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We shall ly open to fatan, if he be let loose to winnow our faith; for if our state come to be questioned, we have nothing to alledge but the truth of our graces; and if we have not used the spirit well, we shall not have power to alledge them, nor to look upon any grace wrought in us, but upon those lusts and fins whereby we have grieved the spirit; they will be set in order before
us, and so ftare us in the face, that we cannot but fix our thoughts upon them. And Satan will not lose such an advantage, but will tempt us to call the work of grace in question ; which, though it be a true work, yet for want of the light of the spirit to discern it, we cannot see it to our comfort. Whereas if the spirit should witness unto us the truth of our state, and the fincerity of our graces, we shall be able to hold our own, and those temptations will vanish.
For those that the holy spirit hath fet a clearer stamp upon, that do not question their condition, they of all others should not grieve the spirit.
1. A spirit of ingenuousness will hinder them, and stir up a shame in them to requite so ill such a friend. Nothing so ingenuous as grace. What is commendable in nature, is in greater perfection in grace. How doth the consciousness of unkindness to a friend that hath deserved well of us, trouble our spirits, that we know not with what face to look upon him? And will not unkindness to the spirit make us alhamed to lift up our face to heaven?
2. Benefits are bonds, and the greater favour, the stronger obligation. Now what greater favour is there, than for the spirit to renew us according to the image of God our glorious Saviour, we who carried the image of Satan before ? And by this to appropriate us unto God, to be laid up in his treasure, as carrying his ftamp; and by this to be feparated from the vile condition of the world. Although we carry in us the seeds of the same corruption that the worst doth, differing nothing from them, but in God's free grace, and the fruits of it. For God to esteem so of us, that have no worthiness of our own, but altogether persons not worthy to be beloved; as to make our unworthiness a foil, to set out the freeness of his love, in making us worthy, whom he found not fo. For the spirit, by sealing of us, to secure us in the midst of all spiritual dangers ; and to hide us as his secret ones, that the evil one fhould not touch us to hurt us.--Thefe, as they are favours of a
high nature, the more care they require to walk worthy of them. We cannot but forget ourselves, before we yield to any thing against that dignity the spirit hath sealed us to.
3. Nature helped with ordinary education, moveth every man to carry himself answerable to his condition; a magistrate as a magistrate, a subject as a subject, a child as a child, and we think it disgraceful to do otherwise : and shall that which is difgraceful to nature, not be much more disgraceful to nature renewed and advanced by the spirit ? And indeed, as we should not, so we cannot grieve the spirit in so far as we are renewed. Our new nature will not suffer us to dissemble, to be worldly, to be carnal, as the world is ; we.cannot but be for God and his truth; we cannot but express what we are, and whose we are.
It is impossible a man fhould care for heaven, that doth not care for the beginnings of heaven: he cannot be said to care for full redemption and glory, that doth not care for the spirit of grace : fulness of grace is the best thing in glory; other things, as peace and joy, and the like, they are but the shinings forth of this fulness of grace in glory.
Again, when the spirit affureth us of God's love in the greateft fruits of it, as it doth when it afsureth this redemption: That love kindles love again, and love constrains us, by a sweet neceflity, to yield cheerful willing obedience in all things : there is nothing more active and fuller of invention, than love, and there is nothing that love studies more than how to please, there is nothing that it fears more than to displease. It is a neat af. fection, and will indure nothing, offensive, either to itself, or the spirit of such as we love : and this love the spirit teaches the heart ; and love teaches us not only our duty, but to do it in a loving and acceptable manner, It carries out the whole stream of the spirit with it, and rules all, whilst it rules, and will not fuffer the foul to divert to bye-things, much less to contrary.
Again, these graces that are conversant about that condition which the spirit affureth us of, as faith and hope, are purging and purifying graces, working a suitableness in the soul to the things believed, and hoped for : and the excellency of the things believed and hoped for, have such a working upon the soul, that it will not suffer the soul to defile itself. Our hopes on high, will lead us to ways on high ; therefore whilst these graces are exercised about these objects, the foul cannot but be in a pleafing frame.
It hath been an old cavil, that certainty of salvation breeds security and looseness of life. And what is there that an ill difposed foul cannot fuck poison out of? A man may as truly fay, the fea burns, or the fire cools: there is nothing quickens a soul more to chearful obedience, than assurance of God's love, and that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord; this is the scripture's logic and rhetoric to inforce and persuade a holy life from knowledge of our present eftate in grace. “ I beseech you by the mercies of God," saith St. Paul: what mercies ? fuch as he had spoken of before. Justification, fan&tification, assurance that all shall work together for good, that nothing thall be able to feparate us from the love of God in Chrift: all duties tend to affurance, or spring from assurance.
