CHAP.  8.

The former Principle confirmed by Two more Reasons, and by Authority.

Reason 3. A third reason may be taken from its part and interest in the fountain of salvation and rivers of living water. He that thirsts after grace is already entitled to the well of life and fulness of heavenly bliss, by a promise from God's own mouth, in Rev. xxi, 6, “I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” In that place, after God himself had confirmed and crowned the truth and certainty of the gloriousness of the holy city, and the happiness of the inhabitants thereof, with a solemn asseveration of his own immutability and everlastingness— “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end”—he then notifies and describes the persons to whom the promise and possession of so great and excellent glory doth appertain, and those also which shall be eternally abandoned from the presence of God, and burned in the lake of fire and brimstone for ever.

Inhabitants of heaven elect are: —

1. Humble souls, thirsting after grace, God's favour, and that blessed fountain open to all broken hearts for sin and uncleanness, “I will give to him that is athirst of the well of the water of life freely” (ver. 6).

2. Christ's champions here upon earth against the powers of darkness, and conquerors of their own corruptions. “Ile that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (ver. 7). But the fearful, 6.m. are marked out for hell (vet. 8); for all that cursed crew and slaves of sin are overcome of Satan and their own lusts, and so carried away captives into everlasting misery and woe.

Cast not away thy confidence then, poor heart; no, not in the lowest languishings of thy afflicted soul. If thou be able to say sincerely with David (Psalm cxliii), “My soul thirsteth after thee as a thirsty land;” if thou feel in thy affections a hearty hunger after righteousness, both infused and imputed, as well after power against, as pardon of sin; he assured the well of life stands already wide open unto thee, and in due time thou shalt drink thy fill. Thy soul shall be fully satisfied with the excellencies of Jesus Christ, evangelical joys, “as with marrow and fatness,” and thou shalt be abundantly refreshed out of the river of his pleasures.

[[269]] Reason 4. That which Paul tells us in the point of communicating to the necessities of the saints; to wit, “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not' (2 Cor. viii, 12), holds true also in all other services and divine duties; so that we are accepted with the Lord accordingly as we are inwardly affected, although our actions be not answerable to our desires. He that hath a ready and resolved mind to do what lie may, would undoubtedly do a great deal more if ability were ministered. God, saith Paul, “worketh both to will and to do.” If both be his own works, the desire as well as the deed, he must needs love and like both the one and the other, both in respect of acceptation and reward. David did but conceive a purpose to build God a house, and he rewarded it with the building and establishing of his own house (2 Sam. vii, 16). He did but conceive a purpose to confess his sin, and God's ear was in his heart before David's confession could be in his tongue (Psalm xxxii, 5). To poor beggars that wanted food for themselves, Christ shall say at the last day, Ye have fed me when I was hungry, only in regard of their strong affections if they had had means. The prodigal child, when he was but conceiving a purpose of returning, was prevented by his father first coming to him; nay, running towards him (Luke xv, 20). God will answer us before we call (Isa. lxv, 24); that is, in our purpose of prayer.

Besides scripture and reasons, I add ancient and modern authority; not for any other confirmation, but only to show consent.

“To desire the help of grace is the beginning of grace,” saith Austin[1].

“Only thou must will, and God will come of his own accord,” saith Basil[2].

“He that thirsts, let him thirst more; and he that desires, let him yet desire more abundantly; because, so much as he can desire, so much he shall receive.”— Bernard[3].

“Christ,” saith Luther[4], “is then truly omnipotent, and then truly reigns in us, when we are so weak that we can scarce give any groan.”

Again: “The more we find our unworthiness, and the less we find the promises to belong unto us, the more we must desire them; being assured that this desire doth greatly please God, who desiteth and willeth that his grace should be earnestly desired[5].”

[[270]] “When I have a good desire,” saith Kemnicius[6], “though it cloth scarcely show itself in some little and slender sigh, 1 must be assured that the Spirit of God is present, and worketh his good work.”

“Faith,” saith Ursin[7], “in the most holy man in this life, is imperfect and weak; yet, nevertheless, whosoever feels in his heart an earnest desire and striving against his natural doubtings, both can and must assure himself that he is endued with true faith.”

“if thou shalt feel thyself,” saith Rolloc[8], “to believe in Christ, and that for Christ; or at least, if thou canst not forthwith attain that, if thou feel thyself willing to believe in Christ for Christ, and willing to do all things for God's sake and sincerely, thou hast certainly a very excellent argument, both of perseverance in faith, and of that faith which shall last for ever.”

“Our faith may be so small and weak,” saith Taffin[9], “that it doth not yet bring forth fruits that may be lively felt in us; but if they which feel themselves in such estate desire to have these feelings (namely, of God's favour and love); if they ask them at God's hands by prayer, this desire and prayer are testimonies that the Spirit of God is in them, and that they have faith already. For is such a desire a fruit of the flesh or of the Spirit? It is of the 'Holy Spirit, who bringeth it forth only in such as he dwells in.”

“Is it possible,” saith Hooker[10], speaking of Valentinian the emperor, out of Ambrose, “that he which had purposely the Spirit given him to desire grace, should not receive the grace which that Spirit did desire?”

“Where we cannot do what is enjoined us, God accepteth our will to do, instead of the deed itself[11].”

“I am troubled with fear that my sins are not pardoned, saith Careless. They are, answered Bradford; for God hath given thee a penitent and believing heart; that is, a heart which desireth to repent and believe. For such a one is taken of him (he accepting the will for the deed) for a penitent and believing heart[12].

[1] Lib. de Correptioue et Gratin, cap. i.

[2] Serm. Je Penitentia.

[3] De Leetione Evangelica, sem.

[4] Tom. iv, p. 124.

[5] p. 300.

[6] Loc. Com. par. i.

[7] Catechis.

[8] On John v.

[9] In his Marks of Cod's Children.

[10] Lib. v, sec. lx.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Acts and Monuments, Bradford's Letter to Careless.