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of mind is their first trouble, which long hanging on them, at last doth bring the body also into a melancholy habit: and then trouble increaseth melancholy, and melancholy again increaseth trouble, and so round. This is a most sad and pitiful state. For as the disease of the body is chronical and obstinate, and physic doth seldom succeed, where it hath far prevailed; so without the physician, the labours of the divine are usually in vain. You may silence them, but you cannot comfort them; you may make them confess that they have some grace, and yet cannot bring them to the comfortable conclusions. Or if you convince them of some work of the Spirit upon their souls, and a little at present abate their sadness, yet as soon as they are gone home, and look again upon their souls through this perturbing humour, all your convincing arguments are forgotten, and they are as far from comfort as ever they were. All the good thoughts of their state which you can possibly help them to, are seldom above a day or two old. As a man that looks through a black, or blue, or red glass, doth think things which he sees, to be of the same colour; and if you would persuade him to the contrary he will not believe you, but wonder that you should offer to persuade him against his eye-sight; so melancholy man sees all things in a sad and fearful plight, because his reason looketh on them through his black humour, with which his brain is ,darkened and distempered. And as a man's eyes
which can see all things about him, yet cannot see any imperfection in themselves; so it is almost impossible to make many of these men to know that they are melancholy. But as those who are troubled with the ephialtes do cry out of some body that lieth heavy upon them, when the disease is in their own blood and humours; so these poor men cry out of sin and the wrath of God, when the main cause is in this bodily distemper. The chief part of the cure of these men must be upon the body, because there is the chief part of the disease.
And thus I have showed you the chief causes, why so many Christians do enjoy so little assurance and consolation,
CHAP. IX. Containing an Exhortation, and motives to Examine. Sect. I. Having thus discovered the impediments to examination, I would presently proceed to direct you to the performance of it, but that I am yet jealous whether I have fully prevailed with your wills, and whether you are indeed resolved to set upon the duty. I have found by long experience, as well as from Scripture, that the main difficulty lieth in bringing men to be willing, and to set themselves in good earnest to the searching of their hearts.
Many love to hear and read of marks and signs by which they may try; but few will be brought to spend an hour in using them when they have them. They think they should have their doubts resolved as soon as they do but hear a minister name some of their signs; and if that would do the work, then assurance would be more common; but when they are informed that the work lies most upon their own hands, and what pains it must cost them to search their hearts faithfully, then they give up and will go no further.
This is not only the case of the ungodly, who commonly perish through this neglect; but multitudes of the godly themselves are like idle beggars, who will rather make a practice of begging and bewailing their misery, than they will set themselves to labour painfully for their relief; so do many spend days and years in sad complaints and doubtings, that will not be brought to spend a few hours in examination. I entreat all these persons, what condition soever they are of, to consider the weight of these following arguments, which I have propounded, in hope to persuade them to this duty.
Sect. JI. 1. To be deceived about your title to heaven is exa ceeding easy; and not to be deceived, is exceeding difficult. This I make manifest to you thus :
1. Multitudes that never suspected any falsehood in their hearts, have yet proved unsound in the day of trial; and they that never feared any danger toward them, have perished for ever ; yea many that have been confident of their integrity and safety. I shall adjoin the proofs of what I say in the margin, for brevity sake. How many poor souls are now in hell, that little thought of coming thither! and that were wont to despise their counsel that bid them try and make sure ! and to say, they made no doubt of their salvation !
2. Yea, and many that have excelled in worldly wisdom, yet • Matt. vii. 22, 26, 27, &c.; Prov. xiv. 12; Luke xiii. 25, 26, xviii. 11, 21; Rev. iii. 17. So Ananias and Sapphira, the rich man in Luke xvi. &c. Abi. thophel, Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira, Pharisees, Jesuits, &c. Rom. i. 22. Judas and the Jews that heard Christ. Matt. vii, 22; Rom. ii. 21 ; 1 Cor. ix. 27.
have been befooled in this great business; and they that had wit to deceive their neighbours, were yet deceived by Satan and their own hearts. Yea, men of strongest head-pieces, and profoundest learning, who knew much of the secrets of nature, of the courses of the planets, and motions of the spheres, have yet been utterly mistaken in their own hearts.
3. Yea, those that have lived in the clear light of the Gospel, and heard the difference between the righteous and the wicked plainly laid open, and many a mark for trial laid down, and many a sermon pressing them to examine, and directing them how to do it, yet even these have been, and daily are, deceived.
4. Yea, those that have had a whole lifetime to make sure in, and have been told over and over, that they had their lives for no other end but to provide for everlasting rest, and make sure of it, have yet been deceived, and have wasted that lifetime in forgetful security.
5. Yea, those that have preached against the negligence of others, and pressed them to try themselves, and showed them the danger of being mistaken, have yet proved mistaken themselves.t
And is it not then time for us to rifle our hearts, and search them to the very quick?
