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they read Christ's words, “How hard is it for them that trust in riches, to enter into the kingdom of God!" (Mark x. 24.) that they are safe enough if that be all the danger; for they do not trust in their riches, though they love them : he is a madman, they say, that will put his trust in them. And yet Christ intimateth it as the true reason why few that have riches, can be saved, because there are few that have riches, who do not trust in them. You know that riches will not save your souls; you know that they will not
from the grave; you know that they will not cure your diseases, nor ease your pains: and therefore you do not trust to riches, either to keep you from sickness, or from dying, or from hell: but yet you think that riches may help you to live in pleasure, and in reputation with the world, and in plenty of all things, and to have your will, as long as health and life will last; and this you take to be the chiefest happiness which a man can make sure of: and for this you trust them. The fool in Luke xii. 19. who said, “ Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry, thou hast enough laid up for many years," did not trust his riches to make him immortal, nor to save his soul: but he trusted in them, as a provision which might suffice for many years, that he might "eat drink, and be merry, and take his ease;" and this he loved better, and preferred before any pleasures or happiness which he hoped for in another world. And thus it is that all worldly hypocrites do trust in riches: yea the poorest do trust in their little poor provisions in this world, as seeming to them surer, and therefore better than any which they can expect hereafter. This is the way of trusting in uncertain riches, (viz, to be their surest happiness) instead of trusting in the living God; 1 Tim. vi. 17. iv. 10. Psal. xlix. 6. lii. 7.
But yet because the hypocrite knoweth, that he cannot live here always, but must die, and his riches must be parted with at last, and heareth of a life of glory afterwards, he would fain have his part in that too, when he can keep the world no longer : and so he taketh both together for his part and hope, viz. as much bodily happiness as he can get in this world, and heaven at last, when he must die : not knowing that God will be all our portion and felicity, or
none; and that the world must be valued and used but for his sake, and in subordination to him and a better world.
5. Yet some hypocrites seem to go further (though they do not), for they will seem, even to themselves, to resign goods, and life, and all things absolutely to the will of God. But the reason is, because they are secretly persuaded in their hearts, that their resignation shall no whit deprive them of them; and that God will never the more take it from them ; but that they may possess as much present corporal felicity in a life of religion, as if they lived in the dangerous case of the ungodly: or at least that they may keep so much, as not to be undone or left to any great sufferings in the world : or at least, their lives may not be called for. For they live in a time when few suffer for Christ; and therefore they see little cause to fear that they should be of the smaller number: and it is but being a little the more wise and cautelous, and they hope they may escape well enough. And if they had not this hope, they would never give up all to Christ. But like persons that will be liberal to their physician, they will offer a great deal, when they think he will not take it; but if they thought he would take all that is offered, they would offer less. Or as if a sick person should hear that such a physician will give him no very strong or loathsome physic; and therefore when the physician telleth him, “I will be none of your physician unless you will absolutely promise to take every thing which I shall give you. He promiseth that he will do it; but it is only because he supposeth that he will give him nothing which is troublesome. And if he find his expectation crossed, he breaketh his promise, and saith,'If I had known he would have used me thus, I would never have promised it him.' So hypocrites by promise give up themselves absolutely to God, and to be wholly at his will, without excepting life itself: but their hearts do secretly except it: for all this is because they doubt not but they may save their earthly prosperity and lives, and be Christians too: and if once Christ call them to suffer death for him, they shew then what was the meaning of their hearts.
To reassume the former similitude: If Christ on earth should offer to convey you to a kingdom at the antipodes, where men live for ever in glorious holiness, if you will but trust him, and go in his ship, and take him for your pilot.
Here one saith, I do not believe him that there is such a place, and therefore I will not go (that is the infidel). Another saith, I like my merry life at home, better than his glorious holiness (that is the open worldly and profane). Another saith, I will live in my own country, and on my own estate as long as I can, and when I find that I am dying, and can stay here no longer, that I may be sure to lose nothing by him, I will take his offer. Another saith, I will go with him, but I will turn back again, if I find any dangerous storms and gulfs in the passage. Another saith I will take another ship and pilot along with me, lest he should fail me, that I may not be deceived. Another saith, I am told that the seas are calm, and there is no danger in the passage, and therefore I will absolutely trust him, and venture all; but when he meets with storms and hideous waves, he saith, This is not as I expected ; and so he turneth back again. But another (the true Christian) saith, I will venture all, and wholly trust him :' and so, though he is oft afraid in danger, when he seeth the devouring gulfs, yet not so fearful as to turn back, but on he goeth, come on it what will; because he knoweth that the place which he goeth to is most desirable, and mortality will soon end his old prosperity; and he hath great reason to believe his pilot to be trusty.
