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chargeth him (or if he do so charge him) with final unbelief? Will he confess it, and say, 'Christ
. hath believed and repented for me?' That is as much as to say, Christ was a believer for infidels, that he might save infidels. All false. If he will not say thus (and lying will do no good) then must he plead his own believing and repenting, as his righteousness, in opposition to that accusation. And if it be of such use then, and be called a hundred times in scripture, “our righteousness," and we righteous for it, then doubtless we may accordingly try by it now, whether we shall then be able to come off and be justified, or no; and so may build our comfort on it.
3. Conscience is a witness and judge within us, and doth, as under God, accuse and condemn, or excuse and acquit. Now if conscience must absolve us only so far as we are innocent, or do well, or are qualified with grace, then it is impossible but these our qualifications and actions should be some ground of our comfort. See Acts xxiv. 16. xxiii. 1. Rom. ii. 15, 16.
4. Those which are our graces and works, as we are the suba jects and agents, are the graces and works of God, of Christ, of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. If therefore we inay not rejoice in our own works, or graces, then we may not rejoice in the works or gists of God, Christ, or the Holy Ghost. And,
5. Our graces are the spiritual life or health of the soul, and our holy actions are the vital operations. Now life and health are necessary ; rejoicing, delighting things of themselves; and vital actions are necessarily pleasant and delectable.
6. Our graces and holy actions must needs rejoice us in respect of their objects ; for the object of our love, trust, hope, meditation, prayer, conference, &c. is God himself, and the Lord Jesus, and the joys of heaven. And how can such actions choose but rejoice us!
7. Yea, rejoicing itself, and delighting ourselves in God is not only one part of our duty, but that great duty wherein lieth the height of our Christianity. And how vain" a speech is it to say, that we may not take up our comforts from our own works, nor rejuice in any thing of our own ; when even rejoicing itself, and delighting, and comforting ourselves, is one part of our duty ?
8. As God in Clirist is the chief object and ground of our com
fort (so that we must rejoice in nothing but God, and the cross of Christ, in that kind, or in co-ordination with them ;) so it is the office of every grace and holy work, and ordinance, and means, to be subservient to Christ, either for the attaining of Christ, or applying bis merits, or they are the effects of his merits. Now if we must love and rejoice in Christ principally, then must we needs love and rejoice in all those things that stand in a necessary subordination to him, in their places. And therefore to say, We must rejoice in Christ only, and therefore not in any graces or duties of our own,' is as wise, as if a wife should cast her husband's clothes and meat out of doors and say, “You charged me to admit none into my chamber but yourself.' Or as if a physician, having told his patients, I will cure you, if you will trust me only for the cure;' thereupon the patients should cast away his medicines, and shut the doors against his servants and apothecaries, and say, We must trust none but the physician.'
9. All the failings of our duties are pardoned, and they accepted in Christ ; and therefore we may rejoice in them.
10. Our duties have a double tendency to our salvation. (1.) As the condition to which God hath promised it as the crown and reward (in a hundred texts of Scripture,) and may we not comfort ourselves in that which God promiseth heaven to ? (2.) As a natural means to our obedience and further protection (as watchfulness, meditation, &c. tend to destroy sin,) as Paul saith to Timothy, “Take heed to thyself, and to thy doctrine, and in so doing, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee;" 1 Tim. iv. 16. and may we not take comfort in that which tends to save our own and our brethren's souls?
11. We shall be judged according to our works; therefore we must judge ourselves according to our works; and so must judge our state good or bad, according to our works. For can man judge by a righter way than God will ? At least is it not lawful for man to judge as God doth ?
12. We must judge of others in probability, according to their external works, even the tree by the fruits; therefore we must judge of ourselves in certainty, according to our internal and external works together, which we may certainly know.
13. If we may not rejoice in any of our graces, then we may not be thankful for them, for thankfulness is accompanied with joy ; but we must be thankful.
14. If we may not rejoice in our duties, we may not repent or sorrow for the neglect of them ; and if we may not rejoice in our graces, we may not lament the want of them (for these are as the two ends of the balance, that one goes down when the other goes up; or as day and night, light and darkness. But the consequent is intolerable.
15. This would overthrow all religion. For what a man cannot rejoice in, he cannot love, he cannot esteem, regard, be careful to obtain, be fearful of losing, &c.
16. God delighteth in our graces and holy duties, and is well pleased with them; and therefore it is lawsul and needful that we do as God doth ; Jer. ix. 24. Heb. xi. 5. Abel's sacrifice by faith obtained testimony that he pleased God. “ To do good, and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased;" Heb. xiii. 16.
