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mouths have not some relation to Christ, suspect it, yea, reject it. Call it not a sermon or a prayer, nor a duty, that hath nothing of Christ in it. Though the pure Godhead be your principal end, yet there is no way to this end but by Christ; and though love, which is exercised on that end, must animate all your graces and duties, as they are means to that end, yet faith hath love in it, or else it is not the Christian faith; and Christ is the object of your faith and love; and your perfect, everlasting love will be animated by Christ. For your love and praise will be to him that was slain, and redeemed us to God by his blood, out of every kindred, tongue, and nation, and made us kings and priests to God. So much for the fifth Direction.
Direct. VI. The next direction which I would give you for a thorough conversion, is this: See that the flesh be thoroughly mortified, and your hearts be thoroughly taken off the world, and all its pleasures, and profits, and honours, and that the root of your fleshly interest prevail not at the heart, and that you think not of reconciling God and the world, as if you might secure your interest in both.'
This is a very common cause of the deceit and destruction of such as verily think they are converted. It is the very nature and business of true conversion, to turn men's hearts from the flesh, and from the world to God, and from an earthly and seeming happiness, to a heavenly, real, everlasting happiness. And when men are affrighted into some kind of religiousness, and yet never learnt to deny themselves, and never mortified their fleshly mind, but the love of this world is still the chiefest principle at their hearts; and so go on in profession of godliness, with a secret reserve that they will look as well as they can to their outward prosperity, whatever become of their religion; and they will have no more to do with the matters of another world, than may stand with their bodily safety in this world; these are the miserable, deluded hypocrites, whose hopes will prove as the giving up of the ghost; whom Christ will disown in their greatest extremities, after all their seeming religiousness. O sirs, look to this as ever you would be happy. It is an easy, it is a common, it is a most dangerous thing, to set upon a course of outward piety, and yet keep the world. next your hearts, and take it still as a great part of your felicity, and secretly to love your former lusts, while you seem
to be converted. The heart is so deceitful, that you have great cause to watch it narrowly in this point: it will closely cherish the love of the world, and your fleshly pleasures, when it seems to renounce them, and when your tongue can speak contemptuously of them. It was not for nothing Christ would have the firstfruits of his Gospel church, (who were to be the example of their successors,) to sell all, and lay it down at the feet of his apostles and it is his standing rule, that whoever he be that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be his disciple; Luke xiv. 33. In estimation, affection, and resolution, it must be forsaken by all that will be saved; and also in practice, whenever God calls us to it. You can have but one happiness; if you will needs have it in this world, in the contenting of your flesh, there is no hope of having it also in another world, in the fruition of God. If you think not God and heaven enough for you, and cannot let go the prosperity of the flesh for them, you must let go all your hopes of them. God will not halve it with the world in your hearts, nor part stakes with the flesh; much less will he be below them, and take their leavings. Heaven will not be theirs, that set not by it more than earth. God will not call that love to him sincere, which is not a superlative love, and able to make you even to hate all those things that would draw away your affections and obedience from him; Luke xiv. 26, 27. There is no talk of serving God and mammon, and compounding you a happiness of earth and heaven. Do therefore as Christ bids you, Luke xiv. 28-30.
Sit down and count what it must cost you, if you will be saved, and on what rates it is that you must follow Christ. Can you voluntarily, for the love of him, and the hope of glory take up your cross, and follow him in poverty, in losses, in reproaches, through scorns, and scourgings, and prisons, and death? Do you value his loving-kindness better than life? Psal. lxiii. 3. Can you deny your eyes and appetites their desire? Can you consent to be vile in the eyes of men, and to tame your own flesh, and keep it in subjection, and live a flesh-displeasing life, that having suffered with Christ, you may also be glorified with him? Rom. viii. 17. If you cannot consent to these terms, you cannot be Christians, and you cannot be saved. If you must needs
be rich, or must be honourable, yea, if you must needs save your estates, or liberties, or lives, it is past all question, you must needs let go Christ and glory; if you must needs have the world, you must needs lose your souls. If you must have your good things here, you must not have them hereafter too, but be tormented, when Christ's sufferers are comforted; Luke xvi. 25. These hopes of purveying for the flesh, as long as they can, and then of being saved, when they can stay here no longer, are they that have deceived many a thousand to their undoing. It is a strange thing to see how the world doth blind very knowing men, and how unacquainted these hypocrites are with their own hearts. What a confident profession of downright godliness many of them will make; yea, of some extraordinary height in religion, when nothing is so dear to them as their present prosperity, and God hath not near so much interest in them as the flesh? What contrivances some of them make for riches, or rising in the world? And how tender others are of their honour with men ; and how tenacious they are of their mammon of unrighteousness; and how much money and great men can do with them. And most of them pamper their flesh, and serve it in a cleanlier way of religiousness, even as much, though not so disgracefully and grossly as drunkards and whoremongers do in a more discernible sensuality. If the times do but change and countenance any error, how small an argument will make their judgments bend with the times. If truth and duty must cost them dear, O how they will shift, and stretch, and wriggle, to prove truth to be no truth, and duty to be no duty; and no argument is strong enough to satisfy them, when the flesh doth but say, 'It is bitter, it is dangerous, it may be my undoing.'
