« ForrigeFortsæt »
withered, and their pampered flesh to turn to dirt; and their filthy and malicious souls to stand condemned by Christ at his left hand ; and to hear, “Go ye cursed into everlasting
; fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;” Matt. xxv. 1 Pet. i. 24., James i. 10, 11. Psal. lxxiii. xxxvii. Therefore it is that he valueth grace, because he knoweth what it will be ; and therefore it is that he fieth from sin, because he “knoweth the terrors of the Lord,” and what it will prove to the sinner in the end; and how sinners themselves will curse the day that ever they did commit it; and wish when it is too late, that they had chosen the holiness and patience of the saints. And therefore it is that he pitieth rather than envieth the prosperous enemies of the church, because he foreseeth what the “ end will be of them that obey not the Gospel of Christ. And if the righteous be scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinners appear?" 1 Pet.iv. 17, 18. 2 Thess. i. 8–10. If the wicked unbelievers saw but the ending of all things as he doth, they would be all then of his mind and way. This putteth so much life into his prayers, his obedience, and patience, because he seeth the end in all ; Deut. xxxii. 29. Prov.xix. 20. Isa. xlvii. 7.
2. And the weakest Christian doth the same in the main, so far as to turn his heart from things temporal to things eternal; and to resolve him in his main choice, and to conduct the course of his life towards heaven. But yet in particular actions he is often stopped in present things, and forgetfully loseth the sight of the end, and so is deluded and enticed into sin, for want of seeing that which should have preserved him. He is like one that travelleth over hills and vallies, who when he is upon the hills doth see the place that he is going to; but when he cometh into the vallies it is out of his sight. Too oft doth the weak Christian think of things as they appear at the present, with little sense of the change that is near. When he seeth the baits of sin, whether riches, or beauty, or meat and drink, or any thing that is pleasing to the senses, the remembrance of the end doth not so quickly and powerfully work, to prevent his deceived imaginations as it ought. And when poverty, or shame, or sufferings, or sickness are presented to him, the foresight of the end is not so speedy and powerful in clearing his judgment, and settling his resolution, and preventing his misapprehension and troubles as it ought. And
hence comes his oft mistakes and falls; and herein consisteth much of that foolishness, which he confesseth when repentance bringeth him to himself; 2 Sam. xxiv. 10. 2 Chron. xvi. 9.
3. But the seeming Christian hath so dim and doubtful a foresight of the end, and it is so frequently out of his mind, that things present do carry away his heart, and have the greatest power and interest with him; and are most regarded and sought after in this life. For he is purblind, not seeing afar off, as it it is said, 2 Pet. i.9. He wanteth that faith which is the "substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen;" Heb. xi. 1. Things promísed in another world seem to him too uncertain, or too far off to be preferred before all the happiness of this world; he is resolved to make his best of that which he hath in hand, and to prefer possession before such hopes. Little doth his heart perceive what a change is near, and how the face of all things will be altered! How sin will look, and how the minds of sinners will be changed, and what all the riches, and pleasures, and honours of the world will appear at the latter end! He foreseeth not the day when the slothful, and the worldly, and the fleshly, and the proud, and the enemies of godliness, shall all wish in vain, O that we had laid up our treasure in heaven, and laboured for the food that perisheth not, and had set less by all the vanities of the world, and had imitated the holiest and most mortified believers !? Though the hypocrite can himself foretel all this, and talk of it to others, yet his belief of it is so dead, and his sensuality so strong, that he liveth by sense, and not by that belief: and present things are practically preferred by him, and bear the sway, so that he needeth those warnings of God as well as the profane, "O that they were wise, that they understood this, and that they would consider their latter end;" Deut. xxxii. 29. And he is one of the foolish ones (Matt. xxv. 8. 11.), who are seeking oil for their lamps when it is too late, and are crying out, “ Lord, Lord, open to us,” when the door is shut; and will not know the time of their visitation, nor know effectually in this their day, the things which belong to their everlasting peace. XX. 1. The Christian indeed is one that liveth
upon God alone; his faith is divine; his love, and obedience, and confidence are divine ; his chiefest converse is divine; his
hopes and comforts are divine. As it is God that he dependeth on, and trusteth to, and studieth to please above all the world, so it is God's approbation that he taketh up with for his justification and reward. He took him for his absolute Governor and Judge, and full felicity, in the day when he took him for his Godi He can live in peace without man's approbation. If men are never acquainted with his sincerity, or virtues, or good deeds, it doth not discourage him nor hinder him from his holy course ; he is, therefore, the same in secret as, in public, because no place is secret from God. If men turn his greatest virtues or duties to his reproach, and slander him, and make him odious to men, and represent him as they did Paul, a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition, and the ringleader of a sect, and make him as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, this changeth him not, for it changeth not his felicity, nor doth he miss of his reward ; 1 Cor. iv.9-14. Read the words in the text. Though he hath so much suspicion of his own understanding, and reverence for wiser men's, that he will be glad to learn, and will hear
any one; yet praise and dispraise are matters of very small regard with him; and as to himself, he countėth it but a very small thing to be judged of men, whether they justify or condemn him; because they are fallible, and have not the power of determining any thing to his great commodity or detriment; nor is it their judgment to which he stands or falls ; 1 Cor. iv.3,4. He hath a more dreadful, or comfortable judgment to prepare for.
