« AnteriorContinuar »
whimsies : I say, your own fears and troubles, if ever you were engaged by a cunning and powerful adversary in a lawsuit for your eftate, may give you a little glimpse of spiritual troubles, and indeed it is no more but a glimpse of it : for, as the loss of an earthly, though fair, inheritance, is but a trifle to the loss of God and the foul to eternity; so you cannot but imagine, that the cares, fears, and solicitudes of souls about these things, are much, very much beyond yours. Let us compare the cases, and see how they answer to each other.
1. You have evidences for your estates, and by them you hold what you have in the world: They also have evidences for their estate in Chrift, and glory to come; they hold all in capite, by virtue of their intermarriage with Jesus Christ; they come to be instated in that glorious inheritance contained in the covenant of grace. You have their tenure in that scripture, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. “ All is yours, for ye are Christ's, and Chrift u is God's.” Faith unites them to him, and after they believe, they are sealed by the Spirit of promise, Eph. i. 13. They can tay claim to no promise apon any other ground; this is their title to all that they own as theirs.
2. It often falls out, that after the fealing and executing of your deeds, or leases, an adverfary finds fome dubious clause in them, and thereupon commences a fuit of law with you. Thus it frequently falls out with the people of God, who after their believing and sealing time, have doubts and scruples raised in them about their title. Nothing is more common, than for the devil, and their own unbelief, to start controversies, and raise strong objections against their interest in Chrift, and the covenant of promises. These are cunning and potent adverfaries, and do maintain long debates with the gracious foul, and reason fo cunningly and sophistically with it, that it can by no means extricate and fatisfy itself; always alledging, that their title is worth nothing, which they, poor souls, are but too apt to fufpect.
3. All the while that a fuit of law is depending about your title, you have but little comfort, or benefit, from your estate ; you cannot look upon it as your own, nor lay out moneys in building or dressing, for fear you should lose áll at last. Just thus stands the case with doubting Christians ; they have little comfort from the most comfortable promises, little benefit from the sweetest duties, and ordinances: They put off their own comforts, and say, if we were fure that all this were ours, we would then rejoice in them : But, alas! our title is dubio
ous : Christ is a precious Chrift; the promises are comfortable things; but what, if they be none of ours ? Ah! how little doth the doubting Christian make of his large and rich inheritance ?
4. You dare not trust your own judgments in fuch cases, but state
case to such as are learned in the laws, and are willing to get the ableft counsel you can to advise you. So are poor. doubting Christians; they carry their cases from Christian to Chriftian, and from minister to minister, with such requests as these : Pray tell me, what do you think of my condition ? Deal plainly and faithfully with me; these be my grounds of doubting, and these my grounds of hope. O hide nothing from me! And if they all agree that their case is good, yet they cannot be satisfied 'till God say so too, and confirm the word of his servants; and therefore they carry the case often before him in such words as thofe, Psalm exxxix. 23, 24. “ Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know
, “ my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me.”
5. You have little quiet in your spirits, till the case be resolved; your meat and drink doth you little good ; you cannot sleep in the night, because these troubled thoughts are ever returning upon you, what if I thould be turned out of all at last? So it is with gracious fouls; their eyes are held waking in the night, by reason of the troubles of their hearts, Psalm lxxvii. 4. Such fears as these are frequently returning upon their hearts, what if I should be found a felf-deceiver at lait? What if I but hug a phantasm instead of Christ? How can this, or that, confilt with grace? Their meat and drink doth them little good: their bodies are often macerated by the troubles of their souls.
6. You will not make the best of your condition, when you State
your case to a faithful counfellor; neither will they, but oftentimes (poor penfive souls) they make it much worse than indeed it is; charge themselves with that which God never charged them with ; though this be neither their wifdom, nor their duty; but the fears of miscarrying make them suspect fraud in all they do or have. 7. Lastly, When yo
title is cleared, your hearts are eafed; yea, not only ealed, but overjoyed; though not in that degree, nor with the same kind of joy that the hearts of christians are overflowed, when the Lord speaks peace to their fouls. O welcome the fweet morning light, after a tedious night of darkness! aow they can eat their bread with comfort,
and drink their wine, yea, if it be but water, with a merry heart, Ecclef. ix. 7.
