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hould be deceived? What if Jefus Chrift do not love me with a fpecial love? O thefe fears and fufpicions are intolerable torments to her; he cannot bear them: they are cruel as the grave; infufferable as coals of fire, which have a most vehe ment flame; q. d. Lord, if thou leave me in the midst of thefe jealoufies of thy love, I fhall be but a torment to myfelf; I fhall live as one upon the rack, or in the flames. Hence the note is,
Doct. That there is nothing in this world, which true Chrifti
ans more earnestly defire, than to be well affured and fatisfied of the love of Jefus Chrift to their fouls.
In the meditation of this point, two things must be enquired into:
1. Why this affurance is fo defirable.
1. Why the affurance of the love of Chrift is fo defirable in the eyes of true Christians. And among others, there are two things that especially make it fo; viz.
1. The fweetnefs of its enjoyment.
The sweetness of its enjoyment, which is inexpreffible, and
2. The reft and eafe of the heart.
3. The pleasure of life.
4. A cordial at death.
5. A fweet fupport in all troubles.
1. It is the very riches of faith, the moft plealant fruit which grows upon the top branches of faith. The fcripture tells us of an affurance of understanding, hope, and faith. All thefe graces are precious in themselves; but the affurance of each of them is the most fweet and pleafant part. Knowledge, above knowledge, is the full affurance of knowledge: hope above hope, is the full affurance of hope: and faith above faith, is the full affurance of faith. The leaft and loweft act of faving faith is precious, and above all value; what then must the highest and most excellent acts of faith be? Certainly, there is a sweetness in the affurance of faith, that few men have the privilege to tafte; and they that do, can find no words able to exprefs it to another's understanding. The weakest Christian is exalted above all other men; but the affured Chriftian hath a preference before all other Chriftians.
2. It is heart's case; the very Sabbath and sweet repofe of
the foul. Thousands of poor Chriftians would part with all they poffefs in this world, to enjoy it: but it flies from them. The life that most of them live, is a life betwixt hopes and fears; their interest in Chrift is very doubtful to them. times they are encouraged, from fenfible workings of grace; then all is dafhed again, by the contrary stirrings and workings of their own corruptions. Now the fun fhines out clear, by and by the heavens are overcast and clouded again: but the affured Chriftian is at reft, from thofe tormenting fears and jealoufies which my text fpeaks of, that are as cruel as the grave, and as infufferable as coals of fire in a man's bofom. He can take Chrift into the arms of faith, and fay,: "My beloved " is mine, and I am his. Return to thy rest, O my foul, for "the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee!"
3. It is the pleasure of life; yea, the most rational, pure, and tranfporting pleasure. What is life without pleasure ? And what pleafure is there in the world, comparable to this pleafure? For let the fealed and affured believer confider, and compare; and he muft needs find a joy and pleasure, beyond the joy of the whole earth. If he confider well what he is affured of, it is no common mercy, but Christ himself, and his love; a mercy incomprehenfible by men or angels; Eph. i 19. Put Chrift into the fenfible poffeffion of a believer, and joy is no more under his command for that time: he cannot forbear to rejoice; and efpecially when his thoughts are exerciled in comparing ftates and conditions; either his own with others mens, or his own now, with what it was, and what it fhall be. To think with thyself thus, I am affured of Chrift, and his love; my intereft in him is fealed; but this is a mercy few enjoy befides me. There be millions of fouls of equal value with mine by nature, that shall never enjoy fuch a mercy as this. Yea, the time was, when I myself was far from it, in my unregenerate ftate. Lord, how is it I had not then been fealed to damnation? O, it is well with me for the present, that I can call Chrift my own; and yet it will be better and better : my condition will mend every day. I am now in Chrift; and it is but a little while, before I fhall be with Chrift. and arrive at the full fatisfaction of my, very heart. O, what pleasure doth every glance, backward or forward, give to the fealed foul.
4. It is a cordial in death; and there is none like it. This will make the foul triumph over the grave, take death chearfully by the cold hand, welcome its grim meffengers, and long to be gone, and be with Chrift. Dark and doubting Chriftians may indeed fhrink back from it, and be afraid of the exchange;
but the affured foul longs to be gone, and needs patience to five, as other men do to die. When one was asked, if he were willing to die? his anfwer was, Illius eft nolle mori, qui nolit ire ad Chriftum; Let him be loth to die, that is loth to go to Christ : The fugar of affurance fweetens the bitter cup of death, and makes it delectable to a believer's relish.
5. In a word, it is a fweet fupport, in all the troubles and afflictions on this fide the grave. Let the affured foul be caft into what condition the Lord pleases; be it upon a bed of ficknefs; yet this gives his foul fuch fupport and comfort, that he fhall not fay, I am fick. Sin being forgiven, the foul is well, when the body is in pain, Ifa. xxxiii. 24. Let him be caft into a prifon, here is that which will turn a prifon into a paradife, Acts v. 41. Let him be pinched with outward want; this will fupply all: "As having nothing, and yet poffeffing all things," 2 Cor. vi. 10. Thus you fee how defirable it is for its own excellency.
2. And as it is defirable for the fweetnefs of its own enjoyment, fo alfo from the difficulty of its attainment. All excellencies are locked up under many difficulties; but none like this. It is indeed eafy to prefume an intereft in Christ, and cheat a man's own foul with a dream and fancy of our own creation; but it is hard, to get a fealed, clear title to Christ and his benefits. And there be, among others, three things that make it difficult.
