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thee by satan; or arise like stinking fumes from the fountain of that impurity of thy vile and corrupted nature; is the new nature, whereof thou wast made a partaker in effectual calling: this new nature strives against the old Adam's.
Holy David, though a man after God's own heart, seems to have been infested with the selfsame distemper of which thou complainest: see and consider what he complains of. Psal. cxix. 113; “I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love. And in Psalm xciv. 19, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” Here were swarms of soul-distressing and beartdistracting thoughts, which crowded in upon him; but yet he gave not way to sinful discouragement because of them, but opposed the graces and comforts of God's holy covenant to them, and hereby he found relief; according to that in 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. " Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation, though he make it not to grow.
Let David's distress and ailment be what it will from without, from within, from his personal sinnings, or his family's short comings in fearing and serving God, the everlasting covenant of God's free and rich
grace is the refuge he flies to. Do thou as David did, and fear noi but thou wilt find help and relief as he did. It is with thee in this case as it was with Rebecca when she sensibly felt the twins struggling in her womb. “ And the Lord
said, two nations are within thy womb." So it is with thee; here are two natures at open war within thee; the old Adam's leading to sin, and the second Adam's resisting and hating sin.
Object 5. I am so inconstant in the duty of prayer, that I fear my heart is not sound and right with God.
Answ. Inconstancy and fickleness in walking with God is a sin to be bewailed and repented of; but not at all to be a ground or cause of discouragement in praying to God.
Reas. 1. Because the disease now complained of was very incident to the people of God of old; whom, notwithstanding their inconstancy and fickleness in walking in the ways of God, God owned for his own people, and blessed them. Hosea vi. 4. “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as the morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.” The eighty-seventh Psalm is full to the purpose, discovering how inconstant and wavering the Israelites of old were in walking in God's ways; and yet how wonderfully God bore with them, and pardoned them.
Reas. 2. Because inconstancy and fickleness is. a natural imperfection, under which all God's children do groan and labour more or less, while in a state of imperfection.
Thirdly, And whereas that place in James i. 8, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, is on every occasion of the believer's neglecting his
duty applied to the believer, as if he himself were there designed. Every true believer is to know, that the Spirit of God in that place doth not intend a man who is naturally of a changeable and fickle temper; but one whose heart and soul are. divided between two objects, as if the person
had two hearts, one for one object, and another for another object. 'Avrip diluxos, vir Duplex Animo, a man who is of a double mind, or who hath two minds, who is divided between two objects, not knowing whither of the two to choose or adhere to; as when a man meets with two pathways before him, and knows not which way of the two he had best venture on. Such a man as hath his heart and affections divided between God and his lusts, being desirous to serve both. As the Israelites were divided between God and Baal.
This cannot be applied to any believer, because of the choice he was enabled to make in effectual calling. His heart and affections are not at an uncertainty, as touching the object of their choice; God, in Christ, is the object of every true believer's choice and delight.“Whom have I, in heaven, but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee," Psal. lxxiii. 25. “My beloved is mine, and I am his,” Cant: ii. 16.
It is one thing for a believer to start out of the way of duty, through the violence of a temptation: and it is another thing to turn the back wilfully on God, and to choose another in his room. The former of these is very common with
true believers. The other is proper only to such as never knew God, experimentally, nor chose him for their God.
Luther was a man mightily given to prayer; yet so addicted was he to the service of, God, that he was thence styled by the godly, who knew his zeal and fervour therein, an insatiable worshipper of God. He could never have enough of it, and so strong was he in faith, that as often as the devil appeared to him, which was very frequent, he made
This same Luther did very often bind himself, by solemn vows and promises to God, that he would keep up a constant course of private praying to the Almighty; but therein he so frequently miscarried, that he grew ashamed of his inconstancy; and at length he vowed, that he would
VOW no more.
Thy sinful inconstancy thou dost not like or approve of; and whenever thou dost trip or fall in the way of duty, thou canst not rest till thou return and gettest into the way of duty again; this argues that thy heart is sound with God.
Object. 6. I am as dead and hard hearted in prayer as a log or stone: I cannot weep, or be rightly affected with my deadness. Oh! what shall one in my bewildered condition do?
Answ. In four particulars.
First, There is a partial deadness in the most lively believer this side glory, and if thou hadst not a principle of spiritual life in thy soul, thou
couldst no more feel thy spiritual deadness, or complain of the same, than the man who is naturally dead can feel himself to be dead, or complain of the same. I may here allude to that of Solomon, “ For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing,” &c. Eccles. ix. 5.
Secondly, There is a sweet and gracious promise left on record which suits thy present malady. Read, and apply it often in prayer.
“ A new heart also will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh,” Ezek. xxxvi. 26. God made Job's heart soft and broken by the methods he took with him, Job. xxiii. 16. He can and will do the like for thee, if thou continue to plead his own promise, watching at wisdom's gates, standing at the posts of her doors, Prov, viii. 34.
Thirdly, As to the case of shedding tears in prayer, I must tell thee, assuredly, that thy case herein was mine; while I was under the spirit of bondage I could not shed one tear for those sins, under whose weight I felt myself sinking, though I might gain heaven thereby. And this became an occasion of very great horror and despair in my spirit; concluding, that because I could not vent my sorrow and repentance by tears, that therefore God had given me up to judicial hard
I thought verily that none were true penitents but such as did abound in shedding tears, but I afterwards found myself mistaken in this