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in this life: yet I shall not mention what is common to men, bad as well as good, but what is peculiar to them as the children of God. Such as these:
(1.) Pious persons have often the least share of the comforts of this life, in this world. They often receive their evil things with Lazarus sitting at the rich man's gate: it is the poor that receive the gospel, or are evangelized. "Hearken, my beloved brethren," and mind it carefully, it is worth taking notice of," Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom?"* Ordinarily our Lord chooseth not his disciples from the potentates, and grandees of the world; not many mighty, not many noble are called: nor doth he promise to make them rich, when he hath chosen them. The apostles themselves were poor, yet making many rich. And Christ's sheep often feed on bare commons, while others live in pleasure on the earth. This is what the world wonders and stumbles at, that our Lord keeps his servants no better: but they consider not that our Lord reserves the best wine for the last.
(2.) Suppose religious persons be rich, yet they cannot take their fill of the world as carnal men do. The world is the element of sinners, they take content in it, they wallow in it as a swine in the mire; their desires are after creatures, and they feast themselves without fear. There is a suitableness betwixt the faculty and the object; they are loth to check themselves, or to be interrupted in their sensual delight. But now pious men are delivered from this present, evil world: a gracious soul hath a better principle, and looks on things below with scorn, and holy disdain; he is as a weaned child, quite alienated from the best that the world can offer; James ii. 5.
* Luke xvi. 20. Matt. xi. 5.
+ 1 Cor. i. 26-28. 2 Cor. vi. 10. James v. 5.
yea, the Christian is crucified to the world, as the world is to him; he mortifies his attachment to things below, and dares not freely avail himself of lawful liberty, lest that liberty be an occasion to the flesh, and so gradually draw him to sin. In delicious meals he puts a knife to his throat, and he is jealous lest he be drawn aside to excess; yea, he keeps down his body by fasting and mortifying exercises, lest he be miserably enticed to sinful acts. However, the devout soul can look through the best of the world, and finds all here below but vanity and vexation of spirit. *
(3.) Religious persons meet with more opposition and persecution in this world than others do; the world will love its own, but such as are chosen out of the world are hated by it, John xv. 18-20. No wonder if this strict sect be every where spoken against. Every Ishmael will mock Isaac, and such as are born after the flesh, will persecute such as are born after the Spirit: so it is now; scarce any on this side the grave have endured such tortures as Christians have done.† A Christian is a cross-bearer: yet there are strange, seeming contradictions, see 2 Cor. vi. 4-11. We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God; this is unavoidable; all sincere professors must be sure to prepare for it. ||
(4.) Pious people have much more work upon their hearts and hands than others have: not but that all have the same to do; even worldly persons have still more to do, but they shift it off, and are not actually engaged therein. Alas! they are not sensible of their
Gal. i. 4.
* Jude, 12. Prov. xxiii. 2. 1 Cor. ix. 27.
Psal. cxxxi. 2. Gal. vi. 14.
Eccles. ii. 17.
+ Acts xxviii. 22. Gen. xxi. 9. Gal. iv. 29.
2 Tim. iii. 12.
|| 2 Cor. xi. 23-27. Acts xiv. 22.
state, but believers lie under deep convictions of the necessity and difficulty of spiritual duties, and especially of faith, love, and repentance, being stirred up and exercised; they have privileges to improve, ordinances to prepare for, communion with God to maintain, many commands to obey, which are of great latitude; for "thy commandments," says David, “are exceeding broad:" they respect God immediately, men, relations, christian brethren, with reference to advice, comfort, and admonition; there is an abundance of sins to be purged out, filthiness both of flesh and spirit. The gracious soul discerns more evil in, and danger by unbelief, pride, hardness of heart, and hypocrisy, than others do.
