Изображения страниц

import the strongest opposition) hall not prevaile against is. It is confeffed, chat Sasan may, much assaule and bacters and the world may oppose and cotter, and finne may weaken, interrupe and stagger even the foundations of the truest faith; but to be oppressed is one thing, and to be suppressed is another thing; to be wounded is one thing, to be killed is another; For faith to fall in its strength is one thing, for faith to taile in its being, is another ; Simon, Simon ( said Cbrist to Peter ) Satan barb defored to Hinnow see as Wheat, but I have prayed for thee that by faith faile not: O malicious devil, who hath strong temptations to weaken faith! O gracious. Saviour', who-bath stronger iocercessions to preserve faith! even the weakest faith is wrought by a divine hand, and is kept by an almighty guard ; See 1 Pet.1.5. who are kept by the power of God through fairlo unto salvation; Answering the prayer of Christ, fobn 17. 11. Holy Father keep them through thy own Name, those whom thou hast given me. Verse 20. Neither pray 1 for these onely, but for them alfo vobiclo mall beleeve on me sbrough their word.. whosoever beleeves on me fhall not perill, faid, Chrift.

Againe, this is a sweet comfort, that the weak believer shall hold out as well as the frong, and that Christ is the Guardian of both; verily, that must needs be good which God gives, and ebac must needs be sure which Christ keeps ; the weakest be leever is held by a strong band, and is secured by an inseparable


4. Every beleever is in the same fundamental league with God, he is reconciled unto him, and bath a true ( nay for ought i yet understand) an equal interest in his special love and tender. nelle: Ic is freely confessed, that the strong believer bath more Love. sensible discoveries of tbe streames, yet the weak believer is as deep in the fountaine. They say in Logick, that fubftantial reLalions do not admit of degrees of more and lefse, as the Father is an equal Father to every child, bis paternity, and their filistion are indivisible things; so is it I am sure in this bafinesse, God is one and the fame Facher to all that belecve; his radical love is alike, his fundamental gifts (which teftifie chat love) are all alike one and the same word, one and the same Cbrist, one and the Same Sacraments,one and the same Spirit. And for bis


Tenderness. tendernesse, why? If any childe findes the gentle voice and ca

sie hand, it is the weak childe; If any believer findes sofe and encouraging expressions from God, it is the weak beleever.

Godwould have them comforted, sea he hath prepared the brefts Ifa.66.11, of confolation for such sucklings; yea, and the knees to dandle

12, 13: them; yea, che hands to lead them; yea, the ar mes to carry them; 12.40.11.

And Christ will not quench the smoking flax, nor bruise the broken reed. How ofcen doth God call upon the weak ones, to look up and behold their King, and their salvation , and to trust upon him, and not 10 fear, nor to be dismayed; nay, for his fake doch he often double and creble the promise ; yea, he confirmes the promise, I will surely bave mercy on him; yea, be Cakes his oath, be sweares by himself, that he will not lie anto them, nor failosbem; yea, he ratifies and seales his word with blood and truth.

O how doch God condescend in his nature, in bis Word, in his wayes, in bis dealings, in his forbearances towards weak beleevers? how hach he prevented and answered all objedions to their hands? all which shews his fingular love and rendernefle unto them.


[ocr errors]

Ow I proceed to the fourth and last discovery,

viz. The inequality of strong and weak faith in respect of circumstancial comforts and some other consequences; thus they differ exceedingly, though both be in a sure and saving condition.

1. The weak beleever falls shore of that joy which the

ftrong beleever posseseth. Toy three ways 709 may be considered three wayes, either in its cause, which confidered. is the love of God and the blood of Chrift; or in its title and claim,

which belongs to faith receiving Chrift; or in its actual pre(ence and feeling, which depends upon a beleeving apprehen. fion and perswalion. Now, though the weakest bcleever hich


cause of great joy, for as the Angel spake to the shepherds, that may be said to him, Fexr not, for bebold I bring you good sydings of great joy, for unto you is borne rhis day in the Coiy of of-David, Savionr, which is Christ the Lord, Lukez, 9, 10.

And though he hach a true citle to the sweetest joy, for faich doth unite him to Christ, and Christ encicles him to joy, yer he hath not fuch an actual presence of joy as the strong beleever. Every faith is an hand, holding, but the strong faith is the mouth,cafting chat sweet wine. He hath not such full apprehensions of his own state, he doth not yet so clearly conceive of that great love and goodnesse which God hath put in Cbrift for him; He hath not such an evident view of his own particular interests in God or Chrift, but is infinitely toffed with doubtings and fuspitions, whether he may set take Christ as bis, whether he may own ebe promiles of mercy, and appropriate the great loving kindness of a Fatber. Now ignorance is apt to breed suspicions, and doubts are apt to raise fears, both of which keeps off or under, actual joy: No. man can well joy in a concealed good, or joy much in a que Pioned title: All the good which God hath firmly and largely made over unto mein bis Sonne; ie doch not affc& my heart with gladnesse and rejoycing, whiles I am in dispute with it, and am rather apt to conclude, it is not for me, then thac it is my portion. The strong believer therefore hath this ad. vantage of the weak, he is more acquainted in particular about bis good, and so his heart rejoyceth with joy innspeakable and glorious, his soul doib rejogco in God bis Saviour, but the weak believer cannot yet fee his pardon, yeu often suspects whether it shall be drawn or no one is in a faire, day, the other in a wet; It is day to both,

