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“ vation.” When Christ hath once taken possession of the soul by his spirit, he fortifies it by his power, as a garrison : that using the means, it be surprized or betrayed no more into the enemy's hand, fo as finally to be loft.
He builds this confidence also upon the promises of God, which are his security in future dangers : And how are all the pages of the Bible bespangled with such promises, as the firmamert is with bright and glorious stars? Such are these of the first magnitude, i Cor. i. 8, 9. « Christ shall confirm you to “ the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord “ Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye are called unto “ the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” And no less satisfying and sweet is that, Jer. xxxii. 40. “And I will “ make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn
away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in “ their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” And of the same nature is that also, John x. 27, 28. “My sheep hear
my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give “ unto them eternal life ; and they shall never perish, neither « shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
If there be any hypocrite in fheeps-cloathing, he hath no part or lot in this promise; but it fecures the whole flock of Christ, great and small, against all danger.
He also builds his affurance upon the faithfulness of God, which stands engaged to make good every line, word, and syllable of his promises to his people; so we find, in 1 Cor. X. 13. “ There hath no temptation taken you but such as is com
mon to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to « be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with every temp« tation make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear “ it.” And, 2 Thef. iii. 3." But the Lord is faithful, who “ fhall establish you, and keep you from evil."
Add to this, the constant prevalent intercession of Christ in heaven for his people, in all their trials, and then you will see a sincere Christian need not to deny himself the joy and comfort of his assurance, upon the account and supposition of his future trials.
SECT. II. Caution 2.
OR do we here suppose, in this affertion,
that inherent grace in the saints hath a fufficiency of ability in itself to endure the greatest and severest trials that can befal it in this world. It is certain that it shall
be carried safely through all, but not in its own strength and ability.
That is a true observation of the learned Gerson, Perfefliones fibi relifta, funt pondera ad ruinam: The most perfect creature left to itself, will fall into ruin. This was exemplified in she angels that fell; and in Adam, though in a perfect state. Divine preservation is the prop which supports the best creatures from ruin. Grace itself is but a creature, and therefore a de. pendent being: It is but a stream, depending upon the supply of the fountain : If the fountain let not forth itself, what becomes of the stream? That is a true and judicious observation of the learned Dr. Ames, Perseverantia fidelium, vel immutabilis corun conditio fecundum integram ejus rationem, non pervenit a principio intrinfeco fola, nec a folo extrinfeco ; fed partim ab intrinfeco, ex natura vita spiritualis a Chrifto fluentis, et partim ab extrinfeco, ex custodia, protectione et directione Dei; Amefii Coronis, Art. 5. The perseverance of believers, or the immutability of their condition, if we view the whole ground and reason of it, is not wholly from within, or wholly from without itself; but partly from the nature of the spiritual life which flows from Chiift into them, and partly from the keeping, protection, and direction of God : That protection is always afforded to this life of grace; and this life of grace always needs that protection. The best of men are but men at best, as one speaks : It was not Peter's grace and resolution that kept him, but Christ's care of him and intercession for him, Luke xxii. 32. “ Be strong in the Lord, (faith the apostle) and in the power “ of his might," Ephes. vi. 10. “ Without me (faith Christ) “ ye can do nothing,” John xv. 5.
Neither of these is that which I have before me to prove ; but this is that which I aim at, that such seeming grace as was never yet brought to the trial, nor will be able to bear the trial, when God shall bring it thereto, must not pass for current (as too frequently it doth) among us: Such grace will neither comfort us now, nor fave us hereafter: For,
world are deceived and destroyed by trusting to seeming and untried grace: this was the miserable condition of those Laodicean professors in the text; they reckoned themselves rich, but were really poor : All is not gold that glifters ; their gold (as they accounted it).was never tried in the fire. If a man's whole estate lay in some precious stone, suppose a rich
diamond, how is he concerned to have it thoroughly tried, te see whether it will bear a smart stroke with a hammer, or fly like a Bristol diamond under it? All that you are worth lies in the truth and fincerity of your grace; and till that be tried you know not whether you be worth any thing or no thing.
Reader, There are two fad fights in the world, which cannot but deeply affect every upright heart: one is to fee fo many chousands of rational and ingenious men in the Romish church, by an implicit faith in their guides, venturing their fouls upon their bare word; never fearching the fcriptures with their own eyes, but wholly trusting to the infallibility of a pope of a council; when, in the mean time, they would fear to take their word for a sum of money, without some further fecurity. It is amazing to behold the soul-destroying, easy credulity of chose men; but this is a stroke of madness and fpiritual infatuation, judicialy'inflicted upon them, that the judgment which is written might be fulfilled in them, “ God fhall send them « strong delusions, that they should believe a lie," 2 Thef. iii
· And yet more amazing is that stroke of God upon multitudes of vain and formal profeflors even in the reformed Prote Atant churches, where no man is reftrained from searching the fcriptures; nay, where men are so frequently and earnefly pressed, from fabbath to fabbath, to examine themselves, and prove their own work, that yet so many are content to leave all at hazard, and without any more ado, or farther search in the matter, credit the report of their own deceitful hearts, and take all for granted, without due trial or examination of the matter.
