« EdellinenJatka »
dissemble and play the hypocrite in profession and in performance of duties; to do religious duties rather to please man than God, who trieth the heart.
(3.) They feel an inclination in them, in times of trial, to faint under the cross; to seek too much to save themselves; to dissemble the known truth, for obtaining a little favor with men; and to speak things that they ought not, that they may sleep in a whole skin.
(4.) They feel, at times, wearisomeness in religious duties, but a natural propensity to things of the flesh. They feel a desire to go beyond bounds, both at board, and bed, and bodily exercise, and in all lawful recreation..
(5.) They feel in themselves an aptness to take the advantage of using things that are lawful—as food, raiment, sleep, talk, estates, relations, beauty, wit, parts, and graces—to unlawful ends. These things, with many more of the like kind, the justified man finds, and feels in himself, to his humbling, and often casting down: and to save himself from the destroying evil of these, Christ ever liveth to make intercession for him.
Again, the justified man is imperfect in his graces; and therefore needeth to be saved, by the intercession of Christ, from the bad fruits that that imperfection yields.
Justifying righteousness is accompanied with graces, the graces of the Spirit. Though these graces are not that matter by and through which we are justified, nor any part thereof, (that being only the obedience of Christ imputed to us of mere pleasure and goodwill); yet, I say, they come when justification comes; and though they are not so easily discerned at the first, they show forth themselves afterwards. But, I say, how many soever they are, and how fast soever they grow, their utmost arrivement here is but to a state short of perfection.
None of the graces of God's Spirit in our hearts, can do their work in us without shortness; and that because of their
DEFECTS IN OUR GRACES.
own imperfections, and also because of the opposition that they meet with from our flesh. Take for example,
(1.) Faith, which is the root grace, the grand grace; its shortness is sufficiently manifest, by its shortness of apprehension of things pertaining to the person, offices, relations, and works of Christ, now in the heavenly place, for us. is also
very defective in its fetching comfort from the word to us, and continuing it with us, when, at any time, we attain unto it; in its receiving strength to subdue sin, and in its purifyings of the heart. Though indeed it doth what it doth in reality, yet how short is it of doing it thoroughly? Oftentimes, were it not for supplies, by virtue of the intercession of Christ, faith would fail of performing its office in any
(2.) There is hope, another grace of the Spirit, bestowed upon us; and how often is that also, as to the excellency of working, made to flag! “I shall perish,” said David; “I am cut off from before thine eyes.” And now,
where was his hope, in the right gospel-discovery of it? Also, all our fear of men, and fears of death, and fears of judgment, arise from the imperfections of hope. But from all those faults Christ saves us by his intercession.
(3.) There is love, that should be in us as hot as fire. It is compared to fire, to fire of the hottest sort; yea, it is said to be hotter than the coals of juniper.” But who finds this heat in love, so much as for one poor quarter of an hour together? Some little flashes, perhaps some, at some times, may feel; but where is that constant burning of affection, that the word, the love of God, and the love of Christ, call for? yea, and that the necessities of the poor and afflicted members of Christ call for also ? Ah! love is cold in these frozen days, and short when it is at the highest. The
grace of humility, where is it? Who has a thimblefull thereof? Where is he that is clothed with humility, and that does what he is commanded with all humility of mind ?”
For zeal, where is that? Zeal for God against sin, profaneness, superstition, and idolatry. I speak now to the godly, who have this zeal in the root and habit; but, Oh ! how little of it puts forth itself into action, in such a day as this is !
There are reverence, fear, and standing in awe of God's word and judgments: where are the excellent workings thereof to be found ? And where there are most, how far short of perfect acts are they?
Simplicity, and godly sincerity also, with how much alloy are they mixed in the best, especially among those of the saints that are rich, who have got the poor and beggarly art of complimenting! For the more compliment, the less sincerity. Many words will not fill a bushel; “but in the multitude of words there lacks not sin.” Plain men are thin come up in this day; to find a mouth without fraud and deceit now, is a rare thing.
