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Group Title: Means of Grace. A Sermon on Malachi III. 7
Title: The means of grace
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Title: The means of grace a sermon on Malachi iii. 7
Physical Description: 20 p. : ; 17 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Wesley, John, 1703-1791
Publisher: Printed by G. Paramore
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1795
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Subject: Grace (Theology)   ( lcsh )
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The Means of Grace.


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On MALACHI iii.


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te are gone away from min Ordinances, and have
ot kept tkem.


By JOHN WE S L E Y, M. A.
Late Fellow of Lincoln-College, Oxro a.


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The Means of Grace.
I I~ .. I I I I I .- I

MALACH Iii. 7.

Ye are gone away from mine Ordinances, and sarr
eot kept them;

S UT are there any Ordinances now, fine lif and
B immortality were brought to light by the gofpel
Are there under the Chriftian difpenfation, any Mean
ordained of God, as the ufual channels of his grace?
This queftlon could never have been proposed, in the
apoftolical church, unlefs by one who openly avowed
himself to be an heather : the whole body of chi Sljt
being agreed, that Chrid had ordained' certain outward
Means, for conveying his grace into the fouls of men.
Their constant practice fet this beyond all dispute ; for .
fo long as all that believed were together, and had alt
things common," (Ads ii. 44.) they continued hcd-
fdftly in the teaching of the apoftles, and in the break-
ing of bread, and in prayers," (v. 42.)
s. But in process of time, when the love of many
waxed cold, fome began to mistake the Means for the
End, and to place religion, rather in doing thofe out.
ward works, than in a heart renewed after the image
of God. They forgot, that the "end of every command-
ment is love, out of a pure heart, with faith unfeigned:'
the loving the Lord their God with all their heart, and
their neighbour as themselves; and the being purified
from pride, anger, and evil defire, by a faith of the
operation of God. Others seemed to imagine, that
though religion did not principally conlift in thefe out-
ward Means, yet there was something in them where-
with God was well pleated; something that would fill
Make them acceptable in his fight, though they wers
A a. not


~ ---*----II.





(4)
not cxaf in the weightier matters of the law, id jufiice,
mercy, and the love of God.
3. It is evident, in thofe who abufed them thus, they
did not conduce to the end for which they were or-
dained. Rather, the things which should have been
for their health, were to them an occasion of falling. 4
l hey were fo far from receiving any bleffing therein,
that they only drew down a cure upon their head: fo
far from growing more holy in heart and life, that they
were twofold more the children of hell than before,
Others clearly perceiving, that thefe Means did not
convey the grace of God to thofe children of the devil,
began from this particular cafe to draw a general con-
clufion, I* that they were not Means of conveying the
grace of God."
4 Yet the number of thofe who abused the Ordi-
nances of God, was far. greater than of thofe who
dlpifed them, till certain men arofe,- not only of great
understanding, ifometimes joined with considerable
learning) but whd likewise appeared to be men of love,
experimentally acquainted with true, inward religion.
Some of the fe were burning and shining lights, persons
famous in their generations, and fuch as had well de-
ferved of the church of Chrift, for standing in the gap
against the overflowing of ungodlinefs.
It cannot be fuppored, that thefe holy and venerable
men, intended any mote at firil, than to (hew, that out-
ward religion is nothing worth, without-the religion of
the-heart: that A God is a Spirit, and they who wor-
fhip him, mufl worflip him in Spirit and in truth:"
that therefore external worship is loft labour, without a
'heart devoted to God: that the outward Ordinances of
God then profit much, when they advance inward holi-
ncfs, but when they advance it not, are unprofitable
and void, are lighter than vanity: yea, that when they
are ufed, as it were, in the place of this, they are an
utter abomination to the Lord.
5. Yet it is not ftrange, if fome of there, being
firongly convinced, of that horrid profanation of the
Ordinances of God, which had fpread itself over the
whole church, and well nigh driven true religion out
of the world; in their fervent seal for the glory of God,
and the recovery of fouls from that fatal dclufion,
fpake as if outward religion wore abfolutel nothing
as






