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Phil. ii. 15. The fear, and love, and obedience of God, is the work and tenor of his life.
2. But the weak Christian, though he hath no sin but what he is a hater of, and fain would be delivered from, yet, alas! how imperfect is his deliverance! And how weak is the hatred of his sin, and mixed with so much proneness to it, that his life is much blemished with the spots of his offences. Though his unbelief, and pride, and worldliness are not predominant in him, yet are they (or some of them) still so strong, and fight so much against his faith, humility, and heavenliness, that he can scarcely tell which hath the upper hand; nor can others that see the failings of his life, discern whether the good or the evil be most prevalent. Though it be heaven which he most seeketh, yet earth is so much regarded by him, that his heavenly mindedness is greatly damped and suppressed by it. And though it be the way of godliness and obedience which he walketh in, yet is it with so many stumblings and falls, if not deviations also, that maketh him oft a burden to himself, a shame to his profession, and a snare or trouble to those about him. His heart is like an illswept house, that hath many a sluttish corner in it. And his life is like a motheaten garment, which hath many a hole, which you may see if you bring it into the light; 1 Cor. iii. 1-3. vi. 6—8. xi, 18. 21, 22, &c.
3. And for the seeming Christian, his repentance doth but crop the branches, it goeth not to the root and heart of his sin: it leaveth his fleshly mind and interest in the dominion: it polisheth his life, but maketh him not a new creature: it casteth away those sins which the flesh can spare, and which bring more shame, or loss, or trouble with them, than worldly honor, gain or pleasure; but still he is a very worldling at the heart; and the sins which his fleshly pleasures and felicity consist in, he will hide by confessions and seeming oppositions, but never mortify and forsake. As Judas, that while he followed Christ was yet a thief, and a covetous hypocrite; John xii. 6. 1 Tim. vi. 10, 11.
XI. 1. Hence it followeth that a Christian indeed doth heartily love the searching light, that it may fully acquaint him with his sins: he is truly desirous to know the worst of himself; and therefore
useth the word of God as a candle, to shew him what is in his heart; and bringeth himself willingly into the light: he loveth the most searching books and preachers; not only because they disclose the faults of other men, but his own; he is not one that so loveth his pleasant and profitable sins, as to fly the light, lest he should be forced to know them, and so to forsake them; but because he hateth them, and is resolved to forsake them, therefore he would know them; John iii. 19-21. Therefore he is not only patient under reproofs, but loveth them, and is thankful to a charitable reprover, and maketh a good use even of malicious and passionate reproofs: Psal. cxli. 5. 2 Sam. xvi. 11. He saith, as in Job xxxiv. 32. "That which I see not, teach thou me. If I have done iniquity, I will do no more." His hatred of the sin, and desire to be reformed, suffer not his heart by pride to rise up against the remedy, and reject reproof. Though he will not falsely confess his duty to be his sin, nor take the judgment of every selfish, passionate or ignorant reprover to be infallible, nor to be his rule; yet if a judicious, impartial person do but suspect him of a fault, he is ready to suspect himself of it, unless he be certain that he is clear. He loveth him better that would save him from his sin, than him that would entice him to it; and taketh him for his best friend who dealeth freely with him, and is the greatest enemy to his faults: and a flatterer he taketh but for the most dangerous, insinuating kind of foe.
2. But the weak Christian, though he hate his sin, and love reformation, and loveth the most searching books and preachers, and loveth a gentle kind of reproof, yet hath so much pride and selfishness remaining, that any reproof that seemeth disgraceful to him, goeth very hardly down with him; like a bitter medicine to a queasy stomach: if you reprove him before others, or if your reproof be not very carefully sugared and minced, so that it rather extenuate than aggravate his fault, he will be ready to cast it up into your face, and with retort to tell you of some faults of your own, or some way shew you how little he loveth it, and how little thanks he giveth you for it. If you will not let him alone with his infirmities, he will distaste you, if not fall out with you, and let you know, by his smart and impatience, that you have touched him in the sore and
galled place. He must be a man of very great skill in managing a reproof, that he shall not somewhat provoke him to distaste.
