CHAP.  2.

Three Things more required in those who are rightly cured.


5. To the party thus legally afflicted, evangelically affected, and fitted savingly, now do all the promises of life in God's blessed book offer themselves as so many rocks of eternity in “faithfulness and truth;” for his wearied soul, tossed with tempest, and sorely bruised with storms of terror, sweetly to rest upon with everlasting safety. God the Father, his bowels of tenderest compassion and bounty already stirring within him, runs, if I may so say, as the father in the gospel, to fall upon its neck and to kiss it with the kisses of his sweetest mercy. Jesus Christ opens himself, as it were, upon the cross to receive it graciously into his bleeding wounds; all which, he beholding with a spiritually enlightened eye, admiring and adoring, cannot choose but subscribe and seal unto them that they are true, and so by the help of the Holy Ghost casts himself with all the spiritual strength he can, at least with infinite longings, most thirsty desires, and resolution never to part, into his blessed bosom, saying secretly to himself, Come life, come death, come heaven, come hell, come what may, here will I stick for ever: and if ever I perish, they shall pluck me out of the hands, and rend me from between the arms of this mighty, glorious, and dearest Redeemer of mine.

6. And having now taken Christ as a Saviour, to free him from the miseries of sin, he is willing also to take him as a Lord, husband, and king, to serve, love, and obey him. For every one that is truly Christ's, doth as well thirst heartily and sincerely endeavour after mortification, conquest over corruptions, sanctification, purity, new obedience, ability to do or suffer any thing for Christ, as for pardon of sin and salvation from hell: and therefore lie willingly “takes upon him his yoke,” which though so called, is “easy and light;” enters in earnest into the “narrow way,” which though it be “everywhere spoken against,” as it was in Paul's time (Acts xxviii, 22), yet in truth and upon trial is most precious, profitable, and pleasant. See Prov. iii, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,” to wit, in the word, to walk in the ways of God. “She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” He now, for the short remainder of his abode in the vale of tears, vows and [[227]] gives up the flower and prime of all his abilities, loves, joys, endeavours, performances of every kind, to the Highest Majesty; and consecrates all the powers and possibilities of body and soul to do him the best and utmost service he can any way devise, until his dying day, and still grieves and walks more humbly because he can do no better. For when he casts his eyes upon God the Father's free love, and Christ's dear passion, he thinks with himself (and so he well may), that if he were able to do him as much service as all the saints do, both in this and the church above, with addition of all the angelical obedience, it were all infinitely less than nothing towards the discharge of his debt and incomprehensible everlasting obligation.

