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sin, whether riches, or beauty, or meat and drink, or any thing that is pleasing to the senses, the remembrance of the end doth not so quickly and powerfully work, to prevent his deceived imaginations as it ought. And when poverty, or shame, or sufferings, or sickness are presented to him, the foresight of the end is not so speedy and powerful in clearing his judgment, and settling his resolution, and preventing his misapprehension and troubles as it ought. And hence comes his oft mistakes and falls; and herein consisteth much of that foolishness, which he confesseth when repentance bringeth him to himself; 2 Sam. xxiv. 10. 2 Chron. xvi. 9.
3. But the seeming Christian hath so dim and doubtful a foresight of the end, and it is so frequently out of his mind, that things present do carry away his heart, and have the greatest power and interest with him; and are most regarded and sought after in this life.
; For he is purblind, not seeing afar off, as it is said, 2 Pet. i. 9. He wanteth that faith which is the “substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen;" Heb. xi. 1. Things promised in another world seem to him too uncertain or too far off to be preferred before all the happiness of this world; he is resolved to make his best of that which he hath in hand, and to prefer possession before such hopes. Little doth his heart perceive what a change is near, and how the face of all things will be altered! How sin will look, and how the minds of sinners will be changed, and what all the riches, and pleasures, and honors of the world will appear at the latter end! He foreseeth not the day when the slothful, and the worldly, and the fleshly, and the proud, and the enemies of godliness, shall all wish in vain, “O that we had laid up our treasure in heaven, and labored for the food that perisheth not, and had set less by all the vanities of the world, and had imitated the holiest and most mortified believers!' Though the hypocrite can himself foretel all this, and talk of it to others, yet his belief of it is so dead, and his sensuality so strong, that he liveth by sense, and not by that belief: and present things are practically preferred by him, and bear the sway, so that he needeth those warnings of God as well as the profane, “ that they were wise, that they understood this, and that they would consider their latter end ;" Deut. xxxii. 29. And he is one of the fool
ish ones (Matt. xxv. 8. 11.), who are seeking oil for their lamps when it is too late, and are crying out, “ Lord, Lord, open to us,” when the door is shut; and will not know the time of their visitation, nor know effectually in this their day, the things which belong to their everlasting peace. XX. 1. The Christian indeed is one that liveth
God alone; his faith is divine ; his love, and obedience, and confidence are divine; his chiesest converse is divine; his hopes and comforts are divine. As it is God that he dependeth on, and trusteth to, and studieth to please above all the world, so it is God's approbation that he taketh up with for his justification and reward. He took him for his absolute Governor and Judge, and full felicity, in the day when he took him for his God. He can live in peace without man's approbation. If men are never acquainted with his sincerity, or virtues, or good deeds, it doth not discourage him nor hinder him from his holy course; he is, therefore, the same in secret as in public, because no place is secret from God. If men turn his greatest virtues or duties to his reproach, and slander him, and make him odious to men, and represent him as they did Paul, a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition, and the ringleader of a sect, and make him as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, this changeth him not, for it changeth not his felicity, nor doth he miss of his reward; 1 Cor. iv. 9—14. Read the words in the text. Though he hath so much suspicion of his own understanding, and reverence for wiser men's, that he will be glad to learn, and will hear reason from any one; yet praise and dispraise are matters of very small regard
; with him; and as to himself, he counteth it but a very small thing to be judged of men, whether they justify or condemn him; because they are fallible, and have not the power of determining any thing to his great commodity or detriment; nor is it their judgment to which he stands or falls; 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4. He hath a more dreadful, or comfortable judgment to prepare for. Man is of small account with him in comparison of God; Rom. viii. 33–36.
2. And though with the weakest true Christian it is so also as to the predominancy of God's esteem and interest in him, yet is his weakness daily visible in the culpable effects. Though God have the chiefest place in his esteem, yet man hath much more than his due. The thoughts and words of men seem to such, of far greater importance than they should. Praise and dispraise, favors and injuries, are things which affect their hearts too much; they bear not the contempts and wrongs of men with so quiet and satisfied a mind, as beseemeth those that live upon God. They have so small an experience of the comforts of God in Christ, that they are tasting the deeper of other delights and spare them not so easily as they ought to do. God, without friends, or house, or land, or maintenance, or esteem in the world, doth not fully quiet them ; but there is a deal of peevish impatience left in their minds, though it doth not drive them away from God.
3. But the seeming Christian can better take up with the world alone than with God alone ; God is not so much missed by him as the world; he always breaks with Christ, when it cometh to forsa king all; he is godly notionally and professedly, and therefore may easily say that God is his portion, and enough for those that put their trust in him ; but his heart never consented truly to reduce these words to practice. When it comes to the trial, the praise or dispraise of man, and the prosperity or matters of the world, do signify more with him than the favor or displeasure of God, and can do more with him. Christ, and riches, and esteem, he could be content with; but he cannot away with a naked Christ alone. Therefore he is indeed a practical atheist, even when he seemeth most religious : for if he had ever taken God for his God indeed, he had certainly taken him as his portion, felicity, and all; and therefore as enough for him without the creature ; Luke xviii. 23.
