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Direct, VII. Chew the cud, and call up all when come home in secret, and by meditation preach it over to yourselves.' If it were coldly delivered by the preacher, do you consider of the great weight of the matter, and preach it more earnestly over to your own hearts. You should love yourselves best, and best be acquainted with your own condition and necessities.
Direct. VIII. Pray it over all to God, and there lament a stupid heart, and put up your complaints to heaven against it.' The name and presence of God hath a quickening and awaking power.
Direct. Ix. Go to Christ by faith, for the quickenings of his Spirit.' Your life is hid in him, your root and head; and from him all must be conveyed: he that hath the Son hath life; and because he liveth, we shall live also. Entreat him to glorify the power of his resurrection, by raising the dead; and to open your hearts, and speak to you by his Spirit, that you may be taught of God, and your hearts may be his epistles, and the tables where the everlasting law is written 9.
Direct. x. Make conscience of teaching and provoking others.' Pity the souls of the ignorant about you. God often blesseth the grace that is most improved in doing him service; and our stock is like the woman's oil, which increased as long as she poured out, and was gone when she stopped'. Doing good is the best way for receiving good: he that in pity to a poor man that is almost starved, will but fall to rubbing him, shall get himself heat, and both be gainers.
Tit. 4. Directions to bring what we Hear into Practice.
Without this the rest is vain or counterfeit, and therefore somewhat must be said to this.
Direct. I. Be acquainted with the failings of your hearts and lives, and come on purpose to get directions and helps against those particular failings.' You will not know what medicine you need, much less how to use it, if you know not what aileth you. Know what duties you omit or carelessly perform, and know what sins you are most guilty of,
4 Col. iii. 3, 4. John xv. 1-5. xi. 25. xiv. 19. 14. John vi. 45. 2 Cor. iii. 3. 6. 17, 18. Heb. viii. 10. Kings xvii. 12. 14. 16.
Phil. iii. 7, 8. Acts xvi. x. 16. Jer. xxxi. 33.
and say when you go out of doors, I go to Christ for physic for my own disease. I hope to hear something before I come back, which may help me more against this sin, and fit me better for my duty, or provoke me more effectually. Are those men like to practise Christ's directions, that either know not their disease, or love it and would not have it cured?
Direct. 11. The three forementioned are still presupposed, viz. That the Word have first done its part upon your understandings, memory and hearts.' For that Word cannot be practised, which is not understood, nor at all remembered, nor hath procured resolutions and affections. It is the due work upon the heart that must prevail for the reformation of the life.
Direct. 111. When you understand what it is in point of practice that the preacher driveth at, observe especially the uses and the moving reasons, and plead them with your own hearts; and let conscience be preaching over all that the minister preacheth to you.' You take them to be soulmurderers that silence able, faithful preachers, and also those preachers that silence themselves, and feed not the flock committed to their care and do you think it a small matter to silence your own conscience, which must be the preacher that must set home all, before it can come to resolution or practice? Keep conscience all the while at work, preaching over all that to your hearts, which you hear with your ears; and urge yourselves to a speedy resolution. Remember that the whole body of divinity is practical in its end and tendency, and therefore be not a mere notional hearer; but consider of every word you hear, what practice it is that it tendeth to, and place that deepest in your memory. If you forget all the words of the reasons and motives which you hear, be sure to remember what practice they were brought to urge you to. As if you heard a sermon against uncharitableness, censoriousness, or hurting others, though you should forget all the reasons and motives in particular, yet still remember that you were convinced in the hearing, that censorious and hurtful uncharitableness is a great sin, and that you heard reason enough to make you resolve it. And let conscience preach out the sermon to the end, and not let it die in bare conviction; but
resolve, and be past wavering before you stir: and above all
the sermon, remember the directions and helps for practice, with which the truest method usually shuts up the sermon. Direct. IV. When you come home, let conscience in secret also repeat the sermon to you.' Between God and yourselves, consider what there was delivered to you in the Lord's message, that your souls were most concerned in. What sin reproved which you are guilty of? What duty pressed which you omit? And there meditate seriously on the weight and reasons of the thing; and resist not the light, but yet bring all to a fixed resolution, if till then you were unresolved: not ensnaring yourselves with dangerous vows about things doubtful, or peremptory vows without dependence on Christ for strength: but firmly resolving and cautelously engaging yourselves to duty; not with carnal evasions and reserves, but with humble dependence upon grace, without which of yourselves you are able to do nothing.
