Imágenes de páginas

to thyself in so great an affair! I pray thee to with its condition, according to the sentence take from me this request, as if, in the name of passed on it. If graceless, think of thy misery: Christ, I presented it to thee on my knees; and if renewed and sanctified, think what a blessed I will betake me on my knees to Christ again, to state the Lord hath brought thee into. Pursue beg that he will persuade thy heart to the duty. these thoughts till they have left their impres

12. (4.) The directions how to examine thy- sion on thy heart. Write this sentence at least self are such as these :—Empty thy mind of all in thy memory—“At such a time, upon thorough other cares and thoughts, that they may not dis- examination, I found my state to be thus, or tract or divide thy mind. This work will be thus. Such a record will be very useful to thee enough at once, without joining others with it. hereafter. Trust not to this one discovery, so Then fall down before God in hearty prayer, as to try no more ; nor let it hinder thee in the desiring the assistance of his Spirit, to discover daily search of thy ways: neither be discouraged, to thee the plain truth of thy condition, and to if the trial must be often repeated. Especially enlighten thee in the whole progress of this work. take heed, if unregenerated, not to conclude of Make choice of the most convenient time and thy future state by the present. Do not say, place. Let the place be the most private ; and. Because I am ungodly, I shall die so; because the time, when you have nothing to interrupt I am a hypocrite, I shall continue so. Do not you; and, if possible, let it be the present time. despair. Nothing but thy unwillingness can Have in readiness, either in memory, or writing, keep thee from Christ, though thou hast hitherto some scriptures, containing the descriptions of abused him, and dissembled with him. the saints, and the gospel terms of salvation ; 13. (5.) Now let me add some marks by which and convince thyself thoroughly of their infal- you may try your title to the saints' rest. I will lible truth. Proceed then to put the question only mention these two,—taking God for thy to thyself. Let it not be, whether there be any chief good—and heartily accepting Christ for good in thee at all ? nor, whether thou hast such thy only Saviour and Lord. or such a degree and measure of grace ? but 14. Every soul that hath a title to this rest, whether such or such a saving grace be in thee doth place his chief happiness in God. This in sincerity or not? If thy heart draw back rest consisteth in the full and glorious enjoyment from the work, force it on. Lay thy command of God. He that inaketh not God his chief good upon it. Let reason interpose, and use its and ultimate end, is in heart a pagan and a vile authority. Yea, lay the command of God upon idolater. Let me ask, then, dost thou truly acit, and charge it to obey, upon the pain of his count it thy chief happiness to enjoy the Lord displeasure. Let conscience also do its office, in glory, or dost thou not ? Canst thou say, till thy heart be excited to the work.-Nor let • The Lord is my portion? Whom have I in thy heart trifle away the time, when it should heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth be diligently at the work. Do as the Psalmist that I desire besides thee.' If thou be an heir

