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sound belief of the Scriptures make in the world! But having spoken so oft of this in other writings, I shall say no more of it now. So much of the knowledge of Christ.
11. 'I have shewed you the first part of this Direction, How Christ must be received understandingly, I now come to the second, which is, That he must be received heartily. As God must be beloved, so Christ must be believed in, with all the heart, and soul, and strength. If not with all in a perfect degree, (for that will not be till we come to heaven) yet with all in a prevalent degree. There are many convictions, and good meanings, and wishes, and purposes, which may proceed from common grace, and be found in those that never shall be saved : these may be called (analogically) faith, and love, and desire, as those that are found in the truly regenerate ; and yet the persons in whom they are found, may not fitly be called believers or lovers of God; because a man is to be denominated from that in him which is predominant, and hath the chief power on his heart. The soul of man is not so simple as to move but one way : its state in this life is to stand between two differing competitors, God and the world, spirit and flesh; and there is no man that is totally given up to either of them. No man is so good and spiritual, that hath not something in him that is bad and carnal; and no man is so fully addicted to God, but the creature hath too much interest in his heart. Nor is there any man so given up to the creature, in whom God hath no manner of interest at all, in his estimation and affections; if he indeed believe that there is a God. At least it is not so with all that are unconverted. Otherwise, 1. What is it that common grace doth, if it no whit dispose them towards God? Certainly it would not else be grace. 2. And if this were not so, then we must say, that no unregenerate man hath any good in him, that is truly moral; for if there be no interest of God in his mind or will, there can be no good in him. But this is contrary to Scripture and experience. It was undoubtedly some moral good, which Christ loved the man for, in Mark x. 21. who was not far from the kingdom of God. 3. Otherwise all men must be equally departed from God, which is contrary to experience. 4. Yea, all men must be as bad on earth (privately) as in hell; which certainly is false. I may well say, that on earth there is some good in the worst; much more in those that are almost persuaded to be converted Christians. Many a thought of the goodness of God, and the necessity of a Saviour, and of the love of Christ, and of the joys of heaven, may be stirring and working in the minds of the unsanctified; but if they take not up the heart for Christ, the person is not a true believer. · As the Gospel must be believed to be true, so Christ that is offered us in the Gospel as good, must be heartily and thankfully accepted accordingly: and the glory, the justification, reconciliation with God, and other benefits procured by him, and offered with him, must be valued and desired above all earthly, fleshly things. If you are convinced that sin is evil, as contrary to God, and hurtful to you, and hereupon have some mind to let it go, and some wishes that Christ would save you from it, and yet still have a love to it that is greater than your dislike; and the bent of your hearts is more for it, than against it, and your habitual desires are rather to keep than to leave it: this is not sanctification, nor a saving consent to be saved by Christ. If you have some convictions that holiness is good, as being the image of God, and pleasing to him, and necessary to your salvation, and so should have some mind of holiness on these grounds; yet if you have
have on the other side a greater averseness to it, because it would deprive you of the pleasures of your sin, and the habitual inclination of your will is more against it than for it; certainly this will not stand with true sanctification, of faith in Christ, to save you from the power of sin by his Spirit. Thousands deceive themselves, by misunderstanding some common passages, that are spoken to comfort afflicted consciences : viz. That the least true desires after grace, do prove the soul to be gracious. This is true, if you speak of the least desires, which are predominant in the soul; when our desire is more habitually than our unwillingness, and we thus prefer Christ before all the world, the least of this is an evidence of saving grace. But such desires as are subdued by the contrary desires; and such a will as is accompanied with a greater unwillingness, habitually; and such a faith, as is drowned in greater unbelief; these are not evidences of a saving change; nor can you justly gather any special comfort from them. He that hath more unbelief than belief, is not to be called a believer, but an unbeliever; and he that hath more hatred or dislike of God and holiness than love to them, is not to be cal
led godly, but ungodly, nor a lover of God, but a hater ofhim. I am easily persuaded, that many of you that are ungodly could be contented that God be glorified, if his glory do not cross your carnal interest ; and so you desire God's glory even for itself, as that which is absolutely good in itself: but if your fleshly interest be so dear to you, that you will sacrifice God's glory to it, and had rather God were dishonoured than your fleshly interest contradieted, it is your Aesh then that is made your God, and your chief end. It is not every wish, or minding of Christ, no, not to save you from sin as sin, that will prove you true believers : nor is it every minding of God, or love to him, no, not as one apprehended by you to be the chiefest good, and desirable for himself, as your end, that will prove indeed that you savingly love bim; as long as the contrary mind and will is habitually predominant in you. Such as the very habit and bent of a man's heart is, such indeed is the man. It is possible for a man, even a good man, to have two contrary ends and intentions, yea, ultimate ends; as that which is desired for itself, and referred to nothing else, is called ultimate; but it is not possible for him to have two principal, predominant ends. So far as we are carnal still, we make the pleasing of our flesh our ultimate end; for doubtless we do not sin only by pleasing the flesh, as a means to God's glory; nor only in the mischoosing of other means; but yet this is none of our principal end, so far as men are truly sanctified. And because that is called a man's mind, or will, which is the chiefest and highest in his mind and will; therefore we use to denominate men from that only which beareth rule in them: and thus we may say with Paul, “ It is not I, but sin that dwelleth in me.” For a disowned act that proceedeth from us, against the bent and habit of our wills, and the course of our lives, from the remnants of a carnal, misguided will, is not it that must denominate the person, nor is so fully ours as the contrary act. And therefore though indeed we sinfully participate of it; yet when the question is, whether believing, or unbelief, sinning, or obeying be my work ; it is not comparatively to be called mine, which I am much more against than for. So on the other side, if the unsanctified have some transient, superficial, uneffectual acts of desire, or faith, or love to God, which are contrary to the bent and habit of their hearts, this is not theirs, nor imputable to them, so far as hence to give them their denomination. It is not they that do it, but the common workings of the Spirit upon them.
