Imágenes de páginas


Upon the Resemblance of Wheat and Tares.

As wheat resembled is by viler tares ;
So vile hypocrisy like grace appears.

OBSERVATION. TT is Jerom's observation, that wheat and tares are so much alike 1 in their first springing up, that it is exceedingly difficult to distinguish the one from the other : These are his words, Inter triticum et Ielium quandiu herba eft, et nondum culmus venit ad fpicam; grandis fimilitudo eft ; et indiscernendo aut nulla, aut per difficilis diftantia. The difference (faith he) between them, is either none at all, or wonderfully difficult to discern, which those words of Christ, Mat xiii. 30. plainly confirm. Let them both alone till the harvest; thereby intimating both the difficulty of distinguishing the tares and wheat ; as also the unwarrantable rashness of bold and hasty censures of men's sincerity or hypocrisy, which is there shadowed by them.


I TOW difficult foever it be to discern the difference betwixt wheat

I and tares, yet, doubtless, the eye of sense can much casier discriminate them, than the most quick and piercing eye of man can discern the difference betwixt special and common grace ; for all saving graces in the saints have their counterfeits in hypocrites. There are hmilar works in these, which a spiritual and very judicious eye may easily mistake for the saving and genuine effects of the fanctifying Spirit.

*Doth the Spirit of God convince the consciences of his people of the evil of fin ? Rom. vii. 9. Hypocrites have their convictions too, Exod. x. 16. « Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; " and he said, I have finned against the Lord your God, and against " you." Thus was Saul also convicted, i Sam. xv. 24.

Doch true conviction and compunction work reformation of life in the people of God? Even hypocrites also have been famous for their reformations. The unclean {pirit often goes out of the formal hypocrite, by an external reformation; and yet still retains his propriety in them, Matth. xii. 43, 44. For that departure is indeed no more than a politic retreat. Many that shall never escape the damnation of hell, have yet escaped the pollutions of the world, and that. by the knowledge of the Son of God, 2 Pet. ïi. 21.

Doth the Spirit of the Lord produce that glorious and supernatural work of faith in convinced and humble souls ? In this also the bypocrite apes and imitates the believer, Acts viii. 13. ^ Then Simon

o the a rapture was of your oil, oevermore givards

« himself believed also.” Luke viii. 13. “ These are they which « for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away."

Doth the precious eye of faith, discovering the transcendent excellencies that are in Christ, enflame the affections of the believing soul with vehement desires and longings after him? Strange motions of heart have also been found in hypocrites towards Christ and heavenly things, John vi. 34. “ Lord, evermore give us this bread.” Matth. xxv. 8. “ Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out." With what a rapture was Balaam transported, when he said, “Let me die « the death of the righteous, and my last end be like his !” Numb. xxiii. 10. - Doth the work of faith, in some believers, bear upon its top branches the full ripe fruit of a blessed assurance ? Lo! what strong confidences and high-built persuasions of an interest in God, have fometimes been found even in unsanctified cnes ? John.viii. 54. « Of << whom you say, that he is your God; and yet ye have not known " him." To the same height of confidence arrived those vain souls. mentioned in Rom. ij. 19. Yea, so strong may this false assurance be, that they dare boldly venture to go to the judgment-seat of God, and there defend it, Mat, vii. 22. “ Lord, Lord, have we not prophe& fied in thy name?”

Doth the Spirit of God fill the heart of the assured believer with joy unspeakable and full of glory, giving them, through faith, a prelibation, or foretaste of heaven itself, in those first fruits of it? How near to this comes that which the apostle supposes may be found even in apoftates, Hel. vi. 8, 9. who are there said « to taste the good word

of God, and the powers of the world to come." What shall I say, if real Christians delight in ordinances, those that are none may also delight in approaching to God, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. It may be you will fay, though the difference be not easily discernible in their active obedience, yet, when it shall come to suffering, there every eye may discern it; the false heart will then flinch, and cannot brook that work. And yet even this is no infallible rule neither; for the aportle supposes, that the salamander of hypocrisy may live in the very flames of martyrdom, 1 Cor. xiii. 3. “ If I give my body to be burnt, « and have not charity.” And it was long since determined in this cafe, Non poena, fed caufa facit martyrem; so, that without controverfy, the difficulty of distinguishing them is very great.

And this difference will yet be more subtle and undifcernible, if I should tell you, that as in so many things the hypocrite resembles the faint ; so there are other things in which a real Christian may act too like an hypocrite. When we find a Pharaoh confessing, an Herod practising, as well as hearing, a Judas preaching Christ, and an Alexander venturing his life for Paul; and, on the other side, shall find a David condemning that in another which he practised himself, an Hezekiah glorying in his riches, a Peter diflembling, and even all the disciples forsaking Christ in an hour of trouble and danger: 0

then! how hard is it for the eye of man to discern betwixt chaff and wheat? How many upright hearts are now censured, whom God will clear ? How many false hearts are now approved, whom God will condemn ? Men ordinarily have no clear convictive proofs, but only probable symptoms; which, at most, can beget but a conjectural knowledge of another's state. And they that shall peremptorily judge either way, may poslibly wrong the generation of the upright; or, on the other side, absolve and justify the wicked. And truly, confidering what hath been said, it is no great wonder that dangerous mistakes are so frequently made in this matter. But though man cannot, the Lord both can and will, perfectly discriminate them. « The Lord knoweth who are his,” 2 Tim. ii. 19. He will have a day perfectly to fever the tares from the wheat, to melt off the varnish of the most resplendent and refined hypocrite, and to blow off the alhes of infirmities, which have covered and obscured the very sparks of sincerity in his people : he will make such a division as was never Fet made in the world, how many divisions foever there have been in it. " And then shall men indeed return, and discern between the “ righteous and the wicked ; betwixt him that serveth God, and « him that serveth him not.” Meanwhile, my soul, thou canst not better employ thyself, whether thou be found or unsound, than in making those reflections upon thyself.

