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Containing divers practical instructive inferences from this doc
trine ; with a serious exhortation to self-trial and thorough examination.
SECT. I. Infer. 1. RE there such variety of trials appointed to
examine the fincerity of mens graces ; how great a vanity then is hypocrisy, and to how little purpose do men endeavour to conceal and hide it? We say, Murder will out; and we may as confidently affirm, Hypocrify will out. When Rebecca had laid the plot to disguise her son Jacob, and by personating his brother, to get the blessing, Jacob thus objects against it, “My father, peradventure, will feel me, " and I fhall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a « curse upon me, and not a blefling," Gen. xxvii. 12. as if he should fay, but what if my father detect the cheat, how then fhall I look him in the face? How thall I escape a curse? After the same manner every upright foul scares itself from the way of hypocrisy. If I dissemble, and pretend to be what I am not, my Father will find me out. Ah I there is no darkness nor shadow of death that can conceal the hypocrite, but out it will come a lást, let him use all the art he can to hide it. Oftentimes God discovers him by the trials he appoints in this world ; and men in that day shallá return and difcern betwixt « the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth « God, and him that serveth him not," Mal. iii. 18. But if he make an hard shift to get by a private way to hell, carrying this comfort with him to the last step, That no body knows or thinks he is gone thither ; yet there will be a day when God will strip him naked before the great assembly of angels and men, and all shall point at him, and say, Lo! this is the man that made not God his hepe.
This is he that wore a garment of profession to deceive, but God hath now stript him out of it, and all men fee what he is : For, “There is nothing covered, that fhall not be reveal.
ed, and hid, that thall not be known,” Matth. X. 26. And the apostle afsures us, I Tim. v. 24, 25. “That they that are * otherwise, cannot be hid.” If mens works be not good, it is impoffible they should be hid long: A gilded piece of brais
may pass from hand to hand a little while, but the touchstone will discover the base metal : If that do not, the fire will.
O sinners ! away with your hypocrisy, be honest, fincere, plain and hearty in religion: If not, contufion of face fhall be your.recompence from the Lord; that is what you fhall get by it,
Infer. 2. Secondly, Are there such trials appointed and permitted by the Lord for the discovery of his people's fincerity in this world ? Then let none of God's people expect a quiet station in this world; Certainly you fhall meet with no rest here, you must out of one fire into another, and it is a merciful conde. scension of the Lord to poor creatures, thus to concern himself for their safety and benefit: “ What is inan, that thou shouldft " magnify him ? and that thou shouldft set thine heart up: “ on him that thou shouldst visit him every inorning, and “ try him every moment ?” Job vii. 17, 18.
O'it is a great deal of honour put upon a poor worm, when God will every moment try him and visit him į it argues the great efteem the gold-smith hath of his gold, when he will by the furnace himself, and order the fire with his own hand; when he pries so often, and so curiously into the fining-pot, to fee that none of his precious metal, upon which he fets his heart, be loft.
Think it not then a debasing to you to be fo often exposed to trials. If God did not value you highly, he would not try you fo frequently : What would become of you, if your con dition here fhould be more settled and quiet than now it is? I believe you find dross enough in your hearts after all the fires into which God hath cast you : Surely there is filth enough in the best of God's people to take all this, it may be a great deal more trouble than they have yet met with. We fancy it a brave life to live at ease; and if we meet with longer refpites and intervals of trial than usual, we are apt to say, We ihall never be moved, as David did, Pfal. XXX. Q. or we shall die in our neft, as it is Job xxix. 18. Our þard and difficult days are over ; but woe to us if God should give us the desire of our hearts in this. See what the temper of those mens spirits is, that meet with no changes, Pfal. [v. 19.“ Because they have
?1o changes, therefore they fear not God." 0 it is better to be preserved sweet in brine, than to rot in honey!
Infer. 3. Thirdly, Let none boast in a carnal confidence of their own strength and stability. You are yer in a state of trial: Hitherto God hath kept you upright in all your trials ; bless God, but boaft not you are but feathers in the wind of
temptation, if God leave you to yourselves. Peter told Chrift, (and doubtless he spoke no more than he honestly meant) « Though all men forsake thee, yet will not I:". And you know what he did when the hour of his trial came, Matth. xxvi. 35. Angels left to themselves have fallen :: It is better to be an humble worm, than a proud angel.
Ah! how many Pendletons will this profeffing age shew, if once God bring us to the fiery trial “Let him that thinks he “ ftands, take heed left he fall.” You have not yet refifted anto blood, striving against fin. None stand upon firmer ground than those that see nothing in themselves to ttand up: on ; he that lears upon his own arm, usually benumbs it, and makes it useless.
Infer. 4. Fourthly, Doth God kindle fo many fires in Sion, and set his furnaces in Jerusalem, to discover and separate the dross from the gold? How contrary are those men to God, that allow, yea, and prize the drofs of hypocrisy, which God hates, and stick not to make the holy God a patroniser, and countenancer of it in the hearts and lives of men ?
