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the faith or not; Know you not that Christ is in you (by faith) except you be reprobates?" 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Will you hearken now as long to your consciences, as you have done to me? As you have heard me telling you, what is the nature of a living, saving faith, will you hearken to your consciences, while they impartially tell you, whether you have this Life of Faith, or not? It may be known if you are willing, and diligent, and impartial: if you search on purpose, as men that would know whether they are alive or dead, and whether they shall live or die for ever; and not as men that would be flattered and deceived, and are resolved to think well of their state, be it true or false.
Let conscience tell you what eyes do you see by, for the conduct of the chief employment of your lives? Is it by the eye of sense or faith? I take it for granted that it is by the eye of reason. But is it by reason corrupted and biassed by sense, or is it by reason elevated by faith? What country is it that your hearts converse in? Is it in heaven or earth? What company is it that you solace yourselves with? Is it with angels and saints? Do you walk with them in the Spirit, and join your echoes to their triumphant praises, and say, Amen, when by faith you hear them ascribing honour, and praise, and glory to the Ancient of Days, the Omnipotent Jehovah, that is, and that was, and is to come? Do you fetch your joys from heaven or earth? From things unseen or seen? Things future or present? Things hoped for, or things possessed? What garden yieldeth you your sweetest flowers? Whence is the food, that your hopes and comforts live upon? Whence are the spirits and cordials that revive you; when a frowning world doth cast you into a fainting fit or swoon? Where is it that you repose your souls for rest, when sin or sufferings have made you weary? Deal truly, is it in heaven or earth? Which world do you take for your pilgrimage, and which for your home? I do not ask you where you are, but where you dwell? Not where are your persons, but where are your hearts? In a word, are you in good earnest, when you say, you believe a heaven and hell? And do you think, and speak, and pray, and live, as those that do indeed believe it? Do you spend your time and choose your condition of life, and dispose of your affairs, and answer temptations to worldly things, as those that are serious in their belief? Speak out, do you
live the life of faith upon things unseen?
Or the life of
sense on the things that you behold? Deal truly; for your endless joy or sorrow doth much depend on it. The life of faith is the certain passage to the life of glory. The fleshly life on things here seen, is the certain way to endless misery. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye by the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live;" Rom. viii. 13. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap everlasting life;" Gal. vi. 7, 8. If you would know where you must live for ever, know how, and for what, and upon what it is that you live here.
Use 4. Having inquired whether you are believers, I am next to ask you, what you will be for the time to come? Will you live upon things seen or unseen? Will you arrogate the name and honour of being Christians, will you bethink you what Christianity is? And will you be indeed. what you say you are, and would be thought to be? Oh! that you would give credit to the word of God! that the God of heaven might be but heartily believed by you! and that you would but take his word to be as sure as sense! and what he hath told you is or will be, to be as certain as if you saw it with your eyes! Oh! what manner of persons would you then be ! How carefully and fruitfully would you speak and live! How impossible were it then that you should be careless and profane! And here, that I may by seriousness bring you to be serious, in so serious a business, I shall first put a few suppositions to you, about the invisible objects of faith, and then I shall put some applicatory questions to you, concerning your own resolutions and practice thereupon.
