« PreviousContinue »
know more, and that knowledge shall be a light and lanthorn to the feet of your affections.
If you would draw up your affections unto things above, then put yourself under the most wooing discoveries of gospel love. Wooings roll out affections. Christ woos in the gospel; there doth the Spirit also breathe: and these motions of the soul can never be stirred up, but by the moving of the Spirit on the heart. "The living creatures went every one straight forward, whither the Spirit was to go," Ezek. i. 12. Now the Spirit moves in the wooing dispensations of the gospel; there then place yourselves, and give up your hearts unto these wooings.
And in case that any sensible dispensation fall upon you, either by affliction or enjoyment, let your eye affect your heart. Affections are sensible movings of the soul: doth the Lord therefore speak unto your soul by afflictions or sacraments? be sure that you improve these sensible dispensations to the working up of your affections unto things above.
And be much in meditation; for as reading and hearing do beget knowledge, so meditation doth beget affections. Either therefore you are in company, or you are alone: if you be in company, mutual exhortation will quicken your affections unto what is good; if ye be alone, then sit and meditate on the things that you have heard, or read, or seen, or done; and thus your affections will and shall be raised unto things above.
But my affections are most unsteady; though they be raised to-day, yet they are down to-morrow: what shall I do that I may so set my affections on things above, that they may be settled on them?
In case your affections have been raised, then take as much pains to keep your affections up, as you did to raise them up. And,
In case you feel your affections begin to cool and decline, then stir up yourself, and the grace of God that is in you. The prophet Isaiah complains, that none stirred up themselves to take hold on God. The like complaint may we take up now; for what is the reason that our affections die and cool away after raisings of heart, but because we do not stir up ourselves and hearts to take hold on God. In case, there
fore, that your affections do begin to abate and cool, blow them up afresh, and stir up yourselves thereunto.
Be sure that you make use of the variety in the ways of God, which he hath given you. Varietas refocillat: variety is refreshing and affecting. God hath given us divers ordinances to be exercised in, that if we be dull and weary in one, we may go to another. If you be weary in prayer, you may go to reading; if weary in reading, then go to meditating; if weary in meditation, you may go to conference. If you will spend yourself only in one duty, there will grow a dulness and deadness upon you; but if you exercise yourself according to that variety which God hath given you, your heart will be kept up with an holy freshness unto things above, But,
Because that we are much affected with new things, therefore study the words and works of God much, and be always digging in them, then some new truth, or new discovery will arise upon you, which will affect your heart, and ever heap up your affections unto things above. And,
In case that you have any great affections unto what is good, be sure that you labour more and more to refine that affection; things refined keep longest; distilled waters keep longer than the leaves out of which the waters are distilled ; if ye have rose leaves, they will not keep fresh so long as the water that you distil from them; those affections that you now have, it may be are sweet unto you, but they are as the rose leaves, somewhat of a drossier matter, which doth adhere to them, if you would now take those very good affections and refine or distil the same, then would they keep the longer. Go then and carry in your rose leaves unto God's still, and labour more and more to refine your best affections. Thus your affections shall not only be set on things above, but be settled on them.
And my beloved, is it not a good and blessed thing to have sweet and large affections for good? Surely it is a great mercy to have large affections in good and for good; some of us have had large affections to the things of the world, and shall we not have as large affections unto things that are above? Old men generally want affections, and young people do abound therein; but what will all our affections do us good, if they be set on things here below? Alas, we shall
but lose them, and the things affected too. But if you set your affections on things above, you shall neither lose your affections, nor the things affected. Wherefore let us all receive this exhortation, "Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth."
HOW TO WALK WITH GOD IN OUR CALLINGS.
Brethren, let every man wherein he is called therein, abide with God."-1 COR. VII. 20.