By all this you may see how it cometh to pass that Christ who promiseth life to believers, doth yet make selfdenial, and forsaking all that we have, even life itself, to be also necessary; and what relation self-denial hath to faith : Luke xiv. 26.33. nearer by far than most consider. You may see here the reason why Christ tried the rich
man, (Luke xviii. 22.) with selling all, and following him in hope of a reward in heaven. And why he bid his disciples, (Luke xii. 33.) “Sell that ye have and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens which faileth not.”. And why the first Christians were made a pattern of entire Christianity, by selling all, and laying down at the apostle's feet; and Ananias and Sapphira were the instances of hypocrisy, who secretly and lyingly kept back part. You see here how it comes to pass, that all true Christians must be heart-martyrs, or prepared to die for Christ and heaven, rather that forsake him. You may plainly perceive that faith itself is an affiance or trust
ing in God by Christ, even a trusting in God in heaven as our felicity, and in Christ as the Mediator and the way; and that this trust is a venturing all upon him, and a forsaking all for God, and his promises in Christ. And that it is one and the same motion, which from the 'terminus à quo' is called repentance and forsaking all; and from the terminus ad quem' is called trust and love. They that are willing to see, may profit much by this observation; and they that are not may quarrel at it, and talk against that which their prejudice will not allow them to understand.
And by all this you may see also wherein the strength of faith consisteth: and that is, l. In so clear a sight of the evidences of truth as shall leave no considerable doubtings; Matt. xxi. 21. So Abraham "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God ;" Rom. iv.
2. In so confirmed a resolution to cleave to God and Christ alone, as leaveth no wavering, or looking back; that we may say groundedly with Peter, “ Though I die, I will not deny thee;" which doubtless signified then some strength of faith : and as Paul, “I am ready not only to be bound, but to die for the name of the Lord Jesus ;" Acts xxi. 13.
3. In so strong a fortitude of soul, as to venture and give up ourselves, our lives, and all our comforts and hopes into the hand of Christ, without any trouble or sinful fears, and to pass through all difficulties and trials in the way, without any distrust or anxiety of mind. These be the characters of a strong and a great degree of faith.
And you may note how Heb. xi. describeth faith commonly by this venturing and forsaking all upon the belief of God. · As in Noah's case, ver. 7. and in Abraham's leaving his country, ver. 8. and in his sacrificing Isaac, ver. 17. and in Moses forsaking Pharaoh's court, and choosing the reproach of Christ, rather than the pleasures of sin for a season, ver. 24–26. and in the Israelites venturing into the Red Sea, ver. 29. and in Rahab's hiding the spies, which must needs be her danger in her own country. And in all those, who " by faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword; out of weakness were made strong: Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resur
rection; and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins, and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts and mountains, and in dens, and caves of the earth.” And in Heb. x. 32, 33, &c. They endured a great fight of affliction; partly whilst they were made a gazing-stock, both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly whilst they became companions of them that were so used.--- And took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had in heaven a better a and an enduring substance. And thus the just do live by faith ; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him, saith the Lord.” See also Rom. viii. 33. 36, 37, &c.
These are the Spirit's descriptions of faith ; but if you will rather take a whimsical, ignorant man's description, who can only toss in his mouth the name of FREE GRACE, and knoweth not of what he speaketh, or what he affirmeth, or what that name signifieth, which he cheateth his own soul with, instead of true free grace itself, you must suffer the bitter fruits of your own delusion. For my part I shall say thus much more, to tell you why I say so much, to help you to a right understanding of the nature of true Christian faith.
1. If you understand not truly what faith is, you understand not what religion it is that you profess. And so you call yourselves Christians, and know not what it is. It seems those that said, “Lord, we have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and prophesied in thy name," did think they had been true believers ; Matt. vii. 21, 22.
2. To err about the nature of true faith, will engage you in abundance of other errors, which will necessarily arise from that; as it did them, against whom James disputeth (James ii. 14, 15, &c.) about justification by faith and by works.
3. It will damnably delude your souls, about your own state, and draw you to think that you have saving faith, because you have that fancy which you thought was it. One comes boldly to Christ. “ Master I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest ;" Matt. viii. 19. But when he heard,