Page images

Pang of love did David go into the presence of God under the Sepse of his mercies : his meltiog mercies ! when he thus poor, ed out his whole loul in a stream of love to his God, 2 Sam. vii. 19, 20, “Is this the manner of med, O Lord God? And “ what can David say more uoto thee ?” An expression that turos up the very bottom of his heart.

3. Thirdly, Prosperity and comfortable providences do usually become cautions against lio, when they meet with a faqctified foul, This is the patural inference of a gracious soul from them : hath God pleased me, then hath he obliged me to take more care to please him: O let me got grieve him, that hath comforted me ! So Ezra ix. 13." After such a deliverance as “ this, should we agaio break thy commandmenis !" Wbat! break his commandments who hath broken our bonds ! Cod forbid !

It was an excellent resolution of a Christian once, who receiving an eminent mercy at the same time he felt himself voder the power of a special corruption ; '“Well, (faith he) now will " I go forth in the Strength of this mercy, to mortify and fub. « due that corruption." I will pot measure every Christian by the emioeot workings of grace in fome one ; but surely fo far I may safely go, that sincerity knows not how to fio, 'because grace hath abounded, any more than it dare fio, chat grace may abouod.

4. Fourthly, A truly gracious foul will not be satisfied with all the prosperity and comforts in the world for his portion : Not thine, Lord, bụt thee, is the voice of grace. When providence hed been more than ordinarily bounritul in outward thiogs to Luther, he began to be afraid of its meaning, aod earnestly protested, God Mould not put him off so, “ The Lord is my to portion, faith my soul," Lam. iii. 24. and the soul can best tell what it hath made its choice, and whereon it bath beltowed its chief delights and expe&tations.

Au ypfound heart will accept these for its portion : if the world be sure to him, and his designs fail not there, he can be content to leave God, and soul, and heaven, and hell at hazard; but lo. cappot the upright. These things in subordination ; but peither these, nor any thing under the lun, in comparison with, or oppofition to God.

leh, Perity multiplict and cankeen

: . c H A P. v Shewing what probation adverfity makes of the fincerity or un-,

foundness of our hearts.

THAT adverty is a furnace to try of what metal our

1 hearts are, none can doubt, that hath either Audied the fcuptores, or observed his own heart under affli&tions. . .

When the dross and ruft of hypocrisy and corruption had almost cated out the heart of religion amoog the Jews, then faith : Gud, " I will melt them, and try them; for what shall I do " for the daughter of my people ?". Jer ix. 7. Here affliction is the furgace, and the people are the metal çaft into it, and the end of it is trial. I will melt them, and try them what Qiher course fhall I take with them? If I let them alone, their lufts, like the ruft and canker in metals, will eat them out. Prosperity multiplies profeffors, and adverfity briog them to the teft ; theo hirelings quickly become chaaglings. The guilded.' potlherd glifters till it come to scouring. The devil thought Job had been such a one, and moves that he may be tried this way ; being confideot he would be found but dross in the trial, Job i. U. Bat though the furnace of affliction discovered some dross in him (as it will in the best of men) yet he came forth as gold.

In this furgace also grace is manifefted : it is said, Rev. xii. 10. ^ Here is the faith and patience of the saints ;." 1 e. here is the trial and discovery of it in these days of adversity. It was a weighty saying of * Tertullian toʻthe perfecutors of the church in his days, Probatio innocentiae noftrae, eft iniquitas yeftra; Your wickedoels is the trial of our innocency. Confaasius, the father of Constantine, made an exploratory decrec, that all who would pot renounce the Christian faith, should lose their places of honour and profit. This presently separated the dross from the gold, which was his design; for maay renounced Christianity, aod thereupon were redouoced by him ; and those that held their integrity, were received io to favour.

lo time of prosperity, hypocrisy lics covered in the heart' like aests in the green bushes; but when the wioter of advero'

* Tertul. in Apol. . .

fity hath made them bare, every body may see them without searching.

But to fall into closer particulars; it will be necessary to enquire what effects of adversity are common to both the found and the unsound; and then what are proper to either in this close trial by adversity.

SECT. II. IT will be expedient to the design I manage in this discourse,

to sew in the first place what are the common effects of adversity to both the godly and ungodly; for in some things they differ not, but as it is with the one, so also with the o-. ther : As,

1. First, Both the godly and ungodly may fear adversity before it comes i to be lure a wicked mao cannot, and it is evi. deot many godly men do not, come up to the height of that rule, James i. 2: -6.. To account it all joy when they fall into die “ verle temptations," or trials by adverfirg. . It is said, Ifa. xxxiii. 14. "The fioners in Zion are afraid ; “ trembling lurprizeth the hypocrite ;" Damely, voder the apprehension of approaching calamities; aod it is true also, the fajots in Zion may be afraid : “ My Alesh tremblech for fear of “ thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments," said holy David, Psal. cxix. 120. aod Job iii. 23. “ The thing which I greatly feared (faith that upright foul) is come upon me.” There is a vaft difference betwixt a faint's first meeting with afflictions, and his parting with them; he entertaios them fometimes with trembliog; he parts with them rejoicing, smiling on them, and blef-, fing them in the name of the Lord. So that by this the opright, aod the false heart, are not discriminated; even faoctified dature declines suffering and troubles.

