« PreviousContinue »
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 he 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, 2. 1 Pet. iv. 10. Tit. i. 15. Prov. xxx. 8. 1 Tim. vi. 6. 8. James iv. 3. Rom. xiii. 14. Phil. iii. 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, andvaluing 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. iii. 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.
heart, and hath frequent use for the rod and spur, and therefore is more slow and uneven in his obedience; Gal. v. 17.
3. The seeming Christian is forward in those easy, cheaper parts of duty, which serve to delude his carnal heart, and quiet him in a worldly life; but he is so backward to thorough sincere obedience in the most flesh-displeasing parts of duty, that he is never brought to it at all; but either he will fit his opinions in religion to his will, and will not believe them to be duties, or else he will do something like them in a superficial, formal way; but the thing itself he will not do. For he is more obedient to his carnal mind and lusts than he is to God; Rom. viii. 6, 7. and forwarder much to sacrifice than obedience; Eccles. v. 1.
XXIII. 1. A Christian indeed doth daily delight himself in God, and findeth more solid content and pleasure in his commands and promises, than in all this world; his duties are sweet to him, and his hopes are sweeter. Religion is not a tiresome task to him; the yoke of Christ is easy to him, and his burden light, and his commandments are not grievous; Psal. xxxvii. 4 i. 2. xl. 8. xciv. 19. cxix. 16. 35. 47. 70. Matt. xi. 28, 29. John v. 3. That which others take as physic, for mere necessity, against their wills, he goeth to as a feast, with appetite and delight; he prayeth because he loveth to pray; and he thinks and speaks of holy things, because he loveth to do it. And hence it is that he is so much in holy duty, and so unwearied, because be loveth it, and taketh pleasure in it. As voluptuous persons are oft and long at their sports, or merry company, because they love them, and take pleasure in them: so are such Christians oft and long in holy exercises, because their hearts are set upon them as their recreation, and the way and means of their felicity. If it be a delight to a studious man to read those books which most clearly open the abstrusest mysteries of the sciences, or to converse with the most wise and learned men; and if it be a delight to men to converse with their dearest friends, or to hear from them and read their letters; no marvel if it be a delight to a Christian indeed, to read the Gospel mysteries of love, and to find there the promises of everlasting happiness, and to see in the face of Jesus Christ the clearest image of the Eternal Deity, and foresee the joys
which he shall have for ever. He sticketh not in superficial formality, but breaking the shell doth feed upon the kernel. It is not bare external duty which he is taken up with, nor any mere creature that is his content; but it is God in creatures and ordinances that he seeketh and liveth upon; and therefore it is that religion is so pleasant to him. He would not change his heavenly delights which he findeth in the exercise of faith, and hope, and love to God, for all the carnal pleasures of this world; he had rather he a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents or palaces of wickedness. A day in God's court is better to him than a thousand in the court of the greatest prince on earth. He is not a stranger to "the joy in the Holy Ghost," in which the kingdom of God doth in part consist; Rom. xiv. 17. Psal. lxxxiv. 10. 2. "In the multitude of his thoughts within him, the comforts of God do delight his soul;" Psal. xciv. 19. "His meditation of God is sweet, and he is glad in the Lord;" Psal. civ. 34. The freest and sweetest of his thoughts and words run out upon God and the matters of salvation. The word of God is sweeter to him than honey, and better than thousands of gold and silver; Psal. xix. 10. cxix. 72. 103. Prov. xvi. 24. And because "his delight is in the law of the Lord, therefore doth he meditate in it day and night;" Psal. i. 2. He seeth great reason for all those commands, "Rejoice evermore ;" (1 Thess. v. 16.) "Let the righteous be glad, let them rejoice before God, yea, let them exceedingly rejoice;" (Psal. lxviii. 3, 4. lxiv. 10. xxxi. 1. xxxii. 11.) "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy all that are upwright in heart." He is sorry for the poor, unhappy world, that have no better things than meat, and drink, and clothes, and house, and land, and money, and lust, and play, and domineering over others, to rejoice in and heartily he wisheth they had but a taste of the saint's delights, that it might make them spit out their luscious, unclean, unwholsome pleasures. One look to Christ, one promise of the Gospel, one serious thought of the life which he must live with God for ever, doth afford his soul more solid comfort than all the kingdoms of the earth can afford. And though he live not continually in these high delights, yet peace with God, and peace of conscience, and some delight in God and godliness, is