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thing. Be confident, therefore, of thy safe condition : thou art no less sure, than thine adversary is malicious.
“ Had God ever given thee any sure testimonies of his love, thou
mightest, perhups, pretend to some reason of comfort and confidence : but, the truth is, God never loved thee : he
hare cust upon thee some common fazours, such as he throws away upon reprobates ; but, for the tokens of any special love that he bears to thee, thou never didst, never shalt receive any from him:”
Repelled. This is language well befitting the professed make-bait betwixt God and man: but know, O thou False Tempter, that I have received sure and infallible testimonies of that special love, which is proper to his elect.
First, then, (as I have to do with a bountiful God, who where he loves, there he enriches ; so) I have received most precious gifts from his hands : such, as do not import a common and ordinary beneficence, which he scatters promiscuously amongst the sons of men ; but such, as carry in them a dearness and singularity of divine favour: even the greatest gifts, that either he can give, or man receive.
For, first, he hath given me his Spirit; the Spirit of Adoption, whereby I can call him Father; for the assurance whereof, The Spirit itself beareth winess with our spirit, that we are the children of God; 1 John iv. 13. Rom. viii. 15, 16. Deny, if thou canst, the invaluableness of this heavenly gift: and, if thy malice cannot detract from the worth, but from the propriety; yieldivg it to be great, but denying it to be mine; know, I thou Envious Spirit, that here is the witness of two spirits combined against thine : were the testimonies single, surely I had reason to believe my own spirit, rather than thine, which is a spirit of error; but, now that the Spirit of God conjoins his inerrable testimony together with my spirit, against thy single suggestion, how just cause have I to be confident of my possession of that glorious and blessed gift! Neither is that Good Spirit dead or dumb, but vocal and operative: it gives me a tongue to call God, Father: it teacheth me to pray: it helpeth mine infirmities, and maketh intercession for me, wih groanings which cannot be uttered ; Rom. viii. 26: it worketh effectually in me a sensible conversion : even when I was dead in sins and trespasses, God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved me, hath, by this Spirit of his, quickened me together with Christ; and hath raised me up together with himn; Eph. ii. 1, 4, 5, 6. By the blessed effects, therefore, of his regenerating Spirit happily begun in my soul, I find how rich a treasure the Father of Mercies hath conveyed into my bosom. Besides, my life shews what is in my heart: it was a gracious word, that God spake to his people of old, and holds for ever ; I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you
to walk in my statutes : I will also save you from all
your uncleannesses ; Ezek. xxxvi. 27, 29. The Spirit of God can never be severed from obedience. If the heart be taken up with the Holy Spirit, the feet must walk in God's statutes; 1 John v. 8: and both heart and life must be freed from all wilful uncleannesses. I feel that God hath wrought all this in me: from him it is, that I do sincerely desire and endeavour to make straight steps in all the ways of God; and to avoid and abhor all those foul corruptions of my sinful nature. Flesh and blood hath not, would not, could not work this in me: The Spirit, therefore, of him, who raised up Jesus from the dead, dwells in me; Rom. viii. 11. And, if this be not a pledge of his dearest love, heaven cannot yield one.
Moreover, he hath bestowed upon me another gift, more worth than all the world; his Own Son; the Son of his Love; the Son of his Nature, by eternal generation : whom he hath not only given for me, in a generality with the rest of mankind; but hath, by a special donation, conveyed unto me, and, as it were, put into my bosom, in that he hath enabled me, by a lively faith, to bring him home unto my soul; and hath thus, by a particular application, made him mine, so as my soul is not more mine than he is my soul's. And, having given me his son, he hath, with him, given me all things. If there can be greater tokens of love than these, let me want them.
Besides his gifts, bis carriage doth abundantly argue his love. Were there a strangeness between God and my soul, I might well fear there were no other than overly respects from him towards me: but now, when I find he doth so freely and familiarly converse with his servant, and so graciously, impart himself to me, renewing the daily testimonies of his holy presence in the frequent motions of his Good Spirit, answered by the returns of an humble aud thankful obedience; here is not love only, but entireness. What other is that poor measure of love, which our wretched meanness can return unto our God, but a weak reflection of that fervent love, which he bears unto us? It is the word of Divine Wisdom, I love them, that love me; Prov. viii. 17: and the Disciple of Love can tell us the due order of love ; We love him, because he first loved us ; 1 John iv. 19. The love of God, therefore, which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us, Rom. v. 5. is an all-sufficient conviction of God's tender love unto us. My heart tells me then, that I love God truly, though weakly : God tells me, that he embraceth me with an everlasting love, which thy malice may snarl at, but can never abate.
THE THIRD DECADE.
TEMPTATIONS OF ALLUREMENT.
“ Thou hast hitherto, thus long, given entertainment to thy sin,
and no inconveniency hath ensued, no evil hath befallen thee: thy affairs have prospered better than thy scrupulous neighbour's : why shouldst thou shake off a companion, that hath been both harmless and pleasant ? Go on, man : sin fearlessly : thou shalt speed no worse, than thou hast done : Go on, and thrive in thine old course ; while some precisely conscientious beg and starve in their
innocence :” Repelled. It is right so, as wise Solomon observed of old: Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily; therefore, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil; Eccl. viii. 11.
