Page images
[ocr errors]

es, while the root of original corruption remains untouched. In vain do men leave out the streams, when the fountain is running, that fills up all again. Let the ax of thy repentance (with David's) go to the root of sin, Psal. li. 5. Study how deep, how close, how permanent is thy natural pollution, how universal it is, till thou do cry out, with Paul's feeling, upon thy body of death, Rom. vii. 24. Look into thy parts and powers, and see what unclean vessels, what styes, what dunghills, what sinks they are become, Heu miser, quid sum? Vas sterquilinii, concha putredinis plenus fotore & horrore, August. Solil. c. 2. The heart is never soundly brok en, till throughly convinced of the heinousness of original sin. Here fix thy thoughts. This is that, which makes thee backward to all good, prone to all evil, Rom. vii. 15. that sheds blindness, pride, prejudice, unbelief, into thy mind; enmity, unconstancy, obstinacy, into thy will; inordinate heats and colds, into thy affections: insensibleness, benumbedness, unfaithfulness, into thy conscience; slipperiness, into thy memory: and, in a word, hath but every wheel of thy soul out of order, and made it, of an habitation of holiness, to become a very hell of iniquity, James iii. 6. This is that which hath defiled, corrupted, perverted all thy members, and turned them into weapons of unrighteousness, and servants of sin, Rom. vi. 19. that hath filled the head with carnal and corrupt designs, Mich. ii. 1. the hand with sinful practices, Isai. i. 15. the eyes with wander

ing and wantonness, 2 Pet. ii. 14. the tongue with deadly poison, James iii. 8. that hath opened the ears to tales, flattery, and filthy communication, and shut them against the instruction of life, Zech. vii. 11, 12. and hath rendered thy heart a very mint and forge for sin, and the cursed womb of all deadly conceptions, Matth. xv. 19. so that it poureth forth its wickedness without ceasing, 2 Pet. ii. 14. even as naturally, freely, and unweariedly, as a fountain doth pour forth its waters, Jer. vi. 7. or the raging sea doth cast forth mire and dirt, Isai. Ivii. 20. And wilt thou yet be in love with thyself, and tell us any longer of thy good heart? Oh! never leave meditating on this desperate contagion of original corruption, till, with Ephraim, thou bemoan thyself, Jer. xxxi. 18. and with deepest shame and sorrow, smite on thy breast, as the Publican, Luke xviii. 13. and with Job, abhor thyself, and repent in dust and ashes, Job xlii. 6, 22. (2.) The particular evil that thou art most addicted to, find out all its aggravations, set home upon thy heart all God's threatenings against it: Repentance drives before it the whole herd, but especially sticks the arrow in the beloved sin, and singles this out above the rest, to run it down, Psal. xviii. 23. Oh! labour to make this sin odious to thy soul, and double thy guards, and thy resolutions against it, because this hath, and doth most dishonour God, and endanger thee.

Direct. III. Strive to affect thine heart with a deep sense of thy present misery.

Read over the foregoing chapter again and again, and get it out of the book into thine heart. Remember when thou liest down, that for ought thou knowest, thou mayest awake in flames; and when thou risest up, that by the next night thou mayest make thy bed in hell. Is it a just matter to live in such a fearful case? To stand tottering upon the brink of the bottomless pit, and to live at the mercy of every disease, that if it will but fall upon thee, will send thee forthwith into the burnings? Suppose thou sawest a condemned wretch hanging over Nebuchadnezzar's burning firery furnace, by nothing but a twine-thread, which were ready to break every moment, would not thine heart tremble for such an one? Why, thou art the man : this is thy very case, O man, woman, that readest this, if thou be yet unconverted. What if the thread of thy life should break? (why thou knowest not but it may be the next night, yea, the next moment) where wouldst thou be then? Whither wouldst thou drop? Verily, upon the crack but of this thread, thou fallest into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; where thou must lie scalding and sweltering in a fiery ocean, while God hath a being, if thou die in thy present case. And doth not thy sonl tremble as thou readest? Doth not thy tears bedew the paper, and thy heart throb in thy bosom? Dost thou not yet begin to smite on thy breast, and bethink thyself what need thou hast of a change? Oh, what is thy heart made of?

Hast thou not only lost all regard to God, but art without any love and pity to thyself?

Oh, study thy misery, till tby heart do cry out for Christ, as earnestly as ever a drowning man did for a boat, or the wounded for a chirurgeon. Men must come to see the danger, and feel the smart of their deadly sores and sickness, or else Christ will be to them a physician of no value, Matth. ix. 12. Then the man-slayer hastens to the city of refuge, when pursued by the avenger of blood. Men must be even forced and fired out of themselves, or else they will not come to Christ. "Twas distress and extremity that made the prodigal think of returning, Luke xv. 16, 17. While Laodicea thinks herself rich, increased in goods, in need of nothing, there is little hope. She must be deeply convinced of her wretchedness, blindness, poverty, nakedness, before she will come to Christ for gold, raiment, eye-salve, Rev. iii. 17, 18. therefore hold the eyes of conscience open, amplify thy misery as much as possible, do not fly the sight of it, for fear it should fill thee with terror. The sense of thy misery is but (as it were) the suppuration of the wound, which is necessary to the cure. Better fear the torments that abide thee now, than feel them hereafter.

Direct. IV. Settle it upon thy heart, that thou art under everlasting inability ever tore. cover thyself. Never think thy praying, read. ing, hearing, confessing, amending will do the cure. These must be attended, but thon > art undone if thou restest in them, Rom. x. 3. Thou art a lost man, if thou hopest to es

cape drowning upon any other plank, but Jesus Christ, Acts iv. 12. Thou must unlearn thyself, and renounce thine own wisdom, thine own righteousness, thine own strength, and throw thyself wholly upon Christ, as a man that swimmeth casteth himself upon the water, or else thou canst not escape. While men trust in themselves, and establish their own righteousness, and have confidence in the flesh, they will not come savingly to Christ, Luke xviii. 9. Philip. iii. 3. Thou must know thy gain to be but loss and dung, thy strength but weakness, thy righteousness rags and rottenness, before there will be an effectual closure between Christ and thee, Philip. iii. 7, 8, 9. 2 Cor. iii. 5. Isa. lxiv. 6. Can the lifeless carcass shake off its grave-clothes, and loose the bands of death? Then mayest thou recover thyself, who are dead in trespasses and sins, and under an impossibility of serving thy Maker (acceptably) in this condition, Rom. viii. 8. Heb. xi. 6. Therefore, when thou goest to pray, or meditate, or to do any of the duties to which thou art here directed, go out of thyself, call in the help of the Spirit, as despairing to do any thing pleasing to God in thine own; strength yet neglect not thy duty, but lie at the pool, and wait in the way of the Spirit, While the Eunuch was reading, then the Holy Ghost sent Philip to him, Acts viii. 28, 29. when the disciples were praying, Acts iv. 31. when Cornelius and his friends were hearing, Acts x. 44. then the Holy Ghost fell upon them and filled them all. Strive to


« PreviousContinue »