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master of such kind of work ; and therefore do it only as to him, so that he may approve and reward it.
Before I leave this point touching the willingness of Christ's people, here is a great case, and of frequent occurrence, to be resolved,-Whether those who are truly of Christ's people, may not have fears, torments, uncomfortableness, weariness, unwillingness in the ways of God. St. John, in general, states the case ; “There is no fear in love ; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment d;" so that it seems where there is torment and weariness, there is no love. For the clearing of this case, I shall set down some few positions :
First, In general, where there is true obedience, there is ever a willing and a free spirit, in this degree at the least, a most deep desire of the heart, and serious endeavour of the spirit of a man to walk in all well-pleasing towards God: a longing for such fulness of grace, and enlargement of soul, as may make a man fit to run the way of God's commandments.
Secondly, Where there is this will, yet there may, upon other reasons, be such a fear as hath pain and torment in it, and that in two respects : First, There may be a fear of God's wrath ; the soul of a righteous man may be surprised with some glimpses and apprehensions of his most heavy displeasure ; he may conceive himself set up as “God's mark to shoot at,” that "the poisoned arrows and terrors of the wrath of God do stick fast upon him,” that "his transgressions are sealed up and reserved against him.” The hot displeasure of the Lord may even "vex his bones and make his soul sore within him h.” He may conceive himself “forgotten and cast out by God," surprised with fearfulness, trembling, and the horror of death. Christ may withdraw himself and be gone, in regard of any comfortable and sensible fruition of his fellowship ; and, in that case the soul may fail, and seek him, but not find him; and call upon him, but receive no answerk. A man may fear the Lord, and yet be in darkness and have no light.com Secondly, There may be a great fear, even of performing
al duties. A broken an dejected man may tremble
apprehension of his own
unworthiness, and erroneous applying of that sad expostulation of God with wicked men, “What hast thou to do to take my covenant in thy mouth m?” And, “What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many?" He may be startled, and not dare adventure upon such holy and sacred things, without much reluctancy and shame of spirit. “O my God," saith Ezra, “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee my God : for our iniquities are increased over our heads.". Thus it is said of the poor woman who, upon the touch of Christ's garment, had been healed of her bloody issue, that “she came fearing and trembling, and fell down" before Christ, and told him the truth P; but yet great difference there is between this fear of the saints and of the wicked. The fear of the wicked ariseth out of the evidences of the guilt of sin; but the fear of the saints, from a tender apprehension of the majesty of God, and his most pure eyes, which cannot endure to behold uncleanness (which made Moses himself to tremble 9), and out of a deep sense of their own unworthiness to meddle with holy things. And such a fear as this may bring much uncomfortableness and distraction of spirit; but never at all any dislike or hatred of God, or any stomachful disobedience against him. For as the fear of the soul deters, so the necessity of the precept drives him to an endeavour of obedience and well-pleasing. Slavish fear forceth a man to do the duty some way or other, without any eye or respect unto the manner of doing it: but this other, which is indeed a filial, but yet withal, an uncomfortable fear, rather dissuades from the duty itself,—the heart being so vile, and unfit to perform so precious a duty, in so holy a manner as becomes it.
Thirdly, As the saints may have fear and uncomfortableness (which are contrary to a free spirit), so they may have a weariness and some kind of unwillingness in God's service. Their spirits, like the hands of Moses in the mount, may faint and hang down, may be damped with carnal affections, or tired with the difficulty of the work, or plucked back by the importunity of temptations ; so that though they begin in the Spirit, yet they may be bewitched and transported from a thorough obedience to the truth.” A deadness, heaviness, insensibility, inactiveness, confusedness of heart, unpreparedness of affections, insinuation of worldly lusts and earthly cares, may distract the hearts, and abate the cheerfulness of the best of us. And hence come those frequent exhortations to stir up ourselves, to prepare our hearts to seek the Lord, to whet the law upon our children, to exhort one another, lest the deceitfulness of sin harden us, to be strong in the grace of Christ, not to faint or be
n Jer. xi, 15.
m Psal. 1. 16. 9 Acts vii. 32.
o Ezra ix. 6.
p Mark v. 33. i Gal. ii. 1, 3.
of well doing, -and the like. All which, and sundry like, intimate a sluggishness of disposition, and natural bearingback of the will from God's service.
