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full of those empty airy questions, and notions, in which there is no clearness nor certainty to be attained, and, if it were, yet it would serve to little or no purpose, not making the man who thinks he hath found them out one jot the better or holier man than he was before. "What avails
says a devout author, " to dispute and discourse high concerning the Trinity, and want humility, and so displease that Trinity ?" The light and knowledge suited according to the intendment of this copy, is of another nature, such as purifies the heart and rectifies the life. What I see not, teach thou me ; that is, of such things as may serve this end, that if I have done iniquity, I may do it no more. This is sound and solid knowledge--such a light as inflames the heart with the love of God and of the beauties of holiness, and still, grows,
makes those to grow likewise. Such are still, we see, David's multiplied supplications in that 119tb Psalm ; not to know reserved and useless things, but, Hide not thy commandments from me. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me; now what is it that thy creature and workmanship begs of thee? What is that which will complete my being, and make me do honor to my Maker? This is it -Give me understanding that I may leurn thy commandments.
You that would be successful supplicants in this request, wean your hearts from the vanity of desire. Such knowledge is as the cypress-trees, fair and tall, but fruitless and sapless. Apply all you know to the purging out of sin, and intend all the further knowledge you desire to that same end. Seek to be acquainted with higher rules of mortification, and self-denial, and charity, than as yet you have either practised or possibly so much as thought on; that by these, your affections and actions may be advanced to greater degrees of purity and conformity with the holiness of God. And for this end, beg of him to teach you what you see not in the exactness of the law and rule ; and withal, which is the other thing in this word, that what you see not in the application of it and search of yourself, he would likewise show you; for in that we are commonly as undiscerning and dim-sighted as in the other. Even where men have some notion of the
rule and their duty, yet they perceive not their own, even their gross declinings from it. Love is a blinding thing, and above all love, self-love ; and every man is naturally his own flatterer: he deals not faithfully and sincerely with himself in the search of his own evils. Now this we are to entreat of God, to be led into ourselves, and to be applied to the work of self-searching by his own hand; not only to have a right apprehension of the law given us, but a true sight of ourselves. O how many hidden, undiscerned, yea, unsuspected impurities and follies are there in the hearts of those who are the most diligent in this inquiry; much more in the greater part even of such as cannot absolutely be denied the name of good men ! Some honest intentions and good desires there are in them, but they are slothful and unwilling to go into this painful business of trying and judging themselves; and when they set to it, many secret corners, and, in those, many latent corruptions do escape their search. Cleanse me from secret faults, says David ; that is, not only those hidden from men, but even from myself, as is clearly his meaning, by the words preceding, Who can understand his errors? Therefore is it necessary that we should desire light of God. The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord, says Solomon, searching the innermost parts ; but it is a candle uplighted, when he does not illuminate it for that search. O what a deal of vanity and love of this world, envy and secret pride, lurks in many of our hearts, which we do not at all perceive, till God causeth us to see it, leading us in, as he did the prophet Ezekiel in the vision, to see the idolatry of the Jews in his very temple, by which they had provoked him to forsake it and go far from his sanctuary; and having discovered one parcel, leads him in further, and makes him enter through the wall, and adds often, Son of man, hast thou seen these? I will cause thee to see yet more abominations, and yet more abominations. Thus is it within many of us who should
his temples, but we have a multitude of images of jealousy, one lying hid bebind another, till he thus discovers them to us. O what need have we to entreat him thus, That which I see not, teach thou me!
Now in both these, both in the knowledge of our rule and of ourselves, though there may be some useful subserviency of the ministry of men, yet the great teacher of the true knowledge of his law, and of himself, and of ourselves, is God. Men may speak to the ear, but his chair is in heaven who teaches hearts. Matchless Teacher! who teacheth more in one hour than men can do in a whole age; who can cure the invincible unteachableness of the dullest heart, give understanding to the simple, and open the eyes of the blind! So tben, would we be made wise, wise for eternity, learned in real living diviuity, let us sit down at His feet and make this our continual request, That which I see not, teach thou me!
