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Direct. 18. Keep a constant observation of God's converse with your hearts, and workings on them.'
For, as I said before, there are within us such demonstrations of a kingdom of God, in precepts, mercies, rewards and punishments, that he which well marketh them, will have much help in the maintaining and exercising his belief of the everlasting kingdom: especially the godly, who have that Spirit there working, which is indeed the very seal, and pledge, and earnest of life eternal; 2 Cor. i. 22. v. 5. Ephes, i. 13, 14. Gal. iv. 5, 6. Rom. viii. 16, 17. There is so much of God and heaven in a true believer's heart, that (as we see the moon and stars when we look down into the water, so) we may see much of God and heaven within us, if the heart itself be throughly studied.
And I must add, that experience here must be carefully recorded: and when God fulfilleth promises to us, it must not be forgotten.
Direct. 19. Converse much with them that live by faith, and fetch their motives and comforts from the things unseen.'
Converse hath a transforming power. To converse with them that live all by sense, and shew no other desires, or joys, or sorrows, but what are fetched from fleshly sensible things, is a great means to draw us downwards with them. And to converse with them who converse in heaven; and speak of nothing else so comfortably or so seriously; who shew us that heaven is the place they travel to, and the state that all their life doth aim at; and who make little of all the wants or plenty, pains or pleasures of the flesh; this much conduceth to make us heavenly. As men are apt to learn and use the language, the motives, and the employments of the country and people where they live; so he that is most familiar with such as live by faith, upon things unseen, and taketh God's promise for full security, hath a very great help to learn and live that life himself; Heb. x. 24, 25. 1 Thes. iv. 17, 18. Phil. iii, 20, 21.
Direct. 20. Forget not the nearness of the things unseen, and think not of a long continuance in this world; but live in continual expectations of your change.'
Distant things, be they never so great, do hardly move us: as in bodily motion, the mover must be contiguous : and as our senses are not fit to apprehend beyond a certain distance; so our minds also are finite, and have their
bounds and measure: and sin hath made them much narrower, foolish and short-sighted than they would have been. A certainty of dying at last, should do much with us: but yet he that looketh to live long on earth, will the more hardly live by faith in heaven; when he that daily waiteth for his change, will have easily the more serious and effectual thoughts of the world in which he must live next, and of all the preparations necessary thereunto; and will the more easily despise the things on earth, which are the employment and felicity of the sensual; Col. iii. 1-3. Phil. i. 20-23. 1 Cor. xv. 31. As we see it in constant experience in men, when they see that they must presently die indeed, how light then set they by the world? How little are they moved with the talk of honour, with the voice of mirth, with the sight of meat, or drink, or beauty, or any thing which before they had not power to deny? And how seriously they will then talk of sin and grace, of God and heaven, which before they could not be awakened to regard? If therefore you would live by faith indeed, set yourselves as at the entrance of that world which faith foreseeth, and live as men that know they may die to-morrow, and certainly must be gone ere long. Dream not of I know not how many years more on earth, which God never promised you; unless you make it your business to vanquish faith by setting its objects at a greater distance than God hath set them. Learn Christ's warning to one and all, To watch, and to be always ready; Mark xiii. 33. 35. 37. 1 Pet. iv. 7. Matt. xxiv. 44. Luke xii. 40. He that thinketh he hath yet time enough, and daylight before him, will be the apter to loiter in his work or journey: when every man will make haste when the sun is setting, if he have much to do, or far to go. Delays, which are the great preventers of repentance, and undoers of the world, do take their greatest advantage from this ungrounded expectation of long life. When they hear the physician say, ' He is a dead man, and there is no hope,' then they would fain begin to live, and then how religious and reformed would they be? Whereas if this foolish error did not hinder them, they might be of the same mind all their lives, and might have then done their work, and waited with desire for the crown; and said with Paul, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand: I have fought a good
fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not me only, but to them also that love his appearing;" 2 Tim. iv. 4. 6—8.
And so much for the general Directions to be observed by them that will live by faith: I only add, that as the welldoing of all our particular duties, dependeth most on the common health and soundness of the soul, in its state of grace; so our living by faith in all the particular cases after instanced, doth depend more upon these general Directions, than on the particular ones which are next to be adjoined.
An Enumeration of the Particular Cases in which especially Faith must be used. 1. How to live by Faith on God.
