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opinion, (and which our corrupt nature is but too apt to suck in,) by such considerations as may be a proper antidote against it.

I. And first, let us consider that we are God's creatures, that he gave us a being when we were not, and that our continuance in being, and the possession and use of any of our powers and faculties, wholly depends upon his good pleasure and support; which if he should withdraw, though but for one moment, we should fall into our primitive nothing. This, I suppose, no Christian will deny; and if this be true, what room is there for merit in this first step? What possible pretence can there be of his deserving any thing, who the other day was nothing, from him who out of that nothing made him what he is ? Suppose our endowments, whether of body or mind, to be never so excellent, and even to equal our own highest conceits of them; and suppose we employed them all to God's honour, and in promoting the interests of his kingdom ; suppose we spent our whole lives in his service, and lost them for his sake; what plea could we have for merit, even when we had done all this?

For what had we that we did not first receive from him ? And what can a poor, dependent creature either do or suffer for his infinitely good Creator, which his deriving his very being from him, and all the comforts he ever enjoyed all his days, doth not bind him to in strict duty, and for the neglect of which he would deserve the severest punishment ? And the nobler and more excellent our being and endowments are, the greater obligation lies upon us to that divine and munificent Being, who gave us all we are and have, and raised us to this height

out of nothing, and upon whose bounty and support we entirely depend for all our future hopes.

Now, how is it possible for such a vast debt as this to be ever overpaid ? And overpaid it must be, before we can pretend to merit any thing of him. For could we be supposed to have fully paid the debt, even to the utmost farthing, (which is a supposition so wild, so extravagant, so impossible, that it confounds our thoughts to suppose it,) that would only take off the obligation which we before lay under to God; and some new thing must be done to lay any obligation upon God to us : and from the blasphemy of thinking that to be ever possible, good Lord deliver us!

But, secondly, we should consider, that we are not only God's creatures, but vile, ungrateful, sinful creatures too ; obstinately persisting in our iniquities, notwithstanding all the wonderful methods his infinite goodness hath taken to reclaim us: which removes us still further from all possibility of merit.

A stubborn, sinful creature (and such we are all, more or less) is the very worst of characters, and includes every thing that is apt to provoke God to anger and fierce indignation, and make him hate and detest us; but is the furthest thing in nature from deserving any thing of him that is good.

Rebellion against the Author of our being and of all our comforts; spurning at the authority of him by whom kings reign; setting up our own wills in opposition to his, and taking part with the Devil against him; abusing the excellent gifts, and innumerable blessings he hath bestowed upon us, to his great dishonour; disregarding, nay, violently breaking his holy, just, and good commands; despising his rewards and precious promises, contemning his threatenings and punishments, impudently flying in the face even of Omnipotence itself, and daring him to do his worst; turning his grace and merciful forbearance into lasciviousness, and an encouragement still to go on in our ungrateful and unnatural rebellion: all this, and infinitely more, is included in the notion of a stubborn, sinful creature.

And now I would fain know what such a wretched miscreant as this can pretend to merit at the hands of his so vilely abused and so justly offended Maker ? Does not such base ingratitude and intolerable provocations of the divine Majesty deserve an eternal curse, rather than the very least blessing? It does, it does; and we must all of us with shame and confusion of face confess it; and 0 that we would so sincerely judge and condemn ourselves for it, as to prevent our being condemned by thee, our righteous Lord !

But though as creatures and sinners we cannot pretend to merit, yet may we not as Christians ? as those whom Jesus, the eternal and well-beloved Son of God, hath redeeined from all iniquity with his most precious blood, and purchased to himself as his peculiar people, and who are influenced by his blessed Spirit, and so nearly united to him ? Will not all this make us capable of doing something that may be meritorious, and deserve God's favour, and a suitable reward? All this will indeed entitle us to a share in the merits of our blessed Saviour, if we perform what is required on our part; but as for making room for any merit of our own, it is so far from it, that it utterly excludes it, both as needless and impossible. As needless, because our Redeem-

er's merits are all-sufficient to purchase salvation for myriads of sinful worlds, and he hath already obtained eternal redemption for us; and likewise as impossible, because this wondrous goodness of God to us has made us more deeply indebted to him than ever: and if it is impossible for us ever to pay what we owe him for the benefits he conferred on us in our creation alone, his rescuing us afterwards from eternal misery, by the death of his divine Son, even then when we were in actual rebellion against him, this adds such infinite sums to the account, as must make it more impossible than ever to discharge our just debts to our most merciful God, much more to do any thing that may lay the least obligation upon him to us.

And as for our being ransomed by Christ from the Devil's miserable captivity, and bought by him with a most inestimable price to be his servants for ever; though this indeed is our great honour and happiness, (and for ever blessed be the infinite compassions of our dear Redeemer !) yet so far is it from putting us into a capacity of meriting any thing of him, much less eternal salvation, though we serve him with never so much faithfulness and diligence, that it is directly the case in the parable we are discoursing of; and after we have done all, we must confess that it is by no means meritorious, but that we are unprofitable servants, having done no more than upon the highest obligations was our duty to do; according to that of the apostle, 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20, Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price ; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. III. Further yet, there is another consideration

which will likewise effectually cut off all pretence to merit for the future; and that is our unthankfulness, and ungrateful forgetfulness of what we have already received of God's undeserved bounty and goodness.

One would think that creatures in our circumstances, who enjoy so much, and deserve nothing; who are indeed vessels of wrath, and by our numberless iniquities fitted for destruction, and yet are forborne, and reprieved from time to time, and assured, upon our sincere repentance, of pardon, nay of heaven, through the merits and mediation of our blessed Lord; one would think creatures in such circumstances as these should be so overjoyed (if that expression may be used in this case) at such inestimable mercies as these, as that nothing but praises and hallelujahs should come out of our mouths as the overflowings of the inward joy of our glad hearts, and all our conversation be humbly cheerful, easy, and serene.

This one might reasonably expect indeed; but do we find it so ? Is not murmuring and repining, envy and discontent, rather to be met with almost every where? And instead of grateful acknowledgments of our infinite obligations to God, who hath loaded us with benefits so far beyond our desert; do not we grumble at our portion, and proudly think that we deserve much more than we have ?

Now he that, although he deserves not the least expression of God's goodness to him, is yet ungratefully unmindful of the greatest, becomes, by such vile carriage, still more undeserving than ever; still further and further removed from all possibility of inerit, which nothing can set a man at greater dis

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