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C HA P. VIII,
Upon the Seed-Corn.
seed-corn, that it may not only be clean and pure, but the best and most excelleat of its kind. Ifa. xxviii. 25. “ casteth in the principal wheat.” If any be more full and weighty than other, that is reserved for seed. It is ulual with husbandmen to pick and lease their feed-corn by hand, that they may feparate the cockel and darael, and all the lighter and hollow grains from it, wherein they manifest their discretion ; før, accordiog to the vigour and goodness of the seed, the fruit and production is like to be.
are fowed, after they are prepared for it, doth admirably madow forth those excellent principles of grace infused into the regenerate foul. Their agreement, as they are both feed, is obvious, in the ten following particulars, and their excellency above other principles in seven more.
1. The earth at first naturally brought forth coro, and every seed yielding fruit, without human industry; but since the curse came upon it, it must be plowed and lowed, or ao fruit can be expected. So man, at first, had all the priaciples of holiness in his nature, but now they must be infused by regencration, or else his nature is as void of holiness, as the barren and untilled defart is of corn.
2. The earlier the feed is fown, the better it is rooted, and ; enabled to endure the afperities of the winter ; fo when grace is early infused, when nature is fanctified in the bud, grace is thereby exceedingly advantaged. It was Timothy's singular advantage, that he knew the Scriptures of a child.
3. Frosts and faows conduce very much to the well-rooting of the feed, and makes it spread, and take root much the better. So do sanctified afflictions, which usually the people of God meet with after their calling, and often in their very secd time. i Thes, i. 6. " And you became followers of us " and of the Lord, having received the word in much amic“ tion,” But if they have fair weather then, to be fure they VOL. VI.
shall meet with weather hard enough afterwards. Heb x. 32. “ But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye “ were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.”
4. When the leed is cast into the earth, it must be covered up by the harrow, the use whereof, in husbaodiy, is not only to lay a plain foor (as they speak) but to open, and let in the coro to the botom of the earth, and there cover it op for its fecurity from birds that would devour it. Thus doth the most wile God provide for the security of that grace which he at first disseminated in the hearts of his people. He is as well the fioilher, as the author of their grace, Heb. xii. 2. and of this they may be confident, that he that hath begun a good work in them, will perform it unto the day of Chrift. The care of God over the graces of his people, is like the covering of the feed for security.
5. Seed-corp is in its owo nature of much more value and worth than other cord; the husbandmap casts in the principal wheat. So are the feeds of grace fown in the renewed foul, for it is called the feed of God, 1 Joho iii. 9. The divine nature, 2 Per. i. 4. One dram of grace is far beyond all the glory of this world; it is more precious thao gold which perishes. 1 Pet. i. 7." The price of it is above rubies, and all that thou canst " debre is not to be compared with it,” Prov. iii. 15.
6. There is a great deal of spirit and vigour in a little feed, though it be fmall in bulk, yet it is great id virtue and efficacy. Gracious habits are also vigorous and efficacious things. Such is their efficacy that they overcome the world, Joho v. 4. " Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.". They totally alter and change the person in whom they are.“ He " that persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith " which he obce destroyed.” They enable the soul to do add fuffer great things for God, Heb. xi. 33, 34, 35. 7. The ftalk
aod ear are potentially and virtually in a small grain of coro, So are all the fruits of obedience which believers afterwards briog forth to God, virtually contained in thofe habits or feeds of grace. It is ftrange to consider, that from a mustard seed (which, as Christ faith, is the least of all seeds) faould grow such great branches, that the birds of the air may build their perts in them. Surely, the heroical and famous acts and archievements of the most renowned believers sprang from small beginniogs at first, to that eminency and glory.
8. The fruitfulness of the feed depends upon the fun and rain, by which they are quickened, as is opened largely in the next chapter. And the principles of grace in us have as DC
ceffary a dependence upon the affifting and exciting grace without us. For though it be true, they are immortal feed; yet that is not so much from their own strength as from the promifes made to them, and that constant influx from above, by which they are revived and preserved from time to time.
9. The feed is fruitful in some foils more than in others, prospers much better, and comes fooner to maturity. So doth graces thrive better, and grow faster in fome persons than ia others. “ Your faith groweth exceedingly," 2 Theff. i. 3. “ Whilst the things that are in others are ready to die," Rev. üi. 2. Though no man's heart be naturally a kind foil to grace, get doubtless grace is more advantaged in fome dispositions thao in others.
10. And lastly, their agreement, as seed, appears in this, the feed-core is scattered into all parts of the field, as proportion. ably agd equally as may be. So is grace diffused into all the faculties, judgment, will, and all the affections are fowed with thele new principles." The God of peace fanctify you wholly," 1 Thefl. v. 23.
And thus you sce, why priociples of grace are called feed. Now, in the next place, (which is the second thiog promised, and mainly designed in this chapter) to shew you the choicebess and excellency of these holy principles with which fanctified fouls are embellifhed and adorned ; and to convince you that true grace excells all other principles, by which other perfons are acted, even as the principal wheat doth the chaff, and refase stuff, I fall here institute a comparison betwixt grace and the most fplendid, common gifts' in the world, and its transcendent excellency, above them all, will evidently appear in seven following particulars.
