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1. Ye seek your satisfaction in being esteemed and beloved by men, in getting and handling many goods, elegant houses, delightful gardens, beautiful clothes, precious jewels, and delicious meats and drinks captivate you so, that ye indulge yourselves in them without restraint, and do, as it were, lose yourselves in them,
2. Ye certainly aim at being entirely your own in all that ye do. What is it that influences you in all that ye do and forbear? is it not merely your own honour, profit and pleasure ? do ye not live entirely according to your own fancy? Is not your will your law ? can ye endure to serve God so strictly, as not to will, do, or forbear aughts but what he will ? Ye will not suffer any one to reprove you ; that he may not interrupt you in your dissolute career : and doth your conscience convince and check you, ye stille it, and will not indeed suffer yourselves to be disquieted.
3. It is surely iniquity in which ye rejoice. Through the vanity of your minds ye amuse yourselves with idie speculations : ye can ponder with delight on abominable and malicious sins, which your corrupt hearts continually suggest ; musing on wine, revenge, lasciviousness, iniquity, jesting and foolish talking is as agreeable to you, as if it were your salvation : “ Ye rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked,” Prov. ii. 14,
Alas friends! is this your comfort, ye are then yet your own, and are therefore, “ without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world,” Eph. ii. 12. What evidence have ye then that your sins do not stand uncancelled in God's book of accounts? ye are surely yet under the power of the devil: and what will preserve you from destruction ? God will not, for he is not your God, since ye are rebellious against him: Satan will not, for he seeks your eternal misery : neither will those things in which ye delight: for “ even in your laughter your hearts will be sorrowful,” Prov. xiv. 13. Though your hearts rejoice, and ye are not afraid, these things will forsake you in death : and how will your conscience, which ye have soothed so long, and all your evil iniquities then fly in your face, and summon you before the dreadful tribunal of God, to which death will hurry you, that ye may receive the reward of your works in the comfortless lake of fire, where, with the rich man, ye will not obtain a drop of water from a poor Lazarus to cool your tongues.
Let this affect you with concern, that ye may “recover out of the snare of the devil, in which ye are taken captive at his will," 2 Tim. js. 26. Come with the prodigal son to yourselves, that ye may learn the greatness of your sins and misery, and may “repent of your wickedness, saying, what have I done?" Jer. viii. 6. for this would drive you out of yourselves, to seek and to find deliverance in the Son of God.
Doth any one say, it is my comfort, that I belong to Jesus Christ? But hast thou sufficient evidences of this ? for a person may think that he is in this happy condition, and deceive himself with vain imaginations. A man may also suppose that he is his own, when he truly belongs to Christ: “ There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: and there is that maketh himself poor, and yet hath
great riches,” saith the wisest of kings, Prov. xiï. 7. It is therefore i necessary, that every one should examine himself, with respect to this
important matter, seriously and strictly. « Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove yourselves," as Paul admonisheth, 2 Cor. xiii. 6. and attend to these true evidences, that a person belongs to Christ.
1. He who is not his own, but belongs to Christ Jesus, hath surrendered himself entirely to him and that for ever, and willingly, in order that he may be his : “ He saith and subscribes with his hand, I am the Lord's,” Isaiah xliv. 5. and that not only to be saved by him, but also to serve him. For “ he joins himself to the Lord to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servant,” Isaiah lvi. 6.
2. Such a person will not rest, nor receive comfort, until he hath manifest evidences that the Lord Jesus hath accepted of him as his property, satisfied for all his sins, and delivered him from all the power of the devil. He must be clearly and effectually assured by the Spirit of eternal life from his own experience, before he will rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, Rom. v. 5. A single mark, a single gleam of hope is not sufficient for him, he wishes that, “God would say to his soul, I am thy salvation," Psalm xxxv. 3. He knows how many deceive themselves in this weighty matter, he knows the deceitfulness of his own heart, and how dangerous deceit is here: and therefore he seeks for palpable, and as it were sensible evidences.
3. This person hath as great a delight in living willingly to the Lord, as in sensible comfort: “ It is joy to the just to do judgment,” saith Solomon, Prov. xxi. 15. Therefore he sighs and cries to the Lord, “ O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes ! Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein do I delight," Psalm cxix. 5, 35. Doth he perceive that he is sluggish and leartless, and that iniquities prevail over him, it is to him, as it was to the apostle, Rom. vii. 24.“ a body of death."
4. Such an one hath not attained to this comfort like others' by a
strong imagination, or by his birth among Christians, or by a civil and externally religious behaviour, or by enjoying the church privi. leges of baptism and the Lord's supper, with which those who are Christians only for fashion sake content themselves ; but by an affecting discovery of the greatness of his sins and misery ; by an earnest seeking and wrestling to obtain Christ, and his righteousness, and by striving to lead a thankful lite. This is his manner at the beginning of his conversion, and this is also his daily work; and he obtains hereupon comfort of God repeatedly.
