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Chap. happen to enjoy these most pleasant whisper
ings more rarely, and by long interruptions and intervals of time. If they are perpetually, or very frequently honoured with such pleasant and familiar intercourse, they owe the greatest gratitude to God. Neither can any reason be assigned, why others should envy them such extraordinary happiness. But neither let them, by rash judging, be injurious to the generation of God's children, to whom it is not vouchsafed to be so blessed, that they can glory in such a frequent, much less the uninterrupted, witnessing of the Spirit: and whose faith is not generally the echo, or repercussion of the internal whispers concerning the remission of their sins; but an assent to the gospel, as preached by Christ and the Apostles, and committed to writing by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. But let us suppose, it is of late, that some believer has enjoyed such pleasant whispers of the Spirit; does the memory of it remain so deeply impressed on the mind, that, after a considerable time, it will always be present in the soul with the same degree of light, and that reasons of doubting do not now and then arise? What if perhaps he deceived himself with his own imagination, and took that for a dictate of the Spirit, which was nothing but the pleasant play of a deluded mind? In the charge of souls which I have now borne upwards of forty years, [28.] I have often had occasion to
hear doubts of that kind from those, concern- CHAP.
XVI. ing whom I had no reason to think amiss. But since the habits of Christian virtues are permanent, though not always active in the same degree and since therefore not their equal vivacity, but sincerity, is an evidence of grace; in fine, since it is not very difficult for a man to discern how he is affected towards God; and from what principle, and with what purpose he is engaged in the wor. ship of God and the exercise of virtue; I have generally found, that more solid and perma. nent tranquillity arises from the perpetual study of preserving a good conscience, than from the obseure remembrance of God speaking to the soul, which does not use to be vety frequent with the Christians of our age. Blessed they who can say with Paul, “ our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity, and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world,”' 2 Cor. i. 12. XIX. 5thly, With respect to the beauty of
The holiChirstian virtues, and their acceptableness in ness of be. the sight of the Lord, I thus judge, that none lievers, tho'
imperfect, in this life obtains such perfect holiness, but is pleasing that it-labours under its imperfections; on ac
Christ's count of which, if God should deal with us sake. according to the rigour of the law, and his highest right over us, it would be rejected. Hence it is, that our righteousness can, by
to God for
110 means, have place before him in order to justification. And if any should presume to obtrude it upon God for that yery purpose, truly it would be loss and dung to the man himself. Neither do the brethren differ here, as to the substance of the matter. For I see it is taught on both sides, « That it is incumbent as a duty, even on the best of Christians, to renounce all the grace they possess, and all the good they do, as contributing nothing at all to the expiation of sins, or to the obtaining of a right to life: yea, that they are condemned, who deny that our most excellent obedience deserves the curse according to the rigour of law, and stands in need of pardon: or who neglect to inculcate on their hearers, that all these things must be renounced which may be found in ourselves, lest in any manner, they be accounted the cause of the expiation, or of the forgiveness of sins.” But when, through the righteousness of Christ apprehended by faith, the believer's person is made acceptable to God, then his virtues, which he obtained by sanctifying grace, and the exercise of virtues flowing from the same grace, are likewise acceptable to God: and what blemishes of ours cleave to them, these are covered with
the most perfect righteousness and holiness XX. of Christ. Nay, also,
XX. In the mean time, since that holiness inasmuch as it is true to which we were predestinated by the Father, holiness for which Christ purchased for us by his blood, its own
and which is infused into us by the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, is true holiness, and the CHAP. very image of God, according to which we XVI. are renewed; it cannot, but even in consideration of itself, because it is holiness, and as it is holiness, please God, and in this respect, Christian virtues are not filthiness and dung; but the beauty of the royal bride, and the comeliness wherewith she is all glorious within, Psal. xlv. 13, 14. “ Holiness becometh the house of the Lord for ever," Psal. xciii. 5.[29.] XXI. Further, since God cannot but love
Whence it himself, he also delights in that which is like is, that by him; and the more of his image he discerns one is more in any thing, the more he delights in it. Char-holy, by so nock on the Holiness of God, p. 509, expres- the more
mich he is es himself with elegance, “ God is so holy, acceptable that he cannot but love holiness in others.
Charnock By his nature, he cannot but love that which quoted. is agreeable to his nature, and in which he finds the lovely draughts of his own wisdom and purity. It is impossible that he should not be delighted with his own image. He would not be holy by nature, if he were not delighted with holiness in every nature. He would deny his own nature, if he did not love every thing wherein the image of his nature is expressed, so indeed, that if the devils themselves were capable of an act of righteousness, God, by the purity of his nature, would be inclined to love it, even in those naughty and rebellious spirits." Hence it fol
CHAP. 1ows, that they who diligently apply themselves
to the exercise of Christian holiness, are as acceptable to him, as they are odious who obey their lusts.
Whatever others may think, I do not doubt but that is a generous and a laudable emulation of Christians whereby they endeavour to excel one another in the study of godliness; that, as they have been taught by the gospel, how they ought to walk, and to please God, so they would abound more and more, 1 Thess. iv. I. “Wherefore labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him," 2 Cor. v. 9. [30.]