1. O how hath my spirit been toffed and har: The careless ried, when I have met with troubles and clafoui's reflec- mours about my eftate ! But as for fpiritual trou. tion
bles, and those soul perplexing cases, that Chrif
tians speak of, I understand but little of them. I never called my everlasting state in question, nor broke an hour's feep upon any such account. Ah, my fupine and carelefs soul ! little haft thou regarded how matters stand in reference to eternity! I have strongly conceited, but never thoroughly examined the validity of my title to Christ, and his promises ; nor am I able to tell, if my own conscience should demand, whereupon my claim is grounded. .O my soul! why art' thou so unwilling to examine how matters stand betwixt God and thee? Art thou afraid to look into thy condition, left by finding thine hypocrisy, thou shouldīt lose thy peace, or rather, thy fecurity? To what purpose will it be to shut thine eyes againft the light of conviction, unless chou couldit also find out a way to prevent thy. condemnation ? Thou feeft other souls, how attentively they wait under the word, for any thing that may speak to their condition. Doubtless thou haft heard, how frequently and seriously they have ftated their condition, and opened their cases to the ministers of Christ. But thou, O my foul ! haft no such cases to put, no doubts to be resolved; thou wilt leave all to the decision of the great day, and not trouble thyself about it now. Well, God will decide it; but little to thy comfort.
2. I have heard how some have been The doubting souls reflection.
perplexed by litigious adversaries; but I
believe none have been so toft with fears, and diftracted with doubts, as I have been about the ftate of my foul. Lord, what shall I do? I have often carried my doubts and scruples to thine ordinances, waiting for satisfaction to be spoken there. I have carried them to those I have judged skilful and faithful, begging their resolution and help, but nothing will ftick. Still my fears are daily renewed. O my God, do thou decide my cafe! tell me how the state stands betwixt thee and me; my days consume in trouble, I can neither do nor en
I joy any good, whilst things are thus with me, all my earthly enjoyments are dry and uncomfortable things; yea, which is much worse, all my duties and thine ordinances, prove so too, by reason of the troubles of my heart: I am no ornament to
myprofeffion; nay, Iam a discouragement and stumbling-block to others. "I will hearken and hear what God the Lord will “ speak:” Othat it might be peace! If thou do not speak it, none can; and when thou doft, keep thy fervant from returning again to folly, teft I make fresh work for an accusing conscience, and give new matter to the adversary of my soul. .
3. But thou, my soul, enjoyeft a double mere The assured су
from thy bountiful God, who hath not only Christian's regiven thee a found title, but also the clear evi- flettion. dence and knowledge thereof. I am gathering, and daily feeding upon the full-ripe fruits of assurance, which grow upon the top boughs of faith ; whilst many of my poor brethren drink their own tears, and have their teeth broken with gravel ftones. Lord, thou hast fet my soul upon her highplaces; but let me not exalt myself, because thou hast exalted me, nor grow wanton, because I walk at liberty; left for the abuse of such precious liberty, thou clap my old chains upon me, and shut up my soul again in prison.
The PO E M.
That their estate is good, and well secur’d.
How wife men in their generation be!
many cases have you to submit
o'stupid souls ! clouded with ignorance,
Compar'd with yours? Or is eternity
Thohe'll not let thee know it till the last.
Occasional MEDITATIONS upon Birds, Bcafts,
Trees, Flowers, Rivers, and other Objects.
ME DITATIONS ON BIRD S.
Upon the singing of a nightingale.
melody, would imagine the bird that makes it, to be of fo small and contemptible a body and feather? Her charming voice engaged not only mine attentive ear, but my feet also to
, make a nearer approach to that fhady bush in which that excellent musician fat veiled; and the nearer I came, the sweeter the melody ft:ll seemed to be; but when I had defcried the bird herself, and found her to be little bigger, and no better feathered than a sparrow, it gave my thoughts the occasion of this following application.
This bird seems to me the lively emblem of the formal hypocrite ; (1.) In that she is more in found than subftance, a loud and excellent voice, but a little despicable body; and it recalled to my thoughts the story of Plutarch, who hearing a nightingale, desired to have one killed to feed upon, not questioning but she would please the palate as well as the ear, but when the nightingale was brought him, and he saw what a poor little creature it was, Truly, said he, thou art vox et praeterea nihil, a mere voice, and nothing else; so is the hypocrite : did a man