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heart to. Duties pid not 01
fouls, and actuating all its faculties and graces. When God
Thirdly, A remarkable transformation and change of spirit follows it.
These things are found to be marvellously assimilating.' The fights of God, the felt presence of God, is as fire, which quickly assimilates what is put into it to its own likeness. So 2 Cor. iii. 18. They are said to be “ changed from glory to
“ glory.” It always leaves the mind more refined and abstract05..ed from gross material things, and changed into the same
image. They have a fimilitude of God upon them, who have
a mounting of the soul upward. Now the soul shews that it
Infer. 1. Then certainly there is an heaven, and a state of glory for the saints. Heaven is no dream or night vision :It is sensibly tafted and felt by thousands of witnesses in this world; they are sure it is no mistake. God is with them of
a truth, in the way of their duties : They do not only read of :: a glorified eye, but they have something of it, or like it in this
world : “The pure in heart do here see God,". Mat., v. 8. The faints have not only a witness without them in the word, that there is a state of glory prepared for believers, but they have a witness in themselves. Theseare not the teftimonies of crazed
H h 2 in,
brains, but of the wisest and most serious of men ; not a few, but a multitude of them ; not conjecturally delivered, but upon tafte, feeling, and trial.' O bleffed be God for such fenfible confirmations, sucḥ sweet prelibations!
Infer. 2. But, oh! what is heaven ? And what that state of glory reserved for the saints? Doth a glimpse of God's presence in a duty, go down to the heart and reins? O how un. utterable then must that be which is seen and felt above, where, God comes as near to men as can be ! Rev. xxii. 3, 4. “The
throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants * fhall serve him; and they shall see his face." And 1 Theff. jv. 17. "And so we shall be ever with the Lord.” O what is that ! « Ever with the Lord?” Christians, what you feel and tafte here by faith, is part of heaven's glory; but yet heaven will be an unspeakable surprizal to you, when you come thither for all that: “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be," i John jij. 1, 2.
Infer. 3. See hence the necessity of casting these very bodies into a new mold by their resurrection from the dead, accord. ing to that, i Cor. xv. 41. « It is fown in weakness, but raised $ in power. How else could it be a co-partner with the foul in the ineffable joys of that presence above?
The state of this mortality cannot bear the fulness of that joy. Hold. Lord, stay thy band, said a choice Christian once, thy creature is but a clay-veffel, and can hold no more. If a tranfient glimpse of God here, be felt in the very reins, if it fo work upon the very body by sympathy with the foul, O what vigorous spiritual bodies, doth the state of glory require ! and such shall they be ; Phil. iii. 12. Like unto Chriit's glorious « body," · Infer. 4. Is God fo near to his people above all others in the world? How good is it to be near them that are so pear to God? O, it would do a man's heart good to be near that person who hath lately had God near to his soul! Well might David fay, Pfalm xvi. 3: “ All my delight is in the saints, and * in the excellent of the earth.” And again, Pfalm cxix. 63.
I am a companion of all such as fear thee.” Q this is the beauty of Christian fellowship, this is the glory of that society ! not the communication of their gifts, but the favour of God an their spirits. If any thing be alluring in this world, this is ; 1 Johni. 3. “That ye may have fellowship with us; and truly « our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Christ 6s Jesus.". It is faid, Zech. viii. 23. of the Jews, the time shall come, when there shall be such a presence of God among that eople, that “ten men out of all languages shall take hold of the skirts of him that is a Jew; faying, We will go with you, şi for we have heard that God is with you."
Christians, if there were more of God upon you, and in yon, others would not be tempted to leave your society, and fall in with the men of the world; they would say, we will go with you, for God is with you.
Infer. 5. If God be fo near to the heart and reins of bis
in truch, mality
duties? “ It is good for me to draw nigh to God," Pfalm Ixxiii. 28. Good indeed ; the world cannot reward the expence of time at this rate, with all its glory; James iv. 8. © Draw nigḥ to God, and he will draw nigh to you : thou " meęteft him that çejoiceth and worketh righteousness; those “ that remember thee in thy ways,” Ifa. lxiv. 5:
Obj. It would be an encouragement indeed, if I might thus méeç God in the way of duty; but that is but seldom I can so meet God there, in sensible powerful outleçs of his grace and love! I am most dead and cold there : I feel not communion with God going down to my heart and reins.
Sol. First, You draw nigk to God, but is it in truth, or in mere formality ? God is only nigh to such as call upon him in truth, Pfalm cxlv. 18.