It is none of my meaning, that any should needlessly run into suffering,or cross their governors and themselves, through a spirit of pride, singularity, and contradiction; but that men should think themselves truly religious, that keep such reserves for their fleshly interest, and shew by the very drift of their lives, that they are worldlings, and never felt what it was to be crucified to the world, and deny themselves, but are religious on this supposition only, that it may stand with worldly ends, or at least not undo them in the world; this is a lamentable hypocritical self-deceit. When God hath so plainly said, "Love not the world, nor the things that are in the
world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him;" 1 John ii. 15. Nay, that the neighbourhood, and all the country that know them should ring of the worldliness of some, that think themselves good Christians; and yet they will not see themselves. What a cheating, blinding thing is the world!
Well, sirs, if you will be Christians, count what it must cost you; and if you will be heirs of heaven, away with the world; cast it out of your hearts: and if your hands must yet trade in it, yet trade not for it; use it for God, but enjoy it not for itself. Take yourselves as strangers here; and look on the world as a desolate wilderness, through which, in the communion of the militant saints, you may safely travel on to heaven; but do not make it your home, nor take it for the smallest part of your felicity. To be sanctified without mortification, is a palpable contradiction. Be at a point with all things below, if you will groundedly hope for the heavenly inheritance. But I shall purposely forbear to enlarge this any further, because I have preached and written a treatise on this subject, which I desire you to peruse.
Direct. VII. My next Direction is this: If you would be truly converted, be sure that you make an absolute resignation of yourselves, and all that you have to God.'
This is the very form and life of sanctification. To be sanctified, is to be separated in heart, life, and profession, from all other masters and ends, to God. When the heart that was set upon the world and flesh, is separated from them, and inclined to God by the power of love, and devoted to him, to serve and please him; this is indeed a sanctified heart. And when the life that before was spent in the service of satan, the world, and the flesh, is now taken off them, and spent, as to the drift and course of it, in the service of God, for the pleasing and glorifying of him, from the impulse of love, this is indeed a holy life. And herein consisteth the very nature of our sanctity. And when a man doth but profess to renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and to give up his heart and life unto God, this is a profession of holiness. God is both on the title of creation preservation, and redemption, our absolute Lord or Owner, and we are not our own, but his; and therefore we must give to God the things that are God's, and glorify him in our souls and bodies, which are his; 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. As we
are his own, so he will have his own, and be served by his own. Do not imagine that you have any title to yourselves, or propriety in yourselves; but without any more ado, make a full, unreserved, absolute resignation of yourselves, of your understandings, and of your wills, of your bodies, and of your names, and of every pennyworth of your estates, to God, for whom and from whom you have them. Think not that you have power to dispose of yourselves, or of any thing that you have. Ask not flesh and blood, what life you shall lead, or what mind or will, you shall be of? But ask God, to whom you do belong. Ask not your carnal selves, what you shall do with any of your estates, but ask God, and then ask conscience, Which is the way that God would have me use it in, that is, which way may I use it to be most serviceable to God? and that resolve upon. No service that you do to God will prove you sanctified, unless you have heartily and absolutely given up and devoted yourselves to him; and he that gives up himself, must needs give up all that he hath with himself. For he cannot keep it for himself (ultimately), when even himself is given up to God. Though you be not bound to give all that you have to the poor, nor all to the church, nor to deny your own bodies or families their due supplies, yet must it all be given up to God, even that which you make use of for yourselves and families: for as you are given up to God yourselves, so you must feed yourselves as his, and clothe yourselves and your families as his, to fit yourselves and them for his service, and not as your own, for the satisfying of your flesh. Thus it is that all comes to be pure to the pure, sanctified to them that are themselves first sanctified; because when you feed yourself, you do but feed a servant of God, that is consecrated to him, and separated from things common and unclean. And even as the tithes and offerings, that were given for the food and maintenance of the priests and Levites, were called the Lord's portion, and holy to the Lord, because they were their portion, that were separated to his altar; even so that which is necessary to fit you for God's service, while you use it to that very end, is sanctified in your sanctification, and is holy to God; for all his saints are a holy nation, a royal priesthood, to offer up acceptable sacrifice to him. And thus, "whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, you must do all to the glory of God;" 1 Cor. x. 31. “For of him,