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stitution of human nature, is the superior part. As God looks at the obedience and practice of the man, he looks at the practice of the soul; for the soul is the man in God's sight, For the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for he looketh on the heart.
And thus it is, that obedience, good works, and good fruit, are to be taken, when given in scripture as a sure evidence to our own consciences of a true principle of grace; even as including the obedience and practice of the soul, as preceding and governing the actions of the body. When prac. tice is given in scripture as the main evidence of our true Christianity to others, then is meant that in our practice which is visible to them, even our outward actions : but when practice is given as a sure evidence of our real Chrirtianity to our own consciences, then is meant that in our practice which is visible to our own consciences; which is not only the motion of our bodies, but the exertion and exercise of the soul, which directs and commands that motion; which is more directly and immediately under the view of our own consciences, than the act of the body. And that this is the intent of scripture, not only does the nature and reason of the thing shew, but it is plain by the scripture itself. Thus it is evident that when Christ at the conclusion of his sermon on the mount, speaks of doing or practising those sayings of his, as the grand sign of professors being true disciples; without which he likens them to a man that built his house upon the sand; and with which, to a man that built his house upon a rock; he has respect, not only to the outward behaviour, but to the inward exercise of the mind in that behaviour. This is evident by observing what those preceding sayings of his are; Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are they that mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the pure in heurt; whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, &c.; whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, &c.; love your enemies; take no thought for your life, and others of the like nature, which im. ply inward exercises: and when Christ says, John xiv. 21. He ihat hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; he has evidently a special respect to that command several times 'repeated in the same discourse, (which he calls, by way of eminence, his commandment), that they should love one another, as he had loved them. (See chap. xiii. 34, 35, and chap. xv. 10, 12, 13, 14.) But this command respects chiefly an exercise of the inind or heart, though exerted in practice. So when the apostle John says, 1 John ii. 3. Hereby wé de know that we know him, if we keep his commandments; he has plainly a principal respect to the same command, as appears by what follows, ver. 7.-11. and 2d Epist. ver. 5, 6.: and when we are told in scripture that men shall at the last day be judged according to their works, and all shall receive according to the things done in the body; it is not to be understood only of outward acts; for if so, why is God so often spoken of as searching the hearts and trying the reins, that he may render to every one according to his works? as Rev. ii. 23. And all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts : and I will give unto every one according to his works. Jer. xvii. 9, 10. I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. But if by his ways, and the fruit of his doings, is meant only the actions of his body, what need of searching the heart and reins, in order to know them? Hezekiah in his sickness pleads bis practice as an evidence of his title to God's favour, as including not only his outward actions, but what was in his heart, Is. xxxviii. 3. Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart.
Though in this great evidence of sincerity that the scripture gives us, what is inward is of greatest importance; yet what is outward is included and intended, as connected with the practical exertion of grace in the will, directing and commanding the actions of the body. And hereby are effectually cut off all pretensions that any man can have to evidences of godliness, who externally lives wickedly; because the great evidence lies in that inward exercise and practice of the soul, which consists in the act of the will, commanding outward acts. But it is known, that these commanding acts of the will are not one way, and the actions of the bodily organs another: for the unalterable law of nature is, that they should be united, as long as soul and body are united, and the organs are not so destroyed as to be incapable of those motions that the soul commands. Thus it would be ridiculous for a man to plead, that the commanding act of his will was to go to the public worship, while his feet carry bim to a tavern or brothel-bouse; ar that the commanding act of his will was to give such a piece of money he had in his hand to a poor beggar, while his band at the same instant kept it back, and beld it fast.
Secondly, I proceed to shew, that Christian practice, taken in the sense explained, is the chief of all the evidences of a saving sincerity in religion, to the consciences of the professors of it; much to be preferred to the method of the first convic
tions, enlightenings, and comforts in conversion; or any immanent discoveries or exercises of grace whatsoever, that begin and end in contemplation *. The evidence of this appears by by the following arguments.
Argument I. Reason plainly shews, that those things which put it to the proof, what men will actually cleave to in their practice, when left to follow their own choice and inclinations, are the proper trial what they do really prefer in their hearts. Sincerity in religion, as observed already, consists in setting God highest in the heart, in chusing him before other things, in having a heart to sell all for Christ, &c.-But a man's actions are the proper trial what a man's heart prefers. As for instance, when God and other things come to stand in competition, God is as it were set before a man on one hand, and his worldly interest or pleasure on the other; his behaviour in such case, in actually cleaving to the one and forsaking the other, is the proper trial which he prefers. Sincerity consists in forsaking all for Christ in heart; but to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the very same thing as to have a heart to forsake all for Christ. The proper trial whether a man has a heart to forsake all for Christ, is his being actually put to it, Christ and other things coming in competition, that he must practically cleave to one and forsake the other. To forsake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a heart to forsake all for Christ when called to it: but the highest proof to ourselves and others, that we have a heart to forsake all for Christ when called to it, is actually doing it when or so far as called to it. To follow Christ in heart, is to have a heart to follow him. To deny ourselves in heart for Christ, is the same thing as to have a heart to deny ourselves for him in fact. The main and most proper proof of a man having a heart to any thing, concerning which he is at liberty to follow his own inclinations, is his doing it. When a man is at liberty whether to speak or keep silence, the most proper evidence of his having a heart to speak, is bis speaking. When a man is at liberty whether to walk or sit still, the proper proof of his having a heart to walk, is bis walking. Godliness consists not in a heart to intend to do the will of God, but in a heart to do it. The children of Israel in the wilderness had the former, of whom we read, Deut. v. 27-29. Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unta thee, and we will hear it, and do it. And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an Heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! The people manifested that they had a heart to INTEND to keep God's commandments, and to be very forward in those intentions; but God manifests, that this was far from being the thing he desired, wherein true godliness consists, even an heart actually to keep them.
