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GRACE

(BAXTER.)

God's perfect power did this great world create,
God's perfect wisdom all in order placed,
God's perfect goodness made all very good,
But sin God's image on man's soul defaced.
Power caus'd necessity, and wisdom order,
And both by goodness caused harmony;
All in one perfect frame God's glory shew,
Praise him and please him with pure melody.
Sin could not change necessity, nor that
Disorder which God fixed above men's reach,
But the free Lord free agents also made,
And there by sin free-will did make the breach.
This breach to man was punishment itself,
For God before had order'd nature so,
That poison would cause pain, and wounds cause smart,
And sin to sinners misery and woe.
Goodness is love delighting to do good,
Wisdom resolves this foul breach to repair,
And make advantage of man's sin and woe,
Justice and mercy largely to declare.
Hurt is soon done: the wound was quickly made,
The cure must be performed by degrees :
A Saviour's grace must exercised be,
Wisdom with love to do the work decrees.
Man's soul incorruptible substance is,
Essential life; not made itself to die.
Its final state then like itself will be,
Durable happiness or misery.

But it is plac'd in corruptible flesh,
And the compounded frame that's called man
Must be dissolved; for sin hath caused death;
And flesh must turn to earth, whence it began.
But he who man's salvation undertook
Is perfect primitive life, light, and love;
And will give compound life again to man,
In joyful glory with himself above.
But as in nature God great difference made.
Stones are not men; all have their proper place;
Men are not stars, and stars are not the sun:
So he will make great difference in grace.
Man is not helpless left to mere despair,
Life is again made possible to all,
The former terms of innocence now cease,
Mercies all sinners to repentance call.
A law of saving grace is newly made,
All that accept it and consent shall live :
Trust but a Saviour for that blessed life,
And he will freely grace and glory give.
But yet man's life on earth a warfare is,
God's grace and Satan's malice daily fight;
And all that will be sav'd must overcome;
Sin's vanquished by grace, darkness by light.
Each part their captain have, and they their bands
Not made by force, but doctrine and consent;
Each man as rational and free commands,
One draws to sin, the other to repent.
Sin hath its punishment, the worst within,
When for neglect of grace God it suspends ;
But the correction of the flesh for sin,
Furthers repentance, and the soul amends.

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Thus all on earth have some degrees of grace,
Which reason tells us they should not abuse,
Which bringeth some so far to Adam's case,
They stand or fall as they these mercies use.
But God will not his grace at random give,
And leave the event to uncertainty,
But hath his chosen, who shall surely live,
In whom his saving grace shall never die.
The two first brothers did this war begin,
He kill'd and conquer'd who was first by birth;
He that seem'd conquer'd triumphed by death,
The victor's a curs’d vagabond on earth.
This war continu'd is unto this day
Between the holy and the serpent's seed,
These brothers the prognostic instance were
Of all that ever after should succeed.
But the worst war is inward; grace and sin,
The controversy daily their debate:
That which the final victory doth win,
Determineth man's everlasting state.
A law of grace thus made to all mankind
In Adam and Noe, common roots of all,
Ill entertainment with fall’n man did find,
Who mostly to idolatry did fall. .
The strength of sin is love to flesh and world,
And averse strangeness to a better life.
It stronger grew by custom, and abhorr'd
All motions tending to the soul's relief.
But God's electing grace shall not be void,
In Abel, Enoch, Noe, he this declared,
But specially in Abraham, whose great faith
He with a special promise did reward.

Not calling back the common law of grace,
He chose bis seed as a peculiar nation,
Gave them a proper law and of them rais'd
The Lord incarnate, author of salvation.
Yet was their dignity most typical,
As was their law to shew what God would do,
When be the nations unto Christ would call,
And build his church as catholic anew.
Sin soon prevail'd; their land was dry and small;
Seldom from under enemies and waste;
But they God's oracles preserv'd for us,
And from their vine we all salvation taste.
But as in nature God works by degrees,
From seed to infancy, from thence to youth;
From thence to manhood and maturity;
So did he in revealing grace and truth.
Fall’n man his infancy and childhood had
In the old law's dark types and prophecies :
But in time's fulness God incarnate came,
The Sun of righteousness to man did rise.
Three laws he did fulfil ;-one as a man,
Once made for all; another as a Jew;
The third as Saviour, proper to himself.
Then for his church, he made another new.
He preach'd God's will; proclaimed saving grace,
Brought to light life and immortality;
Declar'd God's love, shew'd man God's pleased face,
A sacrifice for sinful man did die.
He came to conquer Satan, destroy sin,
And heal sick souls of worldly fleshly love,
To raise the earthly mind of man to God,
And bring him to a better life above.

Words were too weak for this, his works must do it;
He was to teach man how to bear the cross,
To deny life, and live above this world,
For Heav'n to count all here as dung and loss.
Wonder of wonders ! God appears in flesh,
Preacheth to sinners, calls them home to God,
Dies for them as a sinner on a cross,
Till the third day among the dead abode.
Himself the greatest wonder, many wrought,
Heal'd all diseases, gave the blind their sight,
Raised the dead, by present bare command ;
Long, before many, in the open light.
The third day rose from death, stay'd forty days;
Describes his laws, church-covenant, and seals;
Commissions his apostles; promiseth
His Spirit which all saving truth reveals;
Ascendeth up to Heaven before their eyes;
And before multitudes at Pentecost
Gives them the gift of miracles and tongues,
By giving them the promis'd Holy Ghost.
They preach Christ to the world, speak various tongues,
Work miracles, heal sickness, raise the dead:
Convey this power and Spirit unto others;
Thus through the world, the word of life they spread.
These many wonders, not in corners wrought,
Converted thousands, conquer'd unbelief;
But, above all his great convincing works,
The Spirit's sanctifying grace was chief.
The erring know the truth; fools are made wise,
The proud made humble, wrathful ones made meek,
The world's fond lovers now do it despise,
Kill fleshly lusts, and heavenly glory seek.

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