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(2.) As a man must know this law, so he must be inwardly convinced and persuaded of the divie nity of it, that it is God's law. .(3.) He must have a deep apprehension of the 'majesty and authority of the lawgiver, to work reverence, and of his goodness to beget love ; and the due inixture of these two will both strongly command and sweeten obedience to his commandments. And this obedience, though it be not an absolute and perfect fulfilling of any one of the commandments, yet it has a respect to them all, as this Psalm hath it, which is (so to speak) an imperfect kind of perfection. And from this respect to the law, which is the observing of it, will flow that other condition, of grieving when we break it.
And besides all other things that should make a christian's own sin grievous to him, there is one thing cannot but move him much, the consideration of the sorrow and sufferings of Christ. To view the bleedings of the Lord Jesus, cannot chuse but pierce a believing soul, and make it say, “ Did my Redeemer shed his blood for my sins, and shall not I myself shed tears for them ?”. I know the natural constitution of some denies them tears ; but if it do so to any, make up that want with sense of inward grief, and it is well enough. The eye of God can discern that as well as the other. But truly, where men have tears for lighter causes,
, (for all other causes are lighter) and none for this, they feel not yet the weight of sin, except that want be through the deepness of sorrow, which sometimes will stop the current of tears, though it used to run at other times; as they say, Curæ leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent. But this is a rare and happy impediment. And to answer another doubt: If
find sometimes worldly griefs stir you more violently, yet let this godly sorrow affect you more constantly, that it may have the advantage in continuance, if it fall short in the degree.
But as this grief must begin at home, as they say of charity, it must not be so selfish as to rest there. And truly, where it comes in that order, it may be some way a stronger evidence of sincerity, to mourn for others sins than for our own ; for there seems to be more of God in it, because there is less in it of ourselves, and of our own particular interest.
Now you will possibly think it but an unpleasant duty that you have heard urged all this while; but look forward, and consider the issue of it.
That which Christ speaks in particular to his disciples, is generally true of all christiansk.
Ye shall wcep and lament (says he) but the world shall rejoice ; ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned (or made)
The water of those tears shall be turned into wine of consolation. The traffick of these rivers , is gainful, they export grief, and import joy. When these tears are called seed, the harvest-crop is called joy. They that sow in teurs shall reap in joy. They are here called rivers, and they are answered with a river', for which they shall in the end be perfectly exchanged. Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. And Rev. vii. 17. The Lumb shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of wao ters. Here they run down the eyes and water the cheeks, and there you read that God shall wipe thein away from their eyes. Who would not be content to weep, to have God wipe away their tears with his own hand ? Be ambitious then to be found amongst the mourners in Sion; and when ye remove from this valley of tears, God shall at once fully wipe away all the stain of sin from your souls, and all tears for it from your eyes. And as he shall wipe away the tears with the one hand, he will set the crown upon your heads with the other. k John xvi. 20.
i Psalın lxxxvi. 8.
LESSED are they that dwell in thy house,
saith the Psalunist, and he adds this reason, They will be still praising thee. There is indeed always in God's house both fit opportunity and plentiful matter of his praises. But the greatest number of those that frequent his house, do not dwell in it, their delight and affection is not there. Therefore they cannot praise him, they come in as strangers, and have no skill of the songs of praise. Yea, and the very children of the family, that worship in spirit and in truth, find their instruments (their hearts) very often quite out of tune for praises
, and sometimes most of all, wlien praises are requisite. They find still such abundant cause of complaint in themselves, weighing down their spirits, that they can hardly at all wind them up to magnify that God of our mercy, which is far more abundant. If we would take a reflex view and look back upon our carriage this day in the presence of our God, who is among us, that would not find much work for sad thoughts? Would not one find that he had a hard and stony heart? another a light inconstant wandering heart to complain of? A third an unbelieving heart? And some all of these? And they (if such there be) that have both deeply sorrowed, and been largely comforted will possibly for all that, upon former sad experience, be full of fears and jealousies, that this sweet temper will not be of long continuance; that before long the world or some lust, will find, or make a way to creep in, and banish those heavenly thoughts, and trouble that peace and joy which accompanies
them. Yet notwithstanding all these causes of griet or fear, our causes of praise are both more and greater. And it is no reason, that the sense of our own evil, should prejudge that acknowledgment of God's goodness, yea rather it should stir is up to extol it so much the more. Cease not to bemoan the evils of your own hearts; but withal forget not to magnify the riches of his grace, who hath given hiniself for you, and to you. These two will not hinder one another, but the due intermixture of them will make a very good harmony. And the fruit of them will be this, you shall have still more cause to praise and less to complain. When the Lord shall find you humble acknowledgers of his grace, he will delight to bestow more grace upon you, and will subdue those iniquities for you, which you cannot. And though he is pleased to do it but gradually by little and little, yet in the end, the conquest shall be full; and then he who is the author and finisher of your faith, though it is his own work, yet because it is done in you, he shall account the. victory yours, as obtained by you, and give you as conquerors, the crown of glory, To him that overcometh (saith he) will I give to sit with me in my throne, &c.
There is nothing here, but from free grace. The courage and strength to fight in this spiritual warfare, the victory by fighting, and the crown by victory, flow all from that fountain. In all these things we are more than conquerors (saich the Apostle) but how? through him that lored us. Therefore if we desire to be such, let us humble ourselves before the throne of grace, intreating both for grace and glory in the name of Christ our Mediator.
CANT. i. 3.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name
is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
The natural workings and desires of things are agreeable to their being. The beasts according to their sensitive life seek those things that tend to the good and preservation of that life, and affect nothing higher than those, and they are satisfied. Man, (except such as are in the lowest stage and border upon the beasts) finds nature, even corrupt nature, raising him to higher desires and designs. And yet of the best of them, the Apostle's maxim holds true, They that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh, and yet he subjoins the excellency of some men beyond the best naturalist, They that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit.. They cannot be confined to things natural, but are strongly moved towards spiritual blessings, and Christ the sum of them. And having once tasted of his sweetness can say, Because of the savour of thy good ointments, &c. They that are elevated to a supernatural Being, can admit nothing into competition with his love, and this it is that lies under these words, Because of the savour of thy good ointments, &c.
Numbers have promiscuously been his guests at this time, and the greatest number think they came to good purpose. But know that you are so far from partaking of Christ in the sacrament, that you have not so much as smelt his perfumes, if you be not strongly taken with his love, great are the praises, and many the duties you owe him for so rich favours; and therefore shew your good will, and endeavour some payment. But know that none of them are current except they be stamped with
a Rom. viii. 5.