Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

is nor of the will of man, but of God,” John i. 13. In this respect they differ from gifts, as the heavenly manna which was rained down from heaven differs from common bread, which, by paint and industry, the earth produces in a natural way.

2. The best natural gifts afford not that sweetness and folid comfort to the soul that grace doth; they are but a dry stalk that affords no meat for a foul to feed on. A man may have an understanding full of light, and an heart void of comfort at the same time ; but grace is a fountain of purest living streams of peace and comfort, 1 Pet. i. 8. “ Pelieving, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory : “ light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart." All true pleasures and delights are seminally in grace, Psal. xcvii. 11. They are sown for them in these divine and heavenly graces, which are glory in the bud.

3. Gifts adorn the person, but do not secure the soul from wrath. Like a precious

A man may be admired for them among men, and

, rejected eternally by God. Who can considerately fione in a toad's

read that sixth chapter of the Hebrews, and not bead,

tremble to think in what a forlorn case a soul may be, though set off and accomplifhed with the rareft endowments of this kind! Mat. vij. 22. We read, that many shall say to Christ in “ that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and “ in thy name cast out devils,” &c. and yet themselves at last cast out as a prey to devils. How divinely and rhetorically did Balaam speak and prophefy, Numb. xxiii. What rare and excellent parts had the Scribes and Pharisees? who upon that account, were filed Principes feculi, the princes of the world. Cor. ij. 8. What profound and excellent parts had the heathen fages and philosophers? These things are so far from securing the soul from the wrath to come, that they often expose it unto wrath, and are as oil to increase the eternal burnings; but now gracious principles are the τα εχομενα σωτηριας, as the apostle calls theni, Heb. vi. things that accompany and have falvation in them. These are the things on which the promises of salvation run; and these treasures are never found but in elect veifels. Glory is by promise assured and made over to him that poffefses them. There is but a little point of time betwixt him and the glorified fpirits above. And how inconfiderable a matter is a little time, which contracts and winds up apace ? For now is our salvation nearer than when We believed. And hence the scripture speaks of them as already faved, Rom. viii. 24: “ We are faveci by hope,” because it is as sure as if we were in heaven. We are made to fit in heavenly places.

4. Gifts may damnify the person that poffefses them, and it may be better in respect of a man's own condition he had never had them. Knowledge (faith the apostle) puffith up, i Cor. viii. 1. makes the foul proud and flatulent. It is a hard thing to know much, and not to know it too much. The faint's knowledge is better than the scholar's; for he hath his own heart instead of a commentary to help

[ocr errors][merged small]

him. Aristotle said, a little knowledge about heavenly things, though conjectural, is better than much of earthly things, though certain. “ The world by wisdom kne iv not God," (fuith the apoiile, 1 Cor. i. 12.) i. e. Their learning hanged in th ir light, they were too wise to submit to the fimplicity of the golpel. Tre excellent parts of the old heretics did but ferve to mid wife into the worlu the monitrous birth of foul-damning hereficz. Cisit abs te ornari diabolus, as Austin faid to that ingenious young scholar; the devil desires to be adorned by thee. But now grace itself is not fubjeci to such abuses, it cannot be the proper uniuscal cause of any evil effect: it cannot puff up the heart, but always humbles it, nor serves the devil's designs, but ever opposes them.

5. Gifts may be given a man for the sake of others, and not out of any love to himfelf; they are but as an excellent dilh of meat which a man sends to a nurse, not for her fake fo much as for his child's that fucks her. God, indeed, makes use of them to do his children good, the church is benefited by them, though themselves are but like cooks; they prepare excellent dishes, on which the saints feed, and are nouriched, though themselves taste them not. They are dona ministrane tia, non fanctificantia, ministering, but not fanétifying gifts, proceeding not from the good-will of God to him that hath them, but to those he benefits by them And O what a fad consideration will this be one day to such a person, to think I helped such a foul to heaven, while I myself must lodge in hell?