17. The saints of God have not only tried themselves by their graces and duties, and commanded others to try by them, but have gloried and rejoiced in their duties and sufferings. “This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our conversation among you ;" 2 Cor. i. 12. “ They gloried that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ;" Acts v. 41. "I have therefore whereof I may glory in Jesus Christ, in those things which pertain to God;" Rom. xv. 17. “ We glory in tribulation,” &c.; chap. v. 3. “ Though I should desire to glory, I should not be a fool. I glory in mine infirmities;" 2 Cor. xi. 6. 9. “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me; Jer. ix. 24. “I had rather die than any should make my glorying void ;" 1 Cor. ix. 15. “Let every man prove his own work, so shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another;" Gal. vi. 4.
18. Scripture nameth many of our own graces and duties, as the certain marks of our justification and right to glory. Even Christ with his own mouth, gives us many ; " Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also ;” Matt. vi. 21. « He that doth evil hateth the light," &c. John iii. 10. Matt. v. is full of such ; " Blessed are the poor in spirit, the pure in heart," &c.
19. We may rejoice in other men's good works and graces (and do, if we be true Christians,) therefore in our own.
20. We may rejoice in God's outward mercies; therefore much more in inward, and such as accompany salvation. All these arguments prove, that we may take up our confort from our own gracious qualifications and actions (not in opposition to Christ, but in subordination to him,) and most of them prove that we may fetch our assurance of salvation from them, as undoubted evidences thereof.
I have said the more in answer to these objections, (1.) Because never any came with fairer pretences of exalting Christ, and maintaining the honor of his righteousness and free grace, and of denying ourselves and our own righteousuess. (2.) And yet few doctrines more dishonor Christ, and destroy the very substance of religion. Even as if a man should cry down him that would praise and commend obedience to the king, and say, “You must praise nothing but the king. So do these cry down our looking at, and rejoicing in our love to Christ, and our thankfulness to him, and our obedience, and all under pretense of honoring him. Nay, they will not have us rejoice in one part of Christ's salvation (his saving us from the power of sin, and his sanctifying us) under pretence that we disłonor the other part of his salvation (his justifying us.) If ever Satan transformed himself into an angel of light, and his ministers into ministers of light, it is in the mistakes of the Antinomians; and no people in the world (except camal libertines, whom this doctrine fits to a hair are in more danger of them, than poor, doubting Christians, under trouble of conscience; especially if they be not judicious, and skilled in the doctrine of Christ. For the very pretence of extolling Christ and free grace, will take much with such ; and any new way will sometimes seem to give them comfort, upon the very novelty and sudden change.
Having thus proved that you may, and must fetch your special comfort and assurance froin evidences, and that your first evidence is your faith, I shall open this more fully under the next Direction.
Direct. XI. In the trial of your state, “Be sure that you inake use of infallible signs of sincerity, and take not those for certain which are not.'
And to that end remember what I said before, that you must well understand wherein the nature of saving faith, and so of all saving grace doth consist. And when you understand this, write it down in two or three lines ; and both at your first trial, and afterward, whenever any doubts do drive you to a review of your evidence, still have recourse only to those signs, and try by them. What these signs are, I have shewed you so fully in the forecited place in my Book of Rest, that I shall say but little now. Remember that infallible signs are very few; and that whatsoever is made the condition of salvation, that is the most infallible evidence of our salvation, and therefore the fittest mark to try by; and therefore faith in God the Father and the Redeemer, is the main evidence. But because I have elsewhere shewed you, that this faith is comprehensive of love, gratitude, resolution to obey, and repentance, let me more particularly open it to help you in the trial. To prove any grace to be saving, it is necessary that you prove that salvation is fully promised to him that hath it. Now if know what it is that hath this promise, I will tell you, 1. As to the object. 2. The act. 3. The degree or modification of the act. For all these three must be inquired after if you will get assurance. 1. The object is principally God, and the Redeemer Christ. And secondarily the benefits given by Christ; and under that, the means to attain the principal benefits, &c. 2. The act hath many names drawn from respective and moral differences in the object, as faith, desire, love, choosing, accepting, receiving, consenting, &c. But properly all are comprised in one word, willing. The understanding's high estimation of God, and Christ, and grace, is a principal part of true saving grace ; but yet it is difficult, and scarce possible to judge of yourself by it rightly, but only as it discovers itself by prevailing with the will. . 3. The degree of this act must be such, as ordinarily prevaileth against its contrary; I mean, both the contrary object, and the contrary act to the same object. But because I doubt school-terms do obscure my meaning to you though they are necessary for exactness,) I will express the nature of saving grace in two or three marks as plain as I can.