« PreviousContinue »
Thou art often crying out, Lord! why is it thus ? Why go I mouming all the day, having forrow in my heart? Thus long have I been exercised with hardness of heart, and to this day have not obtained a broken heart. Many years have I been praying and striving against vain thoughts, yet am ftill in. fested and perplexed with them. O when shall I get a better heart! I have been in travail, and brought forth but wind; I have obtained, no deliverance, neither have the corruptions of my heart fallen. I have brought this heart many times to prayers, sermons and facraments, expecting and hoping for à cure from them, and fill my fore runneth, and ceaseth
Pensive foul ! Let this comfort thee; thy God designs thy benefit, even by these occasions of thy fad complaints. For (1.) Hereby he would let thee see what thy heart by nature is and was, and therein take notice how much thou art beholding to free grace. He leaves thee under these exercises of spirit, that thou mayst lie, as with thy tače, upon the ground, admiring that ever the Lord of glory should take so vile
a crea ture into his bofom. Thy base heart, if it be good for nothing elfe, yet ferves to comniend and set off the 'unsearchable riches of free grace. (2.) This ferves to beat thee off continually from resting, yea, or but glancing upon thine own righteouf ness or excellency. The corruption of thy heart, working in all thy duties, makes thee fensibly to feel that the bed is too, Thort, and the covering too narrow Were it not for those reflections thou hast after duties, upon the dulness and distractions of thine heart in them; how apt wouldAt thou be to fall in love with, and admire thine own performances and enlarge ments ? For if notwithstanding these, thou hast much to do with the pride of thy heart, how much more; if such humble ing and self-abaling confiderations were wanting. And, lastly, this tends to make thee the more compassionate and ten der towards others : Perhaps thou wouldlt bave little pity for the distresses and foul-troubles of others, if thou hadit lefs ex perience of thine own.
3 Comfort. To conclude ; Gid will poortly put a blefed end to all these troubles, cares and watchings.
The time is coming, when thy heart fhall be as thou would have it ; when thou shalt be discharged of all these caręs, fears, and sorrows, and never cry out; O my hard, my proud, my vain, my earthly heart any more! When all darknefs shall be banished from thine understanding; and thou shalt clearly dir. cover all truths in God, that crystal ocean of truth : When all vånity shall be purged perfectly out ofthy thoughts, and they be everlastingly; ravishingly, and delightfully entertained and exercised upon
that supreme goodness, and infinite excellency of God, from whom they fhall never start any more like a bros ken bow. And as for thy pride, paffion, earthliness, and all other the matters of thy complaint and trouble, it shall be faid of them, as of the Egyptians to Ifrael, “ Stand still, and see 6 the falvation of God." These corruptions thou feeft to day, henceforth thou shalt fee them po more for ever! when thoy fhalt lay down thy weapons of prayers, tears, and groans, and put on the armour of light, not to fight, but çriumph in.
Lord! when fhall this blessed day come? How long ! how tong ! holy and true? My soul waiteth for thee! Come, my Beloved! and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether. Amen.
TOUCHSTONE OF SINCERITY,
The figns of Grace, and Symptoms of HYPOCRISY.
Opened in a practical Treatise upon Revelation üi,
The Epiftle to the Reader. Reader,
MONG the difficulties and feverities of true religion,
the faithful searching, and diligent keeping of our hearts are found in the first and highest rank of difficulties : These two take
the main work of a Christian betwixt them, Hic labor, hoc opus eft. I had hopes that these elays for the - searching of the heart, might much sooner have followed my former for keeping the heart * . But providence hath reserved it for the fittest feason.
It comes to thy band, Reader, in a day of straits and fears, dark and gloomy season; when the nations about us are made
drunk with their own blood, and filled with the wine of a Atonishment? in a day when the cup is ready to pass unto us, andi a ftorm seems to be rising in the fears of many, and threatening the protestant interest in these reformed nations. Some men, very confiderable for piety and learning, from that scripture, Rev. xiii. 3. “The deadly wound," (viz. That given the beast by the reformation) was healed, have concluded, that Popery will once more over-run the reformed nations : And one of great renown in all the churches of Christ, foretelling this furious, but short storm, comforts the people of God with this, That it is like to fall heaviest upon the worshippers in the outward court, namely the formal profeffors of the times.
O how much is every man now concerned to have his estate and condition well cleared, and to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure !
It should both amaze and grieve a pious mind, to see how fome ingenious persons can fit with unwearied patience and pleasure, racking their brains upon fome dry school problem, or some nice mathematical point ; whilst no reasons or persuasions can prevail with them to spend one serious hour in the fearch and study of their own hearts !
