« PrécédentContinuer »
If the devil did make the flies, then the devil did make the worms, and God did not make the worms neither, for the flies are living creatures as well as the worms: True, said he, I grant it, the devil did make the worms too. But, said the other, if the devil did make the worms, and not God; then the devil did make the birds, for the worms are living creatures as well as the birds : True, said he, I grant it, the devil did make the birds, and God did not make the birds. Then, saith the other, if God did not make the birds, but the devil made the birds, then the devil made the beasts; for the birds are living creatures as well as the beasts : True, I grant it, said he, the devil did make the beasts too. Then, said the other again, if the devil did make the beasts, the devil made man, for the beast is a living creature as well as man: True, said he, I grant it, the devil made man. Thus saith Austin, by denying God in the fly, he came to deny God in man, and to deny the whole creation ; by letting a
h little hold go, to deny the whole workmanship of God in the creation. So I say here, if you let go but a little in this spiritual creation, you may lose all. Whensoever therefore, you have a question upon your own soul concerning any one of the ordinances, then know, you are upon your trial, upon your good behaviour ; and therefore then go to the Lord, and say, Lord keep me now, for it I let go one, I am in danger to lose all.
If you would be kept close to ordinances, and hearken to Christ this great Prophet, in acknowledging, receiving, submitting unto his appointments; then take heed that you be not dead, dull and formal under them ; but improve them, grow and increase under them; otherwise you will say, Alas, I get but little good under these; were these the ordinances, appointments, and institutions of Jesus Christ, I should profit by them, but I get little or no good at all under them, therefore it is a vain thing for me to wait any longer, I will attend no longer upon these. If a rich man put out a child to nurse, and he send clothes for the child, or give money unto the nurse for his child, and she takes the money and lays it out upon her own, or takes those clothes and puts them upon the back of her own child, the father will surely fetch away his child quickly from that nurse. The Lord hath given us ordinances, and given us good affections, and if we lay out
those affections upon the world, upon our own brats, then will the Lord say, I will take away my child, my ordinances from that soul, or I will take away that soul from my ordinance. Labour, therefore, to profit, grow and increase under them. If you
would keep close unto these appointments, and not stop your ears unto the voice of this great Prophet, then have a very watchful eye upon those principles that walk abroad in the world, which though they have a truth and goodness at the bottom, yet, notwithstanding, being not well digested or understood, are dangerous guides in these dark times. For instance, it is an ordinary principle that now walks abroad, that a godly man doth not sin, a believer sins not: the thing is true, for the apostle saith, “ He that is born of God sins not,” that is, irrecoverably, “ for the seed of God abides in him.” But it is not true in regard of the act of sin ; for the same apostle says, “ If any man saith he sins not, he is a liar.” Again, It is a common principle that now walks abroad, that the Spirit of God in me is not to be tried by any thing without me. It hath a good sense, for the testimony of the Spirit hath a sufficiency in itself as to the matter of testimony; yet, notwithstanding, it is not true in regard of the Scripture, for the Spirit of God in me is to be tried by the Scripture without me. Again, It is a common principle that walks now abroad, that the coming in of a particular word upon one's heart, the impression of the word upon one's heart is to be the rule of action : a word came, and therefore I must do such a thing. The thing is true in a sense ; for if a man be in a strait between two lawful things, and a word come and be set upon the heart, that impression is enough for to cast the business: but it is not true in all respects, for it is not the bare coming in of the word, but the Lord's command that is to be the rule of my action. Again, It is a common principle that walks now abroad, that the ordinances are for the enjoyment of God. This is true, they are for the enjoyment of God; when do we enjoy God more, when doth God let out himself more than under ordinances ? but though it be true, yet it is not all the truth, for the ordinances are not given only for the enjoyment of God, but for us to give a visible testimony, and to bear witness before the world of our obedience to God. Now many such principles as these there
are abroad in the world: but if you take them up and do not understand them, I dare boldly say, you will be carried from all ordinances presently. As, now, suppose I be of an opinion that I, who am a believer, cannot sin; then, it follows, if I go to ordinances, well; if I do not go to ordinances I do not sin: here is ordinances gone upon this principle.
So, again, if I be of this opinion, that the coming in of a particular word upon one's heart is to be the rule of my ac
I am in a doubt, now, and a strait, whether I should attend upon ordinances or no; then comes a word, it may be Satan throws it in, or mine own memory reacheth it in, and the word tells me I am to attand upon ordinances no longer; then farewell ordinances. Again, Suppose I be of this opinion, that the Spirit of God within me is not to be tried by any thing without me; then I think the Spirit and word within me saith, Wait upon God no longer in these lower dispensations, do not attend upon ordinances any longer; and that is to be tried by nothing without me, not by the Scripture, and thus ordinances are gone too. Again, If I be of this judgment, that ordinances are given us only for the enjoyment of God, then, think I, I can enjoy God in private, and ordinances are only for the enjoyment of God, what need I, therefore, attend upon ordinances any longer? Thus, I say, follow these principles to the head, and you will certainly forsake ordinances. Wherefore, you that are godly, look to your principles; do not take a principle, and not understand it, but look well into it, thus shall you be kept.
