Page images

religioti tantih ; and nothing relieves and satisfies the fuffeting foul but what it really believes, and what it hath fatisfying proof and experience of in kimself. There are a great many pretty and pleasing notions which out minds art entertained with; fome delight in times of peace, which can do is to fer: vice at all in the day of troubles and for one speculative, un. practicable knowledge of the greatest truths in religion, as little ferviee is to be expected from them : Except we have better evidence and security about them, we shall be loth to venture all upon the credit of theiñ.

That is a very considerable passage to this purpose in Heb. *. 34. “ Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, (knowing “ in yourselves) that ye have in heaven a better and mote en! « during substance." This knowing in yourselves is by inward and senlible experience, taste and feeling, which is abundantly fatisfying to the foul; and stands opposed to all that traditional knowledge we receive from others; which, as it leaves the mind fluctuating, so the heart also dead and comfortless.

4. Fourthly, In that day the root and foundation of a man's faith and hope is tried, and then they that have built upon the (and must needs fail; for every thing is as its foundation, principles are to us what a root is to a tree, or a foundation to à house ; a flaw or grand defect there most affuredly puitis all. This we find to be the very fcope of thofe two famous parables, Luke xiv. 25. and Matth xiji. 21. Leffer troubles shake but the branches, but these try the very root: if nothing be found chere but self-ends, the force of education, and the influence of examples, furely when the winds rife high, and beat upon it, they will quickly lay the loftieft profeffor even with the ground.

And thus you fee what a crifis an hour of temptation, the fuffering hour is, and what discoveries of hypocrify it must needs make; for now the hypocrite, like Orphả, will førsake religion ; but fincerity will make the foul cleave to it, as Ruth did to Naomi.

HAT advantages lincerity gives the foul for its e-

stablishment and perseverance in fuffering times, I Thall briefly account for in the following particulars.

1. First, Sincere godliness dethrones that idol, the love of this world, in all true Chriftians; and this is it that makes ten thrink änd Ainch from Chrift in a day of fufering. I do pot deny but even believers themselves love the world tog

3. W

[ocr errors]

much ; but they love it not as their chief good : it is not their portion or happiness; if any man so love the world, “ the love

of the Father is not in him," John ii. 15. How much foever a finçete Christian loves the world, yet still it is in subordination to the love of God, John xxi. 15. Sincerity can confift with no other love of the world, it will not suffer such a cursed plant to grow under its shadow.

Now, what is it, but this inordinate, fupreme love of the creature, that makes men forsake Christ in time of temptation ? This was the ruin of that young man, Matth. xix. 22. “He ** went away sorrowful, for he had great poffeffions.” This was the overthrow of Deras, 2 Tim. iv. 10. “He hath for“ faken me (faith the apostle) having loved this present world." The love of this world, like fap in green wood, will not suffer you to burn for Chrift ; get but the heart mortified to the crea:

ture by a discovery of better things in heaven, and it will esta. i blish and fix your fpirits, that it shall not be in the power of creatures to shake you off from Christ


foundation, 2. Secondly, Sincerity knits the foul to Christ, and union with him secures us in the greatest trials ; Munimur quatenus tinimur. The hypocrite having no union with Christ, can have no communion with him, nor communications of grace from him; and so that little stock of his own being quickly spent (I mean natural courage and resolution) and no incomes from Christ, he must needs give up in a short time. But it is with

believer in a day of trouble, as it is with a garrison besieged by land, but free and open to the sea, whence fresh fupplies are daily sent in to relieve it: See 2 Cor. i 5. “ As the suffer 44 ings of Christ abound in us, so our confolation also abound. " eth by Chrift;" fresh aids and daily supplies proportionable to our expences and decays of strength : So Col. i. 11.

Strengthned with all might in the inner-man, according to

his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with $. joyfulness." And this is the believers great advantage by his union with Christ in a day of trial.

3. Thirdly, As fincerity unites the soul with Christ, so it sets the heart upon heaven, and things eternal ; Col. iii. 1. &c. Surely nothing is more conducive to our stability than this, in the hour of temptation.

This is the most effectual preservative from temptations upon the right hand, and upon the left. Moses could cast a king- . dom at his heels; despite the riches, pleasures, and honours of Egypt, whilft his eye was fixed upon him that is invisible, and had respect to the recompence of reward, Heb. xi. 24, 25,

26. And it was a brave reply of the forty martyrs to Valence the emperor, tempting them with the preferments and honours of the world, Why offer ye these trifles to us, wher you know • how the whole world is contemned by us?” And for temptations on the left hand, how little can they move that coul, who reafizes the glory of the approaching world, and sees the afflictions and fufferings of this world preparing him for, and haftening him to the enjoyment of it: temptations meet with but cold entertainment from such fouls.

