« EdellinenJatka »
rejoice." Seneca saith, true joy latet in them “pictures of joy') not satisfy the soul,
A. 3. Spiritual joys are sweeter than end of the rod a Christian tastes honey.
A. 4. Spiritual joys are more pure, they selves with rose-buds, and bathe in the perare not tempered with any bitter ingredi- fumed waters of pleasure, yet these joys which ents; a sinner's joy is mixed with dregs, it seem to be sweet are swift, like meteors, they is embittered with fear and guilt; the wolf give a bright and sudden flash, and then disapfeeds in the breasts of his joy, he drinks pear; but the joys which believers have are wormwood wine, but spiritual joy is not abiding; they are a blossom of eternity, a muddied with guilt, but like a crystal stream, pledge and earnest of those rivers of pleasure runs pure; it is all spirits and quintes- which run at God's right hand for evermore. sence,—it is joy and nothing but joy,- it is Quest. 5. Why is this joy to be laboured a rose without prickles,-it is honey without for ?
Ans. 1. Because this joy is self-existent, A. 5. These are satisfying and filling joys, --it can subsist in the want of all other John xvi. 24, “ Ask that your joy may be carnal joy. This joy depends not upon full.” Worldly joys can no more fill the outward things. As the philosophers once heart, than a drop can fill a cistern ; they said, when the musicians came to them, may please the palate or fancy, (Plato calls “philosophers can be merry without music;"
he that hath this joy can be cheerful in the often upon your knees, pray with life and deficiency of carnal joys; he can rejoice in fervency. The same Spirit that fills the heart God, in sure hope of glory, “ though the fig- with sighs, fills it with joys. The same Spitree doth not flourish,” Hab. iii. 17. Spiritual rit that indites the prayer, seals it. When joy can go without silver crutches to support Hannah had prayed, her countenance was no it. Spiritual joy is higher built than upon more sad, 1 Sam. i. 18. Praying Christians creatures, it is built on the love of God ; on have much intercourse with God, and none the promises ; on the blood of Christ. are so like to have the secrets of his love
A. 2. Because spiritual joy carries the imparted, as those who hold correspondence soul through duty cheerfully ; the sabbath is with him ; by a close walking with God, a delight, religion is a recreation. Fear and we get these bunches of grapes by the way, . sorrow hinder us in the discharge of duty; which are an earnest of future happiness. but a Christian serves God with activity, Quest. 7. How shall we comfort them when he serves him with joy. The oil of that want joy? joy makes the wheels of obedience move Ans. Such as walk in close communion faster. How fervently did they pray whom with God have more than others. God made joyful in the house of prayer ? Isa. 1. Initial joy, joy in semine,-in the seed, lvi. 7.
Ps. xcvii. 11, “Light (a metaphor for joy) A. 3. It is called the kingdom of God, is sown for the righteous.” Grace in the Rom. xiv. 27, because it is a taste of that heart is a seed of joy; though a Christian which the saints have in the kingdom of wants the sun, he hath a daystar in his God. What is the heaven of the angels but heart. the smiles of God's face,--the sensible per- . 2. A believer hath real, though not royal ception and feeling of those joys, which are comforts ; he hath, as Aquinas saith, gauinfinitely ravishing and full of glory? And dium in Deo, though not a Deo,-joy in to encourage and quicken us in seeking after God,' though not • from God.' Joy in God them, consider, that Christ died to purchase is the delight and complacency the soul takes this joy for his saints: he was a man of sor- in God, Ps. civ. 34, “ I will be glad in the rows, that we may be full of joy, he prays Lord.” He that is truly gracious, is so far that the saints may have this divine joy, joyful as to take comfort in God; though he John xvii. 13, “And now I come to thee, cannot say, God rejoiceth in him, yet he can that they may have my joy fulfilled in them- say, he rejoiceth in God. selves.” And this prayer he now prays over 3. He hath supporting, thongh not transin heaven; he knows we never love him so porting comforts ; he hath so much, that as when we feel his love : which may encou- keeps him from sinking, Ps. cxxxviii. 3, rage us to seek after this joy ; we pray for “Thou strengthenedst me with strength in that which Christ himself is praying for, that my soul.” If a Christian hath not God's his joy may be fulfilled in us.
