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deter thee from despairing: For tho thy fias be great, yet this is the greatest of all other fios; other fins bind thee over to wrath, but this fia gives fire to the threat ning, and sets the soul op fame with extreme horror; .o. ther fins wound the law, and the name of God thro' the sides of the law, but this fia wounds the gospel, in that it is not williog to hape the wounds healed which former fins have made; other fios have wronged God the Father in trespassing against him, but this fia will not let Jesus Chrilt make fatisfaction for the wrong that by fin is done to the Father; other sins reflect on the name, or power, or justice, or holiness of God, but this fio fights agaiost all his lovely attributes of goodness, mercy. love and grace, and Satan claps his hands to see all the glorious ats tributes of God served alike, and divested of their honour; other fins, tho' great, are pardonable, if not mixed with this, but the least fin envenomed by this of despair, is wholly unpardonable. Hence we lay that Judas finged more, and more dishonoured God ia despairing of his mer. cies, than io betraying of his Son; and Caia more griet. ously offended in saying, My fin is greater than can be par. doned, than by murdering his broiher. O tremble at de spair! for this fin draws nearer to the fin of devils, and is of the complexion of the damned souls in hell.
2. As to God's justice, consider, thou art not to look only on justice, but on justice and mercy, as meeting together, and killing each other. These two are long lince reconciled, so that now God knows how to be jutt, and get to save thy soul. In that promise of God's betrothing himself to fingers, it runs thus, I will betrothe thee to me in righteousness, in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies, Hof. ii. 19. he will do it in justice and mercy, he will be righteous and gracious. If Satan object, Cam the Lord be just and save such a singer as thou art? Yes, may st thou say, God tells me that he will marry me in righ, teousness as well as mercy; that is to say, he will do it in Christ, whose great undertaking was to bring justice to kiss mercy, that there might not be a diffenting attribute of God in marryiog of me. In this case, as I would wish fingers have an eye on God's justice to keep them from pre
fumption, lumption, to likewife to have an eye on God's mercy to keep them from despair; or (which is all ope) to thisk of Chrift who hath already paid the price for the pardoa of fin; and therefore as it were agaioft mercy to darba, fo it were againit justice to exact the debt of them for whom Christ had paid it. What Moold we thiok of that man, who haviag a debe fully discharged by the furety, should press apon the principal for payment of the fame dede agaia? Surely it were a fexul dishonour to the rigbreous Judge of the world to conceive, that having received án exact and full fatisfaction for all thy fins by the heart's blood of his own dear Son, he mould ever require them 2gain at thy hands. If thou sayelt; But hath Chtift paid the debt for may fins ? Yes, if thos wilt but accept of Chrik on his own terras ; cone then poor soul, thou who art tof fed with the waves of defpair, think of justiee interwoven with merey; or if jukice be it thou feareft, think of it as now thy friend io the Lord Jefus Chrift; it is juftice that acquits thee, it thou relieft on Chrift, and who then thalt condemo thee? who then thall lay any thing to thy charge?
3. As to the law, took not upon that exact obedience which the law requireth, for theb Satan will attaia his purpose, but go out of thyself, look upon jesus, and rei ject thy own righteousness as alrogether imperfect and in fufficient. Alas! who can exaetiy live up to the law? the law requires of us things that we cannot do; the law accepts of nothing but absolute perfection in all that it re quires; the law looks that things thonid be done in a right manner, out of a right principle, and to a right end; yem, that all thould be done in the perfection of degrces, to the uttermost that is required: Now if fouts pore on this, and Jook only on this, no wonder the devil tempt him either to loofenefs or defpair; the way therefore is to go out of thyself, and to rely upon the alone righteousness and obes dience of Jefus Christ, as being in itself all-fufficient for thy justification and falvation : Thou canft not perform the daties of obedience which the law requřeth, but Chrift hath done it, and God himself profeffeth that he is well pleased with him, andi as contented with him and his obes cience for thee, as if done by thyself. Surely this is gof
? pel, the glad tidings: O what courage and comfort ways thou take at this news!
4. As to hell, with which the devil frights thee: Me. ditate that hell is thy desert, but heaven is God's gift; and tho Satan may hold thee over hell, yet he canno turn thee joto hell; if the Lord will save thee, not all the devils in hell can possibly damo thee :: And is hell a place to be expected, or rather to be avoided Tell Sacan to liis face, that thou wilt oot willingly be his companion in torments, and therefore thou wilt not fo far gratify him, nor be so cruel to thylelf, as to be led by him into that grily gulph of despair, which is the very next door to hell; no, io, thou wilt rather hope and wait pa God in a way of taatentedness to be at his disposal; fay, If the Lord wild have mercy on me, I shall live, or if the Lord will glorify bis power and justice is condemning me, which I have deferved, 1 muft die, only I will hope and wait, and be contented still to be at the Lord's disposal, and not at Sa. tan's; and therefore avaunt devils, be gope, I am of Paul's mind, we are troubled on every fide, but not diftreded; we are perplexed, but not ia despair, 2 Cor. iv. 8.
