Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

tion: and they that follow consideration diligently, do usually speed well, and get through all the rest.

But when the soul is brought thus far, if God will save it, he next proceeds to this much more: (1.) He giveth a clearer light into the soul, which giveth a more distinct, or at least

more piercing, convincing, deep and savoury apprehension of the essentials of Christianity, than he ever had before.

Where note, of this special heavenly light, 1. That being usually the consequent of a more common knowledge, therefore most ordinarily the sum of Christian doctrine is in some manner known before. 2. That it doth not reveal only some one point of faith alone, and then another, and so on; as if we savingly knew one essential point of faith, when we have no saving knowledge of the rest ; for that is a contradiction. But finding all these truths received in the mind before by a common knowledge, the special light comes in upon them all at once ; and shews us the anatomy of Christianity, or the part of God's image in one frame, as to the essentials. 3. For the understanding of which you must further know, that there is such an inseparable connection of these truths, and such a dependance of one upon another, that it is not possible to know one of them truly, and not know all. For example, believing in Jesus Christ, is an act so inseparable from the rest, that (if the essentials of Christianity be not essential to it) certainly you cannot do this without them. For to believe in Christ, is essentially to believe in him as God and man, two natures in one person, by office, the Mediator, our Redeemer and Saviour, to save us from guilt and sin, from punishment and pollution, and to give us by the Holy Ghost, a holy nature and life, and to give us the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life, and so to restore us. to the mutual love of God here, and fruition of him hereafter; and all this as merited and procured by his death, obedience, resurrection, ascension, and intercession for his , church. Whether here be all that is essential to Christianity, and absolutely necessary to salvation to be believed, I leave to consideration; but sure I am, that all this is essential to saving, justifying faith. And Christ is not taken as Christ, if he be not thus taken; for the ends thus enter the definition of his relation as the Redeemer, and Saviour, and Lord.

So that the love of God as our felicity and end, and the belief in Christ as the way, are both together in the same minute of time, which soever of them be first in order of nature'; (which is a question that I dare not here so unseasonably handle).

(2.) Upon this special illumination of the soul, and the special consideration with which it doth concur, the deliberating soul is presently resolved. And in these two acts which always go together, consisteth the special sanctifying work: even in the illumination and estimation of the understanding, and in the true resolution of the will.

2. The determination of the will is its own free act, performed by its natural self-determining power, procured by the special grace of God, (I mean in this special case) it followeth deliberation. While we are unresolved, we deliberate what to resolve upon; that is, we are considering which is best and most eligible, and which not; and as we practically judge, we use to determine and to choose. And when this choice after deliberation is peremptory and full, it is called resolution.

So that my meaning is to let you understand, that when the matter of our faith is set open to the soul, it is not a wavering, fickle purpose, that is a saving closure with it, but it must be a firm resolution. Much less will it ever bring a man to heaven, to be thinking and deliberating what to do, as long as he is unresolved. And now I shall prove

the necessity of this.

11. Till you are resolved, you are not converted, and that appeareth by these evidences: 1. If you are not firmly resolved, it is certain that you do not firmly believe ; for such as your belief is, such will be the effects of it

upon

the will. An unsound opinionative belief, will produce but tottering, languishing purposes; but a firm belief will cause a firm resolution of the will. And if your belief be unsound, you must confess you are unconverted.

2. Moreover, if you do not esteem God above all creatures, and heaven above earth, and Christ and grace above sin, you are certainly unconverted. But if you have such a true estimation, you will certainly have a firm resolution ; for you will resolve for that which you highly esteem.

3. If God have not your firm resolution, he hath not indeed your heart and will ; for to give God your hearts and wills, is principally by firm resolving for him; and if God have not your hearts, you are surely unconverted.

4. Moreover, if you are not firmly resolve il, your affections will not be sincere and steadfast; for all the affections are such as to their sincerity, as the will is, which doth excite or command them. And nothing is more mutable than the affections in themselves considered; they will be hot turday, and cold to-morrow, if they be not rooted in the firm resolution of the will, which is the life of them.

