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• The foxes have holes, and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head,” we hear no more of him. And another came with a Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke xviii. 13.) as if he would have been one of Christ's disciples, and have done any
thing for heaven. (And it is like that he would have been a Christian, if free grace had been as large, and as little grace, as some now imagine.) But when he heard,
But when he heard, “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me: he was then very sorrowful, for he was very rich ;" Luke xviii. 21-23. Thousands cheat their souls with a conceit that they are believers, because they believe that they shall be saved by free grace, without the faith and grace which Christ hath made necessary to salvation.
4. And this will take off all those needful thoughts and means, which should help you to the faith, which yet you have not.
5. And it will engage you in perverse disputes against that true faith which you understand not. And you will think, that you are contending for free grace, and for the faith, when you are “proud, knowing nothing, but sick or doting about questions,” which engender no better birth than “ strifes, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings,” &c. 1 Tim. vi. 4, 5.
6. Lastly, You can scarce more dishonour the Christian religion, nor injure God and our Mediator, or harden men in infidelity, than by fathering your ill shapen fictions on Christ, and calling them the Christian or justifying faith. Direct. 29. · Take not all doubts and fears of
your salvation, to be the proper effects and signs of unbelief; seeing that in many they arise from the misunderstanding of the meaning of God's promise, and in more from the doubtfulness of their own qualifications, rather than from any unbelief of the promise, or distrust of Christ.'
It is ordinary with ignorant Christians to say, that they cannot believe, because they doubt of their own sincerity and salvation : as thinking that it is the nature of true faith, to believe that they themselves are justified, and shall be saved ; and that to doubt of this, is to doubt of the promises, because they doubtingly apply it. Such distresses have false principles brought many to. But there are two other
things besides the weakness of faith, which are usually the causes of all this. 1. Many mistake the meaning of Christ's covenant, and think that it hath no universality in it; and that he died only for the elect, and promiseth pardon to none but the elect (no not on the condition of believing). And therefore thinking that they can have no assurance that they are elect, they doubt of the conclusion.
And many of them think that the promise extendeth not to such as they, because of some sin or great unworthiness which they are guilty of.
And others think that they have not that faith and repentance which are the condition of the promise of pardon and salvation : and in some of these the thing itself may be so obscure, as to be indeed the matter of rational doubtfulness. And in others of them, the cause may be either a mistake about the true nature and signs of faith and repentance; or else a timorous, melancholy, causeless suspicion of themselves; but which of all these soever be the cause, it is something different from proper unbelief or distrust of God. For he that mistaketh the extent of the promise, and thinketh that it belongeth not to such as he, would believe and trust it, if he understood it, that it extends to him as well as others. And he that doubteth of his own repentance and faith, may yet be confident of the truth of God's promise to all true, penitent believers.
I mention this for the cure of two mischiefs : the first is that of the presumptuous opinionist, who goeth to hell presuming that he hath true saving faith, because he confidently believeth, that he himself is pardoned, and shall be saved. The second is that of the perplexed, fearful Christian, who thinks that all his uncertainty of his own sincerity, and so of his salvation, is properly unbelief, and so concludeth that he cannot believe, and shall not be saved: because he knoweth not that faith is such a belief and trust in Christ, as will bring us absolutely and undeservedly to venture our all upon him alone.
And yet I must tell all these persons, that all this while it is ten to one, but there is really a great deal of unbelief in them which they know not. And that their belief of the truth of the immortality of the soul, and the life to come, and of the Gospel itself, is not so strong and firm, as their never doubting of it would intimate, or as some of their de
finitions of faith, and their book-opinions and disputes import. And it had been well for some of them, that they had doubted more, that they might have believed, and have settled better.
Direct. 30. . Think often of the excellencies of the life of faith, that the motives may be still inducing you thereto.'
As, l. It is but reasonable that God should be trusted ; or else indeed we deny him to be God; Psal. xx. 7.
2. What else shall we trust to? Shall we deify creatures, and say to a stock, “Thou art my Father ?” Jer. ii. 27. Lam. i. 19. Shall we distrust God, and trust a liar and a worm ?
