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tion for the greatest sins. The soul now properly sees the preciousness of Christ, and so does properly see and understand the very ground and reason of his acceptableness to God, and the value God sets on his blood, obedience, and intercession. This satisfies the poor guilty soul, and gives it rest, when the finest and most elaborate discourses about the sufficiency of Christ and suitableness of the way of salvation, would not do it. When a man comes to see the proper foundation of faith and affiance with his own eyes, then he believes savingly. "He that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, hath everlasting life;" John vi. 40. When Christ thus manifests God's name to men, then they believe that all things whatsoever God has given to Christ are of him, and believe that Christ was sent of God; John xvii. ¤, 7,8. And "they that thus know Christ's name will trust in him;" Psalm ix. 10. In order to true faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God is revealed in men, Gal. i. 15, 16. And it is this sight of the divine beauty of Christ, that bows the wills, and draws the hearts of men. A sight of the greatness of God in his attributes may overwhelm men, and be more than they can endure; but the enmity and opposition of the heart may remain in its full strength, and the will remain inflexible. Whereas one glimpse of the moral and spiritual glory of God, and the supreme amiableness of Jesus Christ shining into the heart, overcomes and abolishes this opposition, and inclines the soul to Christ, as it were, by an omnipotent power. So that now, not only the understanding, but the will and the whole soul receives and embraces the Saviour. This is most certainly the discovery, which is the first internal foundation of a saving faith in Christ in the soul of the true convert, and not any immediate outward or inward witness that Christ loves him, or that he died for him in particular, and is his Saviour; so begetting confidence and joy, and a seeming love to Christ, because he loves him. By such faith and conversion, (demonstrably vain and counterfeit,) multitudes have been deluded. The sight of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, works true supreme love to God. This is a sight of the proper foundation of supreme love to God, viz. the supreme loveliness of his nature; and a love to him on this ground is truly above any thing that can come from a mere principle of self-love, which is in the hearts of devils as well as men. And this begets true spiritual and holy joy in the soul, which is indeed joy in God, and glorying in him, and not rejoicing in ourselves.
This sight of the beauty of divine things, will excite true desires and longings of soul after those things; not like the longings of devils, but natural, free desires; the desires of appetite, the thirstings of a new nature, as a new-born babe desires the mother's breast; and as a hungry man longs for some VOL. VI.
pleasant food he thinks of; or, as the thirsty hart pants after the cool and clear stream.
This sense of divine beauty is the first thing in the actual change made in the soul in true conversion, and is the foundation of every thing else belonging to that change; as is evident by those words of the apostle, 2 Cor. iii. 18. "But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
2. Truly gracious affections and exercises of mind differ from such as are counterfeit, which arise from no higher principles than are in the hearts of devils, in their tendency; and that in these two respects.
(1.) They are of a tendency and influence very contrary to that which was especially the devil's sin, even pride. That pride was in a peculiar manner the devil's sin, is manifest from 1 Tim. iii. 6. Not a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil." False and delusive experiences evermore tend to this, though oftentimes under the disguise of great and extraordinary humility. Spiritual pride is the prevailing temper and general character of hypocrites, deluded with false discoveries and affections.They are, in general, of a disposition directly contrary to those two things belonging to the Christian temper, directed to by the apostle; the one in Rom. xii. 16. "Be not wise in your
own conceit;" and the other in Phil. ii. 3. "Let each esteem others better than themselves." False experience is conceited
of itself, and affected with itself. Thus he that has false humility, is much affected to think how he is abased before God.He that has false love, is affected, when he thinks of the greatness of his love. The very food and nourishment of false experience, is to view itself, and take much notice of itself; and, its very breath and life is to be some way showing itself. Whereas, truly gracious views and affections, are of a quite contrary tendency. They nourish no self-conceit; no exalting notion of the man's own righteousness, experience, or privileges; no high conceit of his humiliations. They incline to no ostentation, nor self-exaltation, under any disguise whatsoever. But that sense of the supreme, holy beauty, and glory of God and Christ, which is the foundation of them, mortifies pride, and truly humbles the soul. It not only cuts off some of the outermost branches, but it strikes at the very root of pride; it alters the very nature and disposition of the heart. light of God's beauty, and that alone, truly shows the soul its own deformity, and effectually inclines it to exalt God and abase itself.