Direct. v. Hear the most practical preachers you can well get.' Not those that have the finest notions, or the cleanest style, or neatest words; but those that are still urging you to holiness of heart and life, and driving home every truth to practice: not that false doctrine will at all bear up a holy life, but true doctrine must not be left in the porch, or at the doors, but be brought home and used to its proper end, and seated in the heart, and placed as the poise upon the clock, where it may set all the wheels in motion.
Direct. VI. 'Take heed especially of two sorts of false teachers. Antinomian libertines, and autonomian pharisees.' The first would build their sins on Christ; not pleading for sin itself, but taking down many of the chief helps against it, and disarming us of the weapons by which it should be destroyed, and reproaching the true preachers of obedience as legalists, that preach up works and call men to doing, when they preach up obedience to Christ their King, upon the terms and by the motives which are used by Christ himself, and his apostles. Not understanding aright the true doctrine of faith in Christ, and justification, and free-grace (which they think none else understand but they), they pervert it and make it an enemy to the kingly office of Christ, and to sanctification, and the necessary duties of obedience.
The other sort do make void the commandments of God by their traditions, and instead of the holy practice of the laws of Christ, they would drive the world with fire and sword to practise all their superstitious fopperies; so that the few plain and necessary precepts of the law of the universal King, are drowned in the greater body of their canon law, and the ceremonies of the pope's imposing are so many in comparison of the institutions of Christ, that the worship of God, and work of Christianity is corrupted by it, and made as another thing. The wheat is lost in a heap of chaff, by them that will be law-givers to themselves, and all the church of Christ.
Direct. VII., Associate yourselves with the most holy, serious, practical Christians.' Not with the ungodly, nor with barren opinionists, that talk of nothing but their controversies, and the way or interest of their sects (which they call the church), nor with outside formal ceremonious pharisees, that are pleading for the washing of cups, and tithing of mint, and the tradition of their fathers, while they hate and persecute Christ and his disciples. But walk with the most holy, and blameless, and charitable, that live upon that truth which others talk of, and are seeking to please God by the "wisdom which is first pure, and then peaceable and gentle," when others are contending for their several sects, or seeking to please Christ, by killing him, or censuring him, or slandering him in his servants".
Direct. VIII. Keep a just account of your practice; examine yourselves in the end of every day and week, how you have spent your time, and practised what you were taught; and judge yourselves before God according as you find it.' Yea, you must call yourselves to account every hour, what you are doing, and how you do it; whether you are upon God's work, or not; and your hearts must be watched and followed like unfaithful servants, and like loitering scholars, and driven on to every duty, like a dull or tired horse.
Direct. Ix. Above all set your hearts to the deepest contemplations of the wonderful love of God in Christ, and the sweetness and excellency of a holy life, and the certain incomprehensible glory which it tendeth to, that your souls may be in love with your dear Redeemer, and all that is
Jam. iii. 17, 18.
s John xvi. 2, 3. Matt. xxv. 40. 45.
holy, and love and obedience may be as natural to you.' And then the practice of holy doctrine, will be easy to you, when it is your delight.
Direct. x. Take heed that you receive not ungrounded, or unnecessary prejudices against the person of the preacher.' For that will turn your heart, and lock it up against the doctrine. And therefore abhor the spirit of uncharitableness, cruelty, and faction, which always bendeth to the suppressing, or vilifying and disgracing all those, that are not of their way and for their interest: and be not so blind as not to observe, that the very design of the devil, in raising up divisions among Christians is, that he may use the tongues or hands of one another to vilify them all, and make them odious to one another, and to disable one another from hindering his kingdom, and doing any considerable service to Christ. So that when a minister of Christ should be winning souls, either he is forbidden, or he is despised, and the hearers are saying, O, he is such, or such a one,' according to the names of reproach which the enemy of Christ and love hath taught them.
Directions for profitable Reading the Holy Scriptures.
SEEING the diversity of men's tempers and understandings is so exceedingly great, that it is impossible that any thing should be pleasing and suitable to some, which shall not be disliked and quarrelled with by others; and seeing in the Scriptures there are many things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction. And the word is to some the savour of death unto death. You have therefore need to be careful in reading it. And as Christ saith, "Take heed how you hear;" so I say, Take heed how you read.
Direct. 1. Bring not an evil heart of unbelief. Open the Bible with holy reverence as the book of God, indited by the Holy Ghost. Remember that the doctrine of the New Testament was revealed by the Son of God, who was b Mark iv. 24. 2 Cor. ii. 16.
ay Pet. iii. 16.
c Luke viii. 18.