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and soundness in religion, in making a full choice of God as our only Lord and portion, forsaking all for him, and in a full determination of the will for God and Christ, on counting the cost; in our hearts closing and complying with the religion of Jesus Christ, with all that belongs to it, embracing it with all its difficulties, as it were hating our dearest earthly enjoyments, and even our own lives, for Christ; giving up ourselves with all that we have, wholly and for ever unto Christ, without keeping back any thing, or making any reserve. In one word, sincerity consists in the great duty of self-denial for Christ; or in denying, i. e. as it were disowning and renouncing ourselves for him, making ourselves nothing that he may be all. See the texts to this purpose referred to in the margin*. Now surely having an heart to forsake all for Christ, tends to actually forsaking all for him, so far as there is occasion, and we have the trial. Having a heart to deny ourselves for Christ, tends to denying ourselves in deed, when Christ and self-interest stand in competition. A giving up of ourselves, with all that we have, in our hearts, without making any reserve there, tends to our behaving ourselves universally as his, as subject to his will, and devoted to his ends. Our hearts entirely closing with the religion of Jesus, with all that belongs to it, and as attended with all its difficulties, upon a deliberate counting of the cost, tends to an universal closing with the same in act and deed, and actually going through all the difficulties we meet with in the way of religion, and so holding out with patience and per
The tendency of grace in the heart to holy practice, is very direct, and the connexion most natural, close, and necessary. True grace is not an inactive thing; there is nothing in heaven or earth of a more active nature: for it is life itself, the most active kind, even spiritual and divine life. It is no barren thing; there is nothing in the universe that in its nature has a greater tendency to fruit. Godliness in the heart has as direct a relation to practice, as a fountain has to a stream, or as the luminous nature of the sun has to beams sent forth, or as life has to breathing, or the beating of the pulse, or any other vital act; or as a habit or principle of action has to action: for it is the very nature and notion of grace, that it is a principle of holy action or practice. Regeneration, which is that work of God in
* Matth. v. 29, 30. Chap. vi. 24. Chap. viii. 19-22. Chap. iv. 18 to 22. Chap. x. 37, 38, 39. Chap. xiii. 44, 45, 46. Chap. xvi. 24, 25, 26. Chap. xviii. 8, 9. Chap. xix. 21, 27, 28, 29. Luke v. 27, 23. Chap. x. 42. Chap. xii. 33, 34. Chap. xiv. 16-20.25-33. Chap. xvi. 13. Acts iv. 34, 35. with Chap. v. 1-11. Rom. vi. 3-8. Gal. ii. 20. Chap. vi. Philip. iii. 7-10. Jam. i. 8, 9, 10. Chap. iv. 4. 1 John ii. 15. Rev. xiv. 4. Gen. xii. 1-4. with Ileb. xi. 8, 9, 10. Gen. xxii. 12. and Heb. xi. 17. Chap. xi. 24--27. Deut. xiii. 6. and Chap. xxxiii. 9, Ruth. i. 6-16. with Psal. xlv. 10, 11. and 2 Sam. xv. 19-22. Psal. lxxxiii. 25. Psal. xvi. 5, 6. Lam. iii. 24. Jer. x. 16.
which grace is infused, has a direct relation to practice; for it is the very end of it, with a view to which the whole work is wrought. All is calculated and framed, in this mighty and manifold change wrought in the soul, so as directly to tend to this end; Eph. ii. 10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Yea it is the very end of the redemption of Christ; Tit. ii. 14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 2 Cor. v. 15. He died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again. Heb. ix. 14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Col. i. 21, 22. And you that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight. 1 Pet. i. 18. For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation. Luke i. 74, 75. That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. God often speaks of holy practice, as the end of that great typical redemption, the redemption from Egyptian bondage; as Exod. iv. 23. Let my son go, that he may serve me. (So chap. iv. 23. and vii. 16. and viii. 1, 20. and ix. 1, 13. and x. 3.) And this is also declared to be the end of election; John xv. 16. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain. Eph. i. 4. According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love. Chap. ii. 10. Created unto good works, which God hath foreordained that we should walk in them. Holy practice is as much the end of all that God does about his saints, as fruit is the end of all the husbandman does about the growth of his field or vineyard: as the matter is often represented in scripture; (Matth. iii. 10. chap. xiii. 8. 23-30, 38. chap. xxi. 19, 33, 34. Luke xiii. 6. John xv. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8. 1 Cor. iii. 9. Heb. vi. 7, 8. Is. v. 1-8. Cant. viii. 11, 12. Is. xxvii. 2, 3.)* And therefore
"To profess to know much is easy; but to bring your affections into subjec. tion, to wrestle with lusts, to cross your wills and yourselves, upon every occasion, this is hard. The Lord looketh, that in our lives we should be serviceable to him, and useful to men. That which is within, the Lord and our brethren are never the better for it: but the outward obedience, flowing thence, glorifieth God, and does good to men. The Lord will have this done. What else is the end of our planting and watering, but that the trees may be filled with sap? And what is the
every thing in a true Christian is calculated to reach this end. This fruit of holy practice, is that to which every grace, every discovery, and every individual thing which belongs to Christian experience has a direct tendency*.