4. Fourthly, Sincerity drives but one design, and that is to please and enjoy God: and what can more establish and fix the foul in the hour of temptation than this? The reason why the hypocrite is unstable in all his ways, is given us by the apoAtle James, i. 8. He is a double-minded man, duxos smp, a man of two souls in one body; as a profane wretch once boasted, 'that he had one foul for God, and another for any thing. But all the defigns of a gracious heart are united in one; and so the entire stream of his affections runs strong,

It is bafe by-ends and self-interests, that, like a great many ditches cut out of the bank of a river, draw away the stream out of its proper channel, and make its waters fail. But if the heart be united for God, as the expresion is, Pfal. Ixxxvi, 11. then, we may fay of fueh a Chriftian, as was said of a young Roman, Quicquid vult, valde vult ; What he doth, is done with all his might. And this was the ground of that saying, Liberet me Deus ab homine unius tantum negotii . A man of one only designa, puts to all his strength to carry it ; nothing can Itand before him.

5. Fifthly, Sincerity brings a man's will into subjection to the will of God; and this being done, the greatest danger and difficulty is over with such a man. This is that holy oil which makes the wheels of the foul run nimbly, even in difficult paths of obedience; Non tardat unéta rota. Let but a man be once brought to that, « The will of the Lord be done,” as it is Acts xxi. 13. to see the highest reason of chearful obedience in the holy, jult, and good will of God, and then all the difficulty is over; he can suffer quietly what men inflict unjustly.

6. Sixthly, Sincerity takes its meafures of present things by the rules of faith and eternity, it goes not by the same reckoning and account that others do, wilo judge of things by sense, and the respects they have to the present world, 2 Cor. iv. 18. “ We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things " that are not seen;" and this is there given as the reason of his not fainting under present difficulties: So, Rom. viii. &

[ocr errors]

" I reckon that the sufferings of the prelent times are not wor“ thy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed « in us." He will not allow himielf to undervalue eternal glory, by once mentioning present sufferings, in a way of bemoaning himself for them : A steady eye upon the other world makes us more than conquerors over the troubles of this world.

7. Seventhly, To conclude ; fincerity alone hath all the heavenly aids and assistances to stability, and perseverance in suffering times : upright ones (and such only) have Christ's intercession in heaven for them, Rom. viii. 34. The Spirit's confolation in all their troubles, 1 Pet. iv. 14. The Spirit of glory and of God refteth on them: the beneficial ministry of angels, who are sent forth upon their account, Heb. i. 14. stock of prayers, going for them all the world over, Eph. vi. 18. Multitudes of precious promises in the Scriptures; for every line, word, and syllable of which the faithfulness of God ftands engaged ; so that it is impossible such gold can perish in the fire.

And thus of the several ways by which grace is here tried.

[merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Opening the designs and ends of God, in bringing of the profef-
fors of religion into such various trials of their graces in this

SECT. 1.
THESE are some of the ways and methods in which

God brings his gold to the touchstone, and to the fire, even in this world, before the awful and folemn trial they must come to in the final judgment: and if we defire to be satisfied what the design and end of God in making such probations of his people is,

We must conclude, in the general, he certainly designs his own glory, and his peoples advantage and profit in them. If he suffer them to be tried by reproaches, happy are they, the Spirit of God and glory restcth on them; there is their profit; and though his name be evil spoken of, yet in the meeknefs of their spirits he is glorified, as it is, 1 Pet. iv. 14. “ If the scourge “ llay suddenly, he laugheth at the trial of the innocent," Job ix. 23. Not at their afðictions, but at the effects and blessed iffues and results of them: Not that it gives them pain, but that it gives them glory. Upon this account the apostle bids us count it all joy when we fall into diverse temptations or trials : and still the more trials the more joy; for thereby God will produce such effects as are more precious than gold that perisheth, 1 Pet. i. 7. O who can value the comfort that is tasted by the foul, upon the trial and discovery of its fincerity, when after some fore temptation wherein God hath belped us to maintain our integrity, or after some close pinching affliction, wherein we have discovered in ourselves a sweet refignation to, and contentment in the will of God, an beart cleaving to the Lord, purged and made more fpiritual under the rod! we can turn to the Lord, and appeal to him, as the prophet did, Jer. xii. 3. “But thou, O Lord, knoweft me; thou haft seen me, " and tried mine heart towards thee."

I say, who can duy value such an advantage : who would exchange fuch a comfort for all the gold and filver in the world? How many trials foever God brings bis people under, to be sure neither his own glory, nor their intereft, fhall fuffer any damage by them.

SECT. y.
UT more particularly, let us bring our thoughts close to

the matter before us, and we shall find many great advantages and benefits rising out of these trials of lincerity : For,

1. Firft, Hereby hypocrify is unmasked and discovered ; the vizand is plucked off from the false profeffor, and his true natural face and complexion shewn to the world, and in this there is a great deal of good.

Object. Good, you will say, Where lies it? All the world fees the mischief and fad effects of it; many are stumbled, many are hardened by it : « Woe to the world because of offences !” Matth. xvi. 7.

Sol. True, some are prejudiced and hardened by it, so as never to have good thoughts of the ways and people of God more: That is fad indeed; however, therein God accomplishes his word, and executeth his decree; and though these pecife, yet,

First, Others are warned, awakened, and set a searching their own hearts more narrowly than ever, and this is good, 1 Cor. x. 11, 12. Now these were our examples ; 66 wherefore 6 let him that thinketh he ftanderh, take heed left he fall.”

Secondly, Hereby fin is alhamed; and it is good-when fin *that hath exposed men to so much shame, shall be itself exposed to shame: This is the just reward of lin, Jer. xiii. 25, 26,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »