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fails, you have a gale, but they lie wind-bound, heart-bound, and can do nothing fpiritually in a way of duty.
Fourthly, and lastly, to mention no more, You have a further advantage to this holy life, by all the rods of God, that are at any time upon you. I might shew you in many particulars, the advantages this way allo, but I shall only present these three your
observation at this time. Firf, By these you are clogged, to prevent your straying and wandering. Others may wander even as far as hell, and God will Dot spend a fanctified rod upon them, to reduce or stop them; but faith; " Let them alone," Hof. iv. 17. But if you wander out of the way of holiness, he will clog you with one trouble or other, to keep you within bounds, 2 Cor. xii. 7. « Lest I should be " lifted up, a thorn in the flesh; a messenger of Satan, was “ feat to buffet me.” So David, Pfal. cxix. 67. “ Betore I was " afflicted, I went astray; but now I have kept thy word.” Aflictions are used by, God, as thorns by husband-men, to stop the gaps and keep you from breaking out of God's way, Hol. ii. 6. " I will hedge up her way with thorns, and build a wall, " that she shall not find her paths.” A double allusion; 1. To cattle that are apt to stray, I will hedge up thy way with thornsa 2. To the sea, which is ape to overflow the country, I will build a wall to prevent inundations. Holy Basil was a long time forely afflicted with an inveterate head-ach, he often prayed for the removal of it; at lalt, God removed it, but, in the room of it, he was forely exercised with the motions and temptations of luft; which, when he perceived, he heartily desired his headach again, to prevent a worse evil. You little know the ends aod ules of many
exercised with bodily weakness? it is a mercy you are fo'; and if these pains and infirmities were removed, these clogs taken off, you may with Balil, wish for them again, to prevent worse evils. Are you poor? why, with that poverty God hath clogged your pride. Are you reproached with these reproaches God hath clogged your ambition. Corruptions are prevented by your afflictions. And, is not this a marvellous help to holiness of life?
Secondly, By your afflictions, your corruptions are not only clogged, but purged. By these God dries up and consumes that spring of sin, that defiles your lives, Ifa. xxvii. 9.“ By this “ therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is “ all the fruit to take away sin.” God orders your wants to kill your wantonness; and makes your poverty poison to your pride. They are God's physic, to purge ill humours out of
*" When they fall by the sword, and by famine; * and by captivity, and by fpoil, it is to try them, and to purge u them, and to make them white?” They are both purges and lavatories to your louls. Others have the same afflictions that you have, but they do not work on them as on you ; they arë to you as fire for purging, and water for cleanling ; and yet, shall not your lives be clean? It is true, (as one well observes upon that place of Daniel), Christ is the only lavatory, and his blood the only fountain to wash away fia: but, in the virtue and efficacy of that blood, fanctified afflictions are cleansers and purgers too.
A cross without a Christ pever made any man better, but, with Christ, faints are much the better for the cross. Hath God been (as it were) so many days and nights a whitening you, and yet is not the hue of your conversation altered ? Hath he put you so many times into the furnace, and yet is not your dross feparated ? The more afflictious you have been under, the more aslistance you have had for this life of holiness.
Thirdly, By all your troubles, God hath been weaning you from the world, the lufts, loves, and pleasures of it; and drawing out your
fouls to a more excellent life and Itate than this. He makes your forrows, in this life, give a luftre to the glory of the next. Whoever hath, be sure you shall have no rest here, and all, that you may long more ardently for that to He often makes you groan,
being burdened, to be “ cloaihed with your house from heaven," i Cor. v. 4. And yet will you not be weaned from the lusts, customs, and evils of it? O what manner of persons should you be for heavenly and holy conversations? You stand upon the higher ground. You have, as it were, the wind and tide with you. Nove are aflisted for this life as you are. Put all this together, and fee what this second argument contributes towards your further conviction, and persuasion to holiness of life. Have you received a supernatural principle, fitting you for, and incliniog you to, holy actions, resisting and holding you back from fin! Hath God also set before you such eminent patterns to encou. rage, and quicken you, in your way? Doth the Spirit himfelf Itand ready, so many ways, to assist and help you in all difficulties, and hath God hedged up the way of lin, with the thoras of affliction, to prevent your wandering, and yet will you tura afide? Will
you offer violence to your own principles, and new nature ? Refuse to follow such leaders as have beaten the way
before you ? Resist, or neglect the gracious assistances of the blessed Spirit, which he offers you in every need, and venture upon sin, though God hath hedged up your way with afflictions? O how can you do luch great wickedness, and sin against such grace as this !
Methinks, I need say no more to convince you how much you are concerned to keep the issues of life pure, none being so much obliged to it, or assisted for it, as you are. But when I remember that Joath lost the compleat victory over the Syrians, because he smote not his arrows often enough upon the ground, 2 Kings xiii. 8. I shall level one arrow more at this mark :: For, indeed, that can never be enough pressed, which can never be enough practised. And therefore,
Confid. 3. Thirdly, It will yet farther appear to be your high concerament, to exalt holiness in your conversations, because of the manifold and great uses which God hath to make of the visible holiness and purity of your lives, both in this world and that to come. The uses God puts the conversation-holiness of his people in this world, are these, among others.
