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ed in our souls ; but the Lord Jesus Christ, blessed be God has our stock is his hands. God trusted man once, but never will more; he set Adam up, gave him a blessed stock, placed him in a paradise of love, and he soon became a bankrupt, some think in twenty-four hours, however, all
agree it was in six or seven days, and that he never had but one sabbath ; but now, blessed be God, we are under a better dispensation, our stock is put into Christ's hands, he knows how to keep it, and us too; so this grace may be said to be the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, secured by his blood, and conveyed to our souls by his being the head of his church and people.
This grace has a variety of epithets put to it, and I question whether there is any kind of grace but what the Lord Jesus Christ exercises towards his people some way or other, every hour, every moment of the day.
First, His restraining grace; why, if it was not for this, God's people would be just as weak and wicked as other folks are : remember what David said when Abigail came to him ; he was going to kill a neighbor for affronting him, forgot that he was a psalmist, and was only acting as a creature: blessed be God, says he, that has sent thee to meet and keep me : my brethren, we may talk what we please, and build upon our own stock; we are just like little children that will walk by themselves ; well, says the father, walk alone then, they tumble down, get a broken brow, and then are glad to take hold of the father; thus Jesus Christ is always acting in a restraining way to his people; if it was not so, by the blindness of their understandings, the corruptions of their hearts and their affections, together with the per
verseness of their will, alas ! alas ! there is not a child of God that would not run away every day if Christ did not restrain him!
Secondly, There is convicting grace, which from the Lord Jesus Christ acts every day and hour. Oh! it is a blessed thing to be under the Redeemer's convicting grace! a man may speak to the ear, but it is the Spirit of God alone can speak to the heart: I am not speaking of convicting grace that wounds before conversion, and gives us a sense of our sin and misery ; no, I mean convicting grace that follows the believer from time to time. If a heathen Socrates could say, that he had always a monitor with him to check him when he did amiss, and direct him when he went. right, surely the christian may say, and blessed be God for it, that he has got a Jesus that kindly shews him when he goes astray, and by his grace puts him into the way of righteousness, that his feet may not slip; this is what the shepherd does to his sheep when they have wandered ; what does the shepherd do, but sends some little cur, his dog, after them, to bring them to the fold again? what does Jesus Christ do in temptations, trials, and afflictions ? he fetches his people home, and convinces them that they have done amiss.
Then, thirdly, There is the converting grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! what poor unhappy creatures are they, that think they can turn to God when they please, to which abominable principle it is owing, that they leave it till they cannot turn in their beds : Satan tells them then, it is too late, their consciences are filled with horror, and they go off in a whirlwind; may this be the case of none here! That is a most excellent prayer in our Communion Office, Turn us, O good Lord, and
we shall be turned : we can no more turn our hearts than we can turn the world upside down; it is the Redeemer, by his Spirit, must take away the heart of stone, and by the influence of the holy Spirit give us a heart of flesh. I might as well attempt to reach the heavens with my hand; I might as well go to some church-yard and com mand the dead to rise ; I might as soon shake my handkerchief and bid the streams divide, and they give way, as to expect a soul to turn to God without the grace of a Mediator. Come, my dear hearers, I am of a good man's opinion, that prayed he might be converted every day. In the divine life, not to go forwards is to go backwards ; and it is one great part of the work of the spirit of God, to convert the soul from something that is wrong to something that is right, every day, hour and moment of the believer's life, so that in short his life is one continued act of converting grace : there is not a day but there is something wrong; there is something we want to have taken away; we want to get rid of the old man, and to get more of the new man, and so the Spirit of God works every day : O my brethren, God give us more of this converting grace!
Then there is establishing grace. David prays, Create in me a new heart, and renew a right spirit within me ; in the margin, it is constant spirit; and you hear of some that are rooted and grounded in the love of God, and the apostle prays that they may always abound in the work of the Lord : again, it is good to have the heart established with grace : there is a good many people have some religion in them, but they are not established; hence they are mere weather-cocks, turned about by every wind of doctrine; and you may as soon measure the moon for a suit of clothes, as some people that are always changing ;- this is for want of more grace, more of the Spirit of God; and as children grow that are got stronger and riper, so as people grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they will be more settled, more confirmed: on first setting out they prattle, but they will be more manly, more firm, more steady: young Christians are like little rivulets that make a large noise, and have shallow water; old Christians are like deep water that makes little noise, carries a good load, and gives not way.
What think you, my brethren, of the Redeemer's comforting grace? O! what can you do without it? In the multitude of my thoughts within me, says the Psalmist, thy comforts have refreshed ту soul. I believe you will all find what lord Bolinbrooke, in spite of all his fine learning, and deistical principles, found when under affliction ; he sent a letter, which I saw and heard read to me, at least that part of it in which he says: Norer I am under this affliction, I find my philosophy fails me. With all our philosophy and striving, it is too hard to work ourselves into a passive state : alas! it is commendable to strive, but we shall never be content, we shall never be cheerful under sufferings, but through the assistance of the Redeemer. Even now, in respect of parting from one another, what can comfort friends when
separated but the Spirit of God. Paul, when going away for Jerusalem, said, What mean ye to weep und break my heart? he also says, I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus, which he could not have said, had he not felt the comforting grace of Jesus Christ. Our Lord, when going away, says, I will send the Comforter ; I will not leave you comfortless and helpless, I will come again: the Lord helps the believer from time to time. can easily, my brethren, talk when not under the rod ourselves; there is not a physician or apothecary in London but can give good advice, but when they are sick themselves, poor souls! they are just like their patients, and many times are more impatient than those they used to preach patience to; so it is with the greatest Christian, we are all men of like passions, there is not one of us when under the rod, if left to ourselves, but would curse God, and Ephraim like, be as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke ; and there are many here, I do not doubt, that have said to the Redeemer, What dost thou ? or, perhaps, with Jonah, we do well to be angry; if the Lord does but take away his goard from us, if he is pleased to baulk us in regard to the creatures, how uncomfortable are we? and there are so many afflictions and trials, that if it was not for the Lord Jesus Christ's comfortings no flesh could bear them.
In a word, what think you, my brethren, of the quickening grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? Remember David says, Quicken me according to thy word, quicken me in thy way, quicken me in thy righteousness: God's people want quickening every day; this is trimming our lamps, girding up the loins of our minds, stirring up the gift of God that is in us. It is just with a soul as it is with the plants and trees; how would it be with them if the Lord did not command quickening life to them after the winter? the believer has his frosty and winter days, and wo be to them who think they have always a summer; the believer at times