THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.
BY THE LATE REV. JOHN BROWN, MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL AT WAMPHRAY.
WRITTEN DURING THE TIME OF HIS BANISHMENT IN HOLLAND.
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"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."—JOHN XIV. 6.
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The Author to the Reader
Introduction, with some general observations from the cohesion.
Of the words themselves in general.
How Christ is the Way in general. "I am the Way."
How Christ is made use of for Justification as a Way.
How Christ is to be made use of, as the Way, for sanctification in general.
How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to the killing and crucifying of the Old Man.
How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to growing in grace.
How to make use of Christ for taking the guilt of our daily out-breakings away.
How to make use of Christ for cleansing of us from out daily spots.
Some generals proposed.
More particularly in what respect Christ is called the Truth.
Some general uses from this useful truth, that Christ is the Truth.
How to make use of Christ as the Truth, for growth in knowledge.
How to make use of Christ, as Truth, for comfort, when truth is oppressed and borne down.
How to make use of Christ for steadfastness, in a time when truth is oppressed and borne down.
How to make use of Christ as the Truth, when error prevaileth, and the spirit of error carrieth many away.
How to make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may get our case and condition cleared up to us.
How we shall make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may win to right and suitable thoughts of God.
"And the Life." How Christ is the Life.
Some general uses.
How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the believer is so sitten-up in the ways of God, that he can do nothing.
How Christ is to be made use of as our Life, in case of heartlessness and fainting through discouragements.
How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the soul is dead as to duty.
How shall the soul make use of Christ, as the Life, which is under the prevailing power of unbelief and infidelity.
How Christ is made use of as the Life, by one that is so dead and senseless, as he cannot know what to judge of himself, or his own case, except what is naught.
How is Christ, as the Life, to be applied by a soul that misseth God's favour and countenance.
How shall one make use of Christ as the Life, when wrestling with an angry God because of sin?
No man cometh to the Father but by me.
How should we make use of Christ, in going to the Father, in prayer, and other acts of worship?
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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE AND RELIGIOUS LADY, THE LADY STRATHNAVER.
Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; as it ought to be the principal concern of all who have not sitten down on this side of Jordan to satisfy their souls (once created for, and in their own nature requiring, in order to satisfaction, spiritual, immortal, and incorruptible substance,) with husks prepared for beasts, to be built in and upon this corner-stone, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit; so it ought to be the main design and work of such as would be approven of God as faithful labourers and co-workers with God, to be following the example of him who determined not to know anything among those he wrote unto, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. O! this noble, heart-ravishing, soul-satisfying mysterious theme, Jesus Christ crucified, the short compend of that uncontrovertibly great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory, wherein are things the angels desire to look unto, or with vehement desire bend, as it were, their necks, and bow down their heads to look and peep into, (as the word used, I Pet. i. 12, importeth) is a subject for angelical heads to pry into, for the most indefatigable and industrious spirits to be occupied about. The searching into, and studying of this one truth, in reference to a closing with it as our life, is an infallible mark of a soul divinely enlightened, and endued with spiritual and heavenly wisdom; for though it be unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness, yet unto them who are called, it is Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. O what depths of the manifold wisdom of God are there in this mystery! The more it is preached, known, and believed aright, the more it is understood to be beyond understanding, and to be what it is—a mystery. Did ever any preacher or believer get a broad look of this boundless ocean, wherein infinite wisdom, love that passeth all understanding, grace without all dimensions, justice that is admirable and tremendous, and God in his glorious properties, condescensions, high and noble designs, and in all his perfections and virtues, flow over all banks; or were they ever admitted to a prospect hereof in the face of Jesus Christ, and were not made to cry out, O the depth and height, the breadth and length! O the inconceivable, and incomprehensible boundlessness of all infinitely transcendent perfections! Did ever any with serious diligence, as knowing their life lay in it, study this mysterious theme, and were not in full conviction of soul, made to say, the more they promoved in this study, and the more they descended in their divings into this depth, or soared upward in their mounting speculations in this height, they found it the more an unsearchable mystery! The study of other themes (which, alas! many who think it below them to be happy, are too much occupied in) when it hath wasted the spirits, wearied the mind, worn the body, and rarified the brain to the next degree unto a distraction, what satisfaction can it give as to what is attained, or encouragement as to future attainments? And when, as to both these, something is had, and the poor soul puffed up with an airy and fanciful apprehension of having obtained some great thing, but in truth a great nothing, or a nothing pregnant with vanity and vexation of spirit, foolish twins causing no gladness to the father, "for he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow," Eccles. i. 18. What peace can all yield to a soul reflecting on posting away time, now near the last point, and looking forward to endless eternity? Oh the thoughts of time wasted with, and fair opportunities of good lost by the vehement pursuings and huntings after shadows and vanities, will torment the soul by assaulting it with piercing convictions of madness and folly, in forsaking all to overtake nothing; with dreadful and soul-terrifying discourses of the saddest of disappointments, and with the horror of an everlasting and irrecoverable loss. And what hath the laborious spirit then reaped of all the travail of his soul, when he hath lost it? But, on the other hand, O what calmness of mind, serenity of soul, and peace of conscience, because of the peace of God which passeth all understanding, will that poor soul look back, when standing on the border of eternity, on the bygone days or hours it spent in seeking after, praying and using all appointed means for some saving acquaintance with, and interest in this only soul up-making, and soul-satisfying mystery; and upon its yielding up itself, through the efficacious operations of the Spirit of grace, wholly, without disputing, unto the powerful workings of this mystery within; and in becoming crucified with Christ, and living through a crucified Christ's living in it, by his Spirit and power. And with what rejoicing of heart, and glorious singing of soul, will it look forward to eternity, and its everlasting abode in the prepared mansions, remembering that there its begun study will be everlastingly continued, its capacity to understand that unsearchable mystery will be inconceivably greater; and the spiritual, heavenly and glorious joy, which it will have in that practical reading its divinity without book of ordinances, will be its life and felicity for ever? And what peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, what inward inexpressible quiet and contentment of mind will the soul enjoy in dwelling on these thoughts, when it shall have withal the inward and well-grounded persuasion of its right through Christ, to the full possession of that all which now it cannot conceive, let be comprehend; the foretastes whereof filleth it with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and the hope of shortly landing there, where it shall see and enjoy, and wonder and praise, and rest in this endless and felicitating work, making it to sing while passing through the valley and shadow of death? O if this were believed! O that we were not drunk to a distraction and madness, with the adulterous-love of vain and airy speculations, to the postponing, if not utter neglecting, of this main and only up-making work, of getting real acquaintance with, and a begun possession of this mystery in our souls, Christ, the grand mystery, formed within us, living and working within us by his Spirit, and working us up into a conformity unto, and an heart-closing with God manifested in the flesh, that we may find in experience, or at least in truth and reality, have a true transumpt of that gospel mystery in our souls! Oh, when shall we take pleasure in pursuing after this happiness that will not flee from us, but is rather pursuing us! when shall we receive with joy and triumph, this King of glory that is courting us daily, and is seeking access and entry into our souls! Oh, why cry we not out in the height of the passion of spiritual longing and desire, O come Lord Jesus, King of glory, with thine own key, and open the door, and enlarge and dilate the chambers of the soul, that thou may enter and be entertained as the King of glory, with all thy glorious retinue, to the ennobling of my soul, and satisfying of all the desires of that immortal spark? Why do we not covet after this knowledge which hath a true and firm connexion with all the best and truly divine gifts. O happy soul that is wasted and worn to a shadow, if that could be, in this study and exercise, which at length will enliven, and, as it were, bring in a new heavenly and spiritual soul into the soul, so that it shall look no more like a dead dis-spirited thing out of its native soil and element, but as a free, elevated, and spiritualized spirit, expatiating itself and flying abroad in the open air of its own element and country. O happy day, O happy hour that is really and effectually spent in this employment! What would souls, swimming in this ocean of pleasures and delights care for? Yea, with what abhorrency would they look upon the bewitching allurements of the purest kind of carnal delights, which flow from the mind's satisfaction in feeding on the poor apprehensions, and groundlessly expected comprehensions of objects, suited to its natural genius and capacity? O what a more hyperbolical exceeding and glorious satisfaction hath a soul in its very pursuings after (when it misseth and cannot reach) that which is truly desirable! How doth the least glimpse through the smallest cranie, of this glorious and glorifying knowledge of God in Christ, apprehended by faith, raise up the soul to that pitch of joy and satisfaction which the knowledge of natural things, in its purest perfection, shall never be able to cause; and to what a surmounting measure of this joy and contentation will the experiencing and feeling, by spiritual sense, the sweet and relish of this captivating, and transcendently excellent knowledge raise the soul unto? O must not this be the very suburbs of heaven to the soul! When the soul thus seeth and apprehendeth God in Christ, and that as its own God through Christ, (for as all saving knowledge draweth out