« AnteriorContinuar »
It is to you, the heirs of promise, to whom I am now speaking, and bear you this in mind, that it is one thing to have a right to this inheritance, another to know you have a right. Many a gracious person is much in the dark about his relation, yet his state may be safe for the main. What sayest thou ? hast thou not the things that accompany salvation ? Heb. vi. 9. Hath not God been dealing with thy heart, as he useth to deal with such as he designs for heaven ? Hast thou not seen thy woful state by nature? the necessity of Christ and grace ? Hast thou not experienced a change from nature to grace, from death to life? Hath not this new birth cost thee griefs and groans, prayers and tears ? Dost thou not delight now in what thou didst disdain ? Is not thy principle, rule, and end, otherwise than formerly? Hast thou not changed thy company, course, and manner of life? Speak out, man, belie not thyself, deny not God's grace; something like grace thou seest in thyself, and to be sure Satan and the world oppose it, and man and thyself could not produce it: it is of God, a seed sown by the hand of omnipotency. “And he that hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i. 6.
As to actual meetness for heaven, I refer you to what hath been laid down before ; look it over, deal inpartially ; see if your experience do not answer those particulars ; hath not God helped you in the exercise of the graces of faith, hope, love, and humility ? Hath not God given you some substantial evidence of sincerity, by diligence in duty, reflection on your state, appealing to God, and pleading with God for the Spirit's sealing? Hath not God helped you to be despatching your work off your hands, spiritual and temporal, relative and public ? Are you not much more
mortified to corruption and worldly enjoyments, and have you not spiritualized earthly things, and got more intimate familiarity with God? What say you to these things? Do not your hearts echo back an affirmative, setting your seal to these things? I have not time nor room to enlarge further; but I would have you diligently compare yourselves now with what you were some years ago. Is not your repentance more evangelical? Doth not the sense of divine love extort from you more tears of godly sorrow, and more vehement hatred of all sin, purely as it is offensive to God? Hath not your faith been more vigorous in its actings on your dear Lord ? in closing more fully with promises ? Have you not been more frequent and serious in renewing your covenant with God? and have not such days and duties been solemn heart-melting opportunities? Have you not been more constant and enlarged in the duty of secret prayer, with shorter intermissons and more enjoyment? Do you not spend your time better than formerly? Are you not more concerned to fill up every vacancy with some useful business relative to earth or heaven? Have you not more incomes of grace and assistance in duties both as to matter and manner, to unite your hearts, and raise your affections to God, and sometimes suggest words to you? Do you not more concern yourselves for the souls of relations and others in prayer and discourse, being more weighted with the necessity of their conversion ? Are you not more endeared to saints as saints, though poor, or rough in their manners, or of a different persuasion ? Have you not got power over your passions, to regulate them ? and if you feel unruly emotions, can you pray them down, and through grace calm them ? Can you not put up with injuries and affronts, and not only so as not to revenge but forgive, and pray heartily for the
repentance and remission of such as are most malicious against you? Is it not more the grief of thy heart when God is dishonoured, his Spirit grieved, and his gospel reproached by the sins of the profane or of professors? If thou thinkest any are offended by thee, is it not more a real trouble to thee than formerly, and thou canst not rest till thou seekest reconciliation ? And if thou art conscious of giving them just occasion, thou acknowledgest thy fault and makest concession to them? Hast thou not learned more faithfully and discreetly to manage the duty of privately admonishing an offending Christian, drawing out bowels of compassion for such as are fallen? Do not public concerns of the church or nation lie nearer thy heart daily? Canst thou not more rejoice in the gifts, graces, holiness, and usefulness of others, though they may obscure thine? Art thou not more glad when corruptions are mortified than gratified, when occasions of sinning are removed, rather than afforded, though it cost thee dear? Dost thou not more sensibly understand the sweet life of faith in temporal things, committing all to God, and finding provision has been strangely made? Are not thy affections more spiritualized towards dearest relations? Dost thou not love them in the Lord, and the Lord in them, so that thou canst freely part with them upon God's call ?
God's call ? Art thou not more taken up with God's mercies, to give him the glory of them, than any personal satisfaction thou hast in them? Is not thy heart daily more weary of the world, and longing more for heaven? Yet after all this, canst thou not say, thou art nothing, and deservest nothing but hell? And if God glorify his justice in thy confusion, thy mouth is stopped, and thou must justify him for ever with flames about thine ears? Dost thou not account thyself the greatest of sinners,
and least of saints, judging that by the grace of God thou art what thou art ? and this thou canst truly say, that God is more thy exceeding joy, and Christ more precious to thy soul than ever ?
If thou canst in thy sober, deliberate, settled frame, answer these questions, thy state is safe and happy, and thou art meet for heaven; yet not so meet, but still breathing after more meetness, till the last breath of life ; for no man on this side death was ever meet enough, and all must be ascribed to grace, grace in the foundation, and grace in the topstone.