Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

.

siastic, wild-fire, and party selfish zeal, as thousands have done, who once felt just as you do now. God, therefore, does not mind your pretences, nor believe your promises ; for he knows what you are. You may deceive yourself, but cannot deceive him : He knows your corruptions are stunned, but not mortified; and that your nature is just what it was, and you as really an enemy to God as ever : And, it may be, you may see it yet, when you come to find out how God looks upon you, and upon your prayers, and tears, and promises : for it is commonly the case with sinners, when they perceive that God is not pleased with their devout pretences, and does not design to save them for their hypocritical duties, by the secret workings of their hearts to discover that they care only for themselves, and are real enemies to God and his law. Love to God, O sinner, is not begotten by the fears of hell, nor by the hopes of heaven. If you do not love God for what he is in himself, you do not love him at all; but only flatter him with your lips, and lie unto him with your tongue. But it may be manifest to you that you do not love him for what he is in himself, because you do not love his law, which bears his image. You do not like the law as a rule for you to live by, for it is too strict for you : and you do not approve of the law as a rule for God to judge you by, for you think it hard for God to damn men for the least sin. Know it, therefore, O sinner, that there is no good in you, or any goodness in your duties ; but you are in a state of rebellionan enemy to God, and to his holy law : come down, and lie in the dust before the Lord, and own the sentence just by which you stand condemned, and be quiet at his feet; and if ever he saves you, forever attribute it wholly to free and sovereign grace. When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died: And such an one was you, o believer ; and, in some measure, you are such an one still; and, in some respects, your sins are a great deal more aggravated. Oh! never forget the days, and weeks, and months, and years you have formerly spent in sin! Once I was a persecutor, and a blasphemer, and injurious, said St. Paul; and his heart bleeds afresh, and he sets himself

down for the chief of sinners.... I. Tim. i. 13, 15. But what are you now, after all the grace of God....after all the kind methods heaven has taken to reclaim you—and what are your attain. ments, if you compare yourself and attainments with the holy law of God, in its spiritual nature and divine strictness? Do you feel such a heart towards the great and glorious Governor of the whole world, as becomes you? Think what a God he is, and how angels and saints on high love him: Think of his majesty, and greatness, and glory, and excellence and how he is the fear, and delight, and joy of all heaven : Think of his original and entire right to you, and absolute authority over you: Think of the vileness of your apostacy, and of the depth of your ruin: Think of redeeming love : Think of converting grace : Think of the many means God has used with you in his providence, and by his spirit: Think of all his loving kindnesses and tender mercies. And think what a beast you are before the Lord ! Lie down in the dust, and cry, and mourn, and weep, and let your heart break !'Oh, your want of love to God....of zeal for his glory....of delight in his perfections, and of gratitude for all his kindness! Alas, how you disesteem the God that angels love, and comparatively despise the God that all heaven adores! Alas, how careless you are about his honor and interest, and how inactive in his service ! Alas, how you disrelish the fountain of all goodness, and the ocean of all blessedness, and hanker after other things, and go away from God, to seek rest elsewhere, and thereby cast infinite contempt upon the delight of heaven, and the joy of angels, the ever-blessed and all-sufficient God! Think of the peculiar obligations God has laid

you un. der by all the secret ways of his providence and grace with you, and of all the infinite pains he has taken with you to make you humble....weaned from the world....devoted to God....loving, kind, tender-hearted, friendly, and obliging to all mankind, and universally holy; and see, and say, ' Was ever wretch so vile ! Did ever wretch treat such a God in such a manner, under such circumstances! Oh, how far, how infinitely far you are from being what you ought to be! This made St. Paul account him

self less than the least of all saints, and forget the things that are behind : his attainments dwindled away, as it were, to nothing, when he compared himself with God's holy law, and thought what he ought to be, and what obligations he was under; and he did, therefore, as it were, set down all that he had hitherto attained for nothing, and feel and act as if he was but just now beginning to live to God. Rom. vii. 14.... The Law is spiritual, but I am carnal,sold under sin--verse 24....Owretched man that I am !-Phil. iii. 13, 14.... I forget the things which are bes hind.... I reach forth towards those things which are before....I press towards the mark: and, O believer, go you, and do likewise.