Surely, no one thing fends down more fouls daily to hell out of the profelling world, than this dorh. The five foolish virgins (iš e. the unprincipled profesors in the reformed churches perished this way; they took it for granted all was well, because they bad lamps of profession as well as others; and faw not the cheat till the cry was heard at midnight, and their unfurnished lamps went out, Matth. XXV.
2. Secondly, The promises of salvation are made over to tried grace, and furcht only as will endure the trial : So James i. 12. « Bleffed is the man that endureth temptation ; for when he is « tried he shall receive the crown of life which God hath proe mised to them that love him :" We must be first tried, and then crowned. « If a man strive for masteries, yet is he not “ crowned, except he strive lawfully," 2 Tim. ii. 5. He manifestly alludes to the Roman games, to which there were judg. es appointed to see that no foul play were offered contrary to the law for wrestling, and where it was found, the crown was denied them. Not to 'bim that sets forth in the morning with resolution and gallantry, but to him that holds out till the evening of his life, is the promise made; Matth. X. 22. “He that « endurech to the end shall be saved.” So Rom. ii.
« To " them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for gloand honour, and immortality, eternal life."
And once more, Heb. iii. 14. “We are made partakers of Christ, if we * hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." So that if you should endure some few flighter troubles, and faint at last, give out when a closer trial befals you, all your labours and sufferings are in vain. Sincerity and final perfeverance are the conditions of all special promises.
3. Thirdly, Every man's graces and duties muft be tried and weighed by God in the great day; and if they cannot endure these leffer trials to which God exposes them now, how will they endure that severe and exact trial to which he will bring them then? No man can search his own heart with that exact ness in this world, as God will search it in the world to come.
I may fay in this case to you as the Lord (pake to Jeremiah, chap. xii. 5. “ If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have " wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and « if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedft, they have 6.wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jor« dan?” This was spoken to encourage the prophet to conftancy in his work; and as if the Lord had said, Jeremy, do the strivings of the men of. Anathoth, thine own town, dishearten thee ? Pluck up thy fpirits, and faint not; there are harder trials than these that thou must undergo at Jerusalem; these are no more, to what is coming, than the running with footmen is to contending with horses, or the passing a small rivulet to the swellings of Jordan.
To allude to this ; if our graces and duties cannot bear these lighter trials; if a little lift of prosperity, or lighter stroke of adversity discover so much falseness, rottenness, pride and selfishness in the heart; if we cannot relift the motions of corruptions, but yield ourselves to obey Gin in the lusts of it; if we can neither keep our hearts with God in duties, nor mourn for our wanderings from him ; if a few [coffs from wicked tongues, or trials of persecution from the hanıls of men will cause us to faint in the way, and turn back from following the Lord, what Thall we do when He comes, whose fan is in his hand, and
“ who will thoroughly purge his floor;” Matth. iii. 12. who will try every man's work as by fire, 1 Cor. iii. 13. search the fecrets of all hearts, Rom. ii. 16. weigh every man to his ounces and drachms? surely we can take little comfort in that which : is so unable to bear the severe trials of that day, that it cannot fland before the flighter trials of this day.
4. Fourt hly, True grace is willing to be tried, and nothing is more desirable to an upright soul, than to know his own conidition : if therefore we shun the trial, and are loth to search ourselves, or be searched by the Lord, our condition is fufpicious, and we can take little comfort in it. It was David's eafneft defire, Psalm exxxix. 23. that God would thorooghly - search his heart and reins, and fee if there were any way of wickedness in him. False grace is thy of God's eye, it cares not to be examined ; but this is the delight of Gincere ones : “ Every one that doth evil hateth the light, left his deeds (hould 1
“ be reproved; but he that doth truth, cometh to the light, ;" that his deeds may be made manifeft, that they are wrought -* in God," John iji. 20, 21.
The reason is plain why hypocrify cannot endure to come to the touchstone and teft; for hypocrites, having a secret consciousness of their own guilt and unfoundness, know that, by this means, their vain confidence would quickly be confut. ed, and all their reputation for religion blasted. But, oh! if men dare not stand before the word, as it is now opened and applied by ministers, how will they ftand when it shall be opened and applied, in another manner, by Jesus Chrift?
O profeffor, if thy condition be good, thy heart right, thou wilt desire to know the very worst of thysel; and when thou haft made the deepest search thou canst, thou wilt still fear thou haft not been severe enough, and impartial enough to thyfelf; nothing will give thee more content than where thou feelest the word dividing thy soul and spirit, thy joints and marrow; nothing so much comforts thee under, or after an affliction, as the discovery it hath made of my heart; thou wilt seem to feel with what affection those words came from the prophet's lips, Jer. xii. 2. “But thou, O Lord, knoweit me, thou haft seen **. me, and tried my heart towards thee.”. O what a refreshing sweetnefs will stream through thy heart, and all the powers of thy soul, when thou canst make the like appeal to God with like fincerity! And certainly, without such a disposition of spirit towards the trial of our graces, we can have little evidence of the truth of them.