« PreviousContinue »
Direct. 15. “Let faith set the example, first of Christ, and next of his holiest servants, still before you.'
He that purposely lived among men in flesh, a life of holiness and patience, and contempt of the world, to be a pattern or example to us, doth expect that it be the daily work of faith to imitate him; and therefore that we have this copy still before our eyes. It will help us when we are sluggish, and sit down in low and common things, to see more noble things before us. It will help us when we are in doubt of the way of our duty; and when we are apt to favour our corruptions: it will guide our minds, and quicken our desires, with a holy ambition and covetousness to be more holy: it will serve us to answer all that the world or flesh can say, from the contrary examples of sinning men : If any tell us what great men, or learned men think, or say, or do, against religion, and for a sinful life; it is enough, if faith do but tell us presently, what Christ, and his apostles, and saints, and martyrs, have thought, and said, and done to the contrary; Matt. xi. 28, 29. 1 Pet. ii. 21. John xiii. 15. Phil. iii, 17.' 2 Thess. iii. 9. 1 Tim. iv. 12. Ephes. v.l. Heb. vi. 12. 1 Thess. 1. 6. ii. 14.
Drect. 16. 'Let your faith set all graces on work in their proper order and proportion ; and carry on the work of holiness and obedience in harmony; and not set one part against another, nor look at one while you forget or neglect another.'
Every grace and duty is to be a help to all the rest : and the want or neglect of any one, is a hindrance to all : as the want of one wheel or smaller particle in a clock or watch, will make all stand still, or go out of order. The new creature consisteth of all due parts, as the body doth of all its members. The soul is as a musical instrument, which must neither want one string, nor have one out of tune, nor neglected, without spoiling all the melody. A fragment of the most excellent work, or one member of the comeliest body cut off, is not beautiful : the beauty of a holy soul and life, is not only in the quality of each grace and duty, but much in the proportion, feature, and harmony of all. Therefore every part hath its proper armour; Ephes. vi. 11-14. And the whole armour of God must be put on: becanse all fulness dwelleth in Christ; we are complete in
him, as being sufficient to communicate every grace. Epaphras laboured always fervently in prayers for the Colossians, that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God; Col. iv. 12. “Let patience have ber perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing;" James i. 4.. We oft comfort ourselves, that though we want the perfection of degrees, yet we have the perfection of parts, or of integrity. But many are fain to prove this only by inferring, that he that hath one grace, hath all; but as to the discerning and orderly use of all, they are yet to seek.
Of the Order of Graces and Duties.
BECAUSE I find not this insisted on in any writers for the people's instruction, as it ought, I will not pass over so needful a point without some further advertisement about it. I will therefore shew you. 1. What is the completeness and the harmony to be desired : 2. What are our contrary defects and distempers: 3. What are the causes of them, and what must be the cure: 4. Some useful inferences hence arising. : I. He that will be complete and entire, must have all these graces and duties following.
1. A solid and clear understanding of all the great, the needful and practical matters of the sacred Scriptures ; 2 Tim. iii. 16. (And if he have the understanding of the Scripture languages, and the customs of those times, and other such helps, his understanding of the Scripture will be the more complete'; Acts xxvi. 3. If he have not, he must make use of other men's.)'
2. A settled well-grounded belief of all God's supernatural revelations (as well as the knowledge of natural verities).
3. Experience to make this knowledge and belief to be satisfactory, powerful and firm. Especially the experience of the Spirit's effectual operations in ourselves, by the means of this Word ; Rom. v. 4. viii. 9. Gal. iv. 6.
4. The historical knowledge of the Scripture matters of fact, and how God in all ages (since Scripture times) hath
fulfilled his word, both promises and threatenings, and what Christ, and Satau, grace and sin, have been doing in the world. Therefore the Scripture is written so much by way of history; and therefore the Jews were so often charged to tell the history of God's works to their children ; 1 Cor. x. 1, 2. 6, 7. 11. Exod. xii. 29. Deut. xxvi. 22. Josh. iv. 6. 21, 22. xxii. 24. 27. Therefore the writing of church-history is the duty of all ages, because God's works are to be known, as well as his word : and as it is your forefather's duty to write it, it is the children's duty to learn it (or else the writing it would be vain). He that knoweth not what state the church and world is in, and hath been in, in former ages, and what God hath been doing in the world, and how error and sin have been resisting him, and with what success, doth want much to the completing of his knowledge.
