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desire ceases, or is abated. It may be before, while the man was under legal convictions, and much afraid of hell, he earnestly longed that he might obtain spiritual light in his understanding, faith in Christ, and love to God: but now, when these false affections deceive him, and make him confident that he is converted, and his state good, there are no more earnest longings after light and grace; for his end is answered; he is confident that his sins are forgiven him, and that he shall go to heaven; and so he is satisfied. And especially when false affections are raised very high, do they put an end to longings after grace and holiness. The man now is far from appearing to himself a poor empty creature; on the contrary, he is rich, and increased with goods, and hardly conceives of any thing more excellent, than what he has already attained.
Hence there is an end to many persons' earnestness in seeking, after they have once obtained that which they call their conversion; or at least, after they have had those high affections, that make them fully confident of it. Before, while they looked upon themselves as in a state of nature, they were engaged in seeking after God and Christ, and cried earnestly for grace, and strove in the use of means: but now they act as though they thought their work was done; they live upon their first work, or some high past experiences; and there is an end to their crying, and striving after God and grace*. Whereas the holy principles that actuate
"It is usual to see a false heart most diligent in seeking the Lord, when he has been worst, and most careless when it is best. Hence many at first conversion, sought the Lord earnestly; afterwards affections and endeavours die; that now they are as good as the word can make them.-An hypocrite's last end is to satisfy himself: hence he has enough. A saint's is to satisfy Christ; hence he never has enough." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 157.
"Many a man, it may be, may say, I have nothing in myself. and all is in Christ: and comfort himself there; and so falls asleep. Hands off! and touch not this ark, lest the Lord slay thee: a Christ of clouts would serve your turn as well."— Ibid. p. 71.
"An hypocrite's light goes out, and grows not. Hence many ancient slanders take all their comfort from their first work, and droop when in old age." Ibid. p. 77.
And p. 93, 94. Mr. Shepard, mentioning the characters of those that have a dead hope, says, "They that content themselves with any measure of holiness and grace, they look not for Christ's coming and company. For saints that do look for him, though they have not that holiness and grace they would have, yet they rest not satisfied with any measure; 1 John iii. 3. He that hath this hope, purifieth himself as he is pure.-The saints content not themselves with any dressings, until made glorious, and so fit for fellowship with that spouse-When a man leaves not until he gets such a measure of faith and grace, and now when he has got this, contents himself with this, as a good sign that he shall be saved, he looks not for Christ. Or when men are heavily laden with sin, then close with Christ; and then are comforted, sealed, and have joy that fills them; and now the work is done. And when men shall not content themselves with any measure, but wish they had more, if grace would grow, while they tell clocks and sit idle; and so God must do all; but do not purge themselves, and make work of it."
Again, p. 109. "There is never a hypocrite living, but closeth with Christ for
a true saint, have a far more powerful influence to stir him up to earnestness in seeking God and holiness, than servile fear. Hence seeking God is spoken of as one of the distinguishing characters of the saints; and those that seek God, is one of the names by which the godly are called in scripture; Psal. xxiv. 6. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Psal. Ixix. 6. Let not those that seek thee, be confounded for my sake. ver. 32. The humble shall see this, and be glad; and your heart shall live that seek God. And lxx. 4. Let all those that seek thee, rejoice, and be glad in thee; and let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. And the scriptures every where represent the seeking, striving and labour of a Christian, as being chiefly after his conversion, and his conversion as being but the beginning of his work. And almost all that is said in the New Testament, of men's watching, giving earnest heed to themselves, running the race that is set before them, striving and agonizing, wrestling not with flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, fighting, putting on the whole armour of God, and standing, having done all to stand, pressing forward, reaching forth, continuing instant in prayer, crying to God day and night; I say, almost all that is said in the New Testament of these things, is spoken of, and directed to the saints. Where these things are applied to sinners seeking conversion once, they are spoken of the saints' prosecution of the great business of their high calling ten times. But many in these days have got into a strange anti-scriptural way, of having all their
his own ends; for he cannot work beyond his principle. Now when men have served their own turns out of another man, away they go, and keep that which they have. An hypocrite closeth with Christ, as a man with a rich shop; he will not be at cost to buy all the shop, but so much as serves his turn. Commonly men in horror, seek so much of Christ as will ease them; and hence profess, and hence seek for so much of Christ as will credit them; and hence their desires after Christ are soon satisfied. Appetitus finis est infinitus.”