It is amazing to read what popiíh pens have impudently written about this matter : * Sylvester puts the question, Whether it be a fin to make a false Thew of sanctity? And anfwers it thus : If it be for the honour of God, and profit of others, it is no fin. Nay, they have a reverence for hypocrisy, as an holy art. Vincentius spends a whole chapter in commendation of the hypocrisy of St. Dominic, and entitles it, De fanéta ejus hypocris ; i. e. Of the holy hypocrisy of that saint ; reckoning it among his commendations, that he had the art of dif. fembling. And yet, one peg higher, a religious person (faith + another) that feigns himself to have more holiness than he hath, that others may be edified, fins not, but rather merits.
Blush, O heavens! that ever such factors for hell should apen and vend such ware as this in the public market, and in: vite the world to hypocrisy, as that which makes for the glory of God, the edification of men, and a work meritorious in the hypocrite himself: This is the doctrine of devils indeed!
Infer. 5. Fifthly, If it be fo, that all grace must come to the test, and be tried as gold in the fire, even in this world ; how are all men concerned to lay a solid foundation at firft, and thoroughly deliberate the terms upon which they close with Chrift, and engage in the profeffion of his name?'« Which of « you, (faith Chrift) intending to build a tower, sitteth not down
A fum adv fimulatio, n. 4. + Rosella in v. hypacrifis, n. .
« first, and counteth the cost ?” Luke xiv. 28. If some mert had set down at first, and pondered the conditions and terms of Christ, they had not fat down now discouraged, and tired in the way. The apostle Paul went to work at another rate; he accounted all but dung and dross for Chrift, Phil. ii. 8..and was of the same mind when the actual trial came; for then he tells us, “ He counted not his life dear unto him," Acts xx. 24. And the apostle Peter admonishes believers “not to think " it strange concerning the fiery trial which was to try them," 1 Pet. iv. 12. q.d. Let none of these things be surprisals to you ; you are told before-hand what you must trust to ; every Christian must be a martyr, at least in the disposition and resolution of his heart.
O that men would balance the advantages and disadvantages of religion, and thoroughly ponder the matter in their deepest thoughts ! To the teit you muft come; the rain will fall, and the storm beat upon your buildings; look carefully therefore to the foundations.
Infer. 6. Sixthly, and lastly, Learn from this point the unavoidableness of scandals and offences in the way of religion ; for if there be a necessity of crial, there is also a necessity of fcandal. “ It must needs be that offences come,” Luke xvii. 1. Why, must it needs be? The reason is evident; all must come to the trial, and all are not able to bear it. Our Lord tells
US, Matth. xxiv. 8, 9, 10: of a day of great straits and perplexity coming : “ And then (faith he) Thall many be of“ fended.” The day of trial is the day of scandal : By these offences some are put a searching themselves, and some fall a censuring all others; but the holy God brings about his end both ways, in them that are faved, and in them that perish.
S E C T. II. ELL then, if it be so that all must into the furnace, let every an try
his own work; examine yourselves, profeffors, fearch your hearts, commune with your reins, nothing more concerns you in all the world than this doth. O that
you would be more in your closets, and oftner upon your knees! O that you would look into the Bible, then into your hearts, and then to God, saying, with David, “ Search me, " O God, and know my heart; prove me, and try my reins, " and see if there be any way of iniquity in me !" Never did religion thrive in the world since mens heads have been so overheated with notions and controverfies, and their hearts to
tenisibly cooled in their clofet-work. I have elfewhere I inore largely pressed this duty upon the professors of this generation, and thither shall refer the reader for the present, to see the neceflity and importance of this work.
Here I shall only urge the duty of self-trial by some presfing motives, and awakening considerations.
Motive 1. And the first shall be, the exceeding difficulty of this work; difficulty in some cases may be a discouragement; but where the matter is of absolute necessity, as it is here, no. thing provokes more to diligence; “ Strive (faith our Lord) to " enter in at the strait gate, for many will seek to enter in, «' and shall not be able," Luke xiii. 24. A double difficulty is found attending this work of self-trial : Difficulty in bringing the heart to it; and difficulty in the right and successful management of it. Who finds it not hard to persuade his heart to such work as this ? Nature declines it, flesh and blood relish it not : It is one of the great feverities in religion : It is no easy thing to bring a man and his own heart together.
It is in this case, as in the study of geography; we are more Inquifitive to know, and delighted when we discover, the rarities of foreign countries, and ftrange things in the remote parts of the world, than those of our own native country. I fear there be many professors of religion that can spend day after day in hearing, and love to be difputing fruitless controverfies, that never spent one day in searching what influence all those fermons they have heard have had upon their hearts, or in rightly ftating and determining that great controversy, in whose right and poffeffion their souls are, and which way they shall go as soon as death hath divided them from those mortal bodies; yea, I doubt, many finful hours are spent in prying into, reporting and censuring the failings of others, and not one hour faithfully employed in judging their own bearts before the Lord: Oh! men bad rather be about
other work than this, there is no pleafure in it to the fiefh.
And yet how difficult fuever it be to bring our hearts to the work, it is certainly much more difficult to manage it fuccefsfully, and bring the great question of our sincerity to a clear result and iffue. O how many upright hearts have fat close to this work many a year, and lifted up many a cry to heaven, and shed
fecret undifsembled tears about it; and yet sti'] are in the dark, and their minds greatly perplexed, and filled with fear about it! What would they not do? What would
See before, my Saint Indeed, de