Page images
[ocr errors]

Secondly, A mighty strength and power coming into their fouls, and actuating all its faculties and graces. When God comes near, new powers enter the soul; the feeble is as David, Pfalm cxxxviii. 3. In the day that I cried, thou answeredst " me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” Cant. i. 12. " Whilst the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard,"

Hope was low, and faith was weak, little strength in any grace, except desires; but when the Lord comes, strength comes with him. Then as it is, Neh. viii. 10. « The joy of " the Lord is your strength.” O the vigorous fallies of the heart to God! Psalm lxiii. 8. “O the strength of love !" Cant. viii. 6. Duties are other manner of things than they were wont to be. « Did not our hearts burn within us ?” Luke


[ocr errors]

xxiv. 32.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Thirdly, A remarkable transformation and change of spirit follows it.

These things are found to be marvellously assimilating. The fights of God, the felt presence of God, is as fire, which quickly assimilates what is put into it to its own likeness. So 2 Cor. iii. 18. They are said to be “ changed from glory to “ glory.” It always leaves the mind more refined and abstracted from grofs material things, and changed into the fame image. They have a fimilitude of God upon them, who have God near unto their hearts and reins.

"Fourthly, A vigorous working of the heart heaven. ward; a mounting of the soul upward. Now the soul fhews that it hath not forgot its way home again. It is with such a soul as sensibly, embraces Christ in the arms of faith, as it with was Simeon, when he took him bodily into his arms.

“Now (faith “he) let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen • thy falvation.” O it would have the wings of a dove, to fly away from this polluted world, this unquiet world, and be at rest.

Infer. 1. Then certainly there is an heaven, and a state of glory for the faints. Heaven is no dream or night vision: It is sensibly tafted and felt by thousands of witnesses in this world; they are sure it is no mistake. God is with them of a truth, in the way of their duties : They do not only read of a glorified eye, but they have something of it, or like it in this world: “The pure in heart do here fee God,” Mat., v. 8. The faints have not only a witness without them in the word, that there is a state of glory prepared for believers, but they have a witness in themselves. There are not the teftimonies of crazed

[ocr errors]

« The

brains, but of the wifest and most ferious of men ; not a few, but a multitude of them ; not conjecturally delivered, but upon tafte, feeling, and trial.' O blessed be God for such fenfible confirmations, such sweet prelibations!

Infer. 2. But, oh! what is heaven? And what that state of glory reserved for the saints ? Doth a glimpse of God's pre. fence in a duty, go down to tặe heart and reins? O bow unutterable then must that be which is seen and felt above, where God comes as near to men as can be ! Rev. xxii. 3, 4.

throne of God and the Lamb fhall be in it, and his servants

fhall serve him; and they shall see his face.” And 1 Theff. iv. 17. " And fo we shall be ever with the Lord.” O what is fhat ! ” Ever with the Lord?” Christians, what you feel and taste here by faith, is part of heaven's glory; but yet heaven will be an unspeakable surprizal to you, when you come thither for all that: “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be," 1 John iii. 1,2.

Infer. 3. See hence the necessity of casting these very bodies into a new mold by their resurrection from the dead, according to that, 1 Cor. xv. 41. “ It is fown in weakness, but raised $ in power." How else could it be a co-partner with the foul in the ineffable joys of that presence above ?

The state of this mortality cannot bear the fulness of that joy. Hold. Lord, stay thy band, said a choice Christian once, thy creature is but a clay-veffel, and can hold no more. tranfient glimpse of God here, be felt in the very reins, if it fa work upon the very body by fympathy with the foul, O what vigorous spiritual bodies, doth the state of glory require ! and such shall they be ; Phil. iii. 12. \ Like unto Cbrilt's glorious

Infer. 4. Is God fo near to his people above all others in the world ? How good is it to be near them that are so pear te God? o, it would do a man's heart good to be near that person who hath lately had God near to his soul ! Well might David say, Psalm xvi. 3. “ All my delight is in the saints, and

in the excellent of the earth." And again, Pfalm cxix. 63. "I am a companion of all such as fear thee. this is the beauty of Christian fellowship, this is the glory of that society !. not the communication of their gifts, but the favour of God an their spirits. If any thing be alluring in this world, this is ; 1 Johni. 3. “That ye may have fellowship with us; and truly « our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Christ 6 Jesus.” It is faid, Zech. viii. 23. of the Jews, the time shall come, when there shall be such a presence of God among that people, that “ten men out of all languages shall take hold of

If a



the skirts of him that is a Jew; saying, We will go with

you, for we have heard that God is with you."

Christians, if there were more of God upon you, and in you, others would not be tempted to leave your society, and fal in with the men of the world; they would say, we will go with you,

for God is with you, Infer. 5. If God be fo near to the heart and reins of his people in their duties, O how afsiduous should tþey be in their duties? " It is good for me to draw nigh to God," Psalm Ixxiii. 28. Good indeed ; the world cannot reward the expence of time at this rate, with all its glory, James iv. 8. © Draw nigḥ to God, and he will draw nigh to you: thou « meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness; those " that remember thee in thy ways,” Ifa. lxiv. 5.