the soul unto an embracing and closing with the object, so it bringeth in the object to the making up of the reciprocal union and in-being) it cannot but admire with exultation, and exult with admiration, at that condescendence of free grace that hath made it, in any measure, capable of this begun glory, and will further make it meet, by this begun glory, to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. And what will a soul that hath tasted of the pure delights of this river of gospel manifestations, and hath seen, with soul-ravishing delights, in some measure, the manifold wisdom of God wrapped up therein; and the complete and perfect symmetry of all the parts of that noble contexture, and also the pure design of that contrivance to abase man, and to extol the riches of the free grace of God, that the sinner, when possessed of all designed for him and effectuated in him thereby, may know who alone should wear the crown and have all the glory; what, I say, will such a soul see in another gospel (calculated to the meridian of the natural, crooked, and corrupt temper of proud men, who is soon made vain of nothing, which, instead of bringing a sinner, fallen from God through pride, back again to the enjoyment of him, through a Mediator, doth but foster that innate plague and rebellion, which and procured his first excommunication from the favour, and banishment out of the paradise of God,) that shall attract its heart to it, and move it to a compliance with it? When the poor sinner that hath been made to pant after a Saviour, and hath been pursued to the very ports of the city of refuge by the avenger of blood, the justice of God, hath tasted and seen how good God is, and felt the sweetness of free love in a crucified Christ, and seen the beauty and glory of the mystery of his free grace, suitably answering and overcoming the mystery of its sin and misery; O what a complacency hath he therein, and in the way of gospel salvation, wherein free grace is seen to overflow all banks, to the eternal praise of the God of all grace. How saltless and unsavoury will the most cunningly-devised and patched-together mode of salvation be, that men, studying the perversion of the gospel, and seeking the ruin of souls with all their skill, industry, and learning, are setting off with forced rhetoric, and the artifice of words of man's wisdom, and with the plausible advantages of a pretended sanctity, and of strong grounds and motives unto diligence and painfulness, to a very denying and renouncing Christian liberty, when once it is observed, how it entrencheth upon, and darkeneth lustre, or diminisheth the glory of free grace, and hath the least tendency to the setting of the crown on the creature's head, in whole or in part? The least perception, that hereby the sinner's song, "ascribing blessing, honour, glory, and power unto him that was slain, and hath redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hath made them, unto their God, kings and priests," shall be marred, will be enough to render that device detestable, and convince the soul, that it is not the gospel of the grace of God and of Christ, but rather the mystery of iniquity. What a peculiar savouriness doth the humbled believer find in the doctrine of the true gospel-grace, and the more that he be thereby made nothing, and Christ made all; that he in his highest attainments be debased, and Christ exalted; that his most lovely peacock feathers be laid, and the crown flourish on Christ's head; that he be laid flat, without one foot to stand upon, and Christ the only supporter and carrier of him to glory; that he be as dead without life, and Christ live in him, the more lovely, the more beautiful, the more desirable and acceptable is it unto him. O what a complacency hath the graced soul in that contrivance of infinite wisdom, wherein the mystery of the grace of God is so displayed, that nothing appeareth from the lowest foundation-stone to the uppermost cope-stone but grace, grace, free grace making up all the materials, and free grace with infinite wisdom cementing all? The gracious soul can be warm under no other covering but what is made of that web, wherein grace, and only grace, is both wooft and warp; and the reason is manifest, for such an one hath the clearest sight and discovery of his own condition, and seeth that nothing suiteth him and his case but free grace; nothing can make up his wants but free grace; nothing can cover his deformities but free grace; nothing can help his weaknesses, shortcomings, faintings, sins, and miscarriages but free grace. Therefore is free grace all his salvation and all his desire. It is his glory to be free grace's debtor for evermore; the crown of glory will have a far more exceeding and eternal weight, and be of an hyperbolically hyperbolic and eternal weight, and yet easily carried and worn, when he seeth how free grace and love hath lined it, and free grace and free love sets it on and keeps it on for ever; this makes the glorified saint wear it with ease, by casting it down at the feet of the gracious and loving purchaser and bestower. His exaltation is the saint's glory, and by free grace, the saints receiving and holding all of free grace, is he exalted. O what a glory is it to the saint, to set the crown of glorious free grace with his own hands on the head of such a Saviour, and to say, "Not unto me, not unto me, but unto thee, even unto thee alone, be the glory for ever and ever." With what delight, satisfaction, and complacency will the glorified saint, upon this account, sing the redeemed and ransomed their song? And if the result and effect of free grace will give such a sweet sound there, and make the glorified's heaven, in some respects, another thing, or at least, in some respect, a more excellent heaven than Adam's heaven would have been; for Adam could not have sung the song of the redeemed; Adam's heaven would not have been the purchase of the blood of God; nor would Adam have sitten with Christ Redeemer on his throne; nor would there have been in his heaven such rich hangings of free grace, nor such mansions prepared by that gracious and loving husband, Christ, who will come and bring his bought bride home with him. Seeing, I say, heaven, even upon the account of free grace, will have such a special, lovely, desirable, and glorious lustre, O bow should grace be prized by us now! How should the gospel of the grace of God be prized by us! What an antipathy to glory, as now prepared and dressed up for sinful man, must they shew, whose whole wits and parts are busied to darken the glory of that grace, which God would have shining in the gospel; and who are at so much pains and labour to dress up another gospel, (though the apostle hath told us, Gal. i. 7, that there is not another,) wherein gospel-grace must stand by, and law-grace take the throne, that so man may sacrifice to his own net, and burn incense to his own drag, and may, at most, be grace's debtor in part; and yet no way may the saved man account himself more grace's debtor, than the man was who wilfully destroyed himself in not performing of the conditions; for grace, as the new gospellers, or rather gospel-spillers mean and say, did equally to both frame the conditions, make known to the contrivance, and tender the conditional peace and salvation. But as to the difference betwixt Paul and Judas, it was Paul that made himself to differ, and not the free grace of God determining the heart of Paul by grace to a closing with and accepting of the bargain. It was not grace that wrought in him both to will and to do. It was he, and not the grace of God in him; what is more contradictory to the gospel of the grace of God? And yet vain man will not condescend to the free grace of God. Pelagianism and Arminianism needeth not put a man to much study, and to the reading of many books, to the end it may be learned, (though the patrons hereof labour hot in the very fires, to make their notions hang together, and to give them such a lustre of unsanctified and corrupt reason, as may be taking with such as know no other conduct in the matters of God,) for naturally we all are born Pelagians and Arminians. These tenets are deeply engraven in the heart of every son of fallen Adam. What serious servant of God findeth not this, in his dealing with souls, whom he is labouring to bring into the way of the gospel? Yea, what Christian is there, who hath acquaintance with his own heart, and is observing its biasses, and corrupt inclinations, that is not made to cry out, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from these dregs of Pelagianism, Arminianism, and Jesuitism, which I find yet within my soul? Hence, it may seem no wonderful or strange thing (though, after so much clear light, it may be astonishing to think, that now, in this age, so many are so openly and avowedly appearing for this dangerous and deadly error,) to us, to hear and see this infection spreading and gaining ground so fast, there needeth few arguments or motives to work up carnal hearts to an embracing thereof, and to a cheerful acquiescing therein; little labour will make a spark of fire work upon gunpowder. And, methinks, if nothing else will, this one thing should convince us all of the error of this way, that nature so quickly and readily complieth therewith. For who, that hath an eye upon, or regard of such things, seeth not what a world of carnal reasonings, objections, prejudices, and scruples, natural men have in readiness against the gospel of Christ; and with what satisfaction, peace, and delight they reason and plead themselves out of the very reach of free grace; and what work there is to get a poor soul, in any measure wakened and convinced of its lost condition, wrought up to a compliance with the gospel-way of salvation? How many other designs, projects, and essays doth it follow, with a piece of natural vehemency and seriousness, without wearying, were it even to the wasting of its body and spirits, let be its substance and riches, before it be brought to a closing with a crucified Mediator, and to an accounting of all its former workings, attainments, and painful labourings and gain, as loss for Christ, and for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and as dung that it may win Christ, and be found in him, not having its own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 7-9. And may it not seem strange, that now, after so many have found, through the grace of God, the sweet experience of the gracious workings of the gospel-grace of God upon their hearts, and so are in case, as having this witness within them, to give verdict against those assertions, yea, more, and many more than were in several ages before; yet Satan should become so bold as to vent these desperate opinions, so diametrically opposite to the grace of God declared in the gospel, and engraven in the hearts of many hundreds by the finger of God, confirming, in the most undoubted manner, the truth of the gospel doctrines. This would seem to say, that there are such clear sunshine days of the gospel, and of the Son of Man a-coming (and who can tell how soon this night shall be at an end?) that all these doctrines of nature shall receive a more conspicuous and shameful dash than they have received for these many ages. Hithertil when Satan raised up and sent forth his qualified instruments for this desperate work, God always prepared carpenters to fright these horns, and thus gospel truth came forth, as gold out of a furnace, more clear and shining: And who can tell but there may be a dispensation of the pure grace of God, in opposition to these perverting ways of Satan, yet to come, that, as to the measure of light and power, shall excel whatever hath been since the apostles' days. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. However, Madam, the grace of God will be what it is, to all the chosen and ransomed ones, they will find in it, which will make whatever cometh in competition therewith or would darken it, contemptible in their eyes: And happy they, of whom in this day wherein darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the people, it may be said, the Lord hath arisen upon them, and his glory hath been seen upon them: For whatever others, whose understanding is yet darkened, and they alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts, imagine of the gospel-grace, and however they discern nothing of the heavenly and spiritual glory of the grace of God; yet they, being delivered or cast into the form and mould of the doctrine of the gospel which they have obeyed from the heart, through the powerful and irresistible efficacy of the mighty grace of God, have seen such an alluring excellency in that gracious contrivance of infinite wisdom, to set forth the unparallelableness of the pure grace of God, and are daily seeing more and more of the graciousness and wisdom of that heavenly invention, in its adequate suitableness to all their necessities, that as they cannot but admire and commend the riches of that grace that interlineth every sentence of the gospel, and the greatness of that love that hath made such a completely broad plaister to cover all their sores and wounds; so the longer they live, and the more they drink of this pure fountain of heavenly nectar; and the more their necessities press them to a taking on of new obligations, because of new supplies from this ocean of grace, the more they are made to admire the wisdom and goodness of the Author; and the more they are made to fall in love with to delight, and lose themselves in the thoughts of this incomprehensible grace of God; yea, and to long to be there, where they shall be in better case to contemplate, and have more wit to wonder at, and better dexterity to prize, and a stronger head to muse upon, and a more enlarged heart to praise for this boundless and endless treasure of the grace of God, with which they are enriched, through Jesus Christ. Sure, if we be not thus enamoured and ravished with it, it is because we are yet standing without, or, at most, upon the threshold and border of this grace; were we once got within the jurisdiction of grace, and had yielded up ourselves unto the power thereof, and were living and breathing in this air, O! how sweet a life might we have! What a kindly element would grace be to us! As sin had reigned unto death, even so grace should reign, through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom. v. 21. Grace reigning within us through righteousness, would frame and fit our souls for that eternal life that is insured to all who come once under the commanding, enlivening, strengthening, confirming, corroborating, and perfecting power of grace. And seeking grace for grace, and so living, and walking, and spending upon grace's costs and charges; O how lively, and thriving proficients might we be! The more we spend of grace (if it could be spent) the richer should we be in grace. O what an enriching trade must it be to trade with free grace, where there is no loss, and all is gain, the stock, and gain, and all is insured; yea, more, labouring in grace's field would bring us in Isaac's blessing an hundred-fold. But, alas! it is one thing to talk of grace, but a far other thing to trade with grace. When we are so great strangers unto the life of grace, through not breathing in the air of grace, how can the name of the Lord Jesus be glorified in us, and we in him, according to the grace of our God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Thess. i. 12. Consider we, what an affront and indignity it is unto the Lord dispensator of grace, that we look so lean and ill-favoured, as if there were not enough of the fattening bread of the grace of God in our Father's house, or as if the great Steward, who is full of grace and truth, were unwilling to bestow it upon us, or grudged us of our allowance, when the fault is in ourselves; we will not follow the course that wise grace and gracious wisdom hath prescribed; we will not open our mouth wide, that he might fill us; nor go to him with our narrowed or closed mouths, that grace might make way for grace, and widen the mouth for receiving of more grace; but lie by in our leanness and weakness. And, alas! we love too well to be so. O but grace be ill wared on us who carry so unworthily with it as we do; yet it is well with the gracious soul that he is under grace's tutory and care; for grace will care for him when he careth not much for it, nor yet seeth well to his own welfare; grace can and will prevent, yea, must prevent, afterward, as well as at the first; that grace may be grace, and appear to be grace, and continue unchangeably to be grace, and so free grace. Well is it with the believer, whom grace has once taken by the heart and brought within the bond of the covenant of grace; its deadliest condition is not desperate. When corruption prevaileth to such a height, that the man is given over for dead, there being no sense, no motion, no warmth, no breath almost to be observed, yet grace, when violently constrained by that strong distemper, to retire to a secret corner of the soul, and there to lurk and lie quiet, will yet at length, through the receiving influences of grace promised in the covenant, and granted in the Lord's good time, come out of its prison, take the fields, and recover the empire of the soul; and then the dry and withered stocks, when the God of all grace will be as dew unto Israel, shall blossom and grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon; his branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon. It is a happy thing either for church or particular soul to be planted in grace's sappy soil, they lie open to the warm beams of the Sun of Righteousness; and the winter blasts may be sharp and long; clouds may intercept the heat, and nipping frosts may cause a sad decay, and all the sap may return and lie, as it were, dormant in the root; yet the winter will pass, the rain will be over and gone, and the flowers will appear on the earth; the time of singing of birds will come, and the voice of the turtle will be heard in the land; then shall even the wilderness and solitary place be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose, it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. We wonder that 'tis not always hot summer days, a flourishing and fruitful season, with souls and with churches. But know we the thoughts of the Lord; see we to the bottom of the deep contrivance of infinite wisdom? Know we the usefulness, yea, necessity of long winter nights, stormy blasts, rain, hail, snow, and frost? Consider we, that our state and condition, while here, calleth for those vicissitudes, and requireth the blowing of the north as well as of the south winds? If we considered, how grace had ordered all things for our best, and most for the glory and exaltation of grace, we would sit down and sing under the saddest of dispensations, and living by faith and hope, we would rejoice in the confident expectation of a gracious outgate; for as long as grace predomineth (and that will be until glory take the empire) all will run in the channel of grace; and though now sense (which is oft faith's unfaithful friend) will be always suggesting false tales of God, and of his grace unto unbelief, and raising thereby discontents, doubts, fears, jealousies, and many distempers in the soul, to its prejudice and hurt, yet in end, grace shall be seen to be grace; and the faithful shall get such a full sight of this manifold grace, as ordering, tempering, timing, shortening, or continuing, of all the sad and dismal days and seasons that have passed over their own or their mother's head, that they shall see, that grace did order all, yea, every circumstance of all the various tossings, changes, ups and downs, that they did meet with. And O what a satisfying sight will that be, when the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are in-rolled in Heaven, and every individual saint, shall come together, and take a view of all their experience, the result of which shall be, grace began, grace carried on, and grace hath perfected all, grace was at the bottom of all? What shoutings, grace, grace unto it, will be there; when the head-stone shall be brought forth? What soul-satisfying complacency in, and admiration at all that is past, will a back-look thereat yield, when every one shall be made to say, grace hath done all well, not a pin of all the work of grace in and about me might have been wanted; now I see, that the work of God is perfect, grace was glorious grace, and wise grace, whatever I thought of it then. O what a fool have I been, in quarrelling at, and in not being fully satisfied with all that grace was doing with me? O how little is this believed now?
In conscience, madam, that your ladyship (to me no ways known, but by a savoury report) shall accept of this bold address, I recommend your ladyship, my very noble lord your husband, and offspring, to the word of his grace, and subscribe myself,
Your and their servant
in the gospel and the grace of God.
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.
CHRISTIAN READER,—After the foregoing address, I need not put thee to much more trouble: only I shall say, that he must needs be a great stranger in our Israel, or sadly smitten with that epidemic plague of indifferency, which hath infected many of this generation, to a benumbing of them, and rendering them insensible and unconcerned in the matters of God, and of their own souls, and sunk deep in the gulf of dreadful inconsideration, who seeth not, or taketh no notice of, nor is troubled at the manifest and terrible appearances of the inexpressibly great hazard, our all, as Christians in this life, is this day exposed into. I mean the mystery of the gospel of the grace of God, wherein the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus, hath been shown. We have enjoyed for a considerable time, a clear and powerful dispensation hereof, in great purity and plenty; but, alas! is it not manifest to all, that will not wilfully shut their eyes, that this mercy and goodness of God hath been wickedly abused, and the pure administration of his grace and love perfidiously sinned away, by this apostate generation. Are our spots this day the spots of his children? Are their fruits answerable to the Lord's pains and labour about us, to be seen even amongst the greatest of professors? Is there that gospel holiness, tenderness, watchfulness, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, that growing up in Christ, in all things that heavenly mindedness, that fellowship with the Father and with his Son Christ Jesus, and that conversation in heaven, that the dispensation of grace, we have been favoured with beyond many, and have been long living under, did call for at our hands? Alas! our grapes are but wild and stinking. Wherefore (and who can think it strange, if it be so?) the Lord seemeth to be about to contend with us, by covering our horizon with Egyptian darkness; many who would not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved, being already given up to strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, and many more in hazard to be drawn aside to crooked paths, by men of corrupt minds, who have been, and are still busy to vent and spread abroad, with no little petulancy and confidence, damnable doctrines, to the perverting of the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the subverting and overturning of the very foundations of our hope and assurance; and that in such a way, and by such means and stratagems, as seem to have wrath written upon them in legible letters; for the more plausible and taking a corrupt doctrine be, it is the more dangerous and judgment-like, and more are thereby in hazard to be deluded and drawn away.