The constant and indissoluble connexion there is between a Christian principle and profession in the true saints, and the fruit of holy practice in their lives, was typified of old in the frame of the golden candlestick in the temple. It is beyond doubt that the golden candlestick, with its seven branches and seven lamps, was a type of the church of Christ. The Holy Ghost himself has been pleased to put that matter out of doubt, by representing his church by such a golden candlestick with seven lamps, in the fourth chapter of Zechariah, and representing the seven churches of Asia by seven golden candlesticks, in the first chapter of the Revelation. That golden candlestick in the temple was every where, throughout its whole frame, made with knops and flowers, Exod. xxv. 31. to the end, and chap. xxxvii. 17-24. The word translated knop, in the original signifies apple or pomegranate. There was a knop and a flower, a knop and a flower: wherever there was a flower, there was an apple or pomegranate with it the flower and the fruit were constantly connected, without fail. The flower contained the principles of the fruit, and a beautiful promising appearance of it; and it never was a deceitful appearance; the principle or shew of fruit, had evermore real fruit attending it, or succeeding it. So it is in the church of Christ: there is the gracious principle of fruit in the heart; and there is an amiable profession, signified by the open flowers of the candlestick; and there is answerable fruit, in holy practice,
end of that sap, but that the trees may bring forth fruit? What careth the husbandman for leaves and barren trees?"—(Dr. Preston of the Church's Carriage.) *What is the end of every grace, but to mollify the heart, and make it pliable to some command or other? Look, how many commandments, so many graces there are in virtue and efficacy, although not so many several names are given them. The end of every such grace is to make us obedient: as the end of temperance is chastity, to bow the heart to these commands, "Be ye sober, &c. not in chambering and wantonness, &c.' When the Lord commandeth us not to be angry with our brother, the end of meekness, and why the Lord infuseth it, is to keep us from unadvised rash anger. So faith, the end of it is to take Jesus Christ, to make us obedient to the command of the gospel, which commands us to believe in him. So as all graces do join together, but to frame and fashion the soul to obedience, then so much obedience as is in your lives, so much grace in your hearts, and no more. Therefore ask your hearts, how subject you are to the Lord in your lives? It was the counsel that Francis Spira gave to them about him, saith he, Learn all of me to take heed of severing faith and obedience: I taught justification by faith, but neglected obedience; and therefore is this befallen me. I have known some godly men, whose comfort on their death-beds hath been not from the inward acts of their minds, which apart considered, might be subject to misapprehensions, but from the course of obedience in their lives, issuing thence. Let Christians look to it, that in all their conversation, as they stand in every relation, as scholars, tradesmen, husbands, wives, look to this, that when they come to die, they have been subject in all things. This will yield comfort." (Dr. Preston's Church Carriage.)
constantly attending this principle and profession. Every branch of the golden candlestick, thus composed of golden apples and flowers, was crowned with a burning, shining lamp on the top of it. For it is by this means that the saints shine as lights in the world, by making a fair and good profession of religion, and having their profession evermore joined with answerable fruit in practice agreeable to that of our Saviour, Matth. v. 15, 16. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. A fair and beautiful profession, and golden fruits accompanying one another, are the amiable ornaments of the true church of Christ. Therefore we find that apples and flowers were not only the ornaments of the candlestick in the temple, but of the temple itself, which is a type of the church; which the apostle tells us, is the temple of the living God. See 1 Kings vi. 18. And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops, and open flowers. The ornaments and crown of the pillars, at the entrance of the temple, were of the same sort: they were lilies and pomegranates, or flowers and fruits mixed together, 1 Kings vii. 18, 19. So it is with all those that are as pillars in the temple of God, who shall go no more out, or never be ejected as intruders; as it is with all true saints; Rev. iii. 12. Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.
