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Conversation of Faithful and Talkative.
Faith. Well, I was not so fond of his company at first, but I am as sick of it now. What shall we do to be rid of him?
CHR. Take my advice, and do as I bid you, and you
shall find that he will soon be sick of your coinpany too, except God shall touch his heart, and turn it.
Faith. What would you have me do?
CHR. Why, go to him, and enter into some serious discourse about the power of religion, and ask him plainly, (when he has approved of it, for that he will,) whether this thing is set up in bis heart, house, or conversation.
Faith. Then Faithful stepped forward again, and said to Talkative, Come, what cheer? How is it now?
am fully convinced of it, that it is possible for souls that can scarce give a man an answer, but with great confusion as to method ; I say, it is possible for them to have a thousand times more grace, and so to be more in the love and favour of the Lord, than some who, by virtue of the gift of knowledge, can deliver themselves like angels.”
9 The only effectual way to get rid of the company of that kind of professors, “whose mouths must be stopped," (Titus i. 11.) unless the sincere become as it were accessaries to the self-deception of hypocrites, is to enter into serious discourse on the subject of personal and family religion, and, by putting the most pointed questions, to ascertain the gross defects, which must exist in the experience and conduct of such vain talkers. They will converse plausibly, and perhaps correctly, on the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel. They can speak at large of the characters and comparative excellencies of the servants of Christ. They may declaim against the inconsistencies of professors, and the folly and wickedness of those who“ are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God," I Tim. iii. 4. They may even mimic experimental godliness, and ape the prayers of believers. But they will in all probability be discovered to be rotten at heart, if they are pressed to answer to questions which relate to facts that regard their temper and conduct in the unrestrained habits of domestic life, or in the general intercourse which they maintain in their worldly engagements. No talking hypocrite ever long possessed the good opinion of a judicious christian, who had formed his opinion of professors sv the divine maxim, "BY THEIR FRUITS YE SHALL KNOW THEM."
Coorersation of Faithivi and Talkatire.
Talk. Thank you, well: 1 thought we should have had a great deal of talk by this time.
Faith. Well, if you will, we will fall to it now; and since you left it with me to state the question, let it be this: How doth the saving grace of God discover itself, when it is in the heart of man:
Talk. I perceive then that our talk must be about the power of things.
of things. Well, it is a very good question, and I shall be willing to answer you. And take my answer in brief, thus. First, where the grace of God is in the heart, it causeth there a great outcry against sin. Secondly—
Faith. Nay, hold, let us consider of one at once. I think you should rather say, It shows itself by inclining the soul to abhor its sin.
Talk. Why, what difference is there between crying out against, and abborring of sin ?
Faith. Oh! a great deal. A man may cry out against sin, of policy; but he cannot abhor it but by virtue of a godly antipathy against it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, who yet could abide it well enough in the heart, house, and conversation. (Gen. xxxix. 15.) Joseph's mistress cried out with a loud voice, as if she had been very holy; but she would willingly, notwithstanding that, have committed uncleanness with him. Some cry out against sin, even as a mother cries out against her child in her lap, when she calleth it slut and naughty girl, and then fails to hugging and kissing it.
· The distinction between speaking against sin, and feeling a hatred to it, is so vastly important, that it forins the only infallible test to distinguish between those who are "quickened" by the Spirit of God, and those who “bave a name to live and are dead." It is a very awful statement, but, it is to be feared, strictly correct, that ministers may declaim against sin in the pulpit, who yet indulge it in the parlour. Had Judas been judged by his words, he might have been thought to have “ cared for the poor ;" but his subsequent conduct proved, that the most specious expressions of piety were produced by the most iniquitous principles of depravity.
TALK. You lie at the catch, I perceive.
Faith. No, not I: I am only for setting things right. But what is the second thing whereby you would prove a discovery of a work of grace in the heart:
Talk. Great knowledge of gospel mysteries.