In this chapter the apostle speaks to a case of conscience, whether it be lawful for the believing wife to depart from the unbelieving husband; which he resolves negatively, ver. 10. "If the unbelieving will depart, let him depart,” saith the apostle, ver. 15, but the believer may not depart; which he persuadeth unto by divers arguments. The first is taken from the profit or good that the believer may do by his continuance, ver. 16, " For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thine husband." The second is taken from the call of God unto that condition, ver. 17, " But as the Lord hath distributed unto every man, as the Lord hath called every man, so let him walk:" and this is our duty; for, says he, "So I ordain in all the churches." Why, but suppose a man be called being a servant, is he to abide therein? Yes, says the apostle, ver. 20, "Let every one abide in the same calling wherein he was called." Art thou called being a servant? care not for it, but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather; for, ver. 22, "He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman;" only saith he, "Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men," serving men only, but the Lord in them. And so, brethren, let every man wherein he is called, abide with God by calling: so the apostle doth understand that state and condition wherein God hath placed us. We do ordinarily take the word calling for our civil employment, and outward occupation; but the apostle takes it here for our outward state and condition, yet not excluding but including the other, for there is no state or
condition that we are called unto, but some occupation, employment, or calling, is to be used therein; and therefore in speaking to one of these, I shall speak to both. And so the doctrine is this:
That it is the duty of every man to abide or walk with God in his calling; take calling for your state or condition, or take calling for your ordinary way of employment, the doctrine is true, that it is our duty to abide or walk with God in our calling. It is commanded ver. 17, "As the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk." It is commanded again ver. 20, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." And it is commanded again ver. 24, "Brethren, let every one," &c. Surely therefore there is some great concernment in this. And ver. 20 he saith, "Let every man abide;" but in ver. 17 he saith, "As the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk ;" and saith the text, "Here let him abide with God." Plainly then, it is the duty of every man to walk or abide with God in his calling. For the prosecuting of which truth I shall labour to shew you:
First, That it is a great mercy for a man to be placed in a good, lawful, and honest calling. A good calling is a great
Secondly, That a man being so placed, is to abide therein. Thirdly, That it is our duty to walk with God in our calling.
Fourthly, What a man should do, that he may walk with God in his calling.
Fifthly, I shall give you some motives and encouragements to provoke you to this work, of walking with God in your callings.
First, therefore, I say, a good calling is a great mercy. It is a great mercy for a man to have an honest, good, and a lawful calling: whether you take the word calling for the calling of condition, or for the calling of employment, it is a great mercy to be planted in an honest and a lawful calling. For,
This was the condition of Adam in the state of innocency; then the Lord set Adam for to till the ground: he gave him an employment in the state of innocency, and there was nothing given him in the state of innocency but mercy. What
ever God called him to, or put him upon before the fall, was mercy. Now in that state God put an employment upon him. Employment did not come in by the fall; it is not a badge of that conquest that the devil made upon us by the fall: therefore an honest calling is a great mercy. For thereby,
A man is kept from idleness. Idleness is the nurse of all wickedness; our vacation is the devil's term. Homines nihil agendo, &c.:* Men by doing nothing learn to do evil. Idleness, saith the heathen,† is the burying of a living man. Hic situs est. When a great senator of Rome would go live privately in his country house, that he might be more retired, Seneca coming by, said, Hic situs est; Here lies such a man: as you say over a tomb, Here lies such a man, and there lies such a man, so said he, Hic situs est Vacia; Here lies Vacia; for idleness is the burial of a living man, but what more contrary to a man than to be buried alive. Now the honest lawful employment or calling will keep ever from idleness. Yea,
Thereby also a man shall be kept from busy-bodiedness and too much meddling: the more idle a man is, the more apt he is to be too busy and meddling with others' matters. Mark, therefore, I pray, how they go together in 2 Thess. iii. 11: "We hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, being busy-bodies." Working not at all, and yet overworking, being busy-bodies; how should this be cured? Why, saith he, in the next verse, "Now them that are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work and eat their own bread." Either a man must eat his own bread or he will eat another's; if he eat another's constantly that will be uncomfortable; if he would eat his own bread, then let him work; if he do not work when he should, he will be at work when he should not; he will meddle with others' matters, and be a busy-body. "Now, therefore, I command and beseech you in the Lord (saith the apostle), that every one work." Thus shall a man be freed from busy-bodiedness. Yea,
A lawful honest calling both of condition and employment is God's ground. As no calling is the devil's ground, so a good and honest calling is God's ground. As an unlawful
* Homines nihil egendo mala discunt egere.-Sen.
† Otium est vera hominis sepultura.-Sen.