Religious Affections – Jonathan Edwards





   THERE is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to
   mankind, and what is more concerns every individual person to be well
   resolved in, than this: What are the distinguishing qualifications of
   those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?
   Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true religion?
   And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness
   that is acceptable in the sight of God? But though it be of such
   importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of
   God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one point, wherein
   professing Christians do more differ one from another. It would be
   endless to reckon up the variety of opinions in this point, that divide
   the Christian world; making manifest the truth of that declaration of
   our Savior, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, that leads to
   life, and few there be that find it."

   The consideration of these things has long engaged me to attend to this
   matter, with the utmost diligence and care, and exactness of search and
   inquiry, that I have been capable of. It is a subject on which my mind
   has been peculiarly intent, ever since I first entered on the study of
   divinity. But as to the success of my inquiries it must be left to the
   judgment of the reader of the following treatise.

   I am sensible it is much more difficult to judge impartially of that
   which is the subject of this discourse, in the midst of the dust and
   smoke of such a state of controversy, as this land is now in, about
   things of this nature. As it is more difficult to write impartially, so
   it is more difficult to read impartially. Many will probably be hurt in
   their spirits, to find so much that appertains to religious affection,
   here condemned: and perhaps indignation and contempt will be excited in
   others by finding so much here justified and approved. And it may be,
   some will be ready to charge me with inconsistency with myself, in so
   much approving some things, and so much condemning others; as I have
   found this has always been objected to by some, ever since the
   beginning of our late controversies about religion. It is a hard thing
   to be a hearty zealous friend of what has been good and glorious, in
   the late extraordinary appearances, and to rejoice much in it; and at
   the same time to see the evil and pernicious tendency of what has been
   bad, and earnestly to oppose that. But yet, I am humbly but fully
   persuaded, we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go on in a way
   acceptable to God, and tending to the advancement of Christ's kingdom
   till we do so. There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so
   much good, and so much bad, should be mixed together in the church of
   God; as it is a mysterious thing, and what has puzzled and amazed many
   a good Christian, that there should be that which is so divine and
   precious, as the saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature
   dwelling in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and
   iniquity, in a particular saint. Yet neither of these is more
   mysterious than real. And neither of them is a new or rare thing. It is
   no new thing, that much false religion should prevail, at a time of
   great reviving of true religion, and that at such a time multitudes of
   hypocrites should spring up among true saints. It was so in that great
   reformation, and revival of religion, that was in Josiah's time; as
   appears by Jer. 3:10, and 4:3, 4, and also by the great apostasy that
   there was in the land, so soon after his reign. So it was in that great
   outpouring of the Spirit upon the Jews, that was in the days of John
   the Baptist; as appears by the great apostasy of that people so soon
   after so general an awakening, and the temporary religious comforts and
   joys of many: John 5:35, "Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in
   his light." So it was in those great commotions that were among the
   multitude, occasioned by the preaching of Jesus Christ; of the many
   that were then called, but few were chosen; of the multitude that were
   roused and affected by his preaching, and at one time or other appeared
   mightily engaged, full of admiration of Christ, and elevated with joy,
   but few were true disciples, that stood the shock of the great trials
   that came afterwards, and endured to the end. Many were like the stony
   ground, or thorny ground; and but few, comparatively, like the good
   ground. Of the whole heap that was gathered, great part was chaff; that
   the wind afterwards drove away; and the heap of wheat that was left,
   was comparatively small; as appears abundantly, by the history of the
   New Testament. So it was in that great outpouring of the Spirit that
   was in the apostles' days as appears by Matt. 24:10-13. Gal. 3:1, and
   4:11, 15. Phil. 2:21, and 3:18, 19, and the two epistles to the
   Corinthians, and many other parts of the New Testament. And so it was
   in the great reformation from Popery. It appears plainly to have been
   in the visible church of God, in times of great reviving of religion,
   from time to time, as it is with the fruit trees in the spring; there
   are a multitude of blossoms, all of which appear fair and beautiful,
   and there is a promising appearance of young fruits; but many of them
   are but of short continuance; they soon fall off, and never come to

   Not that it is to be supposed that it will always be so; for though
   there never will, in this world, be an entire purity, either in
   particular saints, in a perfect freedom from mixtures of corruption; or
   in the church of God, without any mixture of hypocrites with saints,
   and counterfeit religion, and false appearances of grace with true
   religion, and real holiness: yet it is evident, that there will come a
   time of much greater purity in the church of God, than has been in ages
   past; it is plain by these texts of Scripture, Isa. 52:1. Ezek. 44:6,
   7, Joel 3:17. Zech. 14:21. Psal. 69:32, 35, 36. Isa 35:8, 10, chap.
   4:3, 4. Ezek. 20:38. Psal. 37:9, 10, 21, 29. And one great reason of it
   will be that at that time God will give much greater light to his
   people, to distinguish between true religion and its counterfeits. Mal.
   3:3, "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he
   shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that
   they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." With ver. 18,
   which is a continuation of the prophecy of the same happy times. "Then
   shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked,
   between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not."

   It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned
   and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage
   against the cause and kingdom of Christ, all along hitherto. It is by
   this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivings of
   religion, that ever have been since the first founding of the Christian
   church. By this, he hurt the cause of Christianity, in and after the
   apostolic age, much more than by all the persecutions of both Jews and
   Heathens. The apostles, in all their epistles, show themselves much
   more concerned at the former mischief, than the latter. By this, Satan
   prevailed against the reformation, began by Luther. Zwinglius, &c., to
   put a stop to its progress, and bring it into disgrace; ten times more,
   than by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard of persecutions of
   the church of Rome. By this, principally, has he prevailed against
   revivals of religion, that have been in our nation since the
   reformation. By this he prevailed against New England, to quench the
   love and spoil the joy of her espousals, about a hundred years ago. And
   I think, I have had opportunity enough to see plainly that by this the
   devil has prevailed against the late great revival of religion in New
   England, so happy and promising in its beginning. Here, most evidently
   has been the main advantage Satan has had against us; by this he has
   foiled us. It is by this means, that the daughter of Zion in this land
   now lies on the ground, in such piteous circumstances as we now behold
   her; with her garments rent, her face disfigured, her nakedness
   exposed, her limbs broken, and weltering in the blood of her own
   wounds, and in no wise able to arise, and this, so quickly after her
   late great joys and hopes: Lam. 1:17, "Zion spreadeth forth her hands,
   and there is none to comfort her: the Lord hath commanded concerning
   Jacob, that his adversaries shall be roundabout him: Jerusalem is as a
   menstruous woman among them." I have seen the devil prevail the same
   way, against two great revivings of religion in this country. Satan
   goes on with mankind, as he began with them. He prevailed against our
   first parents, and cast them out of paradise, and suddenly brought all
   their happiness and glory to an end, by appearing to be a friend to
   their happy paradisaic state, and pretending to advance it to higher
   degrees. So the same cunning serpent, that beguiled Eve through his
   subtlety, by perverting us from the simplicity that is in Christ, hath
   suddenly prevailed to deprive us of that fair prospect, we had a little
   while ago, of a kind of paradisaic state of the church of God in New

   After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies appear,
   people that are engaged to defend its cause, are commonly most exposed,
   where they are sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent upon
   the opposition that appears openly before them, to make head against
   that, and do neglect carefully to look all around them, the devil comes
   behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen; and has opportunity to give
   a more home stroke, and wound the deeper, because he strikes at his
   leisure, and according to his pleasure, being obstructed by no guard or

   And so it is ever likely to be in the church, whenever religion revives
   remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish between true and
   false religion, between saving affections and experiences, and those
   manifold fair shows, and glistering appearances, by which they are
   counterfeited; the consequences of which, when they are not
   distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. By this means, the
   devil gratifies himself, by bringing it to pass, that that should be
   offered to God, by multitudes, under a notion of a pleasing acceptable
   service to him, that is indeed above all things abominable to him. By
   this means he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls;
   making them think they are something, when they are nothing; and so
   eternally undoes them; and not only so, but establishes many in a
   strong confidence of their eminent holiness, who are in God's sight
   some of the vilest of hypocrites. By this means, he many ways damps and
   wounds religion in the hearts of the saints, obscures and deforms it by
   corrupt mixtures, causes their religious affections woefully to
   degenerate, and sometimes, for a considerable time, to be like the
   manna that bred worms and stank; and dreadfully ensnares and confounds
   the minds of others of the saints and brings them into great
   difficulties and temptation, and entangles them in a wilderness, out of
   which they can by no means extricate themselves. By this means, Satan
   mightily encourages the hearts of open enemies of religion, and
   strengthens their hands, and fills them with weapons, and makes strong
   their fortresses; when, at the same time, religion and the church of
   God lie exposed to them, as a city without walls. By this means, he
   brings it to pass, that men work wickedness under a notion of doing God
   service, and so sin without restraint, yea with earnest forwardness and
   zeal, and with all their might. By this means he brings in even the
   friends of religion, insensibly to themselves, to do the work of
   enemies, by destroying religion in a far more effectual manner than
   open enemies can do, under a notion of advancing it. By this means the
   devil scatters the flock of Christ, and sets them one against another,
   and that with great heat of spirit, under a nation of zeal for God; and
   religion, by degrees degenerates into vain jangling; and during the
   strife, Satan leads both parties far out of the right way, driving each
   to great extremes, one on the right hand, and the other on the left,
   according as he finds they are most inclined, or most easily moved and
   swayed, till the right path in the middle is almost wholly neglected.
   And in the midst of this confusion, the devil has great opportunity to
   advance his own interest, and make it strong in ways innumerable, and
   get the government of all into his own hands and work his own will. And
   by what is seen of the terrible consequences of this counterfeit
   religion, when not distinguished from true religion, God's people in
   general have their minds unhinged and unsettled in things of religion,
   and know not where to set their foot, or what to think or do; and many
   are brought into doubts, whether there be anything in religion; and
   heresy, and infidelity, and atheism greatly prevail.

   Therefore it greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavors clearly to
   discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true
   religion does consist. Till this be done, it may be expected, that
   great revivings of religion will be but of short continuance; till this
   be done, there is but little good to be expected of all our warm
   debates in conversation and from the press, not knowing clearly and
   distinctly what we ought to contend for.

   My design is to contribute my mite, and use my best (however feeble)
   endeavors to this end, in the ensuing treatise; wherein it must be
   noted, that my design is somewhat diverse from the design of what I
   have formerly published, which was to show the distinguishing marks of
   a work of the Spirit of God, including both his common and saving
   operations; but what I aim at now, is to show the nature and signs of
   the gracious operations of God's Spirit, by which they are to be
   distinguished from all things whatsoever, that the minds of men are the
   subjects of, which are not of a saving nature. If I have succeeded, in
   this my aim, in any tolerable measure, I hope it will tend to promote
   the interest of religion. And whether I have succeeded to bring any
   light to this subject or no, and however my attempts may be reproached
   in these captious and censorious times, I hope in the mercy of a
   gracious God, for the acceptance of the sincerity of my endeavors; and
   hope also for the candor and prayers of the true followers of the meek
   and charitable Lamb of God.


   PART 1.


   1 Peter 1:8: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see
   him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of

   In these words, the apostle represents the state of the minds of the
   Christians he wrote to, under the persecutions they were then the
   subjects of. These persecutions are what he has respect to, in the two
   preceding verses, when he speaks of the trial of their faith, and of
   their being in heaviness through manifold temptations.

