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even since his eyes were opened, he has been guilty of many actual (ins, either altogether overlooked by him, or not fufficiently mourned over: (For spiritual fores, not healed by the blood of Christ, but skinned over some other way, are easily ruffled, and as soon break out again.) And therefore the law takes him by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest. · Sixthly, Then the finner says in his heart, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all: and so falls to work to pacify an offended God, and to atone for these sins. He renews his repentance, fuch as it is ;. bears patiently the afflictions laid upon him; yea, he afflicts
himself, denies himself the use of his lawful comforts, fighs deeply, - mourns bitterly, cries with tears for a pardon, till he hath wrought up
his heart to a conceit of having obtained it ; having thus done penánce for what is past, and resolving to be a good servant to God, and to hold on in outward and inward obedience, for the time to come. But the stroke must go nearer the heart yet, ere the branch fall off. The Lord discovers to him, in the glass of the law, how he sinneth in all he does, even when he does the best he can; and therefore the dreadful sound returns to his ears, Gal. iii. 10. Curfed is every one that continueth not in all things, &c. When ye fasted and mourned, faith the Lord, Did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? Will muddy water make clean clothes? Will you satisfy for one sin with another? Did not your thoughts wander in such a duty? Were not your affections flat in another? Did not your heart give a whorish look to fuch an idol? And did it not rise in a fit of impatience under such an affliction? Should I accept this of your hands? Curfed be the deceiver, which sacrificeth to the Lord a corrupt thing, Mal. i. 13, 14. And thus he becomes so far broke off, that he sees he is not able to satisfy the demands of the law.
Seventhly, Hence, like a broken man, who finds he is not able to pay all his debts, he goes about to compound with his creditor. And being in pursuit of ease and comfort, he does what he can to fulfil the law; and wherein he fails, he looks that God will accept the will for the deed. Thus doing his duty, and having a will to do better, he cheats himself in a perliialion of the goodness of his state; and hereby thousands are ruined. But the elect get another stroke, which looseth their hold in this case. The doctrine of the law is born in on their consciences; demonstrating to them, that exact and perfect obedience is required by it, under pain of the curse: and that it is doing, and not wishing to do, which will avail. Wishing to do better will not antiver the law's demands: and therefore the curse founds again, Cursed is every one that continueth not-to do them; that is, actually tu do them. In vain is wishing then.
Eighthly, Being broken off from hopes of compounding with the law, he'falls a-borrowing. He sees that all he can do to obey che law, and all his desires to be, and to do better, will not save his soul : Nierefore lie goes to Christ, intreating, that his righteoulness may
make up what is wanting in his own, and cover all the defects of his doings and sufferings; that so God, for Christ's sake, may accept them, and thereupon be reconciled. Thus doing what he can to fulfil the law, and looking to Christ to make up all his defects, he comes at length, again to sleep in a sound skin. Many persons are ruined this way. This was the error of the Galatians, which Paul, in his epistle to them, disputes against. But the Spirit of God breaks off the finner from this hold also:-by bearing in on his conscience that great truth, Gal. iii.'12. The law is not of faith; but the man that doth them, Whall live in them. There is no mixing of the law and faith in this business; the finner most hold by one of them, and let the other go: the way of the law, and the way of faith, are so far different, that it is not possible for a sinner to walk in the one, but he must come off from the Other : and if he be for doing, he must do all alone; Christ will not do a part for him, if he do not all. A garment pieced up of sundry
forts of righteousness, is not a garment meet for the court of heaven. · Thus the man, who was in a dream, and thought he was eating, is awakened by the stroke, and behold his soul is faint ; his heart links in him like a stone ; while he finds he can neither bear his burden himself alone, nor can he get help, under it.
