Изображения страниц

elect, and self is the end aimed at in all their shew of devotion; they expect to bring in God a debtor to them, while, as the Lord says, all their works are to be seen of men. I have often heard them abuse the sovereignty of God, and attribute tyranny to their Maker, whose judgment must be according to truth; at other times calling his decrees blasphemous, though they bring forth a saving knowledge of God's mind and will, and make the barren heart of a sinner like a fruitful field; at other times, I find them abusing the testimony of God's servants, construing their words to a sense they never intended, and drawing conclusions that never entered their thoughts, in order to bring the grace of God into contempt; at other times, I find them so profuse with the mercy of God, as to entail it on all the human race; and at other times so sparing, as to declare that some of the Lord's redeemed are in hell. In short, pride, arrogance, self-seeking, and self-deifying, is all that ever I could see in the self-righteous free-willer: confounding the sense of God's word, and rebellion against his sovereign will, has ever discovered itself in all that I have had a knowledge of; and such proceedings appear to me to be no better than an introduction to the performances exhibited in hell.

O sinner, lay by pleading thy own merit, for God will surely reject thy confidences to the end of the chapter: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?

and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity," Matt. vii. 22, 23. Thus you see that hell itself will not cure the legalist of boasting; nor will the encomiums of the Judge himself ever set the elect at it; they will stick to their being unprofitable servants to the last, as has been already observed; and it must be so, for the Lord declares that "Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

Ahimaaz. I see clearly that faith is a soulhumbling, self-emptying, and self-abasing grace, as well as an evidence of things not seen; but I am at times led to doubt whether I have any faith at all.

Cushi. Didst thou never discover in the word of God, as well as in the first open vision that thou hadst, an amiableness and a suitableness in the Saviour, as he is set forth in the word, insomuch that thy very soul went out after him? that was faith's eye that discovered the object of life." He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life," John viii. 12. And hast thou not found thy heart so bent for a part and lot in him, that all the world hath appeared as nothing when compared to him? that is faith's power, inclining the will to choose and embrace him above all other objects. He that comes to God must believe that he is a rewarder, Heb. xi. 6;

and again, Faith lays hold on eternal life. Thus faith shines on the understanding, and discovers the Saviour as the object most desirable, and then inclines the will to choose him; and then, lastly, she calls in love to admire her choice; this is the grace that availeth; "neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love," Gal. v. 6. And as soon as love comes into the soul, she casts out slavish fear, and brings in her own attendants, which are joy and peace; "God fill you with joy and peace in believing," Rom. xv. 13. The believer now cannot express his sensations; "whom having not seen ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet, believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory," 1 Pet. i. 8.

Ahimaaz. What you have said of faith my soul has often experienced and sweetly enjoyed; therefore I hope I am really blessed with that spiritual grace; and I do find that it purifies my heart; for answers of pardon and peace are often brought to me from the Saviour by faith's prayer.

Cushi. Then thou art upon the foundation, and may say with the apostle, this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask he heareth us, and we have the thing desired, 1John v. 14. Thy faith is genuine, a real evidence of things not seen. Poverty of spirit is a sure mark of those that shall obtain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, Phil. iii. 14. When a man sees the insufficiency of his own righteousness, he accepts

an imputed one; when he feels his lost estate, he is thankful for a Saviour; when he is conscious of the infinite debt that he has contracted, he flees to the surety; and when sensible of the deceitfulness of his own heart, that he dares place no confidence in the flesh, he embraces the rock for want of a shelter; and when his refuges of lies are all swept away, and his false hopes rooted up, then he digs deep, and founds all on the Rock of Ages. This is the man that is poor in spirit: stripped of pride, and humble in heart, like the poor Prodigal, he comes to God, with humble confession, knocks at mercy's door, and begs the bread of heaven; such an one is sure of the prize; "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Matt. v. 3.

Thirdly, the Holy Ghost is sent into the believer's heart, to influence, enlighten, and instruct his understanding and conscience, and to bear a joint witness with conscience that the believer is justified by his faith; where there used to be nothing but the sentence of self-condemnation, and the tormenting accusation of an evil conscience. Things are so changed, that the believer finds the accusation is silenced, and a joint testimony for God is evidently felt and enjoyed; he that believeth hath the witness in himself, for the spirit beareth witness, 1 John v. 6, 10. These things enable souls to say, "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience;" as I said before, the believer hath a joint witness; for "the Spirit

you see

itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God," Rom. viii. 16. Thus that love, joy, peace, and faith, are the firstfruits of the Spirit, Rom. viii. 23; and the spirit of these fruits is the foretaste and "the earnest of our [future] inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory," Eph. i. 14.

Ahimaaz. I clearly see that my soul is interested in the covenant of grace; nor am I without the evidence, the firstfruits, and the earnest that you have mentioned; and I believe, according to my present frame and views, that I shall never doubt again; thou, Lord, of thy goodness, hast made my hill so strong. I suppose that Prodigalis enjoyed these heavenly blessings in Christ Jesus, these sweet foretastes of heaven, in a wonderful degree; for it is often seen, that a miserable prodigal meets with a conspicuous deliverance, and a soul-humbling reception, when God gives him repentance unto life. And indeed if such poor souls had not, it would be impossible for them to believe to their eternal salvation; they having such a dreadful sight of an angry God, and their sinful selves, it requires a work of faith with power, to put their unbelief to the blush, and the devil and conscience to silence; nothing will confound these but a wonderful ray, an almighty deliverance, and a divine and all-prevailing evidence.

Cushi. That is another excellent speech; you begin to mend upon it, I think. But to your

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »