תמונות בעמוד

A confirmed Christian, as contrary to a weak one, 1. Is not to be judged of by his free dom from all scruples, doubts, or fears. 2. Nor by his eminency in men's esteem or observation. 3. Nor by his strength of memory. 4. Or freedom of utterance in praying, preaching, or discourse. 5. Or by his seemly deportment and courtesy towards others. 6. Nor by his sedate, calm, and lovely temper, and freedom from haste and heats, which other tempers are more prone to. 7. Nor by a man-pleasing or dissembling faculty, to bridle the tongue when it would open the corruption of the mind, and to suppress all words which would make others know how bad the heart is. There are many endowments, laudable and desirable, which will not shew so much as sincerity in grace; and much less a state of confirmation and stability.

But confirmation lieth in the great degree of all those graces which constitute a Christian. And the great degree appeareth in the operations of them. As, 1. When holiness is as a new nature in us, and giveth us a promptitude to holy actions, and maketh us free and ready to them, and maketh them easy and familiar to us: whereas the weak go heavily, and can scarce drive on and force their minds. 2. When there is a constancy or frequency of holy actions, which sheweth the strength and stability of holy inclinations. 3. When they are powerful to bear down oppositions and temptations, and can get over the greatest impediments in the way, and make an advantage of all resistance, and despise the most splendid baits of sin. 4. When

it is still getting ground, and drawing the soul upward and nearer to God, its rest and end. And when the heart groweth more heavenly and divine, and stranger to earth and earthly things. 5. And when holy and heavenly things are more sweet and delectable to the soul, and are sought and used with more love and pleasure. All these do shew that the operations of grace are vigorous and strong; and, consequently, that the habits are so also.

And this confirmation should be found, 1. In the understanding. 2. In the will. 3. In the affections. 4. In the life.

1. When the mind of man hath a larger comprehension of the truths of God, and the order and method and usefulness of every truth; and a deeper apprehension of the certainty of them, and of the goodness of the matter expressed in them; when knowledge and faith come nearest unto sight or intention, and we have the fullest, the truest, and the firmest, and most certain apprehension of things revealed and unseen; when the nature, and the reasons, and the ends and benefits of the Christian religion, are all most clearly, orderly, constantly, and powerfully printed on the mind,—then is that mind in a confirmed state.

2. When the will is guided by such a confirmed understanding, and is not brutishly resolved, he knoweth not for what or why;--when light hath fixed it in such resolutions as are past all notable doubtings, deliberations, waverings, or unwilling backwardness; and a man is, in seeking God and his salvation, and avoiding known sin, as a natural man is about the questions, whether he should preserve his life, and make provision for it; and whether he should poison, or famish, or torment himself;—when the inclination of the will to God, and heaven, and holiness, are likest to its natural inclination to good as good, and to its own felicity; and its action is so free as to have least indetermination, and to be likest to natural necessary acts, as those are of blessed spirits in heaven;—when the least intimation from God prevaileth, and the will doth answer him with readiness and delight; and when it taketh pleasure to trample upon all opposition; and when all that can be offered to corrupt the heart, and draw it to sin, and loosen it from God, prevaileth but as so much filth and dung would do, (Phil. iii. 7-9,)—this is a confirmed state of will.

3. When the affections do proceed from such a will, and are ready to assist, excite, and serve it, and to carry us on in necessary duties ;—when the lower affections of fear and sorrow do cleanse, and restrain, and prepare the way; and the higher affections of love and delight adhere to God, and desire and hope do make out after him, and set the soul on just endeavours;—when fear and grief have less to do, and are delivering up the heart still more and more to the possession of holy delight and love ;—and when those affections, which are rather profound than very sensible, immediately towards God himself, are sensible towards his word, his servants, his graces and his ways, and against all sin;—then are the affections, and so the man, in a confirmed state.

4. When ourselves, our time, and all that we have, are taken to be God's, and not our own, and are entirely and unreservedly resigned to him, and used for him;—when we study our duty, and trust him for our reward;—when we live as those that have much more to do for heaven than for earth; and with God, than with man or any creature; when our consciences are absolutely subjected to the authority and laws of God, and bow not to competitors;—when we are habitually disposed, as his servants, to be constantly employed in his works, and make it our calling and business in the world; as judging that we have nothing to do on earth, but with God, or for God;—when we keep not up any secret desires and hopes of a worldly felicity; nor purvey for the pleasure of the flesh, under the cloak of faith and piety, but subdue the flesh as our most dangerous enemy, and can easily deny its appetite and concupiscence;—when we guard all our senses, and keep our passions, thoughts, and tongues, in obedience to the holy law;when we do not inordinately set up ourselves in our esteem or desire, above or against our neighbour and his welfare, but love him as ourselves, and seek his good, and resist his hurt as heartily as our own; and love the godly with a love of complacence, and the ungodly with a love of benevolence, though they be our enemies;—when we are faithful in all our relations, and have judgment to discern our duty, that we run not into extremes; and skill, and readiness, and pleasure in performing it, and patience under all our sufferings,—this is the life of a confirmed Christian (in various degrees, as their strength is various).

And now I shall proceed to persuade such to value and seek this confirmation, lest with dull unprepared minds my following directions should be lost; and then I shall give you the directions themselves, which are the part that is principally intended. And first for the motives.

1. Consider that your first entrance into Christianity is an engagement to proceed: your receiving Christ obligeth you to walk and grow up in him. A fourfold obligation your very Christianity layeth upon you, to grow stronger, and to persevere.

(1.) The first is, from the very nature of it; even from the office of Christ, and the use and ends to which we do receive him. You receive Christ as a physician of your diseased souls; and doth not this engage you to go on to use his medicines till you are cured? What do men choose a physician for, but to heal them? It were but a foolish patient that would say, “Though my disease be deadly, yet now I have chosen the best physician, I have no more to do; I doubt not of recovery.' You took Christ for a Saviour, which engageth you to use his saving means, and submit to his saving works. You took him for your teacher and master, and gave up yourselves to be his disciples: and what sense was in all this, if you did not mean to proceed in learning of him? It is a silly conceit

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