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lay open the filth of his heart, and make him a scandal and a reproach in the world. Psal. xxxix. 8. 'Oh, saith he, 'make me not a reproach to the foolish.' Sometimes he trembles lest God should strike him suddenly with some signal judgment, and take him out of the world, in darkness and sorrow; so saith David, 'Take me not away in thy wrath. Sometimes he fears lest he shall be like Jonah, and raise a storm in his family, in the church whereof he is a member, or in the whole nation; "Let them not be ashamed for my sake.' These things make his heart soft, as Job speaks, and to melt within him. When any affliction or public judgment of God, is fastened to a quick living sense of sin in the conscience, it overwhelms the soul ; whether it be only justly feared, or be actually inflicted, as was the case of Joseph's brethren in Egypt. The soul is then rolled from one deep to another. Sense of sin casts it on the consideration of its affliction; and affliction turns it back on a sense of sin. So deep calleth unto deep, and all God's billows go over the soul. And they do each of them make the soul tender, and sharpen its sense unto the other. Affiction softens the soul; so that the sense of sin cuts the deeper, and makes the larger wounds; and the sense of sin weakens the soul, and makes affliction sit the heavier, and so increaseth its burden. In this case, that affliction which a man in his usual state of spiritual peace, could have embraced as a sweet pledge of love, is as goads and thorns in his side, depriving him of all rest and quietness; God makes it as thorns and briers, wherewith he will teach stubborn souls their duty, as Gideon did the man of Succoth.
5. There may be added hereunto, prevailing fears for a season, of being utterly rejected by God, of being found a reprobate at the last day. Jonah seems to conclude so, chap. iii. 4. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight.' I am lost for ever, God will own me no more.
And Heman, Psal. lxxxviii. 4, 5. 'I am counted with them that go down into the pit : free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave,
whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.' This may reach the soul, until the sorrows of hell encompass it, and lay hold upon it, until it be deprived of comfort, peace, rest, until it be a terror to
itself, and be ready to choose strangling rather than life. This may befall a gracious soul on the account of sin. But yet because this fights directly against the life of faith, God doth not, unless it be in extraordinary cases, suffer any of his to lie long in this horrible 'pit, where there is no water,' no refreshment. But this often falls out, that even the saints themselves are left for a season to a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation, as to the prevailing apprehension of their minds. And,
6. God secretly sends his arrows into the soul, that wound and gall it, adding pain, trouble, and disquietness to its disconsolation. Psal. xxxviii. 2. • Thine arrows stick fast in
me, and thy hand presseth me sore.' Ever and anon in his walking, God shot a sharp piercing arrow, fixing it on his soul, that galled, wounded, and perplexed him, filling him with pain and grievous vexation. These arrows are God's rebukes ; Psal. xxxix. 11. “When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity.' God speaks in his word, and by his Spirit in the conscience, things sharp and bitter to the soul, fastening them so as it cannot shake them out. These Job so mournfully complains of, chap. vi. 4. The Lord speaks words with that efficacy, that they pierce the heart quite through; and what the issue then is, David declares, Psal. xxxviii. 3. There is no soundness,' saith he, ' in my flesh, because of thine anger; nor is there any rest in my bones, because of my sin.' The whole person is brought under the power of them, and all health and rest is taken away. And,
7. Unspiritedness and disability unto duty, in doing or suffering, attend such a condition. Psal. xl. 12. •Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up.' His spiritual strength was worn away by sin, so that he was not able to address himself unto any communion with God. The soul now cannot pray with life and power; cannot hear with joy and profit; cannot do good, and communicate with cheerfulness and freedom; cannot meditate with delight and heavenly-mindedness; cannot act for God with zeal and liberty ; cannot think of suffering with boldness and resolution; but is sick, weak, feeble, and bowed down.
Now, I say, a gracious soul after much communion with
God, may, on the account of sin, by a sense of the guilt of it, be brought into a state and condition, wherein some, more, or all of these, with other the like perplexities, may be its portion. And these make up the depths whereof the psalmist here complains. What are the sins, or of what sorts, that ordinarily cast the souls of believers into these depths, shall be afterward declared. I shall now shew both whence it is that believers may fall into such a condition; as also, whence it is that oftentimes they actually do so.
Whence it is that believers may be brought into depths on account of sin. Nature of the supplies of grace given in the covenant. How far they extend. Principles of the power of sin.