arm to embrace him, yet to uphold him: QUEST. 6. What shall we do to obtain this thus a Christian, who walks with God, hath spiritual joy?
something that bears up his heart from sinkAns. Walk accurately and heavenly; God ing, and it is but waiting a while, and he is gives it after a long and close walking with sure of those joys which are unspeakable, and him. 1. Observe your hours ; set time every full of glory. day apart for God. 2. Mourn for sin : Use 1st. Then see that religion is no me. mourning is the seed (as Basil saith) out of lancholy thing ; it brings joy ; the fruit of which the flower of spiritual joy grows, Isa. the Spirit is joy,—Mutatur non tolitur. A lvii. 18, “I'll restore comfort to his mourn. poor Christian that feeds on bread and water ers.” 3. Keep the book of conscience fair may have purer joy than the greatest mowritten : do not by presumptuous sins blur narch ; though he fares hard, he feeds high ; your evidences : a good conscience is the ark he hath a table spread from heaven,-angels' where God puts the hidden manna.
4. 'Be food,-hidden manna ; he hath sometimes
those sweet raptures of joy, as a cause of shall for ever bathe itself in the pure and jubilation of spirit, 2 Cor. xii. 3, he hath that pleasant fountain of God's love ? What which is better felt than can be expressed. joy to see the orient brightness of Christ's
Use 2d. If God gives his people such joy in face, and have the kisses of those lips this life : 0 then what glorious joy will he which drop sweet smelling myrrh? Latagive them in heaven! Matt. xxv. 21, “En- bitur sponsa in amplexibus Domini, Aug. ter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Here joy O! if a cluster of grapes here be so sweet, begins to enter into us, there we shall enter what will the full vintage be? How may into joy; God keeps his best wine till last. this set us all a longing for that place Heliogabalus bathed himself in sweet per- where sorrow cannot live, and where joy fumed waters : what joy when the soul cannot die !
OF GROWTH IN GRACE.
2 Pet. iii. 18. But grow in grace.
The fourth fruit. Growth of grace. True Ans. 1. The right manner of growth, is to grace is progressive,-of a spreading, grow-grow less in one's own eyes, Ps. xxii, 6, “I ing nature. It is with grace as with the am a worm and no man.” The sight of corlight : first, there the crepusculum, or day- ruption and ignorance makes a Christian break, then it shines brighter to the full me- grow into a dislike of himself, he doth vanish ridian. A good Christian is like the croco- in his own eyes. Job abhorred himself in dile, quamdiu vivet crescit,-he hath never the dust, ch. xlii. 6. This is good, to grow done growing. The saints are not only out of conceit with one's self. compared to stars for their light, but to trees A. 2. The right manner of growth is to for their growth, Isa. Ixi. 3, Hos. xiv. 5. A grow proportionably, when a Christian grows good Christian is not like Hezekiah's sun in one grace as well as another, 2 Pet. i. 5. that went backward, nor Joshua's sun that To grow in knowledge, but not in meekness, stood still, but is always advancing in holi- brotherly love, good works, this is not the ness, and increasing with the increase of God, right growth ; a thing may swell and not Col. ii. 16. Now to amplify and illustrate grow,--a man may be swelled with know
ledge, yet may have no spiritual growth, Quest. 1. How many ways may a Chris- the right manner of growth is uniform, tian be said to grow in grace?
growing in one grace as well as another. Ans. 1. He grows vigore,—in the exer- As the beauty of the body is, when there cise of grace ; his lamp is burning and shin- is a symmetry of parts, not only the head ing, therefore we read of a lively hope, 1 Pet. grows, but the arms and breast ; so spirii. 3. Here is the activity of grace; the tual growth is most beautiful, when there church prays for the blowing of the Spirit, is a symmetry and proportion, every grace that her spices might flow forth, Cant. iv. 16. thrives.