   Such trials are of threefold benefit to true religion. Hereby the truth
   of it is manifested, and it appears to be indeed true religion; they,
   above all other things, have a tendency to distinguish between true
   religion and false, and to cause the difference between them evidently
   to appear. Hence they are called by the name of trials, in the verse
   nextly preceding the text, and in innumerable other places; they try
   the faith and religion of professors, of what sort it is, as apparent
   gold is tried in the fire, and manifested, whether it be true gold or
   no. And the faith of true Christians being thus tried and proved to be
   true, is "found to praise, and honor, and glory," as in that preceding

   And then, these trials are of further benefit to true religion; they
   not only manifest the truth of it, but they make its genuine beauty and
   amiableness remarkably to appear. True virtue never appears so lovely,
   as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real
   Christianity, is never exhibited with such advantage, as when under the
   greatest trials: then it is that true faith appears much more precious
   than gold! And upon this account is "found to praise, and honor, and

   And again, another benefit that such trials are of to true religion,
   is, that they purify and increase it. They not only manifest it to be
   true, but also tend to refine it, and deliver it from those mixtures of
   that which is false, which encumber and impede it; that nothing may be
   left but that which is true. They tend to cause the amiableness of true
   religion to appear to the best advantage, as was before observed; and
   not only so, but they tend to increase its beauty, by establishing and
   confirming it, and making it more lively and vigorous, and purifying it
   from those things that obscured its luster and glory. As gold that is
   tried in the fire, is purged from its alloy, and all remainders of
   dross, and comes forth more solid and beautiful; so true faith being
   tried as gold is tried in the fire, becomes more precious, and thus
   also is "found unto praise, and honor, and glory." The apostle seems to
   have respect to each of these benefits, that persecutions are of to
   true religion, in the verse preceding the text.

   And, in the text, the apostle observes how true religion operated in
   the Christians he wrote to, under their persecutions, whereby these
   benefits of persecution appeared in them; or what manner of operation
   of true religion, in them, it was, whereby their religion, under
   persecution, was manifested to be true religion, and eminently appeared
   in the genuine beauty and amiableness of true religion, and also
   appeared to be increased and purified, and so was like to be "found
   unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
   And there were two kinds of operation, or exercise of true religion, in
   them, under their sufferings, that the apostle takes notice of in the
   text, wherein these benefits appeared.

   1. Love to Christ: "Whom having not yet seen, ye love." The world was
   ready to wonder, what strange principle it was, that influenced them to
   expose themselves to so great sufferings, to forsake the things that
   were seen, and renounce all that was dear and pleasant, which was the
   object of sense. They seemed to the men of the world about them, as
   though they were beside themselves, and to act as though they hated
   themselves; there was nothing in their view, that could induce them
   thus to suffer, and support them under, and carry them through such
   trials. But although there was nothing that was seen, nothing that the
   world saw, or that the Christians themselves ever saw with their bodily
   eyes, that thus influenced and supported them, yet they had a
   supernatural principle of love to something unseen; they loved Jesus
   Christ, for they saw him spiritually whom the world saw not, and whom
   they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes.

   2. Joy in Christ. Though their outward sufferings were very grievous,
   yet their inward spiritual joys were greater than their sufferings; and
   these supported them, and enabled them to suffer with cheerfulness.

   There are two things which the apostle takes notice of in the text
   concerning this joy. 1. The manner in which it rises, the way in which
   Christ, though unseen, is the foundation of it, viz., by faith; which
   is the evidence of things not seen: "In whom, though now ye see him
   not, yet believing, ye rejoice." 2. The nature of this joy;
   "unspeakable and full of glory." Unspeakable in the kind of it; very
   different from worldly joys, and carnal delights; of a vastly more
   pure, sublime, and heavenly nature, being something supernatural, and
   truly divine, and so ineffably excellent; the sublimity and exquisite
   sweetness of which, there were no words to set forth. Unspeakable also
   in degree; it pleasing God to give them this holy joy, with a liberal
   hand, and in large measure, in their state of persecution.

   Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was unspeakable, and no
   words were sufficient to describe it, yet something might be said of
   it, and no words more fit to represent its excellency than these, that
   it was full of glory; or, as it is in the original, glorified joy. In
   rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a
   glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected. It was a
   most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind,
   as many carnal joys do; but did greatly beautify and dignify it; it was
   a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree
   of heavenly blessedness; it filled their minds with the light of God's
   glory, and made themselves to shine with some communication of that

   Hence the proposition or doctrine, that I would raise from these words,
   is this:

   DOCTRINE. True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.

   We see that the apostle, in observing and remarking the operations and
   exercises of religion in the Christians he wrote to, wherein their
   religion appeared to be true and of the right kind, when it had its
   greatest trial of what sort it was, being tried by persecution as gold
   is tried in the fire, and when their religion not only proved true, but
   was most pure, and cleansed from its dross and mixtures of that which
   was not true, and when religion appeared in them most in its genuine
   excellency and native beauty, and was found to praise, and honor, and
   glory; he singles out the religious affections of love and joy, that
   were then in exercise in them: these are the exercises of religion he
   takes notice of wherein their religion did thus appear true and pure,
   and in its proper glory. Here, I would,

   1. Show what is intended by the affections.

   2. Observe some things which make it evident, that a great part of true
   religion lies in the affections.

   1. It may be inquired, what the affections of the mind are?

   I answer: The affections are no other than the more vigorous and
   sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul.

   God has endued the soul with two faculties: one is that by which it is
   capable of perception and speculation, or by which it discerns, and
   views, and judges of things; which is called the understanding. The
   other faculty is that by which the soul does not merely perceive and
   view things, but is some way inclined with respect to the things it
   views or considers; either is inclined to them, or is disinclined and
   averse from them; or is the faculty by which the soul does not behold
   things, as an indifferent unaffected spectator, but either as liking or
   disliking, pleased or displeased, approving or rejecting. This faculty
   is called by various names; it is sometimes called the inclination:
   and, as it has respect to the actions that are determined and governed
   by it, is called the will: and the mind, with regard to the exercises
   of this faculty, is often called the heart.

   The exercise of this faculty are of two sorts; either those by which
   the soul is carried out towards the things that are in view, in
   approving of them, being pleased with them, and inclined to them; or
   those in which the soul opposes the things that are in view, in
   disapproving of them, and in being displeased with them, averse from
   them, and rejecting them.

   And as the exercises of the inclination and will of the soul are
   various in their kinds, so they are much more various in their degrees.
   There are some exercises of pleasedness or displeasedness, inclination
   or disinclination, wherein the soul is carried but a little beyond the
   state of indifference.--And there are other degrees above this, wherein
   the approbation or dislike, pleasedness or aversion, are stronger,
   wherein we may rise higher and higher, till the soul comes to act
   vigorously and sensibly, and the actings of the soul are with that
   strength, that (through the laws of the union which the Creator has
   fixed between the soul and the body) the motion of the blood and animal
   spirits begins to be sensibly altered; whence oftentimes arises some
   bodily sensation, especially about the heart and vitals, that are the
   fountain of the fluids of the body: from whence it comes to pass, that
   the mind, with regard to the exercises of this faculty, perhaps in all
   nations and ages, is called the heart. And it is to be noted, that they
   are these more vigorous and sensible exercises of this faculty that are
   called the affections.

   The will, and the affections of the soul, are not two faculties; the
   affections are not essentially distinct from the will, nor do they
   differ from the mere actings of the will, and inclination of the soul,
   but only in the liveliness and sensibleness of exercise.

   It must be confessed, that language is here somewhat imperfect, and the
   meaning of words in a considerable measure loose and unfixed, and not
   precisely limited by custom, which governs the use of language. In some
   sense, the affection of the soul differs nothing at all from the will
   and inclination, and the will never is in any exercise any further than
   it is affected; it is not moved out of a state of perfect indifference,
   any otherwise than as it is affected one way or other, and acts nothing
   any further. But yet there are many actings of the will and
   inclination, that are not so commonly called affections: in everything
   we do, wherein we act voluntarily, there is an exercise of the will and
   inclination; it is our inclination that governs us in our actions; but
   all the actings of the inclination and will, in all our common actions
   of life, are not ordinarily called affections. Yet, what are commonly
   called affections are not essentially different from them, but only in
   the degree and manner of exercise. In every act of the will whatsoever,
   the soul either likes or dislikes, is either inclined or disinclined to
   what is in view: these are not essentially different from those
   affections of love and hatred: that liking or inclination of the soul
   to a thing, if it be in a high degree, and be vigorous and lively, is
   the very same thing with the affection of love; and that disliking and
   disinclining, if in a greater degree, is the very same with hatred. In
   every act of the will for, or towards something not present, the soul
   is in some degree inclined to that thing; and that inclination, if in a
   considerable degree, is the very same with the affection of desire. And
   in every degree of the act of the will, wherein the soul approves of
   something present, there is a degree of pleasedness; and that
   pleasedness, if it be in a considerable degree, is the very same with
   the affections of joy or delight. And if the will disapproves of what
   is present, the soul is in some degree displeased, and if that
   displeasedness be great, it is the very same with the affection of
   grief or sorrow.

   Such seems to be our nature, and such the laws of the union of soul and
   body, that there never is in any case whatsoever, any lively and
   vigorous exercise of the will or inclination of the soul, without some
   effect upon the body, in some alteration of the motion of its fluids,
   and especially of the animal spirits. And, on the other hand, from the
   same laws of the union of the soul and body, the constitution of the
   body, and the motion of its fluids, may promote the exercise of the
   affections. But yet it is not the body, but the mind only, that is the
   proper seat of the affections. The body of man is no more capable of
   being really the subject of love or hatred, joy or sorrow, fear or
   hope, than the body of a tree, or than the same body of man is capable
   of thinking and understanding. As it is the soul only that has ideas,
   so it is the soul only that is pleased or displeased with its ideas. As
   it is the soul only that thinks, so it is the soul only that loves or
   hates, rejoices or is grieved at what it thinks of. Nor are these
   motions of the animal spirits, and fluids of the body, anything
   properly belonging to the nature of the affections, though they always
   accompany them, in the present state; but are only effects or
   concomitants of the affections that are entirely distinct from the
   affections themselves, and no way essential to them; so that an
   unbodied spirit may be as capable of love and hatred, joy or sorrow,
   hope or fear, or other affections, as one that is united to a body.

   The affections and passions are frequently spoken of as the same; and
   yet in the more common use of speech, there is in some respect a
   difference; and affection is a word that in its ordinary signification,
   seems to be something more extensive than passion, being used for all
   vigorous lively actings of the will or inclination; but passion for
   those that are more sudden, and whose effects on the animal spirits are
   more violent, and the mind more overpowered, and less in its own

   As all the exercises of the inclination and will, are either in
   approving and liking, or disapproving and rejecting; so the affections
   are of two sorts; they are those by which the soul is carried out to
   what is in view, cleaving to it, or seeking it; or those by which it is
   averse from it, and opposes it.

   Of the former sort are love, desire, hope, joy, gratitude, complacence.
   Of the latter kind are hatred, fear, anger, grief, and such like; which
   it is needless now to stand particularly to define.

   And there are some affections wherein there is a composition of each of
   the aforementioned kinds of actings of the will; as in the affection of
   pity, there is something of the former kind, towards the person
   suffering, and something of the latter towards what he suffers. And so
   in zeal, there is in it high approbation of some person or thing,
   together with vigorous opposition to what is conceived to be contrary
   to it.

   There are other mixed affections that might be also mentioned, but I
   hasten to,

   II. The second thing proposed, which was to observe some things that
   render it evident, that true religion, in great part consists in the
   affections. And here,

   1. What has been said of the nature of the affections makes this
   evident, and may be sufficient, without adding anything further, to put
   this matter out of doubt; for who will deny that true religion consists
   in a great measure, in vigorous and lively actings of the inclination
   and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart?

