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us with certain criteria, whereby we
of trying themselves by those characters · which are therein given of the one sort,
and of the other, it is scarce possible for them not to know which clałs they ought to refer themselves unto. The fcripture tells us plainly, that every one who doth righteousness is born of God; i John II. 29. but that whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God; neither he who loveth not his brother ; chap. III. 10. that he who dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him; chap. IV: 16. but that he who loveth not, knoweth not God, ver. 8. that he who commiteth fin is of the devil; for the devil finneth from the beginning, chap. III. 8. but that whosoever is born of God finneth not ; but he who is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not ; chap. V. 18. Our blessed Saviour teacheth us, that he who hath his commandments and keepeth them, be it is that loveth him ; John XIV. 21. And he gives us to understand, that the bearing of much fruit is an evidence of being his disci
ples; John XV. ver. 8. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples. The apostle Paul 'tells us, that if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation, old things are passed away, behold all things are be. come new ; 2 Cor. V. 17. and that they who are Christ's have crucified the fleń with the affečtions and lufts; Gal. V. 24.
Therefore let me advise these doubting christians to try themselves by these scripture rules. Ask yourselves whether you do righteousness, and love your chriftian brethren ; whether you are branches in Christ, bearing fruit; whether ye have put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and are renewed in the spirit of your mind, and have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. You must needs know whether these things are true concerning you, or not ; for what man knoweth the things of a man fave the spirit of man which is in him?
And if you can with fincerity answer these questions in the affirmative ; then do not perplex yourselves any longer, but rest assured that you are the children of God, and the disciples of Chrift,
and take the comfort of it. But it is to be feared, that these doubting fies are owing to some decays of holiness ; for we seldom find that stedfast and resolute christians, and such as maintain a close walk with God, are troubled with them. On the contrary, they are commonly such as are fickle and inconstant in their obedience ; who, at some seasons, are very watchful and circumspect, and at other times very careless and secure. And where this is the case, we need not wonder if there be a defect of spiritual comfort and joy ; for there is no place for these in a soul that is conscious of guilt. It is natural to suppose, that a child who hath been disobedient to his father, will have some suspicion and distrust of his father's love towards him, and be afraid left he should cast him out of his favour, and disown him for a son: so when a christian hath been guilty of a breach of the divine law, it will naturally beget in him a diffidence of the love of God towards him, and fears of his vengeance. There is one thing therefore which I would earnestly recommend to such christians as are under spiritual dejection: and that is this ; that they would make diligent
search into their own hearts and lives, and see if there be not something amiss there. It is to be feared that there is fome darling sin, fome unmortified luft which lies at the bottom of all this disquiet, and is the ground of it. If it is, I beseech you cherish it no longer; but confess it before God, and break off all correspondence with it ; for till you do, you will never have any true enjoyment of yourselves. There can be no spiritual comfort while any lust is indulged, let it be ever so secret, or ever so small. But when once you have overcome your lusts, you will overcome your doubts also: when once you yield an even and uniform obedience, you will feel an even and uniform joy; God will lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and manifest himself unto you in another manner than he doch manifest himself unto the world. The Lord will speak peace unto his people and to his faints' ; but then they must take heed that they do not turn again to folly ; Psalm LXXXV.
II. I will address myself to wicked and unregenerate men. I cannot Hatter you
fo far as to fay, that the counsel given in the text is suitable for you. It is so far from being your duty to rejoice evermore, that it doth not become you to rejoice at all. No verily; it becomes you rather to weep and bowl for your miseries that mall come upon you. Your condition is most unhappy: for it is quite the reverse of what hath been represented to be the condition of chrifcians. Your transgressions are not forgiven, neither are your fins covered: but the Lord will impute iniquity unto you. You have no interest in the love of God, nor can with a just confidence call him father. You are indeed bis offspring by creation ; and so are the very devils themselves. But what will it avail you to have him for your father in this sense ? since he that made you will not have mercy upon you, and be that formed you will sew you no favour. Ye have set at nought all bis counsel, and would none of his reproof; therefore he will laugh at your calamity, he will mock when your fear cometh. What hath been said of the happiness of good men in a future state, belongs not to you : for since you bear no resemblance to God upon earth, you can