« PoprzedniaDalej »
zeal, confidence, professions, performances. Let me speak freely, all pomps of worship, all speculative knowledge, though ever so orthodox, is as dear to the animal life as the divine: and all external models of devotion, submiss confessions, devout hymns, pathetical prayers, raptures of joy, much zeal to reform indecencies in worship or superstitions, a fierce raging against the political Antichrist, do as well agree to a natural man as a spiritual, and may be as fairly acted over, by a mere selfish carnal principle, as by that which is truly divine.
When Diogenes trampled upon Plato's stately bed, saying, “ I trample on Plato's pride," it was answered him very sharply, “He was prouder in treading upon it, than Plato was in lying upon it."
I doubt it may be applied too truly to a great deal of that cynical and scornful zeal, that is in the world at this day; men declaim against the pride, and pomp, and grandeur of Antichristian prelates, with a pride no whit inferior to theirs whom they thus decry. However, it is plain, that those things which are imitable by a sensual heart, and indeed performable by the mere magic of an exalted fancy, are not to be rested in by a sincere Christian. Read over, therefore, I beseech you, the fruits of the Spirit, recorded by the Apostle Paul, and the Apostle Peter, and estimate yourselves by them.
These things are utterly incompatible to the mere animal man: all the natural men and devils in the world cannot be humble, meek, self-denying, patient, charitable, lovers of God more than of themselves, or of their enemies as themselves. Would you judge rightly of the goodness of any opinion ? then value it by the tendency that is in it to advance the life of God: particularly judge of the Millenarian opinion, which begins to be so much hugged in the world: concerning which I will only say thus much at present, that, in the common notion of it, as it promises a state of much ease, liberty, power, prosperity, and freedom from all persecutions and oppressions, it is as grateful to the fleshly palate, and will be as gladly embraced by the mere animal man, as by the greatest saint upon earth. And therefore, supposing it to be true, yet I cannot but wonder how it comes to administer so much satisfaction, and afford such a marvellous relish, to minds divinely principled, as many seem to taste in it. By this same tendency, to advance the divine life in your souls, judge also of all your enjoyments, riches, honours, liberties, friends, health, children, &c. and value them, if it be possible, only under this consideration. But, to hasten to an end, I will endeavour to set on this general exhortation by two or three weighty considerations. First, it is utterly impossible that any speculation, opinion, profession, enjoyment, ornament, performance, or any other thing, but the transformation of the mind into the very image and nature of God, should ever be able to perfect our souls, or commend us unto God. They cannot perfect our souls, as being most of them exterior, and all of them inferior to it. They cannot commend a man to God, who loves us, and whom we so far know and love, as we partake of his nature, and resemble him: this is the love of God, this is the worship of God, and this is really the
souls acquaintance with him, and nothing but this. Secondly, The advancement of the divine life is that which God mainly designs in the world. I need instance but in two things: 1. The sending of his own Son into the world for this very end and purpose, “ that he might take away our sins," says the Apostle John; and again, “ that he might destroy the works of the devil;" and again, says the Apostle Paul, “ That he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of
2. It appears that this is the grand design of God in the world, in as much as he doth not deliver his faithful servants out of their afflictions and tribulations: which he would not fail to do, did he not intend them a greater good thereby, and design to lead them on, and raise them up to a higher life. Now, what can more ennoble these souls of ours, than to live upon the same design with God himself?
And now, reader, I commend thee to the blessing of God, in the perusal of this small tract, which I have composed, and now exposed, under a sense of that common obligation, that lies upon every person to be active in his sphere for the interest of the name and honour of God, and to render his life as useful as he may: more particularly, under a sense of my own deficiency in several accomplishments, whereby others are better fitted to serve their generation : and especially under a sense of the peculiar engagement that lieth upon me, to dedicate
life entirely to his service, from whom I have so lately, and that so signally, received the same afresh; in
imitation of whom, I hope thou wilt be indulgent towards my infirmities. To whom I heartily commend thee, and to the precious influences of his eternal Spirit, and rest,
Thy Servant in his work,
And for his sake,
John iv. 14.
“ But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him
shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in bim a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The original of true religion. All souls the offspring of
God; but godly souls yet more especially. God the author of religion from without; God the author of it from within, enlightening the faculty. Religion something of God in the soul. A discovery of religious men by the affinity that they have to God. God alone to be acknowledged in all holy accomplishments.
This chapter contains an excellent, profitable, familiar discourse of the blessed Saviour of the world, into whose lips grace was poured, and he ceased not to pour it out again. That which is said of the wise, Prov. xv. 7. is fully verified of Wisdom itself, his lips dispersed knowledge. A poor woman of Samaria comes to draw water, and our Saviour takes occasion, from the water, to instruct her in the great and excellent doctrines of the kingdom of heaven. O the admirable zeal for God, and compassion for souls, which dwelt in that divine breast! and O the