   That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in
   weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state
   of indifference: God, in his word, greatly insists upon it, that we be
   good in earnest, "fervent in spirit," and our hearts vigorously engaged
   in religion: Rom. 12:11, "Be ye fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
   Deut. 10:12, "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of
   thee, but to fear the Lord the God, to walk in all his ways, and to
   love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
   all thy soul?" and chap. 6:4, 6, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is
   one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
   with all thy might." It is such a fervent vigorous engagedness of the
   heart in religion, that is the fruit of a real circumcision of the
   heart, or true regeneration, and that has the promises of life; Deut.
   30:6, "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart
   of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all
   thy soul, that thou mayest live."

   If we be not in good earnest in religion, and our wills and
   inclinations be not strongly exercised, we are nothing. The things of
   religion are so great, that there can be no suitableness in the
   exercises of our hearts, to their nature and importance, unless they be
   lively and powerful. In nothing is vigor in the actings of our
   inclinations so requisite, as in religion; and in nothing is
   lukewarmness so odious. True religion is evermore a powerful thing; and
   the power of it appears, in the first place in the inward exercises of
   it in the heart, where is the principal and original seat of it. Hence
   true religion is called the power of godliness, in distinction from the
   external appearances of it, that are the form of it, 2 Tim. 3:5:
   "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it." The Spirit
   of God, in those that have sound and solid religion, is a spirit of
   powerful holy affection; and therefore, God is said "to have given the
   Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind," 2 Tim. 1:7. And
   such, when they receive the Spirit of God, in his sanctifying and
   saving influences, are said to be "baptized with the Holy Ghost, and
   with fire;" by reason of the power and fervor of those exercises the
   Spirit of God excites in their hearts, whereby their hearts, when grace
   is in exercise, may be said to "burn within them;" as is said of the
   disciples, Luke 24:32.

   The business of religion is from time to time compared to those
   exercises, wherein men are wont to have their hearts and strength
   greatly exercised and engaged, such as running, wrestling or agonizing
   for a great prize or crown, and fighting with strong enemies that seek
   our lives, and warring as those, that by violence take a city or

   And though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are
   but babes in Christ, in whom the exercise of the inclination and will,
   towards divine and heavenly things, is comparatively weak; yet everyone
   that has the power of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and
   heart exercised towards God and divine things, with such strength and
   vigor that these holy exercises do prevail in him above all carnal or
   natural affections, and are effectual to overcome them: for every true
   disciple of Christ "loves him above father or mother, wife and
   children, brethren and sisters, houses and lands: yea, than his own
   life." From hence it follows, that wherever true religion is, there are
   vigorous exercises of the inclination and will towards divine objects:
   but by what was said before, the vigorous, lively, and sensible
   exercises of the will, are no other than the affections of the soul.

   2. The Author of the human nature has not only given affections to men,
   but has made them very much the spring of men's actions. As the
   affections do not only necessarily belong to the human nature, but are
   a very great part of it; so (inasmuch as by regeneration persons are
   renewed in the whole man, and sanctified throughout) holy affections do
   not only necessarily belong to true religion, but are a very great part
   of it. And as true religion is of a practical nature, and God hath so
   constituted the human nature, that the affections are very much the
   spring of men's actions, this also shows, that true religion must
   consist very much in the affections.

   Such is man's nature, that he is very inactive, any otherwise than he
   is influenced by some affection, either love or hatred, desire, hope,
   fear, or some other. These affections we see to be the springs that set
   men agoing, in all the affairs of life, and engage them in all their
   pursuits: these are the things that put men forward, and carry them
   along, in all their worldly business; and especially are men excited
   and animated by these, in all affairs wherein they are earnestly
   engaged, and which they pursue with vigor. We see the world of mankind
   to be exceeding busy and active; and the affections of men are the
   springs of the motion: take away all love and hatred, all hope and
   fear, all anger, zeal, and affectionate desire, and the world would be,
   in a great measure motionless and dead; there would be no such thing as
   activity amongst mankind, or any earnest pursuit whatsoever. It is
   affection that engages the covetous man, and him that is greedy of
   worldly profits, in his pursuits; and it is by the affections, that the
   ambitious man is put forward in pursuit of worldly glory; and it is the
   affections also that actuate the voluptuous man, in his pursuit of
   pleasure and sensual delights: the world continues, from age to age, in
   a continual commotion and agitation, in a pursuit of these things, but
   take away all affection, and the spring of all this motion would be
   gone, and the motion itself would cease. And as in worldly things,
   worldly affections are very much the spring of men's motion and action;
   so in religious matters, the spring of their actions is very much
   religious affection: he that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation
   only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion.

   3. Nothing is more manifest in fact, than that the things of religion
   take hold of men's souls, no further than they affect them. There are
   multitudes that often hear the word of God, and therein hear of those
   things that are infinitely great and important, and that most nearly
   concern them, and all that is heard seems to be wholly ineffectual upon
   them, and to make no alteration in their disposition or behavior; and
   the reason is, they are not affected with what they hear. There are
   many that often hear of the glorious perfections of God, his almighty
   power and boundless wisdom, his infinite majesty, and that holiness of
   God, by which he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look
   on iniquity, and the heavens are not pure in his sight, and of God's
   infinite goodness and mercy, and hear of the great works of God's
   wisdom, power and goodness, wherein there appear the admirable
   manifestations of these perfections; they hear particularly of the
   unspeakable love of God and Christ, and of the great things that Christ
   has done and suffered, and of the great things of another world, of
   eternal misery in bearing the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, and
   of endless blessedness and glory in the presence of God, and the
   enjoyment of his dear love; they also hear the peremptory commands of
   God, and his gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations
   of the gospel; I say, they often hear these things and yet remain as
   they were before, with no sensible alteration in them, either in heart
   or practice, because they are not affected with what they hear; and
   ever will be so till they are affected.--I am bold to assert, that
   there never was any considerable change wrought in the mind or
   conversation of any person, by anything of a religious nature, that
   ever he read, heard or saw, that had not his affections moved. Never
   was a natural man engaged earnestly to seek his salvation; never were
   any such brought to cry after wisdom, and lift up their voice for
   understanding, and to wrestle with God in prayer for mercy; and never
   was one humbled, and brought to the foot of God, from anything that
   ever he heard or imagined of his own unworthiness and deserving of
   God's displeasure; nor was ever one induced to fly for refuge unto
   Christ, while his heart remained unaffected. Nor was there ever a saint
   awakened out of a cold, lifeless flame, or recovered from a declining
   state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable departure from
   God, without having his heart affected. And in a word, there never was
   anything considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man
   living, by the things of religion, that had not his heart deeply
   affected by those things.

   4. The holy Scriptures do everywhere place religion very much in the
   affection; such as fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow,
   gratitude, compassion, and zeal.

   The Scriptures place much of religion in godly fear; insomuch, that it
   is often spoken of as the character of those that are truly religious
   persons, that they tremble at God's word, that they fear before him,
   that their flesh trembles for fear of him, and that they are afraid of
   his judgments, that his excellency makes them afraid, and his dread
   falls upon them, and the like: and a compellation commonly given the
   saints in Scripture, is "fearers of God," or, "they that fear the
   Lord." And because the fear of God is a great part of true godliness,
   hence true godliness in general, is very commonly called by the name of
   the fear of God; as everyone knows, that knows anything of the Bible.

   So hope in God and in the promises of his word, is often spoken of in
   the Scripture, as a very considerable part of true religion. It is
   mentioned as one of the three great things of which religion consists,
   1 Cor. 13:13. Hope in the Lord is also frequently mentioned as the
   character of the saints: Psal. 146:5, "Happy is he that hath the God of
   Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God." Jer. 17:7,
   "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord
   is." Psal. 31:24, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your
   heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." And the like in many other
   places. Religious fear and hope are, once and again, joined together,
   as jointly constituting the character of the true saints; Psal. 33:18,
   "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that
   hope in his mercy." Psal. 147:11, "The Lord taketh pleasure in them
   that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Hope is so great a
   part of true religion, that the apostle says, "we are saved by hope,"
   Rom. 8:24. And this is spoken of as the helmet of the Christian
   soldier. 1 Thess. 5:8, "And for a helmet, the hope of salvation;" and
   the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, which preserves it from
   being cast away by the storms of this evil world." Heb. 6:19, "Which
   hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and
   which entereth into that within the vail." It is spoken of as a great
   fruit and benefit which true saints receive by Christ's resurrection: 1
   Pet. 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
   which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a
   lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

   The Scriptures place religion very much in the affection of love, in
   love to God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and love to the people of God,
   and to mankind. The texts in which this is manifest, both in the Old
   Testament and New, are innumerable. But of this more afterwards.

   The contrary affection of hatred also, as having sin for its object, is
   spoken of in Scripture as no inconsiderable part of true religion. It
   is spoken of as that by which true religion may be known and
   distinguished; Prov. 8:13, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." And
   accordingly the saints are called upon to give evidence of their
   sincerity by this; Psal. 97:10, "Ye that love the Lord hate evil." And
   the Psalmist often mentions it as an evidence of his sincerity; Psal.
   101:2, 3, "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set
   no wicked thing before mine eyes; I hate the work of them that turn
   aside." Psal. 119:104, "I hate every false way." So ver. 127. Again,
   Psal. 139:21, "Do I not hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?"

   So holy desire, exercised in longings, hungerings, and thirstings after
   God and holiness, is often mentioned in Scripture as an important part
   of true religion; Isa. 26:8, "The desire of our soul is to thy name,
   and to the remembrance of thee." Psal. 27:4, "One thing have I desired
   of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house
   of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord,
   and to inquire in his temple." Psal. 42:1, 2, "As the hart panteth
   after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God; my soul
   thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear
   before God?" Psal. 63:1, 2, "My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh
   longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see
   thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary."
   Psal. 84:1, 2, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My
   soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart
   and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Psal. 119:20, "My soul
   breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times."
   So Psal. 73:25, and 143:6, 7, and 130:6. Cant. 3:1, 2, and 6:8. Such a
   holy desire and thirst of soul is mentioned, as one thing which renders
   or denotes a man truly blessed, in the beginning of Christ's sermon on
   the mount, Matt. 5:6: "Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after
   righteousness; for they shall be filled." And this holy thirst is
   spoken of, as a great thing in the condition of a participation of the
   blessings of eternal life; Rev. 21:6, "I will give unto him that is
   athirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely."

   The Scriptures speaks of holy joy, as a great part of true religion. So
   it is represented in the text. And as an important part of religion, it
   is often exhorted to, and pressed, with great earnestness; Psal. 37:4,
   "Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of
   thine heart." Psal. 97:12, "Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous." So
   Psal. 33:1, "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous." Matt. 5:12,
   "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad." Phil. 3:1, "Finally, brethren,
   rejoice in the Lord." And chap. 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord alway; and
   again I say, Rejoice." 1 Thess. 5:16, "Rejoice evermore." Psal. 149:2,
   "Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be
   joyful in their king." This is mentioned among the principal fruits of
   the Spirit of grace; Gal. 5:21, "The fruit of the Spirit is love," &c.
   The Psalmist mentions his holy joy, as an evidence of his sincerity.
   Psal. 119:14, "I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much
   as in all riches."

   Religious sorrow, mourning, and brokenness of heart, are also
   frequently spoken of as a great part of true religion. These things are
   often mentioned as distinguishing qualities of the true saints, and a
   great part of their character; Matt. 5:4, "Blessed are they that mourn;
   for they shall be comforted.'' Psal. 34:18, "The Lord is nigh unto them
   that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite
   spirit." Isa. 61:1, 2, "The Lord hath anointed me, to bind up the
   broken-hearted, to comfort all that mourn." This godly sorrow and
   brokenness of heart is often spoken of, not only as a great thing in
   the distinguishing character of the saints, but that in them, which is
   peculiarly acceptable and pleasing to God; Psal. 51:17, "The sacrifices
   of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou
   wilt not despise." Isa. 57:15, "Thus saith the high and lofty One that
   inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy
   place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive
   the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite
   ones." Chap. 66:2, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor,
   and of a contrite spirit."