- My spirit made diligent search. He that of rest, it is thus with thee. Though the flesh can prevail with his own heart, shall also prevail will be pleading for its own delights, and the with God.— If, after all thy pains, thou art not world will be creeping into thine affections ; yet resolved, then seek out for help. Go to one that in thy ordinary, settled, prevailing judgment is godly, experienced, able, and faithful, and tell and affections, thou preferrest God before all him thy case, and desire his best advice. Use things in the world.— Thou makest him the very the judgment of such a one, as that of a physi- end of thy desires and endeavours. The very cian for thy body: though this can afford thee reason why thou hearest and prayest, and deno full certainty, yet it may be a great help to sirest to live on earth, is chiefly this, That thou stay and direct thee. But do not make it a mayest seek the Lord, and make sure of thy pretence to put off thy own self-examination. rest. Though thou dost not seek it so zealously Only use it as one of the last remedies, when as thou shouldst; yet it has the chief of thy dethy own endeavours will not serve. When thou sires and endeavours, so that nothing else is dehast discovered thy true state, pass sentence on sired or preferred before it. Thou wilt think thyself accordingly; either that thou art a true no labour or suffering too great to obtain it. And Christian, or that thou art not. Pass not this though the flesh may sometimes shrink, yet thou sentence rashly, nor with self-flattery, nor with art resolved and contented to go through all. melancholy terrors; but deliberately, truly, and Thy esteem for it will also be so high, and thy according to thy conscience, convinced by scrip- affection to it so great, that thou wouldst not ture and reason. Labour to get thy heart affecred exchange thy title to it, and hopes of it, for any worldly good whatsoever. If God should set subordination to him ? and looking at them as not before thee an eternity of earthly pleasures on in the least measure able to satisfy the curse of the one hand, and the saints' rest on the other, the law, or as a legal righteousness, or any part and bid thee take thy choice ; thou wouldst of it; but consent to trust thy salvation on the refuse the world, aud choose this rest. But if redemption made by Christ? Art thou also conthou art yet unsanctified, then thou dost in thy tent to take him for thy only Lord and King, to heart prefer thy worldly happiness before God; govern and guide thee by his laws and Spirit; and though thy tongue may say, 'that God is and to obey him, even when he commands the thy chief good, yet thy heart doth not so esteem hardest duties, and those which most cross the him. For the world is the chief end of thy desires of the flesh? Is it thy sorrow when thou desires and endeavours. Thy very heart is set breakest thy resolution herein ? and thy joy upon it. Thy greatest care and labour is to when thou keepest closest in obedience to him ? maintain thy credit, or fleshly delights. But Wouldst thou not change thy Lord and Master the life to come hath little of thy care or labour. for all the world ? Thus is it with every true Thou didst never perceive so much excellency Christian. But if thou be a hypocrite, it is far in that unseen glory of another world, as to draw otherwise. Thou mayest call Christ thy Lord thy heart after it, and set thee a labouring heart and thy Saviour ; but thou never foundest thyily for it. The little pains thou bestowest that self so lost without him, as to drive thee to seek way, is but in the second place. God hath but him and trust him, and lay thy salvation on him the world's leavings; only that time and labour alone. At least, thou didst never heartily conwhich thou canst spare from the world, or those sent that he should govern thee as thy Lord, nor few, cold, and careless thoughts which follow resign up thy soul and life to be ruled by him, thy constant, earnest, and delightful thoughts of nor take his word for the law of thy thoughts earthly things. Neither wouldst thou do any and actions. It is likely thou art content to be thing at all for heaven, if thou knewest how to saved from hell by Christ when thou diest ; but keep the world. But lest thou shouldst be turned in the mean time he shall command thee no furinto hell, when thou canst keep the world no ther than will stand with thy credit, or pleasure, longer, therefore thou wilt do something. For or other worldly ends. And if he would give the same reason, thou thinkest the way of God thee leave, thou hadst far rather live after the too strict, and wilt not be persuaded to the con- world and flesh, than after the word and Spirit. stant labour of walking according to the gospel And though thou mayest now and then have a rule; and when it comes to the trial, that thou motion or purpose to the contrary; yet this that must forsake Christ, or thy worldly happiness, I have mentioned is the ordinary desire and choice then thou wilt venture heaven rather than earth, of thy heart. Thou art therefore no true beand so wilfully deny thy obedience to God. liever in Christ ; for though thou confess him in And certainly if God would but give thee leave words, yet in works thou dost deny him, “being to live in health and wealth for ever on earth, abominable, and disobedient, and unto every thou wouldst think it a better state than rest. good work reprobate. This is the case of those Let them seek for heaven that would, thou that shall be shut out of the saints' rest. wouldst think this thy chief happiness. This is 16. Observe, it is the consent of your hearts, thy case, if thou art yet an unregenerate person, or wills, which I especially lay down to be inand hast no title to the saints' rest.

quired after. I do not ask, whether thou be 15. And as thou takest God for thy chief assured of salvation, nor whether thou canst begood, so thou dost heartily accept of Christ for lieve that thy sins are pardoned, and that thou thy only Saviour and Lord, to bring thee to this į art beloved of God in Christ? These are no rest. The former mark was the sum of the first parts of justifying faith, but excellent fruits of and great command of the law, thou shalt love it, and they that receive them, are comforted the Lord thy God with all thy heart.' The se- by them; but, perhaps, thou mayest never recond mark, is the sun of the command of the ceive them while thou livest, and yet be a true gospel, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and heir of rest. Do not say then, 'I cannot bethou shalt be saved.' And the performance of lieve that my sins are pardoned, or that I am in these two, is the whole of godliness and Christi- God's favour; and therefore I am no true beanity. This mark is but the definition of faith. liever.' This is a most mistaken conclusion.Dost thou heartily consent that Christ alone shall The question is, Whether thou dost heartily acbe thy Saviour ? and no further trust to thy cept of Christ, that thou mayest be pardoned, reduties and works, than as means appointed in conciled to God, and so saved ? Dost thou consent



that he shall be thy Lord, who hath bought thee, and that he shall bring thee to heaven in his own

