CHAP. 15.

The Fifth Advice to the Afflicted.
Two Directions to the Minister, to be observed towards his Patient.

V. SINCE thou art now upon terms of turning unto God, taking profession upon thee, and giving up thy name unto Christ, the blessedest business that ever thou wentest about, be well advised, consider seriously what thou undertakest, and cast deliberately beforehand what it is like to cost thee. Thou must make an account to become the drunkard's song, and to have those “that sit in the gate to speak against thee;” the vilest of men to rail upon thee, and the wisest of the world to laugh at thee. Thou must be content to live a despised man, to be scoffed at, to “be hated of all men,” to “crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts;” to look upon the world, set out in the gaudiest 'manner with all her baits and Babels of riches, honours, favours, greatness, pleasures, &c. as upon an unsavoury rotten carcass. Thou and the world must be as two dead bodies upon one bier, without any delightful mutual commerce or intercourse, strangers and stark dead one unto another in respect of thy any farther trading with the vanities thereof. For keeping a good conscience, standing on God's side and for Christ's sake, thou must deny thyself thy worldly wisdom, carnal reason, corrupt affections; thy acceptation with the world, favour of great ones, credit and applause with the most; thy passions, profit, pleasures, possibility of rising and growing great; thy nearest friends, dearest companions, ease, liberty, life; and grow by little and little into Esther's most noble and invincible resolution, when doing God's will threateneth any earthly danger; “And if I perish, I perish;” but not to perish so is everlastingly to perish, and so to perish is to be saved for ever. Thou must thus resolve upon this self-denial when thou first enterest into profession, or else thou wilt never be able to hold out in thy spiritual building, or conquer in the Christian warfare (See and consider the occasion, and how earnestly Christ enjoins it, Matt. xvi, 24; Luke xiv, 26, &c., and presses it with two parables.); but all will come to nought, and thou cursedly conclude in open apostasy, gross hypocrisy, or self- deceiving formality. Consider the young man in the gospel. He came hastily to Jesus Christ, and would needs be his disciple and follower upon the sudden. But alas! he did woefully mistake. Little did he know, neither indeed would know, what belonged unto it. That the servant of such an heavenly Master must be no earth-worm; that every one of his [[203]] disciples must “take up their cross and follow him;” for his sake part with anything, everything, be it riches, honours, credit, pleasures, &c. And therefore when once Christ for the trial of his heart had bid him “go and sell that be had,” &c., he had soon done; he was quickly gone. Now had this young man gone away without this lesson, he had gone away a disciple as well as any other, and perhaps as jolly a professor as the forwardest of them all; and that both in his own strong opinion and uncharitable misconceit of the rest who were true of heart: as Judas did a long time; and the foolish virgins all their life long. Too many such professors as he would have proved, are to be found even in this noontide of the gospel abroad in the world; who being at their first entrance into profession not soundly humbled, nor laying a sure foundation; not resolved upon an universal self-denial, nor weighing with due forecast what it will cost them; do afterward misbehave themselves upon any gainful occasion, or greater trial and temptation, or being put to it indeed. They are wont from time to time to discover their rottenness, open the mouths of the profane, and shame all. They are like unto reeds, which in a calm stand upright and seem stiff and strong; but let the tempest break in upon them and they bend anyway. While their temporal state is untouched, their outward happiness unhazarded, they seem resolute, thorough, and courageous; but let a storm of persecution be raised against them; let them be put into  a great fright that if they stand to it they may be undone, &c. and then like cowards they hide their heads, pull in the horns, and shamefully shrink in the wetting; unhappily holding it better to sleep in a whole skin than with a good conscience. Like the eagle, they soar aloft with many good religious shows and representations, but they still keep their eye upon the prey; and therefore when advantage is offered they will basely stoop from forwardness, honesty, generosity, humanity, anything, to seize upon a worldly commodity, office, honour, some earthly pelf, and transitory nothing. Some of these, after profession for some time, fall quite away from it, and turn epicures or worldlings, if not scorners and persecutors. Others hold on in a plodding course of formal Christianity all their life long; and at last depart this life like the foolish virgins, and in that formal manner 1 told you of before. Neither be thou disheartened with this counsel of leaving all for Christ. For thou shalt be no loser, but a great gainer thereby. Besides “eternal life in the world to come,” thou shalt receive a hundredfold now in this time,” as Christ himself tells thee, Mark x, 30. If thou part with worldly joys, thou shalt have quiet in [[204]] the Holy Ghost, spiritual joy unspeakable and glorious, nearer familiarity with God, dearer communion with Jesus Christ, &c.; to which the pleasures of ten thousand worlds, were they all to be enjoyed at once, were but extremest pain. if thou lose thine husband, he that made thee will be in his stead unto thee, “Thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of 1-losts is his name” (Isa. liv, 5). If thou lose thy father, the all-sufficient Jehovah, blessed for ever, “will pity thee as a father pitied' his children” (Psalm ciii, 13). If thou lose thy friends and the world's favour, thou shalt have all and the only excellent upon earth to love thee dearly, and to pray heartily for thee (Psalm xvi, 3); in a word, if thou lose all for Christ's sake, he will be unto thee “all in all” (Coloss. iii, 11). And in him all things shall be thine in a far more sweet and eminent manner. “All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's” (1 Cor. iii, 21, 22, 23).