as if it had no place in the religion of Chrift. It is not'
furprifing at all, if they should not always have ex-
preffed themselves with sufficient caution. So that un-
wary hearers might believe, they condemned all outward
Means, as altogether unprofitable ; and as not defignedL
of God to be the ordinary channels of conveying hisa
grace into the fouls of men.
Nay, it is not impoflible, fome of thefe holy men did;
at length themselves fall into this opinion: in parti-
cular, thofe who, not by choice, but by the providence-
of God, were cut off from all thefe Ordinances: per-
haps wandering up and down, having no certain abid-.
ing-place, or dwelling in dens and. caies of the earth..
Thefe experiencing the grace of God in themselves,.
though they were deprived of all outward Means, might
infer, that the famegrace would be given tothrnm, who
of fet purpose abstained from them.
6. And experience fhews, how eafily this notionL
fpreads, and nfinuatesitfelf into the lninds of men :
especially of thofe who are throughly awakened.ou oof
the fleep of death, and begin to fed the weight of their
fins, a burthen, too heavy to be borne. Thefe are-
4fually impatient of their present fRate,. and trying.
every way to-efcape from it. They are always ready to'
catch at any new thing, any new proposal of eafe orr
happinefs. They have probably tried moft outward
Means, and found nocafe in them : It may be, more:
and more of remorfe and. fear, and forrow and. con,
demnation. It is eafy therefore to persuade thefe, that:
it is better for them to abflain from all. thofc Means.
They are already weary of driving (as it feems) in vain,:
of labouring in the fire; and are therefore glad of any.
pretence to caff afide that, wherein their loul has no>
pleafurc ; to give over the painful ftrife, and fi.k dowar
into an indolent ina&Eivity..
I1. i. In the following Difcourfe, I propose to'exaa -
mine at. large, whether thereare any Means of grace ?'
By Means of grace" I underfland, outward.figns,,
words or actions, ordained of God, and appointed fuor
this end, to be the ordinary channels whereby,hemight-
convey to men, preventing, jpzfifying or faanifying,
grace.
I ufe this expreflion, Means of grace," biecaufe I
know. none better, anti because it- has beca gsnerallyt-
A.3; aufqc-




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ufed in the hriftian church for many ages: in part
cular, by our own church, which dire&s us to blfc
God, both for the Means of grace, and hope of
glory-" at d teaches us that a facrament is an out-
ward fign toward ard grace, and a Means whereby we
receive the fame."
The chief of there Means are prayer, whether in
secret, or with the great congregation; searching the
scriptures (which implies reading, hearing and medi-
tating thereon) and receiving the Lord's Supper, eating
bread and drinking wine in remembrance of him; and
there we believe to be ordained of God, as the ordi-
nary channels of conveying his grace to the fouls of
men.
a. But we allow, that the whole value of the Means
depends on their aRual fubfervience to the end of reli-
gon ; that confequently all thefe Means, when separate
from the end, are lefs than nothing and vanity; that if
they do not aaually conduce to the knowledge and
love of God, they are not acceptable in his fight; yea,
rather, they are an abomination before him; a ftink in
his noftrils; he is weary to bear them. Above all, if
they are ufed as a kind of commutation for the religion
they were designed to fubferve. It is not eafy to find
words for the enormous folly and wickednefs, of this
during Gods arins against himfelf; of keeping chrifo
tianity out of the hear by thoef very Means, which
were ordained for the bringing it in. f
.3 We allow likewise, that all outward Means what-
ever, if separated from the Spirit of God, cannot profit
at all. cannot conduce in any degree either to the know-
ledge or love of God. Without controversy, the help
that is done upon earth, he doth it himself. It is he
alone, who by his own almighty power, worketh in us
what is pleating in his fight. And all outward things,
Imalef he work in them and by them, are mere weak
and beggarly elements. Whofoever therefore imagines,
there is any intrinsic power, in any Means whatfo-.
ever,- does greatly err, not knowing the fcrapturcs,
ccither the power of God. We know that there is no
inherent power, in the words that are fpoken in
prayer; in the letter of scripture read, the found thereof
haid, or the bread and wine received in the Lord's
upper : but. that it-is. God aloni who is. the giver, of
%evcry





( 7 )
every good gift, the author of all grace; that the whole
power is of him, whereby through any of thcfe, there
is any blefling conveyed to our fouls. We know like.
wife, that he is able to give the fame grace, though
there were no Means on the face of the earth. In
this fenfe we may affirm, that with regard to God,
there is no fuch thing as Means:" feeing he is equally
able to work whatfoevcr pleafeth him, by any, or by
none at all.
4. We allow farther, that the ufe of all Means what.
ever, will never atone for one fin : that it is the blood of
Chrift alone, whereby any dinner can be reconciled to
God; there being no other propitiation for our fins, no
other fountain for fin and uncleannefs. Every believer
in Chrift is deeply convinced, that there is no merit~
but in him: that there is no merit in any of his own
woiks ; not in uttering the prayer, or fcarching the fcrip-
ture, or hearing the word of God, or eating of that
bread, and drinking of that cup. So that if no more
be intended by the expreffion fame have ufed, Chrift
is the only Means of grace," than this, that he is the
only vme9 riorous caufe of it, it cannot be gain-faid by
any who know the grace of God.
5. Yet once more. We allow (though it is a melan-
choly truth) that a large proportion of thofe who are
called chriflians, do to this day abufe the Means of grace,
to the deftruftion of their fouls. This is doubtlefs the
cafe with all thofe who reft content, in the form of
godlinefs without the power. Either they fondly pre-
fume, they are chriftians already, because they do thus
and thus; although Chrift was never yet revealed in
their hearts, nor the love of God fhed abroad therein
or clfe they fuppofe, they fall infrfllibly be fo, barely
because they u e there Means: idly dreaming (though
perhaps hardly conscious thereof, cither that there is
fome kind ofpower therein, whereby fooner or later (they
krrow not when) they hall certainly be made holy: or
that there is a fort of merit in ufing them, which will
f4rely move Gud to give them holinefa, or accept them
without it.
6. So little do they understand that great foundation
of the whole chriftian building, By grace ye are faved,"
Ye are faveJ from your fins, from the guilt and. power
thereof t yc arc xteured to the favour and image of
God,






