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This holy word, both law and promise, is written in your hearts, and put into your inner parts by the same Spirit; 2 Cor. iii. 3. Heb. viii. 10. x. 16. So that as God hath imprinted his holy nature in the Scripture, so hath he made this word the seal, to imprint again his image on your hearts. And you know that common eyes can better discern the image in the wax, than on the seal: though I know that the hardness of the wax, or something lying between, or the imperfect application, may cause an imperfection in the image on the wax, when yet the image on the seal is perfect and therefore the world hath no just cause to censure God, or Christ, or the Spirit, or the word to be imperfect, because that you are so; but yet they will do it, and their temptation is great. O sirs! how would your prince take it of you, or how would your poorest friend take it of you, if you should hang forth a deformed picture of them to the view of all that shall pass by; and should represent them as blind, or leprous, or lame, wanting a leg, or an arm, or an eye? Would they not say that you unworthily exposed them to scorn? So if you will take on you to be the living images of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, and the word; and yet will be blind, and worldly, and passionate, and proud, and unruly, and obstinate, or lazy, and negligent, and little differing from those that bear the image of the devil; what do you but proclaim that the image of God, and of satan, and the world do little differ; and that God is thus unrighteous and unholy as you are !
(10.) Lastly consider, That the faithful servants of Christ are few; and therefore if those few dishonour him, and prove not fast to him; what do you, but provoke him to forsake all the world, and make an end of all the sons of men? It is but a little flock to whom he will give the kingdom; Luke xii. 32. It is but a few from whom God expecteth any great matter; and shall those few prove deceitful to him? It must be you or none that must honour the Gospel. You or none that must be exemplary to the world; and shall it be none at all? Shall all the workmanship of God abuse him? Shall he have no honour from any inferior creature? How can you then expect that he should preserve the world? For will he be at so much care to keep up a world to dishonour and abuse him? If the turning of men's hearts prevent it not, he would come and smite the earth with a curse,
Mal. iv. 6. For the "land that beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned;" Heb. vi. 7, 8. "If therefore Israel play the harlot, yet let not Judah sin;" Hosea iv. 15. If the vessels of wrath prepared to destruction will be blind, and sensual, and filthy still, yet let pollution be far from the sanctified. "Such were some of you, but ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified;" 1 Cor. vi. 11. O let the Lord be magnified in his saints: blot not out his image: receive not his impressions defectively and by the halves. Let the name of the most Holy One be written in your very foreheads. O that you would be so tender of the honour of the Lord, and shine forth so brightly in holiness and righteousness, that he that runs might read whose servants you are, and know the image and superscription of God, upon the face of your conversations! That as clearly as light is seen in and from the sun, and the power, and wisdom, and goodness of God is seen in the frame of the creation, and of Scripture; so might the same shine forth in you, that you might be "holy as God is holy;” (1 Pet. i. 16.) and "perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect;" (Matt. v. 48.) that they that would know God may see him in his saints, where his image is, or should be so lively and discernable. And they that cannot read and understand the Scripture, or the works of creation, or disposing providence, may read and understand the holy and heavenly representations of your lives.
Men are apt to look after images of the Godhead, because they are carnal and far from God. O you that are appointed to bear his image, see that you so represent him to the eyes of the world, as may be to his glory, and not to his dishonour, and take not the name of God in vain.
It is so desirable for God, and for the church, and for your own peace and happiness, that Christians should grow up to a ripeness in grace, and be rooted, built up, confirmed, and abound according to my text, that it hath drawn out from me all these words of exhortation thereunto; though one would think, that to men of such holy principles and experience, it should be more than needs; but if all will but serve to awaken the weak to a diligent progress, I shall be glad, and have my end. The great matter that I intended, when I began this discourse, is yet behind; and that is, the giving you such Directions as may tend to your confirmation
and perseverance; which I shall now proceed to: but I entreat every reader that hath any spark of grace in his soul, that he will resolve to put these Directions in practice, and turn them not off with a bare perusal or approbation. Let me reap but thus much fruit of all my foregoing exhortations, and I shall not think my labour lost.
Twenty Directions for Confirmation in a State of Grace.
Direct. I. Be sure that the foundation be well laid, both in your heads and hearts; or else you can never attain to confirmation, nor be savingly built up.'