Nay (which is yet more terrible and dreadful) it is to be feared, that the jealous God, in his holy and righteous judgment, hath given a providential commission (to speak to) unto the seducing spirit, to persuade and prevail; for is not this the clear language of the present holy and righteous dispensations of God, and of the stupendously indifferent frame and disposition of the generality of men, called Christians, not only provoking God to spue them out of his mouth, but a disposing them also unto a receiving of whatsoever men, lying in wait to deceive, shall propose and obtrude?
Alas! the clouds are not now a-gathering, but our horizon is covered over with blackness, and great drops are a-falling, that presage a terrible overflowing deluge of error, and apostacy from the truth and profession of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be at hand, if the Lord wonderfully prevent it not. And behold (O wonderful!) the generality of professors are sleeping in security, apprehending no danger. Satan is more cunning now, than to drive men to Popery by rage and cruelty, (and yet what he may be permitted to do after this manner, who can tell?) or by openly pleading in his emissaries, for this abomination, (and yet even thus is he already prevailing with not a few) or to send forth his agents for Arminianism and Socinianism (though even this way too, he is too much prevailing.) But his main work now seemeth to be, to bring in another gospel, (and yet there is not another) or rather an antievangelic and antichristian delusory dream, overturning at once the whole gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and for this end he employeth the Quakers, on the one hand, men of desperate and antievangelic principles, the very sink of all abominations, old and late, (as I shall show, if the Lord will continue health and strength, in an examination of their doctrine and principles, lately emitted by one Robert Barcley) and, on the other hand, men, (or moralists, if you will call them so) pleading for, and crying up an antievangelic holiness, a mere shadow without substance or reality; and that in place of Christ himself; and in order to the carrying on of this desperate design, the old dragon is employing men of seeming different principles and ways, whom, though their faces seem to look to contrary airths, yet he holdeth notwithstanding fast tied by their tails (as Samson's foxes were) that thereby, if the Lord permit it, he may, by the fire of enmity to the pure gospel of the grace of God, burning in their tails, cause a conflagration of that truth, wherein lyeth all our hope: For this new model of religion, that many are so busied about, is such as Pelagians, Arminians, Papists, Socinians, Quakers, yea Turks, and moral heathens; yea, and all who are enemies to, and not reconcilable with the true grace of God held forth in the gospel, will willingly admit of, and harmoniously agree in: A way which complyeth so well with proud self, and with the corrupt nature of man, that it is little wonder, if it have many abettors and admirers. I shall say no more of this; but only infer,
That sure the consideration of this should move all, in whom is any thing of the zeal of God, and love to souls, their own and others', to appear in the defence of the gospel of our salvation, by all means incumbent to them, and possible for them; for if this citadel and stronghold, wherein our all, and the all of pure and true religion, lyeth, be blown up, we are gone; and indeed no less is intended by this antichristian and antievangelic enemy, than the utter subversion of true Christian religion. Who would not then be hereby alarmed, and upon their guard, when matters are at this pass? Should not all, who have any love to their own souls, any zeal for the glory of Christ, anointed of the Father to be our prophet, priest, and king; my desire to see the crown flourishing upon his head, and to have the gospel preserved pure and uncorrupted, be pleading with God by prayer, in the behalf of his Son's kingdom, crown, and glory; and wrestling with him till he were pleased to dispel these clouds, and prevent this black day: especially should they not be labouring to be acquainted, in truth and reality, with the gospel of Jesus Christ, that having the mysterious truths thereof imprinted on their souls, and their hearts cast into its mould, they may be preserved from the hurt of this deadly poison; for this, with a constant dependence upon, and use-making of Christ in all his offices, will prove the best preservative against this infection.
The persuasion whereof did induce me to publish the following heads of some sermons, after they have been translated into Dutch, and published here: Knowing that they might be of no less use to the people of God in Britain and Ireland. I know not a more effectual mean to unstable souls from siding with and embracing every new notion; and from being carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lye in wait to deceive; than to put them upon the real exercise of gospel godliness, and to the daily practice of the main and fundamental gospel work, of living by faith in Jesus Christ, and of growing up into him, in all things, who is the head, from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted, by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love. Such, I am sure, as have thus learned the truth, as it is in Jesus, and are practising the same accordingly, will have an antidote within them against the strongest poison of these seducers, and a real answer to, and confutation of, all their subtile sophisms. The soul exercising itself into gospel godliness, will find work enough to take it wholly up; and find such a solid ground to stand upon; and see such a satisfying fulness, answering all its necessities and wants, and such a sure heart-quieting ground of peace, hope, and consolation in Jesus Christ, as that it will have no leisure, and small temptation to listen to seducing perverters, and no inclination to seek after empty cisterns.
I know much may be desiderated in this following treatise, and many may have exceptions not without ground against it. Some may think it arrogancy, and too great confidence in me, to attempt the handling of such a mysterious and necessary part of Christian practice, wherein few, (if any, so far as I know,) have gone before, in direct handling of this matter, at least in this method and order, I mean that part which is about sanctification. Others may be displeased with the mean and low style; with my multiplying particulars, which might have been better and more handsomely couched under fewer heads, and with my unnecessary contracting of the whole into such a narrow bound, and other things of that kind; for which, and many other failings of the like nature and import, which may without any diligent search, be found in it, even by ordinary and unprejudiced readers; I shall not industriously labour to apologize, knowing that my very apology in this case, will need an apology; only I shall say this, that considering how the snare, which the vigilant and active enemy of our salvation, the devil, was laying by an unholy morality, did nearly concern all, and especially the meanest (for parts and experience) and less fixed Christians, I thought a discourse on such a subject as I judged most necessary at all times, and especially in such a day of hazard, should be framed to the capacity of one as well as another; the most understanding can receive benefit, by that which is calculated to the capacity of children, when these can reap little edification by what is suited to the palate of those; and the less experienced, or such as are of lower understanding, will be less able to draw a general to a particular; or to improve and so fully to comprehend one particular touched, as to be able thereby to understand and take in a like particular not mentioned; than such as have their senses more exercised, and are thereby in case to make a better improvement of what is but compendiously declared, when those must have the bread broken to their hand, or they shall receive but small edification thereby; and yet, I suppose, the judicious will observe some variety, smaller or greater, even where particulars seem to be, at the first view, most unnecessarily multiplied. I know, and willingly grant, (for it is obvious enough) that a discourse of this subject and matter, might have required a far larger volume; but then how should such have profited thereby, whom poverty might possibly have scared from buying; or the necessary affairs of their ordinary callings would have keeped from a diligent perusal of it? And I thought that neither of these should have been overlooked in this special or general design which I had before my eyes.
One thing, as my answer to all, I shall but add; if hereby others whom the Lord hath more enabled with all necessaries for such a work, shall be hereby either instigated or encouraged to write upon this subject, (I mean mainly the last part thereof, touching the use-making of Christ in sanctification; for blessed be the Lord, many have been employed of the Lord to speak soundly and edifyingly unto the use-making of Christ as to righteousness and justification,) a full, plain, edifying and satisfying discovery of this necessary and important truth, viz. Christ made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. And withal, point out plainly and particularly the way how believers in all their particular and various exigencies may and should so make use of and apply that all fulness which is treasured up in the Head, for the benefit and advantage of the members of the mystical body, as they may not only theoretically see, but practically also experience this truth, that in him they are complete; and so they may be helped to understand how through the necessary and constant use-making of him, as all in all, they may grow up in him in all things. If this be, I say, done by any to better purpose, I shall think this my adventure not altogether fruitless, and in part at least excusable.
As for thee, O Christian, whose instruction, edification, and confirmation in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, I mainly intended in this undertaking, I have a few things to add:
Know then, that there are certain men (as the Apostle Jude speaketh) crept in unawares, who were of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ; for in these last days we see that these perilous times are come, (of which Paul advertised Timothy, 2 Tim. iii. 1, &c.) wherein men shall be lovers of their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, (or make bates) incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof—for of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. And because it is so, he exhorteth to give diligence to make your calling and election sure, by giving all diligence to add to faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. As the Apostle Peter assureth us, 2 Peter i. 5, 6, 7-10. For it is the elect who are secured from full and final defection and apostacy, Matth. xxiv. 24. Mark xii. 22. Rom. xi. 5, 6; ix. 11; viii. 33. Matth. xxiv. 31. Mark xiii. 27. And the promise of salvation is made to such as shall endure to the end. The crown is for the overcomers, and such as are faithful to the death, Matth. x. 22; xxiv. 13. Mark xiii. 13. Rev. ii. 10, 11, 17, 26, 27, 28; iii. 5, 12, 21. All which, and the like, are set down, that hereby his people might be rationally moved to a constant seriousness, in the working out of their own salvation, in fear and trembling; and the forewarnings given of the great difficulty of the reaching the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls, because of the many active, vigilant, indefatigable, subtile, and insinuating adversaries, who by good words and fair speeches, will readily deceive the hearts of the simple, and to awaken the more his people to be sober and vigilant, because their adversary the devil (who acteth and moveth his under agents, in their several modes, methods and motions, so as he may best, according to the various tempers, present dispositions, advantages or disadvantages of such as he intendeth to seduce, which he carefully studieth, and plyeth for this end, obtain his designed end, their ruin and destruction) as a roaring lion, walking about seeking whom he may devour. And this calleth them to haste out their slumber and security, who will be loath to miss his opportunity, surprise them to their great loss and disadvantage.
