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THE LIFE OF FAITH,
RECOMMENDED IN A LETTER FOUND IN THE STUDY OF A REVEREND DIVINE, BEING AN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, HOW TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD SO AS TO LIVE IN HEAVEN ?
Your's I received ; and thought on that question, being “How to live in this world, so as to live in heaven?" It is one of the common pleas of my heart, which I have often occasion to study, and therefore takes me not unprovided. It is hard to keep the helm up against so many crosswinds as we meet withal upon this sea of fire and glass.
That man knoweth not his own heart that finds it not difficult to break through the entanglements of the world. Creature-smiles stop and entice a way the affections from Jesus Christ; creaturefrowns encompass and tempestuate the spirit, that it thinks it doth well to be angry. Both ways grace is a loser. We all need to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. .
The greatest of our conflicts and causes of complaint seem to have their original here: Temptations follow tempers. As there are two predominant qualities in the temper of every body, so there are two predominant sins in the temper of every heart. Pride is one in all nen in the world. I will tell you familiarly what God hath done for my soul, and in what trade my soul keeps towards himself.
I am come to a conclusion, to look after no great matters in the world, but to know Christ and him crucified. I make best way in a low gale. A high spirit, and a high sail together will be very dangerous ; and therefore I prepare to live now. I desire not much. I pray against it. My study is my calling ; so much as to tend that
without distraction I am bound to plead for, and • more I desire not. By my secluded retirements,
I have advantage to observe how every day's occasions insensibly wear off the heart from God, and bury it in self; which they who live in care and lumber cannot be sensible of. I have seemed to see a need of every thing God gives me, and to want nothing that he denies me. There is no dispensation, though afflicted, but either in it or after it I find I could not be without it, whether it be taken from me, or not given to me; sooner or later, God quiets me in himself without it. I cast all my concerns on the Lord, and live securely on the care and wisdom of my Heavenly Father. My ways, you know, are in some sense, hedged in with thorns, and grow darker and darker daily; but yet I distrust not my good God in the least, and live quietly in the absence of all, by faith, than I should do, I am persuaded, if I possessed them. I think the Lord deals kindly with me, to make me believe for all my mercies before I have them; they then will be Isaacs, sons of laughter. The less reason hath to work upon, the more freely faith casts itself on the faithfulness of God. I find that whilst faith is steady, nothing can disquiet me; and when faith totters, nothing can establish me. If I tumble out amongst means and creatures, I am presently lost, and can
come to no end; but if I stay myself on God, and leave him to work in his own way and time, I am at rest, and can sit down and sleep in a promise, when a thousand rise up against me; therefore my way is not to cast before hand, but to work with God by the day. “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof." I find so much to do continually with my calling and my heart, that I have no time to puzzle myself with peradventures and futurities. As for the state of the times, it is very gloomy and tempestuous. But, “Why do the heathen rage?” Faith lies at anchor in the midst of the waves, and believes the accomplishment of the promise through all those overturnings, confusions, and seeming impossibilities.
Upon this God do I live, who is our God for ever, and will guide us to the death. Methinks I lie becalmed in his bosom, as Luther in such a case. I am not much concerned; let Christ see to it. I know prophecies are now dark, and the books are sealed, and men have all been deceived, and every cistern fails, yet God doth continue faithful ; and faithful is he that hath promised, who will do it. I believe these dark times are the womb of a bright morning.
Many things more I might have said ; but enough. Oh! brother, keep close to God, and then you need fear nothing. Maintain secret and intimate communion with God, and then a little of the creature will go a great way. Take time for duties in private ; croud not religion into a corner of the day. There is a Dutch proverb:“Nothing is got by thieving, nor lost by praying." Lay up all your good in God, so as to overbalance the sweetness and bitterness of all creatures. Spend no time anxiously in forehand contrivances for this world ; they never succeed ; God will run his dispensations another way. Selfcontrivances are the effects of unbelief. I can speak by experience. Would men spend those hours they run out in plots and devices, in communion with God, and leave all on him by venturesome believing, they would have more peace and comfort.
I leave you with your God and mine. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit. Pray for your own soul; pray for Jerusalem; and pray hard for your poor brother.
In all my troubles sharp and strong,
My soul to Jesus flies;
When swelling billows rise.
His comforts bear my spirit up;
I trust a faithful God :
Is in a Saviour's blood.
Loud hallelujahs sing, my soul,
To thy Redeemer's name:
His love is still the same.
THE BIBLE THE FOUNTAIN OF TRUTH, AND THE ONLY PROPER RULE OF RELIGIOUS FAITH AND PRACTICE.
TO THE LAW AND TO THE TESTIMONY; IF THEY SPEAK NOT
ACCORDING TO THIS WORD, IT IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO LIGHT IN THEM. Isaiah viii. 20.
“SHALL I take the mind of the Creator, on the report of the creature, when if I will, I have an opportunity of hearing the voice of the Creator himself?" If-as in a former number we have endeavoured to show the Bible is the only source of truth; if its great design is to communicate truth, and if men, all men, are the persons to whom the truth has reference, then, we must use the Bible as the standard and rule by which to measure, and try whatever claims to be truth. Among Pagan philosophers who knew nothing of Divine revelation, who never heard this oracle of Heaven, saying, “Search the scriptures" &c. it was a general sentiment, that it became every wise and good man to adopt the religion of his country; the government of that country furnishing him with his religion, excluding him from all opinion and choice in the matter, and requiring him, on pain of death, to fall down and worship whatever God or Gods the state might patronize and choose. And there are not a few who have heard and read the declaration, “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to these, it is because there is no truth in them," who deem it neither a degradation to their understandings, nor a violation of conscience, to dispense with the trouble of a serious investigation on this point; and to shelter themselves from all unwelcome references to their responsibility, behind the name which their birth in a Christian land has conferred, or, the peculiarities of a creed which is exclusively patronized. Is the Pagan principle to which we have just adverted correct, or not? Is the virtual adoption of this principle, though in a modified degree, capable of vindication, or not? Are we to be of the religion of our country, because it is the established religion of our country even without knowing how it