CHAP. 10.

The Fourth and Fifth Considerations which belong to the Third Way of Curing the former Malady.
Also the Fifth Help for it by Advice.

4th. Is sound contrition and saving repentance, let us for the present take notice of,—First, a sensible smart and anguish of the heart. Secondly, a dislike, hatred, and aversion in the will. Thirdly, a change of the mind, enlightened and now enabled to give stronger reasons out of God's book, love of Christ, &c. against any sin, than carnal reason, the devil himself, or the drunken eloquence of his old good-fellow companions can suggest to the contrary. Fourthly, an universal opposition and constant endeavour against all manner of iniquity. Fifthly, a hearty sorrow that we are not more sorrowful.

Now, say I, if thou shouldst not feel in thine heart that stirring grief and violent rending for those many rebellions and horrible filth of thy naughty heart and former wicked life which thou heartily desirest, their heinousness exacts at thine hands, and many lesser sinners than thyself have endured; yet if thou findest an unfeigned hatred and dis-pleasedness in thy will, a settled resolution in thy mind, a watchful striving in all thy ways. against all sin, true grief because thou art not more grieved, thou art by no means to cast away thy confidence, or be discomforted therefore, as though thou wert not truly converted; but only be advised and take occasion thereupon to walk more humbly before thy God, with sincerity and constancy to oppose all things which may hinder, and pursue all means that may further the more kindly melting of thine heart, sensible sorrow, and hearty mourning over him whom thou hast so cruelly pierced with thy youthful lusts and abominations.

5th. Lest any true hearted Christian, lying in no sin against conscience, and labouring sincerely to please God in all things, should be unnecessarily troubled and dejected with slavish fears and jealousies lest he be not truly turned unto God, because he feels not in himself that boisterous, vehement conversion, that extremity of pangs and horror in the new birth, which sometimes are to be found in some others, let him ponder upon these resemblances:—

(1.) Thou mayest have thy bile or botch opened with the point of a needle, whereas another man endures the slashing of a surgeon's lancet; yet, if the corruption and putrefied matter be let out by this easier means, and thyself [[326]] thereby thoroughly cured, I hope thou hast no great cause to complain. It may be so in the present point.

(2.) Two sons are punished for their offence; the one cries, and roars, and grieves extraordinarily; the other makes no great noise, but resolves silently with himself, and in sincerity, upon a new course as well as the former. Is not the change and reformation of them both equally welcome and accepted of the father, who only aims at and expects their amendment?

(3.) Two malefactors, equally guilty of high treason, both apprehend their danger, acknowledge that they are utterly undone, hold themselves for dead men; to the one a pardon comes, not yet cast, condemned, or carried to the place of execution; to the other, ready to lay down his head upon the block. There is great difference in all likelihood in their terrors and dejections.; but they have equal parts in the pardon, and both their lives are saved.

(4.) Two men are arrived at their wished-for port: the one was tossed with many roaring tempests and raging waves; the other hath a reasonably calm passage. Howsoever they now stand both safe upon the shore, and have both escaped destruction and drowning in that great merciless devouring gulf.

(5.) Suppose a man dead for some days, and then revived; he perceives his change with a witness; another is not so, but himself only alive walks amongst a multitude of dead men; he also may clearly enough see the difference, and both acknowledge and praise God for his life[1].

Yet for conclusion, let all those who have passed through the pangs of the new-birth not so terribly, but more tolerably, especially having been formerly notorious, take counsel and be advised to ply more carefully the great and gracious work of humiliation still, to “humble themselves in the sight of the Lord “yet more and more unto their dying day. The humblest Christians are ever highest in favour [[327]] and nearest in familiarity with Almighty God. They are, as it were, his second royal throne, wherein he sweetly dwells and delights. See Isa. lvii, 15, and lxvi, 1, 2; Psalm xxxiv, 18, and Ps. li, 17. And they are also of the most sweet, amiable, and inoffensive carriage amongst the people of God. Hear that excellent artist in the spiritual anatomy of man's deceitful heart[2], “Humiliation is the procurer of all other graces. God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble' (1 Pet. v, 5); and it is the preserver of grace procured; and therefore compared to a strong foundation, upholding the building against the force of wind and weather. Only those streams of grace hold out that flow out of the troubled fountain of a bruised spirit. An unhumbled professor quickly starts back, even as a broken egg or chestnut leaps out of the fire. Grace is nowhere safe, but in a sound and honest heart. Now, only the humble heart is the honest heart. Only a rent and broken heart is a whole and sound heart. The dross cannot be purged out of the gold but by melting; crooked things cannot be straightened but by wringing. Now, humiliation is that which wrings and melts us, and makes us of drossy, pure; of crooked, straight and upright; and so, sound, durable, and persevering Christians.”

And let them consider and examine whether neglect of this holy endeavour I now exhort them to, may not bring upon them much, spiritual misery; whether they may not therefore be the rather exposed; first, to many irksome intrusions of very vexing doubts and fears, and slavish questionings of the truth and soundness of their conversion all their life long. Secondly, To much deadness of affection and listlessness; many damps and distempers in the performance of holy duties, use of the ordinances, and religious exercises. 'thirdly, to greater variety of crosses and a heavier hand upon their outward states, purposely to bring the eye of their conscience to look back more heavily and with heartier remorse upon the loathsomeness and filth of their youthful folly. Fourthly, to more easiness of re-entry and surprise by the assaults and insinuations of old sins in their unregenerate time, especially that of the bosom, which is a horrible thing. For the less sins are sorrowed for, the sooner do they re-ensnare us with their sensual delight, and re-pollute with renewed acts. Fifthly, to the entertainment, at least for a time, of uncomfortable and scandalous giddiness and some fantastical tenets of new [[328]] and naughty opinions, which many times fearfully infect our chie fest city; and some proud companions and ignorant teachers there and elsewhere, are ever ready to lay hold upon; whom you may ordinarily discern by their luciferian pride and lewd tongues, to the great hurt and hindrance of the power of godliness, holy obedience to the blessed law of God, and humble walking with him; if any will be so miserable and mad as to listen to such petty and paltry trash, idle and cheating dreams, contrary to the doctrine which they have learned, or should have learned (for these fellows were never well catechized); if professors will be children still, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” which God forbid. For if it be possible that any true heart be entangled, I hope he will quickly in cool blood dis-ensnare himself. As these tare-sowers themselves are ordinarily very superficial in ministerial abilities; so, for the most part, their disciples are only the foolish virgins and unsound professors of the places through which they pass. Sixthly, to danger of some future grievous desertion, extraordinary temptations, or re-visitation with far greater terrors than they tasted at their first turning into the ways of God, &c.

[1] Those who are so happy, as by the benefit of religious parents, a godly family, goad education under powerful means, have never entered upon any notoriousness, but by God's blessing upon those means have sucked in grace in their younger years, as is said of Timothy; and such also as after a profane coarse have been turned unto God somewhat more easily than ordinary; and so both complain of the want of that testimony of terrible pangs in their conversion, which they hear others talk of; yet, I say, being DOW upright-hearted, and in the holy path, they may take comfort by comparing themselves with and casting their eyes upon a world of unregenerate people about them, from which by the mercies of God they differ as far as living men from a number of rotten dead carcasses; and so may assure themselves of soundness.

[2] Dyke, in his Treatise on Repentance, chap. v.