   Another affection often mentioned, as that in the exercise of which
   much of true religion appears, is gratitude; especially as exercised in
   thankfulness and praise to God. This being so much spoken of in the
   book of Psalms, and other parts of the holy Scriptures, I need not
   mention particular texts.

   Again, the holy Scriptures do frequently speak of compassion or mercy,
   as a very great and essential thing in true religion, insomuch that
   good men are in Scripture denominated from hence; and a merciful man
   and a good man are equivalent terms in Scripture; Isa. 57:1, "The
   righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men
   are taken away." And the Scripture chooses out this quality, as that by
   which, in a peculiar manner, a righteous man is deciphered; Psal.
   37:21, "The righteous showeth mercy, and giveth;" and ver. 26, "He is
   ever merciful, and lendeth." And Prov. 14:21, "He that honoreth the
   Lord, hath mercy on the poor." And Col. 3:12, "Put ye on, as the elect
   of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies," &c. This is one of those
   great things by which those who are truly blessed are described by our
   Savior; Matt. 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain
   mercy." And this Christ also speaks of, as one of the weightier matters
   of the law; Matt. 23:23, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
   hypocrites, for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have
   omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith."
   To the like purpose is that, Mic. 6:8, "He hath showed thee, O man,
   what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do
   justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?" And also that,
   Hos. 6:6 "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice." Which seems to have
   been a text much delighted in by our Savior, by his manner of citing it
   once and again, Matt. 9:13, and 12:7.

   Zeal is also spoken of, as a very essential part of the religion of
   true saints. It is spoken of as a great thing Christ had in view, in
   giving himself for our redemption; Tit. 2:14, "Who gave himself for us,
   that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a
   peculiar people, zealous of good works." And this is spoken of, as the
   great thing wanting in the lukewarm Laodiceans, Rev. 3:15, 16, 19.

   I have mentioned but a few texts, out of an innumerable multitude, all
   over the Scripture, which place religion very much in the affections.
   But what has been observed, may be sufficient to show that they who
   would deny that much of true religion lies in the affections, and
   maintain the contrary, must throw away what we have been wont to own
   for our Bible, and get some other rule, by which to judge of the nature
   of religion.

   5. The Scriptures do represent true religion, as being summarily
   comprehended in love, the chief of the affections, and fountain of all
   other affections.

   So our blessed Savior represents the matter, in answer to the lawyer,
   who asked him, which was the great commandment of the law Matt.
   22:37-40: "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with
   all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is
   the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou
   shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all
   the law and the prophets." Which last words signify as much, as that
   these two commandments comprehend all the duty prescribed, and the
   religion taught in the law and the prophets. And the apostle Paul does
   from time to time make the same representation of the matter; as in
   Rom. 13:8, "He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law." And ver.
   10, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." And Gal. 5:14, "For all the
   law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy
   neighbor as thyself." So likewise in 1 Tim. 1:5, "Now the end of the
   commandment is charity, out of a pure heart," &c. So the same apostle
   speaks of love, as the greatest thing in religion, and as the vitals,
   essence and soul of it; without which, the greatest knowledge and
   gifts, and the most glaring profession, and everything else which
   appertains to religion, are vain and worthless; and represents it as
   the fountain from whence proceeds all that is good, in 1 Cor. 13
   through out; for that which is there rendered charity, in the original
   is agape, the proper English of which is love.

   Now, although it be true, that the love thus spoken of includes the
   whole of a sincerely benevolent propensity of the soul towards God and
   man; yet it may be considered, that it is evident from what has been
   before observed, that this propensity or inclination of the soul, when
   in sensible and vigorous exercise, becomes affection, and is no other
   than affectionate love. And surely it is such vigorous and fervent love
   which Christ speaks of, as the sum of all religion, when he speaks of
   loving God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our
   minds, and our neighbor as ourselves, as the sum of all that was taught
   and prescribed in the law and the prophets.

   Indeed it cannot be supposed, when this affection of love is here, and
   in other Scriptures, spoken of as the sum of all religion, that hereby
   is meant the act, exclusive of the habit, or that the exercise of the
   understanding is excluded, which is implied in all reasonable
   affection. But it is doubtless true, and evident from these Scriptures,
   that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love; and that in
   this divine affection, and an habitual disposition to it, and that
   light which is the foundation of it, and those things which are the
   fruits of it, consists the whole of religion.

   From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that great part of true
   religion consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the
   affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the
   fountain of all the affections. From love arises hatred of those things
   which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in
   those things that we delight in: and from the various exercises of love
   and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these
   affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or
   improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear,
   joy, grief, gratitude, anger, &c. From a vigorous, affectionate, and
   fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections;
   hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin,
   and a dread of God's displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness,
   complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously and sensibly
   present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a future
   enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God.
   And in like manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other
   virtuous affections towards men.

   6. The religion of the most eminent saints we have an account of in the
   Scripture, consisted much in holy affections.

   I shall take particular notice of three eminent saints, who have
   expressed the frame and sentiments of their own hearts, and so
   described their own religion, and the manner of their intercourse with
   God, in the writings which they have left us, that are a part of the
   sacred canon.

   The first instance I shall take notice of, is David, that "man after
   God's own heart;" who has given us a lively portraiture of his religion
   in the book of Psalms. Those holy songs of his he has there left us,
   are nothing else but the expressions and breathings of devout and holy
   affections; such as an humble and fervent love to God, admiration of
   his glorious perfections and wonderful works, earnest desires,
   thirstings, and pantings of soul after God, delight and joy in God, a
   sweet and melting gratitude to God, for his great goodness, a holy
   exultation and triumph of soul in the favor, sufficiency, and
   faithfulness of God, his love to, and delight in the saints, the
   excellent of the earth, his great delight in the word and ordinances of
   God, his grief for his own and others' sins, and his fervent zeal for
   God, and against the enemies of God and his church. And these
   expressions of holy affection, which the psalms of David are everywhere
   full of, are the more to our present purpose, because those psalms are
   not only the expressions of the religion of so eminent a saint, that
   God speaks of as so agreeable to his mind; but were also, by the
   direction of the Holy Ghost, penned for the use of the church of God in
   its public worship, not only in that age, but in after ages; as being
   fitted to express the religion of all saints, in all ages, as well as
   the religion of the Psalmist. And it is moreover to be observed, that
   David, in the book of Psalms, speaks not as a private person, but as
   the Psalmist of Israel, as the subordinate head of the church of God,
   and leader in their worship and praises; and in many of the psalms
   speaks in the name of Christ, as personating him in these breathings
   forth of holy affection; and in many other psalms he speaks in the name
   of the church.

   Another instance I shall observe, is the apostle Paul; who was in many
   respects, the chief of all the ministers of the New Testament; being
   above all others, a chosen vessel unto Christ, to bear his name before
   the Gentiles, and made a chief instrument of propagating and
   establishing the Christian church in the world, and of distinctly
   revealing the glorious mysteries of the gospel, for the instruction of
   the church in all ages; and (as has not been improperly thought by
   some) the most eminent servant of Christ that ever lived, received to
   the highest rewards in the heavenly kingdom of his Master. By what is
   said of him in the Scripture, he appears to have been a person that was
   full of affection. And it is very manifest, that the religion he
   expresses in his epistles, consisted very much in holy affections. It
   appears by all his expressions of himself, that he was, in the course
   of his life, inflamed, actuated, and entirely swallowed up, by a most
   ardent love to his glorious Lord, esteeming all things as loss, for the
   excellency of the knowledge of him, and esteeming them but dung that he
   might win him. He represents himself, as overpowered by this holy
   affection, and as it were compelled by it to go forward in his service,
   through all difficulties and sufferings, 2 Cor. 5:14, 15. And his
   epistles are full of expressions of an overpowering affection towards
   the people of Christ. He speaks of his dear love to them, 2 Cor. 12:19,
   Phil. 4:1, 2 Tim. 1:2; of his "abundant love," 2 Cor. 2:4; and of his
   "affectionate and tender love," as of a nurse towards her children, 1
   Thess. 2:7, 8: "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse
   cherisheth her children; so, being affectionately desirous of you we
   were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but
   also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." So also he speaks of
   his "bowels of love," Phil. 1:8, Philem. 5, 12, and 20. So he speaks of
   his "earnest care" for others, 2 Cor. 8:16, and of his "bowels of pity,
   or mercy towards them, Phil. 2:1; and of his concern for others, even
   to anguish of heart," 2 Cor. 2:4: "For out of much affliction and
   anguish of heart, I wrote unto you with many tears; not that you should
   be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more
   abundantly unto you." He speaks of the great conflict of his soul for
   them, Col. 2:1. He speaks of great and continual grief that he had in
   his heart from compassion to the Jews, Rom. 9:2. He speaks of "his
   mouth's being opened, and his heart enlarged" towards Christians, 2
   Cor. 6:11: "O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is
   enlarged." He often speaks of his "affectionate and longing desires," 1
   Thess. 2:8, Rom. 1:11, Phil. 1:8, and chap. 4:1, 2 Tim. 1:4. The same
   apostle is very often, in his epistles, expressing the affection of
   joy, 2 Cor. 1:12 and chap. 7:7, and ver. 9. 16. Phil. 1:4, and chap.
   2:12, and chap 3:3. Col. 1:34. 1 Thess. 3:9. He speaks of his
   "rejoicing with great joy," Phil 4:10, Philem. 1:7; of his "joying and
   rejoicing," Phil. 2:1, 7, and "of his rejoicing exceedingly," 2 Cor.
   7:13, and of his being "filled with comfort, and being exceeding
   joyful," 2 Cor. 7:4. He speaks of himself as "always rejoicing," 2 Cor.
   6:10. So he speaks of the triumphs of his soul, 2 Cor. 2:14, and of his
   glorying in tribulation," 2 Thess. 1:4, and Rom. 5:3. He also expresses
   the affection of hope; in Phil. 1:20, he speaks of his "earnest
   expectation, and his hope." He likewise expresses an affection of godly
   jealousy, 2 Cor. 11:2, 3. And it appears by his whole history, after
   his conversion, in the Acts, and also by all his epistles, and the
   accounts he gives of himself there that the affection of zeal, as
   having the cause of his Master, and the interest and prosperity of his
   church, for its object, was mighty in him, continually inflaming his
   heart, strongly engaging to those great and constant labors he went
   through, in instructing, exhorting, warning, and reproving others,
   "travailing in birth with them;" conflicting with those powerful and
   innumerable enemies who continually opposed him, wrestling with
   principalities and powers, not fighting as one who beats the air,
   running the race set before him, continually pressing forwards through
   all manner of difficulties and sufferings; so that others thought him
   quite beside himself. And how full he was of affection, does further
   appear by his being so full of tears: in 2 Cor. 2:4, he speaks of his a
   many tears;" and so Acts 20:19; and of his "tears that he shed
   continually night and day," ver. 31.

   Now if anyone can consider these accounts given in the Scripture of
   this great apostle, and which he gives of himself, and yet not see that
   his religion consisted much in affection, must have a strange faculty
   of managing his eyes to shut out the light which shines most full in
   his face.

   The other instance I shall mention, is of the apostle John, that
   beloved disciple, who was the nearest and dearest to his Master, of any
   of the twelve, and was by him admitted to the greatest privileges of
   any of them; being not only one of the three who were admitted to be
   present with him in the mount at his transfiguration, and at the
   raising of Jairus's daughter, and whom he took with him when he was in
   his agony, and one of the three spoken of by the apostle Paul, as the
   three main pillars of the Christian church; but was favored above all,
   in being admitted to lean on his Master's bosom at his last supper, and
   in being chosen by Christ, as the disciple to whom he would reveal his
   wonderful dispensations towards his church, to the end of time; as we
   have an account in the Book of Revelation; and to shut up the canon of
   the New Testament, and of the whole Scripture; being preserved much
   longer than all the rest of the apostles, to set all things in order in
   the Christian church, after their death.

