Page images

3. But the seeming Christian is really carnal. The flesh is the predominant part with him; and the interest of the flesh is the ruling interest. He washeth away the outward filth, and in hope of salvation, will be as religious as the flesh will give him leave ; and will deny it in some smaller matters, and will serve it in a religious way, and not in so gross and impudent a manner as the atheists and openly profane. But for all that he never conquered the flesh indeed; but seeketh its prosperity more than the pleasing of God and his salvation : and among prayers, and sermons, and holy conference, and books, yea, and formal fastings too, he is serving the Aesh with so much the more dangerous impenitency, by how much the more his cloak of formality hindereth him from the discerning of his sin; many an one that is of unblemished reputation in religion, doth constantly serve his appetite in meat and drink, (though without any notable excess,) and his fleshly mind in the pleasure of his dwelling, wealth, and accommodations, as much as some profane ones do, if not much more. And whenever it cometh to a parting trial, they will shew that the flesh was the ruling part, and will venture their souls to secure its interest; Luke xviii. 23. xiv. 33. Rom. viii. 5—7. 9. 13. Matt. xii. 21, 22. Jude 19.

XVII. 1. Hence it followeth that a Christian indeed preferreth the means of his spiritual benefit and salvation incomparably before all corporal commodities and pleasures. He had rather dwell under the teaching and guidance of an able, experienced pastor, though it be cross to his prosperity and worldly gain, than to live under an ignorant or dead-hearted preacher, when it furthereth his trading or more accommodateth his flesh : (though yet he must not remove when God layeth any restraint upon him, by his duty to his family, or others :) he had rather, if he be a servant, dwell in a family where

do or receive most spiritual good, than in a carnal family, where he may have more ease, and better fare, and greater wages. If he be to marry, he had rather have one that hath wisdom and piety without wealth, than one that hath riches without wisdom and piety. He is more glad of an opportunity (in public or private) for the profit of his soul, than of a feast, or a good bargain, or an opportunity for some gain in worldly things; Matt. vi. 20. 33.

he may

2. And the weak Christian is of the same mind in the main. He valueth mercies and helps for his soul, above those for his body. But it is with less zeal, and more indifference; and, therefore, is more easily and ofter drawn to the omitting of spiritual duties, and neglect of spiritual helps and mercies; and goeth to them with more averseness, and as driven by necessity, and is much less sensible of his loss, when he misseth of any such spiritual helps ; Luke x. 41, 42. Heb. x. 25. Acts ïi. 42. iv, 32.

3. But the seeming Christian, being a real worldling, doth serve God and mammon; and mammon with the first and best. He had rather miss a sermon, than a good bargain or commodity; he had rather dwell where he may thrive best, or have most ease and pleasure, than where he may find the greatest helps for heaven; he will be religious, but it must be with an easy, and a pleasant, and a merry religion, which may not be too niggardly with his fesh, nor use it too strictly : unless when one day's austerity may procure him an indulgence for his liberty all the week following. He will make his bargain with Christ, so as to be sure that he may not lose by him; and he will not believe that God is pleased with that which is much displeasing to his flesh; Rom. viii. 5—8. 13. Matt. xiii. 21, 22.

XVIII. 1. The Christian indeed is one that is crucified to the world, and the world is as a crucified thing to him ; Gal. vi. 14. He hath overcome the world by faith, and followeth Christ in the pursuit of it, to a perfect conquest; 1 John v. 4, 5. John xvi. 33.

4 He has seen through all its glossing vanity, and foreseen what it will

He hath found that it cannot quiet conscience, nor reconcile the guilty soul to God, nor save it from his consuming wrath ; nor serve instead of God or heaven, of Christ or grace; but will cast off its servants in their last extremity, naked and desolate, into remediless despair. And, therefore, he is resolvedly at a point with all things under the sun. Let them take the world for their portion and felicity that will; for his part, he accounteth all things in it dung and dross, in comparison of Christ and things eternal; Phil. iii. 7, 8. 19, 20. All the preferments, and honors, and command, and wealth, and greatness of the world, do not seem to him a bait considerable, to make a wise man once question whether he VOL. II.


prove at last.

[ocr errors]

should persevere in faithfulness to God, or to tempt him to commit one wilful sin. He would not speak, or own a lie, or approve the sin of another, for all that worldlings enjoy in their greatest prosperity while they live. He accounteth his peace with God and conscience, and his communion with Christ in the greatest poverty, to be incomparably better than all the pleasures and commodities of sin; yea, the very reproach of Christ is better to him than all the treasures of court or country; Heb. xi. 25, 26. Grace hath mortified and an

; nibilated the world to him. And that which is dead and nothing, can do nothing with him against God and his soul. He looketh on it as a carrion, which dogs may love and fight for, but is unfit to be the food of man. He is going to the land of promise, and therefore will not contend for an inheritance in this howling wilderness. Whether he be high or low, rich or poor, are so small a part of his concernments, that he is almost indifferent to them, farther than as the interest of God and souls may accidentally be concerned in them. The world set against God, and heaven, and holiness, doth weigh no more in his estimation, than a seather that is put in the balance against a mountain, or all the world. He feeleth no great force in such temptations, as would draw him to win the world, and lose his soul. His eye and heart are where his God and treasure are, above; and worldly wealth and greatness are below him, even under his feet. He thinketh not things temporal worth the looking at, in comparison of things eternal; 2 Cor. iv. 18. He thinketh that their money and riches do deservedly perish with them, who think all the money in the world to be a thing comparable with grace; Acts viii. 20.

