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Lastly, Ren.ember this, that it is not enough that you once opened your case to your pastor, but do it as often as necessity urgeth you to call for his advice; though not on every light occasion. Live in such a dependance on the advice and guidance of your pastor (under Christ) for your soul, as you do on the advice of the physician for your body. Read Mał. ii. 7. And let ministers read 6. 8, 9.
Direct. XXXII. “As ever you would live in peace and comfort, and well-pleasing unto God, be sure that you understand and deeply consider wherein the height of a Christian life, and the greatest part of our duty doth consist; to wit, ' In a loving delight in God, and a thankful and cheerful obedience to his will; and then make this your constant aim, and be still aspiring after it, and let all other affections and endeavours be subservient unto this.'
This one rule well practised, would do wonders on the souls of poor Christians, in dispelling all their fears and troubles, and helping not only to a settled peace, but to live in the most comfortable state that can be expected upon earth. Write therefore these two or three words deep in your understandings and memory; that the life which God is best pleased with, and we should be always endeavouring, is, A loving delight in God through Christ; and a thankful and cheerful obedience to him. I do not say, that godly sorrows, and fears, and jealousies are no duties; but these are the great duties, to which the rest should all subserve. Misapprehending the state of duty, and the very: nature of a Christian life, must needs make sad distempers in men's hearts and conversations. Many Christians look upon brokenheartedness, and much grieving, and weeping for sin, as if it were the great thing that God delighteth in, and requireth of them; and therefore they bend their endeavours this way; and are still striving with their hearts to ! break them more, and wringing their consciences to squeeze out some tears; and they think no sermon, no prayer, no meditation, speeds so well with them, as that which can help them to grieve or weep. I am far from persuading men against humiliation and godly sorrow, and tenderness of heart. But yet I must tell you, that this is a sore_error that you lay so much upon it, and so much overlook that great
and noble work and state to which it tendeth. Do you
think that God hath any pleasure in your sorrows as
such? Doth it do him good to see you dejected, afflicted, and tormented ? Alas, it is only as your sorrows do kill your sins, and mortify your fleshly lusts, and prepare for your peace and joys, that God regards them. Because God doth speak comfortably to troubled, drooping spirits, and tells them that he delighteth in the contrite, and loveth the humble, and bindeth up the brokenhearted; therefore men misunderstanding him, do think they should do nothing, but be still breaking their own hearts. Whereas God speaks it but partly to shew his hatred to the proud, and partly to shew his tender compassions to the humbled, that they might not be overwhelmed or despair. But, o Christians, understand and consider, that all your sorrows are but preparatives to your joys; and that it is a higher and sweeter work that God calls you to, and would have you spend your time and strength in. 1. The first part of it is love. A work that is wages to itself. He that knows what it is to live in the love of God, doth know that Christianity is no tormenting and discontented life. 2. The next part is,“ Delight in God, and in the hopes and forethoughts of everlasting glory.” Psal. xxvii. 4. “Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart.” This is it that you should be bending your studies and endeavours for, that your soul might be able to delight itself in God. 3. The third part is thankfulness and praise. Though I say not as some, that we should be moved by no fears or desires of the reward (that is, of God), but act only from thankfulness (as though we had all that we expect already), yet let me desire you to take special notice of this truth ; that thankfulness must be the main principle of all Gospel-obedience. And this is not only true of the regenerate after faith, but even the wicked themselves, who are called to repent and believe, are called to do it in a glad and thankful sense of the merсу offered them in Christ. All the world being fallen under God's wrath and deserved condemnation, and the Lord Jesus having become a sacrifice and ransom for all, and so brought all from that legal necessity of perishing which they were under, the Gospel which brings them the news of this, is glad tidings of great joy to them; and the very justifying act which they are called to, is, thankfully to accept Christ as one that hath already satisfied for their sins, and will save them, if they accept him, and will follow his saving counsel,
and use his saving means; and the saving work which they must proceed in, is, thankfully to obey that Redeemer whom they believe in. So that as general redemption is the very foundation of the new world and its government, so thankfulness for this redemption is the very life of justifying faith and Gospel obedience. And therefore the denial of this universal redemption (as to the price and satisfaction) doth both disable wicked men (if they receive it) from coming to Christ by true justifying faith (which is, the thankful acceptance of Christ as he is offered with his benefits): and this thankfulness must be for what he hath done in dying for us; as well as for what he will do in pardoning and saving us, and it doth disable all true believers from Gospel, grateful obedience, whenever they lose the sight of their evidences of special grace (which, alas, how ordinary is it with them !) For when they cannot have special grace in their eye to be thankful for, according to this doctrine they must have none; because they can be no surer that Christ died for them, than they are that themselves are sincere believers and truly sanctified. And when thankfulness for Christ's death and redemption ceaseth, Gospel obedience ceaseth, and legal and slavish terrors do take place. Though the same cannot be said of thankfulness for special renewing, pardoning grace.
4. The fourth part of the Christian life is cheerful obedience. God loveth a cheerful giver, and so he doth in every part of obedience, “ Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart for the abundance of all things, thou shalt serve thy enemies in hunger and thirst,” &c. Deut. xxviii. 47.
Will you now lay all this together, and make it for the time to come your business, and try whether it will not be the truest way to comfort, and make your life a blessed life? Will you make it your end in hearing, reading, praying, and meditation, to raise your soul to delight in God? Will you strive as much to work it to this delight as ever you did to work it to sorrow ? Certainly you have more reason; and certainly there is more matter of delight in the face and love of God, than in all the things in the world besides. Consider but the Scripture commands, and then lay to heart your duty. Phil. iv. 4.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice." Chap. iii, 1. Zech, x. 7. Joel ii. 23. .
lxi. 16. Psal. xxxiii. 1. “Rejoice in the Lord O ye righ
1 teous, for praise is comely for the upright.” Psal. xcvii. 12. 1 Thess. v. 16. “Rejoice evermore." 1 Pet. i. 6.8. Rom. v. ii. John iv. 36. Psal. v. 11. xxxiii. 21. xxxv. 9. lxvi. 6. lxviii. 3, 4. lxxi. 23. lxxxix. 16. cv. 3. cxlix. 2. xliii. 4. xxvii. 6. John xvi. 24. Rom. xv. 13. xiv. 17. “The kingdom of God is in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." Gal. v. 22. Psal. xxxii. 11. “ Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice O ye righteous, and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.” Psal.cxxxiii. 9. 16. v. 11. xxxv. 27. Heb. iij. 18. With a hundred more the like. Have you made conscience of this great duty according to its excellency and these pressing commands of God? Have you
made conscience of the duties of praise, thanksgiving, and cheerful obedience, as much as for grieving for sin? Perhaps you
• I cannot do it for want of assurance. If I knew that I were one of the righteous, and upright in heart, then I could be glad, and shout for joy.” Answ. 1. I have before shewed you how you may know that; when you discover it in yourself, see that you make more conscience of this duty. 2. You have had hopes and probabilities of your sincerity. Did you endeavour to answer those probabilities in your joys? 3. If you would but labour to get this delight in God, it would help you to assurance ; for it would be one of your clearest evidences.
O how the subtle enemy disadvantageth the Gospel, by the misapprehensions and dejected spirits of believers ! It is the very design of the ever blessed God, to glorify love and mercy as highly in the work of redemption, as ever he glorified omnipotency in the work of creation. And he hath purposely unhinged the Sabbath which was appointed to commemorate that work of power in creation, to the first day of the week, That it might be spent as a weekly day. of thanksgiving and praise for the now more glorious work of redemption, that love might not only be equally admired with power, but even go before it. So that he hath laid the foundation of the kingdom of grace in love and mercy; and in love and mercy hath he framed the whole structure of the edifice; and love and mercy are written in legible indelible characters upon every piece. And the whole frame of his work and temple-service, hath he so composed, that all might be the resounding echos of love, and the praise and
glorious commemoration of love and mercy might be the great business of our solemn assemblies. And the new creation within us, and without us, is so ordered, that love, thankfulness, and delight, might be both the way and the end. And the serpent who most opposeth God where he seeketh most glory, especially the glory of his grace, doth labour so successfully to obscure this glory, that he hath brought multitudes of poor Christians to have poor, low thoughts of the riches of his grace. And to set every sin of theirs against it, which should but advance it; and even to question the very foundation of the whole building, whether Christ hath redeemed the world by his sacrifice. Yea, he puts such a vail over the glory of the Gospel, that men can hardly be brought to receive it as glad tidings, till they first have assurance of their own sanctification! And the
very nature of God's kingdom is so unknown, that some men think it to be unrighteousness, and libertinism, and others to be pensive dejections, and tormenting scruples and fears; and but few know it to be righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. And the very business of a Christian's life and God's service, is rather taken to be scrupling, quarrelling, and vexing ourselves and the church of God, than to be love and gratitude, and a delighting our souls in God, and cheerfully obeying him. And thus when Christianity seems a thraldom and torment; and the service of the world, the flesh, and the devil, seems the only freedom, and quiet, and delight, no wonder if the devil have more unfeigned servants than Christ; and if men tremble at the name of holiness, and fly away from religion as a mischief. What can be more contrary to its nature, and to God's design in forming it, than for the professors to live such dejected and dolorous lives? God calls men from vexation and vanity, to high delights and peace. And men come to God as from peace and pleasure to vexation. All our preaching will do little to win souls from sensuality to holiness, while they look upon the sad lives of the professors of holiness; as it will more deter a sick man from meddling with a physician, to see all that he hath had in hand to lie languishing in continual pains to their death, than all his words and promises will encourage them. O what blessed lives might God's people live, if they understood the love of God in the mystery of man's redemption, and did addict themselves to