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not have some crucified and others spared, but cries out, 'Lord, crucify them all, crucify them all."
O but now the conflict that is in wicked men, is partial; they frown upon one sin, and smile upon another; they strike at some sins, yet stroke others; they thrust some out of doors, but keep others close in their bosom; as you may see in Jehu, Herod, Judas, Simon Magus, and Demas. Wicked men strike at gross sins, such as are not only against the law of God, but against the law of nature and nations; but make nothing of less sins, as vain thoughts, idle words, sinful motions, petty oaths. They fight against those sins that fight against their honour, profits, pleasures; but make truce with those that are as right hands and as right eyes to them.
3. The conflict that is in a saint against sin, is maintained by several arguments; by arguments drawn from the love of God, the honour God, the sweetness of communion with God; and from the spiritual and heavenly blessings and privileges that are conferred upon them by God; and from arguments drawn from the blood of Christ, the glory of Christ, and the intercession of Christ; and from arguments drawn from the earnest of the Spirit, the seal of the spirit, the witness of the Spirit, the comforts of the Spirit. O but the conflict that is in wicked men is from low, carnal, and legal arguments, drawn from the eye, ear, or hand of the creature, or drawn from shame, hell, or the curses of the law.
4. The conflict that is in saints is a constant conflict. Though sin and grace were not born in the heart of a saint together, and though they shall not die together, yet whilst a believer lives, they must conflict together. Paul had been fourteen years converted, when he cried out, I have a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and leading me captive to the law of sin.
Pietro Candiano, one of the dukes of Venice, died fighting against the Nauratines with the weapons in his hands. So a saint lives fighting and dies fighting; he stands fighting and falls fighting, with his spiritual weapons in his hands. But the conflict that is in wicked men is inconstant; now they fall out with sin, and anon they fall in with sin; now it is bitter, anon it is sweet; and now the sinner turns from his sin, and anon he turns to the wallowing in sin, as the swine does to wallowing in the mire. One hour you shall have him praying against sin, as if he feared it more than hell; and the next hour you shall have him pursuing after sin, as if there were no God to punish him, no justice to damn him, no hell to torment him.
5. The conflict that is in the saints, is in the same faculties; there is the judgment against the judgment, the mind against the mind, the will against the will, the affections against the affections; that is, the regenerate part wars against the unregenerate part in all the parts of the soul: but now in wicked men, the conflict is not in the same faculties, but between the conscience and the will. The will of a sinner is bent strongly to such and such sins, but conscience puts in and tells the sinner, ' God hath made me his deputy, he hath given me a power to hang and draw, to examine, scourge, judge, and condemn; and if thou dost such and such wickedness, I shall be thy jailor and thy torment; for I do not bear the rod nor the sword in vain ;—if thou sinnest I shall do my office, and then thy life will be a hell;' and this raises a tumult in the soul.
6. The conflict that is in the saints, is a blessed, successful, and prevailing conflict. A saint by his conflict with sin, gains ground upon his sin. They that are Christ's, says the apostle, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Christ puts to his hand, and helps them to lead captivity captive, and to set their feet upon the necks of those lusts that have formerly trampled upon their souls and their comforts. As the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker, and the house of David stronger and stronger, so the Lord by the discoveries of his love and by the influences of his spirit, causes grace, the nobler part of a saint, to grow stronger and stronger, and corruption, like the house of Saul, to grow weaker and weaker. But sin in a wicked heart gets ground, and grows stronger and stronger. Notwithstanding all his conflicts, his heart is more encouraged, emboldened, and hardened in a way of sin, as you may see in the Israelites, Pharaoh, Jehu, and Judas, who doubtless found many strange conflicts, tumults, and mutinies in their souls, when God spake such bitter things against them, and did such justice upon them.
But remember this by way of caution—though Christ has given sin its death's wound by his power, spirit, death, and resurrection, yet it will die but it lingering death. As a man that is mortally wounded, dies by little and little, so does sin in the heart of a saint. The death of Christ on the cross was a lingering death; so the death of sin in the soul is a lingering death; now it dies a little, and anon it dies a little; as the psalmist speaks, Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power, and bring them down, O Lord our shield; Psalm lix. 11. He would not have them utterly destroyed, but some reliques preserved as a memorial. So God deals in respect of sin; it is wounded and brought down, but not wholly slain; something is still left as a monument of divine grace, and to keep us humble, wakeful, and watchful, and that our armour be still kept on, and our weapons always in our hands.
