Page images

temporary Christian steps over Christ's cross to take up and keep up the world's crown. Demas hath forsaken us to embrace this present world. So the young man in the gospel had many good things in him, he bid fair for heaven, and came near to heaven, but when Christ sets his cross before him, he steps over that to enjoy the world's crown. When Christ bid him go and sell all that he had, and give to the poor, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. If heaven be to be had upon no other terms, Christ may keep his heaven to himself, he will have none.

7. Sanctifying grace, renewing grace, puts the soul upon spiritual duties from spiritual and intrinsical motives; as from the sense of divine love that doth constrain the soul to wait on God and to act for God, and the sense of the excellency and sweetness of communion with God; and the choice and precious discoveries that the soul has formerly had of the beauty and glory of God, whilst it has been in the service of God. The good looks, the good words, and the sweet tokens of love that gracious souls have had from Christ in his service, provoke and move them to wait upon him in holy duties. But restraining grace, temporary grace, puts men upon religious duties only from external motives, as the care of the creature, the eye of the creature, the rewards of the creature, and the keeping up of a name among the creatures, and a thousand such like considerations; as you may see in Saul, Jehu, Judas, Demas, and the scribes and pharisees.

The abbot in Melancthon lived strictly and walked demurely, and looked humbly, so long as he was but a monk, but when by his seeming extraordinary sanctity, he got to be abbot, he grew intolerably proud and insolent; and being asked the reason of it, confessed, that his former lowly look was but to see if he could find the keys of the abbey: Such poor, low, vain motives work temporary souls to all the service they perform.

8. Saving grace, renewing grace, will cause a man to follow the Lord fully in the desertion of all sin, and in the observation of all God's precepts. Joshua and Caleb followed the Lord fully. Zachariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. The saints in the Revelation are described by this, that they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. But restraining grace, temporary grace, cannot enable a man to follow the Lord fully. All that temporary grace can enable a man to do, is to follow the Lord partially, unevenly, and haltingly, as you may see in Jehu, Herod, Judas, and the scribes and pharisees, who paid tythe of mint, and anise, and cummin, but omitted the weighty matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.

True grace works the heart to the hatred of all sin, and to the love of all truth. It works a man to the hatred of those sins that for his blood he cannot conquer, and to loathe those sins that he would give all the world to overcome: so that a soul truly gracious can say, 'Though there be no one sin mortified and subdued in me, as it should and as I would, yet every sin is hated and loathed by me.' So a soul truly gracious can say, 'Though I do not obey any one command, as I should and as I would, yet every word is sweet, every command of God is precious. I dearly prize and greatly love those commands that I cannot obey. Though there be many commands that I cannot in a strict sense fulfil, yet there is no command I would not fulfil, that I do not exceedingly love. Hove thy commandments above gold, above fine gold. My soul hath kept thy testimonies, and I love them exceedingly.'

9. True grace leads the soul to rest in Christ, as in its chief good; it works the soul to centre in Christ, as in its highest and ultimate end. Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life, John vi. 68. My beloved is white and ruddy, the chief est among ten thousand. I found him whom my soul loveth, I held him and would not let him go, Cant. v. 10; iii. 4. That wisdom which a believer has from Christ, leads him to centre in the wisdom of Christ; and that love which the soul has from Christ, leads the soul to centre in the love of Christ; and that righteousness which the soul has from Christ, leads the soul to rest and centre in the righteousness of Christ. True grace is a beam of Christ, and where it is, it will naturally lead the soul to rest in Christ. The stream does not more naturally lead to the fountain, nor the effect to the cause, than true grace leads the soul to Christ. But restraining grace, temporary grace, works the soul to centre and rest in things below Christ. Sometimes it works the soul to centre in the praises of the Creator; sometimes to rest in the rewards of the creature; Verily they have their reward, says Christ: and so in a hundred other things.