A. 2. A Christian grows gradu,in the A. 3. The right manner of growth is, degree of grace; he goes from strength to when a Christian hath grace suitable to his strength, Ps. lxxxiv. 7, viz. from one degree several employments and occasions; when of grace to another. A saint goes from corruptions are strong, and he hath grace faith to faith,' Rom. i. 17, and his love able to give check to them,-burthens are abounds more and more, Phil. i. 6. Here is heavy, and he hath patience able to bear growing in the degree.
them,-temptations fierce, and he hath faith QUEST. 2. What is the right manner of able to resist them, here is grace growing a Christian's growth?
in the right manner.
Quest. 3. Whence is it that true grace it, and crowned Abraham with this honour, cannot but grow ?
to be the · father of the faithful.' Ans. 1. It is proper for grace to grow: it A. 4. The more we grow in grace, the is semen manens, the seed of God, 1 John. more glory we bring to God. God's glory iii. 9. It is the nature of seed to grow ; is more worth than the salvation of all men's grace doth not lie in the heart, as a stone in souls. This should be our design, to raise the earth, but as seed in the earth, which the trophies of God's glory; and how can we will spring up, first the blade and then the do it more, than by growing in grace ? John ear, and then the full corn in the ear.
8, “ Hereby is my Father glorified, that A. 2. Grace cannot but grow, from the ye bear much fruit.” Though the least sweetness and excellency of it; he that hath drachm of grace will bring salvation to us, yet grace, is never weary of it, but still would it will not bring so much glory to God, Phil. have more. The delight he bath in it, caus- i. 11, “ Filled with the fruits of righteousness, eth thirst; grace is the image of God, and a which are to the praise of his glory." It Christian thinks he can never be enough like commends the skill of the husbandman, when God. Grace instills peace ; therefore a his plants grow and thrive; it is a praise and Christian cannot but strive to increase in honour to God, when we thrive in grace. grace, because, as grace grows, so peace
A. 5. The more we grow in grace, the grows.
more will God love us. Is it not that we A. 3. Grace cannot but grow, from a be- pray for ? The more growth, the more God liever's ingrafting into Christ; he who is a will love us. The husbandman loves his scion, ingrafted into this noble, generous thriving plants; the thriving Christian is stock, cannot but grow. Christ is so full of God's Hephzibah, or chief delight. Christ sap, and vivifical influence, that he makes loves to see the vine flourishing, and the all inoculated into him grow fruitful, Hos. pomegranates budding, Cant. vi. 11. Christ xiv. 8, “ From me is thy fruit found.” accepts the truth of grace, but commends the
Quest. 4. What motives or incentives growth of grace, Matt. viii. 10, “ I have not are there to make us grow in grace ? found so great faith, no not in Israel.”
Ans. 1. Growth is the end of the ordi- Would you be as the beloved disciple that nances. Why doth a man lay out cost on lay in Christ's bosom? Would you have ground, manure and water it, but that it may much love from Christ ? labour for much grow? The sincere milk of the word is given, growth, let faith flourish with good works, that we may grow thereby, 1 Pet. ii. 2. The and love increase into zeal. table of the Lord is on purpose for our spiri- A. 6. What need have we to grow in tual nourishment and increase of grace. grace. There is still something lacking in
A. 2. The growth of grace is the best evi- our faith, 1 Thess. iii. 10. Grace is but in dence of the truth of it. Things that have its infancy and minority, and we must still no life will not grow ; a picture will not be adding a cubit to our spiritual stature ; grow, a stake in the hedge will not grow, but the apostles said, “ Lord increase our faith," a plant that hath a vegetative life grows. Luke xvii. 5. Grace is but weak, 2 Sam. iii. The growing of grace shows it to be alive | 39, “I am this day weak, though anointin the soul.
