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therefore, I have the grace or favour of God. The major proposition is a Scripture assertion; the minor, or assumption, is from a soul's inward experience of sincerity, and the Spirit of God witnessing with an upright heart and conscience, helps the soul to this demonstrative inference and conclusion, that he is a child of God, in God's favour, and shall be saved ; and thence arises satisfaction aud consolation. The poor soul by a reflex act, doth view the seeds and sproutings of a sincere faith and love, and saith, though these have not purchased my husband's love, yet are they sweet effects thereof. These divine ornaments of saving graces do satisfyingly evidence that my soul is betrothed to Jesus Christ. If your souls be all glorious within in sanctification, it is a good sign that your clothing is of wrought gold in justification. Make sure and clear your effectual vocation, and then you clear up your eternal election. *
The sanctifying Spirit witnesseth with the sanctified soul that it is a child of God, † and thus, some understand those three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, water, and blood, to be the cleansing acts of the Spirit, evidencing the soul's interest in our Saviour's efficacious merits ; # but this I desire of you, to clear up the truth of grace; fall upon the old trade of inquiring after marks of sincerity, yet do not think the bare hearing of them, or having such notes in your books or memory will be sufficient means of comfort, but lay your hearts by them in a close and convincing application, improve them by a self-imposing examination, and then fetch inferences therefrom in a rational way of argumentation, and lay up those deductions against a time of need ; write it down that thou mayest have it to shew under thy hand against the quarrels of an unbelieving heart. Treasure up the means and in* 2 Pet. i. 10.
of Rom. viii. 16. # 1 John v. 8.
struments of your peace and settlement, the time when, and place where, your souls were satisfied; the low and hopeless state your souls were in, before the Lord did visit you from on high. O lay up carefully, the various circumstances about your satisfying comforts, the seasonable incomes thereof, their powerful entrance, and self-discovering, soul-recovering evidence. Lay up the gradual progress, or sudden elapses of comfort into your hearts, with the strong abiding impression they left upon your spirits. Finally, lay up the sweet result and strengthening effects of those your consolations, that so for the future, in the multitude of your disquieting thoughts within you, these comforts may again delight your souls.—Psal. xciv. 19.
4. Lay up tears in God's bottle, prayers in God's book, comforts in others' breasts, and promises in your
I put all under one head, for brevity sake. (1.) Lay up many tears in God's bottle :—comfort is the portion of mourners, * it is promised by God, purchased by Christ, applied by the Spirit of comfort, and only suitable to weeping, mourning souls. It is the usual, constant design of God to comfort those that are cast down, to heal the broken in heart, to revive drooping souls, and contrite hearts. † Do you mourn for your sins, God will comfort you in yonr mourning. The sorrows of the saints are like the pangs of a travailing woman, that tend to and end in comfort, John xvi. 21. Repentance is the ready road to contentment. The same word in Hebrew, that signifieth first, to repent, ť doth also denote comforting or ceasing from sorrow, ll because true comfort belongs only to the penitent. The Jews fable, that with such as weep in the night, the stars and planets weep, and if they let the tears fall down their cheeks, God is ready with his bottle to receive them, which he pours, say they, upon the enemy's edicts to blot the writings that the Jews shall receive no hurt thereby. But sure I am, God is much affected with his children's tears, and comes, as it were, with a handkerchief to wipe away those tears, or rather, as the Scripture speaks, puts their tears into his bottle, * and reserves them for their future comfort. Shedding penitential tears is a spiritual seed-time, and they that sow in tears shall reap in joy ; even sheaves of comfort are the harvest of this precious seed-plot. † This briny water shall be turned into refreshing wine. According to the depth of your sorrow, will be the height of your comfort. Not a tear shall be lost that is of the right sort. Every gracious sigh rises before the Lord as delectable incense, and every drop distilled from a broken heart, shall in time multiply to a flood of joy. Who was more dissolved into tears than holy David ? And, who had a heart more full of joy, or a tongue so full of the high praises of God, as that sweet singer of Israel ? O sirs, grieve much for sin, and you shall rejoice in, and for your grief. Plenty of tears prepares for, and ushers in plenty of joy. But (2.) Lay up many prayers in God's book, as well as tears in his bottle, be frequently approaching to the throne of grace. The sighs of your spirits will be echoed back with the sweet breezes of God's Spirit. The Spirit of grace will be a spirit of peace; as prayer goeth up, comfort comes down ; God makes children joyful in the duty of prayer, as well as in the house of prayer. “For this,” saith the Psalmist, “shall every one that is godly * Psal. lvi. 8.
* Matt. v. 4. Isai. Ixi. 2, 3.
|| Niph. On) dedoluit, dolore desiit, vel consolationem dat, invenit. Isa. xl. l.
pray unto thee; surely, then, in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him," Psal. xxxii. 6. Prayer reacheth to heaven, and fetcheth heaven into the heart; prayer seeketh, and the soul by faith in prayer seeth, God's face, which is a heart-rejoicing sight; it scattereth fears, lighteneth the soul, and preventeth shame and sorrow.* “Ask,” saith Christ, “and
ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” John xvi. 24. Therefore, Christians, pour out your hearts to God, and he will pour in comfort to you. And then, (3) Comfort others, as you are able, empty yourselves of experiences, by communicating them to afflicted souls, and they will return upon you with double advantage. There is much pleasure in opening our hearts to Christian friends. When you say, come, and I will shew you what he hath done for my soul, God will do more for your souls; if you help others, God will help you.
You little know how it may comfort you to impart comforts to others. Mr. Knox rose off from his sick and death-bed, and would needs go to the pulpit, that he might impart to others his sweet meditations on Christ's resurrection, and the solacing consolation he felt in his soul. There is no envy in spiritual things ; it is the property of a child of God to long, that others may taste of that which his soul feels comfort in ; and, indeed, God makes the breasts of some, to be the storehouse of comfort for others. 2 Cor. i. 6, " Whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation;" not only by way of sympathy and affection, but by way of intercourse and communication. Besides, the more you comfort others, the more you have to pity and comfort you; the law of gratitude will engage them, and the treasure you have laid up in
* See Psal. xxxiv. 4, 5.
them will dispose them to be helps to you in the day of your sadness. (4.) Store up Scripture cordials, covenant promises in your souls. Psal. cxix. 50, “ This is my comfort in affliction; thy word hath quickened me.” This was David's portion, heritage, and song in the house of his pilgrimage. Especially improve and apply gospel promises. These are, fasciæ Christi, the swaddling clothes of Christ; these are like aqua vitæ * to the fainting soul. The Scripture is full of them. Some have observed that the covenant of grace is mentioned directly a hundred times, but by clear and necessary consequence, a thousand times in the book of God. God hath laid in all these promises for our comfort, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. + To this very end is it, that God hath not only spoken but sworn, that we might have strong consolation.—Heb. vi. 18. Promises are the breasts of consolation, at which you may suck and be satisfied ; promises are sacred anchors, to keep the soul unmoved amidst the fluctuations of time; white sails for the blessed spirit to waft souls to the haven of rest; they are gospel pails, bowls, and breasts to suckle and feed the lambs of the flock, and rich mines to make the Christian rich in grace, and rich in comfort. I Therefore, let Christians always have these divine antidotes at hand for the help and support of their fainting souls. Only look to your right to, and improvement of, the promises. Divines observe a two-fold right to promises.
First, A hereditary right. As we are co-heirs with
+ Rom. xv. 4. # Promissiones sunt sacræ anchoræ, vela candida, mulctralia evangelica, cælestes uteres, spirituales aurifodinæ.–See Dr. Spurst, on Promiscs.
* Water of life.