10. True grace will enable a soul to sit down satisfied and contented with the naked enjoyments of Christ. The enjoyments of Christ without honour will satisfy the soul; the enjoyments of Christ without riches, the enjoyments of Christ without pleasures and without the smiles of creatures, will content and satisfy the soul. It is enough, Josephis alive. So says a gracious soul, 'Though honour is not, and riches are not, and health is not, and friends are not, it is enough that Christ is, that he reigns, conquers, and triumphs.' Christ is the pot of manna, the cruise of oil, a bottomless ocean of all comfort, content, and satisfaction. He that has him, wants nothing. He that wants him, enjoys nothing. Having nothing, says Paul, and yet possessing all things. O but a man that has but temporary grace, that has but restraining grace, cannot sit down satisfied and contented under the want of outward comforts. 'Christ is good with honours,' says such a soul; 'and Christ is good with riches; and Christ is good with pleasures; and he is good with such and such outward contents. I must have Christandthe world, or else, with the young man in the gospel, in spite of my soul, I shall forsake Christ to follow the world.' Ah, how many shining professors are there in the world, who cannot sit down satisfied and contented under the want of this or that outward comfort and content, but are like bedlamites, fretting and vexing, raging and maddening, as if there were no God, no heaven, no hell, no Christ, to make up all such outward wants to souls. But a soul truly gracious can say, 'In having nothing, I have all things, because I have Christ. Having therefore all things in him, I seek no other reward, for he is the universal reward.' Such a soul can say, 'Nothing is sweet to me without the enjoyment of Christ in it; neither honours, nor riches, nor the smiles of creatures, are sweet to me any farther than I see Christ and taste Christ in them. The confluence of all outward good cannot make a heaven of glory in my soul, if Christ who is the top of my glory, be absent.' As Absalom said, What is all this to me so long as I cannot see the king's face? so says the soul, 'Why do you tell me of this and that outward comfort, when I cannot see his face, whom my soul loves? Why, my honour is not Christ, riches are not Christ, the favour of the creature is not Christ. Let me have him, and let the men of this world take the world, and divide it amongst themselves; I prize my Christ above all; I would enjoy my Christ above all other things in the world. His presence will make up the absence of all othercomforts; and his absence will darken and embitter all my comforts; so that my comforts will neither taste like comforts, nor look like comforts, nor warm like comforts, when he that should comfort my soul, stands afar off.' Christ is all and in all to souls truly gracious. We have all things in Christ, and Christ is all things to a Christian. If we be sick, he is a Physician; if we thirst, he is a Fountain; if our sins trouble us, he is righteousness; if we stand in need of help, he is mighty to save; if we fear death, he is life; if we be in darkness, he is light; if we be weak, he is strength; if we be in poverty, he is plenty; if we desire heaven, he is the way. The soul cannot say, 'This I would have, and that I would have ;' but says Christ, 'It is in me; it is in me eminently, perfectly, eternally.'

Dev. 5. The fifth device that Satan has to keep souls in a sad, doubting condition, is by suggesting to them, that the conflict which is in them, is not a conflict that is only in saints, but such a conflict as is to be found in hypocrites and profane souls; when the truth is, there is as much difference betwixt the conflict that is in them, and that which is in wicked men, as there is betwixt light and darkness, betwixt heaven and hell. And the truth of this I shall evidence to you in the following particulars.

1. The whole frame of a believer's soul is against sin. Understanding, will, and affections, all the powers and faculties of the soul, are in arms against it. A covetous man may condemn covetousness, and yet the frame and bent of his heart may be to it; a proud person may condemn pride, and yet the frame of his spirit may be to it; and the drunkard may condemn drunkenness, and yet the frame of his spirit may be to it; a man may condemn stealing and lying, and yet the frame of his heart may be to it. Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law, dishonourest thou God? Rom. ii. 21—23. But a saint's will is against it; The evil that I would not do, I do: and his affections are against it: What I hate I do.

2. A saint's conflict is against sin universally, the least as well as the greatest; the most profitable and the most pleasing sin, as well as against those that are less pleasing and profitable. He will combat with all, though he cannot conquer one as he should and as he would. He knows that all sin strikes at God's holiness, as well as his own happiness; at God's glory, as well at his soul's comfort and peace. He knows that all sin is hateful to God, and that all sinners are traitors to the crown and dignity of the Lord Jesus. He looks upon one sin, and sees that that threw down Noah, the most righteous man in the world; and he looks upon another sin, and sees that that cast down Abraham, the greatest believer in the world; and he looks upon another sin, and sees that that threw down David, the best king in the world; and he looks upon another sin, and sees that that cast down Paul, the greatest apostle in the world: he sees that one sin threw down Sampson, the strongest man in the world; another cast down Solomon, the wisest man in the world; and another Moses, the meekest man in the world; and another sin cast down Job, the most patient man in the world: and this raiseth a holy indignation against all, so that nothing can satisfy and content his soul, but a destruction of all those lusts and vermin that vex and rack his righteous soul. It will not suffice a gracious soul to seejustice done upon one sin, but he cries out for justice upon all He would

No. Xlii. 2 o

« PreviousContinue »