(1.) The corruptions that remain, and daily work in the beft hearts; thefe are evermore puzzling and fcaring the poor foul, with fears and doubts about its condition. Grace teacheth men due severity to themselves; and fear of their own deceitfulness, makes them think no hearts are like their hearts; efpecially whilft they compare other mens outfide with their own infide, as generally they do. Oh, how do our own corruptions every moment raife mifts and clouds, that it is a wonder we ever fhould have one clear beam of afsurance thining into fuch hearts, as our hearts are !
(2.) The multitudes of miflakes and cheats, that are frequently committed, and found in this matter, makes upright hearts the more fufpicious and doubtful of their own condition. O when they read Matth. vii. 22. that many will fay to Chrift in that day, Lord, we have prophefied in thy name, &c. it fcares them, left they alfo be deceived.
(3.) The grand importance of the matter, makes poor fouls. fearful of concluding certainly about it. O when a man con
fiders, that the whole weight of his eternal happiness or mifery, depends upon the refolution of these questions, Am I in Chrift or am I not? it will make him tremble to determine. In a word, affurance is not in our power, or at our command. There be many holy, humble, diligent, and longing fouls, to whom it is denied: it is arbitrarily difpenfed by the pleasure of the Spirit, to whom he will; and fuch favours are rare, even among true believers; the more therefore it is to be valued and defired by all, as the spouse doth in this place. And so much to the first thing; Upon what account the affurance of Chrift's love is fo defirable in the eyes of Christians.
2. In the laft place, let us confider, how this mercy, which is fo defirable, may be obtained: And this is our proper work and bufinefs at this time.
You are now come to a fealing ordinance, inftitated on pur pofe for this noble end and ufe. O that we would pray and plead for it, as the spouse here doth! Set me as a feal upon "thine heart, as a feal upon thine arm: for love is strong as "death; jealoufy is cruel as the grave," &c. Now, in order to the attainment of this moft defirable mercy, take a few neceffary hints of your prefent work and duty, in the following directions.
Direction I Would you be well fecured of Chrift's love to you, and that you are fet as a feal upon his heart? Then exercife and manifeft more love to Chrift, and let him be much up. on your hearts. If it be clear to you, that you have true love to Jefus Chrift, you need not at all to doubt, but you are in his heart, and in his love: I love them that love me, Prov. viii,' 17. And furely you have now before you the greatest motive in the world, to infame your love to Jefus Chrift. Behold him as he is here reprefented to you, wounded for your iniquities; yea, facrificed to the wrath of God, for your peace, pardon, and falvation ! "O what manner of love is this! Behold "how he loved thee!" If Chrift's love draw forth thine, it will fo far clear thy intereft in his love, as it fhall engage thy heart in love to him.
Direction II. But feeing the activity of your love will be ac cording to the activity of your faith; therefore, in the next place, I advise you to make it the main work and business of this hour, to exercise your faith upon Jefus Chrift. Set yourselves this day to believe: The more ftrong the direct acts of your faith fhall be, the more clear and comfortable its reflex acts are like to be.
There are three diftinct offices, or employments for your faith, at this table, viz.
7. To realize.
2. To apply.
3. To infer, from the fufferings of Jefus Chrift.
1. To realize the fufferings of Chrift for you, and behold them here reprefented in a true glafs to the eye of faith. See you that bread broken, and that wine poured out? As fure as this is fo, Jefus Chrift endured the crofs, fuffered the wrath of the great and terrible God, in his foul, and in his body, upon the curfed tree, for, and in the room of poor condemned finpers. Your faith for the one hath as much, yea, more certainty, than your fenfe hath for the other. "This is a faithful
faying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jefus Christ came "into the world to fave finners," 1 Tim. i. 15. "And with"out controverfy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was "manifested in the flesh," &c. 1 Tim. iii. 16.
2. Apply the fufferings of Chrift this day to thine own soul : Believe all this to be done and fuffered in thy room, and for thy fake. He offered not this facrifice for his own fins, but ours Ifa. liii. 9. Heb. vii. 27. He was incarnate for you, Ifa. ix. 6. "For us a child is born; to us a fon is given." His death was for you, and in your thead, Gal. iii. 13. "He was made a curle "for us ;" and when he arose from the dead, "he rofe for our "juftification," Rom. iv. 25. And now he is in glory, at the right-hand of God, he is there for us, Heb. vii. 25. "He ever
lives, to make interceffion for us." It was the pride, paffion, earthlinefs, and unbelief of thy heart, which Jefus Chrift groaned, bled, and died, to procure a pardon for.
3. Infer from the fufferings of Chrift, thofe conclufions of faith that tend to affurance. As thus: Did Christ die for me, when I was an enemy? Then furely, being reconciled, I shall be faved by his life, Rom. v. 10. Again; Is Chrift dead for me Then I shall never die eternally. Nothing fhalleparate me "from the love of God; it is Chrift that died," Rom. viii. 34.
Direction III. Mourn over all thofe fins, that cause the Lord to hide his face from your fouls. Have you grieved the Spirit by your fins? O be grieved for it this day at your very hearts; cover the table of the Lord with tears: "Look upon him whom you have pierced, and mourn as for an only fon." Though there be no merit, yet there is much mercy in a broken heart for fia; and there is no fuch advantage to get your hearts broken, as this is, which is now before you. When the fhower of repentance is fallen, the heavens over thee may be clear, and he fun shine out in its brightnels upon thy foul.
Direction IV. In a word; pour out thy foul to God, in hearty