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blossom, and their souls to be like a watered garden, green and flourishing ; Isa. lviii. 11; xxxv. 6, 7.
Fourthly; when you look upon your graces, you must look upon them as an earnest of more glorious and unspeakable measures of grace and glory, that your souls shall be filled with at last. After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory, Ephes. i. 13,14. That little light and knowledge thou hast, is an earnest to thy soul, that thou shalt at last know, even as thou art known. For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know, even as I also am known, I Cor. xiii. 12. Christians know but little of what they should know; they know but little of what they might know; they know but little of what others know; they know but little of what they desire to know; they know but little of what they shall know, when they shall come to know even as they are known; and yet these weak and imperfect glimpses that they have of God and heaven here, are infallible pledges of that perfect knowledge, and full prospect which they shall have of God and heaven hereafter. So that that little spark of joy thou hast is an earnest of those everlasting joys that shall rest upon thy head, when all sorrow and mourning shall flee away. And those sips of comfort thou hast now are an earnest of thy swimming in those everlasting pleasures that are at God's right hand. The least measures of grace are an earnest of greater measures. God will not despise the day of small things, he will make those who bring forth but thirty-fold, to bring forth sixty-fold; and those who bring forth sixty-fold, to bring forth a hundred-fold. He, his Son, and Spirit, are all eminently and fully engaged to carry on the work of grace in his children's souls. Therefore do not sit down and say, 'my light is but dim, and my love but weak, and my joy but a spark, that will quickly go out;' but always remember, that those weak measures of grace thou hast are a sure evidence of,greater measures that God will confer upon thee in his own time, and in his own ways, Isa. lxiv. 4, 5.
Fifthly; when you look upon your graces, be sure that
you look more at the truth of your graces, than at the measure of your graces. You must rather bring your graces to the touch-stone, to try their truth, than to the balance, to weigh their measure. Many weak Christians are weighing their graces, when they should be trying the truth of their graces, as if the quantity and measure of grace were more considerable than the essence and nature of grace. And this is that which keeps many weak saints in a dark, doubting, questioning, and despairing condition,; yea, this makes their lives a very hell. Weak saints, if you will not observe this rule, this caution, when you look upon your graces, you will go sighing and mourning to your graves. Ah poor hearts, you should not be more cruel to your own souls than God is. When God comes to a judgment of your spiritual estate, he does not bring a pair of scales to weigh your graces, but a touch-stone to try the truth of your graces; and so should you deal by your own souls; if you deal otherwise, you are more cruel to your souls than God would have you. And if you are resolved, that in this you will not imitate the Lord, then I dare prophesy, that joy and peace shall be none of your guests, and he who should comfort you will stand afar off. It is good to own and acknowledge a little grace, though it be mingled with very much corruption; as that poor soul did in Mark ix. 24; And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief. He had but a little little faith, and this was mixed with abundance of unbelief; and yet notwithstanding he acknowledges that little faith he had; Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. His faith was so weak, that he accounts it little better than unbelief; yet says he, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. The least measure of faith will make thee blessed here, and happy hereafter. A doctor cried out upon his dying bed, "I believe with a weak faith, it is true, but yet with faith." Much faith will yield unto us here our heaven, and any faith, if true, will yield us heaven hereafter. So the church in Cant. i. 5; I am black, but comely. She had nothing to say for her beautifulness, yet she acknowledged her comeliness; I am black, but comely. Though she could not say she was clear, yet she could say she was
comely. As she was free to confess her blackness, so she was ingenuous to acknowledge her comeliness; I am black but comely. Ah Christians will you deal worse with your own souls, than you deal with your children? When you go to make a judgment of your child's affecttions, you look more to the truth of their affections, than you do to the strength of their affections; and will you be less ingenuous and favourable to your poor souls? If he deserves to be branded that feasts his child and starves his wife, what do you deserve, that can acknowledge the least natural good that is in a child, and yet will acknowledge none of that spiritual and heavenly good that is in your souls?