It is, beloved, high time now to awake, to look about us, to consider where we are, upon what ground we stand, whether the enemy or we have the advantage, how and in what posture we are to rencounter with deceivers that seek to cheat us out of all our souls, and of the Lord our Righteousness, and draw us off the paths of life, that when we come to die (beside the unspeakably great loss we would thereby be at, even here, in missing the comfortable accesses to God through Jesus Christ the inflowings of grace and strength for spiritual duty through the Lord our strength; the sweet communications of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, the shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us, and the full assurance of hope through the Lord Jesus our hope) we might be frustrated of all our expectations; and find, that all that which men made us grip to, lay hold on, and lean unto, instead of Christ, was but a mere shadow, and a lie in our right hand, to the unexpressible grief, vexation, and sorrow of soul when all should end in a dreadful and horrible disappointment.
But let us not think that our purposes, firm-like resolutions to adhere to the truth, and our present abhorrence at, and detestation of errors now broached, to the overturning the very foundations of true Christianity, will sufficiently guard us from, and make us proof against the shots and assaults of these crafty seducers. Nor think, that our learning and knowledge in the theory of the truth; nor our abilities to rencounter sophisters, will secure us from a fall; let us not think that the enemies are contemptible, and therefore we need be the less anxious, nor yet think that former experiences and through-bearings, in the like cases, will be a pillow, whereby we may now lay ourselves down to sleep. If we do, we shall certainly deceive ourselves, if all our strength and standing be in ourselves, and through ourselves; and if this be the ground of our hope, the righteous Lord in his holy justice, may give us up to be a prey. Peter's instance should never be forgotten by us; and such as tempt the Lord have no ground to expect his last issue.
Our strength must be in Christ: to the rock of ages must we fly: to our chambers in him must we retire, and there must we hide ourselves: on Christ's lee-side can we only ride safe, and be free of the hazard of the storm. To him therefore must our recourse be daily, by new and fresh acts of faith in and through him and his influences, communicated according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, through faith eyeing the promiser, the promise, with the price purchasing, and so drawing and sucking light, direction, strength, stability, and what our present exigent calleth for, must we think to stand. And happy they who, conscious to themselves of their own weakness, and convinced of the insufficiency of all things within them, in godly fear hide themselves under the wings of the Almighty, and get in into this stronghold, resolving there to abide, and there to be secured from all their adversaries, within or without. These humble fearers may expect a safe and noble outgate; when more strong-like and more confident adventurers shall (being left to themselves, because trusting in themselves), shamefully fall, and be triumphed over by the enemy, to the grief of the godly, and for a snare to others.
The best way then, to keep the faith of Christ, which many are now seeking to shake and to loose us from, is to be exercising the faith of Christ. The serious and upright practising of the gospel is the only best mean to keep thee firm in the profession of the gospel, when the gospel with thee is not a few fine notions in the brain; but is heavenly and necessary truth sunk into the heart, and living and acting there; it will keep thee, and thou wilt own it more firmly and steadfastly in a day of trial. Thy walking in Christ, and working and living, by him living in thee, will so root thee in the gospel truth, that enemies will pull in vain, when seeking to overthrow thee. The gospel of the grace of God received and entertained in thy soul in love, and constant suitable improvement, will fortify thee, and secure itself in thee, so that vehement blasts shall but contribute to its more fixed abode, and more fruitful actings in thee. Live up then to the gospel, and so be sure of it, and be safe in it. I mean, let Christ live in thee as thy all, and cast all thy care and cumber on him; lay all thy difficulties before him; lean all thy weight upon him; draw all thy necessities out of him: and undertake all thy duties in him; be strong in him, and in the power of his might; let him be thy counsellor, conductor, leader, teacher, captain, commander, light, life, strength, and all, so shall thou stand and have cause to glory, even in thine infirmities, for thou shalt find the power of Christ resting upon thee, and thou shalt have cause to say, therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong. Remember that great word, Phil. iv. 13, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me."
It hath been the usual and ordinary question of believers, How shall we make use of Christ for sanctification? To this great and important question, I, (though the meanest and most unfit for such a work, of all that God hath sent to feed his flock) have adventured or endeavoured at least, to give such as truly desire to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, some satisfaction herein, laying before them some plain directions framed to their capacities, and suited to some of their most ordinary and usual causes; some whereof are more comprehensive, and others more particular, may be looked upon as exemplary instances, serving for other cases of the like nature; for hardly could every particular circumstantiate case be particularly spoken to, and some might judge that to be superfluous, if thou, in the light and strength of Christ, shalt really practise what is here pointed forth, I may be confident to say, thy labour shall not be in vain in the Lord, and thou shalt attain unto another sort of holiness than that which proud pretenders boast of, and shalt be far without the reach of that snare, which unstable souls are too readily entangled with. I mean, the plausible pretension of more than ordinary sanctity which yet is but forced, feigned, constrained, mostly external, and framed to cause admiration in beholders, whom they intend to make a prey of. This shall be no temptation to thee, who by experience findeth a more safe, satisfying, full, free, easy, pleasant and heartsome way of mortifying lusts, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and so perfecting holiness, by running immediately to Christ, and by living in and upon him, who is made of God to us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. That the Lord may bless the same to thee, for this end, shall be, and is the desire and prayer of him who is,
Thy servant in the work of the gospel,
If thou answer this designation, and art really a partaker of the unction, which is the high import of that blessed and glorious name called upon thee, thine eye must affect thy heart, and a soul swelled with godly sorrow must at last burst and bleed forth at a weeping eye, while thou looks upon most of this licentious and loathsome generation, arrived at that height of prodigious profanity as to glory in their shame, and boast of bearing the badge and black mark of damnation. But, besides this swarm who savage it to hell, and make such haste hither, as they foam themselves into everlasting flames, carrying, under the shape and visage of men, as devils in disguise; the face of the church is covered with a scum of such, who are so immersed in the concerns of this life, and are so intense in the pursuit of the pleasures, gain, and honours thereof, as their way doth manifestly witness them to be sunk into the deep oblivion of God, and desperate inconsideration of their precious and immortal souls. But in the third place, besides these who are hurried into such a distraction with the cares of this life, that they, as natural brute beasts made to be destroyed, are never at leisure to consider either the nature and necessity of their noble souls, or to converse with the notion of a Deity. Thou may perceive a company of self-deceiving speculatists, who make broad the phylacteries of their garments, and boast of some high attainments in religion; yea, would have others look upon them as arrived at the very porch of heaven, and advanced to a high pitch of proficiency in the ways of God, because they can discourse a little of the mysteries of salvation, and without ever diving farther into the depth and true nature of religion, dream themselves into a consideration of being saints, and conclude themselves candidates for glory.
This is that heart-moving object which presents itself to thy eye and observation this day. This is that deplorable posture, wherein thou mayest perceive most men at the very point of perishing eternally, who are within the pale of the visible church, some dancing themselves headlong in all haste into the lake of fire and brimstone, some so much concerned in things which have no connexion with their happiness, as to drop unconcernedly into the pit, out of which there is no redemption; and others dreaming themselves into endless perdition: and all of them unite in a deriding at, or despising the means used, and essays made, in order to their recovery.
But if his servants, in following their work closely, seem to have gained a little ground upon men, and almost persuaded them to be Christians, Satan, to the end he may make all miscarry, and counterwork these workers together with God, and poison poor souls by a perversion of the gospel, beyond the power of an antidote, hath raised up, instigated and set on work a race of proud rationalists, for they are wiser than to class themselves amongst those poor fools, those base things, those nothings, to whom Christ is made all things, to whom Christ is made wisdom that he may be righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to them; nay, they must be wise men after the flesh, wise above what is written. A crucified Christ is really unto them foolishness and weakness, though the power of God and the wisdom of God: they will needs go to work another way; they will needs glory in his presence, and have a heaven of their own band-wind. O my soul, enter not into their secrets! and, O sweet Jesus, let thy name be to me, The Lord my righteousness; thou hast won it,—wear it; and gather not my soul with such who make mention of any other righteousness but of thine only! to bring in another gospel amongst us than the gospel of the grace of God. As they determine to know some other thing than Christ and him crucified; so with the enticing words of man's wisdom they bewitch men into a disobedience to the truth, setting somewhat else before them than a crucified Christ; and this they do, that they may remove men from those who call them into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. A Christ, it is true; they speak of; but it is not the Christ of God, for all they drive at (O cursed and truly antichristian design!) is, that he may profit them nothing, while they model all religion according to this novel project of their magnified morality. This is that which gives both life and lustre to that image which they adore, to the Dagon after whom they would have the world wonder and worship.
