Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

gracious heart, than love to any creature enjoyment what soever; as appears when competition arises in such a manner, that the one or the other is to be foregone. Would you then know your case ? Retire into your own hearts, and there lay the two in the balance, and try which of them weighs down the other. Ask thyself, as in the sight of God, whether thou wouldst part with Christ for the creature, or part with the creature for Christ, if thou wert left to thy choice in the matter? If you find your heart disposed to part with what is dearest to you in the world for Christ, at his call, you: have no reason to conclude, you love the creature more than God; but, on the contrary, that you love God more than the creature ; albeit you do not feel such violent motions in the love of God, as in the love of some created thing, Matth. x. 37. « He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” Luke xiv, 26. “ If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother,—he cannot be my disciple.” From which texts compared, we may infer, that he who hates, i. e. is ready to part with, father and mother for Christ, is, in our Lord's account, one that loves them less than him; and not one who loves father and mother more than him. Moreover, ye are to consider, there is a twofold love to Christ. (1.) There is a sensible love to him, which is felt as a dart in the heart ; and makes a holy love-sickness in the soul, arising either from want of enjoyment, as in the case of the spouse, Cant. v. 8.

“ I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love ;" or else from the full. ness of it, as in that case, Cant. ii. 5. “ Stay' me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love." These glowings of affections are usually wrought in young converts, who are ordinarily made to sing in the days of their youth, Hos. ii. 14. While the fire-edge is on the young convert, he looks on others reputed to be godly, and not finding them in such a temper and disposition as himself, he is ready to censure them ;, and think there is far less religion in the world than indeed there is. But when his own cup comes to settle below the brim, and he finds that in himself, which made him question the state of others, he is more humbled, and feels more and more the necessity of daily recourse to the blood of Christ for pardon, and to the Spirit of Christ for sanctification ; and thus grows downwards in humiliation, selfloathing, and self-denial. (2.) There is a rational love to Christ, which, without these sensible emotions felt in the former case, evidences itself by a dutiful regard to the divine authority and command. When one bears, such a love to Christ, though the vehement stirrings of affection be wanting, yet he is truly tender of offending a gracious God; endeavours to walk before him unto all-pleasing ; and grieved at the heart, for what is displeasing unto him, 1 John v. 3. 6 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” Now, although that sensible love doth not always continue with you, ye have no reason to account in a hypocritical fit, while the rational love remains with you, more than a faithful and loving wife needs question her love to her husband, when her fondness is abated.

Case 5. The attainments of hypocrites and apostates are a terror to me, and come like a shaking storm on me, when I am about to conclude from the marks of grace which I seem to find in myself, that I am in the state of grace.-Ans. These things should indeed stir us up to a most serious and impartial examination of ourselves; but ought not to keep us in a continued suspense as to our state. Sirs, ye see the outside of hypocrites, their duties, their gifts, their tears, &c. but ye see not their inside ; ye do not discern their hearts, the bias of their spirits. Upon what ye see of them, ye found a judgment of charity, as to their state ; and ye do well to judge charitabiy in such a case, because ye cannot know the secret springs of their acting : But ye are speaking, and ought to have a judgment of certainty, as to your own state ; and, therefore, are to look in to that part of religion, which none in the world but yourselves can discern in you, and which ye can as little see in others. An hypocrite's religion may appear far greater than that of a sincere soul; but, that which makes the greatest figure in the eyes of men, is often least worth before God. I would rather utter one of those groans the Apostle speaks of, Rom. viii. 26. than shed Esau's tears, have Balaam's prophetic spirit, or the joy of the stony-ground hearers. The fire that shall try every man's work, will try, not of what bulk it is, but . of what sort it is, 1 Cor. iii. 13. Now, ye may know what bulk of religion another has; and what though it be more bulky than your own? God doth not regard that: Why then do you make such a matter of it? It is im. possible for you, without divine revelation, certainly to know of what sort another man's religion is ; but ye may certainly know what sort your own is of, without extraordinary revelation ; otherwise the Apostle would not exhort the saints to give diligence to make their calling and election sure, 2 Pet. i. 10. Therefore, the attainments of hypocrites and apostates should not disturb you in your serious inquiry into your own state. But I will tell you two things, wherein the meanest saints go beyond the most refined hypocrites. (1.) In denying themselves, renouncing all confidence in themselves, and their own works, acquiescing in, being well-pleased with, and venturing their souls upon God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, Mat. v. 3. « Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And chap. ix. 6. “ Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." Phil. iii. 3. “ We are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (2.) In a real hatred of sin; being willing to part with every lust, without exception, and comply with every duty the Lord makes, or shall make known to them, Psal. cxix. 6. « Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” Try yourselves by these.

