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the will of God, though contrary to our own; when we choose what is painful, because it is the will of our wise and gracious Creator.
12. And thus it behoves every disciple of Christ to take up, as well as to bear, his cross. Indeed, in one sense, it is not his alone; it is common to him, and many others; seeing there is no temptation befalls any man, en un av@petivos,“but such as is common to men;" such as is incident and adapted to their common nature and situation in the present world. But, in another sense, as it is considered with all its circumstances, it is his; peculiar to himself: it is prepared of God for him; it is given by God to him, as a token of his love. And if he receives it as such, and, after using such means to remove the pressure as christian wisdom directs, lies as clay in the potter's hand; it is disposed and ordered by God for his good, both with regard to the quality of it, and in respect to its quantity and degree, its duration, and every other circumstance.
13. In all this, we may easily conceive our blessed Lord to act as the physician of our souls, not merely" for his [own] pleasure, but for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness.” If, in searching our wounds, he puts us to pain, it is only in order to heal them. He cuts away what is putrefied or unsound, in order to preserve the sound part. And if we freely choose the loss of a limb, rather than the whole body should perish; how much more should we choose, figuratively, to cut off a right hand, rather than the whole soul should be cast into hell !
14. We see plainly then both the nature and ground of taking up our cross. It does not imply the disciplining ourselves; (as some speak;) the literally tearing our own flesh; he wearing hair-cloth, or iron girdles, or any thing else that would impair our bodily health; (although we know not what allowance God may make for those who act thus through involuntary ignorance ;) but the embracing the will of God, though contrary to our own; the choosing wholesome, though bitter medicines ; the freely accepting temporary pain, of whatever kind, and in whatever degree, when it is either essentially or accidentally necessary to eternal pleasure.
II. 1. I am, Secondly, to show, That it is always owing to the want either of Self-denial, or taking up bis Cross, that any man does not thoroughly follow Him, is not fully a Disciple of Christ. VOL. I. No, 13.
It is true, this may be partly owing, in some cases, to the want of the means of grace; of bearing the true Word of God spoken with power; of the Sacraments, or of Christian fellowship. But where none of these is wanting, the great hinderance of our receiving or growing in the grace of God, is always the want of denying ourselves, or taking up our cross.
2. A few instances will make this plain. A man bears the word which is able to save his soul : He is well pleased with what he hears, acknowledges the truth, and is a little affected by it; yet he remains “ dead in trespasses and sins," senseless and mawakened. Wliy is this? Because he will not part with bis bosom-sin, though he now knows it is an abomination to the Lord. He came to hear, full of lust and uuboly desire; and he will not part with them. Therefore no dewp impression is made upon him, but his foolish heart is still hardened: that is, he is still senseless and unawakened, because he will not deny himself.
3. Suppose he begins to awake out of sleep, and his eyes are a little opened, why are they so quickly closed again? Why does he again sink into the sleep of death? Because he again yields to his bosom-sin ; lic drinks again of the pleasing poison, Therefore it is impossible that any lasting impression should be made upon bis heurt: That is, he relapses into his fatal insensibility, because he will not deny himself.
4. But this is not the case with all. We have many instances of those, who, when once awakened, sleep no more. impressions once received, do not wear away: they are not only (Jeep, but lasting. And yet, many of these have not found what they seek: They mourn, and yet are not comforted. Now, why is this? It is because they do not “ bring forth fruits meet for repentance;” because they do not, according to the grace they have received, “ cease from evil, and do good.” They do not cease from the easily besetting sin, the sin of their constitution, of their education, or of their profession; or they omit doing the good they may, and know they ought to do, because of some disagreeable circumstances attending it: that is, they do not attain faith, because they will not “ deny themselves," or “take up their cross.”
5. But this man did receive the beavenly gift;" he did “ taste of the
of the world to comc; he saw " the light of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ;" the
peace which passeth all understanding" did rule his heart and mind; and “the love of God was shed abroad (therein,]
by the Holy Ghost which was given unto him;”-yet he is now weak as another man; he again relishes the things of earth, and has more taste for the things which are seen than for those which are not seen; the eye of his understanding is closed again, so that he cannot see Him that is invisible;” his love is waxed cold, and the peace of God no longer rules in his heart. And no marvel; for he has again given place to the Devil, and grieved the Holy Spirit of God. He has turned again unto folly, to some pleasing sin, if not in outward act, yet in heart. He has given place to pride, or anger, or desire, to self-will, or stubbornness. Or he did not stir up the gist of God which was in him; he gave way to spiritual sloth, and would not be at the pains of “ praying always, and watching thereunto with all perseverance:” that is, he made shipwreck of the faith, for want of self-denial, and taking up his cross daily.
