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7. Holy impatience * is next introduced, complaining of the sins and sorrows of life, and almost repining at the distance of a state of perfection, uneasy to see and feel the hours hang so dull and heavy, and almost concluding that the teniptations, hardships, disappointments, imperfections, and tedious employments of life will never come to a happy period.
8. Tender conscience comes in, and meekly reproves the complaints of impatience ; urging how careful and watchful we ought to be, jest we should offend the divine Being with complaints; alledging also the fitness of our waiting patiently upon God for all we want, and that in a way of doing and suffering; and at the same time mentioning the barrenness of the soul, how much precious time is misimproved, and how little it has enjoyed of God, compared with what it might have done; as also suggesting how frequently impatient complaints spring from nothing better than self-love, want of resignation, and a greater reverence of the divine Being.
9. Judgment or sound mind next appears, and duly weighs the complaints of impatience, and the gentle admonitions of tender conscience and impartially determines between them. On the one hand, it concludes, that we may always be impatient with sin ; and supposes, that we may be also with such sorrow, pain, and discouragement, as hinder our pursuit of holiness, though they arise from the weakness of nature. It allows us to be impatient of the distance at which we stand from a state of perfection and blessedness. It further indulges impatience at the delay of time; when we desire the period of it for no other end, than that we may with angels be employed in the most lively spiritual acts of devotion, and in giving all possible glory to him that lives for ever. Temptations and sinful imperfections, it thinks we may justly be uneasy with; and disappointments, at least those that relate to our hopes of communion with God, and growing conformity to him. And as to the tedious employments and hardships of life, it supposes some longing for the end of them not inconsistent with a spirit of faithfulness, and a cheerful disposition to perform the one and endure the other: it supposes, that a faithful servant, who fully designs to do all he possibly can, may still justly long for the evening; and that no rational man would blame his kind and tender spouse, if be perceived her longing to be
* That is, more properly, impatience in a holy soul, and in reference to a holy end; but impatience itself is not holy, except we take the term in a less proper sense, as our author evideo:ly does.-W. VOL. III.
with him, while yet faithfulness and duty to him might still induce her to yield, for the present, to remain at a painful distance from him.-On the other hand, it approves of the caution, care, and watchfulness of tender conscience, lest the divine Being should be offended with impatient complaints; it acknowledges the fitness of our waiting upon God, in a way of patient doing and suffering ; but
very consistent with ardent desires to depart, and to be with Christ. It owns it fit that we should always remember our own barrenness, and thinks also that we should be impatient of it, and consequently long for a state of freedom from it; and this, not so much that
feel the happiness of it, but that God may have the glory. It grants, that impatient complaints often spring from self-love, and want of resignation and humility. Such as these it disapproves : and determines, we should be impatient only of absence from God, and distance from that state and temper wherein we may most glorify him.
10. Godly sorrow introduced, as making her sad moan, not so much that she is kept from the free possession and full enjoyment of happiness, but that God must be dishonoured; the soul being still in a world of sin, and itself imperfect. She here, with grief, counts over past faults, present temptations, and fears from the future.
11. Hope or holy confidence appears, and seems persuaded that “nothing shall ever separate the soul from the love of God in Christ Jesus." It expects divine assistance and grace sufficient for all the doing and suffering work of time, and that death will ere long put a happy period to all sin and sorrow; and so takes occasion to rejoice.
12. Godly fear, or holy jealousy here steps in, and suggests some timorous apprehensions of the danger of deception; mentions the deceitfulness of the heart, the great influence of irregular self-love in a fallen creature; inquires whether itself is not likely to have fallen in with delusion, since the mind is so dark, and so little of God appears to the soul; and queries whether all its hopes of persevering grace may not be presumption, and whether its confident expectations of meeting death as a friend, may not issue in disappointment.
13. Hereupon reflection appears, and minds the person of his past experiences; as to the preparatory work of conviction and humiliation; the view he then had of the impossibility of salvation, from himself, or any created arm: the manifestation he has likewise had of the glory of God in Jesus Christ : how he then admired that glory, and chose that God for his only
portion, because of the excellency and amiableness he discovered in him; not from slavish fear of being damned, if he did not, nor from base and mercenary hopes of saving himself; but from a just esteem of that beauteous and glorious object : as also how he had from time to time rejoiced and acquiesced in God, for what he is in himself; being delighted, that he is infinite in holiness, justice, power, sovereignty, as well as in mercy, goodness, and love: how he has likewise, scores of times, felt his soul mourn for sin, for this very reason, because it is contrary and grievous to God; yea, how he has mourned over one vain and impertinent thought, when he has been so far from fear of the divine vindictive wrath for it, that on the contrary he has enjoyed the highest assurance of the divine eterlasting love: how he has, from time to time, delighted in the commands of God, for their own purity and per. fection, and longed exceedingly to be conformed to them, and even to be “ holy, as God is holy;" and counted it present heaven, to be of a heavenly temper: how he has frequently rejoiced, to think of being for ever subject to, and dependent on God; accounting it infinitely greater happiness to glorify God in a state of subjection to, and dependence on him, than to be a god himself and how heaven itself would be no beaven to him, if he could not there be every thing that God would have him be.
