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much change the habitude and usage of the soul and life, that it is not to be despised.
Now follows, And make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Avd it will follow necessarily. We hear much to little purpose. O to have the heart touched by the Spirit with such a word as is here! It would untie it from all these things. These are the words, the very reading of which wrought so with Augustine, that from being a licentious young man, he turned a boly faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Wbile you were without Christ, you bad no higher nor other business to do, than to attend and serve the flesh; but once having put him on, you are other men, and other manners do become you.
This forbids not eating, and drinking, and clothing, nor providing for these, nor decency and comeliness in them. The putting on of Christ does not bar the sober use of them: yea, the moderate providing for the necessities of the flesh, while thou art tied to dwell in it, may be done in such a way as shall be a part of thy obedience and service to God. But to lay in provisions for the lusts of it, is to victual and furnish his enemy and thine own; for the lusts of the flesh do strive against God's Spirit, and war against thy soul.
This was the quarrel betwixt God and his own people in the wilderness. Bread for their necessities he gave them, but they required meat for their lusts, which should rather have been starved to death than fed; and many of them fell in the quarrel. He gave them their desire, but gave them a plague with it, and they died with the meat between their teeth. Many who seem to follow God and to have put on Christ, yet continuing in league with their lusts and providing for them, are permitted a while so to do, and are not withbeld from their desire, and seem to prosper in the business; but, though not so sudden and 'sensible as that of the Israelites, there is no less certain a curse joined with all they purchase and provide for that unballowed use. It is certainly the posture and em. ployment of most of us, even of those who are called Christians, to be purveyors for the flesh, even for the lusts of it ; these lusts comprehending all sensual, and all worldly, fleshly, self-pleasing projects. Even some things that seem a little more decent and refined, come under this account. What are men commonly doing, but projecting and laboring, beyond necessity, for fuller and finer provision for back and belly, and to feed their pride, and raise themselves and theirs somewhat above the condition of others about them? And where men's interests meet and cross each other, there arise heart-burn ings and debates, and an evil eye, one against another, even on a fancied prejudice, where there is nothing but crossing a bumour. So the grand idol is their own will ; that must be provided for and served in all things; this takes them up early and late, how they may be at ease, and pleased, and esteemed, and honored. This is the making provision for the flesh and its lusts, and from this are all they called who have put on Christ ; not to a hard, mean, unpleasant life, instead of that other, but to a far more high and more truly pleasant life; a life that disgraces all their former pursuits which they thought so gay while they knew no better. There is a transcendent sweetness in Christ, that puts the flesh out of credit. Put on Christ, thy robe royal, and make no provision for the flesh; surely thou wilt not then go and turmoil in the kitchen. A soul clotbed with Christ, stooping to any sinful delight, or an ardent pursuit of any thing earthly, though lawful, doth wonderfully degrade itself. Methinks it is as a king's sou in bis princely apparel playing the scullion, sitting down to turn the spits. A soul liviög in Christ bath indeed no vacancy for the superfluous luxurious demands of flesh, yea, it supplies the very necessities of it with a kind of regret. “ Deliver me, Lord," said one, • from
my necessities." O raise up your spirits, you that pretend to any thing in Christ. Delight in him, and let his love satisfy you at all times. What need you go begging elsewhere? All you would add, makes you the poorer, abates so much of your enjoyment of him; and what can compensate that? Put on the Lord Jesus, and then view yourselves, and see if you be fit to be slaves to flesh and earth.
These two, Put on the Lord Jesus, and Make no provision, are directly the representation of the church ; Rev. xii. A woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, needed borrow no beauty from it or any thing under it. She left the scarlet, and the purple, and the gold, to the barlot afterwards spoken of, for her dressing
The service of the flesh is a work the Christian cannot fold to, till he forgets what clothes he has on. This is all, my brethren. O that we could be once persuaded to put on Christ, and then resolve and remember to do nothing unbeseeming that attire !
The Observation of Providence.
PSALM cvii, 43. Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they
shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.
Most men live a brutal, sensitive life, live not so much as the life of reason; but far fewer the divine life of faith, which is further above common human reason than that is above sense.