Fourthly, The proportion of this discomfort and weariness ariseth from these grounds : First, From the strength of those corruptions, which remain within us: for ever so much fleshliness as the heart retains, so much bias a man hath to turn him from God and his ways, so much clog and incumbrance in holy duties. And this remainder of flesh is in the will as well as in any other faculty, to indispose it unto spiritual actions. As it is in our members, that we cannot do the things which we would ; so, in proportion, it is in our wills, that we cannot with all our strength desire the things which we should. And therefore David praiseth God for this especial grace, “Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort ?' for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given theet"
Secondly, From the dulness or sleepiness of grace in the heart, which, without daily reviving, husbanding, and handling, will be apt to contract a rust, and to be overgrown with that bitter root of corruption within. As a bowl will not move without many rubs and stops in a place overgrown with grass, so the will cannot move with readiness towards God, when the
graces which should actuate it, are grown dull and heavy. A rusty key will not easily open the lock unto which it was first fitted ; nor a negligent grace easily open or enlarge the heart.
Thirdly, From the violent importunity and immodesty of some strong temptations, and unexpellible suggestions, which, frequently presenting themselves to the spirit, do
Gal. v. 17.
tl Chro. xxix. 11.
there beget jealousies to disquiet the peace of the heart. For Satan's first end is to rob us of grace; for which purpose he hearteneth our lusts against us :—but his second is to rob us of comfort, and to toss us up and down between our own fears and suspicions : for unwearied and violent contradictions are apt to beget weariness in the best. “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself,” saith the apostle, “ lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
" Fourthly, From the present weight of some heavy fresh sin, which will utterly indispose the heart unto good. As we see how long security did surprise David, after his murder and adultery. Thus, as Jonah, after his flight from God, fell asleep in the ship; so stupidity, and unaptness to work is ever the child of any notable and revolting sin. When the conscience lieth bleeding under any fresh sin, it hath first a hard task to go through, in a more bitter renewing the tears of repentance. And hard works have, for the most part, some fears and reluctances in the performing of them. Secondly, It hath not such boldness and assurance to be welcome to God. It comes with shame, horror, blushing, and want of peace, and so cannot but find the greater conflict in itself. Thirdly, Sin diswonts a man from God, carries him to thickets and bushes. The soul loves not to be deprehended by God in the company of Satan or any sinful lust. That child cannot but feel some strugglings of shame and unwillingness to come unto his father, who is sure when he comes, to be upbraided with the companions which he more delights in.
Fifthly, From the proportion of the desertions of the Spirit: for the Spirit of God bloweth where and how he listeth; and it is he that worketh our wills unto obedience. If he be grieved and made retire, (for he is of a delicate and jealous disposition,) if he turn his wind from our sails, alas, how slow and sluggish will our motion be! How poor our progress! Upon these and several other the like grounds, may the best of us be possessed with fears, discomforts, and unwillingness in God's service. But yet,
Sixthly, None of all this takes off the will. à toto,' though it do‘à tanto,' but that the faithful, in their great heaviness and unfitness of spirit, have yet a stronger bias towards God, than any wicked man when he is at best : for it is true of them in their lowest condition, that they desire to fear God's name *; that the desire of their soul is towards the remembrance of him Y ; that they are seriously displeased with the distempers and uncomfortableness of their spirit”; that they long to be enlarged, that they may run the ways of God's commandments; that they set their affection unto God and his serviceb; that they prepare their heart to seek the Lord God b; that they strive, groan, wrestle, and are unquiet in their dumps and dulness, earnestly contending for joy and freedom of spiritd: in one word, that they dare not omit those duties, which yet they have no readiness and disposedness of heart to perform; but when they cannot do them in alacrity, yet they do them in obedience, and serve the Lord when he hideth his face from them. “I said, I am cast out of thy sight, yet I will look again towards thy holy temple.” “ He that feareth the Lord, will obey his voice, though he walk in darkness, and have no light f.” So then the faithful have still thus much ground of comfort, that God hath their wills always devoted and resigned unto him ; though thus much likewise they have to bumble them too, the daily experience of a backsliding and tired spirit in his service; and should therefore be exhorted to stir up the Spirit of
u Heb. xii. 3.
the Spirit of grace in themselves, to keep fresh and frequent their communion with Christ. The more acquaintance and experience the heart hath of him, the more abundantly it will delight in him, and make haste unto him, that it may, with St. Paul, apprehend him in fruition, by whom it is already apprehended, and carried up unto heavenly places in assurance and representation. As long as we are here, there will be something lacking to our faith, some mixture of unbelief and distrust with it s. Corruptions, temptations, afflictions, trials, will be apt to beget some fears, discomforts, weariness, and indisposedness towards God's service. The sense whereof should make us long after our home, and, with the apostle, groan, and wait for the adoption, even the redemption of our bodies, for the manifestation of the sons of God (for “though we are now
* Neh, i. 11. bi Chron xxix. 3. ii. 4, f Isai. 1. 10.
y Isai. xxvi. 8. < Psalm xlii. 5. a Psalm cxix. 32 . c 2 Chron. xxx. 19. d Psalm li. 8, 11, 12, e Jonah
g 1 Thes. üi. 10. Mark ix. 24.