Man is of small account with him in comparison of God; Rom. viii. 33-36.
2. And though with the weakest true Christian it is so also as to the predominancy of God's esteem and interest in him, yet is his weakness daily visible in the culpable effects. Though God have the chiefest place in his esteem, yet man hath much more than his due. The thoughts and words of men seem to such, of far greater importance than they should. Praise and dispraise, favours and injuries, are things which affect their hearts too much; they bear not the contempts and wrongs of men with so quiet and satisfied a mind, as beseemeth those that live upon God. They have so small an experience of the comforts of God in Christ, that they are tasting the deeper of other delights, and spare them not so easily as they ought to do. God, without friends, or house, or land, or maintenance, or esteem in the world, doth not fully quiet them; but there is a deal of peevish impatience left in their minds, though it doth not drive them away from God.
3. But the seeming Christian can better take up with the world alone than with God alone; God is not so much missed by him as the world; he always breaks with Christ, when it cometh to forsaking all ; he is godly notionally and professedly, and therefore may easily say that God is his portion, and enough for those that put their trust in him ; but his heart never consented truly to reduce these words to practice. When it comes to the trial, the praise or dispraise of man, and the prosperity or matters of the world, do signify more with him than the favour or displeasure of God, and can do more with him. Christ, and riches, and esteem, he could be content with; but he cannot away with a naked Christ alone. Therefore he is indeed a practical atheist, even when he seemeth most religious : for if he had ever taken God for his God indeed, he had certainly taken him as his portion, felicity, and all; and therefore as enough for him without the creature; Luke xviii. 23.
XXI. 1. For all this it followeth, that a Christian indeed hath with himself devoted all that he hath to God, and so'all that he hath is sanctified: he is only in doubt ofttimes in particular cases, what God would have him do with him." self and his estate; but never in doubt whether they are to be wholly employed for God, in obedience to his will, as far as he can know it; and therefore doth estimate every creature and condition, purely as it relateth unto God and life 'eternal. “ HOLINESS TO THE LORD” is written upon all that he hath and doth: he taketh it as sent from God, and useth it as his Master's goods and talents; not chiefly for himself, but for his Master's ends and will. God appeareth to him in the creature, and is the life, and sweetness, and glory of the creature to him. His first question in every business he undertaketh, or every place or condition that he chooseth is, how it conduceth to the pleasing of God, and to his spiritual ends ; " whether he eateth or drinketh, or whatever he doth, he doth all to the glory of God; 1 Cor.
31. The posy engraven on his heart is the name of GOD, with OF HIM, AND THROUGH HIM, AND TO HIM
ARE ALL THINGS, TO HIM BE GLORY FOR EVER, AMEN;" Rom. xi. 36. He liveth as a steward that useth
. not his own, though yet he have a sufficient reward for his fidelity; and he keepeth accounts both of his receivings and layings out, and reckoneth all to be worse than lost, which he findeth not expended on his Lord's account. For himself he asketh not that which is sweetest to the flesh, but that which is fittest to his end and work, and therefore desireth not riches (for himself) but his daily bread, and food convenient for him; and having food and raiment is therewith content, having taken godliness for his gain. He asketh not for superfluity, nor for any thing to consume it on his lusts, nor to become provision for his fesli, to satisfy the wills thereof. But as a runner in his race desireth not any provisions which may hinder him; and therefore “ forgetting the things which are behind (the world which he hath turned his back upon,) he reacheth forth to the things which are before, (the crown of glory,) and presseth toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus;” not turning an eye to any thing that would stop him in his course.
Thus while he is employed about things below, his mind and conversation are heavenly and divine, while all things are estimated and used purely for God and heaven; Luke xvi. 1, 2. 1 Pet. iv. 10. Tit. i. 15. Prov. xxx. 8. 1 Tim. vi. 6.8. James iv. 3. Rom. xiii. 14. Phil. iii. 13-15.
2. But the weak Christian, though he have all this in desire, and be thus affected and resolved in the main, and liveth to God in the scope and course of his life, yet is too often looking aside, and valuing the creature carnally for itself; and ofttimes useth it for the pleasing of the flesh, and almost like a common man; his house, and land, and friends, and pleasures, are relished too carnally, as his own accommodations; and though he walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, yet he hath too much of the fleshly taste, and is greatly out in his accounts with God; and turneth many a thing from his Master's use, to the service of the flesh ? and though he be not as the slothful, wicked servant, yet is it but little improvement that he maketh of his talent; Matt, xxv. 17 26--28.
3. But the seeming Christian being carnal and selfish, while his notions and professions are spiritual and Divine,