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6. Lastly, in these characters you have some help in the work of self-examination, for the trial both of the truth and strength of grace. I suppose it will be objected, that in
ther treatises I have reduced all the infallible marks of grace to a smaller number. To which I answer, I still say, that the predominancy or prevalency of the interest of God as our God, and Christ as our Saviour, and the Spirit as our Sanctifier, in the estimation of the understanding, the resolved choice of the will, and the government of the life, against all the worldly interest of the flesh, is the only infallible sign of a justified, regenerate soul. But this whole hath many parts, and it is abundance of particulars materially in which this sincerity is to be found. Even all the sixty characters which I have here named, are animated by that one, and contained in it. And I think to the most the full description of a Christian in his essential and integral parts (yet shewing which are indeed essential) is the best way to acquaint them with the nature of Christianity, and to help them in the trial of themselves. And as it were an abuse of human nature, for a painter to draw the picture of a man without arms, or legs, or nose, or eyes, because he may be a man without them; so would it have been in me to draw only a maimed picture of a Christian, because a maimed Christian is a Christian. Yet, because there are so many maimed Christians in the world, I have also shewed you their lamentable defects: not in a manner which tendeth to encourage them in their sins and wants under pretence of comforting them, but in that manner which may best excite them to their duty, in order to their recovery, without destroying their necessary supporting comforts.
O happy church, and state, and family, which are composed of such confirmed Christians! where the predominant temperature is such as I have here described! Yea, happy is the place where magistrates and ministers are such; who are the vital parts of state and church, and the instruments appointed to communicate these perfections to the rest. But how much more happy is the New Jerusalem, the city of the living God, where the perfected spirits of the just in perfect light, and life, and love, are perfectly beholding, and admiring, and praising, and pleasing the eternal God, their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier for ever! Where the least. and meanest is greater and more perfect than the confirmed
Christian here described; and where hypocrisy is utterly excluded, and imperfection ceaseth, with scandal, censures, uncharitableness, division, and all its other sad effects; and where the souls that thirsted after righteousness shall be fully satisfied, and love God more than they can now desire, and never grieve themselves or others with their wants or weaknesses, or misdoings any more. And, O blessed day, when our blessed Head shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, and shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that now believe; whose weakness here occasioned his dishonour, and their own contempt! When the seed of grace is grown up into glory, and all the world, whether they will or not, shall discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not; between the clean and the unclean, and between him that sweareth, and him that feareth an oath. And though now "our life is hid with Christ in God," and it yet "appeareth not (to the sight of ourselves or others) what we shall be; yet then when Christ who is our life shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory;" Heb. xii. 22, 23. Rev. xxii. 3-5. 14, 15. xxi. 3,4. 8. 2 Thess. i. 9, 10. Matt. v. 4. 6. Mal. iii. 18. Eccles. ix. 2. 1 John iii. 2,3. Col. iii. 3, 4. Away then my soul from this dark, deceitful, and vexatious world! Love not thy diseases, thy fetters and calamities. Groan daily to thy Lord, and earnestly groan to be cloathed upon with thy house that is from heaven (2 Cor. v.2.4.), that mortality may be swallowed up of life! Join in the harmonious desires of the creatures, who groan to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God; Rom. viii. 20-22. "Abide in him, and walk in righteousness, that when he shall appear, thou mayest have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming;" 1 John iii. 28, 29. Join not with the evil servants, who say in their hearts, “Our Lord delayeth his coming, and begin to smite their fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; whose Lord shall come in a day when they look not for him, and in an hour that they are not aware of, and shall cut them asunder, and appoint them their portion with the hypocrites, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth;" Matt. xxiv. 38-51. O watch and pray that thou enter not into temptation! and be patient, for the Judge is at the door! Lift up thy head
with earnest expectation, O my soul, for thy redemption draweth near! Rejoice in hope before thy Lord, for he cometh; he cometh to judge the world in righteousness and truth. Behold he cometh quickly, though faith be failing, and iniquity abound, and love waxeth cold, and scorners say, Where is the promise of his coming! Make haste O thou whom my soul desireth, and come in glory as thou first camest in humility, and conform them to thyself in glory, whom thou madest conformable to thy sufferings and humility! Let the holy city New Jerusalem be prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and let God's tabernacle be with men, that he may dwell with them and be their God, and wipe away their tears, and death, and sorrow, and crying; and pain may be no more, but former things may pass away! Keep up our faith, our hope, our love! and daily vouchsafe us some beams of thy directing, consolatory light in this our darkness! and be not as a stranger to thy scattered flock, in this desolate wilderness! But let them hear thy voice, and find thy presence, and have such conversation with thee in heaven, in the exercise of faith and hope, and love, which is agreeable to their low and distant state. Testify to their souls that thou art their Saviour and Head, and that they abide in thee by the Spirit which thou hast given them, abiding, and overcoming in them, and as thy agent preparing them for eternal life. O let not our darkness, nor any strangeness feed our odious unbelief! O shew thyself more clearly to thy redeemed ones! And come and dwell in our hearts by faith! And by holy love, let us dwell in God, and God in us, that we grope not after him, as those that worship an unknown God. O save us from temptation! And if the messenger of satan be sent to buffet us, let thy strength be manifest in our weakness, and thy grace appear sufficient for us. And give us the patience which thou tellest us we need, that having done thy will, we may inherit the promise. And bring us to the sight and fruition of our Creator, of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
END OF THE CHARACTER OF A SOUND, CONFIRMED CHRISTIAN.
HELP OF SUCH (ESPECIALLY IN MELANCHOLY) AS ARE TEMPTED
TO DENY IT, AND THINK HIM. TO BE CRUEL, BECAUSE OF
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE MISERY OF MANKIND;
WITH RESPECT TO THE DOCTRINE OF RE
PROBATION AND DAMNATION.