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and destroy it? If so, what are the fruits worthy of repentance which you bring forth? It does not, I hope, all flow away in floods of grief: have you ceased to do evil? Are you learning to do well!+ Doth your reformation shew, that you repent of your sins; or do your renewed relapses into sin prove, that you repent even of what you call your repentance? Have you an inward abhorrence of all sin, and an unfeigned zeal against it? And doth that produce a care to guard against the occasions of it, and temptations to it? Do you watch against the circumstances that have insnared you? And do you particularly double your guard against that sin which does most easily beset you? Is that laid aside, that the christian race may be run; laid aside with a firm determination, that you will return to it no more, that you will hold no more parley with it, that you will never take another step towards it?
§. Permit me also farther to enquire, what your views of Christ have been?"What think you of him, and of your concern with him?" Have you been fully convinced, that there must be a correspondence settled between him and your soul? And do you see and feel, that you are not only to pay him a kind of distant homage, and transient compliment, as a very wise, benevolent, and excellent person, whose name and memory you have a reverence for; but that, as he lives and reigns, as he is ever near you, and always observing you, so you must look to him, must approach him, must humbly transact business with him, and that business of the highest importance, on which your salvation depends?
§. 5. You have been brought to enquire, wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the most high God?§ And once perhaps you were thinking of sacrifices, which your own stores might have been sufficient to furnish out. Are you now convinced, they will not suffice; and that you must have recourse to the Lamb which God hath provided? Have you had a view of Jesus, as taking away the sin of the world? || as made a sin offering for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him?¶ Have you viewed him, as perfectly righteous in himself; and desp airing of being justified by any righteousness of your own, have you submitted to the righteousness of God?** Has your heart ever been brought to a deep conviction of this important truth, that if ever you are saved at all, it must be through Christ; that if ever God
Luke iii. 8. | John i, 29.
† Isai. i. 16, 17.
Heb. xii. 1. **Rom. x. 3.
§ Mic. vi. 6.
extend mercy to you all, it must be for his sake; that if ever you are fixed in the temple of God above, you must stand there as an everlasting trophy of that victory which Christ has gained over the powers of hell, who would otherwise have triumphed over you?
§. 6. Our Lord says, look unto me, and be ye saved;* He says, If I be lifted up, I shall draw all men unto me.+ you looked to him, as the only Saviour? Have you been drawn unto him, by that sacred magnet, the attracting influence of his dying love? Do you know what it is to come to Christ, as a poor weary and heavy laden sinner, that you may find rest? Do you know what it is, in a spiritual sense, to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man; that is, to look upon Christ crucified as the great support of your soul, and to feel a desire after him, earnest as the appetite of nature after its necessary food Have you known what it is cordially to surrender yourself to Christ, as a poor creature whom love has made his property? Have you committed your immortal soul to him, that he may purify and save it; that he may govern it by the dictates of his word, and the influences of his spirit; that he may use it for his glory that he may appoint it to what exercise and discipline he pleases, while it dwells here in flesh; and that he may receive it at death, and fix it among those spirits who with perpetual songs of praise surround his throne, and are his servants for ever? Have you heartily consented to this? And do you, on this account of the matter, renew your consent? Do you renew it deliberately and determinately, and feel your whole soul, as it were, saying amen, while you read this? If this be the case, then I can with great pleasure give you (as it were) the right hand of fellowship, and salute and embrace you as a sincere disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, as one who is delivered from the powers of darkness, and is translated into the kingdom of the Son of God. I can then salute you in the Lord, as one to whom, as a minister of Jesus, I am commissioned and charged to speak comfortably, and to tell you, not that I absolve you from your sins, for it is a small matter to be judged of man's judgment, but that the blessed God himself absolveth you; that you are one, to whom he hath said in his gospel, and is continually saying, your sins are forgiven you; ¶ therefore go in peace, and take the comfort of it.
* Isai. xlv. 22.
+ John xii. 32. || Col. i. 13
↑ Mat. xi. 28.
¶ Luke vü. 48.
§. 7. But if you are a stranger to these experiences, and to this temper which I have now described, the great work is yet undone; you are an impenitent and unbelieving sinner, and the wrath of God abideth on you*. However you may have been awakened and alarmed, whatever resolution you may have formed for amending your life, how right soever your notions may be, how pure soever your forms of worship, how ardent soever your zcal, how severe soever your mortification, how humane soever your temper, how inoffensive soever your life may be, I can speak no comfort to you. Vain are all your religious hopes, if there has not been a cordial humiliation before the presence of God for all your sins; if there has not been this avowed war declared against every thing displeasing to God; there has not been this sense of your need of Christ, and of your ruin without him; if there has not been this earnest application to him; this surrender of your soul into his hands by faith; this renunciation of yourself, that you might fix on him the anchor of your hope; if there has not been this unreserved dedication of yourself to be at all times, and in all respects, the faithful servant of God through him; and if you do not with all this acknowledge that you are an unprofitable servant, who have no other expectations of acceptance or pardon, but only through his righteousness and blood, and through the riches of divine grace in him; I repeat it again that all your hopes are vain, and you are building on the sand. The house you have already raised must be thrown down to the ground, and the foundation be removed and laid anew, or you, and all your hopes, will shortly be swept away with it, and buried under it in everlasting ruin.