( }
God, not for any works, merits, or dcfervings of yours,
but by the free grace, the mere mercy of God, through
the merits of his well-beloved Son. Ye are thus faved,
not by the power, wifdom or strength, which is in you,
or in any other creature: but merely through the
grace or power of the Holy Ghoft, which worketh all
in all.
7. But the main question remains. We know this
salvation is the gift and the work of God. But how
(may one fay, who is convinced that he hath it not)
may I attain thereto ? If you fay, Believe, and thou
fhalt be faved:" He anfwers, true; but how hall I
believe? You reply, Wait upon God.-. Well.
But how am I to wait ? In the Means of grace, or out
of them ? Am I to wait for the grace of God which
bringeth falvation, by ufing thefe Means, or bylaying
them afide ?
8. It cannot poffibly be conceived, that the word of
God should give no direfion in fo important a point :
or that the Son. of God, who came down from heaven
for us men and for our falvation, should have left us
undetermined with regard to a question, wherein our
faivation is fo nearly concerned.
And in fa&, he hath not left us undetermined : he
Shath lhewn us the way wherein we {hultd go. We
have only to confult the oracles of God, to inquire what
is written there? And if we simply abide by their de-
cifion, there can no poflible doubt remain.
II. I. According to this, according to the decision
of holy writ, all who defire the grace of God, are to
Wait for it, in the Means which he hath ordained; in
ufing, not in laying them afide. And firft: 'all'who
defire the grace of God, are to wait for it in the way of
prayer. This is the exprefs direction of our Lord him-
felf. In his fermon upon the mount, after explaining
at large wherein religion confifts, and defcribing the
main branches of it, he.adds, Afk, andvit (hall be
given you; feek, and ye fall find; knock, and itvfhall
be opened unto you: For every one that afketh re-
ceiveth; and he that feeketh findeth ; and to him that.
knocketh, it (all be opened;" Mat. vii. 7, 8. Here
we are in the plaineft manner direfed to a k, in order
to, or as a Means of receiving; to feek in order to find,.
the grace of God, the' pearl of great price; and to
knock,






(9 )
knock, to continue asking and seeking, if we would
better into his kingdom.
2. That no doubt might remain, our Lord labours
this point in a more peculiar manner, He appeals to
every man's own heart. What man is there of you,
who if his fon afk bread, will give him a ftone ? or if
he ask a fifth, will he give him a ferpent ? If ye then
being evil know how to give good gifts unto your chil-
dren, how much morr hall your Father which is in
heaven," the Father of angels and men, the Father of
the spirits of all flefh, ,"give good things to them that
afk him P" ver. 9, lo, st. Or, as he expreffes himself
on another occasion, including all good things in one,
fl How much more (hall your heavenly Father give the
Holy Spirit to them that afk him ?" Luke ai. 13. It
fiould be particularly observed here, that the perfons
directed to afk, had not then received the Holy Spirit.
Neverthelefs our Lord direas them to ufe this Means,
and promises that it should be effcfual; that upon
asking they should receive the Holy Spirit, from him
whole mercy is over all his works.
3. The abfolute neceflity of ufing this Means, if we
would receive any gift from God, yet farther appears
from that remarkable paffage which immediately pre-
cedes there words: 4 And he faid unto them" (whom
he had juft been teaching, how to pray) which of
you (ball have a friend, and (ball go unto him at mid-
night, and (hall fay unto him, Friend, lend me three
loaves and he from within (hall answer, Trouble
me not,-I cannot rife and give thee: I fay unto you,
though he will not rife and give him, because he is his
friend, but'becaufe of his importunity he will rife and
give him as many as he needeth. And I fay unto youp
Afk, and it hall be given you." (Luke xi. 5, 7, 8, 9.)
Though he will not give him, because he is his friend,
yet because of his importunity, he will rife and givo
him as many as he needeth." How could our bleffed
Lord more plainly declare, that we may receive of Gdd,
by this Means, by importunately afking, what otherwise
we should not receive at all ?
*4. *' He fpake alfo another parable to this end, that
tfen ought always to pray, and not to faint," till.
through this Means they should receive of God what--
foever petition they afkcd of him. There was in a
city