The best men's souls in this life hang between the flesh and the spirit, as it were like Mahomet's tomb at Mecca, between two load-stones; like Erasmus, as the papists paint him, betwixt heaven and hell; like the tribe of Manasseh, half on this side Jordan, in the land of the Amorites, and half on that side in the holy land; yet in the issue they shall overcome the flesh, and trample upon the necks of their spiritual enemies.
Dev. 6. The sixth device that Satan has to keep souls in a sad, questioning condition, is, by suggesting to the soul, that surely its estate is not good, because it cannot joy and rejoice in Christ, as once it could; because it hath lost that comfort and joy that once was in its Spirit. Says Satan, 'Thou knowest the time was, when thy heart was much carried out to joying and rejoicing in Christ; thou dost not forget the time when thy heart used to be full of joy and comfort, but now, how art thou fallen in thy joys and comforts! Therefore thy estate is not good. Thou
dost but deceive thyself, to think that ever it was good, for surely if it had, thy joy and comfort would have con tinued.' And hereupon the soul is apt to take part with Satan, and say, 'It is even so, I see all is nought, and I have but deceived my own soul.'
Now the remedies against this device are these— Rem. I. Consider, that the loss of comfort is a separable adjunct from grace. The soul may be full of holy affections, when it is empty of divine consolations. There may be, and often is, true grace, yea, much grace, where there is not a drop of comfort, nor a dram of joy. Comfort is not of the being, but of the well-being of a Christian. God has not so linked these two choice lovers together, but that they may be put asunder. That wisdom which is from above, will never work a man to reason thus, ' I have no comfort, therefore I have no grace; I have lost that joy which once I had, therefore my condition is not good, was never good:' but it will enable a man to reason thus, 'Though my comfort is gone, yet the God of my comfort abides; though my joy is lost, yet the seeds of grace remain.' The best men's joys are as glass, bright and brittle, and evermore in danger of breaking. Spiritual joy is a sun that is often clouded. Though it is almost as precious a flower as paradise affords, yet it is subject to fade and wither.
Rem. 2. Solemnly consider that the precious things that thou still enjoy est, are far better than the joys and comforts that thou hast lost. Thy union with Christ, thy communion with Christ, thy sonship, thy saintship, thy heirship, which thou still enjoyest by Christ, are far better than the comforts thou hast lost by sin. What, though thy comforts be gone? thy union and communion with Christ remain. Though thy comforts be gone, yet thou art a son, though a comfortless son; and an heir, though a comfortless heir; a saint, though a comfortless saint. Though the bag of silver, thy comforts, be lost, yet the box of jewels, thy union with Christ, thy communion with Christ, thy sonship, thy saintship, thy heirship, which thou still enjoyest, is far better than the bag of silver thou hast lost; yea, the least of those precious jewels is more worth than all the comforts in the world. Well, let this be a cordial to comfort thee, a star to lead thee, and a staff to support thee, that thy box of jewels is safe, though thy bag of silver be lost.
Rem. 3. Consider that thy conditionis no other, than what has been the condition of those precious souls whose names were written upon the heart of Christ, and who are now at rest in the presence of Christ. One day you shall have them praising and rejoicing, the next day mourning and weeping. One day you shall have them singing, the Lord is our portion; the next day sighing and expostulating with themselves: Why are ye cast down, O our souls? Why is our harp turned to mourning? and our organ into the voice of them that weep?
Rem. 4. Solemnly consider that the causes of joy and comfort are not always the same. Haply thy former joy and comfort did spring from the witness of the Spirit; he bearing witness to thy soul that thy nature was changed, thy sins pardoned, thy soul reconciled. Now the Spirit may upon some special occasion bear witness to the soul, that the heart of God is dearly set upon it, that he loves it with an everlasting love; and yet the soul may never enjoy such a testimony all the days of its life again. Though the Spirit be a witnessing Spirit, his not his office every day to witness to believers their interest in God. Christ, heaven.
Or haply thy former joy and comfort did spring from the newness and suddenness of the change of thy condition. For a man in one hour to have his night turned into day, his darkness turned into light, his bitter into sweet, God's frowns into smiles, his hatred into love, his hell into a heaven, must greatly joy and comfort him. It cannot but make his heart to leap and dance in him; who in one hour shall see Satan accusing him, his own heart condemning him, the eternal God frowning upon him, the gates of heaven barred against him, all the creation standing armed at the least beck of God to execute vengeance on him, and the mouth of the infernal pit open to receive him; now in this hour for Christ to come to the amazed soul, and to say to it, 'I have trod the wine-press of my Father's wrath for thee; I have laid down my life a ransom for thee; by my blood I have satisfied my Father's justice, and pacified his anger, and