If I hare done iniquity; that is, any iniquity that I yet know not of, any hidden sin, let me but once see it, and, I hope, thou shalt see it no more within me; not willingly lodged and entertained. This speaks an entire, total giving up of all sin, and is a proclaiming of utter defiance and enmity against it; casting out what is already found out without delay, and resolving that still in further search, as it shall be more discovered, it shall be forthwith dislodged, without a thought of sparing or partial indulgence to any thing that is sin, or that is like it, or that may any way befriend it, or be an occasion and incentive of it. This is that absolute renouncing of sin, and surrender of the whole soul and our whole selves to God, which whosoever do not heartilyconsent to and resolve on, their religion is vain, and, which is here the point, their affliction is in vain. Whatsoever they have suffered, they have gained nothing by all their sufferings, if their hearts remain still self-willed, stubborn, untamed, and unpliable to God. And this makes their miseries out of measure miserable, and their sins out of measure sinful ; whereas, were it thus qualified, and had it any operation this way towards the subjecting of their hearts unto God, affliction were not to be called misery, but would go under the title of a blessedness; Blessed is the man whom thou correctest and teachest him out of thy law. That is suiting with this here desired, I have borne chastisement: that which I see not, teach thou me ; if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more. O were it thus with us, my brethren, how might we rejoice, and, insert into our praises all that is come upon us, if it had wrought
or advanced any thing of this kind within us, this blessed compliance with the will of God; not entertaining any thing knowingly that displeases him ; finding a pleasure in the denial and destruction of our own most beloved pleasures at his appointment and for his sake! Whatsoever is in us and dearest to us, that would offend us, that would draw us to offend him, were it the right hand, let it be cut off; or the right eye, let it be plucked out; or, to make shorter work, let the whole man die at once, crucified with Jesus, that we may be henceforth dead to sin, dead to the world, dead to ourselves, and alive only to God.
The Divine Glory of Sion.
There is no exercise so delightful to those that are truly godly, as the solemn worship of God, if they find his powerful and sensible presence in it; and indeed there is nothing on earth more like to heaven than that is. But when he withdraws himself, and withholds the infuence and breathings of his Spirit in his service, then good souls find nothing more lifeless and uncomfortable. But there is this difference, even at such a' time, betwixt them and those that have no spiritual life in them at all, that they find and are sensible of this difference; whereas the others know not what it means. And for the most part, the greatest number of those that meet together with a profession to worship God, yet are such as do not understand this difference. Custom and formality draw many to the ordinary places of public worship, and fill too much of the room; and sometimes novelty and curiosity, drawing to places not ordinary, have a large share : but how few are there that come on purpose to meet with God in his worship, and to find his power in strengthening their weak faith and weakening their strong corruptions, affording them provision of spiritual strength and
comfort against times of trial, and, in a word, advancing them some steps forward in their journey towards heaven, where happiness and perfection dwell! Certainly these sweet effects are to be found in these ordinances, if we would look after them. Let it grieve us then, that we have so often lost our labor in the worship of God through our own neglect, and entreat the Lord, that at this time he would not send us away empty; for how weak soever the means be, if he put forth his strength, the work shall be done, in some measure, to his glory and our edification.
ISAIAH xxviii, 5, 6.
glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue
of his people, And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in
judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.
ALL the works of divine providence are full of wisdom and justice, even every one severally considered ; yet we observe them best to be such, when we take notice of their order and mutual aspect one to another, whether in the succession of times or such passages as are contemporary and fall in together at one and the same time. As when the Lord brings notable judgments upon the proud workers of iniquity, and at the same time confers special mercies on his own people, who is there that may not perceive justice and mercy illustrating and beautifying one another? It is true, the full reward and perfect rest of the godly is not here below--they would be sorry if it were ; nor is this the place of plenary punishment for the ungodly-men may look for a judgment too ; yet the Lord is pleased at some times to give some resemblances and pledges, as it were, of that great and last judgment, in remarkable passages of justice and mercy at one and the same time; and such a time it is that the prophet foretels in this his sermon, which concerns the two sister kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Having de