Object. Ore objection here must be removed: The foul Bow in fear, or leofe of misery, is advised for the avoid. ing of despair to look on justice as its friend in Chrift, and to look on Christ as having paid the price for the pardone of its fin, and to rely on the obedience of Chrift as allfufficient for its falvation, and to hope, and wait, and to be content to be at God's disposal: Now how should the Foul do thus that is in a state of nature? All these are the props and peculiar works of believers, and not of the udregenerate; what can they do to be saved? Or what can they do to refift Satan in order to conversion ? I answer,
1. Men, tho' unregenerate, may yet be in the use of means, duties and ordinances; and if ever the Spirit comes into the hearts of people, it is usually this way: Nay, 'I Thall say more, that befides the rational acts of moditation, application, sc. which are common to men, the Spirit of God doth always in a general, but fometimes in a fpecial way draw ont chofe acts, fo.as may be moft for God's glow ry and our good. For example, ir is in the power of dam ture to go to church, and to hear the word; yet that I go at such a time, (it may be against my own inclination) and that I observe the word, and lay it up, and meditate on it more than others, this is the Spirit's special influence; by way of gifts. for id all tbis there may be no grace Dei. ther.
2. The men I am speaking to,' I do not look upon as wholly unregenerate, nor as yet regenerate, they are just as einbryos in the womb before they have any perfect fhape; weither are they as they were, nor as they must be, but imperfect creatures of God's Spirit, that will, if the womb miscarry not, be children of God. Now in this case I suppose thou mayst go farther than a mere natural man; as for instance, thou mayst hope, and if thy hope be not the grace of hope, yet grace may be femiaally in it, and may first appear by it. Mr. Ford, a reverend divide, gives us the distinction of a gracious hope, and a rational or moral hope, whereby the soul comes up to a firm af. fent of this propofition, Tho' my case is sad, yet it is not desperate: Now altho' grace doth not always attend or accompany this hope, yet the Spirit of God doth use it, as it doth all other preparatory works, to dispose the soul for grace: Nay, faith my author, I know not, but if that the foul follow this moral hope, with a constant use of all means and ordinances, and in them resolve to cast himself upon Christ, to be saved by him in his own way: I fay, I know not but this hope may be the immediate ground, if not the vehicle or chariot of the very first act of justify. ing faith; wherefore let this hope produce waiting, and let this hope and waiting in the use of meaos produce endeavours and resolutions to believe in Chrift, and then to look on justice' as thy friend in Christ, and to look on Christ as having paid the price for the pardoo of thy fio, and to rely on the obedience of Christ as all-sufficient for thy salvation. This for the defeature of the first asfault.
3. To that assault of self-murder, I almost tremble to name it, yet if Satan injects such thoughts, let the poor foul consider, this sia above other lips is against God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and thy neighbour, and thy owe felf.
1. Against God, in breaking his pure and perfect law, : Thou balt not kill. If it be an horrible crying fin to kill : another, if it stain the face of a whole kingdom with such
a bloody brand, that it cannot be razed out but by the blood of him that shed it, Numb. xxxv. 33. surely it is much more execrable and villainous to kill a man's self,
for not only God's law, but his majesty, crown and digoi- ty are struck at by this fin.
2. Again it Jesus Christ, for hath he pot bought thee with his dearest heart-blood? Why then should it thou murder another man's servant? Hath he not iavited thee to come in and close with him, and told thee that the union should be dear, as near might be, betwixt thy soul and him: Why then shouldlt thou offer violence, maiming, deformity, to his mystical body? If any lia be a crucifying of Christ, this must peeds be one: Hearken then to the voice of Christ from heaven, Saul, Saul, why perfecutest thou me? I am Jesus of Nazareth whose image thou defaceft, and whom thou killeft.
3. Against the holy Spirit, whose office it is to fanctify us, to dwell in us, to reveal unto us the mercies of God, the merits of Christ, the power of the word, the sweetdess of the promises, to beget id us assurance, and hope, and affiance, and patience, and Christian fortitude: But that thou layeft violent hands on thyself, contrary to all these holy operations, thou defilert thyself with thy own blood, thou ruineft the house and habitation of the Spirit, and thrusts bim out of his lodging; thou trampleft upod the truth of all these glorious discoveries of the Spirit of grace, and for his promises of assurance, hope, patience, fortitude, thou neglecteft and rejectest them all. Oh what a fip is this !
4. Against thy neighboor; for hereby the church is of fended, the land is defiled, thy friends, kindred, wife, children, parents, are grieved and ashamed; yea, the ve
ry name, house, posterity, are stained and branded; or if 1
all this be little in thy eyes, consider how the mouths of God's enemies are thereby opened, and the profession of religion is hereby vilified: Is it not usual for worldlings in this case to cenfure thy over-much ftudying of the foris.