Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

is pot to be thought, that the Apostle, by the brethren, in this place, means brethren by a common relation to the first Adam, but to the fecond Adam Christ Jefus : because, however true.it is, that universal benevolence and good will to the whole race of mankind, takes place in the renewed foul, as being a lively. lineament of the divine image ; yet the whole context speaks of those that are the sons of God, ver. 1, 2. children of God, ver. io. born of Gud, ver. 9. distinguishing betwixt the children of God, and the children of the devil, ver. 10. betwixt these that are of the devil, ver. 8. 12. and these that are of God. ver. 1o.

And the text itself comes in as a reason why we Tould not marvel that the world hates the brethren, the children of God, ver. 13. How can we marvel at it, seeing the love of the brethren is an evidence of one's having passed from death. to life? And therefore it were ablurd to look for that love amongit the men of the world, who are dead in trespasses and fins. They cannot love the brethsen: no marvel then that they hate them. Wherefore it is plain, that by brethren here, are meant brethren by regeneration.

Nova, in order to fer this mark of regeneration in a true light, consider these three things. (1.) This love to the breth:€n, is a love to them as such. Then do we love them in the fenfe of the text, when the grace, or image of God in them, is the chief -motive of our love to them. When we love the godly for their godliness, the faints for their fanctity or holiness, then we love God in them, and so may conclude, we are born of God : for

every one that loveth him that begat, loveth hina also that is begotten of him," i John v. 1. Hypocrites may love faints on account of a civil: relation to them ; because of their obliging cocterfation; for their being of the fame opinion with them felves in religious matters : and on many other such like accounts, whereby wicked men may be induced to love the godly. But happy they, who can love them for naked grace in them ; for their heaven born temper and difpofition ; who can pick this pearl out of a dunghilt of infirmities in and about them ; lay hold on it, and love them for it. (2.) It is a love that will be given to all, in whom the grace (God appears. They that love one faint, because he is a faint, will have love to all the faints, Eph. i. 15. They will love all who, to their discerning, bear the image of God. They that cannot love a gracious perfon in rags, but confine their love to these of them who wear gay cloating, have not this love to the brethren in them. Tuese who can confine sheir love to a pariy, to whiom God has

not

US,

[ocr errors]

pot confined his grace, are souls too narrow to be put among the children. In what points foever men differ from us, ja their judgment or way; yet if they appear to agree with in love to God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, and in bearing his image ;. we will love them as brethren, if we ourselves b of the heavenly family. And (3.) If his love be in us, the more grace any person appears to be poff-ffed of, he will be the more beloved by us. The more vehemently the holy fire of grace doth flame in any, the liearts of true Christians will be the more · warmed in lose to them. It is not with the saints as with many other men, who make themselves the standard for others, and love them lo far as they think they are like them/elves: But, if they seem to out shine, and darken them, their love is turned to hatred and envy; and they endeavour to detract from the due praise of their exemplary piety ; because nothing relifheth with them in the practice of religion, that goes beyond their own measure : what of the life and power of religion appears in others, serves only to raise the serpentine grudge in their Pharifaical hearts. But as for them that are born again, their love and affection to the brethren, bears proportion to the degrees of the divine image they discern in them.

Now, if ye would improve these things to the knowledge of your state, I would advise you, (1.) To let apart fome tine, when ye are at home, for a review of your case, and try your state, hy what has been said. Many have comfori and clear. ness as to their state, at a sermon ; who, in a little time, lose it again : because, while they hear the word preached, they niake application of it ; but do not consider of these things more deliberately and leisurely when alone. The action is too fudden and Nort, to give lasting comfort. And it is often so indetiberate, that it has bad consequences. Therefore, fet about this work at home, after earneit and serious prayer to God for his help in it. Complain not of your want of time, while the night follows the busy day; or of place, while the fields and out houses are to be got. (2.) Renew your repentance before the Lord. Guilt Iying on the conscience, unrepented of, may darken all your evidences is i marks of grace. It provokes the Spirit of grace to depart ; and when he goes, our light ceases. It is not fit time for a faint to read his evidences when the candle is blown out by some conscience-wounding guilt. Lastly, Exert the powers of the new nature; let the graces the divine Spirit in you, discover themselves by action. If ye would know whether there is a sacred fire in your breaft, or

nut,

of

[ocr errors]

CASE I.

B01, ye must blow the coal: for altho' it be, and be à live-coal, yet if it be under the afhes it will give you no lighi. Settle in your hearts a firin purpose, thro' the grace thar is in Christ Jelus, to comply with every known duty, and watch against every known fin; baving a readiness of mind, to be instructed in what ye know not. If gracious fouls would thus mauvage their inquiries into their state; it is likely they would have a comfortable iflue. And if others would take fuch a folemn review and make trial of their state impartially, filting themfelves before the tribunal of their own consciences; they might have a timely discovery of their own naughtiness : but the neglect of self-examination leaves most men under fad delusions as to their state, and deprives many faints of the comfortable fight of the grace of God in them.

But that I may afford some further help to true Christans, in their inquiries into their, state, I shall propose, and briefly boomwer some cases or doubts, which may possibly hinder fome perfons from the comfortable view of their happy state. The children's bread must not be with-held; tho' while it is reached to them, the dogs should snatch at it.

