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every work, that chooses not his employment, that refuses no imposition from God or his superior. A ready hand, an obedient heart, and a willing cheerful soul, in all the work of God, and in every office of religion, is a great index of a good proficient in the ways of godliness. The heart of a man is like a wounded hand or arm, which, if it be so cured that it can only move one way, and cannot turn to all postures and natural uses, it is but imperfect, and still half in health and half wounded : so is our spirit; if it be apt for prayer and close-fisted in alms, if it be sound in faith and dead in charity, if it be religious to God and unjust to our neighbour, there wants some integral part, or there is a lameness; and “the deficiency in any one duty implies the guilt of all,' said St. James; and, “ Bonum ex integra causa, malum ex qualibet particulari :” every fault spoils a grace, but one grace alone cannot make a good man. But as to be universal in our obedience is necessary to the being in the state of grace, so, readily to change employment from the better to the worse, from the honourable to the poor, from useful to seemingly unprofitable, is a good character of a well-grown Christian, if he takes the worst part with indifference, and a spirit equally choosing all the events of the Divine providence. Can you be content to descend from ruling of a province to the keeping of a herd, from the work of an apostle to be confined in a prison, from disputing before princes to a conversation with shepherds? Can you be willing to all that God is willing, and suffer all that he chooses, as willingly as if you had chosen your own fortune? In the same degree in which you can conform to God, in the same you have approached towards that perfection, whither we must, by degrees, arrive, in our journey towards heaven.
This is not to be expected of beginners ; for they must be enticed with apt employments; and, it may be, their office and work so fits their spirits, that it makes them first in love with it, and then with God for giving it. And many a man goes to heaven in the days of peace, whose faith, and hope, and patience, would have been dashed in pieces, if he had fallen into a storm of persecution. “ Oppression will make a wise man mad,” saith Solomon : there are some usages that will put a sober person out of all patience, such which are besides the customs of this life, and contrary to all his hopes,
and unworthy of a person of his quality. And when Nero durst not die, yet when his servants told him, that the senators had condemned him to be put to death, ‘more majorum,' that is, ' by scourging like a slave,' he was forced into preternatural confidence, and fell upon his own sword. But when God so changes thy estate, that thou art fallen into accidents, to which thou art no otherwise disposed but by grace and a holy spirit, and yet thou canst pass through them with quietness, and do the work of suffering as well as the works of prosperous employment ;-this is an argument of a great grace and an extraordinary spirit. For many persons, in a change of fortune, perish, who, if they had still been prosperous, had
gone to prison, being tempted in a persecution to perjuries, and apostasy, and unhandsome compliances, and hypocrisy, and irreligion : and many men are brought to virtue, and to God, and to felicity, by being persecuted and made unprosperous. And these are effects of a more absolute and irrespective predestination. But when the grace of God is great and prudent, and masculine, and well-grown, it is unaltered in all changes; save only that every accident that is new and violent, brings him nearer to God, and makes him, with greater caution and severity, to dwell in virtue.
11. Lastly: Some there are, who are firm in all great and foreseen changes, and have laid up in the store-houses of the spirit,-reason and religion,-arguments and discourses enough to defend them against all violences, and stand at watch so much, that they are safe, where they can consider and deliberate; but there may be something wanting yet; and in the direct line, and in the straight progress to heaven, I call that an infallible sign of a great grace, and indeed the greatest degree of a great grace, when a man is prepared against sudden invasions of the spirit, surreptitious and extemporary assaults. Many a valiant person dares fight a battle, who yet will be timorous and surprised in a midnight alarm, or if he falls into a river. And how many discreet persons are there, who, if you offer them a sin, and give them time to consider, and tell them of it beforehand, will rather die than be perjured, or tell a deliberate lie, or break a promise; who, it may be, tell many sudden lies, and excuse themselves, and break their promises, and yet think themselves safe enough,
and sleep without either affrightments or any apprehension of dishonour done to their persons or their religion ! Every man is not armed for all sudden arrests of passions. Few men have cast such fetters upon their lusts, and have their passions in so strict confinement, that they may not be overrun with a midnight flood or an unlooked-for inundation. He that does not start, when he is smitten suddenly, is a constant person. And that is it which I intend in this instance, that he is a perfect man, and well-grown in grace, who hath so habitual a resolution, and so unhasty and wary a spirit, as that he decrees upon no act, before he hath considered maturely, and changed the sudden occasion into a sober counsel. David, by chance, spied Bathsheba washing herself; and, being surprised, gave his heart away, before he could consider; and when it was once gone, it was hard to recover it: and sometimes a man is betrayed by a sudden opportunity, and all things fitted for his sin ready at the door ; the act stands in all its dress, and will not stay for an answer ;, and inconsideration is the defence and guard of the sin, and makes that his conscience can the more easily swallow it: what shall the man do then? Unless he be strong by his old strengths, by a great grace, by an habitual virtue, and a sober unmoved spirit,- he falls and dies the death, and hath no new strengths, but such as are to be employed for his recovery ; none for his present guard, unless upon the old stock, and if he be a well-grown Christian.
