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of God, and the glory of Christ's image: “ That ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Eph. iv. 24; "after the image of him that created him,” Col. iii. 10.
The soul that is united to Christ by the bond of love, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, is a holy man of God, 2 Pet. i. 21; and walks in the path of holiness, Isa. xxxv. 8. His conversation will be holy, 1 Pet. i. 15; and he has “his fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life,” Rom. vi. 22. All closet holiness, family holiness, or life holiness, that springs not from this root, or flows not from this fountain, is only the varnish of a hypocrite, and may be found or seen on those whose hearts are filled with covetousness, and where legal pride is enthroned, and Satanic rebellion encouraged.
Ahimaaz. Whoever cleaves the closest to the Saviour will be the most holy in heart, and the most fruitful in life: “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” And that man will ever be the most happy whose heart is the most steadfast with the Lord: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee,” Isa. xxvi. 3. But do inform me how Prodigalis went on, and how long he continued on the mount.
Cushi. Why, after he had been some time in this exalted frame, and had delivered many discourses as it were from the very threshold of heaven, the Lord was pleased to bring him under a strange discipline. In his private study he was very happy, and the scriptures were open to him, insomuch that he generally went from his study furnished with a text, and the various heads of doctrine contained in it lay plain to his view, and often afforded him much comfort; but when he began to speak he found neither liberty in spirit nor in speech; a gloomy confusion came gradually over his mind; his thoughts fled from him, he lost sight of his subject, and his treacherous memory refused to give back what had been committed to her. This disagreeable straitness of soul rendered the ministry a burden to him; for he never had experienced much before this of being bound in the spirit, which was the more puzzling to him.
Sii Having been exercised a few times this way, he began to complain to his flock of the various changes that passed on his mind, and of the difficult experiences that he had been exercised with. These things reached the hearts of the tried ones, and they gathered food under it; which was quite a mystery to Prodigalis, that a man in misery should be a minister of comfort! They appeared to him in no better light than the Philistines, who shouted against Samson when he was bound, but dared not so much as look him in the face when he was free. The weak and feeble believers, being so joyful, provoked him to spiritual jealousy. His adversaries, hearing his complaints, and perceiving him at times to faulter in his speech, triumphed over him: while the Antinomian hypocrites, who hated his experience, who talk of faith and religion while strangers to the power of both, were in daily expectation that his mouth would be stopped, and his ministry and profession sink into obscurity, and plague them no more.
Besides, he soon found that the bands which he felt in the pulpit followed him into his study likewise, until he went mourning all the day long. He had not arrived at that profound depth of experience that Paul had when he said, “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation,” 2 Cor. i. 6.
Ahimaaz. Though I often appeared so forward formerly to run with tidings, yet, since I have been called by grace, I have trembled for fear it should ever fall to my lot. I see it the most important work under the sun. A minister, as a public person, has many that will cleave to him, which are looking to and depending on him, under God, for instruction; and for these persons he must be accountable, as a ruler of the household; whose blood, if he lead them wrong, must be on his own head; for they depended on him, by taking him to be what he pretended, namely, God's saint, God's servant, God's ambassador, and God's mouth. This is what every real minister is, and what every false preacher pretends to be. If he be a false prophet, he will spit his venom at those that are true, and to the utmost of his power endeavour to vindicate himself in these characters, which his arrogance has assumed; and blind and bind all to him that he can. If he be a real believer in Jesus Christ, and one that is sent of God, he is right in vindicating himself in the above characters, and in declaring God's plain truth, as he hath felt it in his own heart; and, as he lives it in his own life, he is a true saint,
servant, and ambassador of Christ, and a faithful. leader: he delivers his own soul by declaring the whole counsel of God; clears himself of the blood of those that perish in their sins; and is a minister of the Spirit to those who are truly spiritual.
While, on the other hand, he that is a deceiver comes in God's name, who never sent him: he says he is sent of God, or inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, when he never was; personates God, to whom he is a stranger; appears in an office that God never conferred on him, and opposes those whom Christ hath sent. Hence poor deluded souls, by believing his lies, look to him for instruction as God's servant, which he is not: and, if he prevails with them to adhere to, and live and die in his delusions, both the leader and the led end in destruction together; or, as Christ saith, “The blind lead the blind, until both fall into the ditch."
Cushi. What you have said is true; but Prodigalis was no deceiver: He went forth and wrought, and the Lord wrought with him, and confirmed his word with many signs. But to be brief about his next trial. This bondage in his pulpit soon followed him home to his study, as was before observed, and at a throne of grace also, until his life, as well as his ministerial work, became both labour and sorrow.
Under this most distressing and most miserable . cross Prodigalis found dreadful murmuring and complaining: his old besetting sins began to call for some acknowledgment for past favours, and offered their pleasures in this his comfortless situation, if by any means they might gain a little lost favour, be a pre
sent prop, or lend a little present assistance towards lengthening of his tranquillity.
This bait was not altogether unseasonable. Darkness and bondage in prayer, in the study, in company, and in the pulpit, made him catch at comfort from any quarter. Carnal comforts are never represented to an heaven-born soul in so delusive a garb as when divine consolations are fled. When “the good man is not at home, but is on a long journey, and hath taken the bag of money with him," then it is that the world comes with her much fair speech and flattering lips, in order to cause us to yield,” Prov. vii. 19--21.
Now was the time for Satan to work; and, as he found that all divine comforts were gone, by the groaning petitions of Prodigalis, and that
of his former besetting sins began to gain upon his affections, and to meet with a little indulgence, though it was but in thought; yet the devil drew him, before ever he was aware, to the court of conscience, and made his appeal to the heart, the thoughts, and even to the very conscience, of Prodigalis.
The plaintiff shewed, first, That his heart was got cold to the work, worship, people, and ways of God; which the defendant could not deny: for, as he had met with nothing but frowns of late in the
of God, and as all divine comforts had left him, he could not deny but that earthly comforts had been indulged and embraced by him, as a rival to the God of all comfort.
Secondly. That the life of a real Christian was such as never to offend either God, conscience, or men; that the real saint was one who “ exercised