Images de page

șin, and purging it out. Holiness is his image in his children, the more of it, the more suitable to that blessed relation and dignity, and the firmer are the hopes of the inheritance of glory.

Consider sin as a filthiness, hate it. Oh! how ugly and vile is lust, how deformed is swelling pride, and all sin is an aversion from God, a casting the noble soul into the mire, the defacing all its beauty. Turning to present things, it pollutes itself with them, that he who was clad in scarlet, emóraces the dunghill, as Jeremy in another sense laments.

Purity of things is an unmixture and simplicity corresponding with their own being; and so is the soul when elevated above the earth, and sense, and united unto God, contemplating him, and delighting in him, all inordinate bent to the creatures, or to itself, (which is the first and main disorder) doth defile and debase it. And the inore it is sublimed and freed from itself, the purer and more heavenly it grows, and partakes the more of God, and resembles him the more.

This then to be our main study, first to search out our iniquities, the particular defilements of our nature, not only gross filthinesses, drunkenness, lasciviousness, &c. but our love of this earth, or of air or vanity of mind, our self-will and self-seeking. Most, even of Christians, are short-sighted in their own secret evils, the filthinesses of spirit especially, and use little diligence in this enquiry. They do not seek light from God, to go in before him, and to lead them into themselves, as the prophet had in the discovery of idolatries at Jerusalem. Oh! that we could once see what heaps of abominations lie hid in us, one behind another.

Then having searched out, we must follow on to purge out; not to pass over, nor spare any, but to delight most in casting out the best beloved sin, the choicest idol, that hath had most of our service and $acrifices, to make room for Jesus Christ.

And never cease in this work, for still there is need of more purging, one day's work in this disposes for and engages to a further, to the next; for as sin is purged out, light comes in, and more clear discoveries are made of remaining pollutions. So then still there must be progress, less of the world, and more of God in the heart every day. Oh! this is a sweet course of life, what gain, what preferment, to be compared to it?

And in this it is good to have our ambition growing; the higher we rise, to aspire still the higher, looking farther than before, even toward the perfection of holiness. It is not much we can here attain to, but sure, it is commonly far less than we might; we improve not our condition and advantages as we might do. The world is busy driving forwards their designs. Men of spirit are animated, both by better and worse success: if any thing miscarry, it sets them on the more eagerly to make it up, in the right management of some other design; and when they prosper in one thing, that enables and encourages them to attempt further. Shall all things seem worth our pains? Are only grace and glory so cheap in our account, that the least diligence of all goes that way? Oh, strange delusion!

Now our cleansing is to be managed by all holy means; word and sacrament more wisely and spiritually used than commonly with us; and private prayer, that purifies and elevates the soul, takes it up into the mount, and makes it shine ; and particularly supplicating for the spirit of holiness, and victory over sin, is not in vain, it obtains its desires of God, the soul becoming that which it is fixedly set upon: holy resolution, Christians much wanting in this, faint and loose in their purposes; the consideration of dirine truths, the mysteries of the kingdom, the hope of Christians, yea, rich and great promises, that is particularly here the motive. These are all the means, holy means they are, as their end is the perfection of holiness.

Having these promises.]. Now consider whether it

is better to be the slaves of Satan, or the sons of God; measure delight in God with the low base pleasures of sense. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; these gradually go on together, and are perfected together.

Why then is there such an invincible love of sin in the hearts of men ? At least, why so little love of holiness, and endeavour after it, so mean thoughts of it, as a thing either indecent or unpleasant, when it is the only noble and the only delightful thing in, the world? The soul by other things is drawn below itself, but by holiness it is raised above itself, and made divine. Pleasures of sin for a season, the pleasure of a moment exchanged for those of eternity. But even in the mean time, in this season, the soul is fed with communion with God, one hour of which is more worth than the longest life of the highest of the world's delights.

[ocr errors]


PSAL. cxix. 32.

I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.


O desire ease and happiness, under a general representation of it, is a thing of more easy and general persuasion. There is somewhat in nature to help the argument, but to find beauty in, and be taken with the very way of holiness that leads to it, is more rare, and depends on a higher principle. Self-love inclines a man to desire the rest of love, but to love and desire the labour of love, is love of a higher and purer strain. To delight, and be chearful in obedience, argues much love as the spring of it. That is the thing the holy Psalmist doth so plentifully express in this Psalm, and he is still desiring more of that sweet and lively. affection that might make him yet more abundant in action. Thus here, I will run, &c. He presents his desire and purpose together, "The more of this grace thou bestowest on me, the more service shall I be able to do thee."

This is the top of his ambition, while others are seeking to enlarge their barns, their lands, or estates, or titles, kings to enlarge their territories or authority, to incroach on neighbouring kingdoms, or be more absolute in their own; instead of all such enlargements, this is David's great desire, An enlarged heart to run the way of God's commandments.

And these other (how big soever they sound) are poor narrow desires; this one is larger and higher

than them all, and gives evidence of a heart already large: But as it is miserable in those, it is happy in this, Nluch would still have more.

Let others seek more money, or more honour: Oh! the blessed choice of that soul that is still seeking more love to God, more affection, and inore ability to do hiin service; that counts all days and hours for lost that are not employed to this improvenient; that hears the word in publick, and reads it in private for this purpose, to kindle this love, or to blow the spark, if any there be already in the heart, to raise it to a clear flame, and froin a little tame to make it burn yet hotter and purer, and rise higher. But, above all means, is often presenting this in prayer to him, on whose influence all depends, in whose hand our hearts are, much more than in our own. It follows him with this' desire, and works on him by his own interest. Though there can be really no accession of gain to him by our services, yet he is pleased so to account with us as if there were. Therefore we may urge this : “ Lord give more, and receive more; I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart."

We have here in the words a required disposition, and a suitable resolution. The disposition relates to the resolution, as the means of fulfilling it, and the resolution relates to the disposition, both as the end of desiring it, and as the motive of obtaining it. The resolution occurs first in the words.

I will run, &c.] The way resolved on is that of God's commandments, not the road of the polluted world, not the crooked ways of his own heart, but the high-way, the royal way, the straight way of the kingdom, and that in the notion of subjection and obedience, the way of thy commandments. This man naturally struggles against and repines at. To be limited and bounded by a law is a restraint, and a vain man could possibly find in his heart to do many of the same things that are

« PrécédentContinuer »