« PreviousContinue »
imperfect grace is in the belt. Alus ! how ftrange are many Christians to the extent of this duty, and how far are we all from practising it in any iminent degrec?
3. Wherein it is that natures corruption molt confifteth; and what is the chicf part of the nature and work of sandifying grace and reformation.
4. Whence come all the oppressions, injuries, persecucions, frauds and crueltics on the carth: For want of loving mens neighbours as themselves i Otherw se how fenderly would they handle one another? How cafily would they pardon wrongs? How patiently would they bear the diffent of honcft, upright Christians, who cannot force cheir judgments to be of other mens mould and fize? How apr would men be to su: fpe&t their own undertandings, of weakness, prcfumption or errour, rather than to rave with the lusy of the Dragon againft all others, who think them to be miftaken? How safely and quietly might wc live by them in the world, if they loved their neighbours as therofelves? I do not fay now, How plenriful would men be in doing good to others? I am but pleading a lower cause, How seldom they would be in doing hurt? But, alas, miserable Brittain! It was in ches that onc cxtraordinary Emperour, Alexander Severu was betrayed and murdered, who made that Chriftian precept his Motto, and wrote it on his doors, and books, and goods [Do as you would be done by.] In thee it is that Love barb been bebeaded, while nothing hath been more acknowledged and profeffed. If Love be treacherous, hurtful, envious, scandalous, enfaaring and plotting for mens destruction : ji Love tcach proud and vici. ous rors, to take themselves for Deities, and Oracles, and all for Vermine that must be hunted unto death, who bow not to their carnal crroncous conceits, and do not with the reedics prostitute consciences, ferve their carnalinterests and ends : 11 Love be known by icviling those that are much better than ourselves; and stigmatizing the faithfulloft servants of Chaft with the most odious character that lyes can uiter: If it was Love that called Paul a peftilent fellow, and a mover of fedition among the people, and reprefented Chrift as an cucmy to Cafar and his followers, as the filth and off-scouring of the earth; then happy age in which we live; and happy they
that are pofseffed with the proud and fa&ticks spirit. But if all, be otherwise, alas, where be shcy, and bow few that love'thcir: ncighbours, or bosters, as themselves?
5. You see here what a plague fin is to the earth, and how great (a punishment may I call it, or rather) a misery to the finner, and to the world.
6. And you fec how joyful and heavenly a life we thould live, if we did but follow Gods commands : And what a fclicity Love it fell is to the soul.
7. And you see by what measure to try mens fpirits, and to know who are the bed among all the pretenders to goodness in the world. Certainly not the moft ceplorious, contemplu, ous, backbiters and cruel, chat scck to make all odious chat are not for their intereft : But thosc that most abound in Love, which Faith it self is given to produce.
Objc&t. Al this is true; but Atil we find it a thing impoffible to love our neighbour equally with our felve : Can you scaob us bup to do it?
Anfm. It is that I have been teaching you in the ten Diredions before set down: But it is this which I have rcferved to the close that must do the work indeed, and without it no. thing else will do it.
Dire&. 11. Make it tbe work of all your lives, by Faitb ix Cbrift, to bring up your souls to the unfcigned Love of God, and thea it will be donc. For then you will love God above all, and love God in all; and love your felves and your ncighbours principally for God: Then Gods Image, and Glory, and Wil, will bc Goodness or Amiableness in your eyes; and not carnal plcafurc, honour or commodity. And then it will be cafie to you to love that moft, which hath moft of God. You will then casily sec chc rcason of this foeming Paradox, and that the contrary is mof unreasonable. You will then be as Timothy, who had a natural Love to others, as others have to themselves, and who fought the things of Jesus Chrif, when all others (even the beft Mipiliers too much) fought their own, Phil. 2, 20, 21. You will anderlagd Pauls charge, Phil. 2.3.4. In low liness of mind, let cacb efterm abers better tban themselvesa Look not every man on bis own, but every man alfo om iba tbingo ofotbars Let this mind be in you, wist was also in Cbrif Jefw, Aaaa
You will learn of Chrift co take your acercht friend for So tan, that would perswade you to save or fpase your felf (yea your life) when you ought to lay it down for the Glory of God, and the good of many, Mutib. 16. 32, 23. SELF and OWN urc words which would then be better understood, and be more luspected i And the reason of the great Gospel duty of SELF-DENYAL would be better difcerned,
Therefore for your felves to the study of God, especially in his Goodness; study him in his Works, and in his Word, and in his Son, and in the Glory where you hope cverlastinglyte fee hin: . And if you oncc love God as God indeed, it will icach you to love your Bretbrex, and in what fort, and in wbat degree to do it. For many wrics Xe we taught of God to love one anoIber : Evca 1. By the great and heavenly reacher of Love, Jesus Chrift: 3. And by Gods own example, Mattb. 5.44,45.