Ninthly, What can one do, who must needs pay, and yet neither has as much of his own as will bring him out of debt, nor can he get as much to borrow; and to beg he is ashamed? What can such a one do, I say, but fell himself, as the man under the law, that was waxen poor Lev. xxv. 47. Therefore the finner beat off fronı so many holds, goes about to make a bargain with Christ, and to sell himself to the Son of God, (if I may fo speak) folemnly promising and yowing, that he will be a fervant to Christ, as long as he lives, if he will save I his soul. - And here oft-times the finner makes a personal covenant with Christ, resigning himself to him on these terms; yea, and takes the facrament, to make the bargain sure. Hereupon the man's great care is, how to obey Chrift, keep his commands, and so fulfil his bargain. And, in this the soul finds a false, unfound peace, for a while; tilī the Spirit of the Lord fetch another stroke, to cut off the man from this refuge of lies likewise. And that happens in this manner: When he fails of the duties he engaged to, and falls again into the sin he covenanted against; it is powerfully carried home on his conscience, that his covenant is broken: so all his confort goes, and terrors afresh seize on his soul, as one that has broken covenant with Christ, and commonly the man, to help himself, renews his covenant, but breaks again as before. And how is it possible it thould be otherwise, seeing he is still upon the old stock? Thus the work of many, all their days, as to their souls, is nothing but a making and breaking such covenants, over and over again.
Object. Some, perhaps, will say, “ Who liveth and fivneth not? " Who is there that faileth not of the duties he is engaged to? If * you reject this way as unsound, who then can be saved?”—
Antw. True believers will be faved ; namely, all who do, by faith, take hold of God's covenant. But this kind of covenant is men's own covenent, devised of their own heart; not God's covenant revealed in the gospel of his grace : and the making of it is nothing else, but the making of a covenant of works with Christ, confounding the law and the gospel; a covenant he will never subscribe to, though we should îgn it with our heart's blood: Rom. iv. 14. “ For if they which are “ of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of 5 none effect. Ver. 16. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be “ by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed. « Chap. xi. 6. And if by grace, then it is no more of works : other. “ wise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no “ more grace : otherwise work is no more work” God's covenant is everlasting: once in, never out of it again ; and the mercies of it are fure mercies, Ifa. lv. 3. But that covenant of yours is a tottering covenant, never sure, but broken every day. It is a mere fervile covenant, giving Christ service for salvation : but God's covenant is a filial covenant, in which the finner takes Christ, and his falvation freely offered, and so becomes a son, John i. 12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the fons of God: and being become a son, he serves his Father, not that the inheritance may become his, but because it is his, through Jesus Christ. See Gal. iv.124. and downward. To enter into that spurious covenant, is to buy from Christ with money ; but to take hold of God's covenant is to buy of him without money, and without price, Ifa. lv. . that is to say, to beg of him. In that covenant men work for life ; in God's covenant they come to Chrift for life, and work from life. When a person under that covenant fails in his duty, all is gone: the covenant must be made over again. But under God's covenant, although the man fail in his duty, and for his failures fall under the discipline of the covenant, and lies under the weight of it, till such time as he has recourse anew to the blood of Christ for pardon, and renew his repentance : yet all that he trusted to for life and salvation, namely, the righteousness of Christ, still stands entire, and the covenant remains firm. See Rom. vii. 24, 25. and viii. 1.
Now, though some men spend their lives in making and breaking such covenants of their own; the terror upon the breaking of them wearing weaker and weaker by degrees, till at last it creates them little or no uneasiness: yet the man, in whom the good work is carried on, till it be accomplished in cutting hiin off from the old stock, finds these covenants to be as rotten cords, broke at every touch ; and the terror of God, being thereupon, redoubled on his fpirit, and the waters at every turn, getting in into his very soul, he is obliged to cease from catching hold of such covenants, and to seek help fome other way.
