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bour, hath the Seeds of Grace fown in his Heart, which will quicken him to a spiritual Life of Grace here, and that will fhortly grow up into an eternal Life of Glory hereafter : Whereas, He that loveth not his Brother, abideth in Death; he is void of all spiritual Life, and remains ftill dead in Trespasses and Sins. This he confirms in the next words, for whosoever hateth his Brother is a Murderer; and we knop that no Murderer hath eternal Life abiding in him. He that hateth his Brother, conceives Mischief against him in his Heart, which when opportunity offers is ready to break forth in Slaughter and Bloodshed, fo it did with Cain, whose Hatred and Envy led him on to lay his Brother Abel. Hence our Saviour in Mat. 5. interprets the hating of another to be the killing of him, because 'tis fo in the Intention of the Heart, did not some outward Curb restrain him from it; and he that harbours such mischievous and murderous Intentions or Desires, can have nothing of the Temper of a good Christian, and much less any spiritual Life abiding in him: for he that truly loves another, will rather lay down his own Life for him, than take away his; fo Christ manifested his Love to us, and would have us do in like manner : Hereby perceive we the Love of God, because he laid down bis Life for us, and we ought to lay down our Lives for the Brethren, Christ loved us even to Death, which he yielded to for our fakes; and he hath requir'd us, if need be, to venture our Lives for one another.

But how contrary to this is the Practice of such, who are so far from laying down their Lives for the Brethren, that they will scarce lay out any of their superfluous Substance to save their Lives, or support them under their Neceslities? such as these can have nothing of the Love of God or their Brother rooted in them. So St. John's Question here plainly intimates; Whofo hath this World's Goods, and feeth his Brother have need, and shutteth up his Bowels of Compasion from him, how dwelleth the Love of God in him. He that is so sparing of a little part of his Substance to help his Brother in time of need, will be much more sparing of his Blood to serve him ; both which are apparent Proofs of his want of any true "Love to God or his Neighbour : and therefore the Apostle exhorts in the next words, to give better Demonstrations of our Love to both, saying, My little Children, let us not love in Word, or in Tongue only, but in Deed and Truth. True Love consists not in talking or boasting with the Mouth, but in the good Wishes of the Vol. Iy. Part 2



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Heart, and the Bounty of the Hand; it lies not in Conze pliments, or in the outward Flourish of Words, but in Actions, and the visible Performance of good Works, without which all is no better than Hypocrisy and Dissimulation. Judas could say, Hail Mafter, and kiss our Saviour, when he was just about to betray hini; and much like this are the Friendships of the World; who are never more forward to fay, Your humble Servant, than when they design most Evil, and are just ready to over-reach or undermine their Neighbour. St. James puts the Case, If a Brother or Sister be naked, or dejtitute of daily Food, and one of you say unto him, Depart in Peace, be you warmed and filled, and notwithstanding give him not what is needful for the Body; what doth it profit? Jan. 2. 15, 16. Such good words afford no Profit to them to whom they are given, nor will they afford any more to him that gives them; and therefore our Love must sink deeper than the Tongue, it must be rooted in the Heart, and from thence spring up and appear in the good Fruits of Beneficence and Charity: for hereby (faith our A. postle) me mall know, that we dre of the Truth, and Jhall afsure our Hearts before him; meaning, that we shall hereby approve our felves to be true and sincere Christians, such as we profess our felves to be, and no Hypocrites, who are wont to give good Words and fair Speeches, but fallify in their Deeds and Actions: whereas when our Words and Deeds go together, we shall shew the Truth of our Profession, and approve our felves not only unto Men, who can judg only by the outward Appearance, but unto God, who knoweth the Heart, and will judg us by the inward Inclinations and Intentions of it.

Now from hence our Apostle takes occasion to set forth,

First, The great Evil and Danger of an accusing Conscience in this Matter, in these words ; If our Hearts condemn us, God is greater than our Hearts, and knoweth all things. And,

Secondly, The great Benefit and Comfort of an absolving Conscience, in the following words; Beloved, if our Hearts condemn us not, then have we Confidence towards God. Both which being of great Use and Importance to us, will deserve to be particularly consider'd. And,

Firft, Of the Evil and Danger of an accusing Conscience; I our Heart condemn us, God is greater than oar Heart, and

knowerb knoweth all things: where 'tis suppos'd that the Heart or Conscience of a Man may and often does accuse hin for the lack of that Love to God and his Neighbour, which he ought to bear and shew to both. Thus, for Example, when a Man wilfully omits his Duty to God, by neglecting his Prayers, or turning his back upon his' Word and Sacraments, or when he wilfully commits what God hath forbidden him, by profaning his Name, or polluting his Sabbath ; Conscience must and will take him aside, and rate him foundly by himself.

Again, When a Man violates his Duty to his Neighbour by Acts of Fraud, Rapine, Oppression or Uncharitableness, his Heart will secretly smite and reprehend him for these things; and tho he may escape any earthly Tribunal, yet Conscience, as God's Deputy, will arraign and sit in Judg. ment upon him, yea and condemn and pass Sentence upon him for such Enormities, how secretly or cunningly foever they have been acted or conceal'd by him. This is so well known and felt too by the vileft and boldelt Offenders, that it needs no other Proof than the retiring into their own Breasts, and consulting their own Experience in these Matters. Judas found it to his own Ruin for betraying his Saviour, and others have found the fame for shedding innocent Blood; yea, the most profligate Sinners have not been able to escape these sharp Girds and Twitches of a galld and guilty Mind.

