« AnteriorContinua »
should be even as a weaned child." Thy desires must be to thy spiritual husband; to grant them or refuse them as seems good in his sight, saying with David, Let him do to me as seemeth good in his sight. A will of our own, not subordinated to the will of God, is a sinful rebellious bent of spirit, and the fountain of all our miseries with respect to things of this life. In the day the soul takes Christ it gives up its own will and resigns itself to his will, saying from henceforth, Thy will be done. And much of this death consists in holding by and renewing that resignation. It makes one's will yield to the will of the Lord, as the wax to the seal.
Lastly, To your life in the world, Luke xiv. 26. Your bodies must be the Lord's, not only for service, but a sacrifice too, if he pleaseth. None go to heaven but martyrs, if not in action, yet in affection. Perhaps the Lord may have use for thy health, strength, a leg or limb of thy body, yea, for thy blood. Be dead to them all, that they may be at his service. What a vain thing is the life of man on earth? It is a stage of miseries, a thing of which one may be quickly made weary and sick, and long to be made free of; an inordinate affection to it is a dangerous thing, in this ensnaring world.
Motive 1. Consider the vanity of the world, and all that is in it, Eccl. 1. 2. It is but a heap of vanities, which deserves not lively affections, and they who are most dead to it are the most happy.
There is an insufficiency in all things under the sun, there can be no dependence upon them, without being deceived. They are all greater in expectation than in fruition, fairest afar off, and the more one has expected them, the more piercing is the disappointment. They can never fill the soul. You shall as soon fill your hands with wind, grasp your arms full of dreams and shadows, as fill your hearts with the world's dry breasts, Isa. lv. 2.-There is an unsuitableness betwixt the soul and them. The soul is spiritual, they are carnal earthly things. The soul is immortal, they are perishing, so that your hearts can no more feed on them and prosper, than the fishes on meadows, or dry ground. There is also an uncertainty in them. Nothing is constant here but inconstancy and change. One may be stripped of them in life. "For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away, as an eagle toward heaven." This world is a wheel where the spoak now uppermost turns presently lowest one day saw Job rich and poor to a proverb. You may have comfortable relations, which may quickly be taken from you, or your comfort in them lost. The most untainted reputation may be killed with the bite of a malicious mouth. And our very life hangs on a thousand uncertainties.
Death will surely strip us of them at length, and at what time it comes we know not. We carry nothing hence but a coffin and a winding sheet; and we are not sure even of these. Sometimes many fair bodies have but served to fill up a ditch, or to be a feast to the fishes of the sea. It were our wisdom then to sit loose to that which we must necessarily part with.
Motive 2. Deadness to the world would make you very easy, in all the changes with which we may meet in the world; he who hath attained it cannot be miserable, meet with what he may. The smiles of the world he would not much value, and the frowns of it, he would little regard. The heaviest cross would be but light, if it wanted the overweight which a man alive to the world lays upon it. What is the rise of so much uneasy walking under the cross, but that we are wedded to this and the other thing, and so being exceedingly glad of our gourd while we have it, we are exceedingly sorry and fretful when it is withered. As ever then you would be easy whatever weather blow in the world, strive to be dead to it. Motive 3. Consider what this world is; a right view of it might stir us up to die to it: men are deceived with the fair show which it makes. O! to see it in its true colours.
It is Satan's bait, by which he draws men in shoals down the stream into the sea of God's wrath. They run after it, and gaping for the bait are caught with the hook. Judas was ruined with the thirty pieces. Demas turned apostate for the present world. The profits and pleasures of it are in the two horns, with which it pushes many to their wound, and most part to death. The devil attacked the second Adam with it, Matth. iv. 9. For by that means he had prevailed with our first parents.
It is the wicked's portion, Psal. xvii. 14. The most part of it is dealt amongst them who are to expect no portion in the glory to be revealed. It was a sad memorandum given to the rich man in hell, "Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things." Alas! that men should be so fond of that upon which God puts such contempt as that he makes it the portion of those whom he hates.
It is the snare of the godly, in which their feet are apt to be entangled. While they walk through it, they are as among lions' dens, where they are often alarmed, wounded and almost rent in pieces, pierced through with many sorrows. How often does that mist rise from it, which hides their sun at noon day? And therefore they are often longing to be beyond the reach of it; its smiles and its frowns. And it is a victory glorious in their eyes, when they overcome it. The world is a passing show. The fashion of it
passeth away. A gaudy vanity that lasteth for a little time, and draws the eyes of foolish men after it; but it will quickly be gone. The stage of vanity will be taken down. This bewitching world will go all to the flames at length, 2 Peter iii. 7. The sweet of that intoxicating cup will soon be drunk out, but the dregs of it will taste for ever to those who set their hearts upon it.