- 1. The most excellent common gifts come out of the common treasury of God's bounty, and that in a natural way. They are but the improvement of a man's natural abilities, (or as one calls them) the sparks of nature blown up by the wind of a more beniga aod liberal education ; bat principles of grace are of a divine and heavenly original and extraction, not induced or raised from pature, but fupernaturally infused by the Spirit from og high, Joho jü. 6. " That which is born of the feia is " felh, and that which is born of the Spirit is fpirit.” When a soul is fanctified by them, " he partakes of the divine nature," 2 Pet. i. 4. “Is born not of Aesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of “ man, but of God," John i. 13. In this respect they differ from gifts, as the beavenly manna which was raiped down frog
heaven differs from common bread, which, by pains and indo, ftry, the earth produced in a natural way.
2. The best natural gifts afford oot that sweetness and folid comfort to the soul that grace doth; they are but a dry stalk that affords no meat for a foul to feed on. A man may have aa understanding full of light, and an heart void of comfort at the same time; but grace is a fountain of purest living Itreams of peace and comfort, 1 Pet. i. 8.“ Believing, we rejoice, with
joy unspeakable and full of glory: 'light is fown for the "! righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.”. All true pleafures and delights are femically in grace, Psal. xcvii. Il. They are. sowo for them iņ these divise and heavenly, graces, which are glory in the bud.
3. Gifts adoro the person, but do not secure Like a precious the soul from wrath. A man may be admired fione in a toad's for them among men, apd rejceted eternally bead.
by God. Who can confiderately read that
fixth chapter of the Hebrews, and not tremble to think in what a forlorn case a soul may be, though set off and accomplished with the rareft endowments of this kind! Mar. vii. 22. We read, that many shall say to Christ in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and “' in thy name cast out devils,” &c. and yet themselves at laft cast out as a prey to devils. How divinely and rhetorically did Balaam speak, and prophesy, Numb. xxxiii. What rare and excellent parts had the Scribes and Pharisees? Who upon that account, were stiled Principes feculi, the princes of the world, 1 Cor. ii. 8. What profound and excellent parts had the hea: then Jages and philosophers? These things are so far from fecuring the foul against the wrath to come, that they often expose it upto wrath, and are as oil to encreafe the eternal burnings ; but now gracious principles are the TH EXAMEN& ow telcev, as the apostle calls them, Heb. vi. things that accompany and have falvation in them. These are the things on which the promises of salvation run; and these treasures are never found but in elect vessels. Glory is by promise assured and made over to him that possesses them. There is but a little point of time betwixt him and the glorified fpirits above. And how inconsiderable a mat ter is a little time, which contracts and winds up apace ? For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. And hence the fcripture speaks of them as already saved, Rom. viii. 24. * We are saved by hope,” because it is as fure as if we were in heaven.
We are made to fit in heavenly places. 4. Gifts may damnify the person that possesses them, and ig
may be better in refpect of a man's own condition he had bevet bad them. Knowledge (faith the apostle) puffeth up, 1 Cor. viii. 1. makes the soul proud and Aatulent. It is a hard thing to know much, and not to know it too much. The faint's koowledge is better than the scholar's ; for he hath his own heart initead of a commentary to help him. Aristotle said, a little knowledge about heavenly things, though conjectural, is better than much of earthly things, though certain.
world by wisdom knew Bot God,” (faith the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 12.) i. e. Their learning hanged in their light, they were too wise to submit to the fimplicity of the gospel. The excel
Teot parts of the old heretics did but serve to midwife into the · world the monstrous birth of foul-damping heresies. Cupit abs
te ornari diabolus, as Austin said to that ingenious young scholar; the devil de fires to be adorned by thee. But now grace itself is oot subject to such abuses, it cappot be the proper univocal cause of any evil effect : it cannot puff up the heart, but always hombles it, nor ferve the devil's defigos, but ever opposes them.
5. Gifts may be given a man for the sake of others, and not out of any love to himself; they are but as an excellent dih of meat which a man fends to a ourse, not for her fake, so * much as for his child that fucks her. God, indeed, makes use of them to do his children good, the church is benefited by them, though themselves are but like cooks, they prepare excellent dishes, on which the faints feed, and are nourished, though themselves taste them not. They are dona miniftrantia, non sanctificantia, ministring, but not lapctifying gifts, proceeding Dot from the good will of God to him that hath them, but to those he benefits by them. And o what a sad consideration will this be one day to such a person, to think, I helped such a foul to heaven, while I myself
must lodge in hell ? 6. Sin in the reign and power of it, may cohabit with the molt excellent patural gifts under the fame roof, I mean in the fame heart. A man may have the tongue of an angel, and the heart of a devil. The wisdom of the philosophers (saith Lactaptius) non excindit vitia sed abscondit, did not root out, but bide their vices. The Icarded Pharisees were but painted sepulchres. Gifts are but as a fair glove drawn over a foul hand : But now grace is incompatible with fio in dominion, it purifies the heart, Acts xv. 6. cleanses the conseience, Heb. ix."14. crucifies the affections and lusts of the flesh, Gal. v. 24. is not content with the concealment, but ruis of corruptions.
7. And lastly, Gifts must leave us at last." Whether there