7. And being thus incorporated into Christ, he presently associates himself to the brotherhood, to the “sect that is everywhere spoken against:” for so is profession accounted (Acts xxviii, 22). After that Peter's hearers “were pricked in their hearts,” they were counselled to repent, believe, be baptized, &c. and to “save themselves from that untoward generation” (Acts ii, 40). He now begins to delight himself in them whom he heartily hated before; 1 mean, the people of God, professors of the truth and power of religion, and that as the most “excellent of the earth,” the only true noble worthies of the world, worthy for ever of the flower, fervency, and dearness of his most melting affections and intimate love. And he labours also might and main to ingratiate himself into their blessed communion, by ail engagements and obligations of a comfortable, fruitful, and constant “fellowship in the gospel;” by a humble mutual intercourse and communication of holy conference, heavenly counsel, spiritual encouragements, consideration one of another, confirmation in grace, and in assurance of meeting in heaven; resolved to live and die with these neglected happy ones, in all fair and faithful correspondence, sweetest offices of Christianity, and constant cleaving to the Lord Jesus and his glorious cause; nay, assured to reign with them hereafter everlastingly in fulness and height of all glory, joy, and bliss; for if once this divine flame of brotherly love be kindled by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of true-hearted Christians one towards another, it hath this property and privilege above all other loves, that it is never after put out or quenched, but burns in their breasts with much affectionate fervour, with mutual warmth of dearest sweetness here upon earth, and shall blaze eternally with seraphical heat in the highest heavens hereafter. In the meantime, lie makes conscience of sympathizing both with their felicities and miseries. His heart is enlarged with lightsomeness, [[228]] or eclipsed with grief, as he hears of the prosperity or oppression of God's people. I the rather here mention this mark of the true convert, because it is so much required, nay infinitely exacted at our hands in these heavy times of the church; and therefore may be to every one of us an evident touchstone to try whether our profession be vital or formal. If those terrors which I have heretofore many times threatened out of God's book against all those pitiless and hard-hearted cannibals who take not the present troubles of the church to heart, on purpose to break in pieces those flinty rocks which dwell in some men's breasts, and to drive us all to compassionateness, prayer, days of humiliation, and parting from our evil ways; I say, if they have been thought by any to have been pressed too precisely and peremptorily, hear what I have since seen in Austin, and what a peremptory censure he doth pass upon those who want a fellow-feeling in such a case: “If thou hast this fellow- feeling, thou art of that blessed body and brotherhood if not, thou art not.” And here can I hardly forbear crying out with “a voice lifted up like a trumpet, “against all those profane Esaus, swinish Gadarenes, senseless earthworms, who all this while that so many noble limbs of that great blessed body of the reformed churches have lain in tears and blood, did never take to heart to any purpose, or trouble themselves at all with their grievous troubles; but have sottishly and securely lain “at ease in Zion,” liable to that horrible curse denounced against leroz: — “Curse ye Aleroz (said the angel of the Lord), curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty” (Judg. v, 23). They have not helped the people of God so much as with any hearty fellow-feeling, wrestling with God in prayer, set days to seek the return of God's face and favour. Men they are of the world, which have their portion in this life; who feel nothing but worldly losses, know nothing but earthly sorrows, relish nothing but things of sense. If they be stung with a dear year, rot of cattle, loss by suretyship, shipwreck, robbery, fire, &c. they howl and lament immoderately. But let “Joseph be afflicted,” God's people in disgrace, the ministry hazarded, Christ's spouse “sit in the dust,” the “daughter of Zion” weep bitterly and have none to comfort her, and these merciless men are no whit moved. They have not a tear, a groan, or sigh to spend in such a rueful case; whereby they infallibly demonstrate to their own consciences, that they are no living members of Christ's mystical body, have no part of the holy fellowship of the saints, no spark of spiritual life, no acquaintance at [[229]] all with the ways of God; but continue cursedly careless what becomes of the gospel, or God's children, so that they may rise, grow rich, and sleep in a whole skin.

By this time he is become the drunkard's song, table-talk to those that “sit in the gate,” music to great men at their feasts, a bye-word to the children of fools and the children of villains, men viler than the earth, whose fathers he would have disdained to have set with the dogs of his flock. And what then? Even thus they dealt with David, Job, and Jeremiah (Psal. lxxix, Job xxx, Lam. iii, 63). Nay, they told the Son of God himself, in whom the Godhead dwelt bodily, that he was “a Samaritan, and had a devil” (John viii, 48). What thinking man, then, that gives his name to Christ and looks to be saved, will look for exemption? Especially since all the contumelies and contempts, all those nicknames of puritan, precision, hypocrite, humourist, factionist, with which lewd tongues are wont to load the saints of God, are so many honourable badges of their worthy deportment in the holy path, and resolute standing on the Lord's side. Some noble Romans having done some singular service to the state, being afterwards troubled and handled violently in some private cases, were wont to bare their bodies, and to show in open court the scars and impressions of those wounds which they had received in their country's cause, as characters of special honour and strongest motives to commiseration. So many lying imputations, unworthy usages, and persecutions in any kind for profession of godliness, which the faithful Christian shall bring to the judgment-seat of Christ, so many glorious and royal representations of excellency of spirit and height of courage in the Christian cause shall they be accounted in the sight and judgment of Almighty God and the blessed angels, and make him more amiable and admirable in the face of heaven and earth.