That there is such a moralizing or muddizing, if I may be for once admitted to coin a new word to give these men their due, of Christianity now introduced and coming in fashion, many of the late pieces in request do evince. Now that Christianity should moralize men above all things, I both give and grant; for he who is partaker of the divine nature, and hath obtained precious faith, must add virtue to his faith. But that it should be only conceived and conceited as an elevation of nature to a more clear light, in the matter of morality, wherein our Lord is only respected as an heavenly teacher and perfect pattern proposed for imitation, is but a proud, pleasing fancy of self-conceited, darkened, and deluded dreamers, robbing God of the glory of his mercy and goodness; our Lord Jesus Christ of the glory of his grace and merit. The spirit of the efficacy of his glorious and mighty operations; and themselves and their pilgrimages, who give them the hand as guides, of the comfort and fruit of all.
It cannot escape thy observation, how busy Satan is this day, upon the one hand, to keep men, under the call of the gospel to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure, idle all the day, so that no persuasion can induce them to engage seriously to fall about a working out their own salvation in fear and trembling; and, on the other, equally diligent and industrious to divert men from trusting in the name of the Lord, and staying upon their God; setting them on work to go and gather fuel, and kindle a fire, and compass themselves about with sparks, that they may walk in the light of their own fire, and in the sparks that they have kindled, knowing well that they shall this way most certainly lose their toil and travel, and have no other reward at his hand of all their labour, but to lie down in everlasting sorrow, while the stout-hearted and far from righteousness and salvation, shall get their soul for a prey, and be made to rejoice in his salvation, and bless him who hath made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
I am neither the fit person for so great an undertaking, nor do these limits, within which I must bound myself, permit me to expatiate in many notions about the nature of this excellent and precious thing, true gospel holiness. Oh! if, in the entry, I could on my own behalf and others, sob out my alas! from the bottom of my soul, because, be what it will, it is some other thing than men take it to be. Few habituate themselves to a thinking upon it, in its high nature, and soul enriching advantages, till their hearts receive suitable impressions of it, and their lives be the very transumpt of the law of God written in their heart; the thing, alas! is lost in a noise of words, and heap of notions about it; neither is it a wonder that men fall into mistakes about it, since it is only the heart possessed of it that is capable to understand and perceive its true excellency. But if it be asked what it is; we say, it may be shortly taken up, as the elevation and raising up of a poor mortal unto a conformity with God. As a participation of the divine nature, or as the very image of God stamped on the soul, impressed on the thoughts and affections, and expressed in the life and conversation; so that the man in whom Christ is formed, and in whom he dwells, lives, and walks, hath while upon the earth, a conversation in heaven; not only in opposition to those many, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things; but also to those pretenders unto and personaters of religion, who have confidence in the flesh, and worship God with their own spirit, which in the matters of God is flesh and not spirit, and have somewhat else to rejoice in than in Christ Jesus, and a being found in him, not having their own righteousness.
True gospel holiness, then, consists in some similitude and likeness to God, and fellowship with him founded upon that likeness. There is such an impression of God, his glorious attributes, his infinite power, majesty, mercy, justice, wisdom, holiness, and grace, &c., as sets him up all alone in the soul without any competition, and produceth those real apprehensions of him, that he is alone excellent and matchless. O how preferable doth be appear, when indeed seen, to all things! And how doth this light of his infinite gloriousness, shining into the soul, darken and obscure to an invisibleness all other excellencies, even as the rising of the sun makes all the lesser lights to disappear. Alas! how is God unknown in his glorious being and attributes! When once the Lord enters the soul, and shines into the heart, it is like the rising of the sun at midnight: all these things which formerly pretended to some loveliness, and did dazzle with their lustre, are eternally darkened. Now, all natural perfections, and moral virtues, in their flower and perfections, are at best looked upon as aliquid nihil. What things were formerly accounted gain and godliness, are now counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord, and the soul cannot only suffer the loss of them all without a sob, but be satisfied to throw them away as dung, that it may win him, and be found in him. Now, the wonder of a Deity, in his greatness, power, and grace, swallows up the soul in sweet admiration. O how doth it love to lose itself in finding here what it cannot fathom? And then it begins truly to see the greatness and evil of sin; then it is looked upon without the covering of pleasure or profit, and loathed as the leprosy of hell. Now the man is truly like God in the knowledge of good and evil, in the knowledge of that one infinite good, God; and in the knowledge of that one almost infinite evil, sin. This is the first point of likeness to him, to be conformed to him in our understanding, that as he knows himself to be the only self-being and fountain-good, and all created things in their flower and perfection, with all their real or fancied conveniences being compared with him, but as the drop of a bucket, or nothing; yea, less than nothing, vanity (which is nothing blown up, by the force or forgery of a vainly working imagination, to the consistence of an appearance), so for a soul to know indeed and believe in the heart, that there is nothing deserves the name of good besides God, to have the same superlative and transcendent thoughts of that great and glorious self-being God, and the same diminishing and debasing thoughts of all things and beings besides him. And that as the Lord seeth no evil in the creation but sin, and hates that with a perfect hatred, as contrary to his holy will; so for a soul to aggravate sin in its own sight to an infiniteness of evil, at least till it see it only short of infiniteness in this respect, that it can be swallowed up of infinite mercy. But whence hath the soul all this light? It owes all this, and owns itself as debtor for it to him, who opens the eyes of the blind. It is he who commands the light to shine out of darkness, who hath made these blessed discoveries, and hath given the poor benighted soul, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. These irradiations are from the Spirit's illumination; 'tis the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that hath made day-light in the darkened soul. The man who had the heart of a beast, as to any saving or solid knowledge of God or himself, hath now got an understanding to know him that is true. Now is Christ become the poor man's wisdom, he is now renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him; he might well babble of spiritual things, but till now he understood nothing of the beauty and excellency of God and his ways; nay, he knew not what he knew, he was ignorant as a beast of the life and lustre of those things which he knew in the letter; nothing seemed more despicable to him in the world, than true godliness; but now he judgeth otherwise, because he hath the mind of Christ. The things which in his darkness he did undervalue as trifles to be mocked at, he now can only mind and admire, since he became a child of light; now being delivered from that blindness and brutishness of spirit, which possesseth the world, (and possessed himself till he was transformed by the renewing of his mind) who esteem basely of spiritual things, and set them at nought, he prizeth as alone precious. The world wonders what pleasure or content can be in the service of God, because they see not by tasting how good he is; to be prying into and poring upon invisible things, is to them visible madness, but to the enlightened mind, the things that are not seen are only worth seeing, and while they appear not to be, they only are; whereas the things that are seen appear but to be, and are not. Though the surpassing sweetness of spiritual things should be spoke of to them, who cannot favour the things of God, in such a manner as the glorious light of them did surround men; yet they can perceive no such thing; all is to them cunningly devised fables; let be spoke what will, they see no form, no comeliness, no beauty in this glorious object—God in Christ reconciling sinners to himself. Alas! the mind is blinded; the dungeon is within; and till Christ open the eyes, as well as reveal his light, the soul abides in its blindness, and is buried in midnight darkness; but when the Spirit of God opens the man's eyes, and he is translated by an act of omnipotency out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son, which is a kingdom of marvellous light, O what matchless beauty doth he now see in these things, which appeared despicable and dark nothings to him, till he got the unction, the eye-salve, which teacheth all things. Now he sees (what none without the Spirit can see) the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, and are freely given them of God; and these, though seen at a distance, reflect such rays of beauty into his soul, that he beholds and is ravished, he sees and is swallowed up in wonder.
But then, in the next place, this is not a spiritless inefficacious speculation about these things, to know no evil but sin and separation from God, and no blessedness but in the fruition of him; it is not such a knowledge of them as doth not principle motion to pursue after them. This I grant is part of the image of God, when the Sun of Righteousness, by arising upon the man, hath made day-light in his soul, and by these divine discoveries hath taught him to make the true parallel betwixt things that differ, and to put a just value upon them according to their intrinsic worth. But this divine illumination doth not consist in a mere notion of such things in the head, nor doth it subsist in enlightening the mind; but in such an impression of God upon the soul, as transforms and changes the heart into his likeness by love.' Knowledge is but one line, one draught or lineament of the soul's likeness to him; that alone doth not make up the image, but knowledge rooted in the heart, and engraven on the soul, hining and shewing itself forth in a gospel-adorning conversation, that makes a comely proportion; when the same hand that touched the eye, and turned the man from darkness to light, and gave an heart to know him, that he is the Lord, that doth also circumcise the man's heart to love the Lord his God, with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind; and this love manifesting its liveliness, in its constraining power to live to him and for him. Light without, heat is but wild fire; but light in the mind, begetting heat in the heart, making it burn Godward, Christward, and heavenward; light in the understanding, setting on fire and inflaming the affections, and these shining out in a heavenly conversation, makes up the lively image of God, both in feature and stature, both in proportion and colour. Faith begins this image, and draws the lineaments; and love bringing forth obedience finishes, and gives it the lively lustre. The burnings of love in obedience to God is that which illuminates the whole, and makes a man look indeed like him, to whose image he is predestinate to be conform, and then makes him, who is ravished with the charms of that beauty, say, as in a manner overcome thereby, "how fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse? How much better is thy love than wine, and the smell of thine ointments than all spices?" But consider, that as these beams, which irradiate the soul, are from the Spirit of Christ, so that spiritual heat and warmth come out of the same airth, and proceed from the same author, for our fire burns as he blows, our lamp shines as he snuffs and furnisheth oil. Men therefore should not indulge themselves in this delusion, to think, that that which will pass for pure religion and undefiled before God, consists either in an outward blameless conversation, or in putting on and wearing an external garb of profession. No, as the top of it reacheth higher, so the root of it lies deeper; it is rooted in the heart, this seed being sown in an honest heart (or making the heart honest in which it is sown) takes root downward, and brings forth fruit upward, as trees that grow as far under ground as above, so these trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified, grow as far and as fast under ground as above; godliness grows as far downwards in self-emptying, self-denial, and self-abasing, in hungering and thirsting after more of righteousness, in the secret engagements of the heart to God in Christ, in these burstings of heart and bleeding of soul, to which God alone is witness, because of shortcoming in holiness, because of a body of death within, and because of that law in the members warring against the law of the mind, and bringing often into captivity to the law of sin, as it grows upward in a profession. And this is that pure religion and undefiled before God, which is both most pleasant to him, and profitable to the soul.