The matter is cleare to the strong believer, and therefore his heart goes away rejoycing, the matter is doubtful to the weak beleever, and therefore his foule goes away, weeping. One of them hath a good Christ, and a glad heart 100, the other hath a good Christ, but yet a very heavy heart : His poffeffion is doubtful, and cherefore his heart is forrow. ful.

2. The weak beleever hath not that sweet peace that the frong believer bath : where faith is weak there the conscience is not throughly setled.

V 2


Peace, what.

Peace in the conscience is as it were, the barmonious inning of ibe foul, it is a heavenly tranquility, a serenity, a gracions quieting and pacifying of the spirit of man, springing from a perswafion of Gots love in Chrift: Now, the weak faith hach strong scruples, it hach many troubles, it is not sure that all is right, and all is cleare, It may be, that God is my God, and it may be he is not; it may be Christ is mine, and perhaps not; it may be my fins are pardoned, and it may be they are not; it may be that God is my friend, and reconciled, and it may be he is not. You know that the peace of a Christian must be seen ratifed in a double Court or else the soul will not be quiet; One is in the Court of heaven, another is in the Court of conscience ; Nay, and the peace in this lower Court is not cleare til it comes from the higher Court; conscience cannot be quiet till God be quiee , it cannot give cestimony and discharge, untill God hath begun : If God hach not yet dismissed the loul, if be holds up the case of a sinful foul without release, conscience cannot acquit and free chat rool: But weak faich sees its fuit and cryal yet depending in the high Court of heaven; a weak believer doch not yet see or know that God will assuredly pardon bim, that God is reconciled to him, that God will indeed do good unto him, here are bis doubts and fears, and therefore here are his troubles and perplexities.

The strong believer is like David in. Pfal. 4. 8. I will borto lay me down, and feep, for thou Lord only makeft me dwell in tafe

The weak believer is like David in Psal. 42. II. wby art thon Gast dowon, O my soul, and by Aritbou zbus difquierred wirbin me.

The one is like the Mother which hach che child in her armes, or at her breasts, with many smiling delights and satiecies; the other is like the mother now in labor; and travaile with the child which hach many bitcer throwes and panges one succeeding the other : The one is like a man ftanding upon a rock, where his foot stands unmoved and steady; but che other is like a man in a safe ship, upon unquiet waters, tossed up and down : Weak faith is in a safe ship, (which is Christ) but tossed upon variety of waves, (which are our doubtings;) sometimes faith and bope, anon faith and feare; sometimes I may have confidence, anon I am cast out of his fight ; now I will look up to God as mine in Chrift, by and by, surely this is presumption, God will not accept of me.

Such a storme, and fuch a calme is there in the weak believer, such an unfetled setling : The day of his small comforts doth casily fit, and the night of many troubles abide long upon him. You shall feldome lee a weak believer without a teare ar bis eye, a sigh in his breast, and a fear in his heart, yet I fear all is not fure, that God would once affure me that he is my God! I know not what to do, or what to say, or what to think, I can. not see the hand writing get blotted out, nor the beavens opening; and do you think there is any hope for me? Thus the weak be. liever. But strong faith can answer many arguments, and uphold its evidence against many tempracions: It can more cafily place and stay the soul upon ics rest, ic hach seen and tasted more cben weak faith, ic knows wbom it hach trusted, and that he will be its God and guide for ever; that he hath pardoned transgressions, and will remember iniquiiy no more; where faith is great, chere the war is itrong with sin, and the love high to God, and the peace more large and sected in the conscience.

The weak believer barb not chat sweetnesse in communion will God as the strong believer bath. Take him in the way of Ordia

3. nances, or in the way of Duties; in boch, his conversings with God, are more brackish and Aat. When any threatning is o. pened and applyed, his heart presently misgives bim, may not this concerne me and I fear this is my porcion. When any precepts and graces are revealed and differenced, he is usually apr. to charge want of tbem, or bypocrisie ander tbem, upon himseif, either I am noc thus as God requires, or if so, yet not in truth.

When the Box of ointmear is opened, I mean the blood of Christ, and the tender of rich mercy, and spacious promi. ses of God, ya the favour of them is mixcto his soul, he doch more dispute his right, then can close with their goodnesles sea, but how know I that I am intended; and answers, I am not ripe for such confolations, my wounds have not bled sufficiently, I am not fired, I doubt I should prelume, if I fhould apply.

Againe, in matter of duty, here he hath not a sweet communion For duties. with God acicher. Sometimes ļo over-borne, that he thinks

U 3


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »