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the principal service I can do him by it ; but I may neither take to myself, nor give to any that are nearest to me, any more than God commandeth, or his service doth require. When you and yours have your daily bread, (which also must be used for him) you must not go to flesh and blood, but to God, to ask which way you shall dispose of the remainder. This is a strange coctrine to the unsanctified world, but that is because they are unsanctified. And it is a doctrine that a worldly hypocrite is loath to believe and understand; but that is because of carnality and hypocrisy, that always deals with God like Ananias and Saphira, lying to the Holy Ghost, and giving God but half (and few so much as half) when they daily confess that all is from him, and should be his, and pretend to be wholly devoted to him. There are few men so bad, but will spare God something rather than go to hell : but indeed this is not to devote it to God, but to use it for themselves, thinking by their sacrifices to stop the mouth of justice, and to please God by a part, when they have displeased him in the rest. I much fear (and not without apparent cause) that abundance among us, that think themselves Christians, do worship and serve God, but as some Indians are said to offer sacrifice to the devil, not for any love they have to him or his service, but for fear he should hurt them. And there are few hypocrites but will pretend it is from very love.
O sirs, it is a greater matter to resign and give up yourselves and all you have to God, and heartily to quit all claim to yourselves, and all things, than many a thousand selfdeluded professors do imagine. Many look at this bụt as some high, extraordinary strain of piety. And the Papists almost appropriate it to a few that live in monastical orders, when indeed the sincerity of the resignation and dedication, is the very sincerity of sanctification itself.
And let me tell you, that the unfeigned convert that attains to this hath not only plucked up the root of sin, (though all of us have too many strings of it left,) not only stopped up the spring of temptation, and got the surest evidence of his uprightness, but also is got himself into the safest and most comfortable state. For when he hath absolutely resigned himself and all to God, how confidently may
he expect that God should accept him, and use him as his own? and how comfortably may he commit himself and his cause, and all good affairs to God, as knowing that God cannot be negligent and careless of his own? It is an argument that
make us confident of success, when we can say as David, (Psal. cxix. 94.) “I am thine, save me.” Isa. lxiji. 19. Even Christ himself doth ingratiate his elect with the Father on this account, (John xvii. 6.9, 10.) “ Thine they were, and thou gavest them me: I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me: for they are thine : and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.” And indeed by resigning all to God, it is the more our own; that is, we have unspeakably inore of the benefit of it, and so there is no way to make it our own, but by quitting it absolutely up to God. This is the mystery that the world will not learn, but God will teach it all that shall be saved by the Spirit, and by faith ; Matt. xvi. 24-26. “ Then Jesus said to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take
cross, and follow me : for whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my
sake shall find it.” Methinks, a man that hath time, and strength, and money, should long to be disbursing all for God that he might put it in the surest hands, and it may be out of danger: yea, that it may be set to the most honest and profitable usury. For when God hath it from the dedication of an upright heart, it is sure: but till God have it, it is in hazard, and all that he hath not is lost, and worse than lost. When it is in our hands, thieves may steal it, bad servants or unadvised children may consume it, and our own thievish flesh may steal it, which is worst of all, and consume it on our lusts : or if our children consume it not, their children may: or if they save it, they may lose it most of all by feeding their pride and fleshly minds by it, but if once it be in God's hands, it is safe. You can make no comfortable account of one penny, nor of one hour's time, unless you can tell God that he had it himself, that you used it for him, or that you live to him in the main, and that the rest is pardoned. O that those parents understood this doctrine, that had rather strengthen the fetters and tempta-. tions of their children with it, and help them into that state which few are saved in, than to devote and use their estates for God! Though Christ hath told them how hardly the rich are saved, and how few such come to heaven, yet what care is taken to leave their children rich, and how little to further the work of God, or their own accounts, that they may hear the “Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things ; I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of the Lord;" Matt. xxv. 21. 23.
O sirs, if you would be good husbands, and provident indeed for your souls, see that your hearts prove not false to you in this, and make no secret reserves for yourselves, but that God have yourselves first, and all things with yourselves; as Christ first gives himself to you and all things with himself; Rom. viii. 32. Never think your hearts right, but when they can readily say, “We are not our own; 1 Cor. vi. 19. Think not that you come aright to God in any duty, if you do not heartily devote yourselves to him, and entreat him to accept you as wholly his, who neither are nor desire to be your own; and entreat him accordingly to use you for himself. Say not that any thing is your own that you possess, (Acts iv. 32.) in respect to God, and a communion of charity; though it be your own (as a talent that God doth intrust you with) in respect of men, by a legal propriety.