But to make the difference betwixt dead morality, in its best dress, and true godliness, more clear and obvious, that loveliness of the one may engage men into a loathing of the other, this dead carion and stinking carcase of rotten morality, which still stinks in the nostrils of God, even when embalmed with the most costly ointments of its miserably misled patrons, we say, that true godliness, which in quality and kind differs from this much pleaded for and applauded morality, a black heathen by a mongrel kind of Christians baptised of late with the name of Christianity, and brought into the temple of the Lord, concerning which he hath commanded that it should never in that shape, and for that end it is introduced, enter into his congregation; and the bringers for their pains are like to seclude themselves for ever from his presence. It respects Jesus Christ, 1st, as its principle; 2d, as its pattern; 3d, as its altar; and, 4th, as its end.
1. I say, true holiness, in its being and operation, respects Jesus Christ as its principle; "I live," said that shining saint, "yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." As that which gives religion its first being, is the religation of the soul to God; so that which gives it motion, and draws forth that life into action, is the same God's working all their works in them and for them, so that in all they do, they are workers together with God; every act of holiness is an act of the soul made alive unto God through Jesus Christ, and quickened to each action by the supervenience of new life and influence; therefore, says Christ, without me ye can do nothing; it is not, being out of me ye can do nothing, for he spoke it to those who were in him, but, if ye leave me out in doing, all ye do will be nothing. 'Tis Jesus Christ who gives life and legs, so that our runnings are according to his drawings. "My soul followeth hard after thee," said that holy man; but whence is all this life and vigour? "Thy right hand upholdeth me," Oh! it is the upholdings and helpings of this right hand, enlarging the man's heart, that makes a running in the ways of his commandments; it is he who, while the saints work out the work of their own salvation, worketh in them both to will and to do. It is he who giveth power to the faint, and who, to them that have no might, encreaseth strength, so that the poor lifeless, languishing lie-by is made to mount up with eagles' wings, and surmount all these difficulties, with a holy facility, which were simply insuperable, and pure impossibilities. Now the man runs and doth not weary, because Christ draws; and he walks and doth not faint, because Christ, in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily, dwells in him, and walks in him, and dwells in him for that very end, that he may have a completeness and competency of strength for duty. All grace is made to abound unto him, that he always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work. He is able of himself to do nothing, no, not to think any thing as he ought, but he hath a sufficiency of God, whereby he is thoroughly furnished unto every good work; so that he may say, I am able for all things: it is more than "I am able to do all things," as we read it; its just import is, "I am able to do all things, and to endure all things;" and that which keeps it from vain boasting, is what is added, "through Christ which strengthened me," or putting power in me, or rather impowering me, which is by a supervenient act drawing forth life into a liveliness of exercise, according to the present exigent. There is a power in a saint, because Christ is in him, that overpowers all the powers of darkness without, and all the power of indwelling corruption within, so that when the poor weak creature is ready to despond; within sight of his duty, and say, because of difficulty, what is my strength that I should hope? Christ saith, despond not, my grace is sufficient for thee, and my power shall rest upon thee, to a reviving thee, and raising thee up, and putting thee in case to say, when I am weak, then I am strong; his strength, who impowers me, is made perfect in my weakness, so that I will glory in my infirmities, and be glad in being grace's debtor. But what power is that, which raiseth the dead sinner, and carries the soul in its actings so far without the line, and above the sphere of all natural activity, when stretched to its utmost? O, it is an exceeding great power which is to them-ward who believe, that must make all things, how difficult soever, easy, when he works in them to will and to do, according to the working of his mighty power, (or as it is upon the margin, and more emphatic, of the might of his power,) which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, &c.; he that raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead, raiseth up believers also by Jesus; and being raised and revived by him, to walk in newness of life, the life of Jesus, in its communications of strength, is manifest in their mortal flesh, according to that of the same apostle; "the life that I live in the flesh," saith he, "I live by the faith of the Son of God." Faith brings in Christ in my soul, and Christ being my life, carries out my soul in all the acts of obedience, wherein, though I be the formal agent, yet the efficiency and the power, by which I operate, is from him; so that I can give no better account of it than this,—I—not I. But who then, if not you? The grace of God, saith he, which was with me. But this mystery to our bold, because blind moralists, of an indwelling Christ working mightily in the soul, is plain madness and melancholy; however we understand his knowledge in the mystery of Christ, who said, "The life I live in the flesh," &c.; and from what we understand of his knowledge in that mystery, which he had by revelation, we understand our moralists to be men of corrupt minds, who concerning the faith hath made shipwreck; but what is that, "The life I live in the flesh," &c. The import of it seems to be this, if not more,—while I have in me a soul animating my body, as the principle of all my vital and natural actions, I have Jesus Christ animating my soul, and by the impulse and communicate virtue and strength of an indwelling Christ, I am made to run the ways of his commandments, wherein I take so great delight, that I am found of no duty as of my enemy.
2. The gospel holiness respects Jesus Christ as its pattern. It proposeth no lower pattern for imitation than to be conform to his image, (he that is begotten again into a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, girds up the loins of his mind, which are the affections of his soul, lest by falling flat upon the earth, he be hindered in running the race set before him, as looking to the forerunner his pattern,) in this girdle of hope, that he may be "holy in all manner of conversation," keeping his eye upon the precept and pattern, that his practice may be conform. It is written, saith he, "be ye holy, for I am holy;" the hope of seeing God, and being ever with him, imposeth a necessity upon him who hath it, to look no lower than at him, who is glorious in holiness; and therefore he is said to purify himself even as he is pure; and knowing that this is the end of their being quickened together with Christ, that they may walk even as he walked, they in their working and walking aim at no less than to be like him; and therefore never sit down upon any attained measure, as if they were already perfect. The spotless purity of God expressed in his laws, is that whereto they study assimilation; therefore they are still in motion towards this mark, and are changed from one of glorious grace into another, into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, who never gives over his putting them to cleanse from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, till that be true in the truest sense, "Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." And knowing that perfect fruition of him cannot be without the perfect conformity to him, herein do they exercise themselves to grow in grace, and to be still advancing towards some more likeness to his image, forgetting all their attainments, as things that are behind, and by their Teachings forth unto that which is before, make it evident that they make every begun degree of grace and conformity to God, a prevenient capacity for a new degree which yet they have not attained. I know our moralists look upon themselves as matchless, in talking of following his steps as he hath left us an example; in this they make a flourishing with flanting effrontery, but for all their boasting of wisdom, such a poor simple man as I, am made to wonder at their folly, who proposing, as they say, the purity of Christ as their pattern, are not even thence convinced, that in order to a conformity thereto, there is a simple and absolute necessity of the mighty operations of that Spirit of God, whereby this end can be reached; but while they flout at the Spirit's working as a melancholy fancy, whereby the soul is garnished with the beauty of holiness, and made an habitation for God, I doubt not to say of these great sayers, that they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm; nay, doth not the talking of the one, not only without seeing the necessity of the other, but speaking against it, say in the heart of every one, who hath not the heart of a beast, that they have never yet got a sight of the holiness of that pattern, nor of their own pollutions and impotency; for if they had, they would give themselves up to Jesus Christ to be washed by him, without which they can have no part with him. O there will be a vast difference, at the latter day, betwixt them who have given their black souls to Jesus to bleach, when he shall present them without spot, not only clothed with wrought gold, but all glorious within, and those who have never dipped, yea, who have despised to dip their defiled souls in any other fountain, save in the impure puddle of their own performances. This will make them loathsome in his sight, and cause his soul abhor those who have done this despite unto the Spirit of grace, as to slight that blessed fountain, opened for sin and for uncleanness, let them pretend as high as they will, to look to him as a pattern; while, because the plague-sore is gone up in their eye, they look not to him as a price, nor to the grace of Jesus Christ, as that which can only principle any acceptable performance of duty, he will plunge them in the ditch, and it will cost them their souls, for rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, in not making use of him who came by water as well as by blood.