The Soul submitting to Divine Examination, the Sincerity of its Repentance and Faith.
" O LORD God, thou searchest all hearts, and triest the reins of the children of men. Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead in the way everlasting.§ Doth not conscience, O Lord, testify in thy presence, that my repentance and faith are such as have been described, or at least that it is my earnest prayer, that they may be so ? Come therefore, O thou blessed Spirit, who art the author of all grace, and consolation, and work this temper more fully in my soul! Oh
Jer. xvii, 10. § Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24.
John iii. 36. + Mat. vii. 26.
represent sin to mine eyes in all its most odious colours, that I may feel a mortal and irreconcileable hatred to it! O represent the majesty and mercy of the blessed God in such a manner, that my heart may be alarmed, and that it may be melted! Smite the rock, that the waters may flow;* waters of genuine, undissembled, and filial repentance! Convince me, O thou blessed Spirit, of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.† Shew me that I have undone myself; but that my help is found in God alone, in God through Christ, in whom alone he will extend compassion and help me! According to thy peculiar office, take of Christ and shew it unto me !§ Shew me his power to save! Shew me his willingness to exert that power! Teach my faith to behold him, as extended on the cross, with open arms, with a pierced bleeding side; and so telling me in the most forcible language, what room there is in his very heart for me! May I know what it is to have my whole heart subdued by love; so subdued as to be crucified with him; || to be dead to sin, and dead to the world, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ!¶ In his power and love may I confide! To him may I without any reserve commit my spirit! His image may I bear! His laws may I observe! His service may I pursue! And may I remain, through time and eternity, a monument of the efficacy of his gospel, and a trophy of his victorious grace!
"Oh blessed God! if there be any thing wanting towards constituting me a sincere christian, discover it to me, and work it in me! Beat down, I beseech thee, every false and presumptuous hope, how costly soever that building may have been which is thus lain in ruins, and how proud soever I may have been of its vain ornaments! Let me know the worst of my case, be that knowledge ever so distressful; and if there be remaining danger, let my heart be fully sensible while yet there is remedy!
If there be any secret sin yet lurking in my soul, which I have not sincerely renounced, discover it to me, and rend it out of my heart, though it should have shot its roots ever so deep, and should have wrapped them all around it, so that every nerve should be pained by its separation! Tear it away, O Lord, by a hand graciously severe ! And by degrees, yea, Lord, by speedy advances, go on, I beseech thee, to perfect what is still lacking in my faith* ! Accomplish in me all the good
* Psal. lxxviii. 20.
+ John xvi. 8.
Hos. xii. 9.
pleasure of thy goodness+: inrich me, O heavenly Father, with all the graces of thy spirit: form me to the complete image of thy dear Son: and then, for his sake, come unto me and manifest thy gracious presence in my soul‡, till it is ripened for that state of glory, for which all these operations are intended to prepare it! Amen."
A more particular View of the several Branches of the Christian Temper; by which the Reader may be farther assisted, in judging what he is, and what he should endeavour to be.
The Importance of the Case engages to a more particular Survey, what Manner of Spirit we are of: §. 1, 2. Accordingly the Christian Temper is described, (I.) By some general Views of it; as a New and Divine Temper, §. 3. As resembling that of Christ, §. 4. And as engaging us to be spiritually Minded, and to walk by Faith, §. 5. A Plan of the Remainder: §. 6. In which the Christian Temper is more particularly considered. (II.) With Regard to the Blessed God; as including Fear, Affection, and Obedience, §. 7. Faith and Love to Christ, §. 8, 9. Joy in Him, §. 10. And a proper Temper towards the Holy Spirit, particularly as a Spirit of Adoption, and of Courage, §. 11-13. (III.) With Regard to ourselves; as including Preference of the Soul to the Body, Humility, Purity, §. 14. Temperance, §. 15. Contentment, §. 16. And Patience, §. 17. (IV.) With Regard to our Fellow-Creatures; as including Love, §. 18. Meekness, §. 19. Peaceableness, §. 20. Mercy, §. 21. Truth, §. 22. And Candour in judging, §. 23. (V.) General Qualifications of each Branch, §. 24. Such as Sincerity, §. 25. Constancy, §. 26. Tenderness, §. 27. Zeal, §. 28. And Prudence, §. 29. These Things should frequently be recollected, §. 30. A Review of all in a scriptural Prayer.
§. 1. WHEN I consider the infinite importance of eternity,
I find it exceeding difficult to satisfy myself in any thing which I can say to men, where their eternal interests are concerned. I have given you a view, I hope I may truly say, a just, as well as faithful view, of a truly christian temper already. Yet for your farther assistance, I would offer it to your consideration in various points of light, that you may be assisted in judging
* 1 Thess iii. 10.
2 Thess. i. 11.
John xiv. 21, 23.
|| N. B. This chapter is almost an abridgment of that excellent book of Dr. Evans, intitled, "The Christian Temper," so far as it relates to the description of it. For particular arguments, to enforce each part of this temper, I must refer the reader to the book itself.