   It is evident by all his writings (as is generally observed by divines)
   that he was a person remarkably full of affection: his addresses to
   those whom he wrote to being inexpressibly tender and pathetical,
   breathing nothing but the most fervent love; as though he were all made
   up of sweet and holy affection. The proofs of which cannot be given
   without disadvantage, unless we should transcribe his whole writings.

   7. He whom God sent into the world to be the light of the world, and
   head of the whole church, and the perfect example of true religion and
   virtue, for the imitation of all, the Shepherd whom the whole flock
   should follow wherever he goes, even the Lord Jesus Christ, was a
   person who was remarkably of a tender and affectionate heart; and his
   virtue was expressed very much in the exercise of holy affections. He
   was the greatest instance of ardency, vigor and strength of love, to
   both God and man, that ever was. It was these affections which got the
   victory, in that mighty struggle and conflict of his affections, in his
   agonies, when "he prayed more earnestly, and offered strong crying and
   tears," and wrestled in tears and in blood. Such was the power of the
   exercises of his holy love, that they were stronger than death, and in
   that great struggle, overcame those strong exercises of the natural
   affections of fear and grief, when he was sore amazed, and his soul was
   exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. And he also appeared to be full
   of affection in the course of his life. We read of his great zeal,
   fulfilling that in the 69th Psalm, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten
   me up," John 2:17. We read of his grief for the sins of men, Mark 3:5:
   "He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the
   hardness of their hearts;" and his breaking forth in tears and
   exclamations, from the consideration of the sin and misery of ungodly
   men and on the sight of the city of Jerusalem, which was full of such
   inhabitants, Luke 19:41, 42: "And, when he was come near, he beheld the
   city, and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at
   least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now
   they are hid from thine eyes." With chap. 13:34, "O Jerusalem,
   Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent
   unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a
   hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" We read
   of Christ's earnest desire, Luke 22:15: "With desire have I desired to
   eat this passover with you before I suffer." We often read of the
   affection of pity or compassion in Christ, Matt. 15:32, and 18:34. Luke
   7:13, and of his "being moved with compassion," Matt. 9:36, and 14:14,
   and Mark 6:34. And how tender did his heart appear to be, on occasion
   of Mary's and Martha's mourning for their brother, and coming to him
   with their complaints and tears! Their tears soon drew tears from his
   eyes he was affected with their grief, and wept with them; though he
   knew their sorrow should so soon be turned into joy, by their brother's
   being raised from the dead; see John 11. And how ineffably affectionate
   was that last and dying discourse, which Jesus had with his eleven
   disciples the evening before he was crucified; when he told them he was
   going away, and foretold them the great difficulties and sufferings
   they should meet with in the world, when he was gone; and comforted and
   counseled them as his dear little children; and bequeathed to them his
   Holy Spirit, and therein his peace, and his comfort and joy, as it were
   in his last will and testament, in the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th
   chapters of John; and concluded the whole with that affectionate
   intercessory prayer for them, and his whole church, in chap. 17. Of all
   the discourses ever penned, or uttered by the mouth of any man, this
   seems to be the most affectionate and affecting.

   8. The religion of heaven consists very much in affection.

   There is doubtless true religion in heaven, and true religion in its
   utmost purity and perfection. But according to the Scripture
   representation of the heavenly state, the religion of heaven consists
   chiefly in holy and mighty love and joy, and the expression of these in
   most fervent and exalted praises. So that the religion of the saints in
   heaven, consists in the same things with that religion of the saints on
   earth, which is spoken of in our text, viz., love, and "joy unspeakable
   and full of glory." Now it would be very foolish to pretend, that
   because the saints in heaven be not united to flesh and blood, and have
   no animal fluids to be moved (through the laws of union of soul and
   body) with those great emotions of their souls, that therefore their
   exceeding love and joy are no affections. We are not speaking of the
   affections of the body, but of the affections of the soul, the chief of
   which are love and joy. When these are in the soul, whether that be in
   the body or out of it, the soul is affected and moved. And when they
   are in the soul, in that strength in which they are in the saints in
   heaven, the soul is mightily affected and moved, or, which is the same
   thing, has great affections. It is true, we do not experimentally know
   what love and joy are in a soul out of a body, or in a glorified body;
   i.e., we have not had experience of love and joy in a soul in these
   circumstances; but the saints on earth do know what divine love and joy
   in the soul are, and they know that love and joy are of the same kind
   with the love and joy which are in heaven, in separate souls there. The
   love and joy of the saints on earth, is the beginning and dawning of
   the light, life, and blessedness of heaven, and is like their love and
   joy there; or rather, the same in nature, though not the same with it,
   or like to it, in degree and circumstances. This is evident by many
   Scriptures, as Prov. 4:18; John 4:14, and chap. 6:40, 47, 50, 51, 54,
   58; 1 John 3:16; 1 Cor. 13:8-12. It is unreasonable therefore to
   suppose, that the love and joy of the saints in heaven, not only differ
   in degree and circumstances, from the holy love and joy of the saints
   on earth, but is so entirely different in nature, that they are no
   affections; and merely because they have no blood and animal spirits to
   be set in motion by them, which motion of the blood and animal spirits
   is not of the essence of these affections, in men on the earth, but the
   effect of them; although by their reaction they may make some
   circumstantial difference in the sensation of the mind. There is a
   sensation of the mind which loves and rejoices, that is antecedent to
   any effects on the fluids of the body; and this sensation of the mind,
   therefore, does not depend on these motions in the body, and so may be
   in the soul without the body. And wherever there are the exercises of
   love and joy, there is that sensation of the mind, whether it be in the
   body or out; and that inward sensation, or kind of spiritual sense, or
   feeling, and motion of the soul, is what is called affection: the soul
   when it thus feels (if I may say so), and is thus moved, is said to be
   affected, and especially when this inward sensation and motion are to a
   very high degree, as they are in the saints in heaven. If we can learn
   anything of the state of heaven from the Scripture, the love and joy
   that the saints have there, is exceeding great and vigorous; impressing
   the heart with the strongest and most lively sensation of inexpressible
   sweetness, mightily moving, animating and engaging them, making them
   like a flame of fire. And if such love and joy be not affections, then
   the word affection is of no use in language. Will any say, that the
   saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father, and the glory
   of their Redeemer, and contemplating his wonderful works, and
   particularly his laying down his life for them, have their hearts
   nothing moved and affected by all which they behold or consider?

   Hence, therefore, the religion of heaven, consisting chiefly in holy
   love and joy, consists very much in affection; and therefore,
   undoubtedly, true religion consists very much in affection. The way to
   learn the true nature of anything, is to go where that thing is to be
   found in its purity and perfection. If we would know the nature of true
   gold we must view it, not in the ore, but when it is refined. If we
   would learn what true religion is, we must go where there is true
   religion, and nothing but true religion, and in its highest perfection,
   without any defect or mixture. All who are truly religious are not of
   this world, they are strangers here, and belong to heaven; they are
   born from above, heaven is their native country, and the nature which
   they receive by this heavenly birth, is a heavenly nature, they receive
   an anointing from above; that principle of true religion which is in
   them, is a communication of the religion of heaven; their grace is the
   dawn of glory; and God fits them for that world by conforming them to

   9. This appears from the nature and design of the ordinances and
   duties, which God hath appointed, as means and expressions of true

   To instance in the duty of prayer: it is manifest, we are not appointed
   in this duty, to declare God's perfections, his majesty, holiness,
   goodness, and all-sufficiency, and our own meanness, emptiness,
   dependence, and unworthiness, and our wants and desires, to inform God
   of these things, or to incline his heart, and prevail with him to be
   willing to show us mercy; but suitably to affect our own hearts with
   the things we express, and so to prepare us to receive the blessings we
   ask. And such gestures and manner of external behavior in the worship
   of God, which custom has made to be significations of humility and
   reverence, can be of no further use than as they have some tendency to
   affect our own hearts, or the hearts of others.

   And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to
   excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be
   assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than
   in prose, and do it with music but only, that such is our nature and
   frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.

   The same thing appears in the nature and design of the sacraments,
   which God hath appointed. God, considering our frame, hath not only
   appointed that we should be told of the great things of the gospel, and
   of the redemption of Christ, and instructed in them by his word; but
   also that they should be, as it were, exhibited to our view, in
   sensible representations, in the sacraments, the more to affect us with

   And the impressing divine things on the hearts and affections of men,
   is evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained that his
   word delivered in the holy Scriptures, should be opened, applied, and
   set home upon men, in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the
   aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good
   commentaries and expositions on the Scripture, and other good books of
   divinity; because, although these may tend as well as preaching to give
   men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the things of the
   word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on
   men's hearts and affections. God hath appointed a particular and lively
   application of his word to men in the preaching of it, as a fit means
   to affect sinners with the importance of the things of religion, and
   their own misery, and necessity of a remedy, and the glory and
   sufficiency of a remedy provided; and to stir up the pure minds of the
   saints, and quicken their affections, by often bringing the great
   things of religion to their remembrance, and setting them before them
   in their proper colors, though they know them, and have been fully
   instructed in them already, 2 Pet. 1:12, 13. And particularly, to
   promote those two affections in them, which are spoken of in the text,
   love and joy: "Christ gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
   some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; that the body of
   Christ might be edified in love," Eph. 4:11, 12, 16. The apostle in
   instructing and counseling Timothy concerning the work of the ministry,
   informs him that the great end of that word which a minister is to
   preach, is love or charity, 1 Tim. 3, 4, 5. And another affection which
   God has appointed preaching as a means to promote in the saints, is
   joy; and therefore ministers are called "helpers of their joy," 2 Cor.

   10. It is an evidence that true religion, or holiness of heart, lies
   very much in the affection of the heart, that the Scriptures place the
   sin of the heart very much in hardness of heart. Thus the Scriptures do
   everywhere. It was hardness of heart which excited grief and
   displeasure in Christ towards the Jews, Mark 3:5: "He looked round
   about on them, with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their
   hearts." It is from men's having such a heart as this, that they
   treasure up wrath for themselves: Rom. 2:5, "After thy hardness and
   impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of
   wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." The reason
   given why the house of Israel would not obey God, was, that they were
   hardhearted: Ezekiel 3:7, "But the house of Israel will not hearken
   unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of
   Israel are impudent and hard-hearted." The wickedness of that perverse
   rebellious generation in the wilderness, is ascribed to the hardness of
   their hearts: Psal. 95:7-10, "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden
   not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation
   in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my
   work: forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It
   is a people that do err in their heart," &c. This is spoken of as what
   prevented Zedekiah's turning to the Lord: 2 Chron. 36:13, "He stiffened
   his neck, and hardened his heart from turning to the Lord God of
   Israel." This principle is spoken of, as that from whence men are
   without the fear of God, and depart from God's ways: Isa. 63:17, "O
   Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways and hardened our heart
   from thy fear?" And men's rejecting Christ, and opposing Christianity,
   is laid to this principle: Acts 19:9, "But when divers were hardened,
   and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude."
   God's leaving men to the power of the sin and corruption of the heart
   is often expressed by God's hardening their hearts: Rom. 9:18,
   "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will
   he hardeneth." John 12:40, "He hath blinded their minds, and hardened
   their hearts." And the apostle seems to speak of "an evil heart that
   departs from the living God, and a hard heart," as the same thing: Heb.
   3:8, "Harden not your heart, as in the provocation," &c.; ver. 12, 13,
   "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
   unbelief, in departing from the living God: but exhort one another
   daily, while it is called to-day; lest any of you be hardened through
   the deceitfulness of sin." And that great work of God in conversion,
   which consists in delivering a person from the power of sin, and
   mortifying corruption, is expressed, once and again, by God's "taking
   away the heart of stone, and giving a heart of flesh," Ezek. 11:19, and
   chap. 36:26.

