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desires, yet he is resolved that he will never break terms with Christ: there is no duty so hard which he is not willing and resolved to perform; and no sin so sweet or gainful which he is not willing to forsake: he knoweth how unprofitable a bargain he makes who winneth the world and loseth his own soul; and that no gain can ransom his soul, recompense him for the loss of his salvation. He knoweth that it is impossible to be a loser by God, or to purchase heaven at too dear a rate: he knoweth that whatsoever it cost him, heaven will fully pay for all; and that it is the worldling's labour, and not the saint's, that is repented of at last. He marvelleth more at distracted sinners for making such a stir for wealth, and honours, and command, than they marvel at him for making so much ado for heaven. He knoweth that this world may be too dearly bought, but so cannot his salvation: yea, he knoweth that even our duty itself is not our smallest privilege and mercy: and that the more we do for God the more we receive, and the greater is our gain and honour: and that the sufferings of believers for righteousness' sake do not only prognosticate their joys in heaven, but occasion here the greatest joys that any short of heaven partake of. He is not one that desireth the end without the means, and would be saved so it may be on cheap and easy terms; but he absolutely yieldeth to the terms of Christ, and saith with Augustin, ' Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis : Cause me to do what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt.' Though Pelagius contradicted the first sentence, and the flesh the second, yet Augustine owned both, and so doth every true believer. He greatly complaineth of his backwardness to obey, but never complaineth of the strictness of the command: he loveth the holiness, justness, and goodness of the laws, when he bewaileth the unholiness and badness of his heart: he desireth not God to command him less, but desireth grace and ability to do more. He is so far from the mind of the ungodly world, who cry out against too much holiness, and making so much ado for heaven, that he desireth even to reach to the degree of angels, and would fain have God's will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven; and therefore the more desireth to be in heaven that he may do it better.
2. The weak Christian hath the same estimation and resolution; but, when it comes to practice, as his will is less confirmed and more corrupted and divided, so little impediments and difficulties are great temptations to him, and stop him more in the way of his obedience. All his duty is much more tedious to him, and all his sufferings are much more burthensome to him than to confirmed Christians; and therefore he is easier tempted into omissions and impatiency, and walketh not so evenly or comfortably with God. When the spirit is willing, it yieldeth oft to the weakness of the flesh, because it is willing in too remiss a degree.
3. But the seeming Christian (though notionally and generally he may approve of strictness) yet secretly at the heart hath always this reserve, that he will not serve God at too dear a rate. His worldly felicity he cannot part with for all the hopes of life to come, and yet he will not, he dare not renounce and give up those hopes, and therefore he maketh himself a religion of the easiest and cheapest parts of Christianity, (among which sometimes the strictest opinions may fall out to be one part, provided they be separated from the strictest practice): and this easy cheap religion he will needs believe to be true Christianity and godliness, and so will hope to be saved upon these terms. And though he cannot but know that it is the certain character of a hypocrite to have any thing nearer and dearer to his heart than God; yet he hopeth that it is not so with him, because his convinced judgment can say that God is best and the world is vanity, while yet his heart and affections so much contradict his opinion as almost to say, There is no God; for his heart knoweth and loveth no God as God,—that is, above his worldly happiness. He is resolved to do so much in religion as he findeth necessary to delude his conscience and make himself believe that he is godly and shall be saved; but when he cometh to forsake all and take up the cross, and practise the costliest parts of duty, then you shall see that mammon was better loved than God, and he will go away sorrowful, and hope to be saved upon easier terms: for he was never resigned absolutely to God.
XV. 1. A confirmed Christian is one that taketh self-denial for the one-half of his religion, and therefore hath bestowed one-half of his endeavours to attain and exercise it. He knoweth that the fall of man was a turning to himself from God,
and that selfishness and want of love to God are the sum of all corruption and ungodliness, and that the love of God and self-denial are the sum of all religion, and that conversion is nothing but the turning of the heart from carnal self to God by Christ; and therefore on this hath his care and labour been so successfully laid out, that he hath truly and practically found out something that is much better than himself, and to be loved and preferred before himself, and which is to be his chiefest ultimate end. He maketh not a God of himself any more, but useth himself for God, to fulfil his will, as a creature of his own, that hath no other end and use. He no more preferreth himself above all the world, but esteemeth himself a poor and despicable part of the world; and highlier valueth the honour of God and the welfare of the Church, and the good of many, than any interest of his own. Though God in nature hath taught him to regard his own felicity and to love himself, and not to seek the glory of God and the good of many souls in opposition to his own; yet hath he taught him to prefer them (though in conjunction) much before his own: for reason telleth him that man is nothing in comparison of God, and that we are made by him and for him; and that the welfare of the Church or public societies is better, in order to the highest ends, than the welfare of some one. Selfishness, in the unregenerate, is like an inflammation or imposthume, which draweth the humours from other parts of the body to itself; the interest of God and man are all swallowed up in the regard that men have to self-interest : and the love of God and our neighbour is turned into self-love. But self is as annihilated in the confirmed Christian, so that it ruleth not his judgment, his affections, or his choice; and he that lived in and to himself, as if God and all the world were but for him, doth now live to God as one that is good for nothing else, and findeth himself in seeking him that is infinitely above himself.
2. And the weak Christian hath attained to so much self-denial, that self is not predominant in him against the love of God and his neighbour; but yet, above all other sins, too great a measure of selfishness still remaineth in him. These words, own, and mine, and self, are too significant with him ; every thing of his own is regarded inordinately with partiality and too much selfishness. A word against himself, or an injury to himself, is more to him than worse against his brother: he is too little mindful of the glory of God, and of the public good, and the souls of others; and even when he is mindful of his own soul, he is too regardless of the souls of many, that, by prayer, or exhortation, or other means, he ought to help. As a small candle lighteth but a little way, and a small fire heateth not far off, so is his love so much confined that it reacheth not far from him: he valueth his friends too much upon their respect to please himself, and loveth men too much as they are partial for him, and too little upon the pure account of grace, and their love to Christ and serviceableness to the Church. He easily overvalueth his own abilities, and is too confident of his own understanding, and apt to have too high conceits of any