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of affections *. They are like the waters in the time of a shower of rain, which, during the shower, and a little after, run like a brook, and flow abundantly; but are presently quite dry: and when another shower comes, then they will flow again. Whereas a true saint is like a stream from a living spring; which though it may be greatly increased by a shower of rain, and diminished in time of drought, yet constantly runs : (John iv. 14. The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up, &c.) or like a tree planted by such a stream, that has a constant supply at the root, and is always green, even in time of the greatest drought; Jer. xvii, 7, 8. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall
* Dr. Owen (on the Spirit, Book III. Chap. ii. $ 18 ) speaking of a common work of the Spirit, says, “ This work operates greatly ou the affections: we have given instances, in fear, sorrow, joy, and delight, about spiritual things, that are stirred up and acted thereby: but yet it comes sbort in two things, of a thorough work upon the affections themselves. For, Ist, Il doth not fir them. And, 2dly, It doth not fill them. 1. It is required that our affections be fixed on heavenly and spiritual things : and true grace will effect it ; Col. iii. 1, 2. If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above. The joys, the fears, the hopes, the sorrows, with reference to spiritual and eternal things, which the work before mentioned doth produce, are evaoid, uncertain, unstable, not only as to the degrees, but as to the very being of thew. Sometimes they are as a river ready to overflow its banks, men cannot but be pouring them out on all occasions; and sometimes as waters that fail, no drop comes from them. Sometimes they are hot, and sometimes cold; sometimes up, and sometimes down; sometimes all heaven, and sometimes all world; without equality, without stability. But true grace fixeth the affections on spiritual things. As to the degrees of their exercise, there may be, and is in them a great variety, according as they may be excited, aided, assisted by grace and the means of it; or obstructed and impeded, by the interposition of temptations and dirersions. But the constant bent and inclination of renewed affections, is unto spiritual things; as the scripture every where testifieth, and as experience doth confirm."
“ There is (says Dr. Preston) a certain love, by fits, which God accepts not; when men come and offer to God great promises, like the waves of the sea, as big as mountains : Oh, they think, they will do much for God! But their minds change; and they become as those high waves, which at last fall level with the olber waters. If a man should proffer thee great kindnesses ; and thou shouldst afterwards come to him to make use of him, and he should look strangely apon thee, as if he were never acquainted with thee; how wouldst thou esteem of such love? If we are now on, now off, in our love, God will not esteem of such love." Discourse on the divine look of Christ.
Mr. FLAVEL, speaking of these changeable professors, says, “These professors have more of the moon than of the suo ; little light, less heat, and many changes. They deceive many, yea, they deceive themselves, but cannot deceive God. They want that ballast and establishment in themselves, that would have kepe them right and steady." Touchslone of sincerity, chap. ii. $ 2. Voli IV.
not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Many hypocrites
Many hypocrites are like comets, that appear for a while with a mighty blaze; but are very unsteady and irregular in their motion, and are therefore called wandering stars, Jude 13.); their blaze soon disappears, and they appear but once in a great while. But true saints are like the fixed stars, which, though they rise and set, and are often clouded, yet are stedfast in their orb, and shine with a constant light. Hypocritical affections are like a violent motion; as that of the air moved with winds, (Jude 12.) But gracious affections are more a natural motion; like the stream of a river, which, though it has many turns, may meet with obstacles, and run more freely and swiftly in some places than others; yet in the general, with a steady and constant course, tends the same way, until it gets to the ocean.
And as there is a strange unevenness and disproportion in false affections, at different times, so there often is in different places. Some are greatly affected when in conspany; but have nothing that bears any manner of proportion to it in secret, in close meditation, prayer and conversing with God when alone, and separated from all the world *. A true Christian doubtless delights in religious fellowship and Christian conversation, and finds much to affect his heart in it; but he also delights at times to retire from all mankind, to converse with God in solitude.
And this also has its peculiar advantages for fixing his heart, and engaging his affections. True religion disposes persons to be much alone in solitary places, for holy ineditation and prayer. So it wrought in Isaac, Gen. xxiv. 63. And which is much more, so it wrought in Jesus Christ. How often do we read of his retiring into
** The Lord is neglected secretly, yet honoured openly; because there is no wind in their chambers to blow their sails; and therefore there they stand still. Hence many men keep their prolession, when they lose their affection. They have by the one a name to live, (and that is enough), though their hearts he dead. And hence so long as you love and commend them, so long they love you; but if not, they will forsake you. They were warm only by another's fire, and bence having no principle of life with n, soon grow dead. This is the water that curus a Pharisee's mill." Shepard's Parable, Part I.
“ The hypocrite (says Mr. FLAVIL) is not for the closet, but the spnagogue, Matth. vi. 5, 6. It is not his meat and drink to retire from the clamour of the world, to enjoy God in secret." Touchstone of sincerity, Chap. vii $ 2.