XXI. 1. For all this it followeth, that a Christian indeed hath with himself devoted all that he hath to God, and so all that he hath is sanctified: he is only in doubt ofttimes in particular cases, what God would have him do with himself and his estate ; but never in doubt whether they are to be wholly employed for God, in obedience to his will, as far as he can know it, and therefore doth estimate every creature and condition, purely as it relateth unto God and life eternal. “ HOLINESS TO THE LORD” is written upon all that he hath and doth; he taketh it as sent from God, and useth it as his
Master's goods and talents ; not chiefly for himself, but for his Master's ends and will. God appeareth to him in the creature, and is the life, and sweetness and glory of the creature to him. His first question in every business he undertaketh, or every place or condition that he chooseth is, how it conduceth to the pleasing of God, and to his spiritual ends; “ whether he eateth or drinketh, or whatever he doth, he doth all to the Glory of God;" 1 Cor. x. 31. The posy engraven on his heart is the name of GOD, with “ OF HIM, AND THROUGH HIM, AND TO HIM ARE ALL THINGS, TO HIM BE GLORY FOR EVER, AMEN;" Rom. xi. 36. He liveth as a steward that useth not his own, though yet he have a sufficient reward for his fidelity; and he keepeth accounts both of receivings and layings out, and reckoneth all to be worse than lost, which he findeth not expended on his Lord's account. For himself be asketh not that which is sweetest to the flesh, but that which is fittest to his end and work; and therefore desireth not riches (for himself) but his daily bread, and food convenient for him; and having food and raiment is therewith content, having taken godliness for his gain. He asketh not for superfluity, nor for any thing to consume it on his lusts, nor to become provision for his flesh, to satisfy the wills thereof. But as a runner in his race desireth not any provisions which may hinder him; and therefore “ forgetting the things which are behind (the world which he hath turned his back upon,) he reacheth forth to the things which are before, (the crown of glory,) and presseth toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus ;" not turning an eye to any thing that would stop him in his course. Thus while he is employed about things below, his mind and conversation are heavenly and divine, while all things are estimated and used purely for God and heaven; Luke xvi.
1 Pet. iv. 10. Tit. i. 15. Prov. xxx. 8. 1 Tim. vi. 6. 8. James iv. 3. Rom. xiii. 14. Phil. iï. 13–15.
2. But the weak Christian, though he have all this in desire, and be thus affected and resolved in the main, and liveth to God in the
scope and course of his life, yet is too often looking aside, and valuing the creature carnally for itself; and ofttimes useth it for the pleasing of the flesh, and almost like a common man ; his house, and land, and friends, and pleasures, are relished too carnally, as his
own accommodations; and though he walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, yet he hath too much of the fleshly taste, and is greatly out in his accounts with God; and turneth many a thing from his Master's use to the service of the flesh; and though he be not as the slothful, wicked servant, yet is it but little improvement that he maketh of his talent; Matt. xxv. 17. 26–28.
3. But the seeming Christian being carnal and selfish, while his notions and professions are spiritual and Divine, and his selfish and fleshly interest being predominant, it must needs follow that he estimateth all things principally as they respect his fleshly interest, and useth them principally for his carnal self, even when in the manner he seemeth to use them most religiously, (as I have said before ;) and so to the defiled nothing is pure; Rom. viii. 5–8. 13. Tit. i. 15.
XXII. 1. A Christian indeed hath a promptitude to obey, and a ready compliance of his will to the will of God. He hath not any great averseness and withdrawing, and doth not the good which he doth with much backwardness and striving against it; but as in a wellordered watch or clock, the spring or poise doth easily set all the wheels agoing, and the first wheel easily moveth the rest; so is the will of a confirmed Christian presently moved, as soon as he knoweth the will of God. He stayeth not for other moving reasons; God's will is his reason. This is the habit of subjection and obedience, which makes him say, “ Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth ;" and “Lord what wouldst thou have me do ?” And “Teach me to do thy will, O God;" Psal. cxliii. 10. 1 Sam. ii. 10. Acts ix. 6. “I delight to do thy will, O God; yea thy law is within my heart;" Psal. xl. 8. The “law written in our heart," is nothing else but the knowledge of God's laws, with this habit or promptitude to obey them; the special fruit of the Spirit of grace. 2. But a weak Christian, though he love God's will and way, and
, be sincerely obedient to him, yet in many particulars, where his corruption contradicteth, hath a great deal of backwardness and striving of the flesh against the Spirit; and there needs many words and many considerations and vehement persuasions, yea, and sharp afflictions, sometimes, to bring him to obey. And he is fain to drive on his backward VOL. II.