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beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart.
Though in this great evidence of sincerity that the scripture gives us, what is inward is of greatest importance; yet what is outward is included and intended, as connected with the practical exertion of grace in the will, directing and commanding the actions of the body. And hereby are effectually cut off all pretensions that any man can have to evidences of godliness, who externally lives wickedly because the great evidence lies in that inward exercise and practice of the soul, which consists in the act of the will, commanding outward acts. But it is known, that these commanding acts of the will are not one way, and the actions of the bodily organs another: for the unalterable law of nature is, that they should be united, as long as soul and body are united, and the organs are not so destroyed as to be incapable of those motions that the soul commands. Thus it would be ridiculous for a man to plead, that the commanding act of his will was to go to the public worship, while his feet carry him to a tavern or brothel-house; or that the commanding act of his will was to give such a piece of money he had in his hand to a poor beggar, while his hand at the same instant kept it back, and held it fast.
Secondly, I proceed to shew, that Christian practice, taken in the sense explained, is the chief of all the evidences of a saving sincerity in religion, to the consciences of the professors of it; much to be preferred to the method of the first convictions, enlightenings, and comforts in conversion; or any imminent discoveries or exercises of grace whatsoever, that begin and end in contemplation*. The evidence of this appears by the following arguments.
+ "Look upon John, Christ's beloved disciple and bosom companion; he had received the anointing to know him that is true, and he knew that he knew him.' 1 John ii. 3. But how did he know that? He might be deceived; (as it is strange to see what a melancholy fancy will do, and the effects of it: as honest men are reputed to have weak brains, and never saw the depths of the secrets of God;) what is his last proof? "Because we keep his commandments." Shepard's Pa
rable, Part 1. p. 131.
"A man may know his present union to the Lord Jesus, by a work; 1 John ii. 4. He that saith I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar.'-Yes, that is true negatively; but may a man, ought a man, to see or know his union positively by this? Ans. ver. 5. Many said they did know and love the Lord, but he that keeps his words.'-O they are sweet! It is heaven to cleave to him in every command; it is death to depart from any command: hereby know we that we are in him.' If it were possible to ask of angels, how they know they are not devils, they would answer, the Lord's will is ours." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 134.
"If the question be, Whom doth the Lord Jesus love? you need not go to hea ven for it, the word is nigh thee, Those that love Christ.' Who are those? 'Those that keep his commandments.'' """ Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 138.
"Will you have Christ sit in heaven, and not look that he subdue your lusts by the work of his grace, and so sway your hearts? You despise his kingdom then. Do you seek for pardon in the blood of Christ, and never look for the virtue and end of that blood to wash you and make you without spot, &c.? You despise his
Argument I. Reason plainly shews, that those things which put it to the proof, what men will actually cleave to in their practice, when left to follow their own choice and inclinations, are the proper trial what they do really prefer in their hearts. Sincerity in religion, as observed already, consists in setting God highest in the heart, in choosing him before other things, in having a heart to sell all for Christ, &c.-But a man's actions are the proper trial what a man's heart prefers. As for instance, when God and other things come to stand in competition, God is as it were set before a man on one hand, and his worldly interest or pleasure on the other; his behaviour in such case, in actually cleaving to the one and forsaking the other, is the proper trial which he prefers. Sincerity consists in forsaking all for Christ in heart; but to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the very same thing as to have a heart to forsake all for Christ. The proper trial whether a man has a heart to forsake all for Christ, is his being actually put to it, Christ and other things coming in competition, that he must practically cleave to one and forsake the other. To forsake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a heart to forsake all for Christ when called to it; but the highest proof to ourselves and others, that we have a heart to forsake all for Christ when called to it, is actually doing it when or so far as called to it. To follow Christ in heart, is to have a heart to follow him. To deny ourselves in heart for Christ, is the same thing as to have a heart to deny ourselves for him in fact. The main and most proper proof of a man having a heart to any thing, concerning which he is at liberty to follow his own inclinations, is his doing it. When a man is at liberty whether to speak or keep silence, the most proper evidence of his having a heart to speak, is his speaking. When a man is at liberty whether to walk or sit still, the proper proof of his having a heart to walk, is his walking. Godliness consists not in a heart to intend to do the will of God, but in a heart to do it. The children of Israel in the wilderness had the former, of whom we read, Deut. v. 27-29. Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it, and do it. And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an HEART in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and priesthood and blood then. Do you look for Christ to do work for you, and you not do Christ's work, and bri forth fruit to him? You despise his honour then, John xv. 8. If I were to discover a hypocrite, or a false heart, this I would say, It is he that shall set up Christ, but loath his work." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 140.
with their children for ever! The people manifested that they had a heart to INTEND to keep God's commandments, and to be very forward in those intentions; but God manifests, that this was far from being the thing he desired, wherein true godliness consists, even an heart actually to keep them.
