« AnteriorContinuar »
as such and such, yet that little grace they have, should lead them by the hand to do things worthy of that jChrist, and that gospel they profess.'
Let me a little expostulate the point with you, weak saints. You know that you should not be stirred and heated by every straw that is in your way; why do you not in this then live up to your light? You know that you should not beovercome of evil, but overcome evil with good; and why do you not in this live up to your light? You know that you should do good to those that do hurt to you; why do not you in this live up to your light? You know that you should do your duties to others, though they neglect their duties to you. It is not the neglect of a husband's duty, that frees the wife from the discharge of hers; nor the neglect of a wife's duty, that frees the husband from the discharge of his. You know this; do you not? Yes ; why do you not then live up to your light? why do you by your contrary actings open the mouths of others against God and his ways? you know that you should be exemplary in your relations, in your generations, and in your conversations. You know that you should be examples of holiness, meekness, sweetness, patience, and contentedness; and why then do you not live up to your knowledge in these things? You know that you should do to others, as you would have others to do to you; and why in this do you not live up to your knowledge? O that you who are weak did not cause the mouths of wicked men to be opened against God, his truths, and his ways, by your living below that light and knowledge which God has given you. I beseech you, as you tender the honour of God, and as you would stop the mouths of vain men, live up to those measures of grace that the Lord has given you. No way to comfort like this, no way to the crown like this. He will not be long a babe in grace, who lives out that little grace he has.
Fourthly; living up to your light is the readiest and the only way to fetch up and to recover all that has been lost, by your living below your light. By your living below your light, God, your own souls, and the gospel, have lost much; yea, and others also have lost much light, comfort, strength, and quickness, that they might have had, had you but lived up to that little grace you had. Now there is no way on earth to recover and to fetch up these losses, but by living up to that grace you have. Ah Christians, it is not your running from sermon to sermon, (not that I speak against frequent hearing of the word) nor your crying up this man and that man, or this notion and that, or this way or that, that will recover and fetch up the honour that God has lost by your living below your graces. It is only your living up to your graces, that will make up all the breaches that have been made upon his honour and the gospel, and upon the comfort and peace of your own souls and others. Well, remember this—all the honour that God has from you in this life, is from your living up to that light, knowledge, love, fear, and faith, that he has given you. There is nothing that will make up all losses but this; therefore I beg of you, upon the knees of my soul, that you would take this one thing home with you, and go into your closets, and lay your hands upon your hearts, and say, ' Well, the Lord has lost much, and my own soul has lost much, and others have lost much, by my living below that little grace I have; and therefore I will now make it my business, by assisting grace, to live up to those measures of grace that I have received more than I have yet done all my days. I will, by the strength of Christ, make it more my duty and my work to live out what God hath given in, than ever yet I have done, that so the Lord and the gospel may be no further losers, but gainers, by me.'
The Fifth and last motive is this—the readiest and the surest way to get more grace, is to live up to that little grace you have. He who lives up to a little light, shall have more light; he who lives up to a little knowledge, shall have more knowledge; he who lives up to a little faith, shall have more faith; and he who lives up to a little love, shall have more love. There is no such way to attain to greater measures of grace, as for a man to live up to that little grace he has. Verily, the main reason why men are such babes and shrubs in grace, is because they do not live up to their attainments. He who will not improve two talents, shall never have the honour to be trusted with five; but he that improves a little, shall be trusted with much. The diligent hand maketh rich. He who is active and agile, who works as well as wishes, who adds endeavours to his desires, will quickly be a cedar in grace. Ah Christians, you have a God that is great, a God that is good, a God that is gracious, and a God that is rich, that loves not to see his children to be always weaklings and striplings in grace. The very babe, by drawing the breasts, gets strength and nourishment. Ba you babes in grace, put out that little strength you have, be you still drawing at "the breasts of the promises, and strength will come, nourishment will follow,
3. The third duty that I would press upon weak saints, is this—Be sure that you always reflect upon your graces, and whatsoever good is in you, with caution.
This is a weighty point, and bespeaks your most serious attention.
There are six rules of caution that weak saints should always observe in their looking upon their graces.
