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speak for the Noise of this Corruption. It puts out, or dimmest) the Eye of the Soul, and flupifies it, that it can neither see nor seel its own Condition. But especially it provokes God to withdraw himself^ his Comforts, and the Assistance of his Spirit, without which we may search long enough before we have Assurance. God hath made a Separation between Sin and Peace. As long as thou dost cherish, thy Pride, thy Love of the World, the Desires of the Flesii, or any unchristian Practice, thou expectest Comfort in vain. If any ManJetietB up his Idols in his Heart, and puttetb the Stumbhng.Blcck of his Iniquity before his Face, and comethto a Minister, or to God, to enjuire for Comfort; instead of comforting him, God will answer him that cometh, according to the
Multitude of his Idols (c). Another very great and
cemmon Cause os the Want of Coms rt is, when Grace is not kept in constant and lively Exercise. The Way of painsul Duty, is the Way of sullest Comfort. Peace and Comfort are Christ's great Encouragements to Faithsulness and Obedience; and therefore, tho'our Obedience does not merit them, yet they usually rise and faM with our Diligence in Duty. As Prayer must have Faith and Fervency to procure it Success, besides the Blood and Intercession of Christ, so must all other Parts of our Obedience. If thou grow seldom, and customary, and cold in Duty, especially in thy secret Prayers to God, and yet findest no Abatement in thy Joys, I cannot but sear thy Joys are either carnal or diabolical. Besides, Grace is never apparent and sensible to the Soul, but while it is in Action; therefore Want of Action must* cause •Want of Assurance. And the Action of the Soul tipon such excellent Objects naturally bringeth Consolation with it. The very Act of loving God in
(c) Eick, iiv, 3—9.
Christ is inexpressibly Tweet. The Soul that is best surnished with Grace, when it is not in Action, is like a Lute well stringed and tuned, which while it lieth still m.iketh no more Mustek than a common Piece of Wood; but when it is handled by a skilful Musician, the Melody is delightful. Some Degree of Comsort sollows every good Action, as Heat accompanies Fire, and as Beams and Influence issue from the Sun. A Man that is cold, should labour till Heat be excited; so he that wants Assurance,. must not stand still, but exercise his Graces, till his
Doubts vanish. The Want of Consolation in the Soul
a also very commonly owing to bodily Melancholy. It is no more Wonde; sor a conscientious Man, under Melancholy, to doubt, and sear, and despair, than, for a sick Man to g'oan, or a Child to cry when it is chastised. Without the Physician in this Case, the Labours of the Divine arc usually in vain. You may silence, but you cannot comsort them. You may make them consess they have some Grace, and yet cannot bring them to the comsortable Conclusion. All the good Thoughts of their State which you can" possibly help them to, are seldom above a Day or two old. They cry out of Sin, and the Wrath of God, when the chief Cause is in their bodily Distemper.
§ 10. (3) As for Motives to persuade to the Duty os St!sExamination, I intreat you to consider the sollowing. To be deceived about your Title to Heaven
is very easy. Many are now in Hell, that never suspected any Falshood in their Hearts, that excelled in worldly Wisdom, that lived in the clear Light of the Gospel, and even preached against the Negligence of •
o'.hcr>. To be mistaken in this great Point is also very
common. It is the Cate of most in the World. In the
old-World, and in Sod.w, we sind none that were in
H 5. any
any Fear of Judgment. Almost all Men among us verily iook to be faved; yet Christ tells us, there be fau that find, the strait Gate, and narrow IVay, which leedeth unto Life (d). And if such Multitudes are deceived, should not we search the more diligently, lest we should be deceived as well as they? Nothing is mire dangerous than to be thus mistaken. If the Gcdly judge their State worse than it is, the Consequences of this Mistake will be sorrowsul; but the Mischief flowing from the Mistake of the Ungodly is unspeakable. It wilt exceedingly consirm them in the Service of Satan. It will render ineffectual the Means that should do them good. It will keep a Man from compassionating his own Soul. It is in a Casse of the gieatest Moment, where everlasting Salvation or Damnation is to be determined. And if you mistake till Death, you are undone for ever. Seeing then the Danger is so great, what wise Man would not follow the Search of his Heart both Night aud Day, till he were assured of his Sassety? Consider how small the Labour of this Duty is, in Comparison of that Sorrav which flhwesh its NcgleSt. You can endure to toil and sweat from Year to Year, to prevent Poverty; and why not spend a little Time in
Self Examination, to prevent eternal Misery? .
