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a punishment of sin. Only he requireth you to desire the blessedness to be enjoyed after death, and that so earnestly as may make death itself the easier to you. Thank God, if the fear of death be somewhat abated in you, though it be not sweetened. Men may pretend what they please, but nature will abhor death as long as it is nature, and as long as man is man; else temporal death had been no punishment to Adam, if his innocent nature had not abhorred it as it was an evil to it. Tell me but this, If death did not stand in your way to heaven, but that you could travel to heaven, as easily as to London, would not you rather go thither and be with Christ, than stay in sin and vanity here on earth, so be it you were certain to be with Christ? If you can say yea to this, then it is apparent that your loathness to die is either from the uncertainty of your salvation, or from the natural averseness to a dissolution, or both; and not from an unwillingness to be with Christ, or a preferring the vanities of this world before the blessedness of that to come. Lastly, It may be God may lay that affliction on you, or use some other necessary means with you yet, before you die, that may make you more willing than now you are.
Doubt 19. God layeth upon me such heavy afflictions, that I cannot believe he loves me. He writeth bitter things against me, and taketh me for his enemy. I am afflicted in my health, in my name, in my children, and nearest friends, and in niy estate. I live in continual poverty, or pinching distress of one kind or other; yea, my very soul is filled with his terrors, and night and day is his hand heavy upon me.'
Answ. I have said enough to this before, nor do I think it needful to say any more, when the Holy Ghost hath said so much; but only to desire you to read what he hath written in Heb. xii. and Job throughout; and Psal. xxxvii.lxxiii. and divers others. The next doubt is contrary.
Doubt 20. “I read in Scripture, that through many tribulations we must enter into heaven, and that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution; and that he that taketh not up his cross, and so followeth Christ, cannot be his disciple. And that if we are not corrected, we are bastards, and not sons. But I never had any afflic tion from God, but have lived in constant prosperity to this day. Christ saith, “Woe to you 'when all men speak well
of you." But all men, for aught I know, speak well of me; and therefore I doubt of my sincerity.'
Answ, I would not have mentioned this doubt, but that I was so foolish as to be troubled with it myself; and per: haps some others may be as foolish as I ; though I think but few in these times. Our great friends have done so much to resolve them more effectually than words could have done. 1. Some of those texts speak only of man's. duty of bearing persecution and tribulation, when God lays it on us, rather than of the event, that it shall certainly
2. Yet I think it ordinarily certain, and to be expected as to the event. Doubtless tribulation is God's common road to heaven. Every ignorant person is so well aware of this, that they delude themselves in their sufferings, saying, that God hath given them their punishment in this life, and therefore they hope he will not punish them in another. If any soul be so silly as to fear and doubt for want of affliction; if none else will do the cure, let them follow my counsel, and I dare warrant them for this, and I will advise them to nothing but what is honest, yea, and necessary, and what I have tried effectually upon myself; and I can assure you it cured me, and I can give it a . Probatum est.'
And first, see that you be faithful in your duty to all sinners within your reach; be they great or small, gentlemen or beggars, do your duty in reproving them meekly and lovingly, yet plainly and seriously, telling them of the danger of God's everlasting wrath ; and when you find them obstinate, tell the church-officers of them, that they may do their duty; and if yet they are unreformed, they may be excluded from the church's.communion, and all Christian familiarity. Try this course awhile, and if you meet with no afflictions, and get no more fists about your ears than your own, nor more tongues against you than formerly, tell me I am mistaken. Men basely baulk and shun almost all the displeasing, ungrateful work of Christianity of purpose, lest they should have sufferings in the flesh, and then they doubt of their sincerity for want of sufferings. My second advice is, Do but stay awhile in patience (but prepare your patience for a sharper encounter), and do not tie God to
He hath not told you when your afflictions shall come. If he deal easier with you than with others, and give you longer time to prepare for them, be not you
offended at that, and do not quarrel with your mercies. . It is about seventeen years since I was troubled with this doubt, thinking I was no son, because I was not afflicted ; and I think I have had few days without pain for this sixteen years since together, nor but few hours, if any one, for this six or seven years
And thus my scruple is removed.
