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"become of all your Friends and Neighbours that "live as you do r Will they all be damned? Come, "come, if you hearken to these Preachers, they will "drive you out of your Wits. Are not all Men "Sinners? And did not Christ die to fave Sinners? "Never trouble your Head with these Thoughts, "and you shall do well." O how many Thoufands have such Charms kept asleep in Deceit and Security, till Death and Hell have awakened them! The Lord calK to the Sinner, and tells him, The Gate is frail, the Way is narrow, and few find it: Try and examine, give Diligence to make jure. The World cries, Never d.ubt, never trouble yourselves ivith these Thoughts. In this Strait, Sinner, consider, it is Christ, and not your Fore.fatheis, or Neighbours, or Friends, that must judge you at last; and if Christ condemn' you, these cannot fave you: Therefore common Reason, may tell you, that it is not from the Words of ignorant Men, but from the Word of God, you must setch your Hopes of Salvation. When Aiab would enquire among the Multitude of flattering Prophets, it was his Death. They can flatter Men into the Snare, but they cannot tell how to bring them out. Let no Man deceive you with vain Wordi, for because. ts these Things cometh the IVrath of Gcd upon the Children of Dijobedience; be not ye therefore Partakers with them (b).

§ 7. But the greatejt Hinderances are in Men's own

Hearts. Some are so ignorant, that they know not

what Self.Examination is, nor what a Minister means when he persuadeth them to try themselves: Or they know not that there is any Necessity for it; but think every Man is bound to believe that his Sins are pardoned, whether it be true or false, and that it is a great Fault to make any Question of if: Or they do H 2 '. {h) Ephes. x. 6, 7.

not think tint Assurance can be attained: Or that there is any great Difference between one Man and another, but that we are all Christians, and therefore need not trouble ourselves any surther: Or at least they know not wherein the Difference lies. They have as gross an Idea of Regeneration, as Nicodemm

had. Some will not believe, that God will ever

make such a Difference betwixt Men in the Lise to come, and therefore will not search themselves whether they differ here. Some are so slupified, fay

what we can to thtm, that they lay it not to Heart,

but give us the Hearing, and there's an End.

Some arc so possessed with Self.Love and Pride, that they will not so much as suspect they are in any Danger. Like a proud Tradesman, who scorns the pmdent Advice of casting up his Books. As fond Parents will not believe or hear any Evil of their Children.

Seme are so guilty, that they dare not try; and

yet they dare venture on a more dreadsul Trial

Sime are so in Love with Sin, aud s dislike the IVay of God, that they dare not try their Ways, lest they he forced from the Course they Ibve, to that which they

loath. Seme are so resolved never to change their

present State, that they neglect Examination as an useless Thing. Before they will seek a new Way, •when thev have lived so long, and gone so far, they will put their eternal State to the Venture, come of

it what will. Mar.y Men are so busy in the Wvrli,

that they cannot set themselves to the trying their

Title to Heaven. Others are Jo clogged with Skth

sulness cf Spirit, that they will not be at the Pain^ of

,an Hour's Examination of iheir own Hearts. But

tic tnost common and dangerous Impediment is that fast Faith and Hope, commonly called Presumption, which bears up the Hearts of the greatest Part of the WoiUj and so keeps them from suspecting their Danger.

§ 8. And i

§ 8. And if a Man should break through all these Hinderances, and set upon the Duty of Self-Examination, yet Assurance is not presently attained. Too many deceive themselves in their Enquiries aster it, through one or other of the following Causes.—— There is such Confusion and Darkness in the Soul of Alan, especially of an unregenerate Man, that he can scarcely tell what he doth, or what is in him. As in a House, where nothing is in its proper Place, it will be dissicult to find what is wanted; so it is in the Heart where all Things are in Disorder.——Most Men ac. custom themselves to be Strangers at Home, and too little observe the Temper and Motions of their own Hearts.

Many are resolved what to judge before they try.