Case 6. I see myself fall so far short of the saints mentioned in the scriptures, and of several excellent persons of my own acquaintance ; that, when I look on them, I hardly look on myself as one of the same family with them. Ans. It is indeed matter of humilia. tion, that we get not forward to that measure of grace and holiness, which we see is attainable in this life. This should make us more vigorously press towards the mark; but surely it is from the devil, that weak Christians make a rack for themselves of the attainments of the strong. And to yield to this temptation, is as unreasonable as for a child to dispute away his relation to his father, because he is not of the same stature with his elder brethren.

There are saints of several sizes in Christ's family ; some fathers, some young men, and some little children, 1 John ii. 13, 14.

Case 7. I never read in the word of God, nor did I ever know of a child of God so tempted, and so left of God as I am ; and, therefore, no saint's case being like mine, I cannot but conclude I am none of their number. -Ans. This objection arises to some, from their unacquaintedness with the scriptures, and with experienced Christians. It is profitable in this case, to impart the matter to some experienced Christian friend, or to some godly Minister. This has been a blessed mean of peace to some persons ; while their case, which appeared to be singular, has been evinced to have been the case of other saints. The scriptures give instances of very

horrid temp tations, wherewith the saints have been assaulted. Job was tempted to blaspheme ; this was the great thing the devil aimed at, in the case of that saint, Job i. 11. « Не will curse thee to thy face." Chap. ii. 9. “ Curse God and die." Asaph was tempted to think, it was in vain to be religious, which was in effect to throw off all religion, Psalm 1xxiii. 13. « Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain.” Yea, Christ himself was tempted to cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, and to worship the devil, Mat. iv. 6, 9. And many of the children of God have not only been attacked with, but have actually yielded to very gross temptations for a time. Peter denied Christ, and cursed and swore that he knew him not, Mark xiv. 71. Paul, when a persecutor, compelled even the saints to blaspheme, Acts xxvi. 10, 11. Many of the saints can, from their sad experience, bear witness to very gross temptations, which have astonished their spirits, made their flesh to tremble, and sickened their bodies. Satan's fiery darts make terrible work, and will cost pains to quench them, by a vigorous managing of the shield of faith, Eph. vi. 16. Sometimes, he makes such desperate attacks, that never was one more put to it, in running to and fro without intermission, to quench the fire-balls incessantly thrown into his house, by an enemy designing to burn the house about him, than the poor tempted saint is, to repel satanical injections ; these horrid temptations, though they are a dreadful affliction, they are

not the sins of the tempted, unless they make them theirs by consenting to them. They will be charged upon the tempter alone, if they be not consented to ; and will no more be laid to the charge of the tempted party, than a bastard's being laid down at the chaste man's door will fix guilt upon him.

But, suppose neither Minister nor private Christian, to whom you go, can tell you of any who has been in your case ; yet you ought not thence to infer, that your case certainly is singular, far less to give over hopes; for it is not to be thought, that every godly Minister, or private Christian, has had the experience of all the cases a child of God may be in. And we need not doubt, but some have had distresses known only to God, and their own consciences; and so, to others these distresses are as if they had never been. Yea, and though the scriptures do contain suitable directions for every case a child of God can be in ; and these illustrated with a sufficient number of examples; yet it is not to be imagined, there are in the scriptures, perfect instances of every particular case incident to the saints. Therefore, howbeit you cannot find an instance of your case in the scriptures, yet bring your case to it, and you shall find suitable remedies prescribed there for it. And study rather to make use of Christ for your case, who has salve for all sores, than to know if ever any was in your case. Though one should shew you an instance of your case, as an undoubted saint, yet none could promise it would certainly give you ease; for a scrupulous, conscience would readily find out some difference. And if nothing but a perfect conformity of another's case to yours will satisfy, it will be hard if not impossible to satisfy you. For it is with people's cases as with their natural faces ; though the faces of all men are of one make, and some are so very like others, that at first view we are ready to take them for the same ; yet if you view them more accurately, you will see something in every face, distinguishing it from all others, though pos. sibly you cannot tell what it is : Wherefore I conclude, that if you can find in yourselves the marks of regeneration, proposed to you from the word ; you ought clude, you are in the state of grace, though your case were singular, which is indeed unlikely.

to con

1

« EdellinenJatka »