« ForrigeFortsett »
remorse: yea, perhaps glorying in this very hardness of heart! Many instances of this deplorable stupidity we meet with at this .day: and even among people that suppose themselves to have no small share of religion. A per? son is doing something which the Scripture clearly forbids. You ask, How do you dare to do this? and are answered with perfect unconcern, "O my heart does not condemn me." I reply, "So much the worse. I would to God it did. You would then be in a safer state than you are now. It is a dreadful thing to be condemned by the word of God, and yet not condemned by your own heart!" If we can break the least of the known commands of God, without any self-condemnation, it is plain that the god of this world hath hardened our hearts. If we do not soon recover from this, we shall be past feeling, and our Consciences (as St. Paul speaks) will be seared as zcil/i a hot iron.
18. I have now only to add a few important Directions. The first great point is this; Suppose we have a tender Conscience, how shall we preserve it? I believe there is only one possible way of doing this, which is, to obey it. Every act of disobedience tends to blind and deaden it, to put out its eyes, that it may not see the good and the acceptable Will of God ; and to deaden the heart, that it may not feel self-condemnation, when we act in opposition to it. And on the contrary, eyery act of obedience gives to the Conscience a sharper and stronger sight, and a quicker feeling of whatever offends the glorious Majesty of God. Therefore, if you desire to have your Conscience always quick to discern, and faithful to accuse or excuse you: if you would preserve it always sensible, and tender, be sure to obey it at all events: continually listen to its admonitions, and steadily follow them. Whatever it directs you to do, according to the Word of God, do; however grievous to flesh and blood. Whatever it forbids, if the prohibition be not grounded on the Word of God, see you do it not; however pleasing it may be to flesh and blood. The one or the other may frequently be the case. What God forbids may be pleasing to our evil nature. There you are called to deny yourself, or deny your Master. What he enjoins may be painful to nature: there take up your cross. So true is our Lord's word, " Except a man deny himself, and take up his cross daily, he cannot be my disciple."
19. I cannot conclude this discourse better than with an extract from Dr. Annesley's Sermon on Universal Conscientiousness.*
"Be persuaded to practise the following directions, and your Conscience will continue right.
1. Take heed of every sin: count no sin small: and obey every command with your might. Watch against the first risings of sin, and beware of the borders of sin. Shun the very appearance of evil. Venture not upon temptations or occasions of sin.
2. Consider yourself as living under God's eye: live as in the sensible presence of the jealous God. Remember, all things are naked and open before him! You cannot deceive him; for he is infinite wisdom: you cannot flee from him; for he is every where: you cannot bribe him; for he is righteousness itself! Speak as knowing God hears you: walk, as knowing God besets you on every side. The Lord is with you, while you are with him: that is, you shall enjoy his favourable presence, while you live in his awful presence.
3. Be serious and frequent in the examination of your heart and life. There are some duties like those parts of the body, the want of which may be supplied by other parts: but the want of these nothing can supply. Every evening review your carriage through the day; what you have done or thought that was unbecoming your character: whether your heart has been instant upon religion, and indifferent to the world? Have a special care of two portions of time, namely, morning and evening: the morning to forethink what you have to do, and the evening to examine, Whether you have done what you ought?
* Dr. A wieslcy (my mother's father) was Rector of the Parish of
4. Let every action have reference to your whole life, and not to a part only. Let all your subordinate ends be suitable to the great end of your living. "Exercise yourself unto godliness." Be as diligent in religion, as thou wouldst have thy children that go to school be in learning. Let thy whole life be a preparation for heaven, like the preparation of wrestlers for the combat.
5. Do not venture on sin, because Christ hath purchased a pardon; that is a most horrible abuse of Christ. For this very reason there was no sacrifice under the Law for any wilful sin; lest people should think they knew the price of sins, as those do who deal in Popish indulgencies.
6. Be nothing in your own eyes: for what is it, alas, that we have to be proud of! Our vary conception was sinful; our birth painful; our life toilsome; our death we know not what! But all this is nothing to the state of our soul. If we know this, what excuse have we for pride i
7. Consult duty; not events. We have nothing to do but to mind our duty. All speculations that tend not to holiness, are among your superfluities: but forebodings of what may befall you in doing your duty, may be reckoned among your sins: and to venture upon sin to avoid danger, is to sink the ship for fear of pirates. O how quiet, as well as holy would our lives be, had we learned that single lesson, To be careful for nothing, but to do our duty, and leave all consequences to God! What madness for silly dust to prescribe to Infinite Wisdom! To let go our work, and meddle with God's! He hath managed the concerns of the world, and of every individual person in it, without giving cause of complaint to any, for above these five thousand years. And does he now need your counsel? Nay, it is your business to mind your own duty.
8. What advice you would give another, take yourself: the worst of men are apt enough to lay burdens on others, which if they would take on themselves, they would be rare Christians.
9. Do nothing on which you cannot pray for a blessing. Every action of a Christian that is good is sanctified by the
VOL.X. . Z
word and prayer. It becomes not a Christian to do any thing so trivial, that he cannot pray over it. And if he would but bestow a serious ejaculation on every occurrent action, such a prayer would cut off all things sinful, and encourage all things lawful.
10. Think, and speak, and do what you are persuaded Christ himself would do in your case, were he on earth. It becomes a Christian, rather to be an example, than to follow one. But by imitating Christ, you become an example to all, who was, and is, and ever will be, our absolute pattern. O Christians, how did Christ pray, and redeem time for prayer! How did Christ preach, out of whose mouth proceeded no other but gracious words! What time did Christ spend in impertinent discourse! How did Christ go up and down, doing good to men, and what was pleasing to God! Beloved, I commend to you these four memorials: 1, Mind duty. 2, What is the duty of another in your case, is your own. 3, Do not meddle with any thing, if you cannot say, The blessing of the Lord be upon it. 4, Above all, sooner forget your Christian name, than forget to eye Christ! Whatever treatment you meet with from the world, remember him and follow his steps, "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth! Who when he was reviled, reviled not again: but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."
Hebrews XT. 6.
1. BUT what is Faith? It is a divine H evidence and conviction of things not seen :" of things which are not seen now, whether they are visible or invisible in their own nature. Particularly it is a divine evidence and conviction of God and of the things of God. This is the most comprehensive definition of faith that ever was or can be given, as including every species of faith, from the lowest to the highest. And yet I do not remember any eminent writer,, that has given a full and clear account of the several sorts of it, among all the verbose and tedious treatises which have been published upon the subject.
2. Something indeed of a similar kind has been written by that great and good man, Mr. Fletcher, in his treatise on the various Dispensations of the Grace of God. Herein he observes, that there are four dispensations that are distinguished from each other, by the degree of light which God vouchsafes to them that are under each. A small degree of light is given to those who are under the Heathen dispensation. These generally believed, "that there is a God, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." But a far more considerable degree of light was