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adise, and suddenly brought all their happiness and glory to an end, by appearing to be a friend to their happy paradisaic state, and pretending to advance it to higher degrees. So the same cunning serpent, that beguiled Eve through his subtilty, by perverting us from the simplicity that is in Christ, hath suddenly prevailed to deprive us of that fair prospect, we had a little while ago, of a kind of paradisaic state of the church of God in New England.
After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies appear, people that are engaged to defend its cause, are commonly most exposed, where they are least sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent upon the opposition that appears openly before them, to make head against that, and do neglect carefully to look all around them, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen; and has opportunity to give a more home stroke, and wound the deeper, because he strikes at his leisure, and according to his pleasure, being obstructed by no guard or resistance.
And so it is ever likely to be in the church, whenever religion revives remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish between true and false religion, between sav. ing affections and experiences, and those manifold fair shows, and glistering appearances, by which they are counterfeited; the consequences of which, when they are not distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. By this means, the devil gratifies himself, by bringing it to pass, that that should be offered to God, by multitudes, under a potion of a pleasing acceptable service to him, that is indeed above all things abominable to him. By this means he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls ; making them think they are something, when they are nothing; and so eternally undoes them; and not only so, but establishes many in a strong confidence of their eminent holiness, who are in God's sight some of the vilest of hypocrites. By this means, he many ways damps and wounds religion in the hearts of the saints, obscures and deforms it by corrupt mixtures, causes their religious affections wofully' to degenerate, and sometimes, for a considerable time, to be like the manna that bred worms and stank; and dreadfully ensrares and confounds the minds of others of the saints, and brings them into great difficulties and temptation, and entangles them in a wilderness, out of which they can by no means extricate themselves. By this means, Satan mightily encourages the hearts of open enemies of religion, and strengthens their hands, and fills them with weapons, and makes strong their fortresses; when, at the came time, religion and the church of God lie exposed to them, as a city without walls. By this means, he brings it to pass, that men work wickedness under a notion of doing God service, and so sin without restraint, yea with earnest forwardness and zeal, and with all their might. By this means, he brings in even the friends of religion, insensibly to themselves, to do the work of enemies, by destroying religion in a far more effectual manner than open enemies can do, under a notion of advancing it. By this means the devil scatters the flock of Christ, and sets them one against another, and wat with great heat of spirit, under a notion of zeal for God; and religion, by degrees, degenerates into vain jangling; and during the strife, Satan leads both parties far out of the right way, driving each to great extremes, one on the right hand, and the other on the left, according as he finds they are most inclined, or most easily moved and swayed, till the right path in the middle is almost wholly neglected. And in the midst of this confusion, the devil has great opportunity to advance his own interest, and make it strong in ways innumerable, and get the government of all into his own hands, and work his own will, And by what is seen of the terrible consequences of this counterfeit religion, when not distinguished from true religion, God's people in general have their minds unhinged and unsettled in things of religion, and know not where to set their foot, or what to think or do; and many are brought into doubts, whether there be any thing in religion; and heresy, and infidelity, and atheism greatly prevail.
Therefore it greatly conerns us to use our utmost endeavors clearly to discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true religion does consist. Till this be done, it may be expected, that great revivings of religion will be but of short continuance; till this be done, there is but little good to be expected of all our warm debates, in conversation and from the press, not knowing clearly and distinctly what we ought to contend for.
My design is to contribute my mite, and use my best (however feeble) endeavors to this end, in the ensuing treatise ; wherein it must be noted, that my design is somewhat diverse from the design of what I have formerly published, which was to show the distinguishing marks of a work of the Spirit of God, including both his common and saving operations; but what I aim at now, is to show the nature and signs of the
gracious operations of God's Spirit
, by which they are to be distinguished from all things whatsoever, that the minds of men are the subjects of, which are not of a sav. ing nature. If I have succeeded, in this my aim, in any tolerable measure, I hope it will tend to promote the interest of religion. And whether I have succeeded to bring any light to this subject or no, and however my attempts may be reproached in these captious and censorious times, I hope in the mercy of a gracious God, for the acceptance of the sincerity of my endeavors; and hope also for the candor and prayers of the true followers of the meek and charitable Lamb of God.
CONCERNING THE NATURE OF THE AFFECTIONS, AND THEIR IMPORTANCE IN
1 Peter i. 8.– Whom having not seen, ye love ; in whom, though now ye see him not,
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. In these words, the apostle represents the state of the minds of the Christians he wrote to, under the persecutions they were then the subjects of. These persecutions are what he has respect to, in the two preceding verses, when he speaks of the trial of their faith, and of their being in heaviness through manifold temptations.
Such trials are of threefold benefit to true religion. Hereby the truth of it is manifested, and it appears to be indeed true religion; they, above all other things, have a tendency to distinguish between true religion and false, and to cause the difference between them evidently to appear. Hence they are called by the name of trials, in the verse nexily preceding the text, and in innumerathe other places; they try the faith and religion of professors, of what sort it is, as apparent gold is tried in the fire, and manifested, whether it be true gold or 10. And the faith of true Christians being thus tried and proved to be true, is * found to praise, and honor, and glory," as in that preceding verse.
And then, these trials are of further benefit to true religion ; they not only tarifest the truth of it, but they make its genuine beauty and amiableness retvarkably to appear. True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most nppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhibited with wch advantage, as when under the greatest trials: then it is that true faith | appears much more precious than gold? And upon this account is “found to praise, and honor, and glory."
