CHAP.  6.

Two Considerations more against Unadvisedness, for the Cure of the former Malady.


BUT I desire to come yet nearer to thy conscience, and to press comfort upon thee with such strong and irresistible arguments, as all the subtlety of the internal powers will never be able to dissolve.

Thou sayest, and 1 suppose so, that thou art “weary of all thy sins,” dost hunger and thirst after the righteousness of Christ; prizest him before all the world; hast cast thyself upon his truth and tender-heartedness for everlasting safety; and yet thou feelest no special sensible joy in thine heart thereupon. Be it so; yet upon this occasion take my counsel, and at my request address thyself again, and have recourse afresh unto the promises: settle thy soul upon them seriously, with fixed meditation and fervent prayer: set thyself purposely with earnestness and industry to suck from them their heavenly sweetness. And then, how is it possible that thine humble, upright heart should make resistance to those mighty torrents of spiritual joys and refreshings, which by a natural and necessary consequence spring abundantly from the ensuing comfortable conclusions, grounded upon the sure word of God, and thine own inward sense and most certain undeniable experience

Whosoever “hungers and thirsts after righteousness “is blessed from Christ's own mouth, Matt. v, 6. And this blessedness compriseth an absolute and universal confluence of all excellencies, perfections, pleasures, and felicities in this world, and in the world to come; begun in some measure in the kingdom of grace, and made complete in the kingdom of glory through all eternity.

But I, mayest thou say, out of evident feeling and experience, find myself to “hunger and thirst after righteousness.”

[[305]] Therefore I am most certainly blessed and interested in all the rich purchases of Christ's dearest blood and merit, which is the full price of the kingdom of heaven and all the glory thereof.

Whosoever is athirst, bath his part in the “fountain of the water of life” (Rev. xxi, 6; xxii, 17; John vii, 37; and Isa. lv, 1).

But I, mayest thou say, cannot deny, dare not belie myself, but that my poor heart thirsts unfeignedly to be bathed in the heavenly streams of God's free favour and Christ's sovereign blood.

Therefore, undoubtedly I have my part in the well of life everlastingly; whence, what delicious streams of dearest joy do sweetly flow 1

Whosoever “labours and is heavy laden “may justly challenge at the hands of Christ rest and refreshing (Matt. xi, 28).

But I feel all my sins an intolerable burthen upon my wounded soul, and most willingly take him as a Saviour and a Lord.

Therefore I have my portion in his spiritual and eternal rest.

“The High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy,” and who dwells “in the high and holy place;” dwelleth also in every “humble and contrite spirit,” as in a royal throne. He bath, as it were, two thrones; one in the empyrean heaven, the other in a broken heart (Isa. lvii, 15).

But my heart lies groveling in the dust, humbled under

the mighty hand of God, and trembling at his feet. Therefore it is the mansion of Jehovah, blessed for ever. Whosoever “confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall have mercy” ( Prov. xxviii, 13).

But I confess and abominate all sin, resolved never to “turn again to folly.”

Therefore mercy is most certainly mine.

He in whose heart the Holy Ghost bath enkindled a kindly heat of affection to the brethren, hath passed from death to life (1 John id, 14).

But, by the mercy of God, my heart is wholly set upon the “brotherhood” (1 Pet. ii, 17), which 1 heartily hated heretofore.

Therefore I have passed from death to life.

These and the like conclusions are in themselves as full of sound joy and true comfort, as the sun is of light or the sea of waters. Open but the eye of thine humble soul, and thou mayest see many glorious things in them. Crush [[306]] them but a little with the hand of faith, and much delicious sweetness of spiritual peace may distil upon thy soul.

Lastly, such considerations as these may contribute some matter of comfort and support to him of weakest apprehension in this case.

1. If he consult with his own conscience, he shall happily find in his present sincere resolution an impossibility to turn back again to his former sinful life, pleasures, good-fellowship, sensual courses, and company. He says, and thinks it, that he will rather die than lie, swear, profane the sabbaths, put to usury, do wrong, keep any ill-gotten goods in his hands, haunt ale-houses, play-houses, gaming-houses; or willingly put his heart or hand to any kind of iniquity, as he was formerly wont. And cloth nature, think you, keep him back, or “grace and God's Spirit”!

2. If he should now hear, and have his ears filled with oaths, blasphemies, ribald talk, rotten speeches, filthy songs, railing at God's people, scoffing at religion, jesting out of scriptures, &c., his heart would rise; he would either reprove them or be rid of them as soon as he could; whereas heretofore he hath been perhaps a delightful hearer of them, if not a notorious actor himself. And whence do you think doth this arise, but from the seed of God remaining in him?

3. If when you hear him complain, that howsoever he hath cast himself upon Christ, as the prophets have counselled him, yet since thereupon he feels no such comfort and peace in believing as other Christians do, he begins to doubt whether he bath done well or no, and to conceive that he hath laid hold upon the promises too soon; nay, and it may be upon this discontent, doth thus further enlarge his complaint—Alas! my sins have formerly been so great, my heart is at this present so hard, my sorrow so scant, my failings so many, that I know not what to say to myself. Methinks I can neither pray, confer, love the brethren, sanctify the sabbath, rejoice in the Lord, as I see other of God's children do; and therefore I am afraid all is nought. What heart can I have to hold on?—I say, if to such a speech thou shouldst for trial give this reply: Well then, if it be so, even give over all; strive no more against the stream; trouble thyself no longer with reading, prayer, following sermons, forbearing good-fellowship and thine old companions. And since no comfort comes by casting thyself upon Christ, cast thyself again into the current of the times, course of the world, and merry company; for there, yet, is some little poor pleasure to be had at least. Oh! No, no, no, would he say; that will [[307]]  I never do, whatsoever comes of me. I will trust in my Christ, though he should kill me; for all these discouragements 1 will by no means cast away my confidence: I have been so freshly stung with their guilt, that I will rather be pulled in pieces with wild horses than plunge again into carnal pleasures. I will put my hand to all holy duties in obedience to God, though I perform them never so weakly. 1 will, by the mercy of God, keep my face towards heaven and back to Sodom so long as 1 breathe, come what will, &c. And whence do you think springs this resolution, but from a secret saving power, supporting him in the most desperate temptations and assaults of distrust?

Now this first, secret saving power, by which an humble soul leaning upon Christ is supported, when it is at the lowest; secondly, the seed of God; and thirdly, presence of grace, do every one of them argue a blessed state, in which thou shalt be certainly saved; and therefore thou mayest lift up thine heart and head with comfort unspeakable and glorious.