And the first is this—look upon all your graces as gifts of grace; as favours given you from above, as gifts dropt out of heaven into your hearts, as flowers that are given you out of the garden of paradise. A man should never look upon his grace, but he should look upon it as a flower of Paradise, as a gift that God has cast into his bosom from heaven. Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou hast not received? 1 Cor. iv. 7. Thou talkest of light, of love, of fear, of faith: but what are all these, but pearls of glory, that are freely given thee by the hand of grace 1 Every good and perfect gift cometh down from above. The greatest excellencies in us do as much depend upon God, as the light does upon the sun. When thoulookest upon thy wisdom, thou must say, 'Here is wisdom; but it is from above. Here is some weak love working towards Christ, but it is from above. Here is joy, and comfort, and peace, but these are all the flowers of paradise; they never grow in nature's garden.' When a soul looks thus upon all those costly diamonds with which his heart is decked, he keeps low, though his graces are high. Where this rule is neglected, the soul will be in danger of being swelled and puffed up. Mr. Fox used to say, that as he got much good by his sins, so he got much hurt by his graces. When you look upon the stream, remember the fountain; when you look upon the flower, remember the root; when you look upon the stars, remember the sun: and when you look upon your graces, remember the fountain of grace, else Satan will be too hard for you. Satan is so artificial, so subtle and critical, that he can make your very graces to serve him against your graces; conquering joy by joy, sorrow by sorrow, humility by humility, fear by fear, and love by love, if you do not look upon all your graces as streams flowing from the fountain above, and as fruits growing upon the tree of life that is in the midst of the paradise of God. Therefore when one eye is fixed upon your graces, let the other be always fixed upon the God of grace.
Secondly; at that time when your eye is upon inherent grace and righteousness, let your heart be fixed upon Christ and his imputed righteousness. Paul's eye was upon his grace; Rom. vii. 22—25; I delight in the law of God, after the inward man: and with my mind I serve the law of God; and yet at that very same time, his heart was set upon Christ, and taken up with Christ; ver. 25; I thank God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. So in Col. ii. 2, 3. you have one eye fixed upon grace, and at the same time the heart fixed upon Christ; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. His eye is upon grace, his heart is upon Christ. So in Phil. iii. 8, 9, the apostle has his eye upon the excellent knowledge of Christ, but his heart is set upon the righteousness of Christ; That I might be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Here you have his eye upon grace, and his heart upon Christ in the very presence of his grace. This is your glory, Christians; in the presence and sight of all your graces to see the free grace of Christ, and his infinite, spotless, matchless, and glorious righteousness, to be your surest, sweetest, highest, and choicest comfort and refuge. Peter was not well skilled in this lesson, and that was the very reason that he fell foulest, when his confidence was highest. Grace is a ring of gold,
and Christ is the pearl in that ring; and he that looks more upon the ring, than the pearl that is in it, in the hour of temptation will certainly fall. When the wife's eye is upon herrings or jewels, then her heart must be set upon her husband. When grace is in my eye, Christ must at that time be in my arms. Christ, and not grace, must lie nearest to a Christian's heart.
A third thing is this—when you look upon your grace, you must look upon it as a beautiful creature, that is begotten in the soul by Christ, and that is strengthened, maintained, cherished, and upheld in your souls, by nothing below the spiritual, internal, and glorious operation of Christ. Though grace is a beautiful creature, yet grace is but a creature, and so your souls must look upon it. Grace is a heavenly offspring, it is the first-born of God, as I may say, and does most represent him to the life. Grace is a bud of glory; it is of the blood-royal; it is nobly descended, James i. 17. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Heb. xii. 2. Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginner and Ender. In all other things and arts, the same man cannot begin and finish, but Christ does both, Phil. i. 5. Our graces thrive, and are upheld in life and power, in beauty and glory, by the internal operation of Christ in our souls. Thus in Col. i. 27, we read, Christ in you, the hope of glory. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working,whichworketh in me mightily. So in Phil. iv. 13; I can do all things through Christ that strengthened me. 'I can be high and low, poor and rich, honourable and base, something or nothing, through Christ that strengtheneth me.' So in Cant. iv. 16, Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. We may puff and blow our hearts out, and yet no savoury smell will flow forth, if Christ does not blow. So in Psalm cxxxviii. 3; In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengtheneth me with strength in my soul. Your graces, Christians, are heavenly plants of God's own setting and watering; and certainly the heavenly husbandman will never suffer such plants of renown to wither for want of heavenly sap; he will look to the strengthening, supporting, and nourishing the work of his own hand. He will cause the desires of his people to bud, and their graces to