Imágenes de páginas

may have to any such from special, intimate Acquaintance, or from their being in the same Cause, Party or Persuasion with himself, (which is indeed no more than the Exercise of Self-love or Selfesteem) he never loves the Image of Christ in every Sect or Party, in whom he sinds it, nor can he love a Consormity to the Children of God, in the Holiness of their Hearts and Lives.

Here then you see an apparent Difference in

these two Sorts of Believers The one loves God

above all Things: And indeed he that does not love him with a supreme Love, does not love him as God, and consequently does not love him at all: But the other seeks the Favour of God, from no other Motive but Fear of his Displeasure, or, some Delire of Happiness, and not from a Sense of the Excellency of his glorious Persections, and the Blessedness of an Interest in his Favour.—The one loves what God loves,- hates what he hates, and loves and esteems himself but in Proportion to his Consormity unto God. The other retains his Delight in his Lusts and Idols; and repairs to God because he durst not do otherways.—The one, like God himself, takes Pleasure irr doing good to all Men, and takes special Delight in all, without Distinction, who are Partakers of the divine Nature. •—The other at the best has his Love to Man influenced by selsish Principles, and therefore takes most Delight in thofe who are most consormable to his own Sentiments or Dispositions.

Lest I should weary out your Patience, I shall V'st mention but this one Particular more.—

6. A faving Faith humbles the Soul, and makes it low and vile in its own Eyes; whereas a dead Faith tends to exalt the Mind with vain Apprehensions of, or Endeavours aster, some Sufsiciency or Excellency of its own.—The true Believer has a


deep Sense of the Greatness and Aggravations ofhis .Sins, loathes himself on Account of them, and adores the Patience and Long-suffering of God towards him, that has kept him out of Hell. He is so sensible of the great Desects of his Duties, of the Sinsulness of his Heart, the Impersections of his Lise, and his utter Unworthiness of any Favour from God, that he cannot but entertain a most deep anj sensible Impression, that it must be a wondersul Display of mere sovereign Grace, if ever he obtains Salvation.—It is always true, that the greater Manifestation of God's Love is made to his Soul, the greater Sense he hath of his own 'Nothingness and Unworthiness, and the more he admires and adores the astonishing Riches of free, distinguishing Grace to such a guilty polluted Creature as he is.—Tho' the true Believer lives in the Exercise of that Charity towards others which thinketh no Evil, but beJieveth nil Things, and hopeth all Things ; yet he always sinds Occasion to condemn himself, and to censure his own inward Affections, and outward Performances, religious Duties, and moral Conduct, and therefore cannot but esteem others better than bintfelf.—Ato stiort, the true Believer always, while in this Tabernacle, groans, being burihened. He sinds Occasions of a renewed Repentance every Day: He every Day sinds new Cause to complain of himself, and new Cause to commit a sinsul and unworthy Soul to the mere Mercy of God in Christ.

On the contrary, a dead Faith always either puffs vp the vain Mind with a haughty, pleasing Apprehension of its own Attainments, makes it censorious and uncharitable, and inspires it with that proud pharisaical Language, Ithank God, I am not as other Men; or else, from the same haughty Principle, either leaves the Soul fecure and eajy, in its good Designs and Purposes of future Repentance; or impatient tient and desponding, through Want of thofe good Qualifications which it suppofes necessary.

I think I need not enlarge upon this Distinction; it is so apparent and manisest, and the Characters fo easy to be known.

