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teaches us, that he is jus too; and it can never assure us, what bounds God will set to the exercise of the one or the other, and when justice, and when mercy {hall take place: what fins are, and what are not capable of the benefit of sacrifice and repentance. And this uncertainty, considering the fins of the best life, was ever naturally apt to beget despondencies, melancholy, and sometimes a superstitious dread of God,

The second ground of assurance, as it relates to our present state, is an application of the conditions of lite laid down in the gospel to a man's own particular case, thus; they that believe and repent {hall be saved; I believe and repent, therefore Imall be saved. Now that a man upon an examination of himself, may be throughly afjured that he does believe and repent, is evident from scripture\ which does not only exhort us to enter upon this examination, but also asserts, that asjurance, joy and peace, are the naturaiyr«/Vj of it: but let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread, and drink os that cup, i Cor. xi. 28. Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith; prove your ownselves: know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates f 2 Cor. xv. 5. Butsanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man

that that askethyou a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear j 1 Pet. iii. 13. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments, 1 John ii. 3. Beloved, if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God, 1 John iii. 2. 'Tis true, men do often deceive themselves, and entertain a more favourable opinion of their state than they ought. But whence proceeds this? Even from too partial or supers cialreflections on themselves, or none at all. And therefore the apostle teaches 'us plainly, that the only way to correct this error, is a fincere and diligent search into our selves : for if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives h himself: but let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another, Gal. vi. 34. But it is objected against all this, that the heart ;\

of man is so deceitful, that it is a very dis- '• ,:/ £-3

cult matter to make a thorough discovery of v
it. 'We often think our selves fincere, when
the success of the next temptation gives
us just reason to call this sneerity into ques-
tion ; such is the contradictious compofition
of our nature, that we often act contrary
to our inward convictions, and frequently
fail in the execution of those defigns, in the
performance of those resolutions, which we
have thought very well grounded; and this
being not to be charged upon the infuffi-

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ciency of God's grace, but the levity or insincerity of our own hearts, how can we safely frame any right opinion of our selves from those affeSlions and purposes^ which are so little to be relied upon ? To this I answer. First, We are not to conclude any thing concerning our progress or perfection too hastily; we are not to determine of the final (flue of a war by the success of one or two engagements; but our hopes and assurances are to advance slowly and gradually in proportion to the abatement of- the enemy s force, and the increase of our own; so that we may have time enough to examine and prove our own hearts. Secondly, Afincere Christian, but especially one of a mature virtue, may easily discern his spiritual state, by the inward movings and aciings of the soul, if he attend to them: for it is impossible that such a one should be ignorant, what impressions divine truths make upon him? Is it possible he should be ignorant, whether his faith stands firm against the (hock of all carnal objections; whether he earnestly desire to please God, as loving him above all things; whether he thirst after the consolation and joy of the Spirit, more than after that of'senfible things? Is it. possible the foul should bewail its heaviness and drinefs, which the best are liable to at some season or other? Is it possible * that the soul should be carried upwards


frequently on the wings of faith and love, that it should maintain a familiar and constant conversation with heaven, that it should long to be delivered from this world of trouble, and this body of death, and to enter into the regions of peace, of life, and righteousness? Is it possible, I fay, that these should be the affections, the longings and earnings of the foul; and yet that the good man, the perfeSl man, who often enters into his closet, and communes- with his own heart, should be ignorant of them? It cannot be. In a u'or^, can the reluctances of the body, and the allurements of the world, be disarmed, weakened, and reduced?. Can the hunger and thirst after righteousness be very eager, the relish of spiritual pleasure brisk and delightful, and the contempt of worldly things be really and thoroughly settled, and yet the man be insensible of all this? It cannot be. But if we ieel these affections in us, we may safely conclude, that we are partakers of the Divine Nature; that we have escaped the corruption that is in the world through luff; and that the new creature is at least growing up into a perfect man, to the measure of the feature of the fulness of Christ. Thirdlyf The surest test of a state of grace, is our abounding in good works: you Jhall know the tree by its fruit, is our Masters own rule, and it can never deceive us: He that doth

E 2 righteousness

righteousness is born of God. If then we be frequent and fervent in our devotion towards God; if we be modest and grateful in the successes, patient and resigned, calm and serene under the crosses and troubles of life; if we be not only punctual, but honourable in our dealings; if we be vigorous and generous in the exercises of charity; if we be not only just and true, but . meek, gentle and obliging in our words; if we retrench not only the finful, but something from the innocent liberties and gratifications oi sense, to give our selves more intirely up to the duties and pleasures of faith: if finally, we never be ashamed of virtue, nor flatter, compliment, nor wink at vice; if we be ready to meet with death with comfort, and retain life with some degree of indifference: if these things, I fay, be in us, we have little reason to doubt of the goodness of our state: for good works being the natural fruit of grace, it is impossible we should abound in the one without being possessed with the other. One would think now, that there should be nothing further needful to establish the consolation of a Christian; and yet God, out of regard, no doubt, to the vast importance and happy influence of assurance, has furnished us with another ground of it, which is,

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