Sect. III. 2. To be mistaken in this great point is also very common, as well as easy; so common that it is the case of most in the world. (Gal. vi. 3, 4,7; Matt. vii. 21.) In the old world we find none that were in any fear of judgment; and yet how few persons were not deceived ! So in Sodom; so among the Jews; and I would it were not so in England ! Almost all. men amongst us do verily look to be saved. You shall scarce speak with one of a thousand that doth not; and yet Christ telleth us,
that few find the strait gate and narrow way that. leads to life.” Do but reckon up the several sorts of men that are' mistaken in thinking they have title to heaven, as the Scripture doth enumerate them, and what a multitude will they prove! 1. All that are ignorant of the fundamentals of religion. 2. All heretics who maintain false doctrines against the foundation, or against the necessary means of life. 3. All that live in the practice of gross sin. 4. Or that love and regard the smallest
• Omnium pene aliorum peccatorum conscii sunt sibi ipsis, qui iisdem sunt obnoxii: solam hypocrisio raro, et non nisi exquisitissimo instituto examine deprehendunt qui eadem sunt inebriati.--Rupertus, Meldenius, Parenes.. Votiv. pro pace Eccl. fol. B, 2, 3. Loquitur ad verbi ministros.
sin. 5. All that harden themselves against frequent reproof. (Prov. xxix. 1.) 6. All that mind the flesh more than the spirit, (Rom. viii. 6, 7, 13,) or the world more than God. (Phil. iii. 18, 19; 1 John ii. 15, 16.) 7. All that do as the most do. (Luke xiii. 24-26; 1 John v. 19.) 8. All that are deriders at the godly, and discourage others from the way of God by their reproaches. (Prov. i. 22, &c., iii. 34, and xix. 29.) 9. All that are unholy; and that never were regenerate and born anew. 10. All that have not their very hearts set upon heaven. (Matt. vi. 21.) 11. All that have a form of godliness without the power. 12. And all that love either parents, or wife, or children, or house, or lands, or life, more than Christ. (Luke xiv. 26.) Every one of these that thinketh he hath any title to heaven, is as surely mistaken as the Scripture is true.u
And if such multitudes are deceived, should not we search the more diligently, lest we should be deceived as well as they?
Sect IV. 3. Nothing more dangerous than to be thus mistaken. The consequents of it are lamentable and desperate. If the godly be mistaken in judging their state to be worse than it is, the consequents of this mistake will be very sad; but if the ungodly be mistaken, the danger and mischief that followeth is unspeakable.
1. It will exceedingly confirm them in the service of Satan, and fasten them in their present way of death. They will never seek to be recovered, as long as they think their present state will 'serve. As the prophet saith, “A deceived heart will turn them aside, that they cannot deliver their own soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isa. xliv. 20.)
2. It will take away the efficacy of means that should do them good; nay, it will turn the best means to their hardening and ruin. If a man mistake his bodily disease, and think it to be clean contrary to what it is, will he not apply contrary remedies which will increase it? So when a Christian should apply the promises, his mistake will cause him to apply the threatenings ; and when an ungodly man should apply the threatenings and terrors of the Lord, this mistake of his state will make him apply the promises; and there is no greater strengthener of sin, and destroyer of the soul, than Scripture misapplied. Worldly delights, and the deceiving words of sinners, may harden men most desperately in an unsafe way; but Scripture misapplied will do it far more effectually and dangerously.
u Ephes. iv. 18; Hos. iv. 6 ; Isaiah xxvii. 11; 2 Cor. iv. 3 ; Rev. ii. 6, 20; Titus ii. 10; 1 Cor. vi. 9, and xv. 50 ; Ephes. v. 4–6; Psalm lxvi. 18; James iv. 4,5; Heb. xii. 14; John iii. 3; 2 Tim. iii. 5 ; James i. 22; Mark xiii. 5, 6; Matt. x. 37 ; John xii. 25.
3. It will keep a man from compassionating his own soul ; though he be a sad object of pity to every understanding man that beholdeth him, yet will he not be able to pity himself, because he knoweth not his own misery. As I have seen a physician lament the case of his patient, when he hath discerned his certain death in some small beginning, when the patient himself feared nothing, because he knew not the mortal nature of his disease; so doth many a minister, or godly Christian, lament the case of a carnal wretch, who is so far from lamenting it himself, that he scorns their pity, and biddeth them be sorry for themselves, they shall not answer for him; and taketh them for his enemies, because they tell him the truth of his danger. (Acts vii. 54, xxii. 21.) As a man that seeth a beast going to the slaughter, doth pity the poor creature, when it cannot pity itself, because it little thinketh that death is so near :
so is it with these poor sinners; and all long of this mistaking their spiritual state. Is it not a pitiful sight to see a man laughing himself, when his understanding friends stand weeping for his misery? Paul mentioneth the voluptuous men of his time, and the worldlings, with weeping ; (Phil. iii. 17, 18;) but we never read of their weeping for themselves. Christ standeth weeping over Jerusalem, when they knew not of any evil that was towards them; (Luke xix. ;) nor give him thanks for his pity or his tears.
4. It is a case of greatest moment, and therefore mistaking must needs be most dangerous. If it were in making an ill bargain, yet we might repair our loss in the next. Scipio was wont to say, '“ It was an unseemly, absurd thing in military cases to say, 'I had not thought;' or, 'I was not aware.'”h The matter being of so great concernment, every danger should be thought of, that you may be aware. Sure, in this weighty case, where our everlasting salvation or damnation is in question, and to be determined, every mistake is insufferable and inexcusable which might have been prevented by any cost or pains.! Therefore men will choose the most able lawyers and physicians, because the mistakes of one may lose them their estate, and the mistakes of the other may lose them their lives : but mistakes about their souls are of a higher nature.
* Turpe est in re militari dicere, Non putarem.