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infirmities only; or (as some speak) which are mortal, and which not. And therefore this mark hath some difficulties, as to the right trying of it (of which more anon).
19. Yet I desire that you join them all together in trial, seeing it is in the whole that the true and full description of a Christian is contained. The same description of a true Christian (presupposing his right belief) I have drawn up in our public church profession, which in this county, the ministers have agreed on; in the profession of consent in these words; “I do heartily take this one God for my only God and chief good ; and this Jesus Christ for my only Lord, Redeemer and Saviour; and this Holy Ghost for my Sanctifier; and the doctrine by him revealed and sealed by his miracles, and now contained in the Holy Scriptures, do I take for the law of God, and the rule of my faith and life : and repenting unfeignedly of my sins, I do resolve through the grace of God sincerely to obey him, both in holiness to God, and righteousness to man, and in special love to the saints, and communion with them, against all the temptations of the devil, the world, and my own flesh, and this to the death.' He that sincerely can speak these words, is a sincere Christian.
20. Lastly, that you may see that those five which I laid you down are all true marks, do but peruse these texts of Scripture following. For the first, Psalm xvi. 5. 2. lxxiii. 24–28. iv. 6, 7. i. 1-3. Josh. xxiv. 16–18. 21–24. Matt. vi. 19–21. Rom. vii. 24. viii. 17, 18. 23. Heb. xi. 10. 15, 16. 25–27. Psalm xvi. 5–8. For the second, see
. John i. 10-12. iii. 16. Mark xvi. 16.
Mark xvi. 16. Acts xvi. 31. John xiv. 21. xvi. 27. Rom. xiv. 9. Luke xvi. 27. James i. 12. Matt. xxii. 37. 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Matt. x. 37. Rev. xxii. 14. Heb. v.9. For the third, most of the same will serve, and Heb. xii. 14. Matt. vii. 24. Psalm i. 2, 3. Matt. v. 20. Acts x. 35. Rom. vii. 22. For the two last besides the former, see Heb. xi. 6. Rom. viii. 1-14. Gal. v. 17. 24. vi. 8. 1 Tim. vi. 9. Luke viii. 13. I John ii. 15. v. 4,5. James i. 27. iv. 4. Gal. vi. 14. i. 4. Rom. xii. 2. Titus ii. 14. Matt. x. 37. Rom. ii. 5–7. Rev. xiv. 13. Phil. ii. 14. Col. iii. 23, 24. 1 Cor. iii. 8. 14. John xii. 16. 1 John iii. 22, 23. Gen. xxii. 16. Matt. x. 22. xxiv. 13. Heb. iii. 6. 14. vi. 11. Rev. ii. 26. 10. xii. 11.
Matt. xvi. 25. X. 39. Mark xvii. 33. Rom. viii. 9. 13. Luke xiii. 3. 5. Rom. vi. 4–6. 12. 14. 16, 17.22.
And thus I have given you such marks as you may safely try yourself by, and cleared the meaning of them to you. Now let me advise you to this use of them. 1. In your serious self-examination, try only by these, and not by any uncertain marks. I know there be promises of life made to some particular duties and single qualifications in Scripture, as to humility, meekness, alms-deeds, love to the godly, &c.; but it is still both on supposition that they be not single in the person, but are accompanied with, and flow from that faith and love to God before-mentioned ; and also that they are in a prevailing degree.
2. Whenever any fresh doubtings arise in you upon the stirrings of corruption, or debility of graces, still have recourse to these former marks; and while you find these, let not any thing cause you to pass wrong judgments on yourself. Lay these now to your own heart, and tell me, ' Are you not unfeignedly willing to have Christ on the terms that he is offered ? Are you not willing to be more holy? And beg of him to make you so? Would you not be glad if your soul were more perfectly sanctified, and rid of that body of sin, though it were to the smart and displeasing of your flesh? Are you not willing to wait on God, in the use of his ordinances, in that
weak measure as you are able to perform them? Durst you, or would you quit your part in God, heaven, Christ, and forsake the way of holiness, and do as the profane world doth, though it were to please your flesh, or save your state or life? Do you not daily strive against the flesh and keep it under, and deny its desires ? Do you not deny the world when it would hinder you from works of mercy or public good, according to your ability ?
, Is it not the grief of your soul when you fall, and your greatest trouble that you cannot walk more obediently, innocently and fruitfully? And do you not after sinning resolve to be more watchful for the time to come? Are you not resolved to stick to Christ and his holy laws and ways, whatever changes or dangers come, and rather to forsake friends and all that you have, than to forsake him? Yet in a godly jealousy and distrust of your own heart, do renounce your own strength, and resolve to do this only in the strength of Christ, and therefore daily beg it of him? Is it not your daily care
and business to please God and do his will, and avoid sinning in you weak measure ?'
weak measure ?' I hope that all this is so, and your own case ; which, if it be, you have infallible evidences, and want but the sight and comfort of them, you have the true grounds for assurance, though you want assurance itself; your chief danger is over, though your trouble remain. Your soul is at the present in a safe condition, though not in the sense of it. You are in the state of salvation, though not of consolation. It must be your next work therefore to study God's mercies, and take notice what he hath done for your soul. Let not so blessed a guest as the Holy Ghost dwell in you unobserved. Shall he do such wonders in
and you not know it, or acknowledge it? Shall he new-beget you, and new-make you, and produce a spiritual and heavenly nature in you, who of yourself were so carnal and earthly, and will you not observe it? Had you any of these holy desires, endeavours, or resolutions of yourself by nature ? Or have the ungodly about you any of them? O that you knew what a work of wonderful mercy, wisdom and power, the Spirit performeth in the renewing of a soul; then sure you would more observe and admire his love to you herein!