Sixthly; when you look upon your graces, take care that you do not renounce and reject your grace, seen in the light of the Spirit, as a weak and worthless evidence of your interest in Christ, and that happiness which comes by Christ. I know in these days many cry up revelations and visions, yea, the visions of their own hearts; and make slight of the graces of Christ in the hearts of his people: yea, they look upon grace as a poor weak thing. Ah Christians take heed of this, else you will render null, in a very great measure, many precious scriptures, especially the epistles of John, which were penned for the comfort and support of weak saints. But that this may stick and work, be pleased to carry home with you these three things;—
Other precious saints that are now triumphing in heaven, have pleaded their interest in God's love and hopes of a better life, from graces inherent. I will only point at those scriptures that speak out this truth; 1 John iii. 14; ii. 3. 4; Job. xxiii. 10—12; the whole thirty-first chapter of Job; Psalm, cxii. 6; Isa. xxxviii. 2. 3; 2 Cor. i. 12. All these scriptures, with many others that might be produced, do with open mouth proclaim this truth. And surely to deny the fruit growing upon the tree to be an evidence that the tree is alive, is to me as unreasonable as it is absurd. Certainly, it is one thing to judge by our graces, and another thing to trust in our graces, to make a Saviour of our graces. There is a great deal of difference betwixt declaring and deserving. And, if this be not granted, it will follow, that the apostle has sent us aside to a covenant of works, when he exhorts us to use all diligence to make our calling and election sure. Christians may doubtless look to their graces as evidences of their part in Christ and salvation, and the clearer and stronger they are, the greater will be their comfort; but they must not look to them as causes.
Carry home this also with you—if justification and sanctification are both of them benefits of the covenant of grace, then to evidence the one by the other is no ways unlawful, and no turning aside to a covenant of works. But our justification and sanctification are both of them benefits and blessings of the covenant of grace. Therefore in Jer. xxxiii. 8, it is said, I will Pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned against me; there is your justification; and I will Cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me, there is your sanctification. And therefore to evidence the one by the other, can be no ways unlawful, nor a turning aside to a covenant of works.
Carry home this too with you—whatever gift of God in man brings him within the compass of God's promise of eternal mercy, that gift must be an infallible evidence of salvation and happiness. But such are those gifts mentioned in those scriptures that prove the first head; therefore they are infallible evidences of our salvation, and eternal happiness. I confess that a man may have many great gifts, and yet none of them bring him within the compass of God's promise of eternal mercy. But I say, whatever gift of God in man brings him within the compass of God's promise of eternal mercy, that gift must be an infallible evidence of his happiness and blessedness.
For the further clearing of this, I will instance in the gift of waitings. Where this gift is, it brings a man within the compass of God's promise of eternal mercy. And had a man (as in a deserted state it often falls out) nothing under heaven to shew for his happiness, but only a waiting frame, this ought to bear him up from fainting and sinking. When the soul says, ' My sun is set; my day is turned into night, my light into darkness, and my rejoicing into mourning. O I have lost the comforting
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presence of God; I have lost the quickening presence of God; I have lost the supporting presence of God; I have lost the encouraging presence of God; and when I shall recover these sad losses, I know not. All that I can say, is this, that God keeps me in a waiting frame, weeping and knocking at the door of mercy;' now, I say, this waiting temper brings the soul within the compass of the promise of eternal mercy. And certainly such a soul shall not miscarry. Take three promises for this. In Isa. xl. 31, we read, They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. The mercy is the waiting man's, but the waiting man must give God leave to time his mercy for him. So in Isa. xxx. 18; And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment. Blessed are all they that wait for him. So in Isa. lxiv. 4; For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. So in Isa. xlix. 23; They shall not be ashamed that wait for me; that is, ' They shall be advanced by me to great happiness and glory, to great dignity and felicity;' for in the Hebrew dialect, adverbs of denying signify the contrary to the import of that verb whereunto they are joined. Men are often ashamed, who wait upon the mountains and hills. Men high and great often frustrate the expectation of waiting souls, and then they blush, and are ashamed and confounded that they have waited, and been deceived; but They shall not be ashamed that wait for me, says God; 'I will not deceive their expectation, and after all their waiting turn them off, and say, I have no mercy for you.' Now I say, where this waiting temper is, which is all that many a poor soul has to shew for everlasting happiness and blessedness, that soul shall never miscarry. That God who maintains and upholds the soul in. this heavenly waiting frame, in the appointed season will speak life and love, mercy and glory, to the waiting soul.