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fore the more desireth to be in heaven, that he may do it better; Psal.cxix.5. Rom. vii, 24.
2. The weak Christian hath the same estimation and resolution; but when it comes to practice, as his will is less confirmed, and more corrupted and divided, so little impediments and difficulties are great temptations to him, and stop him more in the way of his obedience. All his duty is much more tedious to him, and all his sufferings are much more burdensome to him, than to confirmed Christians; and therefore he is more easily tempted into omissions and impatience, and walketh not so evenly or comfortably with God. When the spirit is willing, it yieldeth oft to the weakness of the flesh, because it is willing in too remiss a degree; Matt. xxvi. 41. Gal. ii. 14.
3. But the seeming Christian (though notionally and generally he may approve of strictness) yet secretly at the heart hath always this reserve, that he will not serve God at too dear a rate. His worldly felicity he cannot part with, for all the hopes of the life to come; and yet he will not, he dare not renounce and give up those hopes; and therefore he maketh himself a religion of the easiest and cheapest parts of Christianity, (among which, sometimes, the strictest opinions may fall out to be one part, so be it they be separated from the strictest practice :) and this easy, cheap religion he will needs believe to be true Christianity and godliness, and so will hope to be saved upon these terms: and though he cannot but know that it is the certain character of a hypocrite, to have any thing nearer and, dearer to his heart than God, yet he hopeth that it is not so with him, because his convinced judgment can say, that God is best, and the world is vanity, while yet his heart and affections so much contradict his opinion, as almost to say, “There is no God;" for his heart knoweth and loveth no God as God, that is, above his worldly happiness. He is resolved to do so much in religion as he findeth necessary to delude his conscience, and make himself believe that he is godly, and shall be saved; but when he cometh to forsake all, and take up the cross, and practise the costliest parts of duty, then you shall see that mammon was better loved than God, and he will go away sorrowful, and hope to be saved upon easier terms (Luke xviii. 23.), for he was never resigned absolutely to God.
XV. 1. A confirmed Christian is one that taketh selfdenial for the one half of his religion; and therefore hath bestowed one half of his endeavours to attain and exercise it. He knoweth that the fall of man was a turning to himself from God; and that selfishness and want of love to God, are the sum of all corruption and ungodliness; and that the love of God and self-denial are the sum of all religion, and that conversion is nothing but the turning of the heart from carnal self to God by Christ: and therefore on this hath his care and labour been so successfully laid out, that he hath truly and practically found out something which is much better than himself, and to be loved and preferred before himself, and which is to be his chief and ultimate end. He maketh not a God of himself any more, but useth himself for God, to fulfil his will, as a creature of his own, that hath no other end and use: he no more preferreth himself above all the world, but esteemeth himself a poor and despicable part of the world, and more highly valueth the honour of God, and the welfare of the church, and the good of many, than any interest of his own. Though God in nature háth taught him to regard his own felicity and to love himself, and not to seek the glory of God, and the good of many souls in opposition to his own, yet he bath taught him to prefer them (though in conjunction) much before his own: for reason telleth him that man is nothing in comparison of God, and that we are made by him and for him, and that the welfare of the church or public societies, is better (in order to the highest ends) than the welfare of some one. Selfishness in the unregenerate, is like an inflammation or imposthume, which draweth the humours from other parts of the body to itself: the interest of God and man are all swallowed up in the regard that men have to self-interest: and the love of God and our neighbour is turned into self-love. But self is as annihilated in the confirmed Christian, so that it ruleth not his judgment, his affections, or his choice : and he that lived in and to himself, as if God and all the world were but for him, doth now live to God, as one that is good for nothing else, and findeth himself in seeking him that is infinitely above himself; Luke xiv.31-33. Phil. ij. 4. 21.
2. And the weak Christian hath attained to so much self-denial, that self is not predominant in him against the
love of God and his neighbour; but yet above all other sins, too great a measure of selfishness still remaineth in him. These words own, and mine, and self,' are too significant with him ; every thing of his own is regarded inordinately, with partiality, and too much selfishness. A word against himself, or an injury to himself, is more to him than worse against his brother : he is too little mindful of the glory of God, and of the public good, and the souls of others; and even when he is mindful of his own soul, he is too regardless of the souls of many, that by prayer, or exhortation, or other means, he ought to help: as a small candle lighteth but a little way, and a small fire heateth not far off, so is his love so much confined, that it reacheth not far from him : he valueth his friends too much upon their respect to please himself, and loveth men too much, as they are partial for him; and too little
pure account of grace, and their love to Christ and serviceableness to the church. He easily overvalueth his own abilities, and is too confident of his own understanding, and apt to have too high conceits of any opinions that are his own; he is too apt to be tempted unto uncharitableness against those that cross him in his interest or way. He is apt to be too negligent in the work of God,
any self-interest doth stand against it; and too much to seek himself, his own esteem, or his own commodity, when he should devote himself to the good of souls, and give up himself to the work of God: though he is not like the hypocrite, that preferreth himself before the will of God and the common good, yet selfishness greatly stoppeth, interrupteth, and hindereth him in God's work; and any great danger, or loss, or shame, or other concernment of his own, doth seem a greater matter to him, and oftener turn him out of the way, than it will with a confirmed Christian. They were not all hypocrites that Paul speaketh of in that sad complaint, "For I have no man like-minded (to Timothy) who will naturally care for your state ; for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's ;” (Phil. ii. 20, 21.) that is, they too much seek their own, and not entirely enough the things that are Christ's; which Timothy did naturally, as if he had been born to it; and
had made the love of Christ, and the souls of men, and the good of others, as natural to him, as the love of himself. Alas! how loudly do their own distempers, and soul-miscarriages, and the di
visions and calamities of the church, proclaim, that the weaker sort of Christians have yet too much selfishness, and that self-denial is lamentably imperfect in them.