1. Suppose you saw the Lord in glory continually before you, when you are hearing, praying, talking, jesting, eating, drinking, and when you are tempted to any wilful sin. Suppose you saw the Lord stand over you, as verily as you see a man; (as you might do if your eyes could see him; for it is most certain that he is still present with you ;) suppose you saw but such a glimpse of his back parts as Moses did, (Exod. xxxiv.) when God put him into a cleft of
the rock, and covered him while he passed by, (Exod. xxxiii. 23.) when the face of Moses did shine with the sight, that he was fain to veil it from the people; Exod. xxxiv. 33-35. Or if you had seen but what the prophet saw, when he “beheld the Lord upon a throne, high and lifted up," &c. and "heard the seraphim cry, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory." When he said, "Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts ;" Isa. vi. 1-6. Or if you had seen but what Job saw, when he said, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes;" Job xlii. 5, 6. What course would you take, what manner of persons would you be after such a sight as this? If you had seen but Christ appearing in his glory, as the disciples on the holy mount; Matt. xvii. Or as Paul saw him at his conversion, when he was smitten to the earth; Acts ix. Or as John saw him, Rev. i. 13. where he saith, "He was clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt with a golden girdle; his head and his hairs were white like wool or snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters; and he had in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth went a sharp, two-edged sword, and his countenance was as the sun shining in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead; and he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death:” What do you think you should be and do, if you had seen but such a sight as this? Would you be godly or ungodly after it? As sure as you live, and see one another, God always seeth you. He seeth your secret filthiness, and deceit, and malice, which you think is hid: he seeth you in the dark ; the locking of your doors, the drawing of your curtains, the setting of the sun, or the putting out of the candle doth hide nothing from him that is omniscient; "Understand O ye brutish among the people! and ye fools when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?" Psal. xciv. 8, 9. The lust,
and filthiness, and covetousness, and envy, and vanity of your very thoughts are as open to his view as the sun at And therefore you may well suppose him present that cannot be absent; and you may suppose you saw him that still seeth you, and whom you must see. Oh, what a change a glimpse of the glory of his majesty would make in this assembly! Oh, what amazements, what passionate workings of soul would it excite! Were it but an angel that did thus appear to you, what manner of hearers would you be! how serious! how affectionate! how sensible! And yet are you believers, and have none of this; when faith makes unseen things to be as seen? If thou have faith indeed, thou seest him that is invisible; thou speakest to him; thou hearest him in his word; thou seest him in his works; thou walkest with him; he is the life of thy comforts, thy converse and thy life.
2. Suppose you had seen the matters revealed in the Gospel to your faith, as to what is past and done already. If you had seen the deluge and the ark, and preservation of one righteous family; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven; and the saving of Lot, whose righteous soul was grieved at their sins, and hunted after as a prey to their ungodly rage, because he would have hindered them from transgressing. Suppose you had seen the opening of the Red sea, the passage of the Israelites, the drowning of Pharaoh and his Egyptians ; the manna and the quails that fell from heaven, the flaming mount, with the terrible thunder, when God delivered the law to Moses; what manner of people would you have been! What lives would you have led after such sights as all or any of these! Suppose you had seen Christ in his state of incarnation, in his examples of lowliness, meekness, contempt of all the glory and vanities of this world, and had heard him speak his heavenly doctrine with power and authority, as never man spake! Suppose you had seen him heal the blind, the lame, the sick, and raise the dead; and seen him after all this made the scorn of sinners, buffeted, spit upon, when they had crowned him with thorns, and arrayed him gorgeously in scorn; and then nailed between malefactors on a cross, and pierced, and die a shameful death, and this for such as you and I! Suppose you had seen the sun darkened without any eclipse, the vail of the temple rent, the earth tremble; the angels
terrifying the keepers, and Christ rise again! Suppose you had been among the disciples when he appeared in the midst of them, and with Thomas had put your fingers into his wounded side; and had seen him walking on the waters, and at last seen him ascending up to heaven. Suppose you had seen when the Holy Ghost came down on the disciples in the similitude of cloven tongues, and had heard them speak in the various languages of the nations, and seen the variety of miracles, by which they convinced the unbelieving world, what persons would you have been! have been! What lives would you have led, if you had been eye-witnesses of all these things! And do you not profess to believe all this? And that these things are as certain truths, as if you had seen them? Why then doth not your belief affect you, or command you more? Why doth it not do what sight would do, in some good measure, if it were but a lively, saving faith indeed, that serveth instead of sense? Yea, I must tell you, faith must do more with you in this case, than the sight of Christ alone could do, or the sight of his miracles did on most. For many that saw him, and saw his works, and heard his word, yet perished in their unbelief.
3. Suppose you saw the everlasting glory which Christ hath purchased and prepared for his saints. That you had been once with Paul, rapt up into the third heavens, and seen the things that are unutterable; would you not after that have rather lived like Paul, and undergone his sufferings and contempt, than to have lived like the brain-sick, brutish world? If you had seen what Stephen saw before his death; "The glory of God, and Christ standing at his right hand;" Acts vii. 55, 56. If you had seen the thousands and millions of holy, glorious spirits, that are continually attending the Majesty of the Lord. If you had seen the glorified spirits of the just, that were once in flesh, despised by the blind, ungodly world, while they waited on God in faith, and holiness, and hope, for that blessed crown which now they wear: if you had felt one moment of their joys: if you had seen them shine as the sun in glory, and made like unto the angels of God: if you had heard them sing the song of the Lamb, and the joyful hallelujahs, and praise to their eternal king; what would you be, and what would you resolve on after such a sight as this? If the rich man (Luke xvi.) had seen Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, in