To this end you must know what the foundation is, and how it must be soundly laid. The foundation hath two parts or respects, according to the faculties of the soul where it must be laid. The first is, the truth of the doctrine and matter, and the second is, the goodness of it. As true, the foundation is laid in our understandings; as good, it is laid in the will. Concerning both these, we must therefore first consider of the matter of the foundation, and then of the manner how that must be received or laid. And the foundation is that matter or object of our faith, and hope, and love, which is essential to a Christian; that is, to the Christian saving faith, hope, and love. This hath been always contained in our baptism, because baptizing us is making us visible Christians, or the solemn entrance into the state of Christianity. As therefore we are baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, renouncing the flesh, the world, and the devil; so the doing of this unfeignedly, without equivocation, according to the Scripture sense of the words, is the essence of Christianity, or the right laying of the foundation. So that the foundation-principle, or fundamental matter, is, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The secondary foundation, or fundamental doctrine, is, those Scripture propositions that express our faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. When we name the three persons as the object of the Christian faith, we express names of relation, which contain both the persons, nature and offices or undertaken works; without either of which, God were not God, and Christ were not Christ, and the Holy Ghost were not in the sense of our articles of faith the Holy
Ghost. As we must therefore believe that there is one only God; so we must believe that God the Father is the first in the Holy Trinity of Persons; that the whole Godhead is perfect and infinite in being, and power, and wisdom, and goodness, (in which all his attributes are comprehended ; but yet a distinct understanding of them all is not of absolute necessity to salvation). That this God is the Creator, Preserver, and Disposer of all things, and the Owner and Ruler of mankind, most just and merciful: that as he is the beginning of all, so he is the ultimate end, and the chief good of man, which before all things else must be loved and sought. This is to be believed concerning the Godhead, and the Father in person. Concerning the Son, we must moreover believe, that he is the same God with the Father, the second person in Trinity, incarnate and so become man, by a personal union of the Godhead and manhood: that he was without original or actual sin, having a sinless nature, and a sinless life: that he fulfilled all righteousness, and was put to death as a sacrifice for our sins, and gave himself a ransom for us; and being buried, he rose again from the dead, and afterwards ascended into heaven, where he is Lord of all, and intercedeth for believers; that he will come again and raise the dead, and judge the world, the righteous to everlasting life, and the wicked to everlasting punishment: that this is the only Redeemer, " the Way, the Truth, and the Life;" neither is there access to the Father but by him, nor salvation in any other. Concerning the Holy Ghost, we must believe that he is the same one God, the third person in Trinity, sent by the Father and the Son to inspire the prophets and apostles; and that the doctrine inspired and miraculously attested by him is true: that he is the Sanctifier of those that shall be saved, renewing them after the image of God, in holiness and righteousness, giving them true repentance, faith, hope, love, and sincere obedience; causing them to overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil; thus gathering a holy church on earth to Christ, who have by his blood the pardon of all their sins, and shall have everlasting blessedness with God.
This is the essence of the Christian faith, as to the matter of it. As to the manner of receiving it by the understanding, 1. It must be received as certain truth of God's revelation, upon the credit of his word, by a lively, effectual be
lief; piercing so deep as is necessary for its prevalency with the will. 2. And it must be entirely received, and not only a part of it: though all men have not so exactly formed distinct apprehensions of every member of this belief, as some have, yet all true Christians have a true apprehension of them. We feel by daily experience, that with the wisest some matters are truly understood by us, which yet are not so distinctly and clearly understood, as to be ready for an expression. I have oft, in matters that I am but studying, a light that gives me a general, imperfect, but true concep→ tion, which I cannot yet express; but when another hath helped me to form my conception, I can quickly and truly say, that was it that I had an unformed apprehension of before, and it that I meant but could not utter; not so much for want of words, as for want of a full and distinct conception.
2. The matter of our Christianity to be received by the will, is as followeth: As we must consent to all the aforementioned truths, by the belief of the understanding, so the pure Godhead must be received as the fountain, and our end. The Father as our Owner, Ruler and Benefactor, on the title of creation and redemption, and as our everlasting happiness. The Son as our only Saviour by redemption, bringing us pardon, reconciliation, holiness and glory, and delivering us from sin and satan, and the wrath and curse of God, and from hell. The Holy Ghost as our Guide and Sanctifier. All which containeth our renouncing the flesh, the world, and the devil, and carnal self that is the point of their unity and heart of the old man. This is the good that must be embraced, or accepted by the will.
And secondly, as to the manner of receiving it, it must be done unfeignedly, resolvedly, unreservedly, or absolutely, and habitually, by an inward covenanting of the heart, as I have formerly explained it. And this is the essence of Christianity; this is true believing in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: this is the foundation, and this is the right laying of it.
And now the thing that I am persuading you to is, to see that this foundation be surely laid, in head and heart.
And, 1. That it may be surely laid in the head, you must labour, (1.) To understand these articles. And, (2.) To see the evidence of their verity, that you may firmly believe