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until he cried with a loud voice and gave up the ghost. To the moment of his death, from his manger to his cross, bis afflictions still increased, and he ended his days in the midst of them. Now he was the head of the church, and the great representative of it; unto a conformity with whom we are predestinated. And if God will have it so with us, even in this particular, so as that we shall have no rest, no peace from our trials, until we lie down in the grave, that whatever condition we pass through, they shall be shut out of none, but only from immortality and glory, what have we herein to complain of?
3. Where the remembrance and perplexing sense of past sins is revived by present afflictions; separate them in your minds, and deal distinctly about them. So long as you carry on the consideration of them jointly, you will be rolled from one to another, and never obtain rest unto your souls. They will mutually aggravate each other. The sharpness of affliction will add to the bitterness of the sense of sin ; and the sense of sin will give an edge to affliction, and cause it to pierce deeply into the soul, as we shewed in the former instances, Deal therefore distinctly about them, and in their proper order. So doth the psalmist here. He had at present both upon him, and together they brought him into these depths, concerning which he so cries out for deliverance from them. See Psal. xxxii. 3-5. And what course doth he take ? He applies himself in the first place to his sin and the guilt of it, and that distinctly and separately. And when he hath got a discharge of sin, which he waited so earnestly for, his faith quickly arose above his outward trials, as appears in his blessed close of all; 'He shall redeem Israel out of all his trouble;' the whole Israel of God, and myself amongst them. This do then; single out the sin or sins that are revived in the sense of their guilt upon the conscience; use all diligence to come to an issue about them in the blood of Christ. This God by your affliction calls you unto. This is the disease whereof your trouble is but the symptom. This, therefore, in the cure you seek after, is first and principally to be attended unto; when that is once removed, the other, as to any prejudice unto your soul, will depart of itself.. The root being once digged up, you shall not long feed on the bitter fruit that it hath brought forth;
or if you do, the wormwood shall be taken out of it, and it shall be very pleasant unto you, as well as wholesome. How this is to be done by an application unto God for forgiveness, hath been at large declared. But if men will deal with confused thoughts about their sins and their troubles, their wound will be incurable, and their sorrow endless.
4. Remember that a time of affliction is a time of temptation. Satan, as we have shewed, will not be wanting unto any appearing opportunity or advantage of setting upon the soul. When Pharaoh heard that the people were entangled in the wilderness, he pursued them. And when Satan sees a soul entangled with its distresses and troubles, he thinks it his time and hour to assault it. He seeks to winnow, and comes when the corn is under the flail. Reckon therefore that when trouble cometh, the prince of the world cometh also, that you may be provided for him. Now is the time to take the shield of faith, that we may be able to quench his fiery darts. If they be neglected, they will inflame the soul. Watch therefore and pray, that you enter not into temptation; that Satan do not represent God falsely unto you. He that durst represent Job falsely to the allseeing God, will with much boldness represent God falsely unto us, who see and know so little. Be not then ignorant of his devices; but every way set yourselves against his interposing between God and your souls, in a matter which he hath nothing to do withal. Let not this make-bate by any means inflame the difference.
5. Learn to distinguish the effect of natural distempers from spiritual distresses. Some have sad, dark, and tenacious thoughts fixed on their minds from their natural distempers. These will not be cured by reasonings, nor utterly quelled by faith. Our design must be to abate their efficacy and consequents, by considering their occasions. And if men cannot do this in themselves, it is highly incumbent on those who make application of relief unto them, to be careful to discern what is from such principles, whereof they are not to expect a speedy cure. And,
- 6. Take heed in times of peace and ease, that you lay not up, by your negligence or careless walking, provision for a day of darkness, a time of afflictions. It is sin that imbitters troubles; the sins of peace are revived in time
of distress. Fear of future affliction, of impendent troubles, should make us careful not to bring that into them, which will make them bitter and sorrowful.
7. Labour to grow better under all your afflictions, lest your afflictions grow worse; lest God mingle them with more darkness, bitterness, and terror. As Joab said unto David, if he ceased not his scandalous lamentation on the death of Absalom, all the people would leave him, and he then should find himself in a far worse condition than that which he bemoaned, or any thing that befell him from his youth. The same may be said unto persons under their afflictions. If they are not managed and improved in a due manner, that which is worse may, nay, in all probability will, befall them. Wherever God takes this way, and engageth in afflicting, he doth commonly pursue his work until he hath prevailed, and his design towards the afflicted party be accomplished. He will not cease to thrash and break the bread-corn until it be meet for his use. Lay down, then, the weapons of thy warfare against him; give up yourselves to his will; let go every thing about which he contends with you; follow after that which he calls you unto, and you will find light arising unto you in the midst of darkness. Hath he a cup of affliction in one hand? lift up your eyes and you will see a cup of consolation in another. And if all stars withdraw their light, whilst you are in the way of God, assure yourselves that the sun is ready to rise.