_I -r -- -.---- -- ----- --


( ,o )
City a judge which feared not God, neither regarded
man. And there was a widow in that city, and fhe
came unto him, faying, Avenge me of my adverfary.
And he would not for a while; but afterwards he faid
within himself, though I fear not God, nor regard man,
yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her,
left by her continual coming, the weary me." Luke'
xviii. 1-4. The application of this our Lord himself
hath made. Hear what the unjuft judge faith!" Be-
caufe fhe continues to afk, because fhe will take no de-
nial, therefore I will avenge her. And hall notGod
avenge his oWn ele&, which cry day and night unto
him ? I tell you he will avenge them fpeedily t- if
k they pray, and faint not.
5. A dire&ion equally full and exprefs, to wait for
the bleflings of God in private prayer, together with a
positive promise, that by this Means we whall obtain
the request of our lips, he hath given us ir thofe well
known words ; Enter into thy clofet, and when thou
haft thut thy door, pray to thy father which is in fe-
cret, and thy father which feeth in fecret (hall reward.
thee openly"' Matt. vi. 6.
6. If it be poflible for any direfion to be more clears
it is that which God hath given us by the apoftle, with
regard to prayer of every kind, public or private, and-
the bleffing annext thereto. If any of you lack wif.
dom, let him afk of God, that givethto all men liber-
rlly," (if they afk; otherwise "ye have not, because
ye alk not," James iv. 2.) and upbraideth' not, and
it hall be given him." th, 5.
If it be objected, Bu- this is no direflion to unbe-
lievers; to them who kno v not the pardoning grace of
God: for the apoftle adds, But let him afk in faith :
otherwise, let him not think that he fhall receive any
thing of the Lord." I answer, The meaning of the
word faith in this place, is fixed by the apoftle himself,
(as if it were on purpose to obviate this objcEtion) in
the words immediately following : Let him alk
in faith, nothing wavering," nothing doubling, IJur
&axpxIs-pie; Not doubting but God heareth his prayer,
and will fulfil the defire of his heart. .-
The grofs, erroneous absurdity of fuppofing faith
in this place to be taken in the full chriflian meaning,
appears hence: it is fuppofing the Holy GhoR to dire&
a man






a man who knows he has not this faith which is here
termed wifdom) to afk it of God, with a positive pro-
mife that it (hall be given him; and then immediately
to fubjoin, that it fhdl not be given him, unlefs he have
it before he aks for it But who can bear fuch a fup-
pofition? From this fcripture, therefore, as well as
thofe cited above, we muft infer, that all who defire
the grace of God, are to wait for it in the way ef
prayer.
7. Secondly. All who defire the grace of God, are
to wait for it in searching the fcriptures.
Our Lord's dire&ion with regard to the ufe of this
Means, is likewise plain and clear, Search the crip-
tures," faith he to the unbelieving Jews,-" for they
teffify of me," John v. 3g. And for this very end
did he direct them t6 search the scriptures, that they
might believe in him.
The objeLion, "iThat this is not a command, but
only ,i affection, that they did fearch the fcriptures,*
is fmamelefly falfe. I defire thofe who urge it, to let
us know, how a command can be more clearly ex-
preffed, than in thofe terms, Epw~in s ys. It is as
peremptory as fo many words can make it.
And what a blefling from God attends the ufe of this
lMeans, appears from what is recorded concerning the
Bereans; who after hearing St. Pul, searched the
scriptures daily, whether thofe things were fo ? There-
fore many of them believed ;" found the grace of God,
in th.e way which'he had ordained, Ats'xvii. is, rg.
It is probable, indeed, that in fome of thofe who had
received the word with all readiness of mindfaith
Stcame (as the fame apoftle peaks) by hearing, and was
enly confirmed by reading the fcriptures. But it was
obferved above, that under the general term of fearching
the feriptures, both' hearing, reading, and meditating,
ate contained.
8. And that this is a Means whereby God not only
gives, but aifo confirms and increases true wifdom, we
learn from the words of St. Paul to Timothy: from a
child thou haft known the holy fcriptures, which are
able to make thee wife unto falvation, through faith
which is in- Chrift Jefus." a Tim, iii 15. The fame
;truth (namely, that this is the Means God has ore
drainedd for conveying his manifold grace to man) is
delivered,