Much the same thing seems to be signified by the ornaments on the skirt of the ephod, the garment of Aaron the high priest; which were golden bells and pomegranates. That these skirts of Aaron's garment represent the church, or the saints, (that are as it were the garment of Christ) is manifest; for they are evidently so spoken of, Psal. cxxxiii. 1, 2. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments. That ephod of Aaron signified the same with the seamless coat of Christ our great High Priest. As Christ's coat had no seam, but was woven from the top throughout, so was the ephod, Exod. xxxix. 22. As God took care in his providence, that Christ's coat should not be rent; so God took special care that the ephod should not be rent; (Exod. xxviii. 32. and chap. xxxix. 23.) The golden bells on this ephod, by their precious matter and pleasant sound, well represent the good profession that the saints make; and the pomegranates, the fruit they bring forth. And as in the hem of the ephod, bells and pomegranates were constantly connected, as is once and again observed, there was a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pome
granate, (Exod. xxviii. 34. and chap. xxxix. 26.) so it is in the true saints; their good profession and their good fruit, constantly accompany one another: the fruit they bring forth in life, evermore answers the pleasant sound of their profession.
Again, the very same thing is represented by Christ, in his description of his spouse, Cant. vii. 2. Thy belly is like an heap of wheat, set about with lilies. Here again are beautiful flowers, and good fruit, accompanying one another. The lilies were fair and beautiful flowers, and the wheat was good fruit.
As this fruit of Christian practice is evermore found in true saints, according as they have opportunity and trial, so it is found in them only; none but true Christians do live such an obedient life, so universally devoted to their duty, and given up to the business of a Christian, as has been explained. All unsanctified men are workers of iniquity: they are of their father the devil, and the lusts of their father they will do.-There is no hypocrite that will go through with the business of religion, will both begin and finish the tour. They will not endure the trials God is wont to bring on the professors of religion, but will turn aside to their crooked ways; they will not be thoroughly faithful to Christ in their practice, and follow him withersoever he goes. Whatever lengths they may go in religion in some instances, though they may appear exceeding strict, and mightily engaged in the service of God for a season; yet they are servants to sin; the chains of their old task-masters are not broken. Their lusts yet have a reigning power in their hearts; and therefore to these masters they will bow down again*. Dan. xii. 10. Many shall be purified,
* "No unregenerate man, though he go never so far, let him do never so much, but he lives in some one sin or other, secret or open, little or great. Judas went far, but he was covetous; Herod went far, but he loved his Herodias. Every dog hath his kennel; every swine hath his swill; and every wicked man his lust."— Shepard's Sincere Convert, 1st edition, p. 96.
"There is never an unsound heart in the world, but as they say of witches, they have some familiar that sucks them, so they have some lust that is beloved of them, some beloved there is they have given a promise to never to forsake."-Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 15.
"No man that is married to the law, but his fig-leaves cover some nakedness. All his duties ever brood some lust. There is some one sin or other the man lives in; which either the Lord discovers, and he will not part with, as the young man ; or else is so spiritual, he cannot see all his life-time. Read through the strictest of all, and see this, Matth. xxiii. Painted sepulchres. Paul that was blameless, yet (Eph. ii. 3. Tit. iii. 3.) served divers lusts and pleasures. And the reason is, the law is not the ministration of the Spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 8, 9. which breaks off from every sin. There is no law that can give life, Gal. iii. 21. and hence many men have strong resolutions, and break all again. Hence men sin and sorrow, and pray again, and then go with more ease in their sin. Examine thyself; is there any living lust with thy righteousness? It is sure, it is a righteousness thou art married to, and never wert yet matched to Christ."-Shepard's Parable, Part 1. p. 19, 20.
"No hypocrite, though he closeth with Christ, and for a time grow up in knowledge of, aud communion with Christ, but he hath at that time hidden lusts