   Now by a hard heart, is plainly meant an unaffected heart, or a heart
   not easy to be moved with virtuous affections, like a stone,
   insensible, stupid, unmoved, and hard to be impressed. Hence the hard
   heart is called a stony heart, and is opposed to a heart of flesh, that
   has feeling, and is sensibly touched and moved. We read in Scripture of
   a hard heart, and a tender heart; and doubtless we are to understand
   these, as contrary the one to the other. But what is a tender heart,
   but a heart which is easily impressed with what ought to affect it? God
   commends Josiah, because his heart was tender; and it is evident by
   those things which are mentioned as expressions and evidences of this
   tenderness of heart, that by his heart being tender is meant, his heart
   being easily moved with religious and pious affection: 2 Kings 22:19,
   "Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before
   the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and
   against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation
   and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me, I also have
   heard thee, saith the Lord." And this is one thing, wherein it is
   necessary we should "become as little children, in order to our
   entering into the kingdom of God," even that we should have our hearts
   tender, and easily affected and moved in spiritual and divine things,
   as little children have in other things.

   It is very plain in some places, in the texts themselves, that by
   hardness of heart is meant a heart void of affection. So, to signify
   the ostrich's being without natural affection to her young, it is said,
   Job 39:16, "She hardeneth her heart against her young ones, as though
   they were not hers." So a person having a heart unaffected in time of
   danger, is expressed by his hardening his heart: Prov. 28:14, "Happy is
   the man that feareth alway; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall
   into mischief."

   Now, therefore, since it is so plain, that by a hard heart, in
   Scripture, is meant a heart destitute of pious affections, and since
   also the Scriptures do so frequently place the sin and corruption of
   the heart in hardness of heart; it is evident, that the grace and
   holiness of the heart, on the contrary, must, in a great measure,
   consist in its having pious affections, and being easily susceptive of
   such affection. Divines are generally agreed, that sin radically and
   fundamentally consist in what is negative, or privative, having its
   root and foundation in a privation or want of holiness. And therefore
   undoubtedly, if it be so that sin does very much consist in hardness of
   hearts and so in the want of pious affections of heart, holiness does
   consist very much in those pious affections.

   I am far from supposing that all affections do show a tender heart:
   hatred, anger, vainglory, and other selfish and self-exalting
   affections, may greatly prevail in the hardest heart. But yet it is
   evident, that hardness of heart and tenderness of heart, are
   expressions that relate to the affection of the heart, and denote the
   heart's being susceptible of, or shut up against certain affections; of
   which I shall have occasion to speak more afterwards.

   Upon the whole, I think it clearly and abundantly evident, that true
   religion lies very much in the affections. Not that I think these
   arguments prove, that religion in the hearts of the truly godly, is
   ever in exact proportion to the degree of affection, and present
   emotion of the mind: for undoubtedly, there is much affection in the
   true saints which is not spiritual; their religious affections are
   often mixed; all is not from grace, but much from nature. And though
   the affections have not their seat in the body; yet the constitution of
   the body may very much contribute to the present emotion of the mind.
   And the degree of religion is rather to be judged of by the fixedness
   and strength of the habit that is exercised in affection, whereby holy
   affection is habitual, than by the degree of the present exercise; and
   the strength of that habit is not always in proportion to outward
   effects and manifestations, or inward effects, in the hurry and
   vehemence, and sudden changes of the course of the thoughts of the
   mind. But yet it is evident, that religion consists so much in
   affection, as that without holy affection there is no true religion;
   and no light in the understanding is good, which does not produce holy
   affection in the heart: no habit or principle in the heart is good,
   which has no such exercise; and no external fruit is good, which does
   not proceed from such exercises.

   Having thus considered the evidence of the proposition laid down, I
   proceed to some inferences.

   1. We may hence learn how great their error is, who are for discarding
   all religious affections, as having nothing solid or substantial in

   There seems to be too much of a disposition this way, prevailing in
   this land at this time. Because many who, in the late extraordinary
   season, appeared to have great religious affections, did not manifest a
   right temper of mind, and run into many errors, in the time of their
   affections, and the heat of their zeal; and because the high affections
   of many seem to be so soon come to nothing, and some who seemed to be
   mightily raised and swallowed up with joy and zeal, for a while, seem
   to have returned like the dog to his vomit; hence religious affections
   in general are grown out of credit with great numbers, as though true
   religion did not at all consist in them. Thus we easily and naturally
   run from one extreme to another. A little while ago we were in the
   other extreme; there was a prevalent disposition to look upon all high
   religious affections as eminent exercises of true grace, without much
   inquiring into the nature and source of those affections, and the
   manner in which they arose: if persons did but appear to be indeed very
   much moved and raised, so as to be full of religious talk, and express
   themselves with great warmth and earnestness, and to be filled, or to
   be very full, as the phrases were; it was too much the manner, without
   further examination, to conclude such persons were full of the Spirit
   of God, and had eminent experience of his gracious influences. This was
   the extreme which was prevailing three or four years ago. But of late,
   instead of esteeming and admiring all religious affections without
   distinction, it is a thing much more prevalent, to reject and discard
   all without distinction. Herein appears the subtlety of Satan. While he
   saw that affections were much in vogue, knowing the greater part of the
   land were not versed in such things, and had not had much experience of
   great religious affections to enable them to judge well of them, and
   distinguish between true and false: then he knew he could best play his
   game, by sowing tares amongst the wheat, and mingling false affections
   with the works of God's Spirit: he knew this to be a likely way to
   delude and eternally ruin many souls, and greatly to wound religion in
   the saints, and entangle them in a dreadful wilderness, and by and by,
   to bring all religion into disrepute.

   But now, when the ill consequences of these false affections appear,
   and it is become very apparent, that some of those emotions which made
   a glaring show, and were by many greatly admired, were in reality
   nothing; the devil sees it to be for his interest to go another way to
   work, and to endeavor to his utmost to propagate and establish a
   persuasion, that all affections and sensible emotions of the mind, in
   things of religion, are nothing at all to be regarded, but are rather
   to be avoided, and carefully guarded against, as things of a pernicious
   tendency. This he knows is the way to bring all religion to a mere
   lifeless formality, and effectually shut out the power of godliness,
   and everything which is spiritual, and to have all true Christianity
   turned out of doors. For although to true religion there must indeed be
   something else besides affection; yet true religion consists so much in
   the affections, that there can be no true religion without them. He who
   has no religious affection, is in a state of spiritual death, and is
   wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the
   Spirit of God upon his heart. As there is no true religion where there
   is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there
   is no religious affection. As on the one hand, there must be light in
   the understanding, as well as an affected fervent heart; where there is
   heat without light, there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that
   heart; so on the other hand, where there is a kind of light without
   heat, a head stored with notions and speculations, with a cold and
   unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that
   knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things. If the great
   things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart.
   The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great,
   important, glorious, and wonderful things, as they often hear and read
   of, in the word of God, is undoubtedly because they are blind; if they
   were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with
   human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than strongly
   impressed, and greatly moved by such things.

   This manner of slighting all religious affections, is the way
   exceedingly to harden the hearts of men, and to encourage them in their
   stupidity and senselessness, and to keep them in a state of spiritual
   death as long as they live, and bring them at last to death eternal.
   The prevailing prejudice against religious affections at this day, in
   the land, is apparently of awful effect to harden the hearts of
   sinners, and damp the graces of many of the saints, and stun the life
   and power of religion, and preclude the effect of ordinances, and hold
   us down in a state of dullness and apathy, and undoubtedly causes many
   persons greatly to offend God, in entertaining mean and low thoughts of
   the extraordinary work he has lately wrought in this land.

   And for persons to despise and cry down all religious affections, is
   the way to shut all religion out of their own hearts, and to make
   thorough work in ruining their souls.

   They who condemn high affections in others, are certainly not likely to
   have high affections themselves. And let it be considered, that they
   who have but little religious affection, have certainly but little
   religion. And they who condemn others for their religious affections,
   and have none themselves, have no religion.

   There are false affections, and there are true. A man's having much
   affection, does not prove that he has any true religion: but if he has
   no affection it proves that he has no true religion. The right way, is
   not to reject all affections, nor to approve all; but to distinguish
   between affections, approving some, and rejecting others; separating
   between the wheat and the chaff, the gold and the dross, the precious
   and the vile.

   2. If it be so, that true religion lies much in the affections, hence
   we may infer, that such means are to be desired, as have much of a
   tendency to move the affections. Such books, and such a way of
   preaching the word, and administration of ordinances, and such a way of
   worshipping God in prayer, and singing praises, is much to be desired,
   as has a tendency deeply to affect the hearts of those who attend these

   Such a kind of means would formerly have been highly approved of, and
   applauded by the generality of the people of the land, as the most
   excellent and profitable, and having the greatest tendency to promote
   the ends of the means of grace. But the prevailing taste seems of late
   strangely to be altered: that pathetical manner of praying and
   preaching, which would formerly have been admired and extolled, and
   that for this reason, because it had such a tendency to move the
   affections, now, in great multitudes, immediately excites disgust, and
   moves no other affections, than those of displeasure and contempt.

   Perhaps, formerly the generality (at least of the common people) were
   in the extreme, of looking too much to an affectionate address, in
   public performances: but now, a very great part of the people seem to
   have gone far into a contrary extreme. Indeed there may be such means,
   as may have a great tendency to stir up the passions of weak and
   ignorant persons, and yet have no great tendency to benefit their
   souls: for though they may have a tendency to excite affections, they
   may have little or none to excite gracious affections, or any
   affections tending to grace. But undoubtedly, if the things of
   religion, in the means used, are treated according to their nature, and
   exhibited truly, so as tends to convey just apprehensions, and a right
   judgment of them; the more they have a tendency to move the affections
   the better.

   3. If true religion lies much in the affections, hence we may learn,
   what great cause we have to be ashamed and confounded before God, that
   we are no more affected with the great things of religion. It appears
   from what has been said, that this arises from our having so little
   true religion.

   God has given to mankind affections, for the same purpose which he has
   given all the faculties and principles of the human soul for, viz.,
   that they might be subservient to man's chief end, and the great
   business for which God has created him, that is, the business of
   religion. And yet how common is it among mankind, that their affections
   are much more exercised and engaged in other matters, than in religion!
   In things which concern men's worldly interest, their outward delights,
   their honor and reputation, and their natural relations, they have
   their desires eager, their appetites vehement, their love warm and
   affectionate, their zeal ardent; in these things their hearts are
   tender and sensible, easily moved, deeply impressed, much concerned,
   very sensibly affected, and greatly engaged; much depressed with grief
   at worldly losses, and highly raised with joy at worldly successes and
   prosperity. But how insensible and unmoved are most men, about the
   great things of another world! How dull are their affections! How heavy
   and hard their hearts in these matters! Here their love is cold, their
   desires languid, their zeal low, and their gratitude small. How they
   can sit and hear of the infinite height, and depth, and length, and
   breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of his giving his
   infinitely dear Son, to be offered up a sacrifice for the sins of men,
   and of the unparalleled love of the innocent, and holy, and tender Lamb
   of God, manifested in his dying agonies, his bloody sweat, his loud and
   bitter cries, and bleeding heart, and all this for enemies, to redeem
   them from deserved, eternal burnings, and to bring to unspeakable and
   everlasting joy and glory; and yet be cold, and heavy, insensible, and
   regardless! Where are the exercises of our affections proper, if not
   here? What is it that does more require them? And what can be a fit
   occasion of their lively and vigorous exercise, if not such a one as
   this? Can anything be set in our view, greater and more important? Any
   thing more wonderful and surprising? Or more nearly concerning our
   interest? Can we suppose the wise Creator implanted such principles in
   the human nature as the affections, to be of use to us, and to be
   exercised on certain proper occasions, but to lie still on such an
   occasion as this? Can any Christian who believes the truth of these
   things, entertain such thoughts?

