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The PO E M.
That which they had is loft, and quite confum'd;
CH A P.
Upon the resemblance of Wheat and Tares.
As wheat resembled is, by viler tares;
alike in their first springing up, that it is exceeding difficule to distinguish the one from the other : These are his words, Inter triticum et lolium quandiu herba eft, et nondum culmus venit ad fpicam : grandis fimilitudo eft ; et indifcernendo aut nulla, aut per difficilis diftantia. The difference (faith he) between them, is either done at all, or wonderfully difficult to discern, which those words of Christ, Mat. xiii. 30. plainly confirm. Let them both alone till the harveft ; thereby intimat." ing, both the difficulty of distinguishing the tares and wheat ; as also the unwarrantable rashness of bold and halty censures of men's fincerity or hypocrisy, which is there fhadowed by them.
wheat and tares, yet, doubtless, the eye of fenfe can much easier discriminate them, than the most quick and piercing eye of man can discern the difference betwixt special and common grace ; for all saving graces in the saints have their coun. terfeits in hypocrites. There are similar works in these, which a spiritual and very judicious eye may easily mistake for the fav. ing and genuine effe&ts of the fanctifying Spirit.
Doth the Spirit of God convince the consciences of his peo. ple of the evil of fin ? Rom. vii. 9. Hypocrites have their convictions too, Exod. x. 16. “ Theo Pharaoh called for Moses ir and Aaron in haste, and he said, I have finned against the " Lord your God, and against you.” Thus was Saul also convicted, 1 Sam. xv. 24.
Doth true conviction and compraction work reformation of life in the people of God? Even hypocrites also have been famous for their reformations. The unclean spirit often goes out of the formal hypocrite, by an external reformation; and yet still retains his propriety in them, Matth. xii. 43, 44. For that departure is indeed no more than a politic retreat. Many that shall Qever escape the damnation of hell, have yet cfcaped
the pollutions of the world, and that by the knowledge of the Son of God, 2 Pet. ji. 21.
Doth the Spirit of the Lord produce that glorious and superDatural work of faith io convinced and humble fouls? In this also the hypocrite apes and imitates the believer, Acts viii. 13. " Then Simon himself believed also.” Luke viii. 13.“ Theie " are they which for a while believe, and in time of temptation " fall away."
Doth the precious eye of faith, discovering the transcendent excelleocies that are in Christ, in flame the affections of the believing foul with vehement desires and longings after him? Strange motions of beart have also been found in hypocrites towards Christ and heavenly things, John vi. 34.“ Lord, ever“ more give us this bread.” Mat. xxv. 8.“ Give us of your oil, “ for our lamps are gone out.”
With what a rapture was Balaam transported, when he faid, “ Let me die the death of the “ righteous, and my last eod be like his !” Numb. xxiii, 1o.
Doth the work of faith, io some believers, bear upon its top branches the full ii pe fruit of a blessed assurance ! Lo! what Aroog confidences, and high-built perfuafions of an interest in God, bave sometimes been found even in unsanctified ones ? Joha viii. 54." Of whom you say, that he is your God; and “yet ye have not known him." To the fame height of confi . dence arrived those vain souls, mentioned in Rom. ii. 19. Yea, so strong may this false assurance be, that they dare boldly venture to go to the judgment-seat of God, and there defend it, Mat. vii. 22. “ Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy
Doth the Spirit of God fill the heart of the assured believer with joy unspeakable and full of glory, giving them, through faith, a prelibation, or foretaste of heaven itself, in those first fruits of it? How near to this comes that which the apostle fupposes may be found even in apoftates? Heb. vi. 8, 9. who are there faid "to taste the good word of God, and the powers of " the world to come.” What shall I say, if real Christians delight in ordioances, those that are none, may also delight in approachiog to God, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. It may be you will fay, though the difference be not easily discernable in their active obedience, yet, when it shall come to suffering, there every eye máy difcero it; the falfe heart will then flinch, and cannot brook that work. And yet even this is no infallible rule neither; for the apolle supposes, that the salamander of hypocrisy may live in the very fames of snartyrdom, 1 Cor. xii. 3.
