
    Direct. 4. Fourthly, In receiving Christ, beware of dangerous 
delays. O follow on that work till it be finished. You read of some 
that are almost persuaded, and of others not far from the kingdom of 
God; O take heed of what the prophet says, Hosea 13: 13. Delays here 
are full of danger, life is uncertain, so are means of grace too. 
The man-slayer needed no motives to quicken his flight to the city 
of refuge. 
    Direct. 5. Fifthly, See that you receive all Christ, with all 
your heart. To receive all Christ, is to receive his person clothed 
with all his offices; and to receive him with all your heart, is to 
receive him into your understanding, will, and affections, Acts 8: 
37. As there is nothing in Christ that may be refused, so there is 
nothing in you from which he must be excluded. 
    Direct. 6. Lastly, Understand that the opening of your hearts 
to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, is not a work done by any power of 
your own, but the arm of the Lord is revealed therein, Isa. 53: 1. 
It is therefore your duty and interest to be daily at the feet of 
God, pouring out your souls to him in secret, for abilities to 
believe. And so much, as to our actual reception of Christ. 
                 Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 9...)

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