delivered, in. the fulleft manner that can be conceived,
in -the words which immediately follow; All fcrip-
ture is given by inspiration of God;" consequentlyy
all fcripture is infallibly true;) and is profitable for
doarine, for reproof, for corre&ion, for inftru&ion in
righteoufnefs; to the end that the man of God may be
pecfet, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,"
ver. i6, 17.
9. It should be observed, that this is spoken prima-
rily and directly, of the fcriptureswwhich Timothy had
known from a child; which muft have been thofe of
the Old Teftament, for the New was not then wrote.
How far then was St. Paul (though he was not a wit
behind the very chief of the apofles, nor therefore, I
prefume, behind any man now upon earth) from making
light of the Old Teftament ? Behold this, left ye one
clay wonder and perith, ye who make to mall account
of one half of the Oracles of God I. Yea, and that half
of which the Holy Ghoft exprefsly declares, thjt it is
profitable, as a Means ordained of God, for this very
thing, for *t do&trinc, for reproof, for correaion, for
inftrufion in righteoufnefs: to the end the man of
God may be perfef, thoroughly furnished unto all good
works.
1o. Nor is this profitable only for the men of God,
for thofe who walk already in the light of his coun-
tenance; but alfo for thofe who are yet in darkncfs,
seeking him whom they know not. Thus St. Peter,
66 We have alfo a more fure word of prophecy:" li-
terally, and rue have the prophetic word more fJrrc
Ka. i'goMat Brs Ctr.pr* r eoaapw X.xTo, y; confirmed by our
being cye-witneffes of bis Majefy, and hearing th,
voice which came from the excellent glory, unto which -
(prophetic word I fo he files the holy fcriptures) ye
do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that fhineth
in a dark.place, until the day dawn, and the day-ftar
arife in your hearts." Pet. i. 19. Let *all, therefore,
who defire that day to dawn upon their hearts, wait fqr
it in marching the fcriptures.
1t. Thirdly. All who defire an increase of the grace
ot God, are to wait for i in partaking of the Lord's
Supper. For this alfo is a direction himfelf hath give l.
The fame night in which he was betrayed, he, t96)
bread, and brake it, and faid, take, cat; this isi
body,






( 813 )
body," (that is, the facred fign of my body) this do in
remembrance of me. Likewife he took the cup, fay-
ing, this cup is the New Teftament, or Covenant, in
my blood," (the faced fign of the Covenant) this do
ye-in remembrance of me. For as often as ye cat this
bread, and drink this cup, ye do ihew forth the Lord's
death till he come," i Cor. xi. 23, &c. Ye openly ex.
hibit the fame, by thefe vifible figns, before God, and-
angels, and men. Ye manifest your folemn remem-
brance of his death, till he cometh in the clouds of
heaven.
Only let a man firfL examii himrfelf, whether he un-
dertfand the nature and design of this holy institution,
and whether he really defire to be himself made con-
formable to the death of Chrift; and fo," [nothing
doubting,] let him eat of that bread, and drink of that
cup," ver. 28.
Here then the direfion firft given by our Lord, is
exprefsly repeated by the Apofue. Let him eat; let
him drink: (odrrr-wo rI'To both in the imperative mood)
words not implying a bare permiflion only, but a clear
explicit command; a command to all thofe either who
already are filled with peace and joy in believing, or
who can truly fay, The remembrance of our fins is
grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable."
is. And that this is alfo an ordinary Rfated Means
of receiving the grace of God, is evident from thofe
words of the Apoftle, which occur in the preceding
chapter: t The cup of blefling which we blefs, is it not
the communion, [or communication,] of the blood of
Chriff? The bread which we break, is it not the com-
munion of the body of Chrifl ? 1 Cor. x. 16. Is not
the eating of that bread, and the drinking of that cup,
the outward, visible Means, whereby God conveys into
our fouls all that fpiritual grace, that righteoufnefs, and
peace, and joy in the Holy Ghoft, which were pur-
chafed by the body of Chrifl once broken, and the
blood of Chrift once Ihed for us ? Let all, therefore,
who truly defire the grace of God, ect of that bread and
drink of that cup.
IV. t. But as plainly as God hath pointed out the
way, wherein he will be inquired aft:r, innumerable
are the objefions which men, wife in their own eyes,
have from time to time raised against it, It may be
B needful