And now, Sir, to sum up the whole in a short and eafy V iew.—if you have good Evidence os a saving Faith in Christ, yon must have such a sensible Impression of the Truth of the Gospel, as makes you seel the Importance of your eternal Concerns, and your Necessity of an Interest in Christ, and puts your Soul upon earnest and active Desires aster him, as your only Hope and Sasety.—You must heartily approve the Way of Salvation which the Gofpel rereveals, and heartily consent to the Terms oa which it is offered.—You must accept of Christ as a free Gift, bringing nothing with you of your own. to recommend you to his Acceptance.—You must accept of him as your only Righteousness to justify you before God; and as your Prince, as weU as Saviour; consenting as well to be governed as to be saved, to be sanctified as to be justified, by him.—And as you must receive him, ib you must considently trust in him alone, as a sure Foundation of Sasety and Hope, and as a continuing Fountain of all Supplies of Grace to your Soul, whatever Difficulties and Discouragements you may meet with.—And you must have this standing Evidence of the Sincerity of your Faith, that it purifies your Heart, and brings you to an earnest Delire of, and Endeavour aster, habitual Holiness of Heart and Lise; that it works by Love to God and Man, and keeps up in your Sou} an abasing Sense of your own Vileness and utter Unworthiness aster all.—This is that precious Faith, to which the Promises of the Gofpel are made, and to which no salse Prosessor can make any just Pretence.

To concludewith a still shorter Viewof this Case. When a realizing Belief of the Gospel; and a Despair of all Help in yourself brings you to repair to Christ as your only Sasety, and to venture your Soul, guilty as it is, upon the Merit of his Obedience, the Sufficiency of his Grace and Strength, and the Faithsulness of his Promise, and heartily to submit to his Rule and Government, now you cannot fail of the sanctifying Influences of his Spirit, to qualify you for the eternal Inheritance : For the Amen, the true and faithful Witness, has given you his Word for it, that if you thus come to him, hewill in no wise cast you out.

I might sum up this important Point in a yet shorter View.—If you so heartily approve of, and delight in the Gofpel-Way of Salvation by Christ alone, that you can chearsully venture your Soul and your eternal Interests upon it, as the sure and only Foundation of Hope and Sasety, you have then the Faith of God's Elect. And in this Case he that ha* bestowed such Grace upon you will carry on his own Work in your Soul, will give you thofe several Qualifications and Evidences of a gracious State, which I have above described; arid will at last present yoa saultless before his Throne with exceeding Joy. That you may hare the delightsul Experience of such a Progress of Grace in your Soul, is the Prayer of, Sir, Your, <&c.

LETTER IX. Wherein the Difference between a legal and an evangelical Repentance is distinctly considered.


YOU justly observe, " It is of infinite Concern, "that your Repentance towards God (as well

"as 118 A legal and evangelical Repentance

"as your Faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ) be "sincere; and that you have therefore Gause to be u sollicitous, not to be deceived with a Repentance "which must be repented of:" And you have therefore just Reason to deiire "a clear Apprehen"sion of the Difference, between a legal and an e"vangcltcal Repentance." I shall therefore endeavour, according to your Desire, " to fhew you the "Difserence, in as easy and samiliar a Light as I "can."—And perhaps it may give you a clearer View of the Case, if I should shew you sirst negatively, wherein the Distinction does not consist, under a sew Particulars, before I proceed to a direct Illustration of it.

It may then be observed, that a deep Distrefs of Mind on Account oisinning against God, is common both to a legal and evangelical Repentance.—Even Judas could cry out with. Agony of Soul, / have sinned in betraying innocent Blood; as well as the Psalmist groans out his Complaint, that there wa« t:o Rtj] in bis Bones becaufe of hit Sins.—A distressing Sense of Sin, in itself considered, is therefore no Evidence for, nor against, the Truth and Sincerity of Repentance.

Moreover, a fearful Apprehension of the divine Difpleafure may be common to both Sorts of Penitents,—Mere legal Convictions may make Sinners in Z ion afraid, and Fear fulnefs furprize the Hypocrite; and Dvflruttion from God may be a Terror to a holy Job, in as great Reality, though not with such despairing Insidelity, as to a Cain or Judas; that this can be no distinguishing Mark of a true or salse Repentance.

I may add, Dread of, and a temporary Reformation from outward and known Courses of sinning, may likewise be the Consequence of both a legal and evangelical Repentance.—Ahab humbled himself,

« AnteriorContinuar »