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Providence did work cross to his desires, yet it did not work cross to his good.
Rem. 2. Solemnly consider that the hand of God may be against a man, when the love and heart of God are much set upon a man. No man can conclude how the heart of God stands by his hand. The hand of God was against Ephraim, and yet his love, his heart was dearly set upon Ephraim. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. Turn thou me, and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my.thigh; I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth! Is Ephraim my dear son, is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him;saith the Lord, Jer. xxxi. 18 —20.. God can look sourly, and chide bitterly, and strike heavily, even where and when he loves dearly. The hand of God was very much against Job, and yet his love, his heart was very much set upon Job. The hand of God was sore against David and Jonah, when his heart was much set upon them. He who shall conclude, that the heart of God is against those whom his hand is against, will condemn the generation of the just, whom God would not have unjustly condemned.
Rem. 3. Consider that all the cross providences that befal the saints, are but in order to some noble good that God does intend to confer upon them. Joseph, you know, was sold into a far country by the envy and malice of his brethren, and afterwards imprisoned because he would not be a prisoner to his mistress's lusts; yet all these providences did wonderfully conduce to his advancement, and the preservation of his father's family, which was then the visible church of Christ. It was so handled by a noble hand of Providence, that what they sought to decline, they did promote. Joseph was therefore sold by his brethren, that he might not be worshipped; and yet he was therefore worshipped, because he was sold. David was designed to a king, but O the straits, troubles, and deaths that he runs through, before he feels the weight of the crown! and all this was but in order to the sweetening of his crown, and to the settling of it more firmly and gloriously upon his head. God did so contrive it that Jonah's offence, and those cross actings of his that did attend it, should advantage that end which they seemed most directly to oppose. Jonah flies to Tarshish; then he is cast into the sea; then saved ,by a miracle; then the mariners, as it is very probable, who cast Jonah into the sea, declared to the Ninevites what had happened; therefore he must be a man sent of God, and that his threatenings must be believed and hearkened to; and therefore they must repent, and humble themselves, that the wrath threatened might not be executed.
Rem. 4. Seriously consider that all the strange, dark, deep, and changeable providences that believers meet with, shall further them in their way to heaven, in their journey to happiness. Divine wisdom and love will so order all things here below, that they shall work for the real, internal, and external good of them that love him. All the rugged providences that David met with, did contribute to the bringing of him to the throne, and all the rugged evidences that Daniel and the three children met with, did contribute to their great advancement. So all the rugged providences that believers meet with, shall all contribute to the lifting up of their souls above all things below God. As the waters lifted up Noah's ark nearer heaven, and as all the stones that were about Stephen's ears, did but knock him the closer to Christ, the corner-stone ; so all the strange, rugged providences that we meet with, shall raise us nearer heaven, and knock us nearer to Christ, that precious corner-stone.
Dev. 4. The fourth device that Satan hath to keep souls in a sad, doubting condition, is by suggesting to them that their graces are not true, but counterfeit. Says Satan, 'All is not gold that glitters; all is not free grace that you count grace,—that you call grace. That which you call faith, is but a fancy; and that which you call zeal, is but unnatural heat and passion; and that light you have, it is but common, it is short to what many have attained to, that are now in hell.' Satan does not labour more mightily to persuade hypocrites that their graces are true, when they are counterfeit, than he does to persuade precious souls that their graces are counterfeit when indeed they are true, and such as will abide the touchstone of Christ. 'Now the remedies against this device, are these—
Rem. 1. Seriously consider that grace is taken two ways. It is taken for the gracious good will and favour of God, whereby he is pleased of his own free love to accept some in Christ for his own. This some call the first grace, because it is the fountain of all other graces and the spring from whence they flow; and it is therefore called grace, because it makes a man gracious with God, but this is only in God.
Grace is taken for the gifts of grace, and they are of two sorts, common or special. Some are common to believers and hypocrites, as a gift of knowledge, a gift of prayer. Some are special graces, and they are proper and peculiar to the saints, as faith, humility, meekness, love, patience.
