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ing the possession of house or lands, the deliverer giveth a key, and a twig, and a turf, and saith, "I deliver you this house, and I deliver you this land;" so doth the minister by Christ's authority deliver you Christ, and pardon, and title to eternal life. Here is an image of a sacrificed Christ of God's own appointing, which you may lawfully use: and more than an image; even an investing instrument, by which these highest mercies are solemnly delivered to you in the name of Christ. Let your hearts therefore say with joy and thankfulness, with faith and love, "O matchless bounty of the eternal God! what a gift is this! and unto what unworthy sinners! And will God stoop so low to man? and come so near him? and thus reconcile his worthless enemies? Will he freely pardon all that I have done? and take me into his family and love, and feed me with the flesh and blood of Christ? I believe; Lord, help mine unbelief. I humbly and thankfully accept thy gifts! Open thou my heart, that I may yet more joyfully and thankfully accept them. Seeing God will glorify his love and mercy by such incomprehensible gifts as these, behold, Lord, a wretch that needeth all this mercy! And seeing it is the offer of thy grace and covenant, my soul doth gladly take thee for my God and Father, for my Saviour and my Sanctifier. And here I give up myself unto thee, as thy created, redeemed, and (I hope) regenerate one; as thy own, thy subject, and thy child, to be saved and sanctified by thee, to be beloved by thee, and to love thee to everlasting, O seal up this covenant and pardon, by thy Spirit, which thou sealest and deliverest to me in thy sacrament; that without reserve I may be entirely and for ever thine!"
9. When you see the communicants receiving with you, let your very hearts be united to the saints in love, and say, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob! How amiable is the family of the Lord! How good and pleasant is the unity of brethren! How dear to me are the precious members of my Lord! though they have yet all their spots and weaknesses which he pardoneth and so must we. My goodness, Q Lord, extendeth not unto thee; but unto thy saints, the excellent ones on earth, in whom is my delight. What portion of my estate thou requirest, I willingly give unto the poor, and if I have wronged any man, I am willing to res
tore it. And seeing thou hast loved me an enemy, and forgiven me so great a debt, I heartily forgive those that have done me wrong, and love my enemies. O keep me in thy family all my days, for a day in thy courts is better than a thousand, and the door-keepers in thy house are happier than the most prosperous of the wicked."
10. When the minister returneth thanks and praise to God, stir up your souls to the greatest alacrity; and suppose you saw the heavenly hosts of saints and angels praising the same God in the presence of his glory; and think with yourselves, that you belong to the same family and society as they, and are learning their work, and must shortly arrive at their perfection: strive therefore to imitate them in love and joy; and let your very souls be poured out in praises and thanksgiving. And when you have the next leisure for your private thoughts, (as when the minister is exhorting you to your duty,) exercise your love, and thanks, and faith, and hope, and self-denial, and resolution for future obedience, in some such breathings of your souls as these: "O my gracious God, thou hast surpassed all human comprehension in thy love! Is this thy usage of unworthy prodigals? I feared lest thy wrath as a consuming fire would have devoured such a guilty soul; and thou wouldst have charged upon me all my folly. But while I condemned myself, thou hast forgiven and justified me; and surprised me with the sweetest embracements of thy love! I see now that thy thoughts are above our thoughts, and thy ways above our ways, and thy love excelleth the love of man, even more than the heavens are above the earth. With how dear a price hast thou redeemed a wretch that deserved thy everlasting vengeance! with how precious and sweet a feast hast thou entertained me, who deserved to be cast out with the workers of iniquity! Shall I ever more slight such love as this? shall it not overcome my rebelliousness, and melt down my cold and hardened heart? shall I be saved from hell, and not be thankful? Angels are admiring these miracles of love? and shall not I admire them? Their love to us doth cause them to rejoice, while they stand by and see our heavenly feast and should it not Numb. xxiv. 5. Psal. cxxxiii. xv. 4. xvi. 2, 3. Luke xix. 8. Psal. lxxxiv. 10.