( 44 )
needful to consider a few of thefe: rnot because they
.are of weight in themselves, but because they have fo
.often been ufed, especially of late years, to turn the
'lame out of the way; yea, to trouble and fubvert thofe
who did run well, till Satan appeared as an angel of
light.
The firft and chief of thefe is, You cannot ufe
thefe Means (as you c;ll them) without truing in
them." I pray, where is this written ? I expect you
should fhew me plain fcripture for your affection.
Otherwife I dare not receive it: because I am not con-
vinced, that you are wifer than God.
If it really had been as you affert, it is certain Chrift
mnut have known it. And if he had known it, he
would furely have warned us, he would have revealed
it long ago. Therefore because he has not, because
there is no tittle of this in the whole revelation of Jefus
Chrift, I am as fully affured your aflertion is falfe, as
that this revelation is of God.
G However, leave them off for a (hort time, to fee
whether you truft in them or no." So I am to difobey
Cod, in order to know, whether I trult in obeying
him And do you avow this advice ? Do you deliber-
ately teach, to do evil, that good may come? 0 trem-
ble at the sentence of God again f fuch teachers I heir
Jamnation is juft.
Nay, if you are troubled, when you leave them off,
it is plain, you trufled in them." By no means. If I
am troubled when I wilfully difobey God, it is plain
his Spirit is Rill driving with me. But if I am not
troubled at wilful fin, it it plain, I am given up to a re-
probate mind.
But what do you mean by TrnfJing in them ?"
Looking for the blefling of God therein ? believing,
that if I wait in this way I hall attain, what otherwise
I shouldd not ? So I do. And fo I will, God being my
helper, even to my life's end. By the grace of God, I
will thus truft in them, till the day of my death : that
is, I will believe, that whatever God hath promised, he
is faithful alfo to perform. And feeing he' hath pro-
mifed to blefs me in this way, I truft it (hall be accord-
ing to his word.
2. It has been, secondly, objeEted, This is seeking
Falvation by works." Do you know the meaning of
the


d I






( 15 )
the expreflion you ufe? what is, "Seeking fIalVatio4
by works?" In the writings of St. Paul, it meanfr
either seeking to be faved, by obferving the ritual
works of the Mofaic Law, or expeaing falvation for
the fake of our own works, by the merit of our ownm
righteoufnefs. But how is either of thefe implied, in
my waiting in the way God has ordained, and expe&ting
that he will meet me there, because he has promised o:
to do ?
I d6 expect, that he will fulfil his word, that he will'
meet and blcfs me in this way. Yet not for the fake of
any works which I have done, nor for the merit of my
rightcoufnefs: but merely through the merits and fuf-
ferings and love of his Son, in whom he is always well-
pleafcd.
3. It has been vehemently objected, thirdly, that'
Chrift is the only Means of grace. I answer, this is
mere playing upon words. Explain your term, and the
objeftion'vanithes away. When we fay, 44 Prayer is a
Means of grace," we understand, a channel through'
which the grace of God is conveyed. When you fay,
6* Chrift is the Means of grace," you understand, the
fole price and purcfafer of it: or, that 4" no man
cometh unto the Father but through him." And who
denies it ? But this is utterly wide of the question.
4. But does not the scripture (it has been obje&ed,
fourthly) dirt us to wait for salvation ? does not
David fay, My foul waiteth upon God: for of hirm
cometh my salvation ?" And does not I aiah teach us
the fame thing, faying, a O Lord, we have waited for
thee?" All this cannot be denied. Seeing it is tho
gift of God, we are undoubtedly to wait on him for
salvation. But how fall we wait? If God himfelf has
appointed a way, can you find a better way of waiting
for him ? But, that he hath appointed a way, hath been
fhewn at large, and alfo what that way is. The very
words of the prophet which you cite, put this out of
all quelfion. For the whole sentence runs thus : In
the way of thyjudgments, [or ordinances,] 0 Lord, have
we waited for thee." Ifa. xxvi. 8. And in the very
fame way did David wait, as his own words abundantly
testify: I have waited for thy having health, O Lord,
and have kept thy law. Teach me, 0 Lord, the way of
thy statutes, and I hall keep it unto the end."
B 5. Yea,




t6)

