תמונות בעמוד

sufficient of ourselves to help ourselves; that, without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing but add sin to sin ; that it is He alone who worketh in us by his almighty power, either to will or to do that which is good; it being as impossible for us even to think a good thought, without the supernatural assistance of his Spirit, as to create ourselves, or to renew our whole souls in righteousness and true holiness.

4. A sure effect of our having formed this right judgnient of the sinfulness and helplessness of our nature, is a disregard of that “honour which cometh of man,” which is usually paid to some supposed excellency in us. He who kuows himself, weither desires nor values the applause which he knows he deserves not. It is therefore " a very small thing with him, to be judged by man's judgment.” He has all reason to think, by comparing what it has said, either for or against him, with what he feels in his own breast, that the world, as well as the god of this world, was “a liar from the beginning.” And even as to those who are not of the world; though he would choose, if it were the will of God, that they should account of him as of one desirous to be found a faithful steward of his Lord's goods, if haply this might be a means of enabling him to be of more use to his fellow-servants, yet as this is the one end of bis wishing for their approbation, so he does not at all rest upon it: for he is assured, that whatever God wills, he can never want instruments to perform ; since he is able, even of these stones, to raise up servants to do his pleasure.

3. This is that lowliness of mind, which they have learned of Christ, who follow his example and tread in his steps. And this knowledge of their disease, whereby they are more and more cleansed from one part of it, pride and vanity, disposes them to embrace, with a willing mind, the second thing implied in Circumcision of Heart,—that Faith which alone is able to make them whole, which is the one medicine giren under heaven to heal their sickness.

6. The best guide of the blind, the surest light of them that are in darkness, the most perfect instructer of the foolish, is Faith. But it must be such a faith as is "mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong-holds,” to the overturning all the prejudices of corrupt reason, all the false maxims revered among men, all evil customs and habits, all that “wisdom of the world which is foolishness with God ;” as “casteth down imaginations, [reasonings,) and every high 11. Yet lackest thou one thing, whosoever thou art, that to a decp humility, and a stcadfast faith, hast joined a lively hope, and thereby in a good measure cleansed thy heart from its jubred pollution. If thou wilt be perfect, add to all these, Charity; add Lore, and thou hast the Circumcision of the Heart. “Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment.” Very excellent things are spoken of lovc; it is the essence, the spirit, the life of all virtuc. It is not only the first and great command, but it is all the commandments in one. “Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are amiable,” or honourable ; “if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,” they are all comprised in this one word, Love. In this is perfection, and glory, and happiness. The royal law of licaven and earth is this, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”

12. Not that this forbids us to love any thing besides God: it implies that we love our Brother also. Nor vet does it forbid nis (as some have strangely imagined) to take pleasure in any thing but God. To suppose this, is to suppose the fountain of holiness is directly the author of sin ; since he has inseparably annesed pleasure to the use of thosc crcatures which are necessary to sustain the life he has given us. This therefore can never be the meaning of his command. What the real sense of it is, both our blessed Lord and his Apostles tell ns too frequently, and too plainly, to be misunderstood. They ali with one month bear witness, that the truc meaning of those several declarations, “ The Lord thy God is one Lord;" “ Thou shalt have no other Gods but me;" “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy strength;”. “ Thou shalt cleave unto him ;” “The desire of thy soul shall be to his Nanc;”-is no other than this: The one perfect (ood shall be your one ultimate Eud. One thing shall ye desire for its own sake, the fruition of Him that is All in all. Ove happiness shall ye propose to your souls, even an union with llim that made them; the baving “ fellowship with the Puthier and the Son;" the being joined to the Lord in one

pirit. One design you are to pursue to the end of time, the coiorment of God in time and in eternity. Desire other things,

luiers they tend to this. Love the creature, as it leads to il cicutor. But in cup step you take, be this the glorious

point that terminates your view. Let every affection, and thought, and word, and work, be subordinate to this. Whatever ye desire or fear, whatever ye seek or shun, whatever ye think, speak, or do, be it in order to your happiness in God, the sole end as well as Source of your being.

13. Have no end, no ultimate end but God. Thus our Lord, “One thing is needful :” And if thine eye be singly fixed ou this one thing, “ thy whole body shall be full of light.” Thus St. Paul, “ This one thing I do; I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.” Thus St. James, “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your bearts, ye double-minded.” Thus St. John, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." The seeking happiness in what gratifies either the desire of the desh, by agreeably striking upon the outward senses; the desire of the eye, of the imagination, by its novelty, greatness, or beauty; or the pride of life, whether by pomp, grandeur, power, or the usual consequence of them, applause, and admiration ;“is not of the Father,” cometh not from, neither is approved by, the Father of spirits; “but of the world :" it is the distinguishing mark of those, who will not have Him to reign over them.