(5.) Pious persons are more concerned for the church of God than others are: upon them, in some sort, lies the care of all the churches. They put their shoulders, though weak, under the interests of Christ. A good man, like David, is not quiet though in a cieled house, while the ark of God dwelleth under curtains; yea, with old Eli, his heart trembles for the ark of God. When Nehemiah heard bad news of the church's affliction, he sat down and wept, and mourned certain days: so the city Shushan was perplexed when others rejoiced. And it cannot be otherwise; for all the reproaches belched out against God and his church, fall upon real saints; they cannot but sympathize with the head and members of the body. Such are like-minded, and naturally care for the good of the church. †
(6.) Pious persons are more affected and afflicted with others' sins against God, than people generally are. Irreligious men rather exult over the sins of professors,
* 2 Tim. i. 6. Psal. cxix. 96. 2 Cor. vii. 1. 2 Cor. xi. 28. + 2 Sam. vii. 1, 2. 1 Sam. iv. 13. Neh. i. 4. Est. iii. 15. Psal. lxix. 9.
and please themselves that others are worse than themselves, and say, "I am not as this publican." But, oh how the sins of others go to the heart of a believer! "I beheld the transgressors," says David, "and was grieved;" yea, he shed rivers of tears for others' omissions and commissions. How was good Ezra vexed at the people's sins, and Jeremiah wept in secret for their pride. * Blessed Paul is humbled for, and greatly bewails the sins of the church of Corinth, 2 Cor. xii. 21.
(7.) Genuine Christians reckon a greater number of sins and duties than others do not that they make more of either than God hath made; but their eyes are enlightened to see things more clearly and distinctly. Yet observe it, scrupulous consciences are apt to make more sins and duties than God makes; and as this is their sin, so it is their great affliction, perplexing them with many doubts. But judicious Christians inquire first, whether it be lawful? † by what warrant ? ‡ have I a Scripture command to authorize such an action? Then, whether it become me under such circumstances? And lastly, whether it be expedient? for many things are lawful, that yet are not expedient, because they edify not, or are an offence to others, or are occasions of sin. The Christian avoids every appearance of evil, hates the garment spotted by the flesh :|| there is however some difficulty here. A tender conscience begets many scruples about recreations, vocations, and conversations with men; see Dan. i. 8: but a carnal heart ventures at all, makes no scruples, and censures those who do, as making more ado than needs, as being more precise than wise.
(8.) Believers have more temptations from Satan
* Luke xviii. 11. Psal. cxix. 136, 158. Ezra ix. Jer. xiii. 17. + An liceat, an deceat, an expediat. + Quo warranto.
1 Cor. x. 23. 1 Thess. v. 21, 22. Jude, 23.
than sinners have. The devil blinds wicked men's eyes, rocks them asleep, locks them up in ignorance, and so they are led captive by Satan at his pleasure: he is sure of them, and lets them alone in security. But oh what dreadful assaults doth this fiend of hell make against real saints! sometimes shaking and sifting them as wheat, that nothing but bran may remain; at other times, laying snares and stratagems to circumvent them with his devices. He sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light sometimes lurks as a serpent, to gull and beguile them: ofttimes he comes in his own colours, as a roaring lion to affright or devour them; and when he appears thus, though it be most terrible, yet it is less dangerous. Says Mr. Rutherford, I love a rumbling and roaring devil: this drives the Christian from him to his strong hold. Sometimes Satan comes with hideous injections of atheism, blasphemy, black and dreadful thoughts of God; as it is said of Luther, † "frightful things concerning God and religion:" so that the Christian is oft weary of his life, and could wish himself out of the world, Satan's walk.
(9.) A real Christian hath more combats and conflicts in his own bosom, than unregenerate men have. Alas! carnal men glide down the stream; the strong man armed keeps the palace, and the goods (the faculties) are in peace. They have no conflicts within, except it be between conscience and the will; but the wilful will soon quells the natural conscience, then the man is quiet in sin. But renewing grace hath a party in the same faculty. There are two armies in one man; Jacob and Esau, twins in the same womb. There is an I for God, and an I for the flesh; "the good that I
2 Tim. ii. 26. Luke xxii. 31. 2 Cor. ii. 11. xi. 3, 14. 1 Pet. v. 8. + Terribilia de Deo, horribilia de fide.