( 16 )
5. I" Yea, fay rome, but God hath appointed another
way, "' Stand fill, and fee the salvation of God."
Let us examine the fcriptures to which you refer.
The firft of them, with the context runs thus :
And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of
Ifrael lift up their eyes-and they were fore afraid.
And they faid unto Moles, bccaufe there were no graves
in Egypt, haft thou taken us away to die in the wilder-
nefs ? And Mofes faid unto the people, fear ye not:
flnd flill, and fee the falvation of the Lord. And the
Lord faid unto MoFes, fpeak unto the children of Ifrael,
that they go forward. But lift thou up thy rod, and
ftretch out thine hand over the fea, and divide it. And
the children of Ifrael fall go on dry ground through
the midft of the fea." Exod. xiv. 0o, &c.
This was thefalvation of God, which they food fill
to fee, by marching forward wirh all their might!
The other paffage wherein this expreflion occurs,
flands thus. "There came fome who told jehophaphat,
Lying, there"cometh a great multitude against thee
from beyond the fea. And Jehofhaphat feared, and fet
himfclf to feek the Lord, and proclaimed a faft through-
out all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves to-
gether to afk help of the Lord, even out of all the
cities that came to feek the Lord. And Jehofhaphat
ftotd in the congregation, in the houfe of the Lord
-Then upon Jahaziel came the Spirit of the Lord.
m-And he faid-Be not difmayed by reason of this great
multitude-To morrow go you down against them, ye
hall not need to fight in this battle. Set yourselves
fland ye hill, and fee the salvation of the Lord.-And
they arofe early in the morning and went forth. And
when they began to fing and to praife, the Lord fet
ambufhments against the children of Moab, Ammon,
and Mount Sier;-. and every one helped to deftroy
another." 2Chron. xx. 2, &c.
Such was the falvat on which the children of Judah
faw. But how does all this prove, that we ought not
to wait for the grace of God, in the Means which he
hath ordained ?
6. I fall mention but one objc~lion more, which in-
deed does not properly belong to this head. Never-
thelefs, because it has been fo frequently urged, I maj
not wholly pafs it by,
i f Dpoet


+ -






( 17
1< Does not St. Paul fay, i If ye be dead with Chrift,
why are ye fubje't to Ordinances? Col. ii. o2. There-
fore a Chriftian, one that is dead with Chrif, need not
ufe the Ordinances any more."
So you fay, If I am a Chriflian, I am not fubjeEt to
the Ordinances of Chrift !" Surely, by the abfurdity of
this, you muf fee at the firft glance, that the Ordinances
here mentioned cannot be the Ordinances of Chrift !
That they muft needs be the Jewifh Ordinances, to
which it is certain, a Chriffian is no longer a fubjeft.
And the fame undeniably appears from the words im-
mediately following, Touch not, tale not, handle not,"
-all evidently referring to the ancient Ordinances of
the Jcwifh law.
So that this pbjetion is the weakest of all. And in
fight of all, that great truth muff ftand unshaken, that
all who defire the grace of God, are to wait for it, in the
Means which he hath ordained.
V. i. But this being allowed, that all who desire the
grace of God, are to wait for it in the Means he hath
ordained: it may fill be enquired, How thofe Means
should be ufed, both as to the oder, and the manner of
ufing them ?
With regard to the former, we may observe, there is
a kind of order, wherein God himself is generally
pleaded, to ufe thefe Means, in bringing a finner to fal-
vation. A fupid, fenfelefs wretch is going on in his
own way, not having God in all his thoughts, when
God comes upon him unawares, perhaps by an. awakcn,.
ing fermon or conversation, perhaps by fome awful
providence; or it may be by an immediate firoke of his
convincing Spirit, without any outward Means at all.
Having now a defire to flee from the wrath to come, he
purpofely goes to hear, how it may be done. If he finds
a Preacher who peaks to the heart, he is amazed, and
begins fearching the fcripturer, whether thefe things
are fo ? The more he hears, and reads, the more con-
vinced he is; and the more he meditates thereon, day
and night. Perhaps he finds fome other book, which
explains and inforces what he has heard and read in
fcripture. And by all thefe Means, the arrows of con-
viftion fink deeper into his foul. He begins alfo to talk
of the things of God, which are ever uppermoff in his
thoughts: yea, and to talk with God, to pray to him,
although






( i8 )
although through fear and fame, he farce knows
what to fay. But whether he can fptak or no, he
cannot but pray, were it only in groans which cannot
be uttered. Yet being in doubt, whether the high and
lofty One that inhabitth eternity, will regard fuch a
finner as him, he wants to pray with thofe who know
God, with the faithful, in the great congregation. But
here he obferves others go up to the table of the Lord.
He confides, Chrift has faid, Do thisI How is it,
that I do not ? I am too great a finner. I am not fit. I
am not worthy. After struggling with thefe fcruples a
while, hebreaks through. And thus he continues in
God's way, in hearing, reading, meditating, praying,
and partaking of the Lord's upper, till God, in the
manner that pleafcs him, fpeaks to his heart, Thy
faith hath faved thee! Go in peace."
2. By obferving thiS order of God, we may learn
what Means to recommend to any particular foul. If
any of there will reach a flupid, carelefs finner, it is
probably hearing or converfatizn. To fuch therefore
we might recommend thefe, if he has ever any thought
about falvation. To one who begins to feel the weight
of his fins, not only hearing the word of God, but
reading it too, and perhaps otherIferious books, may
be a Means of deeper tonviftion. May you not advife
him alfo, to meditate on what he reads, that it may
have its full force upon his heart ? Yea, and to peak
thereof and not be ashamed, particularly among thofe
who walk in the fame path. When trouble and heavi-
nefs take hold upon him, should you not then earnestly
exhort him, to pour out his foul before God ? always
to pray and nor faint ? And when he feels the
worthleffnefs of his own prayers, are you not to work
together with God, and remind him of going up into
the houie of the Lord, and praying with all them that
fear him ? But if he does this, the dying word of his
Lord, will foon be brought to his remembrance : a plain
intimation, that this is the time, when we should second
the motions of the bleffed Spirit. And thus may we
lead him Rep by flep, through all the Means which
God has ordained ; not according to our own will, but
juft as the providence and the Spirit of God go before
and open the way.
S. Yet as we find no command in holy writ, for any
particular