It was the saying of the great Cicero, Libenter omnibus omnes opes concesserim, ut mihi liceat, vi nulla interpellante, isto modo literis vivere : I would give all the wealth in the world that I might wholly live in my studies, and have nothing to hinder me. What a brave offer had that been, if heaven, and the clearing of a title to it, had been the fubject-matter of those studies ! Crede mihi, extingui dulce elet, mathematicarum artium ftudio, faith another; i. e. Believe me, it were a sweet death to die in the study of the mathematical arts : And I should be apt to believe it too, did I not know that eternal judgment immediately follows death; and that they who stand at the door of eternity have higher matters to mind than mathematical niceties.. To discern the harmonies and proportions in nature is pleasant; but, to discern the harmo. пу and proportion of the signs of grace laid down in the word, with the works of grace wrought in our souls, is a far more pleasant and necessary employment; and, to be extinguished in such a work as this, were a lovely death indeed; “ Blessed " is that servant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find « so doing!"
My friends, a day of trouble is near, a dying hour approach cth us; and when onr eye-ftrings and heart-strings are breaking; when we are taking the last grasp of Christ, and the pro
miles; you will then know to what purpose those hours spent in such work as this were. Search yourselves, yea, search yourselves before the decree bring forth, as that text may be read, Zeph. ii. 1, 2. “Enter into thy chamber, Christian,
and shut thy door; " " fit close to this employment thou art • here directed to ; and however times shall govern, whether * it be fair or foul weather abroad, thou shalt never repent " such an expence of thy time.' Nusquant requiem inveni, t nisi in libro, do clauftro, faid a devout foul once, I am never better than when I am at my book, or on my knees.
This may seem but a dull, melancholy life to the brisk and airy spirits of these times; but let us be content with it as it is," and leave them (if we cannot have their company) to their sportiveness and frolics, never once grudging them their short and dear-bought pleasures. Assurance, That sin is pardoned, and Christ is ours, with the unspeakable joys that are inseparably connected therewith, is that “white hone, and new name, “ which pone knows but he that receives it;" for no words, can poflibly fignify to another what that foul tastes and feels in such an hour as that is..
And be not discouraged at the difficulty of obtaining it: This white stone is no philosopher stone, which no man could ever say he had in his own hand; for many a Christian hath really found it in waiting upon the Lord by prayer, and diligently searching the scriptures and his own heart.
Reader, the time will come when they that scoff at the seri.. ous diligence of the saints, and break many a pleasant jest upon the most fclemn and awful things in religion, will tremble when they shall hear the midnight-ery,.“ Behold the bride
groom cometh !" and see the lamps of all vain and formal professors expire, and none admitted into the marriage but such whose lamps are furnished with oil ; i. e. such whose profeffi::ons and duties are enlivened and maintained by vital springs and principles of real grace within them.
It is a very remarkable story that Melchior Adams records in the life of Gobelinus; that a little before his time there · was a play set forth at Isenach in Germany, of the wife and foolish virgins, wherein the virgin Mary, who was one of the five saints that reprsented the wise virgins, was brought in with
the reft, telling the foolish virgins, that cried to her for oil, that . it was too late: and then others representing the foolis virgins, fell a weeping, and making most bitter lamentations.
Hereat prince Frederic (who.was one of the spectators) greatly amazed, cried out, Quid eft fides noftra Christiana, £
neque Maria, neque alia Sanita exorari poteft ! &c. What is our faith worth, and to what purpose are all our good works, if neither Mary, nor any other faint can help us! And fuch was his consternation, that it threw him into a sore and violent disease, which ended in an apoplex, whereof he died about four days after.
1 the representation of these things in a play, ended the life of so great a man fo tragically; think with thyfelf; Reader, and what will the effects of the Lord's real appearance in the clouds of heaven, and the mourning and wailing of the tribes of the earth in that day be! Think I say, and think again, and again, what the dismal effects of such a fight and sound will be upon all that neglect serious preparation themselves, and Icoff at them that do prepare to meet the Lord ! ;. The design of this manual is to bring every man's gold to the touchstone and fire, I mean every man's grace to the trial of the word ; that thereby we may know what we are, what we have, and what we must expect and trust to at the Lord's coming. I pretend not to any gift of difcerning spirits"; fuch an extraordinary gift there once was in the church, and very néceffary for those times (wherein Satan was so bufy, and the canon of fcripture not completed) which the apostle calls the gift of difcerning fpirits, i Cor. xii. 10. And fome are of opinion, that by virtue of this gift, Peter discerned the hypocrisy of Ananias and Saphira, but whatever that gift was, it is utterly ceased now; no man can pretend to it; But the ordinary aids and assistances of the Spirit are with us ftill, and the lively oracles are among us ftill; to them we may freely go for, resolution of all doubts, and decision of perplexed cases. And thus we may discern our own spirits, though we want the extraordinary gift of discerning other men's spirits.
I have little to say of this Treatise in thy hands, more than that it is well aimed and designed, however it be managed. The ear tries words, as the mouth tasteth meat, these things will relith according to the palates it meets with.
It is not the pleafing, but profiting of men, that I have here. in laboured for. I know of nothing in it that is like to wound the upright, or slightly heal the hypocrite, by crying peace, peace, when there is no peace. Scripture light hath been my Cynosura ; and with that thread in my hand, I have followed the search of hypocrisy through the labyrinths of the heart. Some affiftance I hope I have had also from experience; for fcripture and experience are such relatives, and the tie betwixt hem so difcernible, as nothing in nature can be more so. What