Like a bribed Judge, who examines as if he would judge uprightly, when he is previously resolved which

Way the Cause shall go. Men are partial in their

ow,i Cause; ready to think their great Sins small, and their small Sins none; their Gifts of Nature to be the Work of Grace, and to fay, Ail these have I kept from my Youth; I am rich, and increased in Goods, and

have need of nothing. Mojl Men search but by the

Halves. If it will not easily and quickly be done, they are discouraged, and leave off. They try themselves by false Marks and Rules; not knowing wherein the Truth of Christianity doth consist; some looking beyond, and some short of the Scripture Standard.

And frequently they miscarry in this Work, by,

attempting it in their own Strength. As some expect the Spirit mould do it without them, so others attempt it themselves without seeking or expecting the Help of the Spirit. Both these will certainly miscarry in their Assurance.

§ 9 Some other Hindrances keep even true Christians from comfortable Certainty. As for Instance; ——The Weaknejs j Grace. Small Things are hardly H 3 discerned,

• *

discerned. Most Christians content themselves with a small Measure of Grace, and do not follow on to spiritual Strength and Manhood. The chief Remedy for such would be, to follow on their Duty, till their Graces be increased. Wait upon God in the Use of his prescribed Means, and he will undoubtedly bless you with Increase. Oh that Christians would bestow most of that Time in getting more Grace, which they bestow in anxious Doublings whether they have zny or none; and lay out those serious Affections in praying for more Grace, which they bestow in fruitless Complaints! I beseech thee, Christian, take this Advice as from God; and then, when thou believest strongly, and lovest servently, thou canst no more doubt of thy Faith and Lovr, than a Man that is very hot can doubt of his Warmth, or a Man that is

flfong and lusty can doubt of his being alive. ~

Chrijiians hinder their own Comfort by locking more at Shns, which tell them what they are, than at Precepts, %obicb tell them tvhat they jkould do. As if their present Case must needs be their everlasting Casse; and if they be now unpardoned, there were no Remedy. Were he not mad, that would lie weeping because he is not pardoned, when his Prince stands by all the while offering him a Pardon, and persuading him to accept of it? Justifying Faith, Chrijtian, is not thy Persuasion of God's special'Love to thee, but thy accepting Chriji to make thee lovely. It is far better to accept Christ as offered, than spend so much Time in doubting whether we have Christ or no. Another Cause

ofDstrtss to Chrijtians is, their mijtaking'Assurance for the soy that sometimes accompanies it. As if a Child should take himself for a Son no longer, than while he sees the Smiles of his Father's Face, or hears the comfortable Expressions of his Mouth: And. as if the Father ceased tQ be a Father, whenever he ceased


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those Smiles arid Speeches. The Trouble is Souls is

also increased by their not knowing the ordinary IVay os God's conveying Comfort. They think they have nothing to do but to wait when God will bestow it. But they must: knqw, that the Matter of their Comfort is in the Promises, and thence they must setch it as often as they expect it, by daily and diligently meditating upon the Promises, and in this "Way they may expect the Spirit will communicate Comfort to th;ir Souls. The Joy of the Promises, and the Joy of the

Holy Ghost, are one. Add to this, their expecting

a greater Measure os Assurance than God usually bestows. As long as they have any Doubting, they think they have no Assurance. They consider not that there are many Degrees of Certainty. "While they are here, they

flu! I knoiv but in Part. Add also, their deriving their

Comfort aisirstfrom insufficient Grounds. This may be the Gare of a gracious SouJ, who h.uh better Grounds, bui do:h not.fee them. As an Infant haih Lise besoie he. knoweth it, and many Misapprehensions of himself and other Thins;:i, yet it will not follow thai he hath no Lise. So when Christians find a Flaw in their fi.st Comforts, they are apt to judge it a Flaw in their

Safety. /llany continue under Doubting, through the

exec, ding lVeahness s their naiw al Parts. Many honest Heans have weak Heads, and know not how to perform the Wo: k of Self Trial-. They will acknowledge the Premises, and yet deny the apparent Conclusion. "God do not .some other Way supply the Desect of . their Reason, I see not how they should have clear

and settled Peace. One great and too common Cause

of Distress is, the secret maintaining some', khowti Sin. l his abate* the Degiee of oui Graces, and so makei thf^ji more undiseernable. It obfcureih tirat-which [^ destipyr.th ll it.; fqr it beareth such Sway, that Grace. » not in Actioitf nor seems to stir, nor is scarce heard, H 4 speak

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