1 9 )
particular order to be observed herein, fo neither do the
providence, and the Spirit of God, adhere to any with.
out variation : but the Means into which different men
are led, and in which they find the bleffing of God, are
varied, tranfpofed, and combined together, a thousand
different ways. Yet fill our wifdom is, to follow the
leading of his providence and his Spirit: to be guided
herein (more especially as to the Means wherein we
ourfelves feek the grace of God) partly by his outward
providence, giving us the opportunity of ufing fome-
times one Means, fometimcs another: partly by our ex-
perience, which it is whereby his free Spirit is pleaded
moft to work in our heart. And in the mean time, the
fure and general rule for all who groan for the salvation
of God, is this, whenever opportunity ferves, ufe all
the Means which God has ordained. For who knows,
in which God will meet thee, with the grace that bring-
eth salvation ?
4. As to the manner of ufing them, whereon indeed
it wholly depends, whether they should convey any
grace at all to the ufer, it behoves us, firft, always to
retain a lively fenfe, that God is above all Means.
Have a care therefore of limiting the Almighty. He
doth whatsoever and whcnfoever it pleafeth him. He
can convey his grace, either in or out of any of the
Means which he hath appointed. Perhaps he will.
" Who hath known the mind of the Lord ? or who
hath been his Counfellor ?" Look then every moment
for his appearing be it at the hour you are employed
in his Ordinances; or, before, or after that hour. Or
when you are hindered therefrom. He is not hindered.
He is always ready: always able, always willing to fave.
" It is the Lord, let him do what fecmeth him good! "
Secondly, Before you ufe any Means, let it be deep
impreft on your foul, There is no power in this. It
is in itfelf a poor, dead, empty thing: separate from
God, it is a dry leaf, a shadow. Neither is there any
merit in my ruling this; nothing intrinsically pleading to
God, nothing whereby I deferve any favour at his
hands, no, not a drop of water to cool my tongue.
But because God bids, therefore I do; because he di-
reas me to wait in this way, therefore here 1 wait for
his free mercy, whereof cometh my salvation."
.Settle this in your heart, that the Opus operatum, the
mrcre


- -V- I I




w *~*~' w ~ -- S -. - -


( 2o )
mere work done, profiteth nothing: that there is no
power to fave, but in the Spirit of God; no merit, but
in the blood of Chrift: that consequently, even what
Godordains, conveys no grace to the foul, if you truft
not in him alone. On(the other hand, he that does truly
truft in him, cannot fall short of the grace of God, even
though he were cut off from every outward Ordinance,
though he were thut up in the center of the earth.
Thirdly. In ufing all Means, feck God alone. In and
through every outward thing, look fingly to the power
of his Spirit, and the merits of his Son. Beware you
do not flick in the work itfelf; if you do, it is all loft
labour. Nothing thort of God, can fatisfy your foul.
Therefore eye him, in all, through all, and above all.
Remember alfo, to ufe all Means, as Means: as or.
drained, not for their own fake, but in order to the re-
newal of your foul in righteoufnefs and true holinef.
If therefore they actually tend to this, well. But if
not, they are dung and drofs.
Laftly. After you have ufed any of thefe, take care,
how you value yourself thereon: how you congratulate
yourself, as having done fome great thing. This is
turning all intopoifon. Think, If God wasnot there,
what does this avail? have I not been adding fin to fin?
How long! .0 Lord fave or I perifh! O lay not this
fin to my charge ?" If God was there, if his love
flowed into your heart, you have forgot, as it were, the
outward work. You fee, you know, you feel God is
all in all. Be abafed. Sink down before him. Give
him all the praise. Let God in all things be glorified
through ChriftJefus." Let all your bones cryout, My
fong hall always be of the loving-kindnefs of the Lord:
with my mouth will I ever be telling of thy truth, from
one generation to another "




F I N .




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