And then trust God boldly, for you are his own: serve him cheerfully, and draw near him believingly, for you are his own. In poverty, sickness, temptations, and the approach of death, rejoice in him confidently, for you are his
Into his hands commend your departing spirits, for they are his own. What reason of distrustful fears can you now have? Do you fear lest God will yet hate you? Why remember that “no man ever yet hated his own flesh;" Ephes. v. 29. Nay, for shame, think not the blessed God to be worse than the wicked world ; and Christ saith of the world, (John xv. 19.) “ If ye were of the world, the world would love his own." And will not God then love his own do you think? And if you are willing to be his own, Christ is certainly willing that you should be his own, and will own all that own not themselves, but him. “ He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out: and when he putteth forth his own sheep he goeth before them and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice ;" (John X. 3, 4. xiii. 1.) “Having loved his own which are in the world, to the endhe loved them."
If you are but truly willing to be his own people, he is certainly willing to be your own Saviour and your own God. Not that you can have such a propriety in him, as he hath in you. But in these relations he will be your own; and glory, and help, and salvation shall be yours. you may well conclude that “God, even our own God shall bless us ;" Psal. lxvii. 6. There is much comfort may be fetched from that in Luke xv. 31. though parables must not be stretched too far: “ Son thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."
And upon this ground it is that we have the greater encouragement, to believe that God accepteth of our very infants themselves ; because it is his will that they should be devoted, engaged, and dedicated to him: and that which he would have us dedicate and offer to him, he will surely accept in that relation to which he would have it offered.
I beseech you therefore remember what it is to be truly converted : it is to be called from things common and unclean, and separated to God; it is to be brought nigh to him, as the children of his household, that are themselves, and all that they have, in his hands : it is to be taken off yourselves and your own, and to lose yourselves and all you have in God, by the most gainful loss ; lest indeed you lose yourselves and all, while you persuade yourselves you savę or gain. It is a taking God in Christ for your all, and so being content to have nothing but him and for him. It is a changing of your old master self, for God, a better master: and your old work, which was self-seeking and pleasing, to self-denial, and to the seeking and pleasing of God. See now that this be done, and that your treacherous hearts hide nothing for themselves, as Rachael under pretence of necessity, hid her idols, but say, 'Here I am, to be thine, O Lord, and to do thy will.'
More I would have said on this point, but that I have written of it already, in a sermon on 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. of the absolute dominion of Christ, and our self-resignation; which I desire you here to peruse, to set this further home.
Direct. VIII. My next advice that the work of conversion may not miscarry, is this ; *Take heed, lest you mistake a mere change of your opinions, and outward profession, and behaviour, for a true saving change.'
Wicked opinions must be changed, and so must evil professions, and outward practices; but if no more be changed, you are wicked still. I have great cause to fear that this is the most common damning deceit, that useth to befal professors of godliness, and that it is the case of most hypocrites in the church. A man may be brought to hold any truth in Scripture as an opinion; and so far be sound and orthodox, and yet never be indeed a sound believer, nor have his heart possessed with the life and power of those sacred truths. It is one thing to have a man's opinion changed, and another thing to have his heart renewed, by the change of his practical estimation, resolutions, and dispositions. It is one thing to turn from loose, profane opinions, to strict opinions; and think the godly are indeed in the right, and that their case and way is safest and best ;. and it is another thing to be made one of them in newness, spirituality of heart, and life. A lively faith differs much from opinion, and that which is in unsanctified men, which we call faith, and is a kind of faith indeed, it is but a mere opinionative faith : I call it an opinionative faith, because it differs from saving faith, much like as opinion doth from knowledge. Merely speculative it is not; for some intention of practice there is; but the practical intention of such persons differs from the predominant intentions of the sanctified ; even as their opinionative faith differs from the saving faith.
And it is no wonder if there be abundance of these opinionative believers in the world. For the truths of God have very great evidence; especially some of them; and men are yet men, and consequently reasonable creatures; and, therefore, have some aptitude to discern the evidence of truth. Some truths will compel assent even from the unwilling. Many a thousand ungodly men believe that to be true which they would not have to be true, if they could help it; because they do not heartily take it to be good in respect to themselves. Truth as truth, is the natural object of the understanding ; though the same truth, as seeming evil to them, may be hated by them that are forced to assent to it. I know that sin hath much blinded men's understandings, and that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, because they are foolishness to him, and must be spiritually discerned ; 1 Cor. ii. 14. But though he cannot savingly receive them without the special illumination of the