Secondly, If your hearts be fincere, yet are they not fluggifh? Do you stir up yourselves to také hold of God ? Many there be that do not ; Isa. Ixiv. 7. and Cant. v. 3, 5.
Thirdly, Have you not grieved the Spirit of God, and caụsed him to withdraw from you. O remember what pride and vanity hath been in you, after former manifestations ; Ephes. iv. 30.
Fourthly, Nevertheless wait for God in his ways; his coming upon our fouls is oftentimes, yea, mostly, a surprizal to us ; Cant. vi. 12. “ Qr ever I was aware, my soul made me as the “ chariots of Amminadib.”.
Infer. 6. What steady Christians should all real Christians þe? For lo, what a seal and witness hath religion in the breast of every sincere profeffor of it? True Christians do not only hear by report, or learn by books, the reality of it ; but feel by experience, and have a fenGble proof of it in their very hearts and reins; their reins instruct them, as it is Psalm xvi. 7. They learn by spiritual sense and feeling, than which nothing can give greater confirmation in the ways of God. · There are two sorts of knowledge among men ; one tradixional, the other experimental': this last the apostle calls a
knowing in ourselves ;” Heb. x. 34. and opposes it to that
religion in Chr
felves, because borrowed from other men.
Now this experience we have of the power of religion in our souls, is that only which fixes a man's spirit in the ways of godliness. It made the Hebrews take joyfully the spoiling of their goods; no arguments or temptations can wrest truth out of the hand of experience, Non eft disputandum de gustu. For want of this, many profeffors turn aside from truth in the hour of trial. O brethren ! labour to feel the influences of religi. on upon your very hearts and reins ! this will settle you better than all the arguments in the world can do ; by this, the ways of God are more endeared to men, than by any other way in the world. When your hearts have once felt it, you will never forsake it.
evil is present with me.
THIS chapter is the very anatomy of a Chriftian's heart,
and gives an account of the most secret frames, and inward workings of it, both as to graces and corruptions: and this verse is a compendium of both; for the words are a mournful complaint, uttered with a deep sense of an inward prefsure, by reason of sin; wherein we are to consider three things :
1. The person complaining. i 2. The matter of complaint.
. 3. The discovery of that matter.
First, The person complaining : I find, I Paul, though I come not behind the chiefest of all the apostles, though I have been wrapt into the third heaven, and heard things unuttera. ble; yet I, for all that, find in me a law. Never was any mere man more deeply sanctified; never any lived at an higher rate of communion with God; never any did Christ more service in this world; and yet he found a law of fin in himfelf.
Secondly, The matter of the complaint, which consists in a
double evill he groaned under , viz. d. The presence of fin at all times. 2. The operation of fin, especially at some times.
First, The presence of sip at all times : Evil (faith he) is prefent with me, it follows me as my shadow doth. By evil we must understand no other evil but fin, the evil of evils ; which, in respect of power and efficacy, he also calls a law; because as laws, by reason of their annexed rewards and punishments, have a mighty power and efficacy upon the minds of men; fo fin, indwelling fin, that root of all our trouble and forrow, hath a mighty efficacy upon us.
And this is the mournful matter of his complaint : it is not for outward afflictions, though he had many; nor for what he suffered from the hands of men, though he suffered many grievous things ;' but it is sin, dwelling and working in him, that swallows up all other troubles, as rivers are lost in the fea; this evil was always with him, the constant residence of sin was in his heart and nature. . Secondly, And what further adds to his burden, as it dwelt in him at all times, so it exerted its efficacy more especially at some times, and those the special times, and principal seasons in his whole life : when I would do good (saith he) any spiritual good, and among the rest, when I address myself to any spiritual duty, of heavenly employment; when I design to draw near to God, and promise myself comfort and redress in communion * with him, then is évil present. Oh! if I were but rid of it in those hours, what a mercy should I esteem it, though I were troubled with it at other times ! Conld I but en-;. joy my freedom from it in the seasons of duty, and times of communion with God, what a comfort would that be! But then is the special season of its operation : never is sin more active and busy, than at such a time; and this, O this is my mifery and my burden!
Thirdly, The next thing to be heeded here, is the discovery of this evil to him, over which he fo mourns and laments : I find then a law, saith he, I find it (i. e.) by inward sense, feeling, and sad experience. He knew there was such a thing as original fin in the nature of men, when he was an unregenerated Pharisee; but though he had then the notion of it, he had not the sense and feeling of it as now he had; he now feels what before he traditionally understood and talked of: I.
* When I go about the best exercises of religion, I find within me the law of the flesh rising up, and withdrawing me from them, Tusellius.