Direct. XII. The next rule for your direction for the right settling of yonr peace is this. You must know, that assurance of justification, adoption, and right of salvation, cannot be gathered from the smallest degree of saving grace.
1. Here I must say something for explaining my meaning to you. 2. And then give you my reasons of this assertion.
1. Understand that I speak of God's ordinary working by means, not denying but God may, by a voice from heaven, or an angel, or other supernatural revelation, bestow assurance on whom he pleaseth. But I hope all wise Christians will take heed of expecting this, or of trusting too much to seeming revelations, unless they could prove that God useth to confer assurance in this way; which I think they cannot.
2. By the smallest degree of grace, I mean, of faith, love, obedience, and those saving graces, whose acts are the condition of our salvation, and which in the fore-expressed marks I laid down to you. Do not therefore so mistake me,
as to think that I speak of a small measure of those common gifts which are separable from true sanctification; such as are extensive knowledge, memory, ability of utterance in preaching, repeating, exhorting or praying; an ornate, plausible winning deportment before men, such as is commonly called good breeding or manners; an affected, humble, complimental familiarity and condescension, to creep into men's estimation and affections, and steal their fearts, &c. Many a one that is strong in saving grace, is weak in all these, and other the like.
Now for my reasons. 1. I conceive that it is not possible for any minister punctually to set down a discernible difference between the least measure of true saving grace, and the highest degree of common grace; and to say, just here it is that they part, or by this you may discern them. I do but say, I think so, because other men may know far more than I do ; but I will say it as certain, that I am not able to do it, for my own párt. This much I can tell, that the least degree of grace that is saving, doth determine the soul for God and Christ, against the world and flesh, that stand as competitors; and so where Christ's interest prevailėth in the least measure, there is the least measure of saving grace. As when you are weighing two things in the balance, and at last make it so near even weight, that one end is turned and no more : so when you are considering whether to be for Christ, or for the Aesh and the world, and your will is but even a very little determined to Christ, and preferreth him; this is the least measure of saving grace. But then how
soul should discern this prevalent choice and determination of itself is all the question. For there is nothing more easy and common than for men to think verily, that they prefer Christ above the creature, as long as no temptation doth assault them, nor sensual objects stand up in any
considerable strength to entice them. Nay, wicked men do truly, ofttimes, purpose to obey Christ before the flesh, and to take him for their Lord, merely in the general, when they do not know or consider the quality of his laws; that they are so strict and spiritual, and contrary to the flesh, and hazardous to their worldly hopes and seeming happiness. But when it comes to particulars, and God saith, ' Now deny thyself. and thy friend, and thy goods, and thy life for my sake;'
alas, it was never his resolution to do it; nor will he be
persuaded to it. But he that said to God, who sends him to
. labour in his vineyard," I go, Sir,” when he comes to find the unpleasingness of the work, he goes not, nor ever sets a hand to it. So that it is evident, that it is no true, saving resolution or willingness, which prevaileth not for actual obedience. Now here comes in the unresolvable doubt, What is the least measure of obedience, that will prove a man truly willing and resolved, or to have truly accepted of Christ for his Lorď? This obedience lieth in performing what is commanded, and avoiding what is forbidden. Now it is too certain, that every true believer is guilty of a frequent neglect of duty, yea, of known duty. We know we should love God more abundantly, and delight in him, and meditate more on him, and pray more oft and earnestly than we do, and instruct our families more diligently, and speak against sin more boldly, and admonish our neighbours more faithfully, with many the like. “The good that we would do, we do not ;" Rom. vii. 19. Nay, the flesh so striveth against the Spirit, that “we cannot do the good we would ;" Gal. v. 17. Nay, many a true Christian in time of temptation, hath been drawn to omit secret prayer, or family duties, almost wholly for a certain space of time; yea, and perhaps to be so corrupted in his judgment for a time, as to think he doth well in it, as also in forbearing praising God by psalms, receiving the sacraments, and communicating with the church, hearing the word publicly, &c. (for what duty almost is not denied of late ?) and perhaps may not only omit relieving the poor for a time, but excuse it. Now what man can punctually determine just how often a true Christian may be guilty of any such omission ? and just how long he may continue it? and what the duties be which he may possibly so omit, and what not?
So also in sins of commission. Alas, what sins did Noah, Lot, David, Solomon, Asa, Peter, &c. commit!
If we should say, as the Papists and Arminians, that these being mortal sins, do for the time, till repentance restore him, cast a true Christian out of God's favour into a state of damnation; then what man breathing is able to enumerate those mortal sins, and tell us which be so damning, and which not? Nay, if he could say, drunkenness is one, and gluttony another, who can set the punctual stint,