Wo to thee that canst paint such a Christ in thy head, and receive such a Christ into thy heart, as must be a pander to your sloth. The Lord will revenge this wrong done to his glory, with greater sorrows than ever any felt; to make Christ not only meat and drink to feed, but clothes to cover your sloth-Why what can we do? what can we do?-Why as the first Adam conveys not only guilt, but power, so the second conveys both righteousness and strength."—Ibid. p. 158.
"When the Lord hath given some light and affection, and some comfort and some reformation, now a man grows full here. Saints do for God; and carnal hearts do something too; but a little fills them, and quiets them, and so damns them. And hence men at the first work upon them, are very diligent in the use of means; but after that, they be brought to neglect prayer, sleep out sermons, and to be careless, sapless, lifeless."—Ibid p. 210.
"It is an argument of want of grace, when a man saith to himself, as the glutton said to his soul, "Take thy rest, for thou hast goods laid up for many years. So thou hast repentance and grace, and peace enough for many years: and hence the soul takes its rest, grows sluggish and negligent. Oh, if you die in this case, this night thy soul will be taken away to hell."-Ibid. p. 227.
striving and wrestling over before they are converted; and so having an easy time of it afterwards, to sit down and enjoy their sloth and indolence; as those that now have a supply of their wants, and are become rich and full. But when the Lord fills the hungry with good things, these rich are like to be sent away empty. Luke i. 53.
But doubtless there are some hypocrites, that have only false affections, who will think they are able to stand this trial; and will readily say, that they desire not to rest satisfied with past attainments, but to be pressing forward; they desire more, they long after God and Christ, desire more holiness, and seek it.But the truth is, their desires are not properly the desires of appetite after holiness, for its own sake, or for its moral excellency and holy sweetness; but only for by-ends. They long after clearer discoveries, that they may be better satisfied about the state of their souls; or because in great discoveries self is gratified, in being made so much of by God, and so exalted above others; they long to taste the love of God, (as they call it) rather than to have more love to God. Or, it may be, they have a kind of forced, fancied or made longings; because they think they must long for more grace, otherwise it will be a dark sign upon them. But such things as these are far different from the natural, and as it were necessary appetite and thirsting of the new man after God and holiness. There is an inward burning desire that a saint has after holiness, as natural to the new creature, as vital heat is to the body. There is a holy breathing and panting after the Spirit of God to increase holiness, as natural to a holy nature, as breathing is to a living body. And holiness or sanctification is more directly the object of it, than any manifestation of God's love and favour. This is the meat and drink that is the object of the spiritual appetite; John iv. 34. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Where we read in scripture of the desires, longings and thirstings of the saints, righteousness and God's laws are much more frequently mentioned, as the object of them, than any thing else. The saints desire the sincere milk of the word, not so much to testify God's love to them, as that they may grow thereby in holiness. I have shewn before, that holiness is that good which is the immediate object of a spiritual But undoubtedly the same sweetness that is the chief object of a spiritual taste, is also the chief object of a spiritual appetite. Grace is the godly man's treasure; Is. xxxiii. 6. The fear of the Lord is his treasure. Godliness is the gain of which he is covetous, 1 Tim. vi. 6. Hypocrites long for discoveries, more for the present comfort of the discovery, and the high manifestation of God's love in it, than for any sanctifying influence of it. But neither a longing after great discoveries, or after great
tastes of the love of God, nor longing to be in heaven, nor longing to die, are in any measure so distinguishing marks of true saints, as longing after a more holy heart, and living a more holy life.
Gracious and holy affections have their exercise and fruit in Christian practice.
I mean, they have that influence and power upon him who is the subject of them, that they cause that a practice, which is universally conformed to, and directed by Christian rules, should be the practice and business of his life.
This implies three things; 1. That his behaviour or practice in the world, be universally conformed to, and directed by Christian rules. 2. That he makes a business of such a holy practice above all things; that it be a business which he is chiefly engaged in, and devoted to, and pursues with highest earnestness and diligence so that he may be said to make this practice of religion eminently his work and business. And 3. That he persists in it to the end of life: so that it may be said, not only to be his business at certain seasons, the business of Sabbath-days, or certain extraordinary times, or the business of a month, or a year, or of seven years, or his business under certain circumstances; but the business of his life; it being that business which he perseveres in through all changes, and under all trials, as long as he lives. The necessity of each of these, in all true Christians, is most clearly and fully taught in the word of God.
