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never intended that fuch unequal and variable Chriftians fhould enjoy much peace; and if they do, it is furely up. on fome idle or imaginary ground. To many it may be juftly faid as Jacob faid to his fon Reuben, " Unliable as water, thou fnalt not excel."* Inftead of devifmg ways, and making fuppofitions, to encourage fuch perfons to think well of their own ftate, it is a far fafer, and much kinder office, to excite them to a holy jealoufy over themfelves. This indeed feems to be the language of fcripture with regard to us all: "Let us therefore fear, lef t a pro. "mife being left us of entering into his reft, any of you "fhould feem to come fliort of it."f EH'ewhere, fays the fame apoftle, " And we defire that every one of you do "fhew the fame diligence, to the full aflurance of hope "unto the end."];

The life of a Chriftian is conftantly reprefented in fcripture as a life of vigilance and caution, of activity and diligence. "Be fober and vigilant, for your adverfary "the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about feeking whom "he may devour."j| The fame apoftle fays, " And be"fides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, "and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, "and to temperance patience, and to patience godlinefs, "and to godlinefs brotherly kindnefs, and to brotherly "kindnefs charity; for if thefe things be in you and "abound, they make you that ye fhall neither be barren "nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord JefusChrift. "—Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to "make your calling and election fure."** I beg it may be obierved, that this is no way contrary to that confidence in the divine mercy and good hope through grace, which the gofpel imparts to the believer.

Thefe are intended to animate him to diligence in duty, in dependance on divine ftrength, and are themfdvesgradually confirmed and improved, by producing their proper effects. Few feem to have enjoyed more of the coniolations of the gofpel than the apoflle Paul; and yet he

* Gei*. xlix. 4. t Heb. iv. 1. % Heb. vi. 11. || 1 Pet. v. 8. 4* 2 Pet. i. 5—10.

reprefents even the fear of final difappointment, as what daily influenced his own conduct. "But I keep under "my body, and bring it into fubjection, left that by any '' means, when 1 have preached to otiiers, I myfelf mould "be a caft-away."*

I cannot help taking notice here, that there is often juft caufe to find fault even with perfons who, to all appearance, are fincerely pious upon this l'ubject. For all fuch I defire to have the higheft efteem, and to treat them with the greateft tendernefs and affection. In the mean time, they ought to be willing, and even defirous of having their millakes pointed out to them. Now I' am perfuaded, there are many who feelc alter aflurance of their own intereft in God's favor in a wrong way, and that they often expect it in a degree that is not iuited to the prefent ftate.

1. They often feek it in a wrong way; they are ready to lay hold ofimprelfions upon their minds; and, in a variety of particulars, are in danger of repeating the fin of the Pharifees, who aiked a fign from heaven. When a minifter is fpeaking or writing on this fubject, they expect fomething particular and perfonal; and, if I may fpeak {o, that he fhould be in God's ftead, and give them aflurance, in place of telling them how they ought to feek it. Bat this eagernefs, from however good a difpofition it may fpring, is unwarranted and prepofterous. We muft be fatisfied to walk in the way that God hath pointed out to us; to give thanks to him for the fure foundation of a finner's hope which is laid in Zion, and to conclude the fafety of our own ilate from a lerious and deliberate examination of ourfelves by the rules laid down in the holy fcriptures. In this way only, is the moft folid, fettled, and lafting peace to be obtained.

Perhaps fome will be ready to fay, Do you then condemn in general all regard to imprelfions that may be fenfibly felt upon the mind, or all fecret and powerful fuggeftions of paflages of fcripture? Does the Holy Ghoft the comforter never in tins manner enlighten or refrefh thofe

* 1 Cor. ix. 27.

Vol. I. Z

fouls in whom he dwells, according to his promife ?" I *' will dwell in them, and walk in them ; and I will be "their God, and they fhall be my people."* No, far from it; I have no defign of denying the real operation or gracious prefence of the Spirit of God, which is certainly one of the moft efiential and one of the moft comfortable doctrines of the "glorious gofpel; but at the fame time, from the'love I bear to it, I would guard it againft miftakes and abufe. When any truth, or any paflage of fcripture is fuggefted to the mind, which particularly and ftrongly points out the duty proper to our prefent ftate and circumftances; when this is backed with a powerful fenfe of its obligation, and by that means a deceitful or flothful heart is revived and quickened; this is thankfully to be acknowledged, and readily complied with. When a doubtful, dejected, or defponding mind is relieved, by a ftrong and affecting view of fome encouraging promife or gracious invitation to the weary finner, or the contrite fpirit; when, in fuch a cafe, the mind is led to a difcovery of the rich mercy and free grace of God to the guilty and miferable, it ought to be embraced and improved; and in many fuch inftances, ferious perfons harrafled by temptation, have had caufe to fay with David, "I will "blefs the Lord, who hath given me counfel; my reins M alfo inftruct me in the night feafon." j

This is no more than the neceflary confequence of the conftant over-ruling providence of God, which, as it extends to the difpofal and direction of the moft minute circumftances in the courfe of nature, cannot fail to be particularly exercifed about the holinefs and peace of his own children. They obey what appears to be their duty, or an argument againft fin; they truft the divine faithfulnefs in what concerns their comfort; and adore the divine wifdom and goodnefs in the propriety and feafonablenefs of either or both. But for any perfon, from the fudden fuggeftion of a paflage of fcripture, ('• I am thy God" for example; or, "I have called thee by thy name, thou art "mine") without any examination of his temper and dif

* 2 Cor. Ti. 16. t Pfal. xvi. 7,

pofition, to conclude the fafety of his (late, is furely a piece of prefumption without ground.

Neither is it lefs foolifh than prefumptuous; for all fuch muft be liable to be call down by other and contrary fuggeftions. We know very well, and have an inftance of it in our Saviour's temptation, that fatan can fuggeft pafl'ages of fcripture; nay, and fpeak pioufly and plaufibly upon them: but their conclufions muft be tried by other icriptures. To all who are inclined to the above deluding practice, I would fay with the apoftle John, "Beloved, "believe not every fpirit, but try the fpirits, whether "they are of God."* Or with the prophet Ifaiah, "To "the law and to the teflimony, if they fpeak not accord"ing to this word, it is becaufe there is no light in them."-)There is alio a very proper advice, mixed witli caution, given by the fame prophet, in the following words; "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth "the voice of his fervant, that walketh in darknels and "hath no light; let him truft in the name of the Lord, "and ftay upon his God. Behold all ye that kindle a fire, "allthat compafs yourfelves about with fparks, walk in the "light of your fires, and in the fparks that ye have kind"led; this fhall ye have of mine hand, ye fhall lie down "in forrow."|

2. I muft alfoobferve, that many ferious perfons feem todefire, and even to expect, aflurance in fuch ameafnre and degree, as is not fuited to our prefent ftate. They would have faith and hope to be the fame with fenfe. They would have heaven and earth to be the fame, and would put on their crown before they have finifhed their courfe. I am perfuaded, many deprive themfelves of that comfort to which they have an undoubted title, and which they might eafily poffefs, by aiming at that which is beyond their reach. They do not remember, that it is true in this refpect as well as in many others, what the apoftle fays, "Now we fee through a glafs darkly, but "then face to face; now I know in part, but then fhall I

* 1 John iv. 1. t If- viii. 20. \ If. I. 10, 11.

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* I Cor. xiii. 12.

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