The spiritual light of grace is that which makes day in the soul; all other wisdom is but nightlight. Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. This higher sort of knowledge is that which the prophet speaks of.
Having discoursed excellently through the psalm, of the wisdoni, power, and goodness of God, so legible in his providence towards men, and often called up the dull minds of men to consider these his works and bless him for them, he closes with this applaudment of their happiness that truly do so, Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.
They that spake it, knew not how true their speech was, when they called the world a. nest of fools. It is true, 'there is very little even of natural clearness of judgment amongst men, but surely far less of this true spiritual wisdom. So that if we read this as a question, Whoso is
wise? O how few are there! And yet most men imagine they are wise; few are convinced they are fools, and that is the height of their folly. That word is most true, Vain man would be wise, though he be born as the wild ass's colt, In youth, he runs wild, unbroken, and unuseful; and in fuller age, he hath but a brutish, slavish life, yokes in with his beasts in the same kind of labor or in little better ; turmoiling and drudging to serve his base lusts, his gain, his pleasure, and quite forgetting what high condition the soul that sparkles within him is born to and made capable of. In a word, he kuows not God. That is both his folly and his misery. How much of life passes ere we consider what we live for! And though all applied, how incapable are a great many to know auy thing! Among men what more rare than man, a truly
al being? To this purpose there is a notable saying, Job xi, 8, 9.
Now to stir up your desires and endeavours after this wisdom, consider, that it is the proper excellency of the rational nature, the true elevation of human nature, to be wise. And they that are not such, and know somewhat of their own defect, yet would willingly pass for such, and had rather be accounted uncomely, yea, even dishonest, than unwise; but yet, if they could, they would rather have the thing than the reputation of it, and desire really to be wise, if it were in their power.
Now it were good to work on this design within us, and to have it drawn into the right channel. Would you be wise? Then seek true wisdom. Whạt most men seek and admire in themselves and others, are but false shadows and appearances of wisdom; the knowledge either of base low things, as to scrape and gather together, or else of vain unprofitable things, and such knowledge as is for the most part but imaginary. For most things in state-affairs take another bias and course, are not so much modelled by wit, as most men imagine. And for the se, crets of nature, we have little certain knowledge of them. How short is our life to attain any knowledge! That is an excellent word, Job viii, 9. But the knowledge here set before us is the best kind of knowledge, that of the highest things, divine things ; and the best kind of knowledge of them, for there are notions even of these things, that have little in them; either curious fruitless disputations of such points as are most removed both from our notice and our use, or a useless knowledge of useful things. But this is a well-regulated and sure-footed knowledge of divine things, as God himself baih revealed them.
This wisdom descends from above; therefore, for the attainment of it, these two things are necessary-first; to know that we want it; sensibly and feelingly to know this, that we know nothing of the things of God. Many men would have attained to wisdom, if they bad not fancied or imagined that they had already attained it. I speak not now of the lowest sort, the grossly, the brutishly ignorant even of the letter of divine truths, but such as can give themselves or others, if put to it, a good account of the principles of faith and holiness, have read and heard much, and possibly learned and retained not a little that way, yet still are but ignorants, strangers to this heavenly wisdom. Therefore men must first know this, that they must go anew to school again and become as little children. Wisdom invites no other; Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither ; Prov. ix, 4. The strange woman, and so all the enticements to sin, they invite the same persons, ver. 16, but to a directly opposite end : she calls the fools to befool them, to drown them in folly and wretchedness; but Wisdom calls them to unbefool them, to recover them and teach them the way of life.
Secondly, being convinced and sensible of the want of it, to use the right way to attain it; to give all diligent attendance on the word and ordinances of God, to desire it of him. Desire is all: if you desire much, you shall have much. Vent thy desire this way
heavenwards, whence this wisdom descends. This light springs froni on high. Man cannot raise himself to it without another. If any man lack wisdom ; if he is but once sensible of that, why then the sweetest, easiest way to attain it that can be desired, is pointed out-let him ask of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not ; does neither harshly refuse,