ed king.” So, though we are anointed with A. 3. Growth in grace is the beauty of a grace, yet we are but weak, and had need Christian. The more a child grows, the arrive at further degrees of sanctity. more it comes to its favour and complexion, A. 7. The growth of grace will hinder the and looks more ruddy ; so, the more a growth of corruption. The more health Christian grows in grace, the more he comes grows, the more the distempers of the body to his spiritual complexion, he looks fairer. abate ; so it is in spirituals,—the more bu. Abraham's faith was beautiful when in its mility grows, the more the swelling of pride infancy, but at last it grew so vigorous and is assuaged,—the more purity of heart grows, eminent, that God himself was in love with the more the fire of lust is abated. The
growth of fowers in the garden doth not | ciple. Some, instead of growing better,
Quest. 5. How shall we know whether
, First, Show the signs of our not growbut faith cannot grow too great, 2 Thess. i. ing; Secondly, Of our growing. 3, “ Your faith groweth exceedingly ;" here Ist. The signs of our not growing in grace, was exceeding, yet not excess. As a man but rather falling into a spiritual consumpcannot have too much health, so not too tion. much grace. Grace is the beauty of holiness, Sign 1. When we have lost our spiritual Ps. cx. 3. We cannot have too much spiri- appetite. A consumptive person hath not tual beauty ; it will be the only trouble at that stomach to his meat as formerly. Perdeath, that we have grown no more in grace. haps, Christian, thou canst remember the
A. 9. Such as do not grow in grace, decay time when thou didst hunger and thirst after in grace. Non progredi in via est regredi, righteousness, thou didst come to the ordi. Bern. There is no standing at a stay in nances with such a stomach as to a feast, religion, either we go forward or backward ; but now it is otherwise, Christ is not so if faith do not grow, unbelief will ; if heaven- prized, nor his ordinances so loved: a sad ly mindedness doth not grow, covetousness presage, grace is on the declining hand,will. A man that doth not increase his thou art in a deep consumption. A sign stock, diminisheth it; if you do not improve David was near his grave, when he covered your stock of grace, your stock will decay, him with clothes, and got no heat, 1 Kings i. The angels on Jacob's ladder were either 1 : so, when a person is plied with hot ascending or descending; if you do not ascend clothes, I mean ordinances, yet he hath no in religion, you descend.
heat of affection to spiritual things, this is a A. 10. The more we grow in grace, the sign he is declining in grace. more we shall flourish in glory. Though Sign 2. When we grow more worldly. every vessel of glory shall be full, yet some Perhaps once we were mounted into higher vessels hold more; he whose pound gained orbs,—we did set our hearts on things above, ten, was made ruler over ten cities, Luke and speak the language of Canaan,--but now xix. 17. Such as do not grow much, though our minds are taken off heaven, we dig our they do not lose their glory, yet they lessen comfort out of these lower mines, and with their glory. If any shall follow the Lamb Satan compass the earth : a sign we are in whiter and larger robes of glory than going down the hill apace, and our grace is others, they shall be such as have shone most in a consumption. It is observable when in grace here.
nature decays, and people are near dying, Use. Lament we may the want of growth: they grow more stooping: and truly, when religion in many is grown only into a form men's hearts grow more stooping to the and profession ; this is to grow in leaves, not earth, and they can hardly lift up themselves in fruit. Many Christians are like a body in to a heavenly thought, if grace be not dead, atrophy, which doth not thrive ; they are not yet it is ready to die, Rev. iii. 2. nourished by the sermons they hear; like the Sign 3. When we are less troubled about angels who assumed bodies, they did eat, but sin. Time was when the least sin did did not grow. It is very suspicious where grieve us, as the least hair makes the eye there is no growth, there wants a vital prin- weep: but now we can digest sin without