6. Sin in the reign and power of it, may cohabit with the most excellent natural gifts under the same roof, I mean in the same heart. A man may have the tongue of an angel, and the heart of a devil. The wisdom of the philofophers (saith Lactantius) non excindit vitia fed abscondit, doth not root out, but hide their vices. The learned Pharifees were but painted fepulchres. Gifts are but as a fair glove drawn over a foul hand : But now grace is incompatible with fin in dominion, it purifies the heart, Acts xv. 6. cleanses the conscience, Heb. ix. 14. crucifies the affections and lusts of the flesh, Gal. v. 24. is not content with the concealment, but ruin of corruptions.

7. And lastly, Gifts must leave us at last. " Whether there be " knowledge that shall cease. All flein is grass, and the goodliness “ of it as the flower of the grass; the grass withereth, the flower « fadeth, but the word of the Lord abideth for ever,” Ifa. xl. 6, 8. Many times they leave a man before death. One knock, if it hit righi, (as one faith) may make a wise man a fool; biit, to be sure, they all leave us at death. “ Doth not his excellency which is in him go 4 away?” Job iv. 21. yea, then all natural excellency departs : Death strips the foul of all those splendid ornaments; then the rhetorical tongue is struck dumb; the nimble wit and curious fancy shall entertain your ears with no more pleasant discourses. Nunquam jecos dobis, as Adrian said to his departing soul; but grace ascends with the soul into eternity, and there receives its perfection, and accomplishment. Gifts take their leave of the foul as Orpah did of Naomi ; but grace faith then, as Ruth, Where thou goeft I will go, and, where thou Jodgeft I will loilge, and nothing ball separate thee and me. Now put all this together, and then judge whether the apostle spoke hyperboles, when he said, “ Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet I thew unto “ you a more excellent way." 1 Cor. xii. ult. And thus you have the choiceness of these principles also.

REFLECTIONS.

The gracious fou's The lines are fallen to me in a pleasant place, retit (t1011.

may the gracious soul fay: How defective fo

ever I am in gifts, yet blessed be the Lord who hath sown the feeds of true grace in my heart. What though I am not famed and honoured among men, let it fuffice me that I am precious in the eyes of the Lord. Though he hath not abounded to me in gifts of nature, “ Yet bleiled be the God and Father of my Lord “ Jesus Christ, who hath abounded to me in all spiritual blefiings, in se heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Eph. i. 3. Is not a true jewel, though spurned in the dirt, more precious than a false one, though fet in gold ? Why art thou troubled, O my soul, for the want of these things which reprobates may have? and art not rather admiring and blefling God for those things which none but the darlings and favou. sites of heaven can have ? Is not an ounce of pure gold more valuable than many pounds of gilded brass? What though the dews of Helicon defcend not upon niy head, if in the mean time the fweet influences of Sion fall upon my heart? O my God! how much foever others are elated by the light of their knowledge, I have cause, with humility to adore thee for the heavenly heat with which thou hast warmed my affections.

Pause a wbile, my soul, upon this point : With The deceived foul's what feed is my heart sown, and of what kind are reflection. those things wherein I excel others? Are they in

deed special feeds of grace, or common gifts and natural excellencies? If the latter, little cause have I to pride myself in them, were they ten thousand times more than they are. If these things be indeed the things that accompany salvation, the feed of God, the true and real work of grace, then, (1.) How comes it to pafs that I never found my throws, or travailing pangs in the production of them? It is affirmed and generally acknowledged, that the new creature is never brought forth without such pain and compunctions of heart, Acts ii. 37. I have indeed often felt an aching head, whilft I have read and Itudied to increase my knowledge ? But when did I feel an aching heart for sin ? 0 I begin to suspect that it is not right. Yea, (2.) And my suspicion increases while I consider that grace is of an humbling nature, i Cor. xv. 10. Lord, how have I been elated by my gifts, and valued myself above what was meet? O