I doubt if I be regenerate, because I know not the precise time of my conversion : nor can I trace the particular E! fteps in the way in which it was brought to pass. Ans. Tho'

it is very desireable, to be able to give an account of the begin. ning and the gradual advances of the Lord's work upon our fouls, as fome faigts can distinctly do, (how beit the manner of the Spirit's working is till a mystery) yet this is not necessary to evidence the truth of grace. Happy he that can say, in this case, as the blind man in the gospel, “ One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I fee." Like as when we see flames, We know there is fire; tho? we know not how or when it began: so the truth of grace in us may be discerned, thowe know not how, or when, it was dropt into our hearts. If thou canst perceive the happy change, which is wrought on thy foul; if thou findest thy mind is enlighined, thy wil} inclined to comply with the will of God in all things; especially to fall in with the divine plan of salvation thro' a crucified Redeemer: in vain dost thou trouble thyself, and refuse comfort, , because thou knowest not how, and what way it was brought about.

CASE 2. If I were a new creature, fin could not prevail against me as it doth, Anf. Tho' we must not lay pillows for hypocrites to rest their heads upon, who indulge themselves in their fins, and make the doctrine of God's grace subservient to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

their lafts, lying down contentedly in the bond of iniquity, like men that are fond of golden chains : yet it muft be onded, the juft man falleth seven times a day, and iniquity may prevail again ft the children of God. But, if thou art groaning under the weight of the body of death, the corruption of ihy nature ; laathing thyself for the fins of thy heart and life ; Ariving to mortify thy lusts; fleeing daily to the blood of Christ for pardon; and looking to his Spirit for fanctification"; the thou mayst be cbliged to say with the Pfalmift, “ Iniquities prevail againit me !" Yet thou mayest add with him, * As for our transgressions, thou thalt purge them away,” Pfal. Ixv. 3. The new creature doth not yet-porless the house alone ; it dwells beside an ill neighbour; namely, remaining corruption, the reliques of depraved nature. Thefe struggle together for the mattery: " The flesh lufterh agaioft the Spirit

, and the spirit against the flesh,” Gal. v. 1. And fometimes corruption prevails, bringing the child of God" into captivity to the Law of fin," Rom. vii. 23. Let not, therefore, the prevailing of corruprion make thee, in this case, conclude thou an none of God's children; but let it humble thee to be the more watchful, and to thirft the more intensely after Jesus Christ, his blood and Spirit; and that tery difpofition will evidence a principle of grace in thee which seeks the deflruction of sin, that prevails fo often against thee.

CASE 3. I find the motions of fin in my heart, more violent fince the Lord began his work on my foul, than they were be. fore that time. Can this confift with a change of niy nature ? Aof. Dreadful is the case of many who, after God has had a remarkable dealing with their fouls, tending to their reformation, have thrown off all bonds; and have become groíly and openly timmoral and profane ; as if the devil had returned into their hearts with seven spirits worse than himself. All I shall fay to such persons, is, that their state is exceeding dangerous: they are in danger of (mning against the Holy Gholt: therefore, let them repent, before it be too late. But, if it be not thus with you, tho' corruption is beftirring icfeif mere violently than formerly, as if all the forces of hell were raised to hold faft, or bring back a fugitive, I say, these stirrings may confift with a change of your nature. When the restraint of grace is

newly laid upon corruption, it is no wonder if this last acts * more vigorously than before, “ warring against the law of the mind.” Rom. vii. 23. The motions of fio may really be most violent, when a new principle is brought in, tu caft.it out.

And,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ing his

6

And, as the sun, sending its beams through the window, dir-
covers the motes in the house, and their motions, which were
not seen before : so the light of grace may discover the risings
and actings of corruption, in another manner than ever the man
saw them before : tho? they really do not rise nor act more
vigorously. Sin is not quite dead in the regenerate foul, it is
byt dying, and, dying a lingering death; being crucified, no
wonder there be great fightings, when it is fick at the heart,
and death is at the door. Besides temptations may be more in
number, and stronger, while Satan is striving to bring you back
who are escaped, than while he endeavoured only to retain
you. i After yè were illuminated, ye endured a great fight
of aflictions," says the Apostle to the Hebrews, chap. x. 32.
But, “
* cast not away your confidence," ver. 34. Remember.
grace
is sufficient for

you:
; and the God of

peace

will bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Pharaoh and his Egyptians never made such a formidable appearance against the Ifraelites, aš at the Red sea, after they were brought out of Egypt : but then were the pursuers nearest to a total over. throw, Exod. xiv. Let not this case therefore make you raze your foundations ; but be yé emptied of yourselves, and ftrong in the Lord, and in the power of his might: and ye off victorious. CASE

4: But when I compare my love to God, with my love to some created enjoyments, I find the pulse of my affections-beat stronger to the creature thao the Creator. How then can I call him Father? Nay, álas! these turnings of heart within me, and glowings of affection to him, which sometimes I had, are gone; fo that I fear, all the love I ever had to the Lord, has been but a fit and flash of affection, Tuch as hypocrites often have. Anf. It cannot be denied, that the predominant love of the world, is a certain mark of an unregenerate state,

“ If a man love the world, the love of the Faiber is not in him.” Nevertheless, these are not always the strongest affections, which are most violent. A man's affection may be more moved on some occasions by an object that is little regarded, than by another, that is exceedingly beloved ; even as a little brook sometimes makes a greater noise than a great river. The strengib of our aff:aliens is to be measured by the firmness and fixedsefs of the root : doi by the violence of their actings. Suppose a person meeting with a friend -who has been long abroad, linds his affection more vehemently acting toward his friend on that occasion, than towards his owo wife and

Thall come

i John ii. 15.

« AnteriorContinuar »