(2.) These gracious exercises and affections differ from the other in their tendency to destroy Satan's interest; and that in two respects:
First, in the person himself. They cause the soul to hate every evil and false way, and to produce universal holiness of heart and life, disposing him to make the service of God, the promotion of his glory, and the good of mankind, the very business of his life; whereas those false discoveries and affections have not this effect. There may, indeed, be great zeal, and a great deal of what is called religion; but it is not a truly Christian zeal; it is not being zealous of good works. Their religion is not the service of God; it is not seeking and serving God; but, indeed, seeking and serving themselves. Though there may be a change of life, it is not a change from every wicked way to a uniform Christian life and practice, but only turning the stream of corruption from one channel to another. Thus the apostle James distinguishes, in our context, a true faith from the faith of devils; James ii. 19, 20. แ "Thou believest that there is one God. The devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" And thus the apostle John distinguishes true communion with God; 1 John i. 6, 7. "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin." By this he distinguishes true spiritual knowledge, chap. ii. 3, 4. "Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." And hereby the same apostle distinguishes true love, chap. iii. 18, 19. "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, bat in deed (in work, as the word signifies) and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him."
2. Truly gracious experiences have a tendency to destroy Satan's interest in the world.
When false religion, consisting in the counterfeits of the operations of the Spirit of God, and in high pretences and great appearances of inward experimental religion, prevails among a people though for the present it may surprise many, and may be the occasion of alarming and awakening some sinners-it tends greatly to wound and weaken the cause of vital religion, and to strengthen the interest of Satan, desperately to harden the hearts of sinners, exceedingly to fill the world with prejudice against the power of godliness, to promote infidelity and licentious principles and practices, to build up and make strong the devil's kingdom in the world, more than open vice and pro
faneness, or professed Atheism, or public persecution, and, perhaps, more than any thing else whatsoever.
But it is not so with true religion, in its genuine beauty. That, if it prevails in great power, will, doubtless, excite the: rage of the devil, and many other enemies of religion." However, it gives great advantage to its friends, and exceedingly strengthens their cause, and tends to convince or confound enemies. True religion is a divine light in the souls of the saints; and, as it shines out in the conversation before men, it tends to induce others to glorify God. There is nothing like it (as to means) to awaken the consciences of men, to convince infidels, and to stop the mouths of gainsayers.-Though men naturally bate the power of godliness, yet when they see the fruits of it, there is a witness in their consciences in its favour. "He that serveth Christ in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, is acceptable to God, and approved of men, Rom. xiv. 17, 18. The prevailing of true religion, ever tends to its honour in the world, though it commonly is the occasion of great persecution. It is a sure thing, the more it appears, and is exemplified in the view of the world, the more will its honour, and the honour of its author, be advanced. Phil. i. 11. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.”
The third use may be of exhortation, to seek those distinguishing qualifications and affections of squl, which neither the devil, nor any unholy being, has, or can have.
How excellent is that inward virtue and religion which consists in those! Herein consists the most excellent experiences of saints and angels in heaven. Herein consists the best experience of the man Christ Jesus, whether in his humbled or glorified state. Herein consists the image of God.Yea, this is spoken of in scripture as a communication of something of God's own beauty and excellency. A participation of the divine nature, 2 Peter i. 4. A partaking of his holiness, Heb. xii. 10. A partaking of Christ's fulness, John i. 16. Hereby the saints are filled with all the fulness of God, Eph. iii. 18, 19. Hereby they have fellowship with both the Father and the Son, 1 John i. 3; that is, they communicate with them in their happiness. Yea, by means of this divine virtue, there is a mutual indwelling of God and the saints; 1 John iv. 16. "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."
This qualification must render the person that has it, excellent and happy indeed, and doubtless is the highest dignity and blessedness of any creature. This is the peculiar gift of God, which he bestows only on his special favourites. As to silver, gold, and diamonds, earthly crowns and kingdoms, he often throws them out to those whom he esteems as dogs and
swine; but this is the peculiar blessing of his dear children.This is what flesh and blood cannot impart. God alone can bestow it. This was the special benefit which Christ died to procure for his elect, the most excellent token of his everlasting love; the chief fruit of his great labours, and the most precious purchase of his blood,
By this, above all other things, do men glorify God. By this, above all other things, do the saints shine as lights in the world, and are blessings to mankind. And this, above all things, tends to their own comfort; from hence arises that "peace which passeth all understanding," and that "joy which is unspeakable and full of glory." And this is that which will most certainly issue in the eternal salvation of those who have it. It is impossible that the soul possessing it, should sink and perish. It is an immortal seed; it is eternal life begun; and, therefore, they that have it, can never die. It is the dawning of the light of glory. It is the day-star risen in the heart, that is a sure forerunner of that sun's rising which will bring on an everlasting day. This is that water which Christ gives; which is in him that drinks it, "a well of water springing up into everlasting life;" John iv. 14. It is something from heaven, of a heavenly nature, and tends to heaven. And those that have it, however they may now wander in a wilderness, or be tossed to and fro on a tempestuous ocean, shall certainly arrive in heaven at last, where this heavenly spark shall be increased and perfected, and the souls of the saints all be transformed into a bright and pure flame, and they shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Amen.