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Secondly, A mighty ftrength and power coming into their fouls, and actuating all its faculties and graces. When God comes near, new powers enter the foul; the feeble is as David, Pfalm cxxxviii. 3. In the day that I cried, thou answeredst *me, and strengthenedft me with ftrength in my foul." Cant. i. 12. Whilft the king fitteth at his table, my fpikenard," &c. Hope was low, and faith was weak, little ftrength in any grace, except defires; but when the Lord comes, ftrength comes with him. Then as it is, Neh. viii. 10. "The joy of "the Lord is your ftrength." O the vigorous fallies of the heart to God! Pfalm lxiii. 8. "O the strength of love!" Cant. viii. 6. Duties are other manner of things than they were wont to be." Did not our hearts burn within us?" Luke xxiv. 32.
Thirdly, A remarkable transformation and change of fpirit follows it.
These things are found to be marvellously affimilating. The fights of God, the felt prefence of God, is as fire, which quickly affimilates what is put into it to its own likeness. So 2 Cor. iii. 18. They are faid to be "changed from glory to ¢ glory." It always leaves the mind more refined and abstracted from grofs material things, and changed into the fame image. They have a fimilitude of God upon them, who have God near unto their hearts and reins.
Fourthly, A vigorous working of the heart heaven-ward; a mounting of the foul upward. Now the foul fhews that it hath not forgot its way home again. It is with fuch a foul as fenfibly, embraces Chrift in the arms of faith, as it with was Simeon, when he took him bodily into his arms. "Now (faith "he) let thy fervant depart in peace, for mine eyes have feep "thy falvation." O it would have the wings of a dove, to fly away from this polluted world, this unquiet world, and be at reft.
Infer. 1. Then certainly there is an heaven, and a state of glory for the faints. Heaven is no dream or night vision: It is fenfibly tafted and felt by thousands of witneffes in this world; they are fure it is no mistake. God is with them of a truth, in the way of their duties: They do not only read of a glorified eye, but they have fomething of it, or like it in this world: "The pure in heart do here fee God," Mat.. v. 8. The faints have not only a witnefs without them in the word, that there is a ftate of glory prepared for believers, but they have a witnefs in themselves. These are not the teftimonies of crazed
brains, but of the wifeft and moft ferious of men; not a few, but a multitude of them; not conjecturally delivered, but upon tafte, feeling, and trial. O bleffed be God for fuch fenfible confirmations, fuch fweet prelibations!
Infer. 2. But, oh! what is heaven? And what that state of glory referved for the faints? Doth a glimpfe of God's prefence in a duty, go down to the heart and reins? O how unutterable then must that be which is seen and felt above, where God comes as near to men as can be! Rev. xxii. 3, 4. "The
throne of God and the Lamb fhall be in it, and his fervants fhall ferve him; and they fhall fee his face." And 1 Theff. jv. 17. "And fo we fhall be ever with the Lord." O what is that!" Ever with the Lord?" Chriftians, what you feel and tafte here by faith, is part of heaven's glory; but yet heaven will be an unfpeakable furprizal to you, when you come thither for all that: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be," 1 John iii. 1,2.
Infer. 3. See hence the neceffity of cafting thefe very bodies into a new mold by their refurrection from the dead, according to that, 1 Cor. xv. 41. "It is fown in weakness, but raised
in power." How else could it be a co-partner with the foul in the ineffable joys of that presence above?
The ftate of this mortality cannot bear the fulness of that joy. Hold. Lord, ftay thy hand, faid a choice Chriftian once, thy creature is but a clay-veffel, and can hold no more. If a tranfient glimpse of God here, be felt in the very reins, if it fo work upon the very body by fympathy with the foul, O what vigorous fpiritual bodies, doth the ftate of glory require! and fuch fhall they be; Phil. iii. 12. "Like unto Chrift's glorious "body."
Infer. 4. Is God fo near to his people above all others in the world? How good is it to be near them that are fo near to God? O, it would do a man's heart good to be near that perfon who hath lately had God near to his foul! Well might David fay, Pfalm xvi. 3. "All my delight is in the faints, and
in the excellent of the earth." And again, Pfalm cxix. 63. "I am a companion of all fuch as fear thee." O this is the beauty of Christian fellowship, this is the glory of that society! not the communication of their gifts, but the favour of God an their spirits. If any thing be alluring in this world, this is; 1 Johni. 3. "That ye may have fellowship with us; and truly « our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Chrift ઠંડ Jefus." It is faid, Zech. viii. 23. of the Jews, the time shall come, when there shall be such a prefence of God among that people, that "ten men out of all languages fhall take hold of
** the skirts of him that is a Jew; faying, We will go with
Christians, if there were more of God upon you, and in you, others would not be tempted to leave your fociety, and fall in with the men of the world; they would fay, we will go with you, for God is with you.
Infer. 5. If God be fo near to the heart and reins of bis people in their duties, O how affiduous fhould they be in their duties? It is good for me to draw nigh to God," Pfalm Ixxiii. 28. Good indeed; the world cannot reward the expence of time at this rate, with all its glory; James iv. 8.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you: thou "meeteft him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness; those
that remember thee in thy ways," Ifa. lxiv. 5.