3. But in the seeming Christian, selfishness is still the predominant principle'; he loveth God but for himself; and he never had any higher end than self: all his religion, his opinions, his practice is animated by self-love, and governed by it, even by the love of carnal self. Self-esteem, self-conceitedness, self-love, self-willedness, self-seeking and selfsaving are the constitution of his heart and life. He will be of that opinion, and way and party in religion, which selfishness directeth him to choose. He will go no further in religion than self-interest and safety will allow him to go. He can change his friend, and turn his love into hatred, and his praises into reproach, whenever self-interest shall require it. He can make himself believe, and labour to make others believe, that the wisest and holiest servants of God are erroneous, humorous, hypocrites, and insufferable, if they do but stand cross to his opinions and interest: for he judgeth of them, and loveth or hateth them, principally as they conform to his will and interest, or as they are against it. As the godly measure all persons and things, by the will and interest of God, so do all ungodly men esteem them as they stand in reference to themselves. When their factious interest required it, the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, could make themselves and others believe, that the Son of God himself was a breaker of the law, and an enemy to Cæsar, and a blasphemer, and unworthy to live on the earth; and that Paul was a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among the people, and a ringleader of a sect, and a profaner of the temple ; (Acts xxiv. 5, 6.) and which of the prophets and apostles did they not persecute ? Because Christ's doctrine doth cross the interest of selfish men, therefore the world doth so generally rise up against it with indignation, even as a country will rise against an invading enemy : for hé cometh to take away that which is dearest to them; as it is said of Luther, that he meddled with the pope's crown, and the friars' bellies ; and therefore no wonder if they swarmed all about his ears. Selfishness is so general and deeply rooted, that (except with a few self-denying saints) self-love and self-interest rule the world. would know how to please a graceless man, serve but his
And if you
carnal interest, and you have done it: be of his opinion (or take on you to be so,) applaud him, admire him, flatter him, obey him, promote his preferment, honour and wealth, be against his enemies ; in a word, make him your God, and
; sell your soul to gain his favour, and so it is possible you may gain it.
XVI. 1. A Christian indeed hath so far mortified the flesh, and brought all his senses and appetites into subjection to sanctified reason, as that there is no great rebellion or perturbation in his mind: but a little matter, a holy thought, or a word from God, doth presently rebuke and quiet his inordinate desires. The flesh is as a well-broken and well-ridden horse, that goeth on his journey obediently and quietly, and not with striving, and chaffing, and vexatious resisting: though still flesh will be flesh, and will be weak, and will fight against the Spirit, so that we cannot do all the good we would ; (Isa.v. 17. Rom. vii. 16, 17, &c.) yet in the confirmed Christian, it is so far tained and subdued, that its rebellion is much less, and its resistance weaker, and more easily overcome: it causeth not any notable unevenness in his obedience, nor blemishes in his life; it is no other than consisteth with a readiness to obey the will of God. Gal. v. 24, 25. 1 Cor. ix, 26, 27. “They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof: they run not as uncertainly; they fight not as one that beateth the air; but they keep under their bodies, and bring them into subjection, lest by any means they should be castaways. They put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof;" Rom. xiii. 13, 14. As we see to a temperate man, how sweet and easy temperance is, when to a glutton, or drunkard, or riotous liver it is exceeding hard ; so it is in all other points with a confirmed Christian. He hath so far crucified the flesh, that it is as dead to its former lusts; and so far mastered it, that it doth easily and quickly yield. And this maketh the life of such a Christian, not only pure, but very easy to him, in comparison of other men's : nay, more than this, he can use his sense (as he can use the world, the objects of sense,) in subserviency to faith and his salvation. His eye doth but open a window to his mind, to hold and admire the Creator in his work. His taste of the sweetness of the creatures is but a means, by which the sweeter love