II. Thus have I particularly inquired, what that Circum-, cision of Heart is, which will obtain the praise of God. I am, in the Second place, to mention some Reflections that naturally arise from such an inquiry, as a plain rule whereby every mau may judge of himself, whether he be of the world or of God.

I. And, first, it is clear from what has been said, that no man bas a title to the praise of God, unless his heart is circumcised by Humility; unless he is little, and base, aud vile, in his own eyes ; unless he is deeply convinced of that inbred "corruption of his pature," whereby he is very far gone from original righteousness," being prone to all evil, averse to all good, corrupt and abominable; having a “ carnal mind which is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be;” unless he continually feels in his inmost soul, that without the Spirit of God resting upon bim, he can neither think, nor desire, nor speak, nor act aby Wing good, or well pleasing in his sight.

No man, I say, has a title to the praisc of God, till he feels his want of God; nor indeed, till he seeketh that “honour which cometh of God only;” and neither desires nor pursues that which cometh of man, unless so far only as it tends to this.

2. Another truth, which naturally follows from what has pcen said, is, that none shall obtain the honour that cometh of God, unless his heart be circumcised by Faith; cren a “ faith of the operation of God:” unless, refusing to be any longer led by his senses, appetites, or passions, or even by that blind leader of the blind, so idolized by the world, natural Reason, he lives and walks by faith ; directs every step, as “sceing Him that is invisible;" “looks not at the things thal are scen, which are temporal, but at the things that are not seen, which are cternal ;” and governs all his desires, designs, and thoughts, all his actions and conversations, as one who is entered in within the rail, where Jesus sits at the right hand of God.

3. It were to be wished, that they were better acquainted with this faith, who employ much of their time and pains in laying another foundation ; in grounding religion on the eternal fitness of things, on the intrinsic excellence of virtue, and the beauty of actions flowing from it; on the reasons, as they term them, of good and cvil, and the relations of beings to cach other. Either these accounts of the grounds of Christian duty coincide with the scriptural or not. If they do, why are well meaning men perplexed, and drawn from the weightier matters of the law, by a cloud of terms, whereby the easiest truths are explained into obscurity? If they are not, then it bchoves them to consider who is the author of this new doctrine; whether he is likely to be an angel from heaven, who preacheth another Gospel than that of Christ Jesus; though, if he werc, God, not wc, hath pronounced his sentence, “Let bim be accursed."

4. Our Gospel, as it knows no other foundation of good works than Faith, or of faith than Christ, so it clearly infornis 115, we are not his disciples, while we either deny him to be the Author, or his Spirit to be the luspirer and Perfecter both of our faith and works. “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, lie is none of his.” He alone can quicken those who are dead into God, can breathe into them the breath of Christian life, and so prerent, accompany, and follow

them with his grace, as to bring their good desires to good effect. And, “as many as are thus led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” This is God's short and plain account of true Religion and Virtue; and “other foundation can no man lay.” .. ,

5. From what has been said, we may, thirdly, learn, That none is truly “led by the Spirit,” unless that “ Spirit bear witness with his spirit, that he is a child of God;” unless he see the prize and the crown before him, and “rejoice in Hope of the glory of God.” So greatly have they erred who have taught that, in serving God, we, ought not to have a view to our own happiness! Nay, but we are often and expressly taught of God, to have “respect unto the recompence of reward;” to balance the toil with the “joy set before us," these “light afflictions with that “exceeding weight of glory.” Yea, we are “aliens to the covenant of promise,” we are “ without God in the world," until God, “of his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a living hope of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."

6. But if these things are so, it is bigh time for those persons to deal faithfully with their own souls, who are so far from finding in themselves this joyful assurance that they fulfil the terms, and shall obtain the promises of that Covenant, as to quarrel with the Covenant itself, and blaspheme the terms of it; to complain, “They are too severe; and that no man ever did, or shall live up to them !' What is this but to reproach God, as if he were an hard Master, requiring of his servants more than he enables them to perform ? As if he had mocked the helpless works of his hands, by binding them to impossibilities; by commanding them to overcome, where neither their own strength nor his grace was sufficient for them ?

7. These blasphemers might almost persuade those to imagine themselves guiltless, who, in the contrary extreme, hope to fulll the commands of God, without taking any pains at all. Vain hope! that a child of Adam should ever expect to see the kingdom of Christ and of God, without striving, without agonizing first, “to enter in at the strait gate;” -that one who was “conceived and born in sin," and whose “inward parts are very wickedness," should once entertain a thought of being “purified as his Lord is pure,” unless he

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