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truth of his own faith, repentance and sanctification, is to prate impertinently, and to delude the sinner, and to deal injuriously with Christ.
Direct. 13. If melancholy be the cause of the trouble (which is very ordinary) it will be necessary, 1. Well to understand it: And, 2. To know the cure : Of which having spoken more largely elsewhere, I shall now give you only this brief information.
1. The signs of this melancholy are, overstretched, confused, ungovernable thoughts ; continual fear, and inclination to despair, and to cry out, undone, undone ; I am forsaken of God; the day of grace is past; I have sinned against the Holy Ghost; never any man's case was like mine! And usually their sleep is gone or broken, and they are inclined to be alone, and to be always musing, with their confounded thoughts; and at last are tempted to blasphemous thoughts against the Scriptures, and the life to come, and perhaps urged to utter some blasphemous words against God; and if it go to the highest, they are tempted to famish or make away with themselves.
2. The cure of it lieth, 1. In setting those truths before them which tend most to quiet and satisfy their minds. 2. In engaging them in the constant labours of a calling, in which both mind and body may be employed. 3. In keeping them in fit and cheerful company which they love, and suffering them to be very little alone. 4. In keeping them from musing, and that meditation or thoughtfulness which to others is most profitable, and a duty. 5. Keeping them from over-long secret prayer (because they are unable for it, and it doth but confound them, and disable them for other duties); and let them be the more in other duties which they can bear. 6. And if the state of their bodies require it, physic is necessary, and hath done good to many (if rightly chosen).
Direct. 14. • Take heed of foolish, carnal, hasty expectations of comfort from the bare words of any man; but use men's advice only to direct you in that way, where, by patience and faithfulness, you may meet with it in due season.'
Nothing is more usual with silly souls, than to go to this or that excellent minister, whom they deservedly admire, and to look that with an hour or two's discourse he should comfort them, and set all their bones in joint: and
when they find that it is not done, they either despair, or turn to the next deceivers, and say, 'I tried the best of them: and if such a man cannot do it, none of them can do it.' But, silly soul, do physicians use to charm men into health? Wilt thou go and talk an hour with the ablest physician, and say, that because his talk doth not cure thee, thou wilt never go to a physician more, but go to ignorant people that will kill thee? Thou hast then thy own deserving; even take the death that thou hast chosen, and drink as thou hast brewed. The work of a minister is not to cure thee always immediately, by comfortable words. (What words can cure an ignorant, melancholy, or uncapable soul!) But to direct thee in thy duty, and in the use of those means, which if thou wilt faithfully and patiently practise, thou shalt certainly be cured in due time : if thou wilt use the physic, diet and exercise, which thy physician doth prescribe thee, it is that which must restore thy health and comfort, and not the saying over a few words to thee. If thou lazily look that other men's words or prayers should cure and comfort thee without thy own endeavours, thou mayest thank thyself when thou art deceived.
Direct. 15. "The principal means of comfort is to live in the exercise of comfortable duties.'
Faith, hope, and especially the love of God, are duties which are also man's felicity: and the exercise of these in praises and thanksgiving, are the proper pleasure of the soul. Give up thyself wholly to study the goodness and love of God in Jesus Christ, till thou feel thy heart inflamed with his love, and spend half thy godly conference in God's praises, and half thy daily prayers in that, and in thanksgiving; and this will comfort thee not only by the reasoning way of evidence; but as a feast pleaseth thy taste, and as a fire warmeth thee, or as the loving of thy friend delighteth thee, or as health itself is the pleasure of thy flesh.
As the sins themselves of not knowing God, nor loving him, nor delighting in him, are the greatest part of the penalty, or rather misery of the sinner (which hath its peculiar way of remission), so the knowledge, and love, and praise of God, and delighting in him, is instead of a reward unto itself, and a beginning of heaven to the heavenly believer.
Direct. 16. • Dwell much in heaven, if thou would dwell
in comfort. Comfort yourselves and one another with these words, that we shall for ever be with the Lord.' Heaven is the place or state of our everlasting comfort; and all that we have here must come from thence: and faith, and hope, and love must fetch it. He that will have carnal joy, must go for it to pastime, or lusts and pleasure, to an alehouse, or a whore, or to a gaming-house, or a playhouse, or to his wealthy and worldly honours : but he that will have heavenly joy, must go for it by faith to heaven; and dwell there every day by faith, where he hopes to dwell for ever. Heaven will not comfort either them that believe it not, or them that remember it not; but them whose conversation and hearts are there; Phil. iii. 20, 21.