But the present Anguish of a guilty Conscience is nothing to the future Vengeance that attends it; for if our Heart condemn us, God is greater than our Heart, and knoweth all things : He is greater in Knowledg, and knows more by us than we do by our selves; he is greater in Power, and can do more to punish than we can; he is greater in Justice, and will be more impartial than our Hearts will be to us. There are many Failures of Duty both to God and Man, that often escape our own Observation, and so give us little or no trouble, which yet are recorded in the Book of God's Remembrance, and must be accounted for; there are many vain Thoughts, rash Words, and unadvis'd Actions that pass away unregarded, which yet are perfectly known to God, and will come into the Reckoning of the last Day. So that if our own Fiearts condemn us for that which we know by our felves, God will surely condemn us, who knoweth much more; our Hearts may condemn us for things that fall not under the Cognizance of any earthly

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Tribunal; for who knoweth the things of a Man, save the Spirit of Man that is in hin? 1 Cor. 2. 11. But God will condemn us for things that slip the Censure and Condemnation of our own Hearts, and will arraign us at his Tribunal, for Matters that escape not only earthly Courts, but the Bar of our own Conscience.

Indeed, where Conscience condemns, there God will condemn also, because God and Conscience judg by the fame Rule; and Conscience being God's Vicegerent, to judg for and under him, he will approve the Proceedings, and confirm the Sentence of our own Hearts.

But tho God always condemns where Conscience does, yet he sometimes goes farther, and condemns where that doth not: for his is a higher Court, that searches deeper into Matters than any earthly Powers can; yea, to this all Principalities and Powers must submit, and from this there lies no Appeal.

In short, God Almighty, the great Judg of all the Earth, will ratify the Sentence of his Deputy; and where our Hearts condemn us for any known Breaches of his Laws, there he will do the same; but he being greater than our Hearts, and knowing more, where Conscience is either ignorant or filent, he will add to and carry the Condemnation higher : which shews the Misery of a mis-giving and selfcondemning Heart, and may teach us with St. Paul to exercise our felves herein, to keep a Conscience void of Offence both towards God and Man. And this will lead me, in the next place, to consider,

Secondly, The Comfort and Happiness of a clear and ab. solving Conscience, fron these words ; Beloved, if our Hearts condemn us not, then have we Confidence towards God: where a good Conscience is describd by the Heart's not condemn. ing us; which can only be from a Consciousness of our own Innocence, or a Freedom from any Guilt. When we cannot charge our felves with the wilful Violation of God's Laws, but can reflect upon our Ways without Remorse, and our Minds approve and acquit us for what we have done; then are we said to have an absolving, clear and good Conscience.

But who can say, His Heart is clean, I am free from Sin? Does not the righteous Man fall several times a day? And if we think or say that we have no Sin, we deceive our selves, and the Truth is not in us : How then can our Hearts forbear to condemn us for such frequent and daily Miscarriages?



In answer to this, it is true, that no Man liveth and finneth not; and should Conscience proceed upon the strict Rules of Justice, and pronounce 'Sentence accordingly, there is no Man's Heart but must condemn him: for the best of Men have reason to confess daily (as the Church directs) “ That they have left undone things which they “ ought to have done; and have done things which they s ought not to have done :” and if our Judg should be extreme to mark all that is done amiss, who could abide it? None could stand the Trial of Conscience here, or abide the feverer Trial of God hereafter. But for our Comfort, we may know,

That neither God nor Conscience do or will judg us by the strict Rules of Justice, but proceed herein by the Measures of Mercy, and the milder Terms of the Gospel, by which no involuntary Failings can ever hurt us, and greater Offences, if repented of and amended, shall never be laid to our Charge; for there is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the Fles, but after the Spirit. If we avoid the Sollicitation of sensual Lusts, and give up our selves to the Conduct of God's Holy Spirit, our Hearts will not condemn us, and much less will 'God, the Searcher of Hearts, fuffer us to come into Condemnation. Holy Fob declares, that by holding fast his Integrity, his Heart Mould not reproach him as long as he lived; Job 27. 5,6. Neither will our Hearts condemn us whilst we faithfully discharge our Duty to the utmost of our power. And this, our Apostle here tells us, will give us Confidence towards God; that is, it gives us reasonable Grounds of Hope or Assurance, that God will not lay any thing to our Charge, but will acquit us at the last and great Day: which may abundantly convince us of the vast Benefit and Comfort of a good Conscience.

The Word here render'd Confidence towards God, is in the Original raggnoid, which signifies Freedom of Access, or Boldness of Speech; and gives us to understand, that a Heart set right towards God, and that cannot lay any great Matter to our Charge, may encourage us to draw nigh to him with the Confidence of Children to their heavenly Father, and to come boldly to the Throne of Grace, for Grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4. 16,

Being well affur'd (as St. John here tells us) that whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his fight ; mean


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