Besides, remember that it is no thanks to you that you are not to this day secure in sin ; yea, that you are not one of the vilest and most profane creatures in the world : Your nature was bad enough ;-the seeds of every sin were in your heart; -- but for restraining or sanctifying grace, you might have been as bad as any in Sodom. And what was it moved God to awaken you, and stop you in your career in sin, and turn you to God ? Was it for your righteousness ?...Oh, be ashamed and confound. ed forever !_For his own sake he has done it, when you was a stubborn, stiff-necked, rebellious creature. And truly, what has been your carriage towards the Lord, compared with the exact rule of duty, the holy law of God, since the day you have known him ?...O, remember Massah, and Tabera, and Kibroth-hataavah, and how you have been rebellious against the Lord, ever since he has taken you in hand to subdue you to himself (Read Deut. ix. and see how much your temper has been like theirs :)-And this notwithstanding all the signs and wonders God has wrought before your eyes ;-I mean, notwithstanding all the sweet and awful methods God has taken with you, to make you know him, and love him, and fear him, and live to him. There are thousands and thousands whom God never took any such special pains with: Their sins are not like yours: Come down, therefore...sit in the dust...mourn and weep, and loathe and abhor yourself, as long as you live; and ascribe all praise to God, through whose grace alone it is that you are what you are,

[ocr errors]

Let me here address you in the words of the famous Mr. HOOKER :-“That thou mayest forever, each day that passeth " over thy head, remember it to the Lord, and leave it upon "record in thine own conscience, say-Hadst thou (blessed “Lord) given me the desires of my heart, and left me to my "own will, it is certain I had been in hell long before this day, “when, in the days of my folly and times of my ignorance “ when, out of the desperate wretchedness of my rebellious dis“position, I was running riot in the ways of wickedness—wher " I said to the seers, see not, and to the prophets, prophesy notu to Christians...to acquaintance...to governors, admonish not, counsel not, reprove not, stop me not in the pursuit of sin. “ The time was, I took hold of deceit, and refused to return; nay, “resolved in the secret purpose of my heart, I would none of thee “I would not have that word of thine reveal or remove my e corruptions—I would none of thy grace that might humble me u and purge me...none of that mercy of thine that might pardon “me...none of that redemption of thine that might save me: “ Hadst thou then taken meat my word, and given me what I wish“ ed, and sealed my destruction, saying, 'Be thou forever filthy, “ forever stubborn, and forever miserable ; thou wouldst nei. “ther be holy nor happy—thou shalt have thy will —sin with “ devils, and take thy portion with devils'.... Lord, it had been “just with thee, and I justly miserable : But to bear with all my " baseness...to put up with all those wrongs and provocations... “ to strive with me for my good, when I took up arms against " thee, and strove against my own good—nay, when I resisted "mercy; and then to take away that resistance, and to cause “me to take mercy, and make it mine, when I used all the “ skill I could to hinder my own salvation-Oh! the height.... “the depth....the length....the breadth of this mercy! When “ we feel our hearts to be puffed up with the vain apprehension " of our own worth, parts, or performances....what we are and “ what we do, look we back to our first beginnings, and judge Haright of our own wretchedness and nothingness, yea, worse " than nothing, in that we not only wanted all good, but we had

" it within us to oppose all good ; and that will cause us to sit “ down in silence, abased forever. When empty bladders are “grown unto too great bulk and bigness, to prick them is the “ readiest way to lessen them : when our empty and vain “minds swell with ligh thoughts, and high, over-weening con“ceit of our own worth, learn we to stab and pierce our hearts “ with the righteous judgment of our own natural vileness, which “will (or at least may) let out that frothy haughtiness that lifts “us up beyond our measure : Tell thy heart, and commune “ with thy conscience, and say, It is not my good nature, that “I am not roaring amongst the wretches of the world, in the “road and broad way of ruin and destruction--that I am not “wallowing in all manner of sin with the worst of men. It is

not my good nature....no thank to any thing that I have, that “I am not upon the chain with malefactors, or in a dungeon “ with witches ; for whatever hell hath, it is in this heart of “mine naturally--a Cain here, a Judas here, nay, a devil here. “The time was, (O that, with an abased heart, I may ever think “of that time) I never looked after the spiritual good of my soul,

or whether I had a soul or no : what would become of me and “it, was the least of my care....the furthest end of my thoughts ; “nay, loth was I to hear of, or know these things—when they

were revealed, unwilling to receive them, or give way to them “when they were offered: How did I stop mine ears, shut mine “eyes, and harden my heart? What ways, means, and devices “ did I use and invent, to shut out the light of truth....to stop the

passage and power of the word, that it might not convince me "—that it might not reform me....might not recall me from my “evil ways? How often have I secretly wished that either the “ word was taken out of the place, or I from it, that it might not "trouble me in my sinful distempers ; and when I had least

good, I had most case, and took the greatest content. Oh, “that such a wretch should thus live, and yet live! To be thus "sinful! O that I might be forever abased for it."*

* Mr. Hooker's Application of Redlemption-Vol. I. page 97-100.

« VorigeDoorgaan »