REFLECTIONS. And is this fo? Then, Lord, pardon the rashness and precipitancy of my censorious fpirit; for I The cenforious have often boldly anticipated thy judgment, and af- fouls reflection. fumed thy prerogative, although thou hast said, « Why dost thou judge thy brother? And why dost thou set at “ nought thy brother? We shall all stand before the judgment-seat

of Christ. For it is written, As I live (faith the Lord) every knee “ fhall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Let us “ not therefore judge one another any more,” Rom. xiv. 10, 11, 12, 13. And again ; " He that judgeth me is the Lord. Let us there« fore judge nothing before the time until the Lord come, who both " will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make mani

fest the counsels of the heart; and then shall every man have s praise of God,” i Cor. iv. 4, 5.

What if God will own fome of them for his sons, to whom I refuse to give the respect of brethren? I may pass hasty and headlong censures upon others; but where is my commislion for so doing? I want not only a commiffion, but fit qualifications for such a work as this, Can I pierce into the heart as God? Can I infallibly discover the hidden motives, ends, and principles of actions ? Besides, O my soul, thou art conscious of so much falseness in thyself, that were there no other confideration, that alone might restrain thee from all uncharitable and hasty censures. If others knew but what I know of myself,

would they not judge as feverely of me as I do of others ?

2. Though I may not jưdge the final state of The presumptuous another, yet I may, and ought to judge the state foul's reflection of my own foul; which is, doubtless, a more ne

ceilary and concerning work to me. For since every saving grace in a Christian hath its counterfeit in the hypocrite, how needful is it for thee, O my soul, to make a stand here, and solemnly to ponder this question, Whether those things, whereon I depend, as my best evidences for the life to come, be the real, or only the common works of the Spirit ? Whether they may be such as can now endure the test of the word, and abide a fair trial at the bar of my own conscience ?

'Conie then, my soul, set the Lord before thee, to whom the secrets of all hearts are manifest: and in the awful sense of that great day make true answer to these heart-discovering queries : For though thou canst not discern the difference betwixt these things in another, yet thou mayest and oughtest to discern it in thyself: For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man that is in him!

1. Is my obedience uniform ? am I the same man at all times, places, and companies ? Or rather, am I not exact and curious in open and public, remifs and careless in private and secret duties? Sincere fouls are uniform souls, Pfal..cxix. 6. the hypocrite is no closetman, Matth. vi. 5.

2. Doth that which I call grace in me oppose and mortify, or doth it not rather quietly consist with, and protect my lusts and corruptions ? True grace tolerates no lust, Gal. 0. 17. No, not the bosom, darling corruptions, Pfal. xviii. 23.

3. Doth that which I call my grace, humble, empty, and abase my soul ? Or rather, doth it not puff it up with self-conceitedness? All saving grace is humbling grace, 1 Cor. XV. 10. « But the foul which “ is lifted up, is not upright," Hab. ii. 4.

Lastly, Canst thou, my soul, rejoice and bless God for the grace imparted to others? And rejoice if any design for Christ be carried on in the world by other hands ? Or, rather, dost thou not envy those that excel thee, and carest for no work in which thou art not seen?

But stay, my soul, it is enough: If there be the substantial differences betwixt fpecial and common grace, I more than doubt, I shall not endure the day of his coming, W kose fan is in his hand. Do not thofe spots appear upon me, which are not the spots of his children? Woc is me, poor wretch ! the characters of death are upon my soul! Lord add power to the form, life to the name to live, practice to the knowledge, or I perish eternally ! O rather give me the faint's heart than the angel's tongue ; the poorest breathing of the Spirit than the richest ornaments of common gifts ! Let me never deceive myself or others in matters of so deep and everlasting consequence.

TN eastern countries, as good authors write,

I Tares, in their springing up, appear to fight,
Not like itself, a weed, but real wheat;
Whofe shape and form it counterfeits to neat,
That 'twould require a most judicious eye
The one from t'other to diversify.
Till both to some maturity be grown,
And then the difference is eas'ly known.
Even thus hypocrisy, that cursed weed,
Springs up fo like true grace, that he will need
More than a common insight in this case,
That saith, this is not, that is real grace.
Ne'er did the cunning actor, tho’a llave
Array'd in princely robes, himself behave
So like a king, as this doth act the part
Of saving grace, by its deep hellish art.
Do gracious fouls melt, mourn, and weep for sin ?
The like in hypocrites observ'd hath been.
Have they their comforts, joys, and raptures sweet?
With them in comforts hypocrites do meet.
In all religious duties they can go
As far as saints, in some things farther too ;'
They speak like 'angels, and you'll think within, -
The very spirit of Christ and grace hath been.
They come so near, that some, like Isaac, takę
Jacob for Efau, this for that mistake:
And boldly call (their eyes, with his, being dim)
True grace, hypocrisy; and duty, fin :
Yea, many also, Jacob-like, embrace
Leah for Rachel, common gifts for grace :
And in their bosom hug it, 'till the light
Discover their mistake, and clear their right:
And then, like him, confounded they will cry;
Alas ! 'tis Leah, curs'd hypocrisy !
Guide me, my God, that I may not, instead
Of saving grace, nurse up this cursed weed.
O let my heart, at last, by thee be found
Sincere, and all thy workings on is found !

Vol. V.

« AnteriorContinuar »