FIRST, The nature of the covenant wherein all believers now walk with God, and wherein all their whole provision for obedience is enwrapped, leaves it possible for them to fall into these depths that have been mentioned. Under the first covenant there was no mercy or forgiveness provided for any sin. It was necessary then that it should exhibit a sufficiency of grace to preserve them from every sin, or it could have been of no use at all. This the righteousness of God required, and so it was. To have made a covenant wherein there was no provision at all of pardon, and not a sufficiency of grace to keep the covenanters from need of pardon, was not answerable to the goodness and righteousness of God. But he made man upright who of his own accord sought out many inventions. It is not so in the covenant of grace; there is in it pardon provided in the blood of Christ; it is not therefore of indispensable necessity that there should be administered in it, grace effectually preserving from every sin: yet it is on all accounts to be preferred before the other. For, besides the relief by pardon which the other knew nothing of, there is in it also much provision against sin, which was not in the other. 1. There is provision made in it, against all and every sin that would disannul the covenant, and make a final separation between God and a soul that hath been once taken
into the bond thereof. This provision is absolute; God hath taken upon himself the making of this good, and the establishing this law of the covenant, that it shall not by any sin be disannulled; Jer. xxxii. 40. • I will’ (saith God) make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.' The security hereof depends not on any thing in ourselves. All that is in us is to be used as a means of the accomplishment of this promise; but the event or issue depends absolutely on the faithfulness of God. And the whole certainty and stability of the covenant depends on the efficacy of the grace administered in it, to preserve men from all such sins as would disannul it.
2. There is in this covenant provision made for constant peace and consolation, notwithstanding, and against the guilt of such sins, as through their infirmities and temptations believers are daily exposed unto. Though they fall into sins every day, yet they do not fall into depths every day. In the tenor of this covenant, there is a consistency between a sense of sin unto humiliation and peace, with strong consolation. After the apostle had described the whole conflict that believers have with sin, and the frequent wounds which they receive thereby, which makes them cry out for deliverance; Rom. vii. 24. he yet concludes, chap. viii, 1. that there is no condemnation unto them, which is a sufficient and stable foundation of peace. So 1 John ii. 1. * These things have I written unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' Our great business and care ought to be, that we sin not; but yet when we have done' our utmost, ‘if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves;' chap. i. 8. What then shall poor, sinful, guilty creatures do? why let them go to the Father, by their advocate, and they shall not fail of pardon and peace. And, saith Paul, Heb. vi. 17, 18. 'God is abundantly willing that we might have strong consolation, who fly for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. What was his condition who fled of old to the city of refuge for safety, from whence this expression is taken? He was guilty of blood, though shed at unawares; and so, as that he was to die for it, if he escaped not to the
city of refuge. Though we may have the guilt of sins upon uš, that the law pronounceth death unto, yet flying to Christ for refuge, God hath provided not only safety, but strong consolation for us also. Forgiveness in the blood of Christ, doth not only take guilt from the soul, but trouble also from the conscience. And in this respect doth the apostle at large set forth the excellency of his sacrifice, Heb. x. The sacrifices of the old law, he tells us, could not make perfect the worshippers, ver. 1. which he proves, ver. 2. because they did never take away, thoroughly and really, conscience of sin; that is, depths or distresses of conscience about sin. But now, saith he, Jesus Christ, in the covenant of grace, hath for ever perfected them that were sanctified,' ver. 14. providing for them such stable peace and consolation, as that they shall not need the renewing of sacrifices every day; ver. 18. This is the great mystery of the gospel in the blood of Christ; that those who sin every day, should have peace with God all their days. Provided their sins fall within the compass of those infirmities, against which this consolation is provided.
3. There is provision made of grace, to prevent and preserve the soul from great and enormous sins, such as in their own nature are apt to wound conscience, and cast the person into such depths and entanglements as wherein he shall have neither rest nor peace. Of what sort these sins are, shall be afterward declared. There is in this covenant grace for grace;' John i. 16. and abundance of grace, administered from the all-fulness of Christ. Grace reigneth in it; Rom. vi. 6. destroying and crucifying the body of sin.
But this provision in the covenant of grace against peace ruining, soul-perplexing sins, is not, as to the administration of it, absolute. There are covenant commands and exhortations, on the attendance whereunto, the administration of much covenant-grace doth depend. To watch, pray, improve faith, to stand on our guard continually, to mortify sin, to fight against temptations, with steadfastness, diligence, constancy, are every where prescribed unto us; and that in order unto the insurance of the grace mentioned. These things are on our part, the condition of the administration of that abundant grace, which is to preserve us from soul