These are the parts, acts, and offices of our growing in grace; and yet I have sometimes called them signs : but they are signs, as eating and drinking are signs of life; they are signs so as also they are parts of life; and these are parts of our growth in grace, so that a man can grow in grace to no other purpose but to these or the like improvements.
Concerning which I have a caution or two to interpose. 1. The growth of grace is to be estimated as other moral things are, not according to the growth of things natural. Grace does not grow by observation, and a continual efflux, and a constant proportion; and a man cannot call himself to an account for the growth of every day, or week, or month : but, in the greater portions of our life, in which we have had many occasions and instances to exercise and improve our virtues, we may cail ourselves to account; but it is a
snare to our consciences to be examined in the growth of grace in every short revolution of solemn duty, as against every communion or great festival.
2. Growth in grace is not always to be discerned, either in single instances or in single graces. Not in single instances : for every time we are to exercise a virtue, we are not in the same natural dispositions, nor do we meet with the same circumstances; and it is not always necessary that the next act should be more earnest and intense than the former: all single acts are to be done after the manner of men, and, therefore, are not always capable of increasing, and they have their times, beyond which they cannot easily swell; and, therefore, if it be a good act and zealous, it may proceed from a well-grown grace; and yet a younger and weaker person may do some acts as great and as religious as it. But neither do single graces always afford a regular and certain judgment in this affair. For some persons, at the first, had rather die than be unchaste or perjured; and
greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life” for God: he cannot easily grow in the substance of that act; and if other persons, or himself, in process of time, do it more cheerfully or with fewer fears, it is not always a sign of a greater grace, but sometimes of greater collateral assistances, or a better habit of body, or more fortunate circumstances : for he that goes to the block trembling for Christ, and yet endures his death certainly, and endures his trembling too, and runs through all his infirmities and the bigger temptations, looks not so well many times in the eyes of men, but suffers more for God, than those confident martyrs that courted death in the primitive church; and, therefore, may be much dearer in the eyes of God. But that which I say in this particular, is, that a smallness in one is not an argument of the imperfection of the whole estate : because God does not always give to every man occasions to exercise, and, therefore, not to improve, every grace; and the passive virtues of a Christian are not to be expected to grow so fast in prosperous as in suffering Christians. But in this case we are to take accounts of ourselves by the improvement of those graces, which God makes to happen often in our lives; such as are charity and temperance in young men ; liberality and religion in aged persons; ingenuity and humility in
scholars ; justice in merchants and artificers; forgiveness of injuries in great men and persons tempted by law-suits : for since virtues grow like other moral habits, by use, diligence, and assiduity,--there where God hath appointed our work and our instances, there we must consider concerning our growth in grace; in other things we are but beginners. But it is not likely that God will try us concerning degrees hereafter, in such things, of which, in this world, he was sparing to give us opportunities.
3. Be careful to observe that these rules are not all to be understood negatively, but positively and affirmatively : that is, that a man may conclude that he is grown
if he observes these characters in himself, which I have here discoursed of; but he must not conclude negatively, that he is not grown in grace, if he cannot observe such signal testimonies : for sometimes God covers the graces of his servants, and hides the beauty of his tabernacle with goat's hair and the skins of beasts, that he may rather suffer them to want present comfort than the grace of humility. For it is not necessary to preserve the gaieties and their spiritual pleasures; but if their humility fails (which may easily be under the sunshine of conspicuous and illustrious graces), their virtues and themselves perish in a sad declension. But sometimes men have not skill to make a judgment; and all this discourse seems too artificial to be tried by, in the hearty purposes of religion. Sometimes they let pass much of their life, even of their better days, without observance of particulars; sometimes their cases of conscience are intricate, or allayed with unavoidable infirmities; sometimes they are so uninstructed in the more secret parts of religion, and there are so many illusions and accidental miscarriages, that if we shall conclude negatively in the present question, we may produce scruples infinite, but understand nothing more of our estate, and do much less of our duty.
4. In considering concerning our growth in grace, let us take more care to consider matters that concern justice and charity, than that concern the virtue of religion; because in this there may be much, in the other there cannot easily be any, illusion and cozenage. That is a good religion that believes, and trusts, and hopes in God, through Jesus