And by the shedding abroad of his love in our hearts by the Spirit of Lorc, Rom. 5.5. 4. And by this actual loving God, and so loving all of God in the world.
Obje&. But by this dodrine you will prepare for the Levelers ind Fryers, to ciast dowon; or cry donin Propriety.
Answ. 1. There is a propricty of food, rayment,&c. which individuation hath made necessary. 2. There is a propriety of Stewardthip, which God caufeth by the various difpofat of his talents, and which is the just reward of humane industry, and the necessary encouragement of wit, and labour in the world : None of these would we caft down, or preath down. 7. But there is a common abuse of propriety to the maintenance of mens own lufts, and to the hurt of orbers, and of all Societies : This we would preach down if we could: But it is Love only which muß bc de Leveler : In the Primitive Church, Love Ahowed irs power by fuch a voluntary community, Aas 4. And all Politicians, who have drawn the Idea of a perfect Common-wealth, have been fumbling at other waics of aco complishing it : But it is Cbristian Love alone that muft do it. Unseignedly love God as God, and love your neighbours really as your fclocs, and then keep your proprieties as far as this will give you leave.
I will conclude with this considerable obfervation ; that though it is falfe which fome alarm, that individuation is a
punishment for fome former fin (for how could a soul not individuate fin ?) And though fenfitive felf-love, which is the principle of self-prclervation, be no fin it felf; nor docha grace defroy it ; yet the inordinacy of it is the lumm and root of all positive fin, and an increaser of privative fin: And this inseparable fenfitive felf. love, was made to be more under the power of reason, and to be ruled by ir, than now we find it ja any the mof fan&ificd person; even as Abrabams love of the life of his only Son, was to be subjeAt to his Faich.
And holiness lyeth more in this fubje&lion, than most men well underftand. And the inordinacy of this personal selflove, hath so ftrangely perverted the mind it sell, that it is not only very hard to convince men of the cvil of any selfish prin. siples or fins; but it greatly blindech chem, as to all duties of publick intereft, and social nature: Yca and makech them afraid of Heaven it self; where the union of fouls will be as much ncerer than now it is, as their Love will be greater and more perfect : And though it will not be by any ceffation of personal individuation, and by falling into ont universal foul.; yet perfea Love will make the union nccrer than we who have no experience of it, can possibly now comprchend. (And when we feel the strongest Love to a friend, defiring the necrest union, we have the best help to underkand it.) But men that foel nos the divine and boly love; arc by inordinate felf-love, and abuse of individuation, afraid of the life to come, left the union should be fo great as to lose their individuation, or prejudice their perfonat divided interests. Yca truc bclicvers, fo far as their holy Lovcis wcak, and their inordinate (enfitive fell-love is yet too strong, arc from hence afraid of another world, when they foarce know why; but indeed it is much from this discalc; which maketh men Aill defire their personal felicity, too partially, and in divided way, and to be afraid of losing their personality or propriety, by too astr a union and communion of souls.
Home by Faitb to be folowers of the Saints, and to look with profit
to their exemples, and to ibeir end.
T "HE great work. of living in Heaven by Faich, I have said
so much of as to the principal part in my [ Saints Reft ] that no more of that mult be expected here. Only this subject which is not so usually and fully created of, to the people as it it ought (being one part of our beavenly conversation) I think moci to speak to more diftinctly at this time.
As we are commanded firt, to look to Jesus the Antbor and perfetter of our faitb, Heb. 12. 2, 3. fo are we commanded to remember our guides, and so follow their faith, and confider ibo end of tbeir conversation, Heb. 13.7. And not to be forbful, but followers of them wobo tbrough faith and patience inberit obe promises, Heb. 6. 12. To which end we have a cloud of witnesses (ce before us, in Heb. 11. that next to Jesus whom they followed, we thould look to them, and follow them, Jam. 5. 10. My Bretbrex, take the Propbets for an example
The Reasons of this duty are there. 1. God batb made tbem our examples owo waies: i. By bir graces, making them boly and fit for our imitation. them their gifts, not only for themselves, nor only for that prefint generation, but for us allo, and all that must survive,co che end of the world. As it is said of Abrabams Jurification, Rom. 4:23, 24. It was said that Faith was inputed to him for rigbsloksnes, not for bir fake alone, but for us also to whom it all be impured if we believeSo I may say in this cafc; their faith, their piecy, their patience was given them,and is records cd, not for their salvation, or their honour only; but also to further, the falvation of their pofterity, by encouragement and imitation. If al things are for our fakes, 2 Cor.4. 15. then the graces of Gods Saints were for our fakes: For the Churches cdification it is chat Christ giveth both offices, gifts and graces to his Minifters, Ephef. 4. 5, 12, 14, 15, 16. yea and sufferings too, Pbil. 1. 12,20, 2 Cor. 1.4,6. 2 Tim. 2. 10,1 endure all tbings foribe ele&is fake.