THE general Directions before given must be practised in all the particular cases following, or in order to them; but besides them, it is needful to have some special Directions for each case. And the particular cases which I shall in
stance in are these: 1. How to exercise faith on God himself. 2. Upon Jesus Christ. 3. Upon the Holy Ghost. 4. About the Scripture precepts and examples. 5. About the Scripture promises. 6. About the threatenings. 7. About pardon of sin, and justification. 8. About sanctification, and the exercises of other graces. 9. Against inward vices and temptations to actual sin. 10. In case of prosperity. 11. In adversity and particular afflictions. 12. In God's worship, 'public and private. 13. For spiritual peace and joy. 14. For the world, and the church of God. 15. For our relations. 16. In loving others as ourselves. 17. About heaven, and following the saints. 18. How to die in faith. 19. About the coming of Christ to judgment.
God is both the object of our knowledge, as he is revealed in nature, and of our faith, as he is revealed in the
Holy Scriptures. He is the first and last object of our faith. "It is life eternal to know him the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent." "Ye believe in God, believe also in me," was Christ's order in commanding and causing faith; John xiv. 1. Seeing therefore this is the principal part of faith (to know God, and live upon him, and to him), I shall give you many (though brief) Directions in it.
Direct. 1. Behold the glorious and full demonstrations of the being of the Deity, in the whole frame of nature, and especially in yourselves.'
The great argument from the effect to the cause is unanswerable. All the caused and derived beings in the world, must needs have a first being for their cause. action, intellection and volition; all power, wisdom and goodness which is caused by another, doth prove that the cause can have no less than the total effect hath. To see the world, and to know what a man is, and yet to deny that there is a God, is to be mad. He that will not know that which all the world doth more plainly preach than words can possibly express, and will not know the sense of his own being and faculties, doth declare himself incapable of teaching; Psal. xiv. 1. xlix. 12. 20. Isa. i. 2, 3. It is the greatest shame that man's understanding is capable of, to be ignorant of God, (1 Cor. xv. 34.) and the greatest shame to any nation (Hos. iv. 1. vi. 6.), as it is the highest advancement of the mind to know him, and therefore the sum of all our duty; Prov. ii. 5. Hos. vi. 6. 2 Chron. xxx. 21, 22. Isa. xi. 9. 2 Pet. ii. 20. Rom. i. 20. 28. John xvii. 3. Direct. 2. Therefore take not the being and perfections of God, for superstructures and conclusions, which may be tried, and made bow to the interest of other points; but as the greatest, clearest, surest truths, next to the knowledge of our own being and intellection: and that which all other (at least, not the proper objects of sense) must be tried and reduced to.'
When there is no right method or order of knowledge, there is no true and solid knowledge. It is distraction, and not knowing, to begin at the top, and to lay the foundation last, and reduce things certain to things uncertain. And it is no more wisely done of atheists, who argue from their apprehensions of other things, against the beings or perfections of God. As when they say, 'There is much evil in
the world permitted by God, and there is death and many tormenting pains befal even the innocent brutes; and there are wars and confusions, and ignorance and wickedness have dominion in the earth: therefore God is not perfectly good, nor perfectly wise, and just, and powerful in his government of the world.' The error in the method of arguing here, helpeth to continue their blindness. That God is perfectly good, is 'prius cognitum.' Nothing is more certain than that he who is the cause of all the derived goodness in the whole universe, must have as much or more than all himself. Seeing therefore that heaven and earth, and all things, bear so evident a witness to this truth, this is the foundation and first to be laid, and never more questioned, nor any argument brought against it. For all that possibly can be said against it, must be à minus notis,' from that which is more obscure. Seeing then that it is most certain by sense, that calamities and evils are in the world; and no less certain that there is a God, who is most perfectly good; it must needs follow that these two are perfectly consistent, and that some other cause of evil must be found out, than any imperfection in the chief good. But as to the being of things, and order in the world, it followeth not that they must be as good and perfect as their Maker and Governor is himself; nor one part as good and perfect in itself as any other. Because it was not the Creator's purpose when he made the world, to make another God, that should be equal with himself (for two infinite beings and perfections is a contradiction). But it was his will to imprint such measures of his own likeness and excellencies upon the creatures, and with such variety as his wisdom saw most fit; the reasons of which are beyond our search. The Divine agency, as it is in him the agent, is perfect; but the effect hath those measures of goodness which he was freely pleased to com
And as I have given you this instance, to shew the folly of trying the certain foundation by the less certain notions or accidents in the world; so you must abhor the same error in all other instances. Some wit may consist with the questioning of many plain conclusions; but he is a fool indeed, who saith, "There is no God," or doubteth of his essential properties; Psal. xiv. 1, 2. Rom. i. 19-21.
Direct. 3. Remember that all our knowledge of God,