Motive 4. Consider the great advantages of deadness to the world. It would be the very life of the soul. It would fit you to act for God and to be useful to men. Consider who they are that in all ages have been most useful for God in their day, acting for his honour, cause, and interest among men. And you will find they were men dead to the world. "Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ, greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect to the recompense of reward." Says Paul, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." The world is a mighty clog, and often so entangles many good men that they become very restless, and often sit under a cloud. Therefore we are exhorted "to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and to run with patience, the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."
This deadness would also fit you to suffer for God, Acts xx. 24. He that is dead to the world, is in a proper state to take up Christ's cross, and follow him, however heavy it be. This will keep you safe in a time of trial, when others whose hearts are glued to the world will be ready to make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.
It will fit you for communion with God here, Psal. iv. 6-8. This earth interposeth betwixt us and the sun of righteousness makes an eclipse of the light of the Lord's countenance to us. But were it rolled away out of the heart, and the affections to it deadened, our sky from above would clear up; even as the manna fell after the provision brought from Egypt was done. The Lord's people had much sweet communion with him in the duties of religion, during the times of persecution, for then they were in a great measure dead to the world. But since they have become more alive to the world, they have grown more dead to God.
It would also make you fit for heaven. "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?" He that is dead to the world his heart is in heaven, and his treasures there, and that makes heaven home to a man. When death comes, it would make a man fall like ripe fruit from a tree; whereas a heart unweaned from the world, makes a person unmeet for death and for another world.
Directions 1. Pray, and look to the Lord for the light of his Spirit, to discover to you the vanity of the world. This alone can make you see to purpose an end of all perfection. Men by considering this world, and by their own experience of it, cannot fail to make a rational discovery of the vanity of it. But alas! that can no more deaden their hearts, than painted fire can burn off one's bonds. But the light of the Spirit is the light of life, powerful and efficacious, and will give one the world under his feet. John Baptist said, "Jesus shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."
2. Believe and live in the exercise of faith. "For whosoever is born of God, overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Close then with Christ in the gospel offer, "taking him in whom all fulness dwells," for your all. Thus the heart going out after Christ will drop the vain world. Faith's discoveries of Christ mortify men to the world, Matthew xiii. 45, 46. The heart of man is an empty thing, and must be filled from without itself; and there is no way to take it off the world, but to place them on Christ the better portion. 3. Look off from the world. Look not at the things which are seen. Dwell not on the thoughts of the world but turn away your eyes from its deceitful allurements and beg grace for that purpose, saying, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way." The first sin began at looking, and if man was brought down from his perfect innocence, by that means; how difficult is it for the corrupt heart not to be fired with temptation, while a person thus courts it.
4. Look much at the other world where glory dwells. Look at the things which are not seen and which are eternal. The more you think of that world and the happiness there, the more you will prize it. And the more you prize it, the more you will undervalue the present world. They will be dead to the world, who have their conversation in heaven, as from the stars this earth would appear a small thing.
Lastly, Meditate much on the sufferings of Christ, and by faith make application of them to yourselves, Gal. vi. 14. Often think how the world treated Christ, how he became poor that we might be made rich; how he was put to death; and consider all this as for thee, so shall virtue come from his cross to make you dead to the world. Then you will say, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Amen.
Ettrick, March 11, 1716.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRAY FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS.
ZECHARIAH xii. 12.
And the land shall mourn, every family apart, the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart.
IT hath been for some time past, a time of penal mourning through the land, families, congregations, and the nation mourning under the calamities of war; and withal the very earth mourning, and the beasts, under an extraordinary storm. And though both sword and storm are removed, so severe have they been, that the cheeks of the mourners are not yet dried. God grant it may be done before the clouds return after the rain. These things call for dutiful mourning and reformation, national, family, and personal. With a view to these, I am to press two duties, family and personal fasting; the rareness of these at this day, is sad evidence that the land is in a back-going condition. We have both in the text.
The scope of the text is to shew the universal mourning that shall be among the Jews when they shall see their sins.
1. There is a general mourning foretold to be among them. And the land shall mourn, every family apart.
As to the time to which this refers, it is plain that this is an effect of that out-pouring of the Spirit, ver. 10. which shall make them mourn for their crucifying Christ, as that piercing is applied as literally fulfilled, John xix. 37. They shall look on him whom they have pierced. So that this out-pouring of the Spirit, and consequently the mourning refers to the time of the gospel, after the death of Christ. Now if it be fulfilled already, it must refer to that, Acts ii. 5, 37, 41. But as the scripture does not say that it was fulfilled then, so I judge that it was not the fulfilling of it, though it might be a pledge thereof. For this out-pouring and mourning are to be in a day, "When God will seek to destroy the nations that come against Jerusalem," ver. 9. But the out-pouring and mourning in the Acts were in a day that the Lord was about to destroy Jerusalem itself. Therefore I judge it is yet to be fulfilled, in the time of the calling of the Jews. When their deliverance, ver. 9, the out-pouring of the Spirit, ver. 10, and this mourning shall go together.