CHAPTER IX. way? This is justifying, saving faith, and the

THE DUTY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD TO EXCITE mark by which thou must try thyself. Yet still observe, that all this consent must be hearty and

Sect. 1. The Author Jaments that Christians do so little to help real, not feigned or with reservations. It is not

others to obtain the saints' rest : 2. (1.) Shows the nature of this

duty; particularly, 3. (1.) In having our hearts affected with the saying, as that dissembling son, 'I go, Sir; and

misery of our brethren's souls ; 4-6. (2.) In taking all opportuni. went not. If any have more of the government ties to instruct them in the way of salvation ; 7. (3.) In promoting

their profit by public ordinances; 8. (II.) Assigns various reasons of thee than Christ, thou art not his disciple. I

why this duty is so much neglected; 9. And answers some objer. am sure these two marks are such as every tions against it: 10-13. Then, (III.) Urges to the discharge of it,

by several considerations, 14. Addressed to such as have know. Christian hath, and none but sincere Christians.

ledge, learning, and utterance; 15. Those that are acquainted with O that the Lord would now persuade thee to the

sinners; 16. Physicians that attend dying men; 17. Persons of

wealth and power ; 18. Ministers ; 19. And those that are intrusted close performance of this self-trial ! that thou with the care of children or servants. 20. The chapter concludes

with an carnest request to Christian parents to be faithful to their mayest not tremble with horror of soul, when the Judge of all the world shall try thee ; but be so able to prove thy title to rest, that the prospect 1. Hath God set before us such a glorious and approach of death and judgment may raise prize as the saints' rest, and made us capable of thy spirits, and fill thee with joy.

such inconceivable happiness? Why, then, do 17. On the whole, as ever Christians would not all the children of this kingdom exert themhave comforts that will not deceive them, let selves more to help others to the enjoyment of them make it the great labour of their lives to it? Alas, how little are poor souls about us grow in grace, to strengthen and advance the beholden to most of us! We see the glory of interest of Christ in their souls, and to weaken the kingdom, and they do not : we see the misery and subdue the interest of the flesh. Deceive of those that are out of it, and they do not: we not yourselves with a persuasion, that Christ see some wandering quite out of the way,

and hath done all, and left you nothing to do. To know, if they hold on, they can never come overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil; there ; and they themselves discern it not. And and in order to that, to stand always armed upon yet we will not seriously show them their danger our watch, and valiantly and patiently to fight and error, and help to bring them into the way, it out, is of great importance to our assurance that they may live. Alas, how few Christians and salvation. Indeed it is so great a part of are there to be found, that set themselves with our baptismal vow, that he who performeth it all their might to save souls ! No thanks to us, not, is no more than a nominal Christian. Not if heaven be not empty, and if the souls of our to every one that presumptuously believeth, but brethren perish not for ever. Considering how 'to him that overcometh, will Christ give to eat important this duty is, to the glory of God, and of the hidden manna, and will give him a white the happiness of men, I will show-how it is to stone, and in the stone a new name written, be performed—why it is so much neglectedwhich no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth and then offer some considerations to persuade it; he shall eat of the tree of life, which is in the to it. midst of the paradise of God, and shall not be 2. (I.) The duty of exciting and helping others hurt of the second death. Christ will confess to discern their title to the saints' rest, doth not his name before his Father, and before his angels, mean that every man should turn a public and make him a pillar in the temple of God, and preacher, or that any should go beyond the he shall go no more out; and will write upon bounds of their particular callings : much less him the name of his God, and the name of the does it consist in promoting a party spirit ; and, city of his God, which is new Jerusalem, which least of all, in speaking against men's faults becometh down out of heaven from his God, and hind their backs, and be silent before their faces. will write upon him his new name.' Yea, “ He This duty is of another nature, and consists of will grant to him to sit with him on his throne, the following things—in having our hearts afeven as he also overcame, and is set down with fected with the misery of our brethren's soulshis Father on his throne. He that hath an ear, in taking all opportunities to instruct them in the let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the way of salvation—and in promoting their profit churches,'

by public ordinances.