God's intention is to bring us to heaven by a way of love, and cheerfulness; as all the ways towards us in our salvation, are in love. And this is the scope of the covenant of grace ;
and for this end he sends the spirit of adoption into cur heart, that we may have a child-like liberty with God in all our addresses to him. When he offers himself to us as a father, it is fit we should offer ourselves to him as childrer ; nature teaches a child, the more he desires his father's love, the more he fears to displease him. And he is judged to be graceless, that will therefore venture to offend his father, because he knows he neither can, or will disinherit him. Certain it is, the more surely we kuiow God hath begotten us to so glorious an inheritance, the more it will work upon our bowels, to take all to heart that may any way
touch him : this wrought upon David, when the prophet told him, God hath done this and this for thee, and would have done more, if that had been too little ; it melted him presently into an humble confeflion. Those that have felt the power of the spirit of adoption on their hearts, will both by, a divine instinct, as also by Itrength of reason, be carried to all those courses wherein they fhail approve themselves to their father. loftinct of nature Arengthened with these grounds, will move strongly.
To conclude this discourse, let christians therefore be careful to preserve and cherish the work of aflurance and fealing in them.
What God doth for us, he doth by grace in us ; he will pre: serve us, that we thall not fall from him, by putting the grace of
He will keep us--but by what means ? The
fear into us.
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard our heart.” God maketh our calling and election sure in us, by stirring our hearts up to be diligently exercised in adding one grace unto another, and in growing in every grace, as 2 Pet. i. Therefore we must attend upon all spiritual means of growth and quickening: fo fhall you have a further entrance into the kingdom of Jesus Christ : that is, you shall have more evident knowledge of your entrance into the kingdom of grace here, and likewise into the kingdom of glory hereafter. Those that do not fo, shall have no comfort either from the time past, for they shall forget they were purged from their fins, or from thoughts of the time to come, for they shall not be able to see things far off.
2. If affurance be in a lefser degree, yet yield not to temptations and carnal reasonings : if our evidences be not fo fair, yet we will not part with our inheritanee. Coins, like old groats that have little of the stamp left, yet are current.
We lose our comfort many times, because we yield so easily, because we have not such a strong and clear seal of salvation as we would ; to be born down that we have none at all, is a great weakness : exercise therefore the little faith thou hast, in striving against such objections, and it will be a means to preserve the real of the spirit,
3. Because this fealing is gradual, we should pray as Paul, Ephef. 1. “ for a spirit of revelation,” that we may be more sealed : (the Ephesians were sealed, for whom Paul prays, and so the Colossians; yet) that God would reveal to their spirits, more and more, their excellent condition. There are riches of assurance ; the apostle would have them to labour not only for assurance, but for the riches of it; that will bring rich coinfort, and joy and peace. Times of temptations and trial may come, and such as, if we have not strong assurance, we may be forely troubled, and call all into question. This may be the fad condition of God's own children, and from this, that in times of peace, they contented themselves with a leffer degree of this assurance and fealing. Lastly, be watchful over your own hearts and ways,
that according to what you have now learned, you grieve not the spirit, “ for by it you are sealed;” intimating, that if in any thing we withstand and grieve the spirit, we shall in so doing, prejudice ourselves, and suffer in the comfort and evidence of our fealing. Z 4
IN THREE SERMONS.
ISAIAH lxiv. 6, 7, 8.
ob But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are
" as filtby rags, and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities
“ like the wind have taken us away. “ And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up bim
“ self to take hold of thee : for thou hast bid thy face from us, and " has consumed us, because of our iniquities.
O Lord, thou art our Father, we are the clay, and thou our potter ; we are all the work of thine hands."
66 But now,
THE words are part of a blessed form of prayer, prescribed
to the church long before they were in captivity. It begins at the 15th verfe of the former chapter, “ Look' down from heaven, behold from the habitation of thy holiness," &c. The blessed prophet Isaiah was carried with the wings of prophetical fpirit over many years, and sees the time to come, the time of the captivity; and God, by his spirit, doth direct them a prayer, and this is part of the form. For God in mercy to his people, as he foresaw before what would become of them, so he vouchsafes them comfort beforehand. It is very useful to use forms: the 102d psalm, it is a form of pouring out the soul to God,