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so often seem to give up with it, and in very deed have satisfaction in nothing, and yet go just back to the same door, where they have got a thousand nay-says, and seemed to have got their last answer ? Why, truly, the devil is gone out of the house, but it is empty, it is not filled from heaven, and it must not stand empty; therefore, he returns with seven spirits worse than himself. I shall now inquire,
III. What are the effects of a weaned disposition of soul ?
The soul is weaned at its first conversion to God. Then it is taken off the breasts; but it is hard work, and tedious. The soul is never perfectly weaned till death. As there is an uneasiness and fretfulness in new weaned children, till thoroughly weaned, so is there in the case of the children of God while here. Hence it is said to them, Psalm xly. 10, “ Hearken, 0 daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear: forget also thine own people, and thy father's house.” So the effects of this disposition are more or less strong, as souls are more or less thoroughly weaned. I shall notice some of these effects.
1. The weaned soul is a resigned soul: “If any man,” said Jesus, Matth. xvi. 24,"will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” When the soul is weaned, the long war betwixt our own will and the will of God is at an end, and our will runs captive after the wheels of the Lord's triumphant chariot. The will of the weaned soul is moulded, (1.) To the will of God's commandments. The stony heart is broken, yea, melted down, to receive the impression of whatever is God's will for our duty. Its language is, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” No right hand, or right eye, more to be spared. They esteem all God's precepts concerning all things to be right, and they hate every false way, Psalm cxix. 128. All carnal reasonings, in favour of lusts, must yield to the great authority of the Lawgiver. (2.) To the will of his providence. It will no more rally its forces, to decide the question, whether God's will or their will shall carry it as to their lot; but as the weaned child is at the nurse's disposal, 80 will they be at God's. If that which is crooked cannot be made straight, they will comply with it as it is. If their lot cannot be brought up to their mind, their mind shall be brought down to their lot. Like Paul, “ they learn, in whatsoevér state they are, therewith to be content,” Phil. iv. 11.
2. The weaned soul is cheerful, and not fretful in its resignation. He says, not only just, but “Good is the will of the Lord,” Isa. xxxix. 8. It makes a man carry Christ's yoke evenly; for, to go drooping under it, is a sign of a heart not right weaned. What
God does is not only well done, but best done; so says the weaned soul.
3. The weaned soul stands on other grounds, when created comforts are with him, and even when created streams are ruuning full: he draws his support in both cases from God as the fountain. Such say, like Hannah, 1 Sam. ii. 1, "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord;" and, with David, Psalm xviii. 46, “ The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock: and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” The world's good things shall not be their good things. They will love them as a friend, but not be wedded to them as a husband. They will use them as a staff, but not build upon them as a pillar.
4. The weaned soul will stand without them when these are gone, for they were not the props on which his house rested. Such a soul can adopt the prayer of Habakkuk, chap. iii. 17, 18, “ Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be found in the vine; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Ah! that soul is in a sad case, whose comfort waxeth and weaneth, just according to the waxing and weaning of created comforts; is satisfied or starved, just according as these breasts are full or empty. Thus many lose all spirit and life in religion, when God takes away their worldly comforts.
5. The weaned soul uses creative comforts passingly. They follow the directions of Paul, 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30, 31, “That both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away." The greedy grip the heart takes of these things, in the use of them, is a sad sign of an unweaned soul. It was the sin of the old world, they were eating and drinking like beasts. The weaned soul will do in these like the dogs of Egypt, who run when they lap the water of the Nile, for fear of the crocodiles.
6. The weaned soul casts itself upon the Lord, without carnal anxiety, as the weaned child depends on the mother's care. This seems partly aimed at in the text. The soul is easy not on a sensible prospect, but on the faith of the promise. They are “careful for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let their requests be made known to God,” Phil. iv. 6.
Lastly, The weaned soul strives to starve, but never to provide for their lusts. These are the suckers, which, the more they are satisfied, just the more they crave. They have much to do who have these to feed. of righteousness, than, after you have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto you, 2 Pet. ii. 21. If ye go back yo shall not feed on the seat at so cheap a rate as before. (6.) A weaned soul will fit you for suffering; and you have need of it, when the work of God is in such danger. It will keep you safe in times of trial, when others, glued to the world and lusts, will turn their backs. (7.) It will fit you for communion with God, and you shall have it. The manna fell, when the provision brought from Egypt was done. Lastly, It will fit you for heaven; and there you shall be filled.
IV. It remains to make some practical improvement. And,
1. In an use of information. This shews us, (1.) Who they are that have met with Christ, and been feasted at this communion; even those whose souls are now like a weaned child. Are your hearts turned to loath your lusts, weaned from sucking the dry breasts of the world, and ye must liave your food from heaven? then the Lord is not sending you away empty. (2.) Your hearts are not right with God, while they are not weaned. If no weaning influences have reached your hearts, no gracious influences have. You will be nothing the better of this communion; nay, it is like you will be the worse of it; if you get not your hearts weaned on this occasion, your lusts will be more rampant after this; like the child that is most fond of the breast after it has been long away from it.
