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bling soul is ready to conclude, that surely such a fearful Majesty cannot but despise him, such a sin-hating purity cannot but abhor him; yet he will lay (Isa. lvii. 15) aside his Majesty, and bear with man's weakness, and condescend to most familiar and constant communion and cohabitation with his poor dust, when contrite at his feet, and prostrate in humility. If thou wouldst be accepted of God, come as Benhadad's servants to the king of Israel, with a rope about thy neck, and ashes on thy head, 1 Kings xx. 22. Think meanly on thyself, and God will honor thee, 1 Sam. ii. 30. Put thyself in the lowestrooms, and God will set thee higher be little in thine own eyes, and thou shalt be high in his. A proud heart, and a proud look, is with God the first-born of abomination. As ever thou wouldst have God well pleased with thec, be thoroughly displeased with thyself: if thou dost thoroughly loathe thyself, God doth love thee; if thou abhorrest thyself, God delighteth in thee. Be angry with thyself, and the Almighty will turn away his anger from thee: condemn thyself, and God will acquit thee. In no wise extenuate thy sins, nor justify thyself. Think the worse of thyself, and be willing that others should think meanly of thee, and heartily love them that slight thee. This is the frame in which God is well pleased: pass sentence on thyself, and God will absolve thee: set thyself at his foot-stool, and he will lift thee up into the throne, Rev. ii.
II. Labour for sincerity. This is not a
distinct grace from the rest, yet for doctrine. sake I speak to it distinctly. Uprightness is the great thing that God looks after, and covenants for, Gen. xvii. 1. It renders all our persons and performances acceptable beforeGod, Prov. xv. S. Such as are upright in the way are God's delight, Prov. xi. 20, to these are all the promises of peace, salvation, pardon, preservation, blessedness, Ps. xcvii. 10.. In a word, there is no good thing God will withhold from them that walk uprightly, Prov. xxviii. 10. This was Noah's praise, that he was upright in his generation. This was that which set off Job at such a rate, that God doth so extol him for, and, as it were, makes his boast of him; the singular sincerity and integrity of his heart. Study to be upright; that the main bent of your hearts be to please God, and honor him; that God's interest be uppermost with you; that be have the chief share in you. And the eyes of the soul be principally to him; for in this sincerity doth consist, as to your state. Let your great care be your heart; here is a Christian's great work. The Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh to the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh to the heart; see therefore that thou look to it. Let thineeye be chiefly there where God's eye is; he looketh not so much what thou dost, as with what a heart; go then and do likewise. Yet be not satisfied in this, that you are upright as to your state, but labour to approve yourselves in uprightness to God in spiritual actions. Do common, as well as spiritual ac
Much of your lives
tions, with holy ends. are lost for want of this.
for God, of his grace, he accounts himself our debtor. But what is done from no higher end than self, is lost from our account.
III. Put on a spirit of zeal and activity. How wonderfully is God pleased with Phinchas' zeal, Num. xxv. 11, 12, 13. What great approbation doth he manifest of him? What attestation doth he give to him? He is so greatly pleased with his zealous appearance for him, that he turns away his displeasure from the whole congregation of Israel, and overlooks their crimson provocations against him on the contrary, there is noth ing that God is more displeased with, than remissness, and lifelessness, and indifference in religion. The lukewarm water is not a greater offence to the stomach, than the lukewarm professor is to God; and therefore he will spew such a one out of his mouth, Rev. iii. 16. Christians, where is your zeal for the Lord of hosts? Christ's redeemed must be zealous of good works, Tit. ii. 14. Not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, Acts xviii. 25. Rom. xii. 11. Acts xxvi. 6, 7, instantly night and day for the hope of the promisé. Do not only that which is right in the sight of the Lord, but do it with all your heart: the Lord loveth a willing servant. Bestir yourselves for the Lord. Be ye followers of Christ, who went up and down doing good. Every Christian should be a common blessing, a public good. This is to be the children of your Father
which is in heaven, who is good unto all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works. And be sure the father doth best love that child that is most like him. A private narrow spirit is a low and base spirit, unworthy of a Christian. A catholic communicative spirit is full of great desires, and great designs: a large heart set upon doing good, whose fire, though ever hottest within, will be breaking forth of his breast, and provoking others; whose love will not he confined to a party, but gladly and thankfully owneth Christ wherever he sees him: this catholic spirit, I say, is the glory of religion, the church's blessing, and God's delight.
IV. Live by faith, Heb. x. 88. This is a precious grace in God's account, 2 Pet. i. 1. 1 Pet. i. 7. It giveth glory to God, and therefore God taketh no small pleasure in it. By faith Enoch obtained that testimony, that he pleased God, Rom. iv. 20. Heb. xi. 5. 2 Cor. iv. 18. Heb. xi. 39. Matt. viii. 10, 11. If you would so walk as to please God, you must walk by faith: Christians must look to the things unseen; they must not live at the common rate; Christ must be their life and breath, their prayers and their promises, their daily bread. By faith did the elders obtain that good report: 'twas faith that Christ was so greatly taken with in the Centurion, which made him to commend him for a none-such. This was that which won such a singular praise and approbation from our Saviour to the woman of Canaan, even her victorious faith, Matt. xv. 28. Thou hast taken away
my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast taken away my heart with one of thine eyes, Cant. iv. 9, that is, with thy faith. Live in the power of faith, and thou wilt please him to the heart. Give glory to him by believing'; let the life that thou now livest in the flesh, be by the faith of the Son of God. Faith, as one well says, is the navel of morality.
Live by faith in prosperity. Though thou hast the world about thee, let it not be above thee, keep it at thy feet, use it as thy servant: be much in the views of glory, and contemplation of eternity: buy as though thou possessest not, rejoice as though thou rejoicest not, love as though thou lovest not, use this world as not abusing it. It is but a fashion, not a substance, and that which passeth away, 1 Cor. vii. 30, 31. Use it therefore with mortified affections, and prove the sincerity of your faith by the victory over your inordinate content, and delight in, and desires after, and cares for the things of this world, 1 John v. 4.
Live by faith in adversity. Weep as though thou wept not, enduring the ross, and des pising the shame, as looking unto Jesus, Heb. xii. 2. Heb. xi. 26, accounting Christ's reproaches your riches, his shame your glory, Acts v. 41. Compare these light afflictions with the weight of glory, 2 Cor. iv. 17. Rom. viii. 18. Ply your hearts with the promises; count if you can get the riches that are laid up in them; roll yourselves upon the Lord, Ps. xxxvii. 7, and know that your heavenly Father hath no greater delight, than to see his children trust him with confidence, when