1) Look abroad in the world, and thou mayest see others refused when thou art chosen, others passed by when thou art called, others polluted when thou art sanctified, others put off with common gifts when thou hast special grace, others fed with the scraps of ordinary bounty, when thou hast the finest of the flour, even the fruits of saving mercy. As Elkanah gave to Peninnah, and to all her sons and daughters, portions, ‘But to Hannah he gave a worthy portion, because he loved her;’ so God giveth others outward portions, some of the good things of this life; but to thee, O Christian, he giveth a Benjamin’s mess,-his image, his Spirit, his Son, himself,–a worthy portion, a goodly heritage, because he loveth thee.

Others have a little meat, and drink, and wages, but thou hast the inheritance; others, like Jehoshaphat’s younger sons, have some cities, some small matters given them; but thou, like the firstborn, hast the kingdom, the crown of glory; others feed on bare elements, thou hast the sacrament ; others stand without doors, and thou art admitted into the presence chamber; others must fry eternally in hell flames, and thou must enjoy fulness of joy for evermore. O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever; to him that chose thee before the foundation of the world, for his mercy endureth for ever; to him that called thee by the word of his grace, for his mercy endureth for ever; to him that gave his only Son to die for thy sins, for his mercy endureth for ever; to him that entered into a covenant of grace with thee, for his mercy endureth for ever; to him that hath provided for thee an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, for his mercy endureth for ever. ‘ O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good and his mercy endureth for ever. George Swinnock, “The Christian Man’s Calling,” in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 1:213-214.

2) Unsanctified persons at best act from themselves, and therefore for themselves. As the kite, they may spread their wings and soar aloft, as if they touched heaven, when at the highest their eyes are upon their prey upon earth. Lucullus told his guests, when he had feasted them liberally, and they had admired his bounty in their costly entertainment, Something, my friends, is for your sakes, but the greatest part is for Lucullus’s own sake. An unconverted person may do something, some small matter for the sake of religion, from common gifts of illumination, &c., but the most that he doth is for his own sake, for that credit or profit which he expecteth thereby. If anything be enjoined which thwarteth his interest, he will reply with Ajax, when commanded to spare Ulysses, In other things I will obey the gods, but not in this. George Swinnock, “The Christian Man’s Calling,”in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 3:94.

3) First, Their portion is poor. It consisteth in toys and trifles, like the estate of mean women in the city, who make a great noise in crying their ware, which is only a few points, or pins, or matches. But the portion of a saint lieth, though he do not proclaim it about the streets, as the rich merchant’s, in staple commodities and jewels. The worldling’s portion at best is but a little airy honour, or empty pleasure, or beggarly treasure. But the Christian’s is the beautiful image of God, the incomparable covenant of grace, the exceeding rich and precious promises of the gospel, the inestimable Saviour, and the infinitely blessed God. The sinner’s portion is nothing: ‘Ye have rejoiced in a thing of nought,’ Amos vi. 13 ; a fashion, a fancy, 1 Cor. vii. 30 ; Acts xxv. 23. But the saint’s portion is all things: ‘ A11 things are yours ; and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s,’ 1 Cor. iii. 22,23. As Abraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines, and sent them away, but he gave all he had to Isaac, so God giveth common gifts of riches, or friends, or credit, to wicked men, which is all they crave, and sendeth them away, and they are well contented; but he gives grace, glory, his Spirit, his Son, himself, all he hath, to his Isaacs, to the children of the promise, Gen. xxv. 5, 6. He giveth earth into the hands of the wicked, Job ix. 24; all their portion lieth in dust, rubbish, and lumber; all they are worth is a few ears of corn, which they glean here and there in the field of this world. But he giveth heaven into the hearts of the godly; their portion consisteth in gold, and silver, and diamonds, the peculiar treasure of kings, in the love of God, the blood of Christ, and the pleasures at his right hand for evermore. Others, like servants, have a little meat, and drink, and wages; but saints, like sons, they are a congregation of the first-born, and have the inheritance. Oh the vast difference betwixt the portion of the prodigal and the pious! The former hath something given him by God, as Peninnah had by Elkanah, though at last it will appear to be little better than nothing, when he gives the latter, as Ellkanah did Hannah, a goodly, a worthy portion, because he loves them, 1 Sam. i 4,5. George Swinnock, “The Fading of the Flesh,” in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 4:14-15.

4) Now they are called gods, 1. Not essentially or by nature, for we see they die as other men, but by participation, representation, and office; a because they do in a sort participate of Gods dignity, authority, and power. As stars borrow their light from the sun, so do rulers their power from God. He hath set them in his place, and therefore he gives them his title, because they are deputies under him to execute justice in the world. There is theion ti, a sparkle of divine majesty, appearing in magistracy; yea, God hath engraven a special note of his own glory and image on them. So that by analogy they may well be called gods, as resembling God, in having the power of life and death in their hand; hence the and rule for him, Rom. xiii. 4.

(2.) This title is given them, because God is pleased to bestow many excellent and divine gifts of the Spirit on them; hence it is that Moses is called Pharaoh’s god, Exod. vii. 1, because God had given him power to speak unto Pharaoh in his name, and to execute vengeance on him. Though all magistrates are not regenerate, yet they may have many excellent, heroic, moral virtues, and common gifts of the Spirit, as justice, prudence, patience, temperance, fortitude, liberality, &c., to fit them for government, Num. vi. 11, 17; 1 Sam. x. 6, 9, 10, and xvi. 13, 14; Acts xiv. 11.