Wicked Spirit! what a deadly fallacy is this, which thou puttest upon miserable souls ! Because they have aged in their sins, therefore they must die in them: because they have lived in sin, therefore they must age in it: because they have prospered in their sin, therefore they must live in it: whereas, all these should be strong arguments to the contrary. There cannot be a greater proof of God's disfavour, than for a man to prosper in wickedness : neither can there be a more forcible inducement to a man to forsake his sin, than this, that he hath entertained it.
What dost thou other in this, than persuade the poor sinner to despise the riches of the goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering of God, which should lead him to repentance ; and, after his hard. ness and impenitent heart, to treasure up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God? Rom. ii
. 4, 5. What a horrible abuse is this of divine mercy! That, which is intended to lead us to repentance, is now urged by thee to draw us from repentance. Should the justice of God have cut off the sinner in the flagrance of his wicked fact, there had been no room for his penitence; and, now God gives him a fair
respite for his repentance, thou turnest this into a provocation of sinning
Let the case, for the present, be mine. If sin have so far bewitched me, as to win me to dally with it, must I therefore be wedded to it? or, if I be once wedded to it through the importunity of temptation, shall I be tied to a perpetual cohabitation with that fiend; and not free myself by a just divorce ? Because I have once yielded to be evil, must I therefore be worse? Because I have happily, by the mercy of my God, escaped hell in sinning; shall I wilfully run myself headlong into the pit, by continuing in sin ? No, Wicked One: I know how to make better use of God's favour, and my own miscarriages. I cannot reckon it anongst my comforts, that I prospered in evil. Let obdared hearts bless themselves in such advantages; but I adore that goodness, that forbore me in my iniquity : neither dare provoke it any more. Think not to draw me on by the lucky success of my sin, which thou hast wanted no endeavour to proinote. Better had it been for me, if I had fared worse in the course of my sinning: but, bad I been yet outwardly more happy, do I not know that God vouchsafes his showers and his sunshine to the fields of those, whose persons he destines to the fire? Can I be ignorant of that, which holy Job observed in his time, that the tabernacles of the wicked prosper; and they, that provoke God, are secure : into whose hands God bringeth abundantly? Job xii. 6: that they spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave ? ch. xxi. 13: and, as the Psalmist seconds him, There are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm: They are not in trouble, like other men : therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain ? Ps. Ixxiii. 4, 5. And let these jolly men brave it out, in the glorious pomp of their unjust greatness: the same eyes, that noted their exaltation, have also observed their downfal: They are exalted for a little while, saith Job; but they are gone, and brought low : they are taken out of the way, as all others; and cut off, as the tops of the ears of corn ; Job xxiv. 24: and in his answer to Zophar, Where are the dwelling-places of the wicked? Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens ? That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction: they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath; ch. xxi. 28, 29, 30. The eyes of the wicked, even those scornful and contemptuous eyes which they have cast upon God's poor despised ones, shall fail; and they shall not escape ; and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost; ch. xi. 20.
How false an inference then is this, whereby thou goest about to delude my soul; “ Thou hast hitherto prospered in thy wickedness : therefore thou shalt prosper in it, still and ever : to-morrow shall be as yesterday, and more abundant !” As if the just God had not set a period to iniquity. As if he had not said to the most insolent sinner, as to the raging sea, Here shalt thou stay thy proud waves. How many rich Epicures have, with Crassus, supped in Apollo; and broken their fast with Beelzebub, the prince of devils ! How many have lain down to sleep out their surfeit, and have waked in hell! Were my times in thy hand, thou wouldest not suffer m to enjoy my sin, and forbear the seizure of my soul; bu they are in the hands of a righteous God, who is jealous of glory, he will be sure not to over-pass those hours, which set for thy torment, or my account.
Shortly, therefore, I will withdraw my foot from every and walk holily with my God; however I speed in the wo me, with the conscientious men, beg or starve, in my in rather than thrive, in my wickedness, and get hell to boo
“ Sin still : thou shall repent soon enough, when thou
more : thine old age and death-bed are fit seasons thoughts. It will go hard, if thou mayest not, at a mouthful of breath left thee, to cry God mercy: sooner asked, than had. Thou hast to do with a G with whom no time is too late, no measure too s
cepted :” Repelled. Or all the blessed attributes of God, whereby he is himself known unto men, there is none by which to be set forth, than that of mercy: when, the proclaim his style to Moses, this is the title whic! upon : The Lord, the Lord God ; merciful and fering, and abundant in goodness and truth; I thousands ; forgiving iniquity, and transgression, xxxiv. 6, 7. And all his holy heralds, the Prop! careful to blazon him thus to the world; Num. cxlv. 8, 9. Exod. xx. 6. Ps. lxxxvi. 16. Neh. iii. 31. Jonah iv. 2. Micah vi. 18. Ps. lxxii. 13.
Neither is there any of those divine attribut abused by men, as this, which is most benefici the wisdom of God, every man professes to ad of God, every man magnifies it: for the ju man trembles at it : but, for the mercy and lo how apt are men and devils to wrong it, cation!
Wicked Tempter, how ready art thou to tience to the encouragement of my sin; and fore to offend him, because he is good; and cause grace abounds!
Thou biddest me sin still : God forbids r to sin at all: whether should I listen to ?
God calls me to a speedy repentance : defer it: whether counsel should I hold n cannot be but danger, in the delay of it : be nothing but a ble hope of acc