It is therefore exceedingly absurd, and even ridiculous, for any to pretend that they have a good heart, while they live a wicked life, or do not bring forth the fruit of universal holiness in their practice. For it is proved in fact, that such men do not love God above all. It is foolish to dispute against plain fact and experience. Men that live in ways of sin, and yet flatter themselves that they shall go to heaven, or expect to be received hereafter as holy persons, without a holy life and practice, act as though they expected to make a fool of their Judge. Which is implied in what the apostle says, Gal. vi. 7. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. As much as to say, "Do not deceive yourselves with an expectation of reaping life everlasting hereafter, if you sow not to the Spirit here; it is in vain to think that God will be made a fool of by you, that he will be imposed upon with shadows instead of substance, and with vain pretences, instead of that good fruit which he expects; when the contrary to what you pretend appears plainly in your life, before his face." In this manner the word mock is sometimes used in scripture. Thus Delilah says to Sampson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies, Judges xvi. 10, 13. i. e. "Thou hast baffled me, intending to make a fool of me, as if I might be easily turned off with any vain pretence, instead of the truth." So it is said that Lot, when he told his sons-in-law that God would destroy that place, he seemed as one that mocked to his sons-in-law, Gen. xix. 14. i. e. he seemed as one that would make a game of them, as though they were credulous fools. But the great Judge, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, will not be mocked or baffled with any pretences, without a hely life. If in his name men have prophesied and wrought miracles, and have had faith so that they could remove mountains, and cast out devils, and however high their religious affections have been, however great resemblances they have had of grace, and though their hiding place has been so dark and deep, that no human skill nor search could find them out; yet if they are workers or practisers of iniquity, they cannot hide their hypocrisy from their Judge; Job xxxiv. 22. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the WORKERS OF INIQUITY may hide themselves. Would a wise prince suffer himself to be mocked by a subject, who should pretend that he was loyal, and should tell his prince that he had an entire affection for him, and that at such and such a time he had experience of it, and felt his affections strongly working towards
him, and should come expecting to be accepted and rewarded by his prince, as one of his best friends on that account, though he lived in rebellion against him, following some pretender to his crown, and from time to time stirring up sedition against him? Or, would a master suffer himself to be shammed and gulled by a servant, that should pretend to great experiences of love and honour towards him in his heart, and a great sense of his worthiness and kindness, when at the same time he refused to obey and serve him?
Argument II. As reason shews, that those things which occur in the course of life, which put it to the proof whether men will prefer God to other things in practice, are the proper trial of the sincerity of their hearts; so the same are represented as the proper trial of the sincerity of professors, in the scripture. There we find that such things are called by that very name, trials, or temptations, both words of the same signification.The things that put it to the proof, whether men will prefer God to other things in practice, are the difficulties of religion, or those things which occur that make the practice of duty difficult, and cross to other principles besides the love of God; because in them, God and other things are both set before men together, for their actual and practical choice; and it comes to this, that we cannot hold to both, but one or the other must be forsaken. And these things are all over the scripture called by the name of trials or proofs*. And they are called by this name, because hereby professors are tried and proved of what sort they be, whether they be really what they profess and appear to be; and because in them, the reality of a supreme love to God is brought to the test of experiment and fact; they are the proper proofs, in which it is truly determined by experience, whether men have a thorough disposition of heart to cleave to God or no; Deut. viii. 2. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments, or no, Judg. ii. 21, 22. I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them the nations which Joshua left when he died: that through may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the So chap. iii. 1, 4. and Exod. xvi. 4. And the scripture, when calls these difficulties of religion by the name of temptations or trials, explains itself to mean thereby, the trial or experiment of their faith, Jam. i. 2, 3. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith
2 Cor. viii. 2. Heb. xi. 36. 1 Pet. i. 7. Chap. iv. 12. Gen. xxii. 1. Deut. viii. 2, 16. Chap. xiii. 3. Exod. xv. 35. Chap. xvi. 4. Judges ii. 22. Chap. iii. 1, 4. Psal. lxvi. 10, 11, Dan. xii. 10. Rev. iii. 10. Job xxii. 10. Zech. xiii. 2. Jam. i. 12. Rev. ii. 10. Luke vili. 13. Acts xx. 19. Jam. i. 2,3. 1 Pet, i.
worketh patience. 1 Pet. i. 6, 7. Now for a season-ye are in heaviness, through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold, &c. So the apostle Paul speaks of that expensive duty of parting with our substance to the poor, as the proof of the sincerity of the love of Christians, 2 Cor. viii. 8. And the difficulties of religion are often represented in scripture as being the trial of professors, in the same manner that the furnace is the proper trial of gold and silver; Psal. Ixvi. 11. Thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried: thou broughtest us into the net, thou laidest affliction upon our loins. Zech. xiii. 9. And I will bring the third part of them through the fire; and I will refine them as silver is refined: and I will try them as gold is tried. That which has the colour and appearance of gold, is put into the furnace to try whether it be what it seems to be, real gold or no. So the difficulties of religion are called trials, because they try those that have the profession and appearance of saints, whether they are what they appear to be, real saints. If we put true gold into the furnace, we shall find its great value and preciousness; so the truth and inestimable value of the virtues of a true Christian appear, [when under these trials; 1 Pet. i. 7. That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory. True and pure gold will come out of the furnace in full weight: so true saints when tried come forth as gold, Job xxiii. 10. Christ distinguishes true grace from counterfeit by this, that it is gold tried in the fire, Rev. iii. 17, 18. So that it is evident that these things are called trials in scripture, principally as they try or prove the sincerity of professors. And from what has now been observed, it is evident that they are the most proper trial or proof of their sincerity; inasmuch as the very meaning of the word trial, as it is ordinarily used in scripture, is the difficulty occurring in the way of a professor's duty, as an experiment of his sincerity. If trial of sincerity be the proper name of these difficulties of religion, then doubtless these difficulties of religion are properly and eminently the trial of sincerity; for they are doubtless eminently what they are called by the Holy Ghost: God gives things their name from that which is eminently their nature. And if it be so, that these things are the proper and eminent trial, proof or experiment of the sincerity of professors; then certainly the result of the trial or experiment, (that is, persons' behaviour or practice under such trials), is the proper and eminent evidence of their sincerity. For they are called trials or proofs, only with regard to the result, and because the effect is eminently the proof, or evidence. And this is the most proper proof and evidence to the conscience of those that are the subjects of these trials. For when God is said by