2. And the weak Christian is of the same judgment and resolution in the main; but yet the world retaineth a greater interest in his heart; it grieveth him more to lose it; it is a stronger temptation to him. To deny all the preferments, and honors, and riches of it, seemeth a greater matter to him; and he doth it with more striving, and less ease; and sometimes the respect of worldly things prevaileth with him in lesser matters, to wound his conscience, and maketh work for repentance; and such are so entangled in worldly cares, and prosperity tasteth so sweet with them, that grace even languisheth and falleth into a consumption, and almost into a swoon. So much

do some such let out their hearts to the world, which they renounced, and scrape for it with so much care and eagerness, and contend with others about their commodities and rights, that they seem to the standers by to be as worldly as worldlings themselves are ; and become a shame to their profession, and make ungodly persons say, “Your godly professors are as covetous as any :' 2 Tim. iv. 10.

3. But seeming Christians are the servants of the world; when they have learnt to speak most hardly of it, it hath their hearts. Heaven, as I said before, is valued but as a reserve, when they know they can keep the world no longer. They have more sweet and pleasing thoughts and speeches of the world, than they have of God and the world to come. It hath most of their hearts when God is most preferred by their tongues. There it is that they are daily laying up their treasure, and there they must leave it at the parting hour, when they go naked out as they came naked in. The love of deceitful riches choaketh the word of God, and it withereth in them, and becometh unfruitful; Matt. xiii. 22. They go away sorrowsul because of their beloved riches, when they should part with all for the hopes of heaven (Luke xviii. 23.), yea, though they are beggars, that never have a day's prosperity in the world, for all that, they love it better than heaven, and desire that which they cannot get, because they have not an eye of faith, to see that better world which they neglect, and therefore take it for an uncertain thing. Nor are their carnal natures suitable to it, and therefore they mind it not; Rom. viii. 7. When a hypocrite is at the best, he is but a religious worldling; the world is nearer to his heart than God is, but “pure religion keepeth a man unspotted of the world;" James i. 27.

XIX. 1. A Christian indeed, is one that still seeth the end in all that he doth, and that is before him in his way, and looketh not at things as at the present they seem or relish to the flesh, or to shortsighted men; but as they will appear and be judged of at last. The first letter maketh not the word, nor the first word the sentence, without the last. Present time is quickly past, and therefore he less regardeth what things seem at present, than what they will prove to all eternity. When templations offer him a bait to sin, with the present profit, or pleasure, or honor, he seeth at once the final shame;


he seeth all worldly things as they are seen by a dying man, and as after the general conflagration they will be. He seeth the godly man in his adversity and patience, as entering into his Master's joys; he seeth the derided, vilified saint, as ready to stand justified by Christ at his right hand; and the liars of the malicious world as ready to cover themselves with shame. He seeth the wicked in the height of their prosperity, as ready to be cut down and withered, and their pampered flesh to turn to dirt; and their filthy and malicious souls to stand condemned by Christ at his left hand; and to hear, “Go ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;" Matt. xxv. 1 Pet. i. 24. James i. 10, 11. Psal. lxxiii. xxxvii. Therefore it is that he valued grace, because he knoweth what it will be; and therefore it is that he flieth from sin, “because he knoweth the terrors of the Lord,” and what it will prove to the sinner in the end.; and how sinners themselves will curse the day that ever they did commit it; and wish when it is too late, that they had chosen the holiness and patience of the saints. And therefore it is that he pitieth rather than envieth the prosperous enemies of the church, because he forseeth what the “end will be of them that obey not the Gospel of Christ. And if the righteous be scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinners appear?” i Pet. iv. 17, 18. 2 Thes. i. 8—10. If the wicked unbelievers saw but the ending of all things as he doth, they would be all then of his mind and way. This putteth so much life into his prayers, his obedience, and patience, because he seeth the end in all; Deut. xxxi. 29. Prov. xix. 20. Isa. xlvii. 7.

2. And the weakest Christian doth the same in the main, so far as to turn his heart from things temporal to things eternal; and to resolve him in his main choice, and to conduct the course of his life towards heaven. But yet in particular actions he is often stopped in present things, and forgetfully loseth the sight of the end, and so is deluded and enticed into sin, for want of seeing that which should have preserved him. He is like one that traveleth over hills and vallies, who when he is upon the hills doth see the place that he is going to; but when he cometh into the vallies it is out of his sight. Too oft doth the weak Christian think of things as they appear at the present, with little sense of the change that is near. When he seeth the baits of

« PreviousContinue »