If ever then you would be assured that you are Christians, look to the habitual bent of your hearts, and see that you do not only talk of Scripture, and slightly believe it, and speak well of Christ, with some good wishes, and meanings, and purposes ; but as you love your souls, see that Christ be received as your dearest Saviour, with thankfulness and greatest love, and as your sovereign Lord and true subjection; and that he hath your superlative estimation and affections, and all things in the world be put under him in your souls. This must be so, if you will have the portion of believers : no faith that is short of this will prove you Christ's disciples indeed, or heirs of the promises made to believers. The voice of Christ that calls to you in the Gospel, is, “ My son give me thy heart;" Prov. xxiii. 26. Do what thou wilt in ways of duty, and think as highly as thou wilt of thyself, thou art no true believer in Christ's account till thou hast given him thy heart. If he have thy tongue, if he have thy good opinion, nay, if thy body were burnt in bis cause, if he had not thy love, thy heart, it were as nothing ; (1 Cor. xiii. 3.) for thy works and sufferings, are so far acceptable (through Christ) as they are testimonies of this, that Christ hath thy heart. If he have not thy heart, he takes it as if he had nothing; and if he have this, he takes it as if he have all. For this is not only preferred by him before all, but also he knows that this commandeth all. If Christ have thy heart, the devil will not have thy tongue and life; the alehouse, or a harlot will not have thy body; and the world will not have the principal part of thy life. If Christ have thy heart, it will be heard much in thy conference ; it will be seen in thy labours : for that which hath a man's heart will hardly be hid, unless he purposely hide it, which a Christian neither can nor ought to do. It would make a man wonder to hear some wretches, that will run from God as fast as they can, and yet face you down that God hath their hearts; that have nó mind, so much as to meditate, or talk of Christ, or his precious blood, or mysterious redemption, or the glorious kingdom purchased by him; that will be at neither cost nor labour in his service, and yet profess that Christ hath their hearts: that will re
fuse a holy, heavenly life, and perhaps make a scorn of it, and maliciously prate against the sanctified, and yet will stand to it that the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier of the elect, hath their hearts. No wonder if those hearts are ill managed, and in a miserable, deceived state, that are so unacquainted with themselves.
Faith entereth at the understanding; but it hath not all its essential parts, and is not the Gospel faith indeed, till it hath possessed the will. The heart of faith is wanting, till faith hath taken possession of the heart. For by faith Christ dwelleth in the heart; Ephes. iii. 17. And if he dwell not in the heart, he dwells not in the man, in a saving sort. He had some interest in Judas, Simon Magus, Ananias and Sapphira, as to the head, and perhaps somewhat more in a superficial sort. But satan entered into the heart of one, and filled the heart of another of them with a lie, and the heart of the third was not right in the sight of God, and therefore he had no part or lot in Christ, but was still in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity; and all because Christ was not heartily entertained ; Acts v. 3. viii. 22, 23. It is in the heart that the word must have its rooting, or else it will wither in time of trial. It is seeking with the whole heart that is the evidence of the blessed; Psal. cxix. 2. And it is a feigned turning when men turn not to God with the whole heart; Jer. iii. 10. This is God's promise concerning his elect, “ I will give them a heart to know me that I am the Lord, and they shall be ny people, and I will be their God : for they shall return unto me with their whole heart;". Jer. xxiv. 7.. See then that the heart be unfeignedly delivered up to Christ: for if Christ have it not, the flesh, the world, and the devil will have it. Your hearts must be a dwelling for one of these masters, choose you whether.
It is the damnation of the most professed Christians, that they have nothing for Christ but a good opinion, or a few good words, or outside services, or some slight religiousness on the bye, when the flesh and the world go away with their hearts, and yet they will not know it, or confess it. Christ will not be an underling or servant to your flesh. Your hearts he hath bought, and your hearts he will have, or you are none of his. If he shall have nothing from you but a name, you shall have nothing but the name of his purchased salvation.