VI. When the spiritual physician shall see the soil of his patient's heart well softened with sorrow for sin, comfortably warmed with refreshing beams of favour from the face of Christ, and so seasonably fitted to enter a Christian course, and to “bring forth fruits meet for repentance,” let him throw in some timely seeds of zeal, holy preciseness, undaunted courage, and unshaken resolution about the affairs of heaven, and in the cause of God; from such quickening scriptures and excellent examples as these, Luke xiii, 24; Rom. xii, 11, 12; Ephes. v, 15: Phil. i, 10, 11; Matt. xi, 12; Revel. iii, 16; Ruth iv, 11; Esther iv, 16; Neh. vi, 11; 1 Kings xxii, 14; Heb. xi, 24, 25; 1 Sam. xx, 32; Acts xxi, 13, &c. that it may be happily preserved from the rank and flourishing, but rotten and fruitless weed of formality and lukewarmness; which pestilent canker, if it once take root in the heart, it will never suffer the herb of grace, if I may so speak, the heavenly unfading flowers of saving grace, to grow by it while the world stands. Nay, and will prove one of the strongest blots to bar them out; and the most boisterous cart rope to pull down extraordinary vengeance upon the head of the party. For as a loathsome vomit is to the stomach of him that casts it out, so are lukewarm professors to the Lord Jesus (Revel. iii, 16). 1 marvel many times what such men mean, and what worship, service, and obedience they would have the mighty Lord of heaven and earth to accept.

He offers to us in the ministry his own blessed Son to be our dear and everlasting husband, his person with all the [[205]] rich and royal endowments thereof, the glory and endless felicities above, his own thrice-glorious and ever-blessed self to be enjoyed through all eternity, which is the very soul of heavenly bliss, and life of eternal life. Do you think it then reasonable or likely that he will ever accept at our hands a heartless, formal outwardness; a cold, rotten carcass of religion; that we should serve ourselves in the first place, and him in the second; that we should spend the prime and flower of our loves, joys, services, upon some abominable bosom sin; and then proportion out to the everlasting God, mighty and terrible Creator and Commander of heaven and earth, only some outward religious forms and conformities, and those also so far only as they hurt not our temporal happiness, but may consist with the entire enjoyment of some inordinate lust, pleasure, profit, or preferment? Prodigious folly, nay, fury to their own souls! This very one most base and unworthy conceit of so great a God, and his due claims, meriteth justly exclusion from the kingdom of heaven with the foolish virgins for ever. by counsel therefore is, when the spiritual patient hath passed the tempestuous sea of a troubled conscience, and is now upon terms of taking a new course, that by all means he take heed that he run not upon this rock. It is better to be key-cold than lukewarm; and that the milk boil over than be raw.

VII. Though it be an ordinary, yet it is a dangerous and utter] y undoing error and deceit to conceive that all is ended when the afflicted party is mended, and hath received ease and enlargement from the terrible pressures rf his troubled conscience; to think that after the tempest of present terror and rage of guiltiness be allayed and overblown there needs no more to be done. As though the new birth were not ever infallibly and inseparably attended with new obedience. As though when once the soul is soundly and savingly struck through, humbled, and prepared for Christ by the terrifying power of the law revealing the foulness of sin and fierceness of Divine wrath, which set on by the “spirit of bondage” is able like a mighty thunder to break and tear in pieces the iron sinews of the most stubborn and stony heart, there followed not hearty showers of repentant tears, never to be dried up until our ending hour (as I taught before), when all tears shall be everlastingly wiped away with God's merciful hand: and that the Sun of righteousness did not presently break forth upon that happy soul, to dispel the hellish clouds of sensuality, lust, lying in sin, &c. and to enlighten, inflame, and fill it with the serenity and clear sky as it were of sanctification and purity, a kindly fervour of [[]] zeal for God's glory, good causes, good men, and keeping a good conscience and fruitful influence of sobriety, righteousness, and holiness for ever after. And therefore, if upon recovery out of trouble of conscience there follow not a continued exercise of repentance, both for sins past, present, and to come, as you heard before, an universal change in every power and part both of soul and body, though not in perfection of degrees, yet of parts; a heart-rising hatred and opposition against all sin; a shaking off old companions, brethren in iniquity, all Satan's good-fellow revellers; a delight in the word, ways, services, sabbaths, and saints of God; a conscientious and constant endeavour to express the truth of the protestations and promises made in time of terror, as I told you before, &c.; — in a word, if there follow not a new life, “if all things do not become new” (2 Cor. v, 17), there is no new-birth in truth: all is nought, and to no purpose in the point of salvation.

They are then miserable comforters, physicians of no value; nay, of notorious spiritual bloodshed, who having neither acquaintance with, nor much caring for the manner, means, method, any heavenly wisdom, spiritual discretion, or experimeatal skill in managing aright such an important business; if any ways they can assuage the rage and still the cries of a vexed, guilty conscience, they think they have done a worthy work, though after their daubing there be nothing left behind in it but a senseless scar; nay, and perhaps more searedness and benumbedness brought upon it, because it was not kindlily wrought upon in the furnace of spiritual affliction, and rightly cured.

I fear many poor souls are fearfully deceived, who being recovered out of terrors of conscience too suddenly, unseasonably, or one way or other unsoundly, conceive presently they are truly converted, though afterward they be the very same men, of the same company and conditions they were before, or at best bless themselves in the seeming happiness of a half conversion[1].

[1] By this half Herodian conversion they may leave many sins, and “do many things,” hear the best ministers gladly, respect and countenance [hell], &c.; and yet for all this, in respect of their own personal salvation, as well never a whit as never the better; as well not at all as not thorough-stitch.