Direct. 17. 'Set yourselves wholly to do good.' Resolve that you will be faithful to Christ, and do all the good that you can in the world, and let him do with you what he will: and in this way you shall quickly find, that the soundest consolation will come into your souls, before you could expect it. Though no works of our own can add any thing to God, nor must be trusted to at all, in a legal sense; and though blind libertines tell you, that all comfort is legal and unsound, which came by the thoughts of any thing in yourselves, or any of your own doings; yet God is no such enemy to godliness, but he that will hereafter judge you to heaven or hell according to your works, will now judge you to joy and sorrow of heart, usually according to your works: Well-doing shall afford you peace, and ill-doing shall disquiet you, when all is said.
Direct, 18. • Lastly, Be sure, while you want the comforts of assurance, to hold fast those comforts which rationally belong to common grace, and to them that have the Gospel offers of salvation. When the Gospel came to Samaria, (Acts viii.) “there was great joy in that city.” It is glad tidings in itself for guilty souls to have Christ and pardon freely offered to them. Can you not say, I am sure that I am regenerate, justified, and adopted ? For all that, if you be not infidels, you can say, 'I am sure that Christ, and pardon, and heaven, are freely offered me, and ministers are commissioned to entreat me to accept it; and nothing but my wilful and final refusal can deprive me of it, and shut me out.' This is certain; take but so much comfort as this much should rationally infer.
To which I might add, the comforts of your probability, when you are in some degree of hope, that your faith and repentance are sincere, though you are not certain : but this I have more largely spoken of (and the rest which is needful to be spoken on this subject) in the fore-named treatise long ago.
The ordinary and long troubles and unsettledness of honest Christians, are caused most, 1. By unskilful guides, who are most confident, where they are most ignorant, and revile those truths and methods which God hath appointed for the settling of men's peace: 2. And by their own lazy ånd unskilful course; who take up most with examining and complaining, instead of learning more understanding in God's methods, and diligent amending what is amiss, that the cause of their trouble might be taken away.
How to live by Faith in the Public Worshipping of God.
I MAY not be so tedious (nor do that which is done elsewhere) as to direct you in the several parts of worship distinctly; but shall only give you some brief directions about public worship in general.
Direct. 1. *Come' not before God with Pharisaical conceits of the worthiness of yourselves, or worship, as if you offered him something which did oblige him: but come as humble receivers, that need him and his grace, who needeth not you; and as learners that hope to be wiser and better by drawing near to God.'
You know Christ's instance of the prayers of the Pharisee and the Publican: and remember that many a one's heart saith, “ I thank thee Lord that I am not as other
men, or as this Publican," whose tongue can spend an hour or more in sad confessions; yea, and that it is those very copious confessions of their badness, that puff them up as if they were so good.
Yea, many a one that in opinion is most vehement against all our works in our justification, or looking at any thing in ourselves at all, to make us acceptable with God, as being against free grace in Christ, do yet look so much at that
which is (or is conceited to be) in themselves, that few churches on earth are thought worthy of their communion.
Note also, that it is sacrificing which is commonly the hypocrite's worship in the Old Testament, and hearing and obeying which he neglecteth, and God calls him to: as you may see at large in Isa. i. throughout; and many other places: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not require; mine ears hast thou opened,” &c. ; Psal. xl. 6. "I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices and burnt-offerings, to have been continually before me; I will take no bullock out of thy house-For every beast of the forest is mine, &c. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee, for the world is ' mine, and the fulness thereof Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows to the Most High. And call upon me in the day of trouble--But to the wicked, saith God, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee ; Psal. 1. 8, 9, &c.
Hath the Lord delight in burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams ;" 1 Sam. xv. 22, 23.
Know, that the Lord hath chosen the man that is godly for himself---Stand in awe and sin not-Offer the sacrifices of righteousness-;" Psal. iv. 3-5.
“ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;" Psal. li. 17.
“Learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice;" Matt. ix. 13. xii. 7.
Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they know not that they do evil;" Eccles.
All this telleth us, that fools and hypocrites, while they disobeyed God's law, do think to make up all with sacrifice, or to appease God with offering him something that is excellent: but the acceptable worshipper cometh to God as a penitent, a learner, resolving to obey; as a receiver of mercy, and not a meriter.
Direct. 2. Over-value not therefore the manner of your own worship, and over-vilify not other men's of a different mode' And make not men believe that God is of your childish humour, and valueth or vilifieth words, and or