And if yet any be troubled with this doubt, if the church's and common trouble be any trouble to them, shall I be bold to tell them my thoughts ? (only understand that I pretend not to prophesy, but to conjecture at effects by the position of their moral causes.) I think that the righteous King of saints is even now, for our over-admiring rash zeal, and sharp, high profession, making for England so heavy an affliction, and a sharp scourge, to be inflicted by seduced, proud, self-conceited professors, as neither we nor our fathers did ever yet bear. Except it should prove the merciful intent of our Father, only to suffer them to ripen for their own destruction, to be a standing monument for the effectual warning of all after-ages of the church, whither pride and heady zeal may bring professors of holiness. And when they are full ripe, to do by them as at Munster, and in New England, that they may go no further, but their folly may be known to all: Amen. I have told
my thoughts of this long ago, in my Book of Baptism. All these doubts I have here answered, that
you may see how necessary it is, that in all your troubles you
be sure to distinguish between matter of doubting and matter of bumiliation. Alas, what soul is so holy on the earth, but must daily say, " Forgive us our trespasses?" and cry out with Paul, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death ?” But at the same time we may thank God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. If every sin should make us doubt, we should do nothing but doubt. I know you may easily tell a long and a sad story of your sins; how you are troubled with this and that, and many a distemper, and weak and wanting in every grace and duty, and have committed many sins. But doth it follow that therefore you have no true grace? Learn therefore to be humbled for every sin, but not to doubt of your sincerity and salvation for every sin.
Direct. XXX. Whatsoever new doubtings do arise in
your soul, see that you carefully discern whether they are such as must be resolved from the consideration of general grace, or of special grace. And especially be sure of this, that when you want or lose your certainty of sincerity and salvation, you have presently recourse to the probability of it, and lose not the comforts of that. Or if you should lose the sight of a probability of special grace, yet see that you have recourse at the utmost to general grace, and never let go the comforts of that at the worst.'
This rule is of unspeakable necessity and use for your peace and comfort. Here are three several degrees of the grounds of comfort. It is exceeding weakness for a man that is beaten from one of these holds, therefore to let go the other two. And because he cannot have the highest degree, therefore to conclude that he hath none at all.
I beseech you in all your doubtings and complainings, still remember the two rules here laid down. 1. All doubts arise not from the same cause, and therefore must not have the same cure. Let the first thing which you do upon every doubt, be this: To consider, whether it come from the unbelieving or low apprehensions of the general grounds of comfort, or from the want of evidence of special grace. For that which is a fit remedy for one of these, will do little for the cure of the other. 2. If your doubting be only, Whether you be sincere in believing, loving, hoping, repenting, and obeying, then it will not answer this doubt, though you discern never so much of God's merciful nature, or Christ's gracious office, or the universal sufficiency of his death and satisfaction, or the freeness and extent of the promise of pardon. For I profess considerately, that I do not know in all the body of popery concerning merits, justification, human satisfactions, assurance, or any other point about grace, for which we unchurch them, that they err half so dangerously as Saltmarsh, and such Antinomians, do in this point, when they say, That Christ hath repented and believed for us; meaning it of that faith and repentance which he hath made the conditions of our salvation. And that we must no more question our own faith, than we must question Christ the object of it. It will be no saving plea at the day of judgment to say, Though I repented not, and believed not, yet Christ died for me, or God is merciful, or Christ repented and believed for me, or God made me a free promise and
gift of salvation, if I would repent and believe. What comfort would such an answer give them? And therefore doubtless it will not serve now to quiet any knowing Christian against those, doubts that arise from the want of particular evidence of special grace, though in their own place, the general grounds of comfort are of absolute necessity thereto.
2. On the other side, If your doubts arise from any defect in your apprehensions of general grace, it is not your looking after marks in yourself that is the way to resolve them. I told you in the beginning, that the general grounds of comfort lie in four particulars (that square foundation which will bear up all the faith of the saints). First, God's merciful and inconceivable good and gracious nature, and his love to mankind. Secondly, The gracious nature of the Mediator God and Man, with his most gracious, undertaking office of saving and reconciling. Thirdly, The sufficiency of Christ's death and satisfaction for all the world, to save them if they will accept him and his grace. I put it in terms beyond dispute, because I would not build up believer's comforts on points which godly divines do contradict (as little as may be.) Yet I am past all doubt myself, that Christ did actually make satisfaction to God's justice for All, and that no man perisheth for want of an expiatory sacrifice, but for want of faith to believe and apply it, or for want of repentance and yielding to recovering grace. The fourth is, The universal grant of pardon, and right to salvation, on condition of faith and repentance. If your doubt arise from the ignorance or overlooking of any of these, to these must you
have recourse for your cure. Where note, That all those doubts which come from the greatness of your sin, as such, that you think will not therefore be forgiven, or that come from the sense of unworthiness (in a legal sense), or want of merit in yourself, and all your doubts, whether God be willing to accept and forgive you, though you should repent and believe : or, whether any sacrifice was offered by Christ for your sins; I say, all these
; come from your ignorance or unbelief of some or all of the four general grounds here mentioned ; and from them must be cured.
Note also in a special manner, That there is a great difference between these four general grounds, and your parti