   If we ought ever to exercise our affections at all, and if the Creator
   has not unwisely constituted the human nature in making these
   principles a part of it, when they are vain and useless; then they
   ought to be exercised about those objects which are most worthy of
   them. But is there anything which Christians can find in heaven or
   earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their
   earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their
   fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel
   of Jesus Christ? In which not only are things declared most worthy to
   affect us, but they are exhibited in the most affecting manner. The
   glory and beauty of the blessed Jehovah, which is most worthy in
   itself, to be the object of our admiration and love, is there exhibited
   in the most affecting manner that can he conceived of, as it appears,
   shining in all its luster, in the face of an incarnate, infinitely
   loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer. All the virtues of the
   Lamb of God, his humility, patience, meekness, submission, obedience,
   love and compassion, are exhibited to our view, in a manner the most
   tending to move our affections, of any that can be imagined; as they
   all had their greatest trial, and their highest exercise, and so their
   brightest manifestation, when he was in the most affecting
   circumstances; even when he was under his last sufferings, those
   unutterable and unparalleled sufferings he endured, from his tender
   love and pity to us. There also the hateful nature of our sins is
   manifested in the most affecting manner possible: as we see the
   dreadful effects of them, in that our Redeemer, who undertook to answer
   for us, suffered for them. And there we have the most affecting
   manifestation of God's hatred of sin, and his wrath and justice in
   punishing it; as we see his justice in the strictness and
   inflexibleness of it; and his wrath in its terribleness, in so
   dreadfully punishing our sins, in one who was infinitely dear to him,
   and loving to us. So has God disposed things, in the affair of our
   redemption, and in his glorious dispensations, revealed to us in the
   gospel, as though everything were purposely contrived in such a manner,
   as to have the greatest possible tendency to reach our hearts in the
   most tender part, and move our affections most sensibly and strongly.
   How great cause have we therefore to be humbled to the dust, that we
   are no more affected!



   If anyone, on the reading of what has been just now said, is ready to
   acquit himself, and say, "I am not one of those who have no religious
   affections; I am often greatly moved with the consideration of the
   great things of religion:" let him not content himself with this, that
   he has religious affections: for as we observed before, as we ought not
   to reject and condemn all affections, as though true religion did not
   at all consist in affection; so on the other hand, we ought not to
   approve of all, as though everyone that was religiously affected had
   true grace, and was therein the subject of the saving influences of the
   Spirit of God; and that therefore the right way is to distinguish among
   religious affections, between one sort and another. Therefore let us
   now endeavor to do this; and in order to do it, I would do two things.

   I. I would mention some things, which are no signs one way or the
   other, either that affections are such as true religion consists in, or
   that they are otherwise; that we may be guarded against judging of
   affections by false signs.

   II. I would observe some things, wherein those affections which are
   spiritual and gracious, differ from those which are not so, and may be
   distinguished and known.

   First, I would take notice of some things, which are no signs that
   affections are gracious, or that they are not.

   I. It is no sign one way or the other, that religious affections are
   very great, or raised very high.

   Some are ready to condemn all high affections: if persons appear to
   have their religious affections raised to an extraordinary pitch, they
   are prejudiced against them, and determine that they are delusions,
   without further inquiry. But if it be, as has been proved, that true
   religion lies very much in religious affections, then it follows, that
   if there be a great deal of true religion, there will be great
   religious affections; if true religion in the hearts of men be raised
   to a great height, divine and holy affections will be raised to a great

   Love is an affection, but will any Christian say, men ought not to love
   God and Jesus Christ in a high degree? And will any say, we ought not
   to have a very great hatred of sin, and a very deep sorrow for it? Or
   that we ought not to exercise a high degree of gratitude to God for the
   mercies we receive of him, and the great things he has done for the
   salvation of fallen men? Or that we should not have very great and
   strong desires after God and holiness? Is there any who will profess,
   that his affections in religion are great enough; and will say, "I have
   no cause to be humbled, that I am no more affected with the things of
   religion than I am; I have no reason to be ashamed, that I have no
   greater exercises of love to God and sorrow for sin, and gratitude for
   the mercies which I have received?" Who is there that will bless God
   that he is affected enough with what he has read and heard of the
   wonderful love of God to worms and rebels, in giving his only begotten
   Son to die for them, and of the dying love of Christ; and will pray
   that he may not be affected with them in any higher degree, because
   high affections are improper and very unlovely in Christians, being
   enthusiastical, and ruinous to true religion?

   Our text plainly speaks of great and high affections when it speaks of
   "repining with joy unspeakable, and full of glory:" here the most
   superlative expressions are used, which language will afford. And the
   Scriptures often require us to exercise very high affections: thus in
   the first and great commandment of the law, there is an accumulation of
   expressions, as though words were wanting to express the degree in
   which we ought to love God: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all
   thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy
   strength." So the saints are called upon to exercise high degrees of
   joy: "Rejoice," says Christ to his disciples, "and be exceeding glad,"
   Matt. 5:12. So it is said, Psalm 68:3, "Let the righteous be glad: let
   them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice." So in the
   book of Psalms, the saints are often called upon to shout for joy; and
   in Luke 6:23, to leap for joy. So they are abundantly called upon to
   exercise high degrees of gratitude for mercies, to "praise God with all
   their hearts, with hearts lifted up in the ways of the Lord, and their
   souls magnifying the Lord, singing his praises, talking of his wondrous
   works, declaring his doings, &c."

   And we find the most eminent saints in Scripture often professing high
   affections. Thus the Psalmist speaks of his love, as if it were
   unspeakable; Psal. 119:97, "O how love I thy law!" So he expresses a
   great degree of hatred of sin, Psal. 139:21, 29: "Do not I hate them, O
   Lord, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with them that rise up
   against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred." He also expresses a
   high degree of sorrow for sin: he speaks of his sins "going over his
   head as a heavy burden that was too heavy for him: and of his roaring
   all the day, and his moisture being turned into the drought of summer,"
   and his bones being as it were broken with sorrow. So he often
   expresses great degrees of spiritual desires, in a multitude of the
   strongest expressions which can be conceived of; such as "his longing,
   his soul's thirsting as a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, his
   panting, his flesh and heart crying out, his soul's breaking for the
   longing it hath," &c. He expresses the exercises of great and extreme
   grief for the sins of others, Psal. 119:136, "Rivers of water run down
   mine eyes, because they keep not thy law." And verse 53, "Horror hath
   taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law." He
   expresses high exercises of joy, Psal. 21:1: "The king shall joy in thy
   strength, and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice." Psal.
   71:23 "My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee." Psal.
   63:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, "Because thy loving kindness is better than life; my
   lips shall praise thee, Thus will I bless thee, while I live: I will
   lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow
   and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; when I
   remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
   Because thou hast been my help; therefore in the shadow of thy wings
   will I rejoice."

   The Apostle Paul expresses high exercises of affection. Thus he
   expresses the exercises of pity and concern for others' good, even to
   anguish of heart; a great, fervent, and abundant love, and earnest and
   longing desires, and exceeding joy; and speaks of the exultation and
   triumphs of his soul, and his earnest expectation and hope, and his
   abundant tears, and the travails of his soul, in pity, grief, earnest
   desires, godly jealousy, and fervent zeal, in many places that have
   been cited already, and which therefore I need not repeat. John the
   Baptist expressed great joy, John 3:29. Those blessed women that
   anointed the body of Jesus, are represented as in a very high exercise
   of religious affection, on occasion of Christ's resurrection, Matt.
   28:8: "And they departed from the sepulcher with fear and great joy."

   It is often foretold of the church of God, in her future happy seasons
   here on earth, that they shall exceedingly rejoice: Psal. 89:15, 16,
   "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name
   shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be
   exalted." Zech. 9:9, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O
   daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh," &c. The same is
   represented in innumerable other places. And because high degrees of
   joy are the proper and genuine fruits of the gospel of Christ,
   therefore the angel calls this gospel, "good tidings of great joy, that
   should be to all people."

   The saints and angels in heaven, that have religion in its highest
   perfection, are exceedingly affected with what they behold and
   contemplate of God's perfections and works. They are all as a pure
   heavenly flame of fire in their love and in the greatness and strength
   of their joy and gratitude: their praises are represented, "as the
   voice of many waters and as the voice of a great thunder." Now the only
   reason why their affections are so much higher than the holy affections
   of saints on earth, is, they see the things they are affected by, more
   according to their truth, and have their affections more conformed to
   the nature of things. And therefore, if religious affections in men
   here below, are but of the same nature and kind with theirs, the higher
   they are, and the nearer they are to theirs in degree, the better,
   because therein they will be so much the more conformed to truth, as
   theirs are.

   From these things it certainly appears, that religious affections being
   in a very high degree, is no evidence that they are not such as have
   the nature of true religion. Therefore they do greatly err, who condemn
   persons as enthusiasts merely because their affections are very high.

   And on the other hand, it is no evidence that religious affections are
   of a spiritual and gracious nature, because they are great. It is very
   manifest by the holy Scripture, our sure and infallible rule to judge
   of things of this nature, that there are religious affections which are
   very high, that are not spiritual and saving. The Apostle Paul speaks
   of affections in the Galatians, which had been exceedingly elevated,
   and which yet he manifestly speaks of, as fearing that they were vain,
   and had come to nothing: Gal. 4:15, "Where is the blessedness you spoke
   of? For I bear you record, that if it had been possible, you would have
   plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me." And in the 11th
   verse, he tells them, "he was afraid of them, lest he had bestowed upon
   them labor in vain." So the children of Israel were greatly affected
   with God's mercy to them, when they had seen how wonderfully he wrought
   for them at the Red Sea, where they sang God's praise; though they soon
   forgot his works. So they were greatly affected again at mount Sinai,
   when they saw the marvelous manifestations God made of himself there;
   and seemed mightily engaged in their minds, and with great forwardness
   made answer, when God proposed his holy covenant to them, saying, "All
   that the Lord hath spoken will we do, and be obedient." But how soon
   was there an end to all this mighty forwardness and engagedness of
   affection! How quickly were they turned aside after other gods,
   rejoicing and shouting around their golden calf! So great multitudes
   who were affected with the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead,
   were elevated to a high degree, and made a mighty ado, when Jesus
   presently after entered into Jerusalem, exceedingly magnifying Christ,
   as though the ground were not good enough for the ass he rode to tread
   upon; and therefore cut branches of palm trees, and strewed them in the
   way; yea, pulled off their garments, and spread them in the way; and
   cried with loud voices, "Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he
   that cometh in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest;" so as to
   make the whole city ring again, and put all into an uproar. We learn by
   the evangelist John, that the reason why the people made this ado, was
   because they were affected with the miracle of raising Lazarus, John
   12:18. Here was a vast multitude crying Hosanna on this occasion, so
   that it gave occasion to the Pharisees to say, "Behold, the world has
   gone after him," John 12:19, but Christ had at that time but few true
   disciples. And how quickly was this ado at an end! All of this nature
   is quelled and dead, when this Jesus stands bound, with a mock robe and
   a crown of thorns, to be derided, spit upon, scourged, condemned and
   executed. Indeed, there was a great and loud outcry concerning him
   among the multitude then, as well as before; but of a very different
   kind: it is not then, Hosanna, hosanna, but Crucify, crucify.

   And it is the concurring voice of all orthodox divines, that there may
   be religious affections, which are raised to a very high degree, and
   yet there be nothing of true religion. [1]

   [1] Mr. Stoddard observes, "That common affections are sometimes
   stronger than saving."--Guide to Christ, p. 2.