Rem. 2. The second remedy against this device of Satan, is wisely to consider the differences betwixt renewing grace and restraining grace, betwixt sanctifying grace and temporary grace: and this I shall shew you in these ten particulars—
1. True grace makes all glorious within and without; The King's daughter is all glorious within, her raiment is of wrought gold. True grace makes the understanding glorious, the will glorious, the affections glorious; it casts a general glory upon all the noble parts of the soul; the king's daughter is all glorious within. And as it makes the inside glorious, so it makes the outside glorious; her clothing is of wrought gold. It makes men look gloriously, and speak gloriously, and walk and act gloriously, so that vain souls shall be forced to say, that these are they that have seen Jesus. As grace is a fire to burn up and consume the dross and filth of the soul, so it is an ornament to beautify and adorn the soul. True grace makes all new, the inside new and the outside new; If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. But temporary grace does not this. True grace changes the very nature of a man; moral virtue does only restrain or chain up the outward man, it does not change the whole man. A lion in a grate, is a lion still; he is restrained but not changed, for he retains his lion-like nature still: so temporary grace restrains many men from this and that wickedness, but it does not change and turn their hearts from wickedness. But now true grace, that turns a lion into a lamb, as you may see in Paul; and a notorious sinner into a blessed and glorious penitent, as you may see in Mary Magdalen.
2. The objects of true grace are supernatural. True grace is conversant about the choicest and the highest objects, about the most soul-ennobling and soul-greatening objects, as God, Christ, precious promises that are more worth than a world, and a kingdom that shakes not, a crown of glory that withers not, and heavenly treasures that rust not. The objects of temporary grace are low and poor, and always within the compass of reason's reach.
3. True grace enables a Christian, when he is himself, to do spiritual actions with real pleasure and delight. To souls truly gracious, Christ's yoke is easy and his burden is light; his commandments are not grievous, but joyous. I delight in the law of God after the inward man, says Paul. The blessed man is described by this, that he delights in the law of the Lord. It is joy to the just to do judgment, says Solomon. To a gracious soul all the ways of the Lord are pleasantness, and his paths are peace. But to souls that have but temporary grace, but moral virtues, religious services are a toil, not a pleasure; a burden, and not a delight. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Isa. lviii. 3.
Ye have said, says those in Malachi, it is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? Mai. iii. 14. When will the new moon be gone, say those in Amos, that we may sell corn; and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat; making the ephah small and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances, by deceit? Amos viii. 5.
4. True grace makes a man most careful, and most fearful of his own heart; it makes him most studious about his own heart, informing that, examining that, and watching over that; but temporary grace, moral virtue, makes men more mindful and careful of others, to instruct them and counsel them, and stir up them, and watch over them: which does with open mouth demonstrate, that their graces are not saving and peculiar to saints, but that they are temporary, and no more than Judas, Demas, and the Pharisees had.
5. Grace will work a man's heart to love and cleave to the strictest and holiest ways and things of God, for their purity and sanctity in the face of all dangers and hardships. Thy word is very pure; therefore thy servant loveth it, Psalm cxix. 140. Others love it, and like it. and follow it, for the credit, the honour, the advantage that they get by it; but I love it for the spiritual beauty and purity of it. So the Psalmist, All this is come upon us, yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death, Psalm xliv. 17—19. But temporary grace will not bear up the soul against all oppositions and discouragements in the ways of God, as is clear by their apostacy in John vi; and by the stony ground hearers falling away.
6. True grace will enable a man to step over the world's crown to take up Christ's cross; to prefer the cross of Christ above the glory of this world. It enabled Abraham, Moses, and David, with those other worthies in Heb. xi. to do so. Godfrey, first king of Jerusalem, refused to be crowned with a crown of gold, saying, that it became not a Christian there to wear a crown of gold, where Christ had worn a crown of thorns. O but temporary grace cannot work the soul to prefer Christ's .cross above the world's crown; but when these two meet, a