5. And he must have prudence to discern particular cases; and to consider of all circumstances, and to compare things with things, that he may disceru his duty, and the seasons and manner of it; and
inconsistent seeming duties, which is to be preferred; and when and what circumstances or accidents do make any thing a duty, which else would be no duty or a sin; and what accidents make that a sin which without them would be a duty. This it the knowledge which must make a Christian entire or complete.
2. And in his will there must be. 1. A full resignation and submission to the will of God his owner; and a full subjection and obedience to the will of God his governor; yielding readily and constantly, and resolutely to the commands of God, as the scholar obeyeth his master, and as the second wheel in the clock is moved by the first: and a close adhering to God as his chief good, by a thankful reception of his benefits ; and a desirous seeking to enjoy, and glorify him, and please his will: In a word, loving him as God, and taking our chiefest complacency in pleasing him; in loving him, and being loved of him.
2. And in the same will there must be a well regulated love, to all God's works, according as he is manifested or glorified in them : tọ the humanity of our Redeemer; to the glory of heaven, as it is a created thing; to the blessed
angels, and perfected spirits of the just, to the Scripture, to the church on earth, to the saints, the pastors, the rulers, the holy ordinances, to all mankind, even to our enemies ; to ourselves, our souls, our bodies, our relations, our estates, and mercies of every rank, .
3. And herewithal must by a hatred of every sin in ourselves and others : of former sin, and present corruption, with a penitential displacence and grief; and of possible sin, with a vigilancy and resistance to avoid it.
4. And in the affections there must be a vivacity and sober fervency, answering to all these motions of the will; in love, delight, desire, hope, hatred, sorrow, aversation and anger ; the complexion of all which is godly zeal..
5. In the vital and executive power of the soul, there must be a holy activity, promptitude and fortitude, to be up and doing, and to set the sluggish faculties on work ; and to bring all knowledge and volitions into practice, and to assault and conquer enemies and difficulties. There must be the Spirit of power (though I know that word did chiefly then denote the Spirit of Miracles, yet not only) and of love, and of a sound mind.
6. In the outward members there must be by use a habit of ready obedient execution of the soul's commands. As in the tongue a readiness to pray, and praise God, and declare his word, and edify others, and so in the rest.
7. In the senses and appetitie, there must by use be a habit of yielding obedience to reason; that the senses do not rebel and rage, and bear down the commands of the mind and will.
8. Lastly, In the imagination there must be a clearness or purity from filthiness, malice, covetousness, pride and vanity; and there must be the impressions of things that are good and useful ; and a ready obedience to the superior faculties, that it may be the instrument of holiness, and not the shop of temptations and sin, nor a wild, unruly, disordered thing.
And the harmony of all there must be as well observed as the matter: As
: 1. There must be a just order among them: every duty must keep its proper place and season.
2. There must be a just proportion and degree: some graces must not wither, whilst others alone are cherished:
nor some duties take up all our heart and time, whilst others are almost laid.by.
3. There must be a just activity and exercise of every grace.
4. And a just conjunction and respect to one another, that every one be used so as to be a help to all the rest.
1. The order.--. Of intellectual graces, and duties, must be this. l. In order of time, the things which are sensible are known before the things which are beyond our sight, and other senses.
2. Beyond these the first thing known both for certainty and for excellency, is, that there is a God.
3.. This God is to be known as one being in three essential principles, vital power, intellect and will.
4. And these in their essential perfections, omnipotency, wisdom and goodness (or love).
5. And also in his perfections called modal and negative, &c. (as immensity, eternity, independency, immutability, &c.)
6. God must be next known in his three personalities ; as the Father, the Word, or Son, and the Spirit.
7. And these in their three causalities; efficient, dirigent and final.
8. And in their three great works, creation, redemption, sanctification, (or perfection) producing nature, grace and glory, or our persons, medicine, and health.
9. And God who created the world, is thereupon to be known in his relations to it; as our Creator in unity, and as our Owner, Ruler, and Chief Good (efficient, dirigent and final) in a trinity of relations. You must know how the Infinite vital power of the Father, created all things by the Infinite wisdom of the Word, or Son, and by the Infinite goodness and love of the Holy Spirit.' (As the Son redeemed us as the Eternal Wisdon, and Word incarnate, sent by the Eternal vital power of the Father, to reveal and communicate the Eternal love in the Holy Ghost: and as the Holy Ghost doth sanctify and perfect us as proceeding and sent from the power of the Father, and the wisdom of the Son, to shed abroad the love of God upon our hearts, &c.)
10. Next to the knowledge of God as Creator, is to be considered the world which he created, and especially the intellectual creatures ; angels, or heavenly spirits, and men.