6. But perhaps he has not made shipwreck of the faith : he has still a measure of the Spirit of adoption, which continues to witness with his spirit that he is a child of God. However he is not“ going on to perfection;" he is not, as once, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, panting after the whole image and full enjoyment of God, as the hart after the water-brook.
Rather he is weary and faint in his mind, and, as it were, hovering between life and death. And why is he thus, but because he hath forgotten the word of God, “By works is faith made perfect ?" He does not use all diligence in working the works of God. He does not "continue instant in prayer," private as well as public; in communicating, hearing, meditation, fasting, and religious conference. If he does not wholly neglect some of these means, at least he does not use them all, with his might. Or he is not zealous of works of charity, as well as works of piety. He is not merciful after his power, with the full ability which God giveth. He does not fervently serve the Lord by doing good to men, in every kind, and in every degree he can, to their souls as well as their bodies. And why does he not continue in prayer ? Because in times of dryness it is pain and grief unto him. He does not continue in hearing at all opportunities, because sleep is sweet; or it is cold, or dark, or rainy. But why does he not continue in works of mercy? Because he cannot feed the hungry, or clothe the naked, unless he retrench the expense of his own apparel, or use cheaper and less pleasing food, Beside which, the visiting the sick, or those that are in prison, is attended with many disagreeable circumstances. And so are most works of spiritual mercy; reproof, in particular. Ile would! reprove his neighbour ; but sometimes shame, sometimes fear comes between: for lie may expose himsell, not only to ridicule, but to heavier iuconveniences too. Upon these and the like considerations, he omits one or more, if not all works of mercy and piety. Therefore', liis faith is not made perfect, neither can he grow in grace', namely, because he will not deny himself, and take up his daily cross.
7. It manifestly follows, that it is always owing to the vant cither of self-deuial, or taking up his cross, that a man does not thoroughly follow his Lord, that he is not fully a disciple of Christ. It is owing to this, that he who is dead in sin, does not awake, though the trumpet be blown ; that he who begins
awake out of sleep, yet bas no deep or lasting conviction ; that he who is deeply and lastingly convinced of sin, does not attain remission of sins; that some who have received this heavenly gift, retain it not, but make shipwreck of the faith ; and that others, if they do not drawy back to perdition, yet are weary and faint in their mind, and do not reach the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
111. 1. low easily may we learn hence, that they know neither the Scripture nor the poirer of God, who directly or indirectly, in public or in private, oppose the doctrine of selfdenial and the daily cross. How totally ignoraut are tliese men of anunlrce particular texts, as well as of the general tenor of the whole Oracles of God? And how entirely wacquainted must they be, witlitre, genuine', christian experience; of the muner wherein the Holy Spirit ever did, and does at this day, work in the souls of men ! They may talk indeed very loudly and confidcurly, sa natural fruit of ignorance,) as though they were the only men who understood cither the Word of God, or the experience of his children; but their words are, in every SCUSC, PC words; they are weighed in the balance and found wantin.
2. We may learn from henci, secondly, the real cause rhy not only many particular persons, but even bodies of men, who were om burning and shining lihis, bare now lost both their lidt ud ital. If they wodne: late and oppose, they at least lightlyesiccialis precisospel-coctrine. If they did not hoidly sli
. Suricic .:M!? pcculinus, internecione :21.1:"12.19, ve al societal wer foot, we devote it Io distritiva; cil thic Str vallit it according to its
high importance, nor took any pains in practising it. Hanc mystici docent, said that great, bad man: “ The Mystic writers teach self-denial.”—No; the Inspired Writers! And God teaches it to every soul, who is willing to hear his voice!
3. We may learn from hence, thirdly, that it is not enough for a Minister of the Gospel not to oppose the doctrine of selfdenial, to say nothing concerning it. Nay, he cannot satisfy his duty, by saying a little in favour of it. If he would indeed be pure from the blood of all men, he must speak of it frequently and largely; he must inculcate the necessity of it in the clearest and strongest manner; he must press it with his might, on all persons, at all times, and in all places ; laying “line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept:" So shall he have a conscience void of offence; so shall he save his own soul and those that hear him.
4. Lastly: See that you apply this, every one of you, to your own soul. Meditate upon it when you are in secret: ponder it in your heart! Take care not only to understand it thoroughly, but to remember it to your lives' end! Cry unto the Strong for strength, that you may no sooner understand, than enter upon the practice of it! Delay not the time, but practise it immediately, from this very hour! Practise it universally, on every one of the thousand occasions, which occur in all circumstances of life! Practise it daily, without intermission, from the hour you first set your hand to the plough, and enduring therein to the end, till your spirit returns to God!