Obj. It would be an encouragement indeed, if I might thus meet God in the way of duty; but that is but feldom I can fo meet God there, in fenfible powerful outlets of his grace and Jove! I am most dead and cold there : I feel not communion with God going down to my heart and reins.

Sol. First, You draw nigk to God; 'but is it in truth, or in mere formality ? God is only nigh to such as call upon him in truth, Pfalm cxlv. 18.

Secondly, If your hearts be sincere, yet are they not fuggifh? Do you stir up yourselves to take hold of God ? Many there be that do not ; Isa. Ixiv. 7. and Cant. v. 3, 5.

Thirdly, Have you not grieved the Spirit of God, and caused him to withdraw from you. O remember what pride and vanity hath been in you, after former manifestations ; Ephes.

Fourthly, Nevertheless wait for God in his ways; his coming upon our souls is oftentimes, yea, mostly, a surprizal to us; Çant. vi. 12. “ Or ever I was aware, my soul made me as the “ chariots of Amminadib."

Infer. 6. What steady Christians should all real Christians be? For lo, what a seal and witness hath religion in the breast of every sincere profeffor of it? True Chriltians do not only hear by report, or learn by books, the reality of it; but feel by experience, and have a fenGble proof of it in their very hearts and reins; their reins instruct them, as it is Psalm xvi. 7. They learn by spiritual sense and feeling, than which nothing can give greater confirmation in the ways of God.

There are two sorts of knowledge among men; one tradi. tional, the other experimental': this last the apostle calls a

knowing in ourselves ;" Heb. X. 34. and opposes it to that

iv. 30.

traditional knowledge which may be said to be without ourselves, because borrowed from other men.

Now this experience we have of the power of religion in our souls, is that only which fixes a man's spirit in the ways of godliness. It made the Hebrews take joyfully the spoiling of their goods; no arguments or temptations can wrest truth out of the hand of experience, Non est disputandum de gustu. For want of this, many profeffors turn aside from truth in the hour of trial. O brethren ! labour to feel the influences of religion upon your very hearts and reins ! this will settle you better than all the arguments in the world can do ; by this, the ways

of God are more endeared to men, than by any other way in the world. When your hearts have once felt it, you will never forsake it.




UPON Rom. vii. 21. I find then a law, that when I would do good,

evil is present with me.


HIS chapter is the very anatomy of a Christian's heart,

and gives an account of the most secret frames, and inward workings of it, both as to graces and corruptions: and this verse is a compendium of both; for the words are a mournful complaint, uttered with a deep sense of an inward preffure, by reason of fin; wherein we are to consider three things :

1. The person complaining. 2. The matter of complaint. 3. The discovery of that matter. First, The person complaining : I find, I Paul, though I come not behind the chiefest of all the apostles, though I have been wrapt into the third heaven, and heard things unutterable; yet I, for all that, find in me a law. Never was any mere man more deeply fanctified; never any lived at an higher rate of communion with God; never any did Christ more service in this world, and yet he found a law of fin in himfelf.

Secondly, The matter of the complaint, which consists in a

[ocr errors]

double evill he groaned under, viz. 1. The presence of fin at all times. a. The operation of fin, especially at some times.

First, The presence of fin at all times : Evil (faith he) is present with me, it follows me as my shadow doth. By evil we must understand no other evil but fin, the evil of evils ; which, in respect of power and efficacy, he also calls a law; because as laws, by reason of their annexed rewards and punishments, have a mighty power and efficacy upon the minds of men; fo sin, indwelling sin, that root of all our trouble and forrow, hath a mighty efficacy upon us.

And this is the mournful matter of his complaint: it is not for outward afflictions, though he had many; nor for what he suffered from the hands of men, though he suffered many grievous things ;' but it is sin, dwelling and working in him, that swallows up all other troubles, as rivers are lost in the fea; this evil was always with him, the constant residence of fin was in his heart and nature.

Secondly, And what further adds to his burden, as it dwelt in him at all times, so it exerted its efficacy more especially at fome times, and those the special times, and principal seasons in his whole life : when I would do good (faith he) any fpiritual good, and among the rest, when I address myself to any spiritual duty, of heavenly employment; when I design to draw near to God, and promise myself comfort and redress in communion * with him, then is evil present. Oh! if I were but rid of it in those hours, what a mercy should I esteem it, though I were troubled with it at other times ! Could I but enjoy my freedom from it in the seasons of duty, and times of communion with God, what a comfort would that be! But then is the special season of its operation : never is fin more active and busy, than at such a time; and this, this is my mifery and my burden!

Thirdly, The next thing to be heeded here, is the discovery of this evil to him, over which he so mourns and laments : I find then a law, faith he, I find it (i. e.) by inward sense, feeling, and fad experience. He knew there was such a thing as original fin in the nature of men, when he was an unregenerated Pharisee; but though he had then the notion of it, he had not the sense and feeling of it as now he had ; he' now feels what before he traditionally understood and talked of: I

When I go about the best exercises of religion, I find within me the law of the fleth rising up, and withdrawing me from them, Torellius.

« PreviousContinue »