how have I delighted in the noise of the Pharisee's trumpet! Mat. vi. 2. No music so sweet as that. Say, O my conscience, have I not delighted more in the theatre than the closet? In the praise of men, than the approbation of God ? O how many evidences dost thou produce against me? Indeed these are sad symptoms that I have thewed thee, but there is yet another, which renders thy case more suspicious yet, yea, that which thou canst make no rational defence against, even the ineffectualness of all thy gifts and knowledge to mortify any one of all thy lufts. It is beyond all dispute, that gifts may, but grace cannot conlist without mortification of sin, Gal. v. 24. Now what lust hath fallen before these excellent parts of mine? Doth not pride, paflion, covetousness, and indeed the whole body of fin, live and thrive in me as much as ever? Lord, I yield the cause, I can defend it no longer against my conscience, which casts and condemns me, by full proof, to be but in a wretched, cursed, lamentable state, not withstanding all my knowledge and flourishing gifts. Olew me a more excellent way. Lord ! that I had the fincerity of the poorest faint, though I should lose the applause of all my parts; with these I fee I may go to hell, but without some better thing no hope of heaven.

Men these withelyes they the corresponen

THE POEM.
T REAT difference betwixt that seed is found,

G With which you fow your sev'ral plots of ground.
Seed-wheat doth far excel in dignity
The cheaper barley, and the coarser rye:
Tho' in themselves they good and wholesome are,
Yet these with choiceft wheat may not compare.
Men's hearts, like fields, are fow'd with different grain,
Some baser, some more noble, fome again
Excelling both the former, more than wheat
Excels that grain your swine and horses eat.
Por principles of mere morality,
Like cummin, barley, fitches, pease, or rye,
In those men's hearts are often to be found,
Whom yet the scripture calleth cursed ground;
And nobler principles than these, sometime
Call'd common grace, and spiritual gifts, which shine
In some men's heads, where is there habitation;
Yet they are no companions of salvation.
These purchase honour both from great and small :
But I must tell thee, that if this be all,
Tho' like an angel in these gifts you shine
Amongst blind mortals, for a little time;
The day's at hand, when, fuch as thou must take
Thy lot with devils in th' infernal lake. .
But principles of special, saving grace,

Whose feat is in the heart, not head, or face ;
Like folid wheat sown in a fruitful ficla,
Shall spring, and flourish, and at last will yield
A glorious harveit of eternal reft,
To him that nour:th'd then within his breast. .
O grace! how orient art thou how divine !
What is the glory of all gifts to thine!
Diffeminate this feed within my heart,
My God, I pray thee, tho' thou should it impart
The less of gifts; then I may truly fay,
That thou halt thew’me the more excellent way.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. IX.
Upon springing-weather after feed-time.

By heaver's influence corn and plants de spring,
God's show'rs of grace do make his valleys fing.

M

OBSERVATION. H E earth, after that it is plowed and fowed, must be watered, 1 and warmed with the dews and iniluences of heaven, or no fruit can be expected. If God do not open to you his good treasure, the heavens to give rain unto the land in its feason, and bless all the work of your hands, as it is Deut. xxviii. 12. the earth cannot yield her increase. The order and dependence of natural causes in the production of fruit, is excellently described, Hof i. 21, 22. « I will

hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth « shall hear the corn, and wine, and oil, and they Mall hear Jez“ reel.” Jezreel must have corn, and wine, and oil, or they cannot live; they cannot have it unless the earth bring it forth; the earth cannot bring it forth without the heavens; the heavens cannot yield a drop unless God hear them, that is, unlock and open them. * Nature, and natural causes, are nothing else but the order in ( which God works.' This some heathens, by the light of nature, acknowledged, and therefore wben they went to plow in the morning, they did lay one hand upon the plow (to speak their own part to be painfulness) and held up the other hand to Ceres, the goddess of corn, to fhew that their expectation of plenty was from their luppoiud deity t. I fear many Christians lay both hands to the plow, and feluonn lift up heart, or hand to God, when about that work.

* Nuiwings. visosé quum kvinorum operum ordo. + Weurs Cum Law.

Berentius

« AnteriorContinuar »