« PreviousContinue »
poor souls questioning their integrity under the frequent surprisals of sin. And the next trial no less.
SECT. VIII. (5.) Ifthly, Our opposition to, and conflicts with fin dif
cover what we are, gold, or dross. There are conflicts with sin both in the regenerate, and in the unregenerate ; but there is a vast difference betwixt them, as will appear in the following account.
1. Firft, There is an universal, and there is a particular opposition to fin: the former is found in regenerate, the latter in unregenerate fouls : a gracious heart hates every false way, Psal. cxix. 104. and must needs do so, because he hates and opposes sin as sin; so that he can have no peccatum in deliciis, no excepted or reserved lust, but fights against the whole body, and every limb and member of the body of fin.
But it is not so with the hypocrite or carnal professor ; hé hath overcome some reserved fin, that he cannot part with.
2. Secondly, There is an opposition betwixt the new nature and fin, and there is an opposition betwixt a natural conscience and fin; the former is the case of an upright soul, the latter may be a self-deceiver.
A regenerate person opposeth sin because there is an irreconcileable antipathy betwixt it and the new nature in him, as is clear from Gal. y. 17. “The flesh lufteth against the fpi“ rit, and the spirit againit the flesh; and these are contrary " the one to the other." By flesh, understand corrupt nature ; by spirit, not only the spirit of man, but the Spirit of God, or principal of regeneration in man. By the lusting of these two against each other, understand the desire and endeavours of each others destruction and ruin; and the ground of all this is the contrariety of these two natures.
These are contrary one to the other, there is a twofold opposition betwixt them, one formal, their very natures are opposite ; the other effective, their workings and designs are opposite, as it is betwixt fire and water.
But the opposition found in unrenewed souls against fin, is not from their natures, for fin is suitable enough to that ; but from the light that is in their minds and consciences, which scares and terrifies them. Such was that in Darius, Dan. vi.
“He was fore displeased with himself, and fet his heart on " Daniel to deliver him; and laboured till the going down of ll the fun to deliver him.” Here the contest was betwixt sense of honour upon one side, and conviction of conscience upon the other side.
Sometimes a generous and noble disposition opposes fordid and base actions : Major fum, et ad majora natus ; quam ut corporis mei fim mancipium. I am greater, and born to greater things, than that I should be a flave to my body, said a brave. heathen.
3. Thirdly, There is a permanent, and there is a transient opposition to fin; the former is the case of God's people, the latter of temporary and unfound professors.
The faint when he draws the sword in this warfare against fin, throws away the scabbard ; no end of this combat with fin till life end ; their life and their troubles are finished together ; 2 Tim. iv. 7. “ I have fought the good fight, and have < finished my course."
But in other men it is but a transient quarrel ; out with sin one day, and in another; and the reason is plain by what was noted before ; it is not the opposition of two natures; it is like the opposition of the wind and tide, these may be contrary and make a stormy sea to-day, but the wind may come about, and go as the tide goes to-morrow; but in a Christian it is the opposition of the river and the dam, one must give way to the other, there is no reconciling them : but the other, “ like the dog, returns to his vomit,” 2 Pet. ii. ult.
4. Fourthly, There is an oppofition to the root of fin, and an opposition to the fruits of fin. A gracious foul opposeth root and fruit, but others the latter only. The great design of an upright soul is not only to lop off, this or that branch, but to kill the root of fin, which is in his nature; Rom. vii. 24. “ Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” But the great care and endeavours of others is to suppress outward acts of sin, and escape the mischievous consequences of it: Yea, their study is, as Lactantius phraseth it, Potius abfcondere, quam abscindere vitia : To hide, rather than to kill their lufts.
5. Fifthly, There is an opposition to fin, in the strength of God, and an oppofition to fin, in our own strength ; the former is proper to real Christians, the latter is found frequently with unfanctified persons ; when a Christian goes forth against any fin, it is in the strength of God; fo you read their rule directs them, Eph. vi. 10. "Be strong in the Lord, and “ in the power of his might : take unto you the whole armour “ of God :" And suitably, you shall find them frequently upon their knees begging strength from heaven against their lusts ;
2 Cor. xii. 8. “ For this cause I befought the Lord thrice,” faith Paul, i. e. often and earnestly, that the temptation might depart from him.
But others go forth against fin only in the strength of their own resolutions ; so did Pendleton in our story; these refolutions, or vows, which they have put themselves under, are as frequently frustrated as made.
6. Sixthly, There is a successful opposition to sin, and an opposition that comes to nothing : The former is that of true Christians, the latter is found among unregenerate men.