Dr. Ames, in his Cases of conscience, Lib. III. Chap. v. speaks of it as a thing by which sincerity may be known, " That persous be obedient in the absence, as well as in the presence of lookers on; in secret, as well, yea more than in public;" alledging Phil. ii. 12. and Maltb. vi. 6.
mountains and solitary places, for holy converse with his -Father? It is difficult to conceal great affections, but yet gracious affections are of a much more silent and secret nature, than those that are counterfeit. So it is with the gracious sorrow of the saints for their own sins *. Thus the future gracious mourning of true penitents, at the beginning of the latter-day glory, is represented as being so secret, as to be bidden from the companions of their bosom; Zech. xii. 12, 13, 14. and the land shall mourn, every family apart, the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart, the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart: the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart : the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart: all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. So it is with their sorrow for the sins of others. The saints' pains and travail for the souls of sinners is chiefly in secret places; Jer. xii. 17. If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock zs carried away captive. So it is with gracious joys: they are
hidden manna, in this respect, as well as others, Rev. ii. 17. The Psalmist seems to speak of his sweetest comforts, as those which he had in secret; Psal. Ixiii. 5, 6. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips : when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches. Christ calls forth his spouse away from the world into retired places, that he may give her his sweetest love ; Cant. vii. 11, 12. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages ;there will I give thee my loves. The most eminent divine favours which the saints obtained, that we read of in scripture, were in their retirement. The principal manifestations that Gud made of himself, and his covenant-mercy to Abraham, were when he was alone, apart from his númerous family; as any one will judge that carefully reads his histors. Isaac received that special gift of God, Rebekah, who was so great a comfort to him, and by whom he obtained the promised seed, walking alone, meditating in the field. Jacob was retired for secret prayer, when Christ came to him; and he wrestled with him, and obtained the blessing. God revealed
* Mr. FLAVEL, in reckoning up those things, wherein the sorrow of saints is distinguished from the sorrow of hypocrites, about their sins, says, “ Their troubles for sin are more private and silent troubles than others are; their sore ruos in the night.” Touchstone of sincerity, Chap. ri. $ 5.
himself to Moses in the bush, when he was in a solitary place in the desert, in Mount Horeb, Exod. iii. And afterwards, when God shewed him his glory, and he was admitted to the highest degree of communion with God that ever he enjoyed; he was alone, in the same mountain, and continued there forty days and forty nights, and then came down with his face sbining. God came to those great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, and conversed freely with them, chiefly in their retirement, Elijah conversed alone with God at Mount Sinai, as Moses did. And when Jesus Christ had his greatest prelibation of his future glory, when he was transfigured; it was not when he was with the multitude, or with the twelve disciples, but retired into a solitary place in a mountain, with only three select disciples, whom he charged that they should tell no man, until he was risen from the dead. When the angel Gabriel came to the blessed virgin, and when the Holy Ghost came upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her, she seems to have been alone, in this matter hid from the world; her nearest and dearest earthly friend Joseph, who had betrothed her, knew nothing of the matter. And she that first partook of the joy of Christ's resurrection, was alone with Christ at the sepulchre, Johin xx. And when the beloved disciple was favoured with those wonderful visions of Christ, and his future dispensations towards the church and the world, he was alone in the isle of Patmos. Not but that we bave also instances of great privileges that the saints have received when with others; there is much in Christian conversation, and social and public worship, tending greatly to refresh and rejoice the hearts of the saints. But this is all that I aim at by what has been said, to shew that it is the nature of true grace, however it loves Christian society in its place, in a peculiar manner to delight in retirement, and secret converse with God. So that if persons appear greatly engaged in social religion, and but little in the religion of the closet, and are often highly affected when with others, and but little moved when they have none but God and Christ to converse with, it looks very darkly upon their religion,
Another great and very distinguishing difference is, that the
higher gracious affections are raised, the more is a spiritual appetite and longing of soul after spiritual attainments increased: On the contrary, false affections rest satisfied in themselves*.
The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him: the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it. The more he mourns for sin, the more he lo to mourn ;, the more his heart is broken, the more he desires it should be broken. The more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God. The kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn. So that the spiritual appetite after holiness, and an increase of holy affections, is much more lively and keen in those that are eminent in holiness, than others; and more when grace and holy affections are in their most lively exercise, than at other times. It is as much the nature of one that is spiritually newborn, to thirst after growth in holiness, as it is the nature of a new-born babe to thirst after the mother's breast; who has the sharpest appetite, when best in health; 1 Pet. ii. 2, 3. As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby : if so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. The most that the saints have in this world, is but
* "Truly there is no work of Christ that is right, (says Mr. SHIPARD), but it carries the soul to long for more of it.” Parable of the ten virgins, Part I. p. 136.
And again, “ There is in true grace an infinite circle: a mao by thirsting receives, and receiving thirsts for more. But hence the Spirit is not poured out abundantly on churches; because men shut it it out, by shutting in, and contento ing themselves with their commor graces and gifts; Matth. vii. 29. Examine if it be not so.” Ibid. p. 182.
And in p. 210. be says, “This I say, True grace as it comforts, so it never fills, but puts an edge on the appetite ; more of that grace, Lord! Thus Paul, Phil. ji. 13, 14. Thus David, Out of my poverly I have given, &c. 1 Chron. xxix. 9,17,18. It is a sure way never to be deceived in lighter strokes of the Spirit, to be thankful for any, but to be content with no measure of it. And this cuts the thread of difo ference, between a superficial lighter stroke of the Spirit, and that which is sound.”