8. According to the tenor of the covenant of grace, a man may be sensible of the respect of affliction unto sin; yea, unto this or that sin in particular, and yet have a comfortable persuasion of the forgiveness of sin. Thus it was in general in God's dealing with his people. He forgave them, but he took vengeance on their inventions; Psal. xcix. 8. Whatever they suffered under the vengeance that fell upon their inventions (and that is as hard a word as is applied any where unto God's dealing with his people), yet at the same time he assured them of the pardon of their sin. So, you know, was the case of David. His greatest trial and affliction, and that which befell him on the account of a particular sin, and wherein God took vengeance on his invention, was ushered in with a word of grace, that God had done away, or pardoned his sins, and that he should not die. This is expressed in the tenor of the covenant with the seed of Christ; Psal. lxxxix. 31--34.
Objections against believing from things internal. The person knows not
whether he bé regenerate or no. State of regeneration asserted. Difference of saving and common grace. This difference discernable. Men may
know themselves to be regenerate. The objection answered. ANOTHÉR head of objections and despondencies ariseth from things internal, things that are required in the soul, that it may have an interest in the forgiveness that is with God. Some whereof we shall speak unto; and these respect, first, the state of the soul; and secondly, some actings in the soul.
First, As to the state, say some, unless a man be regenerate, and born again, he is not, he cannot be made partaker of mercy and pardon. Now all things here are in the dark unto us. For first, we know not well what this regeneration is, and it is variously disputed amongst men.
Some would place it only in the outward signs of our initiation unto Christ, and some otherwise express it. Again, it is uncertain, whether those that are regenerate do or may know that they are so; or whether this may be in any measure known unto others, with whom they may treat about it. And if it may not be known, we must be uncertain in this also. And then it may be, for their parts, they neither know the time when, nor the manner how, any such work was wrought in them; and yet without this, seeing it is wrought by means, and springs from certain causes, they can have no establishment in'a not-failing persuasion of their acceptance with God, by the pardon of their sins in the blood of Christ. This is the head and sum of most of the objections which perplexed souls do manage against themselves as to their state and condition. Hence, indeed, they draw forth reasonings with great variety, according as they are suggested by their particular occasions and temptations. And many proofs taken from their sins, miscarriages, and fears, do they enforce' their objections withal. My purpose is to lay down some general rules and principles, which may plied' unto particular occasions and emergencies. And this
shall be done in answer to the several parts of the general objection mentioned before. I say, then,
1. It is most certain that there are two estates and conditions that divide all mankind; and every one that lives in the world, doth completely and absolutely belong unto one of them. These are the state of nature, and the state of grace; of sin, and of righteousness by Christ; every man in the world belongs unto one of these states or conditions. This the Scripture so abounds in, that it seems to be the first principal thing that we are taught in it. It is as clear that there are two different states in this world, as that there are so in that to come. Yea, all our faith and obedience depend on this truth. And not only so, but the covenant of God, the mediation of Christ, and all the promises and threats of the law and gospel, are built on this supposition. And this lays naked unto a spiritual eye that abounding atheism that is in the world. Men are not only, like Nicodemus, ignorant of these things, and wonder how they can be, but they scorn them, despise them, scoff at them. To make mention of being regenerate, is exposed to reproach in the world. But whether men will or no, unto one of these conditions they must belong.
2. As these two estates differ morally in themselves, and physically in the causes constitutive of that difference; so there is a specifical difference between the things that place men in the one condition and in the other. Whatever there is of goodness, virtue, duty, grace, in an unregenerate person, there is in him that is regenerate somewhat of another kind that is not in the other at all. For the difference of these states themselves it is plain in Scripture. The one is a state of death, the other of life; the one of darkness, the other of light; the one of enmity against God, the other of reconciliation with him. And that the one state is constituted by that of grace, which is of a peculiar kind, and which is not in the other, I shall briefly declare.
1. The grace of regeneration proceedeth from an especial spring and fountain, which emptieth much of its living waters. into it, no one drop whereof falls on them that are not regenerate. This is electing love; it is given out in the pursuit of the decree of election ; God hath chosen us that we should be holy;' Eph. i. 4. Our holiness, whose only spring