3. (1.) Our hearts must be affected with tne misery of our brethren's souls. We must be compassionate towards them, and yearn after their recovery and salvation. If we earnestly root; custom fastens him ; temptations to sin longed after their conversion, and our hearts multiply ; conscience grows seared ; the heart were solicitous to do them good, it would set hardened ; the devil rules ; Christ is shut out; us on work, and God would usually bless it. the Spirit is resisted; God is daily dishonoured ;

4. (2.) We must take every opportunity that his law violated; he is without a servant, and we possibly can, to instruct them how to attain that service from him which He should have; salvation. If the person be ignorant, labour to time runs on ; death and judgment are at the make him understand the chief happiness of man; door ; and what if the man die, and drop into how far he was once possessed of it ; the coven- hell

, while you are purposing to prevent it? If, ant God then made with him ; how he broke it; in the case of his bodily distress, you must not what penalty he incurred ; and what misery he say to him, Go, and come again, and to-morrow brought himself into : teach him his need of a I will give, when thou hast it by thee;' how Redeemer ; how Christ did mercifully interpose, much less may you delay the succour of his and bear the penalty ; what the new covenant soul? That physician is no better than a muris: how men are drawn to Christ ; and what are derer, who negligently delayeth till his patient the riches and privileges which believers have be dead or past cure. Lay by excuses, then, in him. If he is not moved by these things, then and all lesser business, and exhort one another show him the excellency of the glory he neglects; daily, while it is called To-day ; lest any be the extremity and eternity of the torments of hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Let the damned: the justice of enduring them for your exhortation proceed from compassion and wilfully refusing grace; the certainty, nearness, love. To jeer and scoff, to rail and vilify, is not and terrors of death and judgment; the vanity a likely way to reform men, or convert them to of all things below; the sinfulness of sin; the God.-Go to poor sinners with tears in your preciousness of Christ; the necessity of regen- eyes, that they may see you believe them to be eration, faith, and holiness, and the true nature miserable, and that you unfeignedly pity their of tnem. If, after all, you find him entertaining case.

Deal with them with earnest humble enfalse hopes, then urge him to examine his state ; treaties. Let them perceive it is the desire of show him the necessity of doing so; help him your hearts to do them good ; that you have no in it; nor leave him till you have convinced him other end but their everlasting happiness; and of his misery and remedy. Show him how vain that it is your sense of their danger, and your and destructive it is to join Christ and his duties, love to their souls, that forceth you to speak ; to compose his justifying righteousness. Yet be even because you know the terrors of the Lord, sure to draw him to the use of all means : such and for fear you should see them in eternal toras hearing and reading the word, calling upon ments. Say to them, ' Friend, you know I seek God, and associating with the godly : persuade no advantage of my own : the method to please him to forsake sin, avoid all temptations to sin, you, and keep your friendship, were to soothe especially evil companions, and to wait patiently you in your way, or let you alone ; but love will on God in the use of means, as the way in which not suffer me to see you perish, and be silent. God will be found.

I seek nothing at your hands, but that which is 5. But because the manner of performing this necessary to your own happiness. It is yourself #ork is of great moment, observe therefore these that will have the gain and comfort, if you come rules.-Enter

upon it with right intentions. Aim to Christ. If we were thus to go to every igat the glory of God in the person's salvation. norant and wicked neighbour, what blessed fruit Do it not to get a name, or esteem to thyself, should we quickly see !—Do it with all possible or to bring men to depend upon thee, or to get plainness and faithfulness. Do not make their thee followers ; but in obedience to Christ, in sins less than they are, nor encourage them in a imitation of hiin, and tender love to men's souls. false hope. If you see the case dangerous, speak Do not as those, who labour to reform their plainly— Neighbour, I am afraid God hath not children or servants from such things as are yet renewed your soul : I doubt you are not yet against their own profit or humour, but never recovered from the power of Satan to God; I seek to save their souls in the way which God doubt you have not chosen Christ above all, nor hath appointed. Do it speedily. As you would unfeignedly taken him for your sovereign Lord. not have them delay their return, do not you If you had, surely you durst not so easily disdelay to seek their return. While you are pur- obey him, nor neglect his worship in your family, posing to teach and help him, the man goes and in public; you could not so eagerly follow dieper in debt ; wrath is heaping up; sin taking the world, and talk of nothing but the things of 1065