Are these things to be found in you, be assured then of your great salvation, and conduct yourselves worthily of it.
1. By heartily praising and exalting the Lord on account of it in all your conversation : For “ye are not your own, but are bought with a price : therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's," I Cor. vi. 18, 19. “O) give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good : for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy," Psalm cvij. 1, 2. Contemplate a while your salvation, en-' deavour to understand the excellence of it, until you are filled with comfort, and transported to praise the Lord. When the soul is satisfied with marrow and fatness, the mouth will utter praises with joyful lips, Psalm Ixiii. 5.
2. Are ye not your own, but Christ's, deny then also yourselves. Ye must be nothing, and he must be your all, ye must be servants, and he your Lord. Ye must empty yourselves of your own wisdom, will, nonour, profit and pleasure, that his wisdom will; honour, profit and pleasure may possess and govern your souls : yea, ye must esteem shame, loss and pain, if he should inflict them upon you, for his sake, your honour, profit and pleasure. He saith, “ If
any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Matt. xvi. 24. He even requires, Luke xiv. 26, that the person who will be his disciple, should hate father, mother, wife, children, brethren, and sisters, yea his own life also," to wit, when any of these beloved objects comes in competition with him.
3. “Moreover, brethren, be joyful, be of good comfort," as Paul admonisheth, 2 Cor. xiii. 11. This will be the life of your life :" Be not sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Neh. viii. 11. Ye have abundant reason : see only what your faithful Saviour hath done for you, and will yet do. Will ye suffer your heads to bang down as a bulrush? it doth not become you : ye will bring up an evil report upon your faithful Saviour. Let those who are still under the power of the devil, sorrow, mourn and weep: but as for you, lift up your heads, and let not « the consolations of God be small with you,” Job xv, 11. But take good heed also that your consolation do not issue in vain dissoluteness, that may not be imbittered to you, but “rejoice with trembling," Psalm ii. 11.
4. Are your adversities many, are there fightings without, and fears within, are ye afraid that ye will one time or other be destroyed by the power of your indwelling corruption, by the mighty pressure of the wicked world, and by the powerful temptations of the devil, know that your faithful Saviour will deliver you out of all these dangers, Psalm xxxiv. 19. His tender care over you is so great, and he preserves so, that not a hair can fall from your heads, without the will of your Heavenly Father: "He gives his sheep eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand : his Father, who gave them him, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of his l'ather's hand,” John X. 28, 29. It is true, your difficulties beset you a long time; yet be not discouraged on this account, as though the ord did not regard you, nor your sorrows, like Asaph, Psalm 1xxiji. 10, 14. and the church, Isaiah xl. 24. For adversities are not evidences that the Lord hates you ; “For whom the Lord loveth he cliasteneth,” and he will cause all this evil to work for your good, therefore be patient and submit to him, as Paul speaks, Heb. xii. 6, 12. and resign yourselves to his care with a holy carelessness : “ Commit your way unto the Lord : trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass,” Psalm xxxvii. 5. I Peter iv, 19, v. 7.
5. Establish your assurance upon the witnessing of the Holy Spirit in his word, and in your hearts ; for ye will otherwise, with all your andvantages, labour in vain for comfort : “Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure,” 2 Peter i. 10. Are ye shaken, examine yourselves, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Can ye deny the marks that have been exhibited ? hath not God at sundry times assured you in the clearest and most powerful manner by his Spirit, yea so, that ye thought ye could never doubt again, that ye were the Lord's? Well then, judge that it is even so, Rom. vi. 11. 2 Cor. v. 15.
6. Shew yourselves also willing and ready to live henceforth to him. Ye are not your own lords, but he is your Lord, and ye belong to him, that ye may be only for his service. Let none of you then live to himself, but to him, to whom he belongs. See the text, and 2 Cor. v. 15. But shew yourselves to be his by an earnest and fervent zeal to do his will, and to serve him. “ For he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," Titus üi 14. Are
ye in the mean time overtaken in a fault, and thereby subjected to darkness, know then also this part of your misery, humble yourselves on account of it, embrace your Deliverer for reconciliation and sanctification : for she is made this to you,” | Cor. i. 30. and arise with Hezekiah again, Isaiah xxxviii. 15. "to go softly all your days, on account of the bitterness of
soul." 7. Doth it please the Lord to lead you a long time in an uncomfortable way, do not dispute the propriety of his conduct : “ God is greater than man. Wherefore shouldst thou then strive with him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters,” Job xxxiii. 12, 13. Let it suffice you, that the Son of God hath done so much, and will do so much to make you his own. Remember that he hath his eye upon you to comfort you as much as is needful for you, in his own time. Hear how he himself speaks, Isaiah lvii. 18. “ I have seen his ways, and will heal him ; I will lead him also, and restore comforts, to him, and to his mourners.” When others shall have no more comfort, then shall ye enjoy your full share of it; for as Paul foretells, Į Thess. iv, 17, 18. “ We shall be taken up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air ; and so we shall ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Amen.