« AnteriorContinuar »
I seldom see such souls established. I have heard of a person who was in company once with fourteen ministers of the gospel, some of whom were eminent servants of Christ, and yet not one of them could tell the time God first manifested himself to their soul. Zaccheus's was a very quick conversion, perhaps not a quarter of an hour's conviction; this I mention, that we may not condemn one another. We do not love the pope, because we love to be popes ourselves, and set up our own experience as a standard to others. Those that had such a conversion as the jailor, or the Jews, (O, say you, we do not like to hear you talk of shaking over hell; we love to hear of conversion by the love of God; while others that were so shaken, as Mr. Bolton and other eminent men were,) may say, you are not christians, because you had not the like terrible experience. You may as well say to your neighbor, you have not had a child, for you were not in labor all night. The question is, whether a real child is born, not how long was the preceding pain, but whether it was productive of a new birth, and whether Christ has been formed in your hearts; it is the birth proves the reality of the thing.
Some allow that there is mourning before, but no mourning after conversion; pray who says so? None but an Antinomian, a rank Antinomian: and when you hear a person say,
that after conversion you will have no mourning, you may be assured that person is at best walking by moon light; he does not walk by the sun; he has some doctrine in his head, but very little grace, I am afraid, in his heart. How! how! my brethren, not mourn after we are converted; why, till then there is no true mourning at all. The damned in hell are mourning now, they put on their mourning as soon as they get there. How am I tormented in this flame, says Dives; and Cain, my punishment is greater than I can bear. How many worldly people break their hearts for the loss of the world'; they cannot keep their usual equipage, nor do as they would ; and come not to worship on Sunday, because they cannot appear so fine as formerly they did. This is a sorrow of the world that worketh death; but there is a blessed, a more evangelical mourning, which is the habitual, blessed state and frame of a converted soul. How strong the expression, They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn. How shall they mourn? As one mourneth for a first born, an only child. Have you ever been called to bury a child ? Is there any tender mother here? Were you merry directly after the child was dead? No, perhaps till this very day, you continually call to remembrance your little one and shed a tear ; every thing relating to it causes the repetition of your sorrow. When
a poor believer is acquainted with Jesus Christ, he mourns for having crucified the Son of God, and you will moum for the same sin after conversion as before. Surely, say some, I mourn for the sins I committed before my conversion. I do not know whether you do or no, but I know you should. O, says David, Remember not against me the sins of my youth, in a Psalm which was written when he was an old man; and Paul says, “I was a blasphemer and injurious, and therefore not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God;" and this after he had been wrapped up to the third heaven. See Mary rushing into the house, washing her Lord's feet with her tears, and wiping them with her hair. I do not suppose she was dressed as our ladies are now; they did not make such apes of themselves; but her hair was very fine in an honest way: though she breaks the alabaster box of ointment given her, perhaps by some poor silly creature that would die by her frowns, and live upon her smiles, see her at the feet of her Savior, and Jesus Christ answers for her, some having thought she was profuse, that having had much forgiven, she loved much. The more the love of God is manifested, the more it will melt the soul down. I appeal to you, christians, whether the sweetest times you ever enjoyed were not those when you were much melted at the sight of a crucified Savior; when you could say, Lord, thou forgavest me, I feel it, I know it, but I cannot forgive myself; this will always be the effect of an ingenuous mind; and a person that is really converted will thus mourn; and if you do not know this, you may be assured you know nothing savingly of Jesus Christ. You may go and hear this and that warning, and you are right to gather honey from every flower, but you have not got within the inner court, but are yet without. God give you to see your folly herein.
A true believer will mourn over his corruptions. I wonder what they can think, who suppose they have no corruptions. I remember a poor creature of Rhode Island, who looked the most like the old Puritans I ever saw, when I was talking with him, and said, some people say there are some men that have no sin; he said, if you send such a man to me, I will pay his charges, even from England and back again. I have often learned something from the difference of glasses : you look into the common glasses, and see yourselves there so fine, and admire your person, dress, &c., but when you view yourselves through a microscope, how many worms are discovered in that fine skin of yours, enough to make you ashamed of the vermin and filth that is seated there : so it is in faith, that glass would show you so much corruption cleaving to every action
of your lives, that would make you sin sick, and mourn that you have known God so long, and are like him so little. What says Paul ? Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Notwithstanding he knew that "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” yet cries out, “O wretched man that I am!" I should have thought, О happy man that thou art! formerly a persecutor, and now a preacher; a man that has been honored so much above every man in planting churches, which is the highest honor a man can have under heaven; here is a man that hath been wrapped up to the third heaven, --what of him? “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death ?" Do you think that it was only a little qualm of conscience ? No, it was the habitual temper of his heart. Some people are much humbled by fits and starts, but Paul felt this daily. Many things that we are not concerned about, Paul looked upon as such as made his heart ache, because he thought he could not live near enough to God. He not only watched to do good, but he watched how he did that good ; and nature was so mixed with it, that he said, I cannot do as I would do, I would have served God like an angel, but I find myself to be a poor sinner after all, and if we are like-minded with Paul, we shall mourn over our corruptions, we shall mourn over our hidden sins that none know but God and ourselves. It is a very dangerous thing to trust gospel gossips, who, being strangers to themselves, hear with wonder and contempt, and often betray; however, a judicious friend, into whose bosom we can pour out our souls, and tell our corruptions as well as our comforts, is a very great privilege. When our corruptions do not drive us from Christ, but drive us to him, it is the greatest blessing to commune with Christ on this side heaven : and, my brethren, if your hearts are right with God, you will see such things as nobody else could think of. A good woman, who was charmed with Dr. Manton, said, “O, sir, you have made an excellent sermon to-day; I wish I had your heart.” • Do you say so," said he,“good woman, you had better not wish for it, for if you had it, you would wish for your own again.” The best of men see themselves in the worst light.
