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what a stir do they make before they will submit; even more sometimes than a drunkard or a swearer; so small is their repentance and detestation of their sin; whereby they shew that their zeal for discipline and reformation, is much out of pride, that others may be brought to stoop, or be cast out from them; and not out of a sincere desire to have the refining and humbling benefit of it themselves.
And if any among them be either faulty or reported so to be, who is forwarder than many professors of godliness, to backbite them, and speak of their faults when they cannot hear, nor answer for themselves, nor receive any benefit by it; and if another that hates backbiting, do but reprove them, they will slander him also for a defender of men's sin! But when they should go in Christ's way, and tell men of their faults, and draw them to repentance, and if they hear not, take two or three, and speak to them again, how hardly can you draw them to the performance of this duty, what shifts and frivolous excuses have they then! Nay, they will reproach the church or minister for not casting such out, or not keeping them from communion, before they have done, or will be persuaded to do these duties that must go before.
Alas, how little hearty love is there to Christ in his members, even in them that are confident they love the brethren! How few will do or suffer much for them, or relieve them in their want, as suffering with them! How small a matter, a word, a seeming wrong or disrespect, will turn their love into estrangedness or bitterness; if they be tried by an ill word, or a wrong, how touchy, and froward, and impatient do they appear; and it is well if they prove not downright malicious, or return not reviling for reviling.
Alas, how much pride prevaileth with many that seem to go far in the way of piety! How wise are they in their own conceits! How able to judge of controversies, and how much wiser than their teachers, before they can give a good account of the catechism or fundamental truths! How well do they think of themselves and their own parts and performances; how ill do they bear disesteem or undervaluing; and they must needs be noted for somebody in the world!
How worldly, and closehanded, and eager of gain, are many that say they despise the world, and take it for their enemy; if any duty be cross to their profit or credit with men, how obstinate are they against it; and such interest
hath the flesh in them, that they will hardly believe that it is their duty.
How censorious are they of others, especially that differ from them in lesser things; and how unapt to judge themselves. O how few are the Christians that are eminent in humility, meekness, and self-denial; that are content to be accounted nothing, so that Christ may be all, and his honour may be secured; that live as men devoted to God, and honour him with their substance, and freely expend, yea, study for advantages, to improve all their riches and interest to his service. How few are they that live as in heaven upon earth, with the world under their feet, and their hearts above with God their happiness; that feel themselves to live in the workings and warmth of love to God, and make him their delight, and are content with his approbation whoever disapproveth them; that are still groaning, or reaching and seeking after him, and long to be with him, to be rid of sin, and see his blessed face, and live in his perfect love and praises; that love and long for the appearance of Jesus Christ, and can heartily say, "Come Lord Jesus, come quickly." How few are they that stand in a day of trial; if they are tried but with a foul word; if tried but with any thing that toucheth their commodity; if tried but with the emptiest reasonings of deceivers; much more if they be tried with the honours and greatness of the world, how few of them stand in trial, and do not fail and forget themselves, as if they were not the men that they seemed to be before! What then would they prove if they were tried by the flames ?
Mistake me not in all this sad complaint; as I intend not the dishonour of godliness by this, but of ungodliness, (for it is not because men are godly that they have these faults, but because they are not godly more.) So here is no encouragement to the unsanctified to think themselves as good as the more religious, because they are charged with so many faults. Nor do I affirm all these things to be consistent with true grace that I have here expressed; but only this, that professors that seem godly to others, are thus too many of them guilty; and those that have true grace may have any of these faults in a mortified degree, though not in a reigning, predominant measure.
But methinks sirs, you should by this time be convinced
and sensible, how much we dishonour God by our infirmities; and what a lamentable case it is that the church should consist of so many infants; and so many should be so little serviceable to God or the common good, but rather be troublers of all about them. Alas, that we should reach no higher, that yet no greater things should be attained! O what an honour would you be to your profession, and what a blessing to the church, if you did but answer the cost and pains of God and man, and answer the high things that you have been acquainted with and profess. O that we could but boast of you as God did of Job, and could say to satan or any of his instruments, 'Here be Christians rooted and stablished in the faith; try whether you can shake them or make them stagger, and do your worst. Here is a man eminent in meekness, and humility, and patience, and selfdenial; discompose and disturb his mind if you can; draw him to pride, or immoderate passion, or censoriousness, or uncharitableness if you can. Here are a people that are in unity, and knit together in faith and love; of one heart, and one soul, and one lip; do your worst to divide them, or break them into parties, or draw them into several minds and ways, or exasperate them against each other. Here are a people established in mortification, and that have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts; do your worst to draw them to intemperance in eating, or drinking, or recreations, or any of the delights of the flesh; or to puff them up by greatness or prosperity, and make them forget themselves or God. Try them with riches, or beauty, or vain-glory, or other sensual delights, and see whether they will turn aside, and be ever the less in communion with God, and enticed to forget the joy that is set before them, or will not rather despise your baits, and run away from alluring objects as their greatest dangers. Daunt them if you can by threatenings; try them by persecution, by fire and sword, and see whether they are not past your shaking, even rooted, confirmed, and built up in Christ.'