6 T

the world. If you were in Christ, you would be harm as good. Lothness to displease men, makes a new creature : old things would be passed us undo them. away, and all things would become new. You 6. Yet, lest you run into extremes, I advise would have new thoughts, new talk, new com- you to do it with prudence and discretion.pany, new endeavours, and a new conversation. Choose the fittest season. Deal not with men Certainly, without these you can never be saved ; when they are in a passion, or where they will you may think otherwise, and hope otherwise, as take it for a disgrace. When the earth is soft, long as you will, but your hopes will all deceive the plough will enter. Take a man when he is you, and perish with you.' Thus must you deal under affliction, or newly impressed under a serfaithfully with men, if ever you intend to do them mon. Christian faithfulness requires us, not only good. It is not in curing men's souls, as in cur- to do good when it falls in our way, but to ing their bodies, where they must not know their watch for opportunities. Suit yourselves also to danger, lest it hinder the cure. They are here the quality and temper of the person. You must agents in their own cure ; and if they know not deal with the ingenious more by argument than their misery, they will never bewail it, nor know persuasion. There is need of both to the ignortheir need of a Saviour. Do it also seriously, ant. The affections of the convinced should be zealously, and effectually. Labour to make men chiefly excited. The obstinate must be sharply know that heaven and hell are not matters to be reproved. The timorous must be dealt with played with, or passed over with a few careless tenderly. Love and plainness, and seriousness, thoughts. It is most certain, that one of these take with all; but words of terror some can days thou shalt be in everlasting joy or torment; scarce bear. Use also the aptest expressions. and doth it not awaken thee ? Are there so few Unseeming language makes the hearers lothe that find the way of life? So many that go the the food they should live by; especially if they way of death ? Is it so hard to escape ? so easy be men of curious ears, and carnal hearts.—Let to miscarry ? and yet do you sit still and trifle all your reproofs and exhortations be backed What do you mean? The world is passing with the authority of God. Let sinners be away: its pleasures, honours, and profits, are convinced that you speak not of your own head. fading and leaving you: eternity is a little be- Turn them to the very chapter and verse where fore you; God is just and jealous : his threaten their sin is condemned, and their duty comings are true: the great day will be terrible : manded. The voice of man is contemptible, time runs on : your life is uncertain : you are but the voice of God is awful and terrible. far behindhand: your case is dangerous : if you They may reject your words, that dare not redie to morrow, how unready are you! With ject the words of the Almighty.-Be frequent what terror will your souls go out of your bodies ! with men in this duty of exhortation. If we are And do you yet loiter! Consider, God is all always to pray, and not to faint, because God this while waiting your leisure ; his patience will have us importunate with himself; the same bears : his long-suffering forbears: his mercy course, no doubt, will be most prevailing with entreats you; Christ offereth you his blood and men. Therefore, we are commanded to exhort merits : the Spirit is persuading : conscience is one another daily ;' and, with long-suffering.' accusing : Satan waits to have you. This is your The fire is not always brought out of the fint at time, now or never. Had you rather burn in one stroke ; nor men's affections kindled at the hell, than repent on earth ? have devils your first exhortation. And if they were, yet if they tormentors, than Christ your governor? Will be not followed, they will soon grow cold again. you renounce your part in God and glory, rather Follow sinners with your loving and earnest enthan renounce your sins ? O friends, what do treaties, and give them no rest in their sin. This you think of these things ? God hath made you is true charity, the way to save men's souls, and men; do not renounce your reason where you will afford you comfort upon review.—Strive should chiefly use it. Alas! it is not a few dull to bring all your exhortations to an issue. If words, between jest and earnest, between sleep we speak the most convincing words, and all and awake, that will rouse a dead-hearted sin- our care is over with our speech, we shall seldom ner. If a house be on fire, you will not make a prosper in our labours : but God usually blesses cold oration on the nature and danger of fire, but their labours, whose very heart is set upon the will run and cry, Fire, fire! To tell a inan of conversion of their hearers, and who are therefore his sins as softly as Eli did his sons; or to re- inquiring after the success of their work. If you prove him as gently as Jehoshaphat did Ahab, reprove a sin, cease not till the sinner promises • Let not the king say so ;' usually doth as much you to leave it, and avoid the occasion of it. If you

« AnteriorContinuar »