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doth he only repent of his open sins, and those that are most censured by the beholders of his life; but he specially perceives the dangerous poison of pride, and unbelief, and worldliness, and the want of the love of God, and all his outward and smaller sins do serve to shew him the greater malignity of these, and these are the matter of his greatest lamentations. He taketh not up a profession of religion with strong corruptions secretly covered in his heart; but his religion consisteth in the death of his corruptions and the purifying of his heart: he doth not secretly cherish any sin as too sweet or too profitable to be utterly forsaken, nor overlook it as a small inconsiderable matter; but he feeleth sin to be his enemy and his disease, and as he desireth not one enemy, one sickness, one wound, one broken bone, one serpent in his bed, so he desireth not any one sin to be spared in his soul, but saith with David, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts ; and see if there be
me, and lead me in the way everlasting. He liveth in no gross or scandalous sin, and his infirmities are comparatively few and small; so that if he were not a sharper accuser of himself than the most observant spectators are, that are just, there would little be known by him that is culpable and matter of reproof. He 'walketh in all the commandments and ordinances of God blameless,' as to any notable failure. He is blameless and harmless, as the son of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom he shineth as a light in the world. The fear, and love, and obedience of God is the work and tenour of his life.
2. But the weak Christian, though he hath no sin but what he is a hater of, and fain would be delivered from, yet alas how imperfect is his deliverance! and how weak is the hatred of his sin, and mixed with so much proneness to it, that his life is much blemished with the spots of his offences. Though his unbelief, and pride, and worldliness are not predominant in him, yet are they, or some of them, still so strong, and fight so much against his faith, humility, and heavenliness, that he can scarcely tell which hath the upper hand; nor can others that see the failings of his life, discern whether the good or the evil be most prevalent. Though it be heaven which he most seeketh, yet earth is so much regarded by him, that his heavenlymindedness is greatly damped and suppressed by it. And though it be the way of godliness and obedience which he walketh in, yet is it with so many stumblings and falls, if not deviations also, as make him oft a burthen to himself, a shame to his profession and a snare or trouble to those about him. His heart is like an ill-swept house that hath many a sluttish corner in it; and his life is like a motheaten garment, which hath many a hole which you may see if you bring it into the light.
3. And for the seeming Christian, his repentance doth but crop the branches, it goeth not to the root and heart of his sin: it leaveth his fleshly mind and interest under its dominion; it polisheth his life, but maketh him not a new creature; it casteth away those sins which the flesh can spare, and which bring more shame, or loss, or trouble with them, than worldly honour, gain, or pleasure: but still he is a very worldling at the heart; and the sins which his fleshly pleasure and felicity consisteth in, he will hide by confessions and seeming oppositions, but never mortify and forsake: as Judas, who, while he followed Christ, was yet a thief and a covetous hypocrite.
XI. 1. Hence it followeth that a Christian indeed doth heartily love the searching light, that it may fully acquaint him with his sins: he is truly desirous to know the worst of himself, and therefore useth the word of God as a candle to shew him what is in his heart, and bringeth himself willingly into the light: he loveth the most searching books and preachers : not only because they disclose the faults of other men, but his own: he is not one that so loveth his pleasant and profitable sins, as to fly the light lest he should be forced to know them, and so to forsake them; but because he hateth them, and is resolved to forsake them, therefore he would know them. John iii. 19-21. Therefore he is not only patient under reproofs, but loveth them, and is thankful to a charitable reprover; and maketh a good use even of malicious and passionate reproofs. He saith as Job, That which I see not, teach thou me. If I have done iniquity, I will do no more. His hatred of the sin, and desire to be reformed, suffer not his heart by pride to rise up against the remedy and reject
reproof. Though he will not falsely confess his duty to be his sin, nor take the judgment of every selfish, passionate, or ignorant reprover to be infallible, nor to be his rule; yet if a judicious impartial person do but suspect him of a fault, he is ready to suspect himself of it, unless he be certain that he is clear. He loveth him better that would save him from his sin, than him that would entice him to it; and taketh him for his best friend who dealeth freely with him, and is the greatest enemy to his faults; and a flatterer he taketh but for the most dangerous insinuating kind of foe.
2. But the weak Christian, though he hate his sin, and love reformation, and loveth the most searching books and preachers, and loveth a gentle kind of reproof, yet hath so much pride and selfishness remaining, that any reproof that seemeth disgraceful to him goeth very hardly down with him; like a bitter medicine to a queasy stomach: if you reprove him before others, or if your reproof be not very carefully sugared and minced, so that it rather extenuate than aggravate his fault, he will be ready to cast it up in your face, and with retortions
you of some faults of your own, or some way shew you how little he loveth it, and how little thanks he giveth you for it. If you will not let him alone with his infirmities, he will dislike you, if not fall out with you, and let you know, by his smart and impatience, that you have touched him in the sore and galled place. He must be a man of very great skill in managing a reproof, that shall not somewhat provoke him to distaste.
3. And for the seeming Christian, this is his condemnation, that light is come into the world, and he loveth darkness rather than light, because his deeds are evil. He cometh not to the light, lest his deeds should be discovered and reproved.' He liketh a searching preacher for others, and loveth to hear their sins laid open, if it no way reflect upon himself: but for himself he liketh best a general or a smoothing preacher; and he flyeth from a quick and searching ministry, lest he should be proved and convinced to be in a state of sin and misery
Guilt maketh him fear or hate a lively searching preacher, even as the guilty prisoner hateth the judge. He loveth no company so well as that which thinketh highly of him, and applaudeth and commendeth him, and neither by their reproofs nor stricter lives, will trouble his conscience with the remembrance of his sin, or the knowledge of his misery. He will take you for his enemy for telling him the truth, if you go about to convince him of his undone condition, and tell him of his beloved sin: sin is taken to be as himself;—it is he that doth evil, and not only sin that dwelleth in him; and therefore all that you say against his sin, he taketh it as spoken against himself; and he will defend his sin as he would defend himself: he will hear you till you come to touch himself, as the Jews did by Stephen, when they heard him call them' stiffnecked resisters of God,' and ' persecutors;' then they were 'cut to the heart, and ground their teeth at him.' And as they did by Paul: they gave audience to this word, and then