Thus might one count up all the graces of the Spirit, and show wherein every one of them is scanty, and wanting perfection. Now, look, what they want of perfection is supplied with sin and vanity; for there is a fulness of flesh and sin at hand, to fill up all the vacant places in our souls. There is no place in the souls of the godly, but it is filled up with darkness, when the light is wanting, and with sin, so far forth as grace is wanting. Satan also diligently waiteth to come in at the door, if Careless has left it a little ajar.
But, Oh! the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who ever liveth to make intercession for us, and by so doing, saves us from all the evils of our imperfect graces, and from all the advantages that flesh, and sin, and Satan, get upon us thereby
Further, as Christ Jesus our Lord doth save us, by his intercession, from that hurt that would unavoidably come
IMPERFECTION OF OUR DUTIES.
upon us by these ; so also, by that we are saved from the evil that is at any time found in any or all our holy duties, or those performances that it is our duty daily to be found in. That our duties are imperfect, follows upon
what discoursed before; for if our graces be imperfect, how can our duties but be so too?
Our prayers, how imperfect are they? With how much unbelief are they mixed ? How apt is our tongue to run in prayer before our hearts? With how much earnestness do our lips move, while our hearts lie within as cold as a clod ? Yea, and ofttimes it is to be feared, we ask for that with our mouth, that we care not whether we have or no. Where is the man that pursues, with all his might, what but now he seemed to ask for with all his heart? Prayer is become a shell, a piece of formality, a very empty thing, as to the spirit and life of prayer, at this day. I speak now of the prayers of the godly.
I once met with a poor woman, that in the greatest of her distresses, told me, she did use to rise in the night, in cold weather, and pray to God, while she sweat with fears of the loss of her prayer, and desires that her soul might be saved. I have heard of many that have prayed, but of few that have prayed till they have sweat, by reason of their wrestling with God for mercy in that duty.
There is the duty of almsgiving, another gospel performance; but how poorly is it done in our days? We have so many foolish ways to lay out money in toys, and fool's baubles for our children, that we can spare none, or very little, for the relief of the poor. Also, do not many give that to their dogs, yea, let it lie in their houses until it stinks so vilely that neither dog nor cat will eat it, which had it been bestowed well in time, might have been a succor and nourishment to some poor member of Christ ?
There is hearing of the word; but, alas ! the place of hearing is the place of sleeping, with many a fine professor.
I have often observed, that those that keep shops can briskly attend upon a twopenny customer; but when they come themselves to God's market, they spend their time too much in letting their thoughts wander from God's commandments, or in a nasty drowsy way. The heads, also, and hearts of most hearers, are to the word, as the sieve is to water; they can hold no sermons, remember no text, bring home no proofs, produce none of the discourse to the edification and profit of others. And do not the best take up too much in hearing, and mind too little, what the word of God calls for at their hands, to perform it with a good conscience ?
There is faithfulness in callings, faithfulness to brethren, faithfulness to the world, faithfulness to children, to servants, to all according to our place and capacity. Oh! how little of it is there found in the mouths and lives, to speak nothing of the hearts, of professors !
I will proceed no farther in this kind of repetition of things; only thus much give me leave to say over again, even many of the truly godly are very faulty here. But what would they do if there were not one always at the right hand of God, by intercession taking away this kind of iniquities?
2. Are those that are justified by the blood of Christ such, after that, as have need also of a daily saving by Christ's intercession ? From hence then we may infer, that as sin, so Satan will not give over from assaulting the best of the saints.
It is not justification that can secure us from being assaulted by Satan : “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to
There are two things that do encourage the devil to set upon the people of God. (1.) He knows not who are the elect; for all that profess are not; and therefore he will make trial if he can get them into his sieve, whether he can cause them to perish. And great success he hath had this