(3.) By deputation from God, whose lieutenants they are, and to whom they must give an account for the maladministration of their office. They derive their power from him, as his delegates, by commission, and so bear the title. George Swinnock, “The Beauty of Magistracy,” in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 4:162-163.

5) 2. Great gifts and parts will not do without this. A man may have choice natural abilities, rare acquired accomplishments, yea common gifts of the Spirit of God, and yet for want of this practical godliness be damned. What amiable words come out of Balsam’s mouth! he speaks like a saint, yea, like an angel. How often have I heard his prophecies with great admiration and affection! His tongue hath melted my heart, and yet he had no good works, for all his many good words ; and his lack of practical godliness ruined him. What special endowments had they who preached in the name of Christ, and in his name cast out devils, and in his name did many marvelous works, and yet were cast to devils for being workers of iniquity, as a.11 are who are void of this practical godliness, Mat. vii. 21, 23. What excellent gifts doth the apostle suppose a man to have, the gift of prophesying, of understanding all mysteries, and all knowledge, and of all faith, so as to remove mountains, and yet if he have not charity, he is nothing, &c., 1 Cor. xiii. 2,3. If he love not his brother, and express it not to his power, by spiritual and bodily charity, which is part of practical godliness, he is nothing in God’s eye, whatever he may be in the eyes of men. George Swinnock, “The Sinner’s Last Sentence,”in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 5:358-359.

6) If a lad’s calling doth not suit his genius, he seldom comes to do anything well, or to be expert at it, much less when he hates it. The scholar who loves not his book, will hardly proceed from the degree of a dunce, much less he who loatheth his book. If the nature of a man be contrary to God and his ways, the presence of God is troublesome to him: Job xxi. 14, ‘ They say to God, Depart from us.’ And the worship of God is tedious to them : ‘When will the new moon be gone, and the Sabbath be over ? ‘ And the precepts of God are fetters and cords to them: Ps. ii. 3, ‘Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us.’ Common gifts of the Spirit as illumination, convictions, sudden flashes of affection, may do somewhat against this distemper of nature, but the virtue of that physic is soon spent, and then it returns to its former illness. Colours not laid in oil will soon be washed off. George Swinnock. “The Sinner’s Last Sentence,” in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 5:417-418.

Common Grace

1) All is not gold that glitters, nor is all grace that makes a fair show in the flesh. There is much counterfeit coin in the world, that goeth current among men, as if it were as good as the best; so there is a great deal of counterfeit holiness in the world, a great deal of civility, of morality, of common grace, which is taken (or rather mistaken) by men for true saving grace; much fancy is taken for faith, presumption for hope, self-love for saint-love, and worldly sighs for godly sorrow. George Swinnock, “Heaven and Hell Epitomised” in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 3:342-346.

2) Locusts and grasshoppers are only for the summer season, the winter killeth them. The cuckoo and lizard hide themselves the four cold months. The hypocrite, like the hedgehog, if the wind change, will alter his nest, and be sure to make it in the warmest place. As the river Novanus in Lombardy, though at mid-summer he may seem to overflow the banks, yet in mid-winter he is clean dry.

Magistratus indicat virum. Magistracy will discover the man, and so will misery. Nature vexed betrayeth itself; when the winds blow, the waters roar: ‘Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth,’ Rev. iii. 10. Crystal looks like pearl, till it comes to the hammer. So do they that have common grace, like those who have true special grace, till they come to the trial ; but when the ,winter is approaching, the former fall off, like leaves in autumn. George Swinnock, “The Christian Man’s Calling,”in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 2:87.

3) Friend, I could name forty texts of everlasting condemnation on thy soul, and yet thou thinkest, in despite of God and his word, to be saved. I assure thee, profane wretch, thou comest short of hundreds which hall, come short of heaven. Many bid fair, to the eyes of men, by civility, morality, and common grace, but come not up to the price, to regeneration, and so miss of that place; thou art every day adding sin to sin, drunkenness to thirst, posting in the road to hell, and yet sayest that thou shalt arrive at heaven! Well, within a few days it shall be tried whose words are truest, God’s or thine. George Swinnock, “The Door of Salvation Opened,” in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 5:42.

4) Secondly, The new-born creature groweth in grace ; the picture of a child groweth not, but a living child doth. After generation followeth augmentation; the same word which breeds the new man, feeds him, and enables him to grow thereby, 1 Pet. 1i. 2. As the same blood, of which the babe is bred in the womb, strikes up into the mother’s breasts, and by a further concoction becometh milk, and so nourisheth it: the good seed of the word falling into the soil of an honest heart makes it abundant in the work of the Lord, Common grace sometimes, like Joshua’s sun, standeth still; but usually, like the dial of Ahaz, it goeth ten degrees backward; when special grace, like the morning light, shineth brighter and brighter to perfect day, Prov. iv. 18. First the blade, next the ear, then the full corn: first they who are begotten ef God become little children, next young men, then old men and fathers, 1 John ii. 1, 12-14. George Swinnock, “The Door of Salvation Opened,” in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: James Nicol, 1868), 5:112.

Note: These small notes on common grace from Swinnock, and others, are posted to demonstrate the historicity of the Reformed doctrine of common grace, in all its aspects and/or its use in principle by various Reformed theologians.

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