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tressed sinner lying bound in the law's prison, and ready every moment to sink into final desperation under the insupportable burden of its own guilt, according to that in Proverbs xviii. 14, “ But a wounded spirit who can bear?" Of this Job seems to complain most bitterly ; “ The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me,” Job vi. 4. He is filled with perplexing thoughts what he had best do in this sad and deplorable condition. Do, and live, being the principle derived from the first Adam, to the trade of working he goes; thinking and hoping, with his father Adam, to hide and cover, from the eye of God's all-seeing knowledge, his spiritual nakedness and deformity with the figleaves of his own performances. Somewhat he must do in order to help and save himself; but how or where to begin he finds himself at a loss. Hence those queries, “What shall we do?” Acts ii. 37; Mark x. 17; Acts xvi. 30; which plainly shews that all Adam's children, when awakened by the terrors of God's law, do seek for life, and salvation in a way of works. This is farther confirmed by Rom. x. 3. “ For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”
One while the sinner resolves with himself he will amend his sinful course, and be, for the time to come, a better man; he will
will confess and break off his sins, he will forsake his vain companions and sinful pastime; and the church, and serving God, he resolves he will frequent, and constantly attend.
He will now take on him a strict profession;. a church communicant he must be, to the sacrament he goes, and from that to other duties, such as fasting, alms-deeds, and keeping up a strict watch over himself in all his ways. He is now not the same man he was before; he can, with the pharisee, boast of his negative and positive righteousness, Luke xviii. 11, 12. And now he thinks and hopes the work is done, although he was never nearer hell and eternal ruin than by these acts of morality, negative and positive, he hath brought himself. He hath been all this while but scouring and making clean and bright the outside of the cup and plattet, not heeding or regarding the filth and nastiness which cleaves to the inside.
A change of state he is a stranger to; external reformation he takes to be the conversion which must fit him for heaven, though most certain it is that no reformation but what flows from an effectual change of state will evidence or prove a man to be a real convért. Such an external reformation may qualify a man for church-communion, but never for heaven; and it is to be feared that there is but very little, even of this visible reformation, in some churches who seem, at least in their own and other injudicious people's conceits, to be far purer and holier than their neighbour churches who make
not so much a noise and bluster as they themselves do.
There are some churches, so called, who, for want of charity, monopolize a pure church state to themselves, as if Christ had no true gospel church in this day beside themselves; whose preachers and rulers are of so impetuous a spirit, as drives them to the very precipice of anathematizing all but themselves; as if the doctrine of God's grace, and the, form of a true gospel-church state, were to be found no where but among them. These are like violent storms and showers, which will not hold long; and indeed it is a pity they should. All I shall say farther of such is, the Lord rebuke their furious and Bedlam-like spirit; and give them to see, and in time to be convinced, how far wide they are from what they fancy they have attained to, namely,' a Christ-like spirit, and a true conformity to the pattern of God's house; a thing so much boasted of and gloried in, and that without cause. The word of God assures us, up and down, that no works or duties which sinners are capable of performing, can possibly give ease or peace to that conscience which the law of God, set home by the spirit of bondage, hath wounded. Healing and peace are to be found no where but under the shadow of Christ's satisfaction ; there being nothing short of what satisfies Divine Justice for the violation of the moral law, which can satisfy and quiet the conscience of a wounded sinner. For he maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole,”
Job v. 18. “ Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28.
Thirdly, A third storm wherewith the elect meet is, the fiery assaults and temptations of the devil. They are called fiery from the sad and dreadful effects in the soul and conscience of the poor distressed sinner, they being to the soul what poison and fire are to the body. “ Above all, taking the shield of faith, whereby ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked,” Ephes. vi. 16. The darts here intended are the assaults and temptations of the devil, which are injected or cast into the soul suddenly and invisibly, as darts are cast or shot by an unseen enemy; which, when they find entrance, they immediately inflame the soul, as poisoned darts or arrows, hardened in fire, envenom or poison the body. These temptations, or satanical injections, are numberless, and of various sorts; sometimes to presumption, sometimes to desperation, sometimes to atheism, sometimes to blasphemy against the majesty of God,
, sometimes to one wickedness, and sometimes to another. Satan is a busy enemy, and a restless enemy; always tempting, and that all men, and to all manner of folly and sin; on which very account he is, by the Spirit of God, styled, in the Greek, o Ileipatwv, the tempter; who is always busy at his trade, piercing to know what is in men, that so he might accordingly suit his baits to the disposition and temper of Adam's children, whom he
seeks to prey upon. Yea, so restless and unwearied is he at his trade of throwing or injecting his fiery darts into the soul, that he will not lose the time of men's sleeping. Satan, in this case, is like an enemy that surprizes in the dead of the night, when persons are buried in sleep and security. And as, in nature, no alarm is so amazing and frightful as that which is given in the dead of the night; so, as experience teacheth, no temptation makes a sadder hurricane in the soul than the night sallies which he makes on the soul, when the person is buried in sleep. Now, in such storms as these, what can poor tempted souls do, were it not for the shadow of Christ's cleansing and healing virtue? Herein the brazen serpent in the wilderness did eminently type out the Lord Jesus Christ's virtue, to heal and cleanse the sting and pollution given and occasioned by the infernal serpent's stinging temptations.
No way possible for help or cure in this case but flying by faith and prayer to the shadow of Christ's healing and cleansing virtue. It is on this
very account that the grace of faith is preferred above all the other parts of the christian's spiritual armour, in that it looks and flies to Christ immediately for help and cure.
No sooner hath the devil cast his affrightening dart into the soul of a true believer, but the grace of faith, like an expert and experienced soldier who whips up the grenado thrown in by the enemy, and throws it back on the enemy again, repels and