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I bfe heard of among us. Isa. xi. 8, 9. k< The suckI shall play upon the hole of the asp, and a weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den; they shall not "hurt, nor destroy in all my holy mountain: For the earth shall "be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the *' sea.*
Inser. 4. Hence it also follows, that real Christian* are the sweetest companions. 'Tis a comfortable thing to walk with them that walk after the example of Christ; the holiness, heavehlinefs, humility, self-denial, and diligence in obedience, which was in Christ, is, in some measure, to be found in all sincere Christians: They shew forth the virtues of him that calleth them; the graces of the Spirit do more, or less, shine forth in them: And 0 how endearing, sweet, and engaging, are these things! Upon this very account the apostle invited others int6 the sellowship of the saints. 1 John i. 3. " That ye may have w sellowship with us, and truly our sellowship is with the Fa** thef, and with his Son Christ jesus.*' And is it tot sweet to have sellowship with them, who have sellowship with Christ? 0 let all your delights be in the saints, and in the excellent of the earth, who excel in virtue, Pial. xvi. 3. yet, mistake not, there is a great deal of difference betwixt one Christian, and another, and even the best of Christians are sanctified but in part. If there be something sweet, and engaging, there is also, something bitter, ahd distasteful, in the best of men. If there be something to draw forth your delight, and love; there is, also, something to exercise your pity, aud patience. Yet this is most certain, that notwithstanding all their infirmities, and corruptions, they ire the best, and sweetest company, this world affords.
Inser. 5. In award, if no marCs claim to Christ be warranted, Hut 'theirs that "walk as he -walked: how vain, and groundless, 'then, are the hopes, and expectations xf all unfanftifted men, "who ttidlk after their own lusts? None are more forward to claim the privileges of religion, than those that reject the duties of it; multitudes hope to be saved by Christ, who yet refuse to be governed by him: But such hopes have ho lefipture warrant to support thfirn; yea, they have no scripture testimonies Against theth. 1 Cor. Vi, 9. " Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not "inherit the kingdom of God? Be hot deceived, neither forni"cators, nor idolaters', nor adulterers, hor effeminate, nor abu"sers of themselves with mankind; hor thieves, nof covetous, "nbr drunkards, hor rfevileri, nor extortioners, shall inherit the "kingdom of Gdd." 0 how many th»«f.iad vain hopes are laH in the dust, and how many thousand souls are sentenced to hell by this one scripture!
Second use, for exhortation. If this be so, it naturally presses all the prosessors of Christianity to strict godliness in their conversations, as ever they expect benefit by Christ. O prosessors, be ye not conformed unto this world, but be ye trnnsformed, by the renewing of your minds: Set the example of Christ before you, and labour to tread in his steps. This is the great business of religion, the main scope of the gospel. Give me leave, therefore, closely to press it upon your hearts, by the following motives.
Motive 1. Christ hath conformed himself to you, by his abasing incarnation; how reasonable therefore is it that you conform yourselves to him iu the way of obedience and sanctification? He came as near to you, as it was possible for him to do, strive you therefore to come as near to Christ as it is possible sot you to do: he hath taken your nature upon him-, Heb. ii. 14. yea, and with your nature he hath taken your weaknesses and infirmities, Rom. viii. 3. and not only your natures and your infirmities, but your condition also, for he came under the law for your sakes, Gal. iv. 4. He conformed himself to you, though he was infinitely above you, that was his abasement; do you conform yourselves to him, who are infinitely beneath him, that will be your advancement: his conformity to you emptied him of his glory, your conformity to him will fill you with glory: he conformed himself to you, though you had no obligation upon him; will you not conform yourselves to him, who lie under infinite obligations so to do?
Motive 2. You shall be conformed to Christ in glory; how reasonable therefore is it you should now conform yourselves to him in holiness? The apostle saith, 1 John iii. 2. " We shall "be like unto him, for we shall see him as he is:" Yea, not only your souls shall be like him, but your very bodies, even those vile bodies of yours, "shall be changed, that they may be sashi"oned like unto his glorious body." How forcible a motive is this to bring men into conformity with Christ here! especially, seeing our conformity to him in holiness, is the evidence of our conformity to him in glory, Rom. vi. 5. 2 Pet. iii. 11. O prosessors, as ever you look to be with Christ in glory hereafter, see that ye walk after Christ's-example in holiness and obedience here.
Motive 3. The conformity of your lives to Christ your pattern, is your highest excellency ia this world: The measure Vol. III. F
of your grace is to be estimated by this rule. The excellency of every creature rises higher and higher, according as it approaches still nearer and nearer to its original; the more you resemble Christ in grace, the more illustrious and resplendent Will your conversations be in true spiritual glory.
Motive 4. So sar as you imitate Christ in your lives, and no sarther, you will be beneficial to the world in which you live: so sar as God helps you to follow Christ, you will be helpful to bring others to Christ, or build them up in Christ; for all •men are forbidden by the gospel to follow you one step sarther than you follow Christ, 1 Cor. xi. 1. and when you have finished your course in this world, the remembrance of your ways will be no further sweet to others, than they are ways of holiness and obedience to Christ, 1 Cor. iv. 17. If you walk according to the course of this world, the world will not be the better for your walking.