2. Secondly, Both the godly and ungodly may entertaio afAictions with regret and unwillingness when they come. Affictions and troubles are wormwood and gall, Lam. iii. 19. And that goes not down pleasantly with flesh and blood, Heb. xii. 11. “No affliction for the present seemeth joyous, but • grievous ;” he means to God's own people; they are in hea.. vioess through manifold temptations or trials by the rod, ; Pet. i. 6. When God gives the cup of affliction into the hands of the wicked, how do they reluctate and loath it? How do their Nomachs rise at it! And though the portion of the saints cup be much sweeter than theirs, (for that bitter ingredient of God's vjadictive wrath is not in it), yet even they shriok from it, and loth they are to taste it.

then 3. Thirdly, Both the one and other may be impatient and

fretful in adversity; it is the very nature of Aeth aod blood to sehr be fo. " The wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot oto de " rest, whose waters cast forth mire and dire,” Ifa. lvii. 20. Deite: It is an allusion to the unstable and stormy ocean : you kaow

there is naturally an eftuation and working in the sea, whether i it be incepfed by the wind or no; but if a violent wind blow

upon the unquiet ocean, O what a raging and foaming is chére ! this dick what abundance of trash and filth doth it at such times caít. model out! to Now, though grace make a grcat difference betwixt ope and o with another, yet I dare not say, but even a gracious heart may be

very unquiet and cumultuous in the day of affliction. Sanctiadresin fied fouls have their passions and lusts which are too little 'morciand is fied; even as sweat-briar and holy-thistles have their prickles, as Ligera well as the worthless bramble. Jonah was a good man, yet his tale foul was fadly distempered by adverse providences ; Jonah iv. g.

" Yea, (faith he, and that to his God) I do well to be angry, ametfi " even unto death." e diretoria 4. Fourthly, Both the one and the other may be weary of the neala rod, and think the day of adversity a tedious day, wishing it

for the were once at an eod. Babylon shall be weary of the evil thaç helf Den God will bring upon it, Jer. li. ult. Aad o that none of Zion's chic children were weary of adversity too! How fad a moan doch

Job make of his long continued affliction, Job xvi. 6, 7, “ Though I speak, my grief is not assuaged; and though I

* forbear, what am I eased? But Qow he hath made me London " weary.”

And if you look into Psalm vi. 3, 6. you may see another Itrong Christian even tired in the way of affliction : " My soul

“ (saith David in that place) is fore vexed, but thou, O Lord, Loris “how long? I am weary with my groaning."

5. Fifthly, Both the one and the other may be driven to their

knees by adversity. “ Lord, in trouble have they visited thee ; Le " they have poured out a prayer when thy challeniog was up

" on them,” Ifa. xxvi. 16. Not that a godly person will pray no longer than the rod is' at his back; Ono, he caopot live without prayer long, how few calls foever he hath to that duty by the rod; but when the rod is on his back, he will be more frequently and more ferveatly upon his knees; indeed many graceless hearts are like childrens tops, which will go no longer than they are whipt; they cannot find their koees and their tongues, till God find a rod to excire them. A dangerous lymptom. The fame affliction may put a gracious, and a graceless foul to their knees; but though in the external matter of duty, and in the external call or occasion of duty, they seem to agree, yel is there a vast difference in the priociples, manger, and ends of thefe their duties; as will evideatly appear in its proper place in our following discourse.

But by what hath been said in this section, you may fee how in some things the holy upright foul acts too like the unfanctified, and in other things how much the hypocrite may act like a saiat; he may be externally humbled, so was Ahab; he may pray under the rod, Mal. ii, 13. yea, and request others to pray for him, so did Simon, Acts viii. 24.

. SECT. III. BUT though the found and upfound heart differ not in fome

external carriages under the rod, yet there are effects of adversity which are proper to either, and will discrimiaate them. To which ead let us first see what effects adversity is usually followed withal in upsound and carnal hearts; and we shall find among others, these five symptoms of a naughty heart appear iog voder crosses and afflictions.

1. Firs, A graceless heart is not quickly and easily brought to see the hand of God in those troubles that befal it, and be duly affected with it; Isa. xxvi. 11. “ Lord, when thy band is “ lifted up, they will not see:" when it has (mitten, or is lifted up to smite, they shut their eyes; it is the malice of this man, or the Degligence of that, or the unfaithfulness of another, that hath brought all this trouble upon me. Thus the creature is the horizon that terminates their right, and beyond that they usually see nothiag. Sometimes indeed the hand of God is so immediately manifested, and convinciagly discovered in afflic: tions, that they cannot avoid the fight of it; and then they may, in their way, pour out a prayer before him ; but ordina. rily they impute all to second causes, and overlook the first cause of their troubles. .

2. Secondly, Nor is it usual with these men under the rod to retire io to their clofets, and search their hearts there, to find out the particular cause and provocation of their affliction : “ No man repented him of his wickedoess, saying, What have “ I done?” Jer. viii. 6. What cursed thing is there with me, that hath thas incented the anger of God against me! God vje fits their iniquities with afflictions, but they visit not their owo hearts by felf-examidations. God judges them, but they judge not themselves: He shews their iniquities in a clear glass, but uone faith, What have I done? This phrase, Ilhat have I

« PreviousContinue »