Tenthly, Therefore the man comes at length to beg at Christ's door for mercy : but, yet he is a proud beggar, ftanding on his personal - worth. For, as the Papist's have mediators to plead for them, with
beg, hoff their substance think they oughed, and, if that be
the one only Mediator; fo the branches of the old stock, have always fomeching to produce, which, they think may commend them to Christ, and engage him to take their caufe in hand. They cannot think of , coming to the spiritual market, without money in their hand. They are like persons, who have once had an estate of their own, but are reduced to extreme poverty, and forced to beg. When they come to , beg, they still remember their former character, and though they ! have lost their substance, yet they retain much of their former fpirit; therefore they cannot think they ought to be treated as ordinary beggars; but deserve a particular regard; and, if that be not given them, their spirits rise against him to whom they address themselves for supply. Thus God gives the unhumbled finner many cominon mercies; and shuts him not up in the pit, according to his deserving: but all this is nothing in his eyes. He must be fet down at the children's table, otherwise he reckons himself hardly dealt with, and wronged: for he is not yet brought so low, as to think, God may be juftified when he speaketh, (against him) and clear from all iniquity, when he judgeth him, according to his real demerit, Pfal. li. 4 He thinks, perhaps, that even before he was enlightned, he was better than many others; he considers his reformation of life, his repentance, and grief and tears his fin has cost him, his earnest desires after Christ, his prayers, and wrestlings for mercy; and useth all these now, as bribes for mercy, laying no small weight upon them, in his addresses to the throne of grace. But here the Spirit of the Lord shoots a heaf of arrows into the man's heart, whereby his confidence in these things is sunk and destroyed; and instead of thinking himself better
than many, he is made to see himself worse than any. The naughti. | ness of his reformation of life is discovered. His repentance appears
to him no better than the repentance of Judas; his tears like Elau's, ; and his defires after Christ to be selfith and loathsome, like theirs who fought Christ because of the loaves, John vi. 26. His answer from God seems now to be, Away proud beggar, How fwall I put thee: among the children? He seems to look fternly on him, for his slighting of Jesus Christ by unbelief, which is a sin he scarce discerned before. But now, at length, he beholds it in its crimson colours; and is pierced to the heart, as with a thousand darts, while he sees how he has been going on blindly, finning against the remedy of sin, and in the whole course of his life, trampling on the blood of the Son of God. And now he is, in his own eyes, the miserable object of law-vengeancy yea, and gospel-vengeance too..
Eleventhly, The man being thus far humbled, will no more plead, : he is worthy for ruhom Christ should do this thing : but, on the contrary, looks on' himself as unworthy of Christ, and unworthy of the favour of God. We may compare him, in this case, to the young man who followed Christ, having a linen cloth cast about his nak d-body: on whom, when the young men laid hold, he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked, Mark xiv, 51, 52. Even so the man had been, .
following Christ, in the thin and coldrife garment of his own personal worthiness; but by it, even by it, which he so much trusted to, the law catcheth hold of him, to make him prisoner; and then he is fain to leave it, and flees away naked; yet not to Christ, but from him. If you now tell him, he is welcome to Christ, if he will come to him; he is apt' to say, Can fuch a vile and unworthy wretch as I, be welcome to the holy Jesus? If a plaister be applied to his wounded soul, it will not stick He says, Depart from me, for I am a finful man, O Lord, Luke v. 8. No man needs speak to him of his repentance, for his comfort; he can quickly elpy such faults in it as makes it naught: nor of his tears, for he is allured, they have never come into the Lord's bottle. He difputes himself away from Chrift; and concludes, now that he has been such a slighter of Christ, and is such an unholy and vile creature, he cannot, he will not, he ought not, to come to Christ; and that he must either be in hetter cafe, or else he'll never believe. And hence, he now makes his strongest efforts, to amend what was amiss in his way before: He prays more earnestly than ever, mourns more bitterly, strives against lin in heart and life, more vigorously, and watcheth more diligently ; if by any means he may, at length be fit to come to Christ. One would think the man is well humbled now: Bur ah! devilish pride lurks under the veil of all this seeming humility. Like a kindly branch of the old stock; he adheres still; and will not submit to the righteoufirefs of God, Rom. X. 3. lie will not come to the market of free-grace, without money. He is bidden to the marriage of the King's Son, where the bridegroom himself furnisheth all the guests with wedding garments, stripping them of their own: but he will not come, because he wants a wedding-garment; howbéit he is very busy making one ready. This is sad work; and therefore he mult have a deeper Itroke yet ; else he is ruined. This stroke is reached him with the ax of the law, in its irritating power. Thus the law girding the soul with cords of death, and holding it in with the rigorous coinmands of obedience, under the pain of the curse; and God, in his holy and wife conduct, withdrawing his restraining grace; corruption is irritated, lufts become violent, and the more they are (triven against, the more they rage, like a furious horse checked with the bit. Then do corruptions set up their heads, which he never saw in himself before.' Here' oft-times atheism, blasphemy, and, in one word, horrible things concerning God, terrible thoughts concerning the faith, arise in his breast: so that his heart is a very hell within him. Thus, while he is sweeping the house of his heart, not yet waterce with golpel-grace, thefë corruptions which lay quiet before in neglected corners, fly up and down in it like duft. He is as one who is mending a dam, and while he's repairing breaches in it, and strengthening every part of it, a mighty flood coines down, overturns his work, and drives all away before it, as well what was newly laid, as what was laid before. Read, Rom. vii. 8, 9, 10, 13. This