By mgleSing this Duty, you can scarce do Satan a greater Pleasure, mr.yourself a greater Injury. It is the grand Design of the Devil in all his Temptation.', to deceive you, and keep you ignorant of your Danger, till you seel the everlasting Flamei; and will you join with him to deceive yourself? If you do this for him, you (to the greatest Tart of his Work. And hath he deserved so well of you,' that you should assist him in .
such a Design as your Damnation? The Time is
nig:.' vsbcv (Jsd willstarchy.u. If it be but in this Lise.
by Affliction, it will make you wish, that you had tried and judged yourselves, that you might have escaped the Judgment of God. It was a terrible Voice to Adam, JVhere art thou? Haft thou eaten of the Tree? kn&taCain, Where is thy Brother? Men consider not in their Hearts, that I, saith the Lord, remember all their Wickcdnefs; noiv their civn Doings have beset them.
akut, they are before my Face(e). Consider aljo,
what would be the sweet Effi-ifs os this Self- Examination. If thou be upright and godly, it will lead thee strait towards Assurance of God's Love; if thou be nor, . though it will trouble thee at the present, yet it will tend to thy Happiness, and at length lead thee to the Assurance of that Happiness. Is it not a desirable Thing to know what shall besal us hereaster? especially what shall besal our Souls? and what Place and Srate we must'be in sor ever? And as the very Knowledge itself is desirable; how much greater will the Comfort be of that Certainty of Salvation? What fwret Thoughts wilt thou have of God? All that Greatness and Justice, which is the Terror of others, will be thy Joy. How sweet may be thy Thoughts of Christ, and the Blood he hath sh^d, and the Benefits he hath procured? How welcome will the Word of God be to thee, and how beautiful the very Feet of those that bring it? How sweet will be the Promises* when thou art sure they are thine own? The verj« Threatening.? will occasion thy Comfort, to remenv* ber that thou hast escaped them.' VYhat BftWness and Comsort mayst thou then have'in. Player,, when thou canst say, cur Father, in full Assurance? • 'It will make the Lord's Supper a refreshing Feast tst'.fhy Soul It will inultiply the Sweetness qf every commenl Mercy. How comsortably mayst thou then undergo ^U Afflictions? How will it sweeten thy ForeH 6 ._ thoughts
[e; KcC vii. 2.
thoughts of Death and Judgment, of Heaven and Hell? How lively will it make thee in the Work of the Lord, and: how prositable to all around thee? What Vigour will it infuse into all thy Graces and Affections kind'e thy Repentance, inflame thy Love, quic!:en thy Desires, and consirm thy Faith,, be a Fountain of continual Rejoicing, overflow thy Heart with Thankfulness, raise thee high in the delightsul' Wo:k of Piaise, help thee to be heavenly.minded,, ami render thee persevering in all? AH these sweet Efsects of Assurance would make thy Lise a Heaven. upon Earth.
§ Ii. Though I am certain these Motives have Weight of Reason in them, yet I am jealous, Readcl\ lest you lay aside the Book, as if you had done, and never set youiseif to die.Practice of the Duty. The Case in.Hand' is of the greatest Moment, Whether thou shalt everlastingly live in Heaven or Hell? I here request thee, in Behalf of thy Soul; nay, I charge thee, in the Name of the Lord, that thou defer no longer, but take thy Heart to task in good earned, and think with thyself, "Is it Ib easy, so common, "and so dangerous to be mistaken? Are there so ** many wrong Ways? Is the Heart so deceitsul? "Why then do I not search into.every Cbrner, till' .*.' I know my State? Must I so shortly undergo the .*• Trial at the Bar of Christ? And do I not presently "try myself? What a Case were I in, if I should "then' miscarry? May I know by a little diligent '* Enquiry now? And 'do I stick at the Labour?" But perhaps thou wilt fay, " I know not how to do ** it." In that I am now to give thee Directions; bur,, alas!, it will be in vainv if, thou art not resolved tp practice therm Wilt thou, therefore, b?for'e thou goal any surther, here promise before. the Lord; to §j. thyself, u^on.thn fjreedy Performance 0f the Duty