“ If I give my body to be burst, and have not charity." And it was long since determined in this case, Non poena, fed caufa facit martyrem ; so, that without controverly, the difficulty of diftinguithing them is very great.
And this difference will yet be more subtle and vadiscernible, if I should tell you, that as in so many things the hypocrite refembles the faiat; fo there are other thiags in which a real Christian may act too like an hypocrite. When we fiod a Pharaoh confefing, and Herod practising, as well as hearing, a sudas preaching Christ, and Alexander venturing his life for Paul ; and on the other side, shall find a David condemping that in another, which he practifed himself, an Hezekiah glorying ia his riches, a Peter dissembling, and even all the disciples forlaking Christ in an hour of trouble and danger: 0 then! how hard is it for the eye of man to discera betwixt chaff and wheat ? How many upright hearts are now cenfured, whom God will clear? How many falfe hearts are now approved, whom God. will condemn? Men ordinarily have no clear convictive proofs, but only probable symptoms ; which, at moft, can beget but a conjectural knowledge of another's state. And they that shall peremptorily judge either way, may poflsbly wrong the generaiion of the upright; or, on the other fide, abfolve and justify the wicked. And truly, considering what bath been faid, it is no great wonder, that dangerous mifakes are fo frequently made in this matter. But though man cannot, the Lord both can, and will, perfectly discriminate them. “ The Lord know: “eth who are his,” 2 Tim. ii. 19. He will have a day perfectly to fever the tares from the wheat, to melt off the vardith of the most resplendent and refined hypocrite, and to blow off the aflies of infirmities, which have covered and obfcured the very fparks of fincerity in his people : he will make fuch a division as was dever yet made in the world, how many divisions foever there have been in ie. " And then thall med indeed return, and dilo
cero between the righteous and the wicked; betwixt him " that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.” Mean while, my soul, thou canst not better employ thyself, whether thou be found or unfound, than in making these reflections up on thyself.
R E F L E C TI ON S.
And is this fo? Then, Lord, pardon the The cenforious rafhoefs and precipitaacy of my cenforious fpifoul's refleétion. rit; for I have often boldly anticipated iny
judgment, and assumed thy prerogative, ali though thou haft faid, " Why dost thou judge thy brother?
* And why doft thou set at'oought thy brother? We tall all * stand before the judgment feat of Chrift. For it is written, « As I live (faith the Lord) every knee shall bow to me, and
every tongue shall contels to God. Let us got therefore “ judge one another any more,” Rom. xiv. 10, 11, 12, 13. And again ;
“ He that judgeth me is the Lord. Let us there“ fore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who " both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and « make manifeft the counsels of the heart; and then shall every
mao have praise of God," 1 Cor. iv. 4, 5.
What if God will owo some of them for his fons, to whom I refule to give the respect of brethren? I may pass halty and headlong censures upon others; but where is my commision for so doing? I want not only a commission, but fit qualifications for such a work as this. Can I pierce into the heart as God? Can I infallibly discover the hidden motives, ends and priociples of actions ? Besides, O my foul, thou art conscious of so much falseness in thyself, that were there no other confideration, that alone might restraia thee from all uncharitable and hafty cenfures. If others knew but what I know of myself, would they not judge as severely of me, as I do of others?
2. Though I may not judge the final state of another, yet I may, and ought to judge The prefumptu. the state of my owo soul; which is, doubt ous foul's reflecless, a more necessary and concerning work' tion. to me. For fioce every saving grace in å Christian hath its counterfeit in the hypocrire, how needful is it for thee, O my soul, to make a stand here, and solemnly to pooder this qneftion, Whether those things, whereon I depend, as my best evidences for the life to come, be the real, or only the common works of the Spirit ? Whether they may be fuch as can now endure the test of the word, and abide a fair trial at the bar of my owo conscience?
Come then, my soul, set the Lord before thee, to whom the secrets of all hearts are manifest; and in the awful sense of that great day, make true answer to these heart-discovering queries : For though thou canst not discern the difference betwixt these things in another, yet thou mayest and oughtelt to discern it in thyfelf: For what man kaows the things of a man, save the spirit of man that is in him !
1. Is my obedience uniform ? am I the same man at all times, places and companies? Or rather, am I not exact aod curious in open and public, remiss and careless in private and