be sweeter to us that are the guests that feed upon it? My God, how dearly hast thou purchased my love! how strangely hast thou deserved and sought it! Nothing is so much my grief and shame, as that I can answer such love with no more fervent, fruitful love. O what an addition would it be to all this precious mercy, if thou wouldst give me a heart to answer these thine invitations, that thy love, thus poured out, might draw forth mine, and my soul might flame by its approaching unto these thy flames! and that love, drawn out by the sense of love, might be all my life; Ọ that I could love thee as much as I would love thee! yea, as much as thou wouldst have me love thee! But this is too great a happiness for earth! But thou hast shewed me the place where I may attain it! My Lord is there, in full possession: who hath left me these pledges, till he come and fetch us to himself, and feast us there in our Master's joy. O blessed, place! O happy company that see his glory, and are filled with the streams of those rivers of consolation! yea, happy we whom thou hast called from our dark and miserable state, and made us heirs of that felicity, and passengers to it, and expectants of it, under the conduct of so sure a guide! O then we shall love thee, without these sinful pauses and defects; in another measure and in another manner than now we do: when thou shalt reveal and communicate thy attractive love, in another measure and manner than now! Till then, my God, I am devoted to thee; by right and covenant I am thine! My soul here beareth witness against myself, that my defects of love have no excuse : thou deservest all, if I had the love of all the saints in heaven and earth to give thee. What hath the world to do with my affections? And what is this sordid, corruptible flesh, that its desires and pleasures should call down my soul, and tempt it to neglect my God? What is there in all the sufferings that man can lay upon me, that I should not joyfully accept them for his sake, that hath redeemed me from hell, by such unmatched, voluntary sufferings? Lord, seeing thou regardest, and so regardest, so vile a worm, my heart, my tongue, my hand confess, that I am wholly thine. let me live to none but thee, and to thy service, and thy saints on earth! And O let me no more return unto iniquity! nor venture on that sin that killed my Lord! And
now thou hast chosen so low a dwelling, O be not strange to the heart that thou hast so freely chosen! O make it the daily residence of thy Spirit! Quicken it by thy grace; adorn it with thy gifts; employ it in thy love; delight it in its attendance on thee; refresh it with thy joys and the light of thy countenance; and destroy this carnality, selfishness, and unbelief: and let the world see that God will make a palace of the lowest heart, when he chooseth it for the place of his own abode."
Direct. VIII. When you come home review the mercy which you have received, and the duty which you have done, and the covenant you have made: and 1. Betake yourselves to God in praise and prayer, for the perfecting of his work. And 2. Take heed to your hearts that they grow not cold, and that worldly things or diverting trifles, do not blot out the sacred impressions which Christ hath made, and that they cool not quickly into their former dull and sleepy frame. 3. And see that your lives be actuated by the grace that you have here received, that even they that you converse with may perceive that you have been with God.' Especially when temptations would draw you again to sin; and when the injuries of friends or enemies would provoke you, and when you are called to testify your love to Christ, by any costly work or suffering; remember then what was so lately before your eyes, and upon your heart, and what you resolved on, and what a covenant you made with God. Yet judge not of the fruit of your receiving, so much by feeling, as by faith; for more is promised than you yet possess.
Directions for Fearful, Troubled Christians that are perplexed with Doubts of their Sincerity and Justification.
HAVING directed families in the duties of their relations, and in the right worshipping of God, I shall speak something of the special duties of some Christians, who in re'gard of their state of soul and body, have special need of
help and counsel. As 1. The doubting, troubled Christian. 2. The declining, or backsliding Christian. 3. The poor. 4. The aged. 5. The sick. 6. And those that are about the sick and dying. Though these might seem to belong rather to the first Part, yet because I would have those directions lie here together, which the several sorts of persons in families most need, I have chosen to reserve them rather to this place. The special duties of the strong, the rich, and the young and healthful, I omit, because I find the book grow big, and you may gather them from what is said before, on several such subjects. And the Directions which I shall first give to doubting Christians, shall be but a few brief memorials, because I have done that work already, in my "Directions or Method for Peace of Conscience and Spiritual Comfort;" and much is here said before, in the Directions against Melancholy and Despair.
Direct. 1. Find out the special cause of your doubts and troubles, and bend most of your endeavours to remove that cause.' The same cure will not serve for every doubting soul, no, nor for every one that hath the very same doubts. For the causes may be various, though the doubts should be the same: and the doubts will be continued while the cause remaineth.
1. In some persons the chief cause is a timorous, weak, and passionate temper of body and mind; which in some (especially of the weaker sex) is so natural a disease, that there is no hope of a total cure; though yet we must direct and support such as we are able. These persons have so weak a head, and such powerful passions, that passion is their life; and according to passion they judge of themselves, and of all their duties. They are ordinarily very high or very low; full of joy, or sinking in despair; but usually fear is their predominant passion. And what an enemy to quietness and peace strong fear is, is easily observed in all that have it. Assuring evidence will not quiet such fearful minds, nor any reason satisfy them. The directions for these persons must be the same which I have before given against Melancholy and Despair. Especially that the preaching, and books, and means, which they make use of, be rather such as tend to inform the judgment, and a See Part i. Chap. 7. Tit. 10. Of Despair.