Faith. This sign should have been first; but first or last, it is also false; for knowledge, great know. ledge, may be obtained in the mysteries of the gospel, and yet no work of grace in the soul. Yea, jf a man have all knowledge, he may yet be nothing, and so consequently be no child of God. (Cor. xiii. 2.) When Christ said, “Do you know all these things?" and the disciples answered, Yes; he added, “ Blessed are ye if ye do them.” He doth not lay the blessing in the knowing of them, but in the doing of them. For there is a knowledge that is not attended with doing : “He that knoweth his master's will, and doeth it not.” A man may know like an angel, and yet be no christian; there. fore your sign of it is not true. Indeed, to know, is a thing that pleaseth talkers and boasters; but to do, is that which pleaseth God. Not that the heart can be good without knowledge; for without that the heart is naught. There are therefore two sorts of knowledge;- knowledge that resteth in the bare · speculation of things, and knowledge that is accompanied with the grace of faith and love, and which puts a man upon doing the will of God even from the heart: the first of these will serve the talker ; but without the other the true christian is not content. “ Give me onderstanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” (Psal. cxix. 34.)
s There inay be much head knowledge where there is no heart religion. Paul wished to discover, “not the speech of those that were puffed up, but the power.” Speculalive religious knowledge, however extensive, will produce none of the “things which accompany salvation." “Knowledge puffeth up;
Conversation of Faithful and Talkativc.
Talk. You lie at the catch again; this is not for edification.
Faith. Well, if you please, propound another sign how this work of grace discovereth itself where it is.
Talk. Not I; for I see we shall not agree.
Faith. Well, if you will not, will you give me leave to do it?
Talk. You may use your liberty.
Faith. A work of grace in the soul discovereth itself, either to him that hath it, or to standers by.
To him that hath it, thus : It gives bim conviction of sin, especially of the defilement of his nature, and the sin of unbelief, for the sake of wbich he is sure to be damped, if he find not mercy at God's nand by faith in Jesus Christ. This sight and sense of things work in him sorrow and shame for sin. (Psa. xxxviii. 18. Jerem. xxxi. 19. John xvi. 8. Rom vii. 24.) He findeth, moreover, revealed in him the Saviour of the world, and the absolute necessity of closing with him for life ; whereupon he findeth hungerings and thirstings after bim; to which hungerings, &c. the promise is made. Now according to the strength or weakness of his faith in his Saviour, so are his joy and peace, so is his love to holiness, and so are his desires to know him more, and also to serve him in this world. But though, I say, it discovereth itself thus unto him, yet it is but seldom that he is able to conclude that this is a work of grace; because his corruptions now, and bis abused reason, make his mind misjudge in this matter : iberefore in him that hath this work, there is re
but CHARITY edifieth.” Nothing can be depended upon as an evidence of a work of grace in the heart, which does not produce supernatural effects. Genuine love to God, accompanied by a desire to observe all his commandments, is the principle of holiness; and such is that humbling and sanctifying influence which the genuine believer feels, but to which hypocrites are total strangers.
« The devils know ; and tremble too,
Rut Satan cannot love."
Faithful describes the Nature of practicai Reüigion.
Job xlii. 5th and hay do, 6
quired a very sound judgment, before he can with steadiness conclude that this is a work of grace.' (John xvi. 9. Gal. ii. 15, 16. Acts iv. 12. Matt. v. 6. Rev. xxi. 6.)
To others it is thus discovered :
1. By an experimental confession of his faith in Christ. 2. By a life answerable to that confession ; to wit, a life of holiness; heart-holiness, family-holiness, (if he hath a family,) and conversation-holiness in the world; which in the general teacheth bim inwardly to abhor his sin, and himself for it, in secret ; to suppress it in his family, and to promote holiness in the world; not by talk only, as a hypocrite or talkative person may do, but by a practical subjection in faith and love to the power of the word. (Job xlii. 5, 6. Psa. ). 23. Ezek. xx. 43. Matt. v. S. John xiv. 15. Rom. x. 10. Ezek. xxxvi. 25. Phil. i. 27. iii. 17.) And now, Sir, as to this brief description of the work of grace, and also the discovery of it, if you have aught to object, object; if not, then give me leave to propound to you a second question."
* It is a sound theological maxim, that the “ work of the Spirit" upon the hearts of believers, and the “word of the Spirit," in the volume of inspired truth, always agree together; the one being, as it were, the counterpart of the other. In consequence of interpal corruption and darkness of mind, it requires a very sound judgment for a person to know himself to be a child of God: yet this is not impossible ; for the promise of future blessedness is made to those “who hunger and thirst after righteousness," &c. &c. A deep sense of guilt and defilement, a believing view of the Saviour's righteousness, a simple dependence upon his merits, and an intense desire to serve him in the world, are satisfactory evidences of a work of grace upon the heart; and such persons may say, “ The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God," Rom. viii. 16. The knowledge of a saving interest in Christ is not obtained by any new revelation to the mind; nor by supernatural views, impressions, visions, or dreams; but by the enlightening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, reading the awakened sinner to “ believe the record which God hath given of his Son, that God hath given to us eternal life," 1 John v. 10, 11.
A work of grace upon the heart will be manifest to others. Bar