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no such inclinations in yourself, yet God might find them. Had it not been far worse for you to have lain so many years in pride, sensuality, and forgetfulness of God, and utter neglect of the state of your soul, than to have lain so long as you have done in the apprehensions of your danger? O love and admire your wise Physician! Little do you know now what he hath been doing for you; nor shall you ever fully know it in this life ; but hereafter you shall know it, when your sanctification, and consolation and his praises shall be perfected together. 4. If you should for the time to come, expect or desire that God should set you out of all apprehension of danger, you know not what it is that you desire. It were to desire your own undoing. Only see that you apprehend not your danger to be greater than it is; nor so apprehend it as to increase it, by driving you from Christ, but as to prevent it by driving you to him. Entertain not fancies and dreams of danger, instead of right apprehensions. Apprehend your happiness and grounds of hope and comfort, and safety in Christ, and let these quite exceed your apprehensions of the danger. Look not on it as a remediless danger, or as greater than the remedy. Do not conclude that you shall perish in it, and it will swallow you up. But only let it make you hold fast on Christ, and keep close to him in obedience. Shall I lay open all the matter expressed in this section, by familiar comparison ?
A king having many subjects and sons, which are all beyond sea, or beyond some river, they must needs be brought over to him before they can live or reign with him. The river is frozen over at the sides, till it come almost to the middle. The foolish children are all playing on the ice, where a deceiving enemy enticeth them to play on till they come to the deep, where they drop in one by one and perish. The eldest son, who is with the father on the other side, undertaketh to cast himself into the water, and swim to the further side, and break the ice, and swim back with them all that will come with him and hold him. The father bids him, Bring
“ all my subjects with you, if they will come and hold by you ; but be sure you fail not to bring my sons.' This is resolved on; the prince casteth himself into the water, and swimmeth to the further side. He maketh a way through the ice, and offereth all of them
his safe carriage, if they will accept him to be their bearer and helper, and will trust themselves on him, and hold fast by him till they come to the further side. Some refuse his help, and think he would deceive them, and lead them into the deep, and there leave them to perish. Some had rather play on the ice, and will not hearken to him. Some dare not venture through the streams, or will not endure the coldness of the water. Some waveringly agree to him, and hold faintly by his skirt; and when they feel the cold water, or are near the deep, or are weary of holding, they lose bim; either turning back, or perishing suddenly in the gulf. The children are of the same mind with the rest ; but he is resolved to lose none of them, and therefore he chargeth them to come with him, and tells them fully what a welcome they shall have with their father; and ceaseth not his importunity till he persuade them to consent. Some of them say, ' How shall we ever get over the river? we shall be drowned by the way.' He tells them, I will carry you safe over, so you will but hold fast by me. Never fear, 1 warrant you. They all lay hold on him, and venture in with him. When they are in the midst some are afraid, and cry out, We shall be drowned. These he encourageth, and bids them trust him; hold fast, and fear not. Others, when they hear these words, that they need not fear, grow so bold and utterly secure, as to lose their hold. To these he speaketh in other language, and chargeth them to hold fast by him ; for if they lose their hold, they will fall into the bottom, and if they stick not to him they will be drowned. Some of them upon this warning hold fast; others are so boldly confident of his skill, and good will, and promise, that they forget or value not his warning and threatening, but lose their hold. Some through laziness and weariness do the like. Whereupon he lets them sink till they are almost drowned, and cry out for help, “Save us or we perish,” and think they are all lost; and then he layeth hold of them and fetcheth them up again, and chideth them for their bold folly, and biddeth them look better to themselves, and hold faster by him hereafter, if they love themselves. Some at last, through mere weariness and weakness, before they can reach the bank, cry out, I am tired, I faint, I shall never hold fast till I reach the shore, I shall be drowned.' These Vol. I.
he comfortcth, and gives them cordials, and holdeth them by the hand, and bids them, Despair not: Do your best : Hold fast," and I will help you.