3. And for the seeming Christian, this is "his condemnation, that light is come into the world, and he loveth darkness rather than light, because his deeds are evil." He cometh not to the light, lest his deeds should be discovered and reproved; John iii. 19-21. He liketh a searching preacher for others, and loveth to hear their sins laid open, if it no way reflecteth upon himself. But for himself he liketh best a general or a smoothing preacher; and he flieth from a quick and searching ministry, lest he should be proved and convinced to be in a state of sin and misery. Guilt maketh him fear or hate a lively, searching preacher, even as the guilty prisoner hateth the judge. He loveth no company so well as that which thinketh highly of him, and applaudeth and commendeth him, and neither by their reproofs or stricter lives, will trouble his conscience with the remembrance of his sin, or the knowledge of his misery. He will take you for his enemy for telling him the truth, if you go about to convince him of his undone condition, and tell him of his beloved sin. Sin is taken to be as himself; it is he that doth evil, and not only sin that dwelleth in him; and therefore all that you say against his sin, he taketh as spoken against himself; and he will defend his sin as he would defend himself; he will hear you till you come to touch himself, as the Jews did by Stephen, Acts vii. 51. 54. when they heard him call them, stiff-necked resisters of God, and persecutors, then they were cut to the heart, and did grind their teeth at him. And as they did by Paul, Acts xxii. 22. "They gave audience to this word, and then lift up their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live;" Gal. iv. 16. John ix. 40. Matt. xxi. 45. The priests and Pharisees would have laid hands on Christ, when they perceived that he spake of them. And Ahab hated Micaiah, because he did not prophesy good of him but evil; 1 Kings xxii. 8. Deservedly do they perish in their sin and misery, that hate him that would deliver them, and refuse the remedy. "Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish;" Prov. xii. 1. "He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy;" Prov. xxix. 1.
XII. 1. A Christian indeed, is one that unfeignedly desireth to attain to the highest degree of holiness, and to be perfectly freed from every thing that is sin. He desireth perfection, though not with a perfect desire. He sitteth not down contentedly in any low degree of grace. He looketh on the holiest (how poor soever) with much more reverence and esteem than on the most rich and honorable in the world; and he had far rather be one of the most holy, than one of the most prosperous and great; he had rather be a Paul or Timothy, than a Cæsar or an Alexander. He complaineth of nothing with so much sorrow, as that he can know and love his God no more! How happy an exchange would he count it, if he had more of the knowledge and love of God, though he lost all his wealth and honor in the world! His smallest sins are a greater burden to him, than his greatest corporal wants and sufferings: as Paul, who because he could not perfectly fulfil God's law, and be as good as he would, he crieth out as in bondage, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Rom. vii. 24.
2. And for the weak Christian, though he is habitually and resolvedly of the same mind, yet, alas! his desires after perfection are much more languid in him; and he hath too much patience and reconciledness to some of his sins, and sometimes taketh them to be sweet; so that his enmity to his pride, or covetousness, or passion, is much abated, and suffereth his sin to waste his grace, and wound his conscience, and hinder much of his communion with God. He seeth not the odiousness of sin, nor the beauty of holiness, with so clear a sight as the confirmed Christian doth: he hateth sin more for the ill effects of it, than for its malignant, hateful nature: he seeth not clearly the intrinsic evil that is in sin, which maketh it deserve the pains of hell: nor doth he discern the difference between a holy and unholy soul, so clearly as the stronger christian doth; 1 Cor. iii. 2, Heb. xii. 1.
3. And as for the seeming Christian, though he may approve of perfect holiness in another, and may wish for it himself, when he thinketh of it but in the general, and not as it is exclusive and destructive of his beloved sin; yet when it cometh to particulars, he cannot away with it; he is so far from desiring it, that he will not
endure it. The name of holiness he liketh; and that preservation from hell which is the consequent of it; but when he understandeth what it is, he hath no mind of it. That holiness which should cure his ambition and pride, and make him contented with a low condition, he doth not like: he loveth not that holiness, which would deprive him of his covetousness, his intemperance in pleasant meats and drinks, his fleshly lusts, and inordinate pleasures. Nor doth he desire that holiness should employ his soul in the love of God, and in daily prayer, and meditating on his word, and raise him to a heavenly life on earth.
XIII. 1. A Christian indeed, is one that maketh God and heaven the end, reward and motive of his life; and liveth not in the world for any thing in the world, but for that endless happiness which the next world only can afford. The reasons which actuate his thoughts, and choice, and all his life, are fetched from heaven. The interest of God and his soul as to eternity, is the ruling interest in him. As a traveler goeth all the way, and beareth all the difficulties of it, for the sake of the end or place that he is going to, (however he may talk of many other matters by the way;) so is it with a Christian; he knoweth nothing worthy of his life and labors, but that which he hopeth for hereafter. This world is too sinful, and too vile and short to be his felicity. His very trade and work in the world is to lay up a treasure in heaven, (Matt. vi. 20.) "and to lay up a good foundation against the time to come, and to lay hold on eternal life;" (1 Tim. vi. 19.) and therefore his very heart is there, (Matt. vi. 21.) and he is employed in seeking and setting his affections on the things above: (Col. iii. 1-3.) and his conversation and traffic are in heaven; (Phil. iii. 20, 21.) "he looketh not at the things which are seen, which are temporal, but at the things which are not seen, which are eternal:" (2 Cor. iv. 18.) he is a stranger upon earth, and heaven is to him as his home.
2. The weak Christian also hath the same end, and hope, and motive; and preferreth his hopes of the life to come, before all the wealth and pleasures of this life: but yet his thoughts of heaven are much more strange and dull; he hath so much doubting and fear yet mixed with his faith and hope, that he looketh before him to his