5. Lastly, without a firm resolution, there can be no faithful obedience and execution of the will of God. For if men be not resolved, they will heavily go on, and lazily proceed, and easily come off; for their hands go to work without their hearts. It is the greatest work in all the world, that God calls you to; and none but the resolved are able to go through with it. Of which we shall give you a fuller account anon,

III, In the next place, let me entreat you in the fear of God, to look after this great and necessary part of your conversion. There are many degrees of good motions in the mind; but all that falls short, of resolution is unsound. Many are brought to doubt whether all be well with them, and to have some fears thereupon, that yet will not be brought so far as to consider soberly of the matter, and deliberate what is best to be done, and to advise with their ministers for the furthering of their salvation. Many that are persuaded so far as to consider, and deliberate, and take advice, yet go no further than some cold wishes or purposes, which are all overcome by the love of the world, and the power of their sins. Many that do proceed to some kind of practice, do only take a taste or an essay of religion, to try how they can like it; and begin some kind of outward reformation, without any firm resolution to go through with it : their purposes seem strong, it is but occasioned by something without, and not from a settled habit within. All these are short of a state of special saying grace, and must be numbered with the unconverted.

It is a common and very dangerous mistake, that many are undone by, to think that every good desire is a certain sign of saving grace ; whereas you may have more than bare desires, even purposes, and promises, and some performances, and yet perish for want of resolution and regeneration. Do you think that Judas himself had not some good desires, that followed Christ so long, and preached the. Gos

pel? Do you think that Herod had not some good desires, that heard John so gladly, and did many things accordingly? Agrippa had some good desires, when he was almost persuaded to be a Christian. They that for a time believe, have sure some good desires, and more; Matt. xiii. 20. And so had the young man, that went away sorrowful from Christ, when he could not be his disciple, unless he would part with all that he had; Luke xviii. 23. Matt. xix. 22. And doubtless those had more than good desires, “ that had known the way of righteousness, and had escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ;" 2 Pet. ii.20, 21. And so had those, Heb. x. 26. 29. “ that had received the knowledge of the truth, and were sanctified by the blood of the covenant;" and those, Heb. vi. 4–6. “that were once enlightened, and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” And sure Ananias and Sapphira had more than some good desires, when they sold all, and brought half the price to the apostles. Believe it, sirs, there are none of your

desires or endeavours that will serve turn, to prove you in a state of grace, unless they be accompanied with firm resolution. Be it known to you, that you are unconverted, if you are not habitually resolved. And therefore I must here entreat you all, to put the question close to your hearts, . Are you resolved, firmly resolved, to give up yourselves and all to Christ, and to be wholly his, and follow his conduct, or are you not ?' The question is not, 'What good meanings, or wishes, or purposes you may have;' but,' Whether you are resolved, and firmly resolved ? Take heed, sirs, what you venture your

: God will not be dallied with nor be deceived. He will have no unresolved, false-hearted servants. Before I proceed to urge you further, I shall here tell

you what kind of resolution it must be, that will prove a man converted; and then I shall give you such motives as should persuade you to it.

It is not all kinds of resolution that will serve turn; but it is only that which hath these following properties, that will evidence a state of grace.

1. As to the matter, it must be the whole essence of

souls upon :

Christianity, that must be resolved on. It must be no less than a closing with God as your chiefest happiness, to be loved above all, and as your chiefest Lord to be obeyed before all; and a closing with Jesus Christ as your only Saviour, your Teacher, and your Lord; to bring your hearts again to God, and reconcile you to him; and a closing with the Holy Ghost as your Sanctifier, to make you a holy people, and cleanse you from all your sin of heart and life, and guide you by the ministry, word and ordinances, to everlasting life. Thus must you resolve to deliver up yourselves to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, to be made a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Should you be never so resolute in some point of religion, and as Ananias to give God half, and to become half religious, and half holy, and half heavenly, this is to be but half Christians, and will not bring you half way to heaven. It is entire Christianity that must be resolved on.

2. You must also be resolved for present obedience, and to turn without any more delay; and not only resolve to turn to-morrow, or sometime hereafter. No resolution is sincere in this case, if it be but for the future; if you had rather stay but one day or hour longer in the state of sin, and service of the flesh, you are no true disciples of Christ, though you

should be resolved to turn to-morrow. 3. And your resolution must be absolute and peremptory, not only without any secret reserves, but positively against any

such reserves. Here it is that hypocrites commonly fall short. They see they must mend, and they are convinced that a holy life is necessary, and they resolve hereupon to change their course, and turn religious, but either it is with this secret reserve, · Provided always that I look to my credit, or estate, or life, whatever I do ; and provided that I go no further in religion than will stand with these; provided that godliness be not my undoing in the world. Or else, if he have not actually such thoughts, he hath them always virtually and habitually: he is not resolved against such reserves; he hath not considered that Christ will have no disciples that cannot and will not part with all, and that if he hope for heaven, he must not look for a treasure on earth, but only pass through the world as a traveller, or labour in it as the harvest of the Lord, in expectation of a reward and rest hereafter, and so resolved to take Christ on these self

« PreviousContinue »