But suppose that I be kept to ordinances, institutions and appointments of Christ, this great Prophet, and I do hear him, that is, I do receive, acknowledge and submit unto his appointments; possibly a man may do this and miscarry to all eternity: what shall I do that I may so receive, acknowledge and submit unto Christ's appointments, that I may hear him effectually, hear him savingly?
You know that Christ our great Prophet, doth especially look at the inward man; for he is God, and a Spirit, and minds the Spirit. Though he will have every letter of his commandment to be observed, yet he lays the great stress and the emphasis upon the spiritual part of the commandment. As now,
As now, “ It hath been said (saith he), Thou shalt not commit adultery;" but, mark where he lays the emphasis, “But I say unto you, Thou shalt not look upon a woman to lust after her." Here this great Prophet lays the emphasis and stress upon the spiritual part. So saith he, “ It hath been said to you of old, Thou shalt not kill;" but mark where he lays the emphasis, “ But I say unto you, ye shall not be angry.” Would you therefore so hearken to this great Prophet, as ye may hear him effectually and savingly; observe where he lays the emphasis in the giving of the commandment, and there do you lay the emphasis in your obedience. Doth the Lord say, “ It hath been said of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say:" is the Lord Christ's “ I say ” written upon the spiritual part of the commandment? then through the grace of God shall my “ I say ” for obedience be pitched upon the spiritual part also.
The law you know was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Christ. The law and the ten commandments was given by Moses, but no grace to keep them. But Christ our great Prophet, doth not only give forth his appointments, but he gives grace to keep them ; do I, therefore, or
; do any of you stand poring upon the letter of the commandment, and not look upon the grace, the assisting grace for to keep the commandment? Herein I hearken to Moses. But do I so look upon the commandment and appointments of Christ, as that withal I have an eye to grace, assisting grace, and say, I shall have grace too to keep this commandment ? Then do I hearken unto Christ Jesus, this great Prophet. Look therefore, I say, as well to grace as to the letter of the
The more you have the exercise of faith in the observance of Christ's institutions, appointments, and ordinances; the more effectually and savingly you hear him. Faith is a saving hearing of this great Prophet. There is a great difference between an instituted and a natural means. Physicians and physic are natural means of health ; but the beholding of the brazen serpent was an instituted means for recovery, not a natural means. Now if we go to the use of natural means, we are to use our faith; much more when we go to the use of instituted means : and the appointments of the Lord Jesus Christ are instituted means; therefore when we come to them, we must come with our hearts full of faith, exercising much faith when we come to them. You find the
66 For our
apostle, writing unto the Thessalonians, makes this sign of election, 1 Thess. i. 4: “ Knowing, brethren, your election of God;" how so? “ for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power.” Why our gospel ; why doth he call it their gospel, and not the gospel ? For “our gospel,” because he speaks of the gospel as it was preached by them in the ministry, in the dispensation thereof. gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power :" it came in power, and not in word; therefore saith he, hereby it appears that ye are elected. Would
know whether you are elected or no ? hereby it appears, “ For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power.” But how may
that it came in power ? At ver. 6, “ And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord; having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.” Here is faith, faith exercised here. So I say, it shall be an argument to you, that ye are chosen and precious, when as you mingle the appointments of Christ with your faith. Come unto Christ's appointments, but oh, come believing, come believing. It may be some poor soul will say, Oh, but I cannot believe; I can keep close to ordinances, but I cannot believe, I cannot receive them so.
Why, but if thou dost leave off thy parley with Satan in the time of temptation merely upon Christ's command, thou dost hear him, and hear him effectually. For suppose now that a man's son be treating, in a way of marriage, with another man's daughter, and the father doth not like the match ; the father comes unto the sun, and saith, I would not have thee, son, to marry there, but I have a match for you in such a place, such a woman that is fit for you every way; son,
I would not have you go on where you do. Then saith the son, Father, I am willing with all my heart to hearken to you, but
my affections are not in mine own hand, I cannot love where I list; as for the person you point at, and the motion you
affections do not yet come unto it, but this I will do, sir, I will presently knock off where I am, and I will strive to love where you would have me. Doth not this child hear his father now, in that he knocks off, and will go no more to the person that he was in parley with, although for the present he cannot love the person his father would have him love? So here, the Lord would