First, To win over fouls to Christ, and bring them in love with religion. Practical holiness is a very lovely, attractive, and obliging thing. If the Heathen could call moral virtue verticor. dia, turn-heart, from that obliging and winning power it exercises upon the hearts of men : if they could say of it, that were it visible to human eyes, all men would adore it, and fall in love with it; how much rather may we say so of true holiness, made visible in the lives of saints! This is the turn-heart indeed. It makes the souls of men to cling and cleave to the persons in whom it is; as it is prophesied, Zech. viii. 23. of the Jews, when they thall be called (which shall be a time of great holiDess) “ in that day, ten men out of all languages of the pations " Thall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, taying, we
you, for we have heard that God is with you.” So much of God as appears in men, so much drawing excellency there is in them. And this is the apostle's argument, 1 John i. 3. “ That ye may have fellowship with us." Why, what is there in your fellowship to invite men to you? Truly our “ fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus.” Who can choose but covet their company, that keep company every day with God? Great is the efficacy of visible holiness to work upon the hearts of men ; either as a concause, working in fellowship with the word, or as a single instrument, working solitarily without the word.
Where God is pleafed to afford the word unto men, there the VOL. II.
practical holiness of saints is of singular use, to allist and help it in its operation upon the hearts of men.
When the lives of Christians fenibly exhibit that to the eyes of men, which the gospel doth to their cars; when so we preach, and so ye believe and live; when we draw by our doctrines, and you draw with us by our examples, when we hold forth the word of life doctrinally, and you hold it forth practically; as Phil. ii. 16. Where is the heart that can stand before us? O! when the plain and powerful gospel pierces the ears of men, and, at the same time, the visible holiness of professors shines fo full in their faces, that they must rather put out their own eyes, or elle be forced to acknowledge, that God is in you of a truth; then it will work to purpose upon souls. Then will Chiilt ste of the travail of his foul daily.
Yea, if God deny the word to meo, yet this practical holiness I am speaking of, may be to them an ordinance for conversion. This way, fouls may be won to Christ without the word, as the apostle speaks, 1 Pet. iii. 1. Though pulpits Mould be filent,
vision fail; yet, if you would this way turn preachers, if your lives may but preach the reality, excellency, and sweets ness of Jesus Christ, and his ways; and, if you would this way preach down the love of the world, and let men fee what poor vanities these are; and preach up the necesity and beauty of ho. liness; furely you, even you, might be honoured to bring many souls to Chrift, to turn many to righteousness, and cause many to bless God, on your behalf, in the day of visitation. This is the use God hath for the holiness and purity of your lives, and doth not this engage you strongly to it? What, not when it may prove the means of eternal life to others ? Surely, if you have any bowels of mercy in you, you cannot hide from others that whereby they may be saved. How can you instead of holding forth the word of life, (which is your manifeft duty) visibly hold forth the works of death before men ? Have you been beholding to others, and shall none be beholding to you for help towards heaven? Dare you say, let others shift as well as they cao, find the way to heaven by themielves if they can, they shall have no benefit by your light? If you be Christians, you are Christians of a different stamp and spirit from all those we find described in fcripture. Should not you rather say as the Lepers did, 2 Kings vii. 6. “Do we well to hold our peace,” whilft uthers are perishing?. Shall the lips of ministers, and the lives of Chriflians, be both lilenced together? Shall poor finners neither hear any thing from us, nor fee any thing from you, that may Hulp them to Christ? The Lord have mercy then upon the
poor world, and pity it, for its cafe is desperate. Oput on, as
Secondly, Another use Goil hath for it, is to recover and salve the credit of religion, which by the apostacies of hypocrites, and scandaloys falls of careless Christians, is wounded, and exposed to contempt. Much reproach by this means is brought upon religion, and how fail that reproach be rolled away, but by your ftrictness and purity? By this the world must be convinced that all are not so. Though some be a blot to the name of Christ, yet others are his glory. The more others llur and difgrace religion, the more God expects you to honour and adorn it. I re. member Chryfoftome brings in the perfecutors speaking to two renowned martyrs, after this manner, Nonne videtis alias vestri ordinis hoc fecille ? (i. e.) Why are you so nice and scrupulous ? See
you not that others of your rank and profession have done these things ? To which they returned this brave answer, Nos hac potissimum ratione viriliter fiabimus, (i. e.) have they done it? For that very reason we will stand it out like men, and will never yield to it. There is an holy Antiperitahis in the zeal of a Christian, which makes it, like fire, burn most vehemently in the coldest weather. If men make void God's law, therefore will David love his commandments above gold, Pfal. cxix. 127. If there be many Pendletons among profesTors who will betray Christ and his truth to save their Aeth; God will have some Sariders to repair that breach, by their condancy and courage in appearing for them.
Thirdly, God makes use of it for the encouragement of his miniffers, who labour among you. And indeed it is of no small use to refreíh their hearts, and strengthen their hands, in their painful work : “ Now we live (faith the apostle) if ye stand fast in " the Lord,” i Theff. iii. 8. He speaks, as if their very life lay at the mercy of the people, because fo much of the joy and comfort of it is wrapt up in their regularity and stedfastness. God knows what an hard providence his poor ministers have, and how many discouragements attend them in their work; hear how * one of them expresses it, “Ministers would not be gray-headed " lo food, nor die so fast, notwithstanding their great labours, if
they were but successful; but this cuts to the heart, and makes