Obj. It would be an encouragement indeed, if I might thus meet God in the way of duty; but that is but feldom I can fo meet God there, in fenfible powerful outlets of his grace and love! I am moft dead and cold there: I feel not communion with God going down to my heart and reins.
Sol. First, You draw nigh to God; but is it in truth, or in mere formality? God is only nigh to fuch as call upon him in truth, cxlv. 18.
Secondly, If your hearts be fincere, yet are they not fluggifh? Do you stir up yourselves to take hold of God? Many there be that do not; Ifa. lxiv. 7. and Cant. v. 3, 5.
Thirdly, Have you not grieved the Spirit of God, and caufed him to withdraw from you. O remember what pride and vanity hath been in you, after former manifestations; Ephef. iv. 30.
Fourthly, Nevertheless wait for God in his ways; his coming upon our fouls is oftentimes, yea, mostly, a furprizal to us; Cant. vi. 12. "Or ever I was aware, my foul made me as the "chariots of Amminadib."
Infer. 6. What steady Christians fhould all real Chriftians be? For lo, what a feal and witness hath religion in the breast of every fincere profeffor of it? True Christians do not only hear by report, or learn by books, the reality of it; but feel by experience, and have a fenfible proof of it in their very hearts and reins; their reins inftruct them, as it is Pfalm xvi. 7. They learn by spiritual fenfe and feeling, than which nothing can give greater confirmation in the ways of God.
There are two forts of knowledge among men; one traditional, the other experimental: this laft the apostle calls a "knowing in ourselves;" Heb. x. 34. and opposes it to that
traditional knowledge which may be faid to be without ourfelves, because borrowed from other men.
Now this experience we have of the power of religion in our fouls, is that only which fixes a man's fpirit in the ways of godliness. It made the Hebrews take joyfully the spoiling of their goods; no arguments or temptations can wrest truth out of the hand of experience, Non eft difputandum de guftu. For want of this, many profeffors turn afide from truth in the hour of trial. O brethren! labour to feel the influences of religion upon your very hearts and reins! this will fettle you better than all the arguments in the world can do; by this, the ways of God are more endeared to men, than by any other way in the world. When your hearts have once felt it, you will never forfake it.
R o M. vii. 21. I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is prefent with me.
HIS chapter is the very anatomy of a Chriftian's heart, and gives an account of the moft fecret frames, and inward workings of it, both as to graces and corruptions: and this verse is a compendium of both; for the words are a mournful complaint, uttered with a deep fense of an inward preffure, by reason of fin; wherein we are to consider three things:
1. The perfon complaining.
2. The matter of complaint.
3. The discovery of that matter.
First, The perfon complaining: I find, I Paul, though I come not behind the chiefeft of all the apoftles, though I have been wrapt into the third heaven, and heard things unutterable; yet I, for all that, find in me a law. Never was any mere man more deeply fanctified; never any lived at an higher rate of communion with God; never any did Chrift more
fervice in this world; and yet he found a law of fin in himfelf.
Secondly, The matter of the complaint, which consists in a
double evil he groaned under; viz. 1. The presence of fin at all times. 2. The operation of fin, especially at fome times.
First, The prefence of fin at all times: Evil (faith he) is prefent with me, it follows me as my fhadow doth. By evil we must understand no other evil but fin, the evil of evils; which, in respect of power and efficacy, he also calls a law; because as laws, by reason of their annexed rewards and punishments, have a mighty power and efficacy upon the minds of men; fo fin, indwelling fin, that root of all our trouble and forrow, hath a mighty efficacy upon us.
And this is the mournful matter of his complaint it is not for outward afflictions, though he had many; nor for what he fuffered from the hands of men, though he fuffered many grievous things; but it is fin, dwelling and working in him, that swallows up all other troubles, as rivers are loft in the fea; this evil was always with him, the conftant refidence of fin was in his heart and nature.
Secondly, And what further adds to his burden, as it dwelt in him at all times, fo it exerted its efficacy more especially at some times, and those the special times, and principal feasons in his whole life: when I would do good (faith he) any fpiritual good, and among the reft, when I addrefs myself to any spiritual duty, of heavenly employment; when I defign to draw near to God, and promise myself comfort and redress in communion* with him, then is evil present. Oh! if I were but rid of it in those hours, what a mercy fhould I esteem it, though I were troubled with it at other times! Could I but enjoy my freedom from it in the seasons of duty, and times of communion with God, what a comfort would that be! But then is the special feafon of its operation: never is fin more active and bufy, than at fuch a time; and this, O this is my mifery and my burden!
Thirdly, The next thing to be heeded here, is the discovery of this evil to him, over which he fo mourns and laments: I find then a law, faith he, I find it (i. e.) by inward fenfe, feeling, and fad experience. He knew there was fuch a thing as original fin in the nature of men, when he was an unregenerated Pharifee; but though he had then the notion of it, he had not the fenfe and feeling of it as now he had; he now feels what before he traditionally understood and talked of: I
* When I go about the best exercises of religion, I find within me the law of the flesh rifing up, and withdrawing me from them, Totellius.