The work of mortification in the faints is progressive, and increasing : Hence Rom. vi. 6. '« Our old man is crucified « with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.” Sin dies in believers much as crucified persons use to die, viz. a flow, lingering, gradual, but fure death'; its vigour and life expires by degrees, or as a consumptive person dies; for that also he alludes here : There is a disease, which is called confumptio totius, a consumption of the whole; and those that die of that disease, languish more and more, till at last, they drop fenfum fine sensul, by imperceptible degrees and steps into
But in the unregenerate, whatever conflicts they have with fin, no corruption falls before it: It may be said of them, as the church in another case complains of herself, Isa. xxvi. 18. " We have been in pain, we have, as it were, brought forth “ wind. We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, 6 neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.” So it fares with these profeflors; they pray, they hear, they vow, they resolve, but when all is done, their lufts are as strong and vigorous as ever : No degree of mortification appears after all,
And thus much of the trial of our fincerity by our carriage toward sin.
Shewing what proof or trial is made of the foundness or un
Joundness of our graces by the duties of religion which we perform.
E now come (according to the method proposed), to make trial of the truth or falseness of grace, by the
duties we daily perform in religion. And certainly they also have the use and efficacy of fire, for this discovery, 1 Johnü. 4, 5•
“ He that faith I know him, and keepeth not his como « mandments [is a liar] and the truth is not in him: But “ whofo keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God “ perfected: And hereby know we that we are in him."
This is a practical lie, of which the apostle speaks here; by which men deceive others for a while, and themselves for ever; a lie not spoken, but done, when a man's course of life contradicts his profession. The life of an hypocrite is but one longer or continued lie; he faith or profeffeth he knows God, but takes no care at all to obey him in the duties he commands; he either neglects them, or if he performs them, it is not as God requires : “ If they draw nigh to him with their lips, yet « their heart is far from him," Ifa. xxix. 13.
« Thou art near « in their mouth, but far from their reins," Jer. xii. 2.
There are some, that feel the influence and power of their communion with the Lord in duties, going down to their very reins : And there are others, whose lips and tongues only touched with religion.
This is an age of light and much profession : Men cannot now keep up a reputation in the sober and professing world, whilst they let down, and totally neglect the duties of religi. on; but surely, if men would be but just to themselves, their very performances of duty would tell them what their hearts
that do very clearly difference the found from the unfound profeffor.
1. First, The designs and true levels and aims of mens hearts in duty will tell ther what they are.
An hypocrite aims low; Hof. vii. 14. “They have not cri“ ed unto me with their heart when they howled upon
their “ beds; they affemble themselves for corn and wine, and they « rebel against me." It is not Christ, and pardon, for mortification, and holiness, but for corn, and wine; thus they make a market of religion ; all their ends in duty are either carnal, natural, or legal ; either to accommodate their carnal ends, or fatisfy and quiet their consciences; and fo their duties are performed as a sin-offering to God.
But an upright heart hath very high and pure aims in duty; « The desire of their soul is to God," Ifa. xxvi. 8. “ Their
#foul follows hard after God," Pfal. Ixiii. 8. “One thing have "I desired of the Lord, that will I feek after, that I may « dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to see “the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple,” Pfal. xxvii. 4. These are the true eagles that play at the sun, and will not Atoop to low and earthly objects. Alas! if the enjoy. ment of God be missed in a duty, it is not the greatest enlargements of gifts will satisfy ; he comes back like a man that hath taken a long journey to meet his friend upon important bufia ness, and lost his labour; his friend was not there.
2. Secondly, The engagements of mens hearts to God in duties will tell them what they are; the hypocrite takes little heed to his heart, Ifa. xxix. 13. They are not afflicted really for the hardness, deadness, unbelief and wanderings of their hearts in duty, as upright ones are ; nor do they engage their hearts, and labour to get them up with God in duty, as his people dos “ I have intreated thy favour with my whole heart," faith David, Pfal. cxix. 58. They are not pleased in duty until they feel their hearts stand towards God like a bow in its full bent. I say, it is not always fo with them; what would they give that it might be so ? But, furely, if their souls in duty be empty of God, they are filled with trouble and sorrow.
3. Thirdly, The conscience that men make of secret, as well as public duties, will tell them what their hearts and
graces are; whether true or false. A vain profeffor is curious in the former, and either negligent, or, at beft, formal in the latter for he finds no inducements of honour, applause, or oftenta. tion of gifts, externally moving him to them; nor hath he as ny experience of the sweetness and benefit of such duties in ternally to allure and engage his soul to them.
The hypocrite therefore is not for the clofet, but the synagogue, Matth. vi. 5, 6. Not but that education, example, or the impulse of conscience, may sometimes drive him thither; but it is not his daily delight to be there ; his meat and drink to retire from the clamour of the world to enjoy God in les cret. It is the observation of their duties is the great inducement to these men to perform them; and, verily, faith our Lord, ver. 2. “ they have their reward," ATT SYM06, they have it away, or they have carried off all the benefit and advantage that ever they shall have by religion. Much good may it do them with their applause and honour, let them make much of that airy reward, for it is all that ever they fhall have. But now for a foul truly gracious, he cannot long fubfift VOL. VII.