O what a glory would you be to your profession, if you could attain to this degree; could we but truly thus boast of you, we might say our people are Christians of the right strain. But when we must come about you like men in a swoon, and can hardly perceive whether you are alive or dead, and can scarce discern whether you have any grace or
none, what a grief is this to our hearts; what a perplexity to us in our administrations, not knowing whether comfort or terror be your due: and what a languishing, uncomfortable life is this to yourselves, in comparison of what you might attain to!
Rouse up yourselves, Christians, and look after higher and greater things; and think it not enough that you are barely alive. It is an exceeding righteousness that you must have if you will be saved, even exceeding all that the unsanctified do attain; for, "Except your righteousness exceed even the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven;" Matt. v. 20. But it is yet a more exceeding righteousness, that you must have if you will be confirmed, built up and abound, and would honour your profession, and cheerfully, successfully, and constantly go on in the journey, the race, the warfare that you have begun: you must then exceed yourselves, and exceed all the feeble, unstable, wavering, infant Christians that are about you: and to persuade you yet further to look after this, I shall here annex a few Motives more.
1. Consider Christian, that it is a God of exceeding, infinite greatness and goodness that thou hast to do with, and therefore it is not small and low matters that are suitable to his service. O if thou hadst but a glimpse of his glory, thou wouldst say that it is not common things that are meet for such a dreadful majesty. Hadst thou but a fuller taste of his goodness, thy heart would say, this pittance of love and service is unworthy of him. You will not offer the basest things to a king, much less to the highest King of kings. 66 If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now to thy governor; will he be pleased with thee or accept thy person, saith the Lord of hosts?" Mal.i. 8. "But ye have profaned it (his great name) in that ye say, the table of the Lord is polluted, and the fruit thereof, his meat is contemptible: ye have said also, what a weariness is it, and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts, and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame and the sick; thus ye brought an offering. Should I accept this at your hand saith the Lord? But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth to the Lord a corrupt thing; for, I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is
dreadful among the heathen;" verse 12-14. If you better knew the majesty of God, you would know that the best is too little for him, and trifling is not tolerable in his service. When Nadab and Abihu ventured with false fire to his altar, and he smote them dead, he silenced Aaron with this reason of his judgment, "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people will I be glorified;" Lev. x.1—3. That is, 'I will have nothing common offered to me, but be served with my own holy, peculiar service.' When the Bethshemites were smitten dead, fifty thousand threescore and ten men of them, they found that God would not be dallied with, and cried out, "Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?" 1 Sam. vi. 20.
2. Consider also, it was an exceeding great price that was paid for your redemption; for "you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers, but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ;" 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. It was an exceeding great love that was manifested by God. the Father, and by Christ in his work of redemption; such as even poseth angels and men to study it and comprehend it; 1 Pet.i. 12. Eph. iii. 18, 19. And should all this be answered but with trifling from you? Should such a matchless miracle of love be answered with no greater love? Especially when you were purposely "redeemed from all iniquity, that you might be sanctified to Christ a peculiar people, zealous of good works;" Tit. ii. 14. It being therefore so great a price that you are bought with, remember that you are none of your own, but must glorify him that bought you, in body and spirit; 1 Cor. vi. 20.
3. Consider also, that it is not a small, but an exceeding glory, that is promised you in the Gospel, and which you live in hope to possess for ever; and therefore it should be an exceeding love that you should have to it, and an exceeding care that you should have of it. Make light of heaven, and make light of all. Truly it is an unsuitable, unreasonable thing, to have one low thought, or one careless word, or one cold prayer or other performance, about such a matter as eternal glory. Shall such a thing as heaven be coldly or carelessly minded and sought after? Shall the endless fruition of God in glory, be looked at with sleepy, heartless wishes? I tell you sirs, if you will bave such high