Page images
PDF
EPUB

greatest good. A man is more pained, tormented, troubled, and cries out more for a boil on his finger than he doth when he knoweth he hath a hectic fever or consumption; and yet he truly judges the one a greater evil than the other. There is more fear and grief in the damned for sin than in any saint; and a soul newly converted and drawn to the ways of God, with assurance of Christ's love, hath more sensible joy than a grown, assured Christian. Grace goes not by the sensible impressions on the affections, or rising of the sensitive faculty or appetite, which outward and sensible objects do elevate. 2. Saints have found and lamented this distemper, as it is such, and yet have not quit their interest, Isa. lxiii. 17, "Why hast thou hardened our hearts from thy fear?" And hence David and the Church do cry frequently for quickening, "Quicken us, O Lord, and we will call on thy name." 3. Baxter saith well, "Hardness of heart is more in the will and practice than in the sensitive faculty;" as is easy proven by Scripture. Disobedience is hardness of heart in Scripture.

Eighteenth Ground is from my spiritual pride, which streams itself through all my actions, even my most spiritual: and hence I find that I resolve to be holy, to get an esteem, not from men but from conscience; I mourn for sin as it is a weakness, and as it is contrary to my design and resolutions. Yea, though I find an insufficiency in duties to save me, and so of necessity made to flee to another, yet do I find my heart secretly wishing that it were otherwise, that life were to be had through our own works; and this makes me secretly desire and endeavour to do something on earth that might be a part of my crown in heaven: and I found a despising of the glory revealed in heaven, if freely given, and no way merited; so that I am by this put to question whether ever I was dead to the law or not. To which I answer, omitting what may be answered to this by what hath been said, I satisfy myself with this, That as I find a spirit of self and pride acting, so do I find a spirit of humility loathing myself for this my pride, and a secret contentedness in breaking my resolutions even when they were good, because self was thereby debased, and the counsel of

VOL. II. B

the Lord did stand: Yea, and I find "I rejoice in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me;" and I love heaven the better, because it is the purchase of Christ's blood, and the fruit of free grace. 2dly, " Self will be in every action, (saith Shepherd;) and this body of death will discover itself thus, as well as any other way."

Nineteenth Ground. I find such instability in my heart and ways, such unequal steps betwixt the Lord and my idols, that I fear my whole heart is not come to the Lord; I am not his only. Oh the one heart, the united heart, the conjugal heart! But, alas ! mine is parted betwixt the Lord and idols; and I sometimes delight in the Lord, and sometimes in my idols and worldly contentment, 2 Kings xvii. 33, They served the Lord, and they served their idols. I answer, 1st, No man ever closed so fully with Christ, or had such a conjugal love, but had some inclinations to idols, by reason of the unregenerate part. Our union of faith and love is imperfect, as well as any other grace; the unregenerate carnal part cries still for, and would be at, its lovers. In heaven our affections shall be wholly for the Lord. 2dly, The renewed part is for the Lord wholly and only, and gives not consent to what the flesh doth, but is led captive, and sighs under the bondage, and cries out against its own heart-whorishness; and the denomination is taken from the better part. "O miserable man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?" Unrenewed men contentedly and allowedly divide their affections, they loathe not nor abhor themselves. 3dly, I find the Lord's interest growing stronger and stronger in my soul.

Ticentieth Ground. When I read that the "unprofitable servant is cast into utter darkness," and consider the great disproportion that is betwixt my service and my rule and the former practice of saints, I cannot conceive how I can go to heaven, how the just Lord will give heaven to such an unprofitable servant; will ever Christ say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant?" But for this I answer these things, 1st, Heaven is not promised to the degree or measure of grace, but to the nature of it; the Lord accepts mites, cups of cold water, grains of mustard-seed; he will not quench smoking flax: I do service, though I cannot weigh it in measure. 2dly, Such is the condescendency and lovely nature of Christ, that he will crown those duties we are ashamed to own. Christ counts and prizes saints' duties more than any thing else in the world: "Ye visited me, fed me, gave me drink. When saw we thee hungry or naked? In that ye did it to one of these little ones, ye did it to me." It is Christ's gracious property, he is soon pleased, and his yoke is easy. Parents are wonderfully taken up with the poorest and simplest action or speeches of their children. There is a fatherly love in Christ. 3dly, Heaven comes by grace, by Christ's blood, and not by works; works are not your title to glory. "No law music," saith Rutherford, "in heaven; no, "worthy is the Lamb." Look not to what thou hast done, but to what Christ hath done; ye neither share in whole nor in part with Christ: good works are mentioned, not to buy or purchase glory by, but to evidence an interest in Christ and sincerity in grace; if there be as much as will evidence sincerity, there is enough. The least gold is gold as well as the greatest piece.

