« הקודםהמשך »
indulge the flesh, having a weaker preservative against them than stronger Christians have.
3. But the seeming Christian is really carnal. The flesh is the predominant part with him, and the interest of the flesh is the ruling interest. He washeth away the outward filth, and, in hope of salvation, will be as religious as the flesh will give him leave, and will deny it in some smaller matters, and will serve it in a religious way, and not in so gross and impudent a manner as the Atheists and and openly profane; but for all that he never conquered the flesh indeed, but seeketh its prosperity more than the pleasing of God and his salvation : and among prayers, and sermons, and holy conference, and books, yea, and formal fastings too, he is serving the flesh with so much the more dangerous impenitency by how much the more his cloak of formality hindereth him from discerning his sin. Many a one that is of unblemished reputation in religion, doth constantly serve his appetite in meat and drink (though without any notable excess), and his fleshly mind, in the pleasure of his dwelling, wealth, and accommodations, as much as some profane ones do, if not much more.
And whenever it cometh to a parting trial, they will shew that the flesh was the ruling part, and will venture their souls to secure its interest.
XVII. 1. Hence it followeth that a Christian indeed preferreth the means of his spiritual benefit and salvation incomparably before all corporeal commodities and pleasures. He had rather dwell under the teaching and guidance of an able experienced
pastor, though it be cross to his prosperity and worldly gain, than to live under an ignorant or dead-hearted preacher, when it furthereth his trading, or more accommodateth his flesh; though yet he must not remove when God layeth any restraint upon him, by his duty to his family or others. He had rather, if he be a servant, dwell in a family where he may do or receive most spiritual good, than in a carnal family where he may
have more ease, and better fare, and greater wages. If he be to marry, he had rather have one that hath wisdom and piety without wealth, than one that hath riches without wisdom and piety. He is gladder of an opportunity (in public or private) for the profit of his soul, than of a feast, or a good bargain, or an opportunity for some gain in worldly things.
2. And the weak Christian is of the same mind in the main. He valueth mercies and helps for his soul above those for his body; but it is with less zeal and more indifferency, and therefore he is more easily and ofter drawn to the omitting of spiritual duties and neglect of spiritual helps and mercies, and goeth to them with more averseness, and as driven by necessity, and is much less sensible of his loss when he misseth any such spiritual helps.
3. But the seeming Christian, being a real worldling, doth serve God and mammon; and mammon with the first and best. He had rather miss a sermon than a good bargain or commodity; he had rather dwell where he may thrive best, or have most ease and pleasure, than where he may find the greatest helps for heaven. He will be religious, but it must be with an easy, and a pleasant, and merry religion; which may not be too niggardly -with his flesh, nor use it too strictly, unless when one day's austerity may procure him an indulgence for his liberty all the week following. He will make his bargain with Christ so as to be sure that he may not lose by him: and he will not believe that God is pleased with that which is much displeasing to his flesh. i XVIII. 1. The Christian indeed is one that is crucified to the world, and the world is as a crucified thing to him.' He hath overcome the world by faith, and followeth Christ in the pursuit of it to a perfect conquest. He hath seen through all its vanity, and foreseen what it will prove at last: he hath found that it cannot quiet conscience, nor reconcile the guilty soul to God, nor save it from his consuming wrath ; nor serve instead of God or heaven, of Christ or grace; but will cast off its servants in their last extremity, naked and and desolate, into remediless despair; and therefore he is resolvedly at a point with all things under the sun. Let them take the world for their portion and felicity that will ; for his part, he accounteth all things in it dung and dross in comparison of Christ and things eternal. All the preferments, and honours, and command, and wealth, and greatness of the world, do not seem to him a bait considerable enough to make a wise man once question whether he should persevere in faithfulness to God, or to tempt him to commit one wilful sin. He would not speak, or own a lie, or approve the sin of any other, for all that worldlings enjoy in their greatest prosperity while they live. He accounteth his peace with God and conscience, and his communion with Christ in the greatest poverty, to be incomparably better than all the pleasures and commodities of sin ; yea, the very reproach of Christ is better to him than all the treasures of court or country. Grace hath mortified and annihilated the world to him; and that which is dead and nothing, can do nothing with him against God and his soul. He looketh on it as a carrion, which dogs may love and fight for ; but is unfit to be the food of man. He is going to the land of promise; and therefore will not contend for an inheritance in this howling wilderness. Whether he be high or low, rich or poor, are so small a part of his concernments, that he is almost indifferent to them, farther than as the interest of God and souls may accidentally be concerned in them. The world, set against God, and heaven, and holiness, doth weigh no more in his estimation than a feather that is put in the balance against a mountain, or all the world. He feeleth no great force in such temptations as would draw him to win the world and lose his soul. His eye and heart are where his God and treasure is - above ; and worldly wealth and greatness are below him, even under his feet. He thinketh not things temporal worth the looking at, in comparison of things eternal. He thinketh that their money and riches do deservedly perish with them, who think all the money in the world to be a thing comparable with grace.
2. And the weak Christian is of the same judgment and resolution in the main; but yet the world retaineth a greater interest in his heart: it grieveth him to lose it; it is a stronger temptation to him. To deny all the preferments, and honours, and riches of it, seemeth a greater matter to him, and he doth it with more striving and less ease. Sometimes the respect of worldly things prevaileth with him, in lesser matters, to wound his conscience, and maketh work for repentance; and he so entangleth himself in worldly cares, and prosperity tasteth so sweet with him, that grace even languisheth and falleth into a consumption, and almost into a swoon. So much do some such let out their hearts to the world which they renounced, and scrape for it with so much care and eagerness, and contend with others about their commodities and rights so earnestly, that they seem to the standers by to be as worldly as worldlings themselves are, and become a shame to their profession, and make ungodly persons say, “ Your godly professors are as covetous as any.'
3. But seeming Christians are the servants of the world. When they have learnt to speak hardliest of it, it hath their hearts. Heaven, as I said before, is valued but as a reserve, when they know they can keep the world no longer. They have more sweet and pleasing thoughts and speeches of the world than they have of God and the world to
It hath most of their hearts when God