And so he brings them all safe to the haven. This king is God; heaven is his habitation; the subjects are all men; the sons, who are part of the subjects, are the elect; the rest are the non-elect; the river or sea is the passage of this life. The further side is all men's natural, sinful distance and separation from God and happiness; the ice that bears them, is this frail life of pleasures, profits, and honors, which delight the flesh; the depth unfrozen is hell; he that enticeth them thither is the devil. The eldest son that is sent to bring them over, is Jesus Christ; his coinmission and undertaking is, to help all over that resuse not bis help; and to see that the elect be infallibly recovered and saved. Do I need to go over the other particulars ? I know you see my meaning in them all : especially that which I aim at is this; that as Paul had a promise of the life of all that were with him in the ship, and yet when some would have gone out, he told them, “ Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved,” Acts xxvii. 31. (so that he makes their apprehension of danger in a possibility of being drowned, to be the means of detaining them in the ship till they came all safe to land) so Jesus Christ who will infallibly save all his elect (they being given hiin by his Father to be infallibly saved) will do it by causing them to hold fast by him through all the troubles, and labors, and temptations of this tumultuous, tempestuous world, and that till they come to land; and the apprehension of their dangers shall be his means to make them hold fast; yet is not their safety principally in themselves, but in him: nor is it their holding fast by him that is the chief cause of their difference from those that perish, but that is his love and resolution to save them. And therefore when they do let go their hold, he will not so lose them, but will fetch them up again ; only he will not bring them through the sea of danger as you would draw a block through the water ; but as men that must hold fast, and be commanded and threatened to that end ; and therefore when they lose their hold, it is the fear of drowning which they felt themselves near, which shall cause them to hold faster the next time; and this must needs be the fear of a possible danger. And for those that perish, they have none to blame but themselves. They perish not for want of a Savior, but because they would not lay hold on him, and follow him through the tempests and waves of trial. Nor can they quarrel at him because he did more for others, and did not as much for them as long as he offered them so sufficient help, that only their own wilful refusal was their ruin, and their perdition was of themselves.
I conclude therefore, that seeing our salvation is laid by God, upon our faithful holding fast to Christ through all trials and difficulties, and our holy fear is the means of our holding fast (Christ being still the principal cause of our safety,) therefore never look for such a certainty of salvation, as shall put you above such fears and moderated apprehensions of danger; for then it is ten to one you
; will lose your hold. You read in Scripture very many warnings to take heed lest we fall, and threatenings to those that do fall away and draw back. What are all these for, but to excite in us those moderate sears, and cares, and holy diligence, which may prevent our falling away? And remember this, that there can be no such holy fears, and cares, and diligence, where there is no danger or possibility of falling away ; for there can be no act without its proper object; and the object of fear is a possible hurt, at least in the apprehension of him that feareth it. No man can fear the evil which he knoweth to be impossible.
Direct. XXI. The next advice which I must give you, is this, • Be thankful if you can but reach to a seuiled peace, and composure of your mind, and lay not too much on the high raptures and feelings of comfort which some do possess : and if ever you enjoy such feeling joys, expect not that they should be either long or often.'
It is the cause of miserable languishing to many a poor soul, to have such importunate expectations of such passionate joys, that they think without these they have no true comfort at all; no witness of the Spirit, no spirit of adoption, no joy in the Holy Ghost. Some think that others have much of this, though they have not, and therefore they torment themselves because it is not with them as with others; when, alas, they little know how it goes with oth
Some taste of such raptures sometimes themselves have had, and therefore when they are gone, they think they are forsaken,
and that all grace, or peace at least is gone with them. Take heed of these expectations. And to satisfy you, let me tell you these two or three things: 1. A settled calm and peace of soul is a great mercy, and not to be undervalued as nothing. 2. The highest raptures and passionate feeling joys, are usually of most doubtful sincerity. Not that I would have any suspect the sincerity of them without cause ; but such passions are not so certain signs of grace, as the settled frame of the understanding and will ; nor can we so easily know that they are of the Spirit, and they are liable to more questioning, and have in them a greater possibility of deceit. Doubtless it is very much that fancy and melancholy, and especially a natural weakness and moveable temper will do in such cases. Mark whether it be not mostly these three sorts of people that have or pretend to have such extraordinary raptures and feelings of joy. (1.) Women and others that are most passionate. (2.) Melancholy people. (3.) Men that by erroneous opinions have lost almost all their understandings in their fancies, and live like men in a continual dream. Yet I doubt not but solid men have oft high joys; and more we might all have, if we did our duty. And I would have no Christian content himself with a dull quietness of spirit, but by all means possible to be much in laboring to rejoice in God and raising their souls to heavenly delights. O what lives do we lose, which we might enjoy! But my meaning is this; look at these joys and delights as duties and as mercies, but look not at them as marks of trial, so as to place more necessity in them than God hath done, or to think them to be ordinary things. If you do but feel such a high estimation of Christ and heaven, that you would not leave him for all the world, take this for your surest sign. And if you have but so much probability or hope of your interest in him, that you can think of God as one that loveth you, and can be thankful to Christ for redeeming you, and are more glad in these hopes of your interest in Christ and glory, than if you were owner of all the world ; take this for a happy mercy, and a high consolation. Yet I mean not that your joy in Christ will be always so sensible, as for worldly things ; but it will be more rational, solid and deeper at the heart. And that you may know by this, you would not for all the pleasures, honors or profits in the world, be in the same case