14. Upon this, spiritual sensation, being awaked, comes in, and declares that she now feels and “ tastes that the Lord is gracious ;” that he is the only supreme good, the only soulsatisfying happiness ; that he is a complete, self-sufficient, and almighty portion. She whispers, “ Whom have I in heaven, but this God,” this dear and blessed portion ? " and there is none upon earth I desire besides him." Oh, it is heaven, to please him, and to be just what he would have me be! O that my soul were “ holy, as God is holy !" O that it was “pure, as Christ is pure;” and “perfect, as my Father in heaven is perfect!" These are the sweetest commands in God's book, comprising all others; and shall I break them? must I break them? am I under a fatal necessity of it, as long as I live in this world? O my soul! wo, wo is me, that I am a sinner! because I now necessarily grieve and offend this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace. Oh, methinks, should be punish me for my sins, it would not wound my heart so deep as to offend hiin; but, though I sin continually, he continually repeats his kindness towards me! Oh, methinks, I could bear any suffering; but how can I bear to grieve and dishonour this blessed God! How shall I give tea thousand times more honour to him? What shall I do, to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate myself, soul and body, to his service for ever! O that I could give up myself to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own, or to have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to his! But Oh, alas, alas! I cannot, I feel I cannot be thus entirely devoted to God: I cannot live and sin not. ye angels, do ye glorify him incessantly: if possible, exert yourselves still more, in more lively and ardent devotion; if possible, prostrate yourselves still lower before the throne of the blessed King of heaven: I long to bear a part with you, and if it were possible, to belp you. Yet when we have done, we shall not be able to offer the ten thousandth part of the homage he is worthy of. While spiritual sensation whispered these things, fear and jealousy were greatly overcome; and the soul replied, “Now I know, and am assured,” &c. and again, it welcomed death as a friend, saying, “O death, where is thy sting !" &c.
15. Finally, holy resolution concludes the discourse, fixedly determining to follow hard after God, and continually to pursue a life of conformity to him. And the better to pursue this, enjoining it on the soul always to remember, that God is the only source of happiness, that his will is the only rule of rectitude to an intelligent creature, that earth has nothing in it desirable for itself, or any further than God is seen in it; and that the knowledge of God in Christ, begetting and maintaining love, and mortifying sensual and fleshly appetites, is the way to be holy on earth, and so to be attempered to the complete holiness of the heavenly world.
Some gloomy and desponding thoughts of a soul under convictions
of sin, and concern for its eternal salvation. I Believe, my case is singular, that none ever had so many ). strange and different thoughts and feelings as I.
2. I have been concerned much longer than many others I have known, or concerning whom I have read, who have been savingly converted, and yet I am left.
3. I have withstood the power of convictions a long time; and therefore I fear, I shall be finally left of God.
4. I never shall be converted, without stronger convictions, and greater terrors of conscience.
5. I do not aim at the glory of God in any thing I do, and therefore I cannot hope for mercy.
6. I do not see the evil nature of sin, nor the sin of my nature; and therefore I am discouraged.
7. The more I strive, the more blind and hard my heart is, and the worse I grow continually.
8. I fear God never shewed mercy to one so vile as I.
12. I am an old sinner; and it God had designed mercy for me, he would have called me home to himself before now.
Some signs of Godliness.
The distinguishing marks of a true Christian, taken from one of my old manuscripts; where I wrote as I felt and erperienced, and not from any considerable degree of doctrinal knowledge, or acquaintance with the sentiments of others in this point.
He has a true knowledge of the glory and excellency of 1. God, that he is most worthy to be loved and praised for his own divine perfections. Psal. cxlv. 3.
2. God is his portion, Psal. Ixxiii. 25. And God's glory, his great concern, Matt. vi. 22.
3. Holiness is his delight ; nothing he so much longs for, as to be holy, as God is holy. Phil. iii. 9—12.
4. Sin is his greatest enemy. This he hates, for its own nature, for what it is in itself, being contrary to a holy God, Jer. ii. 1. And consequently he hates all sin, Rom. vii. 24. 1 John ji. 9.
5. The laws of God also are his delight, Psal. cxix. 97. Rom. vii. 22. These he observes, not out of constraint, from a servile fear of hell; but they are his choice, Psal. cxix. 30. Tbe strict observance of them is not his bondage, but bis greatest liberty, ver. 15.