As for those general answers I promised, because these are included in the special answers given to the special objections; and in respect I am in the next section to go over some things relating to the same purpose, I shall not mention them.

SECTION VI.

Declaring my evidences of Regeneration and Heaven.

1st, A continued prizing and esteeming, and love of, and desire and mourning for, and longing after God in Christ above all things, above gifts, saints, duties, graces, and joys; and this wrought of new in my soul by an almighty power. "I love them that love me;" 1 Pet. ii. 7, "To you that believe Christ is precious."

2dly, Real and fervent love to the saints, yea, all saints, and because such; with a contempt and hatred of others. I prize, esteem, and delight in the fellowship of saints above what I have to my nearest relations; and by this I gather that I am translated "from death to life," and shall one day reign with them, 1 John iii. 14.

3dly, I am in heart engaged to the Lord Jesus his service, accounting it most glorious; and am desiring and accounting it as my greatest mercy to be employed for him, and mourning for my unprofitableness, and great loss Christ is at with me as the greatest evil, 1 John iii. 10; John xv. 14, and have been assisted to do so in some measure; and that my shortcomings have proceeded from ignorance and unbelief.

4thly, Because that when, through the violence of temptations and suggestions, my fears do arise, and I then go and stayedly and diligently examine myself according to the Scriptures, and submit it to their determination, I find my condition and case good, and am made to hope; and if the Word absolve, who can condemn? PsaL xcvi. 13; Isa. viii. 20; Eom. ii. 2. The judgment of God is according to truth.

5thly, Because, when, by the power of tentations and unbelief I conclude or apprehend I am unregenerate, I find much evil thereby, and these conclusions, like poison, utterly to wrong my soul, and my heart drawn from God, and utterly weakened to duty: Whereas, I concluding my state gracious, I find my heart enlarged, God's countenance shining upon me, hatred to sin, and strength to go about duty; which I look upon as the Lord's sealing these conclusions.

6thly, Because that the Lord, by his mighty power, answering all my objections clearly and fully, with much pains, hath made me believe on the Lord Jesus, and come to him, not only for peace and comfort, but likewise mainly for himself and for sanctification, for removal, not of some sins only, but of all sin; and, above all, for delivery from my wicked nature; esteeming real conformity to and enjoyment of God the greatest mercy, and a natural condition the sorest evil, by which I distinguish my faith from hypocrites, Hosea xiv. 2; Micah iii. 11.

7thly, Because my love, faith, patience, and obedience, have been tried by the winds and storms of temptations, especially inward; and yet, through the strength of Christ, my bow hath not broken, but he hath increased my strength; by which I am made to think I am built on the Rock, Luke vi. 48.

8thly, Because I have found the Lord, when he was drawing me to himself, observe the same way which he uses to draw his own to himself. For I have found that he hath discovered my undone condition by nature, my distance with and enmity to God, and my wildness; he hath affected me with this as the greatest evil; he hath discovered my inability to help myself, discovered to me my heart-pollutions, the insufficiency of duties; wearied and loaded me with my heart and ways, so as I utterly despaired of myself and ways, only hoping in the Lord secretly: and now, while undone, and acknowledging the Lord's righteousness, I have by many wonderful providences, great and continued pains, been made with much ado, and over the belly of all objections, to come to Christ, and to believe on him for upmaking all my wants, especially the want of himself; and have received his promise upon this, which hath satisfied me, and given rest to my wearied soul; so that now I find his word my abiding security, and the Lord my light, strength, consolation, and glory. And being thus made by an omnipotent power to come to himself by the warrant and on the authority of his word, and that for all things, I do expect he will not cast me off, nor cast off the work of his hands; but, being called, will likewise be "justified and glorified," John vi. 37; Rom. viii. 30.

9thly, I find a real, inward, universal, and abiding change from darkness to light, from sin and Satan to God and his ways, wrought by a great power; and can remember how, and by what means, and when it was wrought, and how the Lord daily perfects it. By which change I am differenced from the rest of the world, and from what I was myself before conversion, and from all hypocrites in the world; by which change, and that "all things arc new," I gather I am in Christ, 2 Cor. v. 17; Eph. iv. 22, 23, 24.

lOthly, Because, comparing myself, exercises of spirit, properties,

« PreviousContinue »