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ness, than he is to his justice; and leaves God, Christ, and eternity, far above out of his sight. He careth for none of these things; he is a man of the world. What he hath he reckons his own; nor, inquiring who gave it him, doth he once imagine that he is but a steward. Ready he is to swell and triumph upon every thing, wherein he seemeth to himself to excel others; and the more abundant his wealth, knowledge, or power is, the larger his vanity. As he is unthankful for what God bestows upon him; so he must have no cross in his way: he frets and galls himself under corrective dispensations; and doth nothing but murmur, and lie in impatience, till he see the end of his affliction. He hath not the smallest apprehension that the world is his enemy, all his views lying on this side the grave. him his heart's content in the indulgence of his body, and of his worldly prospects, and let him withal enjoy his humour, he desires no more: he will be sailing down time very quietly, and be, for the most part, as much at his ease, as if there were no death, nor eternity.
But here the formalist will be interposing; will be thanking God he is not as this man is; will be pleading his freedom from harming others, his exactness in duties, his fair show in the flesh, having no gross sin resting on him; his benevolence and good deeds. Truly, all this may be, and yet nothing right at the bottom: after all, you may have as little pretence to humility, as the, in appearance, more careless sinner. You own that you are God's creature; but you own you are a sinner; that you have dishonoured
your Maker, abused his mercy and his patience, justly incurred his wrath, forfeited all title to the very least blessing at his hand; that such a sinner you are, you are unworthy of the very bread you eat. All this unhumbled heart disallows. You canyour not judge of yourself in this manner, while you can see none going beyond you in regularity, decency, and services. You judge rather, that such a one as you must be a peculiar favourite of heaven; that your conversation deserves and demands some regard of your heavenly Father towards you; and confidently trust upon your formal prayers, and alms, and fastings, that they shall not be in vain. But, after all, where, I pray you, is the difference between the careless sinner and yourself, as to the matter of humility? He thinks not of his sins; you deny yours, or excuse them, or set up your good works as more than countervailing them. Less than he, you dread God's justice; nor is he more insensible than yourself, to the riches of redeeming love. He values himself upon worldly endowments, which he truly hath; you boast of spiritual qualifications to which you have no pretence. He and you are unthankful, fretful, and murmurers alike. Equally, ye are strangers to all true sorrow for, and hatred of sin; and while he cares not about it, you do not fear lest you should fall into it. In a word, he is in subjection to earthly lusts, and you are enslaved by secret pride. Surely then, when this matter is sifted, both he and you are the natural man still; notwithstanding the different appearance ye make.—For the new creature is humble; and,
Secondly, His main business in life, is the care of his soul. The new creature, as his eyes are open to a right estimation of himself and all things, so, in consequence hereof, he finds another employment upon his hands, from what men naturally think of, and from what the interests of this life seem to demand. He makes a new and heavenly use of life and all the things of it, and engages therein in a peculiar and reserved manner: he is busied about the one thing needful; and he will make all other things subservient thereto. All that he doth, tends towards heaven; and every action of his life is tinctured with, and hath the stamp of, eternity. This one point he labours above all; by the grace of the Spirit, to subdue and mortify more effectually those selfish, earthly, and carnal dispositions, which corrupt nature hath given him; and to confirm and strengthen those gracious dispositions of soul, which will render him qualified for glory. Being born from above, he seeketh the things which belong to "God and his righteousness;" he lives by faith; what he sees not, hath a prevailing influence with him, beyond all which he doth see. He regards life as a pilgrimage, and, like a stranger from his home, contends for the house which is eternal. Nor doth he mind any other thing in comparison, but becoming meet for this inheritance of the saints. This is the business of the humble man upon earth.
But the careless sinner hath another sort of employment. He is for this world: and not an action of his life bespeaks any higher regard. He knows no fears, but those of want, sickness, disappointment,
or disgrace; and his largest wishes are laid out after security and ease, grandeur and wealth, reputation and respect. To provide for indulgence, and to preserve his health, to cover his head, and clothe his body, to enjoy his friend, lay up a store for another day, and care for his family; these are the highest and best things he has in view, the great concerns he has in life.
What doth conscience say now?
is your course directed? Are you labouring in the
road that leads towards heaven, or in the beaten path of the world? Are you entered into the humble and heavenly scheme and business? And what evidences can you produce, that you are engaged in this new work? Surely you cannot be at a loss to know which hath most of your thoughts, care, and solicitude; which you prefer, and are in fact most diligent to obtain, whether earthly or heavenly things? If your heart be right, and your mind renewed, your sentiments are these: "Mistaken man that I was, how vainly did I once imagine, there was no other nor greater employment of my days, than to procure the full supply of my wants; that I had no other enemy to contend with, but the confinement, dependence, and various evils of circumstances too narrow; that I had no other good to pursue, than that enlargement of fortune, which might render me my own master, furnish me with what I should desire, enable me, at a convenient time of life, to sit down at my ease, and be under obligation to none ! But then God was little thought of; death and eternity were far away. Ah! now that I see what I
am, what lies before me, and the work I have to do, in a short, and withal most uncertain day; I am even oppressed with the importance of every hour I live, and tremble at every step I make, lest, in the midst of surrounding dangers, I should wander from the right way, the subtle enemy should take advantage of me, and causing me to offend so good and gracious a father, draw down upon me his displeasure.' Are these your sentiments? Can you truly adopt them, and say, "Thus I judge, and thus I live?" But where are your proofs? Have you shaken off all gross sins? Do they not even occasionally gain over your consent? Are you maintaining the spiritual war with "the law of sin which is in your members," manfully contending to bring every lust "into subjection to the law of Christ ?" Are you got above the world? And when the matter is brought to a fair trial, doth it appear, that you value God's favour, more than all manner of reputation, wealth, ease, and worldly comfort? Can your diligence and importunity in all holy employments, witness for you, that you desire the knowledge of God, and labour to walk dutifully and joyfully before him?
If you are the new creature, the approving voice of conscience makes answer within you, "This is my study; herein I have, and do exercise myself;" and you will be adding too, "but I sadly come short herein." This you may. But the inquiry at present is, whether you are sincerely about this heavenly business? And, with a little attention, you will easily see, whether this or the next world doth