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thee. It is pure faith and lore to hang close to an angry God: to conceive most hopes through Christ, when sense and reason make against you, this is a faith to be admired.
(6.) Join pure precepts to precious promises ; look on precepts as pure, therefore lovely;* dare not to divorce them; see to the law within you, and before you, as well as plead the promises of the gospel for you.
(7.) Be best when least in men's sight. God and souls have the most intimate intercourse when alone ; make God your witness, not men only. Friends are most familiar when they are withdrawn from all other company.
(8.) Sail low, but aim high ; conclude you have not attained to perfection; but still be designing it, be not high-minded, yet mind highest things, aspire to be better than others, “yet esteem others better than you,” Phil. ii. 3, 4.
(9.) Do all you ought, not all you may : walk to the height of a command, not to the utmost bound of lawful liberty, go not near the pit's brink, stand fast in your christian liberty, Gal. v. 1, 13; but do not always use it.
(10.) Be best when others are worst : be as Noah in the old world, Lot in Sodom, Timothy in Ephesus, Joshua among the Israelites; be hottest in the coldest weather, brightest in the darkest night, savour of heaven in hell. |
(11.) Be rational, when most spiritual; do nothing at hap-hazard, or with a blind zeal, let all services be
• Job xiii. 15. Hos. vi. 3. Matt. xv. 28. Psal. cxix. 140.
reasonable. God's will is our rule, and his ways are equal; the highest reason in man, is to comply with God's pleasure.
(12.) Naturalize religion, and spiritualize the world; let godliness be as a second nature;* let common objects and occurrences, mercies and afflictions, be well improved to good ends and purposes ; spiritual chymists turn all to gold, Rom. viii. 28.
(13.) Be dead while living, and lively in thoughts of death, Col. iii. 3. Gal. vi. 14. A child of God is a paradox, dead to the world, and crucified, yet the most active and vigorous person in the world : you must have the best death and best life, then fear not death.
(14.) Suit grace to every case: in confessing sin, mourn; in begging mercy, cherish desires; in thanksgiving, joyfulness, yet “rejoice with trembling;” in prosperity, have humility; in adversity, contentment; your foot must still stand in an even place. +
(15.) Let your life be a comment on your faith ; let your believing and living be harmonious ; let doctrine of faith, grace of faith, life of faith, sweetly correspond, “Doctrine being according to godliness, godliness according to truth ;" let not head and hands be at variance. I
(16.) Eye God who eyes you in all you do; think the King of heaven sees thee, the omnipresent God is in the room with thee, the omniscient God knows thy heart; approve thy heart to God, let thine eyes be ever towards him, Psal. xxxiv. 15. xxvi. 3.
(17.) Answer to divine calls, when God hath a mouth to speak, have an ear to hear, and a tongue to say,
* Rom. xii. l. Ezek. xviii. 29. 2 Pet. i. 4. Phil. ij. 20.
+ 1. Cor. xvi. 31, 55. Heb. ii. 15. Psal. xxxviii. 18. Matt. v. 4. Psal. ii. 11. Phil. i. 3, 4. Psal. xxvi. 12. James ii. 18. 1 Tim. i. 5. Tit. i. 1. Rom. ii. 18, 23, 24.
here I am. Hear the word or rod, a call to duty or from sin; ask what is the meaning of this? O that I could attain God's end, and not resist or “ quench the Holy Spirit.”*
(18.) Observe and make up daily decays, keep on your watch that you sin not; but if you sin, remain not in it, but rise, mourn, and act faith on Christ, your great advocate, let not an ill matter go on quickly, recover your first love, Rev. ii. 4, 5.
(19.) Give no offence carelessly, and take no offence causelessly; let there be “no occasion of stumbling in you;" judge not uncharitably, take all that is said and done in good part; make no sinister constructions.
(20.) When you have done all, say, all this is as nothing to appease God's wrath, or satisfy justice, in an absolute sense, or to do what is required in a comparative sense, “ without Christ I can do nothing." I
ANSWERS TO SOME CASES OF CONSCIENCE.
4. The last thing proposed under this division was to answer some cases of conscience which pious people are ready to introduce, when this subject is brought forward.
1 Case. Whether it is possible that a man be a new creature, and not know it, since it is so remarkable à change?
* 1 Sam. iii. 10. Psal. xxvii. 8. Mic. vi. 9. 1 Thess. v. 19. † Matt. xxvi. 41. 1 John ii. 1, 10. Matt. vii. 1. # 1 Cor. x. 32. Luke xvii. 10. Phil. ii. 7, 8. John xv. 5.
i Answ. I have hinted at this before, but observe it, you must distinguish between a reflexive sense of a change in heart and life, and a due apprehension of this change morally considered as saving; many a per: son can truly say, something hath been done, but I know not whether that which may be entitled a new creation, I am much in the dark about it; I cannot but say, I have had convictions, and something like conversion, though not consolation; I am kept still in dependance upon a promise, though I cannot say I have assurance of my interest in the covenant. Precious Mr. Paul Bains could say, “Sustentation I have, but suavities spiritual I do not experience.” So you may have the root, though not the flower; water of sanctification, though not the oil of gladness; wait on God, and in due time you may have this cleared up to you; if "you follow on to know the Lord, his going forth is prepared as the morning,” Hos. vi. 3. Grace and peace shall not be long parted; “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart," Psal. xcvii. 11. It is not lost, but laid up and hid in the furrows of the believer's bosom.
2 Case. Is it possible that he who is a new creature, should have a self-accusing, self-condemning conscience?
Answ. You must distinguish respecting the conscience of a man condemning himself.
(1.) It may be passively, when our hearts censure us, and we stifle convictions, such a one indeed is selfcondemned.
(2.) If we be active in condemning ourselves, it is a good sign, and a great duty, as we shewed before; but this query, refers to the state of a man, whether the conscience of a new creature may censure the real Christian, and condemn him as a hypocrite? To which I answer, If conscience act according to the rule of
the word, it must be regarded as God's officer, speaking by his authority, but if it speak not in God's name, and by his order, we may appeal to the higher court of the holy scriptures, and it is certain that conscience may be corrupted, and is often used by Satan, to deceive good men as well as bad, and they shall at last have their action against Satan for false imprisonment, and disturbing their peace. Your safest way therefore is to have recourse to the word, for conscience is but an under officer, and must be accountable for its verdict. Remember, it is one thing to have hypocrisy in thy heart, another thing to be a hypocrite; the best will find much guilt within them, which conscience rebukes them for, while they bewail it; but they are not therefore hypocrites.
3 Case. Whether God may conduct himself austerely as if he were an enemy to a new creature, that should seem to be dear to him ?
Answ. Thou art a stranger to scripture, and the experience of all God's children, if thou think God must always be dandling this new creature on his knee, or giving it his embraces ; no, no, he hath reserved the best things for the upper table in heaven; there is great reason that thou shouldst have his frowns, as well as smiles, to humble thy heart, exercise thy graces, discover the necessity of Christ, and the desirableness of heaven. God can and may, without any impediment to his love, hide it for a season from his own dearest child. David indeed called in question God's love and faithfulness, when he hid his face; but at last, he found that it was his infirmity, and doubtless, lamented it as his sin. God hath given abundant security in his promises of his love without present sense; you must not think much at him, if he do not come to visit you, and take you up in his arms as oft