« AnteriorContinua »
the presumptuous self-justitiary, who thinks himself Chap. 6. not criminal at all. Thus stood the Philosophers, all in Armor of Pride, opposing the Gospel, and the Grace of it.
We see here, to make men Christians, was an admirable work, a great deal of Power was to be laid out upon it. Such a Faith was to be raised up, as might render them victorious over all the Power and Wisdom of the World. Such a temper of mind veniant Crux, was to be wrought, as might make them ready to ignis, -olsium welcom death in what shape or terror foever it came, modo Chriftum and to pour out their dearest blood and life for the habeam, Ignat. Gospel. Those spirits, which before hung about Earth, and these lower things, were to be tuned for Heaven, and wound up to so Divine a pitch, that the whole world should not be able to unbend them, to loosen them from Christ, or let them down into earthly Vanities. The great Emperors, with all their Engines of Power and Cruelty, could not rent them off from the World to come, or piece them to the present evil one. The Philosophers, with all their Arts and Eloquence, could not decoy them from supernatural Mysteries, or induce them to take up their repose in humane Learning or Wif dom. The whole World was annihilated to them, and they unto themselves ; they became fools, that they might be wise, and Nothing that God might be All: the Ornaments and Self-excellencies were put off, that they might be compleat in Christ. They lay at Gods feet for Mercy, and lived in a continual dependance upon the influences of his Spirit and Grace. In such a work as this the Arm of God muft needs be revealed in a very eminent
manner. Here we have just cause to say, What hath God wrought !
The Divine Power will yet more appear, if we look upon the instruments in this work. In making the World there were none at all
, no Leavers or Engines to rear up the great Fabrick. An Almighty word absolved it: in converting it instruments were used; but such, that by the no-proportion between them and the great effect, it might appear that the Power was of God only. He sent not the glorious Angels to Preach up a crucified Christ, but Men. The treasure was in Earthen-vefsels, in poor frail Mortals, who carried about bodies of Clay, That the excellency of the power might be of God, 2 Cor.4.7 ; that it might be clearly seen, that the great Work was Gods. Among men he sent not the Ansbe Shem, Persons of Renown for Learning or Wisdom, but mean illiterate men. Hence the Apostle faith, God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, Cor. 1. 27, that the Divine Power might appear in the Work. These mean men preached, not with excellency of Speech or wifdom, 1 Cor. 2. I, with the charms of Eloquence, or the pomp
of humane Wisdom; but with plain words: their Preaching was look't upon as foolishness.. That salvation should be by a crucified Christ
seemed foolish ; that it should be communicated by Sclat. in Pools Preaching, seemed more foolish ; that it should be
done by Preaching in a low, simple, plain manner, seemed most foolish of all. Yet in this way it was that Christ would ride conquering, and to conquer the World to himself. The great success of their
Preaching, was a signal proof that God was with Chap. 6. them of a truth. At Peters first Sermon three thousand fouls were converted unto God, A&t. 2.41. and at his second they were encreased to five thousand, Act. 4. 4. multitudes of Believers came in to Christianity. In a little time the Gospel was propagated over a great part of the World ; one Paul spread it from Jerusalem to Illyricum : And what did all the rest of the Apostles, who carried about this Evangelical light, do? What did the seventy Disciples do, who, as Ecclesiastical Writers say, had their several Provinces to Preach the Gospel in? The word did then run, and was glorified ; it passed through many Countries with a Divine swiftness and success; at the found of the Gospel the World was spiritually turned upside down, and of Pagan became Christian. Tertullian enumerates divers Nations, and at last adds touching us, Britannorum inaccesa Romanis loca, Christo tamen fubdita sunt; the Evangelical Power entred there where the Roman could not. By fuch weak means to produce so great an effect, was a work worthy of Omnipotence.
Moreover, the Divine Power will yet more ap pear, if we consider the things proposed in the Gospel. Narces the Roman-General, discontented at the Empress Sophia, to invite the Lombards into Italy, sent them many sorts of excellent fruits from thence. The Present being congruous to sense, the project took effect. The Gospel indeed
pro poses very excellent things to us. But they are so great, and so far above humane Nature, that the proposal, if not accompanied with a Divine Power,
Chap. 6. would have been altogether ineffectual. I shall in
stance in two or three things :
1. It proposes super-rational Mysteries, such as the Doctrine of the Sacred Trinity. The Incarnation of the Son of God. The Satisfaction made to Justice by his Blood. These are objects of Faith, and so depend one upon another, that unless we believe the Trinity, we cannot believe the Incarnation; and unless we believe that, we cannot believe a Satisfaction ; and without believing that, we cannot fulfil the condition of the Gospel, which requires us to rest upon Christ for salvation. These therefore are necessary objects of Faith; but without an Ad of Divine Power, Faith in these cannot be had. Two things evidence this: the one is ex parte obje&ti, the things are above Reason. As the things of Reason are above Sense, so the things of Faith are above Reason: without a Revelation Rea. son could not have found out these Mysteries, after it, Reason cannot comprehend them. It may shadow them out by similitudes ; but there is in them a light unapproachable, such as Reason cannot look into; an infinite Abyss, such as Reason cannot measure. The other is ex parte subjecti; man, who is to believe these things, is fallen, and in his fall not one or two faculties fell, but all of them; and among the reft his intellectual and believing faculties fell also. The intellect hath lost its subjection to God the Supreme Truth. The believing faculty centers in the Creature, and without the Power of Grace cannot lift up it self to supernatural Truths. A Divine Power is requisite, to captivate the understanding to the first Truth, to elevate the be
lieving lieving faculty to super-rational Mysteries. Hence in Scripture Faith is called the Gift and Work of God, such an one as is the product of Divine Power : it is wrought by Power, Eph. 1. 19. it is fulfilled
and consummated by Power, i Thef. 1. 11. it is - stiled the Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. 4. 13. It is not from
our own fpirit, but Gods outwardly revealing the mysterious
object in Scripture, and inwardly inlightning and elevating the heart to entertain it. Hence Fulgentius compares the production of Faith in the carnem illam heart, with the conception of Christ in the Virgins nec concipere Womb; both are by one and the same Spirit. Christ parere, nifi eis no less formed in the heart by it, than his flesh jusdem carnis was in the Virgin. It is therefore a work of Power Spiritus Sanctus
operaretur exorto raise up the mind of man to believe those fu- tum ; in homi
nis corde nec pernatural Mysteries, which are far above it self.
poterit, nec alio geri, nifi eam Spiritus Sanctus infundat er nutriat : -ex eodem Spiritu renati - Sumus, fx quo natus eft Chriftus, Fulg. de Incar. cap. 20.
2. It proposes super-moral Virtues. It would have us to be humble and deny our felves. To: fanctifie the Lord in our hearts. To have a love for his Goodness; a fear for his Majesty and Great-ness; a faith for his Truth and Mercy ; a since.. rity for his all-seeing eye; and such a posture of soul, that the inward affections and motions may in an holy manner answer and correspond to one Divine Attribute or other. It calls upon us to have internal purity, to indulge no lust, no, not in a: thought ; to baulk never an holy Duty, to love our very Enemies, and overcome evil with good. These I call super-moral, because they are above the Power of Nature. Meer Moral Virtues may spring out of