Motive 5. To walk as Christ walked, is a walk only worthy of a Christian; this is to " walk worthy of the Lord," 1 Thess. ii. 12. Col. i. 10. By worthiness * the apostle doth not mean meritoriousness, but comeliness, or that decorum which befits a Christian: as, when a man walks suitably to his place and calling in the world, we say he acts like himself; so, when you walk after Christ's pattern, you then act like yourselves, like men of your character and prosession: this is consonant to your vocation, Eph. iv. 1. "I beseech you, that you walk worthy of "the vocation wherewith you are called." This walking suits with your obligation, 2 Cor. v. 15. for it is to live unto him who died for us. This walking only suits with your designation, Eph. ii. 10. "For you are created in Christ Jesus unto '' good works, which God hath before ordained we should "walk in them." In a word, such walking as this, and such only becomes your expectation, 2 Pet. iii. 14. " Wherefore "[beloved], seeing that you look for such things, be diligent, *' that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and V blameless."
Motive 6. How comfortable will the close of your lise be at death, if you have walked after Christ's pattern and example in this world! A comfortable death is ordinarily the close of a holy lise, Psil. xxxvii. 37. Mark the persect man, and behold
* The word worthiness, as used in scripture, does not always denote an exact proportion of equality between one ti'ing and another, but a certain suitableness and fitness which excludes inconsistency* Davenant on Cohjf. p. 2$, „•
"the upright; for the end of that man is peace." A loose, careless lise puts many terrible stings into death. As worms in the body are bred of the putresaction there, so the worm of conscience is bred of the moral putresaction, or corruption that »in our natures and conversations. O then be prevailed with by all these considerations to imitate Christ in the whole course, and compass of your conversations.
Third use, for consolation*
Lastly, I would leave a tew words of support and comfort to such as sincerely study and endeavour, according to the tenden-cy of their new nature, to follow Christ's example, but being weak in grace, and meeting with strong temptations, are frequently carried aside from the holy purposes, and designs of their honest, well-meaning hearts, to the great grief, and discouragement of their fouls. They heartily wisn and aim at holiness, and say with David, Psal. cxix. 5. " O that my ways "were directed to keep thy statutes." They follow after exactness in holiness as Paul did, Phil. iii. 12. " If by any means "they might attain it." But finding how short they come, in all things, of the rule and pattern, they mourn as he did, Roin.
24. " O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from * the body of this death I" Well, if this be thy case, be not discouraged, but hearken to a sew words of support and comfort, with which 1 shall close this point.
Such desects in obedience make no flaw in your justification: for your justification is not bnilt upon your obedience, but upon Christ's, Rom. iii. 24. and how incompleat, and desective ibeveryou be in yourselves, yet at the same instant, "you are "compleat in him which is the head of all principality and "power," Col. ii. 10. Wo to Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, and the most eminent saints that ever lived, if their justification, and acceptation with God, had depended upon the persection, and compleatnefs of their own obedince.
2. Your deep troubles for the desectiveness of your obedience, do not argue you to be less, but more sanctified, than those who make no such complaints; for these prove you to be better acquainted with your own hearts, than others are; to have a deeper hatred of sin than others have; and to love God, with a more servent love than others do; the most eminent saints have made the bitterest complaints upon this account, Psal. lxv. 3. Rom. vii. 23,^4.
3. The Lord makes excellent uses even of your infirmities and sailings to do you good, and makes them turn to your unexpected advantage: for, by these desects he hides pride from your eyes; he beat* you off from self-dependence; he makes you to admire the riches of free grace; he makes you to long more ardently for heaven, and entertain the sweeter thoughts of death: and doth not the Lord then make blessed fruits to spring up to you from such a bitter root? O the blessed chyjnislry of heaven, to extract such mercies out of such miseries!
4. Your bewailed infirmities do not break the bond of the everlasting covenant. The bond of the covenant holds firm, notwithstanding your desects and weaknesses, Jer. xxxii. 40. *' Iniquities prevail against me," saith David, yet in the same; breath he adds, "as for our transgressions thou fhalt purge; *i them away," Psal, lxv, 3. He is still thy God, thy Father for all this.
5. Though the desects of your obedience are grievous to God, yet your deep sorrows for them are well-pleasing in his eyes, Psal. li. 17. " The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a "broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." pphraim was never a more pleasant child to his sather, than when, he moaned himself, and smote upon his thigh as thou dost, Jer, xxxi. 20. Yeur fins grieve him, but your sorrows please him.
6. Though God have left many desects to humble you, yet be hath given many things to comfort you. This is a comfort that the desire of thy foul is to God, and to the remembrance of his name, This is a comfort, that thy sins are not thy delight as once they were} but thy shame and sorrow. This is a comfort, that thy case is not singular; but, more or less, the same complaints and sorrows are found in all gracious fouls through the world; and, to say all in one word, this is the comfort above all comforts, that the time is at hand, in which all these desects, infirmities, and sailings shall be done away, 1 Cor. xiii, JO. " When that which is persect is come, then that which is "in part shall be done away."
For ever bkjjed he God for Jefus Christ.
And thus I have finished the third gsneral use of examination, whereby every man is to try his interest in Christ, aud