* “ Look upon John, Christ's beloved disciple and bosom companion ; he had received the anointing to know him that is true, and he knew that he knew him, 1 Jobn ii. 3. But how did he know that? He might be deceived; (as it is strange to see what a melancholy fancy will do, and the effects of it; as honest men are reputed to have weak brains, and never saw the depths of the secrets of God); what is his last proof? Because we keep his commandments. SHEPARD's Parable, Part I. p. 131.
“A man may know his present union to the Lord Jesus, by a work; 1 Joho ji. 4. He thar sarth I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar.—Yes, that is true negatively; but may a man, ought a man, to see or know his union positively by this? Ans. ver. 5. Many said they did know and love the Lord, but he that keeps his words.- they are swee! It is heaven to cleave to him in every command; it is death to depart from any command: hereby know we that we are in him. If it were possible to ask of angels, how they know ther are not devils, they would answer, the Lord's will is ours." SHEPARD's Parable, Part I. p. 134.
“ If the question be, Whom doth the Lord Jesus love? you need not go to heaven for it, the word is nigh thee, Those that love Christ. Who are those ? Those lhal keep his commandmcals." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 138.
“ Will you have Christ sit in heaven, and not look that he subdue your lusts by the work of his grace, and so sway your hearts? You despise his kingdom theo. Do you seek for pardon in the blood of Christ, and never look for the virtue and end of that blood to wash you and make you without spot, 8c. ? You despise bis priesthood and blood then. Do you look for Christ to do work for you, and you not do Christ's work, and bring forth fruit to him? You despise his honour then, Juho xv. 8. If I were co discover a hypocrite, or a false heart, this I would say, le is he that sball set up Christ, but luath his work." SHEPARD's Parable, Part I. p. 140.
It is therefore exceedingly absurd, and even ridiculous, for any to pretend that they have a good heart, while they live a wicked life, or do not bring forth the fruit of universal holiness in their practice. For it is proved in fact, that such men do not love God above all. It is foolish to dispute against plain fact and experience. Men that live in ways of sin, and yet flatter themselves that they shall go to heaven, or expect to be received hereafter as holy persons, without a holy life and practice, act as though they expected to make a fool of their Judge. Which is implied in what the apostle says, Gal. vi. 7. Be not deceived; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man sowoeth, that shall he also reap. As much as to say, “Do not deceive yourselves with an expectation of reaping life everlasting hereafter, if you sow not to the Spirit here; it is in vain to
think that God will be made a fool of by you, that he will be
a imposed upon with sbadows instead of substance, and with vain pretences, instead of that good fruit which he expects; when the contrary to wbat you pretend appears plainly in your life, before his face.” In this manner the word mock is sometimes used in scripture. Thus Delilah says to Sampson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies, Judges xvi. 10, 13. i. e. “ Thou hast baffled me, intending to make a fool of me, as if I might be easily turned off with any vain pretence, instead of the truth.” So it is said that Lot, when he told his sons in law that God would destroy that place, he seemed as one that mocked to his sons-in-law, Gen. xix. 14. i. e. he seemed as one that would make a game of them, as though they were credulous fools. But the great Judge, whose eyes are as a fame of fire, will not be mocked or baffled with any pretences, without a holy life. If in his name men bave prophesied and wrought miracles, and have had faith so that they could remove moun. tains, and cast out devils, and however high their religious affections have been, however great resemblances they have bad of grace, and though their hiding place has been so dark and deep, that no human skill nor search could find them out; yet if they are workers or practisers of iniquity, they cannot hide their hypocrisy from their Judge; Job. xxxiv. 22. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the WORKERS OF INIQUITY may hide themselves. Would a wise prince suffer himself to be mocked by a subject, who should pretend that he was loyal, and should tell his prince that he had an entire affection for him, and that at such and such a time he had experience of it, and felt his affections strongly working towards him, and should come expecting to be accepted and rewarded by his prince, as one of his best friends on that account, though he lived in rebellion against him, following some pretender to his crown, and from time to time stirring up sedition against him? Or, would a master suffer himself to be shammed and gulled by a servant, that should pretend to great experiences of love and honour towards him in his heart, and a great sense of his worthiness and kindness, when at the same time he refused to obey and serve him?
Argument II. As reason shews, that those things which occur in the course of life, which put it to the proof whether men will prefer God to other things in practice, are the proper trial of the sincerity of their hearts ; so the same are represented as the proper trial of the sincerity of professors, in the scripture. There we find that such things are called by that