And again, another benefit that such trials are of to true religion, is, that tey purify and increase it. They not only manifest it to be true, but also tend ti refine it, and deliver it from those mixtures of that which is false, which encimber and impede it ; that nothing may be left but that which is true. They tend to cause the amiableness of true religion to appear to the best advantage, as was before observed; and not only so, but they tend to increase its beauty, by establishing and confirming it, and making it more lively and vigorous, and parifying it from those things that obscured its lustre and glory. As gold that is bed in the fire, is purged from its alloy, and all remainders of dross, and comes Srth more solid and beautiful; so true faith being tried as gold is tried in the fire, becomes more precious, and thus also is “ found unto praise, and honor, and VOL. III
glory.” The apostle seems to have respect to each of these benefits, that perse cutions are of to true religion, in the verse preceding the text.
And in the text, the apostle observes how true religion operated in the Christians he wrote to, under their persecutions, whereby these benefits of persecution appeared in them; or what manner of operation of true religion, in them, it was, whereby their religion, under persecution, was manifested to be true religion, and eminently appeared in the genuine beauty and amiableness of true religion, and also appeared to be increased and purified, and so was like to be “ found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” And there were two kinds of operation, or exercise of true religion, in them, under their sufferings, that the apostle takes notice of in the text, wherein these benefits appeared.
1. Love to Christ: “Whom having not yet seen, ye love.” The world was ready to wonder, what strange principle it was, that influenced them to expose themselves to so great sufferings, to forsake the things that were seen, and renounce all that was dear and pleasant, which was the object of sense. They seeined to the men of the world about them, as though they were beside themselves, and to act as though they hated themselves; there was nothing in their view, that could induce them thus to suffer, and support them under, and carry them through such trials. But although there was nothing that was seen, nothing that the world saw, or that the Christians themselves ever saw with their bodily eyes, that thus influenced and supported them, yet they had a supernatural principle of love to something unseen; they loved Jesus Christ, for they saw him spiritually whom the world saw not, and whom they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes.
2. Joy in Christ. Though their outward sufferings were very grievous, yet their inward spiritual joys were greater than their sufferings ; and these supported them, and enabled them to suffer with cheerfulness.
There are two things which the apostle takes notice of in the text concerning this joy: 1. The manner in which it rises, the way in which Christ, though unseen, is the foundation of it, viz., by faith; which is the evidence of things not seen : "In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice." 2. The nature of this joy ; “ unspeakable and full of glory.”. Unspeakable in the kind of it ; very different from worldly joys, and carnal delights ; of a vastly more pure, sublime, and heavenly nature, being something supernatural, and truly divine, and so ineffably excellent; the sublimity and exquisite sweetness of which, there were no words to set forth. Unspeakable also in degree; it pleasing God to give them this holy joy, with a liberal hand, and in large measure, in their state of persecution.
Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was unspeakable, and no words were sufficient to describe it, yet something might be said of it, and no words more fit to represent its excellency than these, that it was full of glory: or, as it is in the original, glorified joy. In rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected. It was a most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind, as many carnal joys do; but did greatly beautify and dignify it ; it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree of heavenly blessedness; it filled their minds with the light of God's glory, and made themselves to shine with some communication of that glory.
Hence the proposition or doctrine, that I would raise from these words, is this
ercises of religion in the Christians he wrote to, wherein their religion appeared to be true and of the right kind, when it had its greatest trial of what sort it was, being tried by persecution as gold is tried in the fire, and when their religion not only proved true, but was most pure, and cleansed from its dross and mixtures of that which was not true, and when religion appeared in them most in its genuine excellency and native beauty, and was found to praise, and honor, and glory; he singles out the religious affections of love and joy, that were then m exercise in them : these are the exercises of religion he takes notice of, wherein their religion did thus appear true and pure, and in its proper glory. Here I would,
1. Show what is intended by the affections.
2. Observe some things which make it evident, that a great part of true religion lies in the affections.
1. It may be inquired, what the affections of the mind are ?
I answer: The affections are no other than the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul.
God has endued the soul with two faculties : one is that by which it is capable of perception and speculation, or by which it discerns, and views, and judges of things ; which is called the understanding. The other faculty is that tv which the soul does not merely perceive and view things, but is some way inclined with respect to the things it views or considers ; either is inclined to them, or is disinclined and averse from them; or is the faculty by which the soul does not behold things, as an indifferent unaffected spectator, but either as kking or disliking, pleased or displeased, approving or rejecting. This faculty I called by various names; it is sometimes called the inclination : and, as it has respect to the actions that are determined and governed by it, is called the rill : and the mind, with regard to the exercises of this faculty, is often called the heart.
The exercise of this faculty are of two sorts ; either those by which the soul is carried out towards the things that are in view, in apr:oving of them, being pleased with them, and inclined to them; or those in which the soul opposes the things that are in view, in disapproving of them, and in being displeased with them, averse from them, and rejecting them,
And as the exercises of the inclination and will of the soul are various in their kinds, so they are much more various in their degrees. There are some exercises of pleasedness or displeasedness, inclination or disinclination, wherein the soul is carried but a little beyond a state of perfect indifference.—And there are other degrees above this, wherein the approbation or dislike, pleasedness or aversion, are stronger, wherein we may rise higher and higher, till the soul romes to act vigorously and sensibly, and the actings of the soul are with that strength, that (through the laws of the union which the Creator bas fixed between the soul and the body) the motion of the blood and animal spirits begins to be sensibly altered ; whence oftentimes arises some bodily sensation, especially about the heart and vitals, that are the fountain of the fluids of the body : from whence it comes to pass, that the mind, with regard to the exer(ses of this faculty, perhaps in all nations and ages, is called the heart. And, t is to be poted, that they are these more vigorous and sensible exercises of this Faculty that are called the affections.
The will, and the affections of the soul, are not two faculties; the affections are not essentially distinct from the will, nor do they differ from the mere actags of the will, and inclination of the soul, but only in the liveliness and sensiHeness of exercise.