2. Use of exhortation. I exhort you to labour to get a weaned soul. To urge you to this, I would propose the following motives. (1.) How sad is it that a heaven-born soul should be held at such fulsome breasts as those fleshly lasts are, at such empty breasts as those of the world are ! Is there not better food, and more plentiful, set before you, even Christ himself, and all the benefits of the everlasting covenant ? Leave those to the swine, and let your precious souls eat that which is good. (2.) Your souls will never get satisfaction there. You shall as soon fill your hands with the wind, or grasp your arms full of dreams and shadows, as fill your souls at the dry breasts of the world. It is spending your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not. (3.) They are altogether unsuitable to your souls. The soul is spiritual, they are earthly things; your souls are immortal, they are perishing; and ye can no more feed on them to thrive, than fishes on meadows; nor in the breasts of your lusts, no more than salt water will quench thirst. (4.) A weaned soul would mako you very easy. The man that has it can never be miserable, meet with what he will. The heaviest cross would be very light, if eased of the overweight an unweaned soul lays upon it. What is the rise of so much uneasiness, but that we are wedded to this and the other thing, and being exceeding glad to have it, are exceeding sorry to part with it. It would make you easy to others also. (5.) An unweaned soul is the root of apostacy; it will expose you to many temptations, and may carry you off from the way of the Lord altogether. It will make you a reproach to religion; and it had been better for you not to have known the way
In conclusion, study the mortification of your lusts. What need for these things, if you had not living lusts to feed on them? Feed on Christ and spiritual things. Take him instead of that which the world and lusts offer. Amen.
THE DANGER OF NOT WAITING ON GOD AFTER THE DUE ORDER..
1 CHRON. XV. 13, For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach
upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.
The ark of God having been brought from Kirjath-jearim, and left at the house of Obed-edom, upon the account of the death of Uzza, whom God smote, God blessed that man and his house, where the ark was. The news of this coming to David's ears, he resolves again to attempt the bringing of the ark into his own city, 2 Sam. vi. 12. In this transaction, observe. 1. That the fear of mismanaging a duty may sometimes prevail so far with the people of God, as to make them lay by the duty for a time. David had seen how dear a rash touch of the ark had cost Uzzah; so, says he, 2 Sam. vi. 9, “How shall the ark of the Lord come unto me?" The fear of God, by reason of corruption, easily degenerates into a slavish fear, which cuts the sinews of holy endeavours, and leaves people neither heart nor hand for the work. 2. Lay by duty who will, God will always have some that will take it up. If David have no will for the ark to be with him, Obed-edom will entertain it. Many, in our own day, turn their backs on Christ, and his service; shut their hearts against himself, and their houses against his worship; but God will always have some that will put their shoulders to his work. 3. They are great fools that lay aside duty. They stand in the way of their own mercy, and deprive themselves of that blessing that attends the service of the Lord. 4. The people of God, when they take up duty again, will see themselves the greater fools that ever they laid it by. Well, David, being resolved on the work, proceeds with great caution and circumspection, as we see in the verses preceding that of our reading: the reason of all which we have in the text.
* Delivered August 2, 1707.
In which words there is, 1. An old story brought fresh to mind: "The Lord our God made a breach upon us.” The stroke reached Uzzah, and cut him off, while all the rest were safe; yet the holy man looks on that a stroke to the whole congregation. 2. There is the cause of the stroke: The stroke was dreadful and astonishing, but the holy man lays not the blame on God, but on themselves, and so justifies God. The sin of the Levites was the cause of the stroke: “ For because ye did not at the first,” namely, sanctify yourselves when ye first began to remove the ark from Kirjath-jearim. They did not sanctify and prepare themselves, by solemn prayer and services, in consideration of God's will, as to the way of carrying the ark; as if he had said, We have smarted already by your careJessness, beware of it therefore at this time. The sin of all the congregation, wherein he takes in himself among the rest, also produced the stroke; and that because it was his and the people's duty to have been acquainted with the word of the Lord; and the oversight of the Levites did not excuse them. We sought him, indeed, bringing the ark, the symbol of God's presence, from the place where it was, to be in the midst of us ; but our way of doing marred all. It was God's ordinance that the ark should be carried on the Levites' shoulders, Numb. iv. 15, and vii. 9; but the Philistines had put it on a cart. God did not punish them for this transgression, and this emboldened Israel to follow their example : but they learned by sad experience, that God would not bear that in the one, which he did in the other.-From this subject, I take this
DOCTRINE, God is highly displeased with persons who perform duties, but are not careful to perform them in a right manner.
In discoursing which, I shall shew,
I. How it comes to pass that men perform duties, but are not careful to perform them in a right manner.
II. How the Lord testifies his displeasure against such persons.