1. It is necessary that men should be universally obedient* :
"He that pretends to godliness, and turns aside to crooked ways, is an hypocrite; for those that are really godly, do live in a way of obedience; Psal. cxix. 1, 2, 3. 'Blessed are the undefiled in the way, that walk in the law of the Lord. They also do no iniquity.' Luke i. 6. They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments of the Lord blameless.' But such as live in ways of sin, are dissemblers: for all such will be rejected in the day of judgment; Matth. vii. 23. Depart from me ye that work iniquity.' The like we have, Luke xiii. 27. If men live in a way of disobedience, they do not love God: for love will make men keep God's commandments; 1 John v. 3. "Herein is love, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous." If men live in a way of disobedience, they have not a spirit of faith; for faith sanctifies men: Acts xxvi. 18. "Sanctified by faith that is in me." If men live in a way of disobedience, they are not Christ's sheep; for his sheep hear his voice; John x. 27. Men that live in a way of disobedience, are not born of God; 1 John iii. 9. "He that is born of God, sinneth not." Men that live in a way of disobedience are the servants of sin; John viii. 34. He that committeth sin, is the servant of sin."-A course of external sin is an evidence of hypocrisy; whether it be a sin of omission or commission.-If men live in the neglect of known duties, or in the practice of known evils, that will be their condemnation; let the
1 John iii. 3, &c. Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.-And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not: whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither know him. He that doth righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous; he that committeth sin, is of the devil. Chap. v. 8, We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. John xv. 14. Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. James ii. 10. Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 1 Cor. vi. 9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, &c. shall inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. v. 19, 20. Now the works of the flesh sin be what it will; let it be profaneness, uncleanness, lying, or injustice.—If men allow themselves in malice, envy, wanton thoughts, profane thoughts, that will condemn them; though those corruptions do not break out in any scandalous way. These thoughts are an evidence of a rotten heart; Tit. iii. 8. "We ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." If a man allows himself, though he thinks he doth not, in malice and envy, he is an hypocrite; though his conscience disallows it, yet if his heart allows it, he is no saint.-Some make pretences to godliness, whereby they do not only deceive others, but, (which is a great deal worse) deceive themselves also; but this will condemn them, that they live in a course of sin, and so must go with ungodly men: Psal. cxxv. 5. “As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord will lead them forth with the workers of iniquity." If there be a great change in a man's carriage, and he be reformed in several particulars, yet if there be one evil way, the man is an ungodly man; where there is piety there is universal obedience. A man may have great infirmities, yet be a godly man. So it was with Lot, David, and Peter; but if he lives in a way of sin, he does not render his godliness only suspicious, but it is full evidence against him. Men that are godly have respect to all God's commandments, Psal. cxix. 6. There be a great many commands, and if there be one of them that a man has cot respect unto, he will be put to shame another day. If a man lives in one evil way, he is not subject to God's authority; but then he lives in rebellion; and that will take off all his pleas, and at once cut off all his pretences; and he will be condemned in the day of judgment. One way of sin is exception enough against the man's salvation. Though the sin that he lives in be but small, such persons will not be guilty of perjury, stealing, drunkenness, fornication; they look upon them to be heinous things, and they are afraid of them; but they do not much matter it, if they oppress a little in a bargain, if they commend a thing too much when they are about to sell it, if they break a promise, if they spend the Sabbath unprofitably, if they neglect secret prayer, if they talk rudely and reproach others; they think these are but small things; if they can keep clear of great transgressions, they hope that God will not insist upon small things. But indeed all the commands of God are established by divine authority; a small shot may kill a man, as well as a cannon bullet: a small leak may sink a ship. If a man lives in small sins, that shews he has no love to God, no sincere care to please and honour God. Little sins are of a damning nature, as well as great; if they do not deserve so much punishment as greater, yet they do deserve damnation. There is a contempt of God in all sins; Matth. v. 19. "He that shall break one of the least of these commands, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of God." Prov. xix. 16. "He that keepeth the commandments, keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his way, shall die." If a man says, this is a great command, and so lays weight on it, and another is a little commandment, and so does not regard it, but will allow himself to break it, he is in a perishing condition."-(Stoddard's Way to know Sincerity and Hypocrisy.)