3. This gospel holiness respects Christ as the altar. It is in him, and for him, that his soul is well pleased with our performance—this is the altar upon which thou must lay thy gift, and leave it, without which thy labour is lost, and whatsoever thou dost is loathed, as a corrupt thing. As believers draw all their strength from him, so they expect acceptance only through him, and for him. They do not look for it, but in the Beloved; they dare not draw near to God in duty, but by him. This is the new and living way which is consecrate for them; and if such, who offer to come to God, do not enter in hereat, instead of being admitted to a familiar converse with God, they shall find him a consuming fire. When the saints have greatest liberty in prayer, and so of all other performances, when their hearts are most lifted up in the ways of the Lord, they abhor at thinking their prayer can any otherways be set forth before him as incense, or the lifting up of their hands as the evening sacrifice, but as presented by the great intercessor, and perfumed by the merit of his oblation. If they could weep out the marrow of their bones, and the moisture of their body, in mourning over sin; yet they durst not think of having what comes from so impure a spring, and runs through so polluted a channel, presented to God, but by Jesus Christ, in order to acceptation; for, as they look to the exalted Saviour, to get their repentance from him, so when by the pourings out upon them of the spirit of grace and supplication, he hath made them pour out their hearts before him, and hath melted them into true tenderness, so that their mourning is a great mourning, they carry back these tears to be washen and bathed in his blood, as knowing without this of how little worth and value with God their salt water is; but when they are thus washed he puts them in his bottle, and then pours them out again to them in the wine of strong consolation. Thus are they made glad in his house of prayer, and their sighs and groans come up with acceptance upon his altar. O blessed altar, that sanctifies the gold! this is that altar, whereto the mocking moralist hath no right. It is by him that the poor believer offers up his sacrifice to God continually; whatever he doth in word or deed, he desires to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. As he knows, he lives to make intercession, and to appear in the presence of God for his poor people, both to procure influences for duty, and plead for acceptation: so he depends upon him for both, as knowing he can never otherways hear nor have it said unto him, "well done thou good and faithful servant." It may be he can do little, he hath but a mite to offer; but he puts it in the Mediator's hand to be presented to God. He hath not gold, nor silver, nor purple to bring; he can do no great things; he hath but goats' hair or rams' skins, but he gives them the right tincture, he makes them red in the blood of Christ, and so they are a beautiful incarnation.
But let us, on the other hand, take a short view of what our moralists substitute in its place, as in their account, both more beautiful in the eye, and more beneficial to the souls of men, wherein I intend to be brief. I might comprehend the account to be given shortly, and give it most exactly, yet truly in these few words. As the most undoubted deviation from, and perfect opposition unto the whole contrivance of salvation, and the conveyance of it into the souls of men, as revealed in this gospel which brings life and immortality to light, that fighters against the grace of God in its value and virtue can forge, stretching their blind reason to the overthrow of true religion, and ruin of the souls of men. For to this height these masters of reason have, in their blind rage, risen up against the Lord and against his anointed; this is the dreadful period of that path, wherein we are persuaded to walk, yea hectored, if we would not forfeit the repute of men by these grand sophies, who arrogate to themselves the name and thing of knowledge, as if wisdom were to die with them. The deep mysteries of salvation, which angels desire to look into, and only satisfy themselves with admiration at, must appear as respondents at their bar; and if they decline the judge and court, as incompetent, they flee out and flout at subjecting this blind mole, man's reason, to the revelation of faith in a mystery. The manifold wisdom of God, and the manifold grace of God, must either condescend to their unfoldings, and be content to speak in their dialect, or else these wits, these Athenian dictators, will give the deep things of God, because beyond their divings, the same entertainment which that great gospel preacher, Paul, met with from men of the same mould, kidney, and complexion, because he preached unto them Jesus, What would the babbler say, said they. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation they know not, they have not, they acknowledge not; nay, they despise him in his saving and soul-ascertaining illuminations; and the workings of that mighty power to them-ward who believe, is to the men of this new mould (because they have not found it) an insufferable fancy, to be exploded with a disdain and indignation, which discovers what spirit actuates them in this opposition.
But I would recommend to you, who can neither purchase nor peruse what is more voluminous (how worthy soever) the serious perusal, as of the whole of that savoury and grace-breathing peace, the fulfilling of the Scriptures; so therein that short but sweet digression, against black-mouthed Parker, wherein the gracious author takes out his own soul, and sets before thine eye, the image of God impressed thereon; for while he deals with that desperado by clear and convincing reason, flowing natively from the pure fountain of divine revelation, he hath the advantage of most men, and writers too, in silencing that proud blasphemer of the good ways of God, with arguments taken from what he hath found acted upon his own soul. And likewise I would recommend, as a sovereign antidote against this poison, the diligent perusing and pondering of what is shortly hinted against the hellish belchings of the same unhallowed author (in the Preface to that piece of great Mr. Durham, upon the Commands) by a disciple, who, besides his natural acuteness and sub-actness of judgment in the depth of the gospel mysteries, is known, by all who know him (and for myself, I know none now alive his equal) to have most frequent access to lean his head on his Master's bosom, and so in best case to tell his fellow-disciples and brethren, what is breathed into his own soul, while he lives in these embraces, and under the sheddings abroad of that love of God in his soul, which drew and did dictate these lines, against that flouter at all such fruitions. Nor can I here omit to observe, how, when the devil raised up Parker, that monster, to bark and blaspheme, the Lord raised up a Merveil to fight him at his own weapon, who did so cudgel and quell that boasting bravo, as I know not if he be dead of his wound, but for any thing I know, he hath laid his speech.
It was not the author's design in this piece, (levelled only at this mark, to teach thee how to make use of the strength and grace that is in Christ Jesus, and find the promised ease in performance of duties; in handling of which argument, he hath been remarkably assisted, and thou canst not read with attention, but thou must bear him witness, and bless the Lord on his behalf, that he hath hit the mark at which he aimed) to engage in a formal debate with these audacious moralists, who would boast and bogle us out of the good old way, wherein, if men walk, they must find rest to their souls. Yet if by the doctrine he hath here explained and pressed, as the only way of life, they do not find what a mortal wound he hath given their morality, all the lovers of the truth will see it; and it may be, the Lord sparing life, and continuing the same gracious and great assistance, he hath had in engaging with many and great adversaries to the truth at home and abroad, they may see somewhat from his pen, which may make the lovers of our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and of the operations of his Spirit, sing over these successors to Sisera, who with their jumping chariots and rattling wheels, assault the truth, at his feet they bowed, they fell, they lay down at his feet, they bowed, they fell where they bowed, there they fell down dead; so let all the enemies of thy truth perish, O Lord! How to make the whole more useful for thee, for whose advantage 'tis mainly intended, I leave to the author's own direction; only this I must say, his method and mould, wherein he casts his sweet matter, and his way of handling this so seasonable a subject, is so accommodate to each case, and brought home to the conscience, and down to the capacity of the meanest Christian, which was his aim, that the feeble, in this day, might be as David; that howbeit many worthy men have not only hinted, but enlarged upon the same matter, yet thou canst not but see some heart-endearing singularity in his way of improving and handling this great gospel truth. Next, I must tell thee, that as I myself read it with much satisfaction (though, alas! I dare not say, I have by reading reaped the designed advantage), so that thou mayest be blushed into a perusal thereof, and profiting thereby, I must likewise tell thee, I say, it hath been turned into Dutch, and that it hath not only met with great acceptation amongst all the serious and godly in these parts, who have seen it, but is much sought after; and they profess themselves singularly thereby edified, and set a-going after God, by its efficacious persuasiveness, with a singing alacrity; and if it have not the same effect upon thee and me, they and it will arise up against us in judgment.
Up, therefore, Christians, and be doing: Listen to such a teacher, who, lest thou tire in thy race, or turn back, teacheth thee a certain and sweet way of singular proficiency and progress in the ways of God. It may be, it is not thy work, nor mine, to write both against these soul-murdering, however magnified, methods of taking men off Jesus Christ; but our penury of parts for that, should first put us to seek plenty of tears, that we may weep, to see our master so wounded by the piercing pens of those who, to patronise their mock religion, wrest the Scriptures, and with wicked hands wring the word of the Lord, till it weep blood: this, I say, should provoke thee and me to weep upon him, till he appear, and beat the pens of such deceivers out of their hand by a blow of his; 2d, It should provoke us to know the truth, that we may contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints, and to have these contradicted truths so impressed in their life upon our souls, that the pen of the most subtle pleader for this perversion of the gospel may neither delete these, nor be able to stagger us, but we may, from the efficacious working of these, have the witness in ourselves, and know the men who teach otherways not to be of God; 3d, It should be our ambition, when the all of religion is cried down, and a painted shadow, a putrid, however perfumed, nothing put in its place, to make it appear, by our practice, that religion is an elevation of the soul above the sphere and activity of dead morality; and that it is no less or lower principle that acts us, than Christ dwelling in us, and walking in us. How can the love of God, and of Christ, and of the Spirit be in us, if these perverse praters against the power of godliness, provoke us not to emit a practical declaration to the world, and extort a testimony to his grace by our way, from the enemies thereof? Improve, therefore, this his special help to that purpose, which in a most seasonable time is brought to thy hand.