How many thousand things are there that make you mourn here below! who can tell the tears that godly parents shed for ungodly children! O you young folks, you do not know what plague your children may be to you! O they are pretty things while young, like rattlesnakes and alligators, which I have seen when little, but put them in your bosom and you will find that they are dangerous. How many are there in the world that would wish, if it were lawful, that God had written them
childless; there is many a poor creature that makes his father's heart ache. I once asked a godly widow, “ madam, how is your son ?" she turned aside with tears, and said, "sir, he is no son to me now.” What in the world can come up to that! Here, says one, I have bred up my children, I cannot charge myself with educating them wrong, though few parents can say that, for many parents lead them into the paths of death, and so are murderers of their own children, and by their manner of education help to damn them for ever; but if you can say, I have done all I could, and yet, O my God, my children are worse than any other people's; this is a dreadful state indeed; and the more you mourn, the more they laugh at you ; O these are my godly parents. They increase their trouble, like Dr. Horneck's son, who said, there is not a post in my father's house but stinks of piety. I once saw a man that was awakened at the Orphan-house, fall down and throw himself on one of their beds, crying out, “O, sir, what will become of my poor grey-headed father, who knows nothing of this birth !" It is a difficulty with some to know how to behave towards unconverted relations; if you do not go to them, they will say you are precise; if you do, and are faithful, they will soon show you they have enough of your company; this sends a godly person home mourning; and then there comes a thought, shall I speak to them any more, or let them go to the devil. This is not like parting from your friends by death, but burying them alive: when dead, we know we must submit, but to part from friends, those we loved, and thought to have lived with till we came to heaven, is mournful indeed.
Moreover, the poor state of the church makes many a minister and close walker with God to weep over the desolations of the sanctuary, and to mourn for those that will not mourn for themselves: thus our Lord wept over Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathereth her chickens, but it is over with thee now: the decree is gone forth, and Jerusalem shall suffer.
Brethren, the time will fail, and therefore I leave it to you to supply more cases; for if I was to preach till to-morrow morning, I doubt not but a thousand here would say, there are many things you have not mentioned yet. You know the state of your own hearts, and the many particular trials in your cwn case; and you may also know, though your trial seems over, it is only changed. But let it be observed, the days of your mourning shall be ended; mind it is but days, though sometimes made very sad ones indeed, by the neglect and ingratitude of those who have made the people of God serve them
with rigor, as though all the world was made for them, as well as their incapacity to help themselves, by poverty, pain, sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. This has been, and is the lot of many a child of God: blessed be sovereign mercy, it is but a few days. An end shall arrive, and that end shall be happy, when death, the believer's friend, shall come with an angel's face, to dismiss them from all their sin and sorrow. When I was at Bristol, I could not help remembering good Mr. Middleton, who used, you know, to have the gout very much, and in that closet were kept his crutches: now, thought I, he needs them no more; the days of his mourning are ended, and so shall ours be by and by too, when we shall no longer want our spiritual crutches or armor, but shall say to the helmet of hope, the shield of faith, I have no more need of thee; and the all-prevailing weapon of prayer be changed into songs of endless praise ; when God himself shall be our everlasting light, a sun that never shall go down more, but shall beam forth his infinite and eternal love in a beatific state for ever. The prospect of this made one of the fathers cry out, O glory! how great! how great! what art thou ? A friend asked him what he saw. He answered, I see the glory of the only begotten Son of God. And if a sight of Christ on earth is so great, as could make good Mr. Wardrobe, an excellent Scotch minister, say, after he was given over, starting up in the arms of an excellent friend who told it me, in a rapture of joy, crowns ! crowns ! crowns of glory shall adorn this head of mine ere long ! and stretching up, added, palms ! palms ! palms shall ere long fill these hands of mine! and so sweetly fell asleep in Jesus. What a pleasing, awful trial is that for an affectionate friend! So our dear sister, who is to be buried tomorrow night at Tottenham-court, talked with her friends for an hour or two, and took leave of her husband and children, and said, now come, ye heavenly chariots! We will thank God then for all our losses, crosses, and disappointments; and I believe those things which we mourn for most, and puts us most to the trial, will give us most comfort when we come to die. God shall be our everlasting light, as well as the days of our mourning shall be ended.
Take care, do not be secure, do not think the day of your mourning to be ended yet : you may put off mourning for your friends, but may have fresh cause of mourning for your souls; while you remember that holy mourning is consistent with holy walking, following the Lord in all his ways. You have often heard me speak of one of our ministers, who was not one of your fine velvet mouths, that said once in the pulpit, as sure as vou see the sun shine on my breast, which at that