3. Trying times will shortly come; and then woe to the soul that cannot trust in God! Then nothing else will serve our turns. Then " cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh Alesh his arm, and withdraweth his heart from the Lord; he shall be like the barren wilderness, &c. Then none that trusted in him shall be ashamed;" Jer. xvii. 5, 6. Psal. xxv. 3, 4. lxxiii. 26–28.
4. God's all-sufficiency leaveth no reason for the least distrust. There is the most absolute certainty that God cannot fail ús, because his veracity is grounded on his essential perfections.
5. No witness could ever stand up against the life of faith, and say that he lost by trusting God, or that ever God deceived any.
6. The life of faith is a conquest of all that would distress the soul, and it is a life of constant peace and quietness : yea, it feasteth the soul upon the everlasting joys. Though the mountains be removed; though this world be turned upside down, and be dissolved; whether poverty or wealth, sickness or health, evil report or good, persecution or prosperity béfal us; how little are we concerned in all this ! And how little should they do to disturb the peace and comfort of that soul, who believeth that he shall live with God for ever. Many such considerations should make us more willing to live by faith upon God's promises, than to live by sense on transitory things.
Direct. 31. ' Renew your covenant with Christ in his holy sacrament, frequently, understandingly and seriously.'
For, 1. When we renew our covenant with Christ, then Christ reneweth his covenant with us; and that with great
advantage to our faith. 1. In an appointed ordinance which he will bless.. 2. By a special minister appointed to seal and deliver it to us as in his name. 3. By a solemn, sacramental investiture.
2. And our own renewing our covenant with him, is the renewed exercise of faith, which will tend to strengthen it, and to shew us that we are indeed believers. And there is much in that sacrament to help the strengthening of faith : therefore the frequent and right using of it, is one of God's appointed means, to feed and maintain our spiritual life; which if we neglect, we wilfully starve our faith ; 1 Cor. xi. 26. 28, &c.
Direct. 32. * Keep all your own promises to God and man.'
For, 1. Liars always suspect others. 2. Guilt breedeth suspiciousness. 3. God in justice may leave you to your distrust of him, when you will be perfidious yourselves. You can never be confident in God, while you deal falsely with him or with others. “The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned;" 1 Tim. i. 5.
Direct. 33. Labour to improve your belief of every promise, for the increase of holiness and obedience : and to get more upon your souls that true image of God in his
power, wisdom and goodness, which will make it easy to you to believe him.'
1. The more the hypocrite seemeth to believe the promise, the more he boldly ventureth upon sin, and disobeyeth the precept; because it was but fear that restrained him; and his belief is but presumption abating fear. But the more a true Christian believeth, the more he flyeth from sin, and useth God's means, and studieth more exact obedience; and “ having these promises, laboureth to cleanse himself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God;" 2 Cor. vii. 1. “ And receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, we must serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear;" Heb. xii. 28, 29.
2. The more like the soul is to God, the easier it will believe land trust him. As faith causeth holiness, so every part of holiness befriendeth faith. Now the three great impressions of the Trinity upon us are expressed distinctly by the apostle ; " For God hath not given us the spirit of fear,
but of power, of love, and of a sound mind;" 2 Tim. i. 7. “ πνευμα δυνάμεως, και αγάπης, και σωφρονισμε.’ Power, love, and a sound mind or understanding, do answer God's nature as the face in the glass doth answer our face, and therefore cannot choose but trust him.
Direct. 34. Lay up in your memory, particular, pertinent and clear promises, for every particular use of faith.”
The number is not so much ; but be sure that they be plain and well understood, that you may have no cause to doubt whether they mean any such thing indeed or not. Here some will expect that I should do this for them, and gather them such promises. Two things dissuade me from doing it at large. 1. So many books have done it already. 2. It will swell this book too big: but take these few.
1. For forgiveness of all sins, and justification to penitent believers.
“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins ;" Acts v. 31.
“ Be it known unto you, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses;” Acts xiii. 38, 39. ..."To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified, by faith, that is in me;" Acts xxvi. 18.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness;". 1 John i. 9.
“ I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more ;" Heb. viii. 12.
“ To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins;" Acts x. 43.
“ That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all nations ;" Luke xxiv. 47.
2. Promises of salvation from hell, and possession of heaven.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begot