   II. It is no sign that affections have the nature of true religion, or
   that they have not, that they have great effects on the body.

   All affections whatsoever, have in some respect or degree, an effect on
   the body. As was observed before, such is our nature, and such are the
   laws of union of soul and body, that the mind can have no lively or
   vigorous exercise, without some effect upon the body. So subject is the
   body to the mind, and so much do its fluids, especially the animal
   spirits, attend the motions and exercises of the mind, that there
   cannot be so much as an intense thought, without an effect upon them.
   Yea, it is questionable whether an imbodied soul ever so much as thinks
   one thought, or has any exercise at all, but that there is some
   corresponding motion or alteration of motion, in some degree, of the
   fluids, in some part of the body. But universal experience shows, that
   the exercise of the affections have in a special manner a tendency to
   some sensible effect upon the body. And if this be so, that all
   affections have some effect upon the body, we may then well suppose,
   the greater those affections be, and the more vigorous their exercise
   (other circumstances being equal) the greater will be the effect on the
   body. Hence it is not to be wondered at, that very great and strong
   exercises of the affections should have great effects on the body. And
   therefore, seeing there are very great affections, both common and
   spiritual; hence it is not to be wondered at, that great effects on the
   body should arise from both these kinds of affections. And consequently
   these effects are no signs, that the affections they arise from, are of
   one kind or the other.

   Great effects on the body certainly are no sure evidences that
   affections are spiritual; for we see that such effects oftentimes arise
   from great affections about temporal things, and when religion is no
   way concerned in them. And if great affections about secular things,
   that are purely natural, may have these effects, I know not by what
   rule we should determine that high affections about religious things,
   which arise in like manner from nature, cannot have the like effect.

   Nor, on the other hand, do I know of any rule any have to determine,
   that gracious and holy affections, when raised as high as any natural
   affections, and have equally strong and vigorous exercises, cannot have
   a great effect on the body. No such rule can be drawn from reason: I
   know of no reason, why a being affected with a view of God's glory
   should not cause the body to faint, as well as being affected with a
   view of Solomon's glory. And no such rule has as yet been produced from
   the Scripture; none has ever been found in all the late controversies
   which have been about things of this nature. There is a great power in
   spiritual affections: we read of the power which worketh in Christians,
   [2] and of the Spirit of God being in them as the Spirit of power, [3]
   and of the effectual working of his power in them. [4] But man's nature
   is weak: flesh and blood are represented in Scripture as exceeding
   weak; and particularly with respect to its unfitness for great
   spiritual and heavenly operations and exercises, Matt. 26:41, 1 Cor.
   15:43, and 50. The text we are upon speaks of "joy unspeakable, and
   full of glory." And who that considers what man's nature is, and what
   the nature of the affections is, can reasonably doubt but that such
   unutterable and glorious joys, may be too great and mighty for weak
   dust and ashes, so as to be considerably overbearing to it? It is
   evident by the Scripture that true divine discoveries, or ideas of
   God's glory, when given in a great degree have a tendency, by affecting
   the mind, to overbear the body; because the Scripture teaches us often,
   that if these ideas or views should be given to such a degree as they
   are given in heaven, the weak frame of the body could not subsist under
   it, and that no man can, in that manner, see God and live. The
   knowledge which the saints have of God's beauty and glory in this
   world, and those holy affections that arise from it, are of the same
   nature and kind with what the saints are the subjects of in heaven,
   differing only in degree and circumstances: what God gives them here,
   is a foretaste of heavenly happiness, and an earnest of their future
   inheritance. And who shall limit God in his giving this earnest, or say
   he shall give so much of the inheritance, such a part of the future
   reward as an earnest of the whole, and no more? And seeing God has
   taught us in his word, that the whole reward is such, that it would at
   once destroy the body, is it not too bold a thing for us, so to set
   bounds to the sovereign God, as to say that in giving the earnest of
   this reward in this world, he shall never give so much of it, as in the
   least to diminish the strength of the body, when God has nowhere thus
   limited himself?

   The Psalmist, speaking of the vehement religious affections he had,
   speaks of an effect in his flesh or body, besides what was in his soul,
   expressly distinguishing one from the other, once and again: Psal.
   84:2, "My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
   my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Here is a plain
   distinction between the heart and the flesh, as being each affected. So
   Psal. 63:1, "My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in
   a dry and thirsty land, where no water is." Here also is an evident
   designed distinction between the soul and the flesh.

   The prophet Habakkuk speaks of his bodies being overborne by a sense of
   the majesty of God, Hab. 3:16: "When I heard, my belly trembled: my
   lips quivered at the voice: rottenness enter into my bones, and I
   trembled in myself." So the Psalmist speaks expressly of his flesh
   trembling, Psal. 119:120: My flesh trembleth for fear of thee."

   That such ideas of God's glory as are sometimes given in this world,
   have a tendency to overbear the body, is evident, because the Scripture
   gives us an account, that this has sometimes actually been the effect
   of those external manifestations God has made of himself to some of the
   saints which were made to that end, viz., to give them an idea of God's
   majesty and glory. Such instances we have in the prophet Daniel, and
   the apostle John. Daniel, giving an account of an external
   representation of the glory of Christ, says, Dan. 10:8, "And there
   remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned into
   corruption, and I retained no strength." And the apostle John, giving
   an account of the manifestation made to him, says, Rev. 1:17, "And when
   I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead." It is in vain to say here,
   these were only external manifestations or symbols of the glory of
   Christ, which these saints beheld: for though it be true, that they
   were outward representations of Christ's glory, which they beheld with
   their bodily eyes; yet the end and use of these external symbols are
   representations was to give to these prophets an idea of the thing
   represented, and that was the true divine glory and majesty of Christ,
   which is his spiritual glory; they were made use of only as
   significations of this spiritual glory, and thus undoubtedly they
   received them, and improved them, and were affected by them. According
   to the end for which God intended these outward signs, they received by
   them a great and lively apprehension of the real glory and majesty of
   God's nature, which they were signs of; and thus were greatly affected,
   their souls swallowed up, and their bodies overborne. And I think they
   are very bold and daring, who will say God cannot, or shall not give
   the like clear and affecting ideas and apprehensions of the same real
   glory and majesty of his nature, to any of his saints, without the
   intervention of any such external shadows of it.

   Before I leave this head, I would farther observe, that it is plain the
   Scripture often makes use of bodily effects, to express the strength of
   holy and spiritual affections; such as trembling, [5] groaning, [6]
   being sick, [7] crying out, [8] panting, [9] and fainting. [10] Now if
   it be supposed, that these are only figurative expressions, to
   represent the degree of affection: yet I hope all will allow, that they
   are fit and suitable figures to represent the high degree of those
   spiritual affections, which the Spirit of God makes use of them to
   represent; which I do not see how they would be, if those spiritual
   affections, let them be in never to high a degree, have no tendency to
   any such things; but that on the contrary, they are the proper effects
   and sad tokens of false affections, and the delusion of the devil. I
   cannot think, God would commonly make use of things which are very
   alien from spiritual affections, and are shrewd marks of the hand of
   Satan, and smell strong of the bottomless pit, as beautiful figures, to
   represent the high degree of holy and heavenly affections.

   [2] Eph. 3:7.

   [3] 2 Tim. 1:7.

   [4] Eph. 3:7, 20.

   [5] Psal. 119:120. Ezra 9:4. Isa. 66:2, 5. Hab. 3:16.

   [6] Rom. 8:36.

   [7] Cant. 2:5, and 5:8.

   [8] Psal. 84:2.

   [9] Psal. 38:10, and 42:1, and 119:131.

   [10] Psal. 84:2, and 119:81.

   III. It is no sign that affections are truly gracious affections, or
   that they are not, that they cause those who have them to be fluent,
   fervent, and abundant, in talking of the things of religion.

   There are many persons, who, if they see this in others, are greatly
   prejudiced against them. Their being so full of talk, is with them a
   sufficient ground to condemn them, as Pharisees, and ostentatious
   hypocrites. On the other hand, there are many, who if they see this
   effect in any, are very ignorantly and imprudently forward, at once to
   determine that they are the true children of God, and are under the
   saving influences of his Spirit, and speak of it as a great evidence of
   a new creature; they say, "such a one's mouth is now opened: he used to
   be slow to speak; but now he is full and free; he is free now to open
   his heart, and tell his experiences, and declare the praises of God; it
   comes from him, as free as water from a fountain;" and the like. And
   especially are they captivated into a confident and undoubting
   persuasion, that they are savingly wrought upon, if they are not only
   free and abundant, but very affectionate and earnest in their talk.

   But this is the fruit of but little judgment, a scanty and short
   experience; as events do abundantly show: and is a mistake persons
   often run into, through their trusting to their own wisdom and
   discerning, and making their own notions their rule, instead of the
   holy Scripture. Though the Scripture be full of rules, both how we
   should judge of our own state, and also how we should be conducted in
   our opinion of others; yet we have nowhere any rule, by which to judge
   ourselves or others to be in a good estate, from any such effect: for
   this is but the religion of the mouth and of the tongue, and what is in
   the Scripture represented by the leaves of a tree, which, though the
   tree ought not to be without them, yet are nowhere given as an evidence
   of the goodness of the tree.

   That persons are disposed to be abundant in talking of things of
   religion, may be from a good cause, and it may be from a bad one. It
   may be because their hearts are very full of holy affections; "for out
   of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh:" and it may be
   because persons' hearts are very full of religious affection which is
   not holy; for still out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
   speaketh. It is very much the nature of the affections, of whatever
   kind they be, and whatever objects they are exercised about, if they
   are strong, to dispose persons to be very much in speaking of that
   which they are affected with: and not only to speak much, but to speak
   very earnestly and fervently. And therefore persons talking abundantly
   and very fervently about the things of religion, can be an evidence of
   no more than this, that they are very much affected with the things of
   religion; but this may be (as has been already shown) and there be no
   grace. That which men are greatly affected with, while the high
   affection lasts, they will be earnestly engaged about, and will be
   likely to show that earnestness in their talk and behavior; as the
   greater part of the Jews, in all Judah and Galilee, did for a while,
   about John the Baptist's preaching and baptism, when they were willing
   for a season to rejoice in his light; a mighty ado was made, all over
   the land, and among all sorts of persons, about this great prophet and
   his ministry. And so the multitude, in like manner, often manifested a
   great earnestness, a mighty engagedness of spirit in everything that
   was external, about Christ and his preaching and miracles, "being
   astonished at his doctrine, anon with joy receiving the word,"
   following him sometimes night and day, leaving meat, drink, and sleep
   to hear him: once following him into the wilderness, fasting three days
   going to hear him; some times crying him up to the clouds, saying,
   "Never man spake like this man!" being fervent and earnest in what they
   said. But what did these things come to, in the greater part of them?

   A person may be over full of talk of his own experiences; commonly
   falling upon it, everywhere, and in all companies; and when it is so,
   it is rather a dark sign than a good one. As a tree that is over full
   of leaves seldom bears much fruit; and as a cloud, though to appearance
   very pregnant and full of water, if it brings with it overmuch wind,
   seldom affords much rain to the dry and thirsty earth; which very thing
   the Holy Spirit is pleased several times to make use of, to represent a
   great show of religion with the mouth, without answerable fruit in the
   life: Prov. 25:24, "Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift, is like
   clouds and wind without rain." And the apostle Jude, speaking of some
   in the primitive times, that crept in unawares among the saints, and
   having a great show of religion, where for a while not suspected,
   "These are clouds (says he) without water, carried about of winds,"
   Jude ver. 4 and 12. And the apostle Peter, speaking of the same, says,
   2 Pet. 2:17, "These are clouds without water, carried with a tempest."

   False affections, if they are equally strong, are much more forward to
   declare themselves, than true: because it is the nature of false
   religion, to affect show and observation; as it was with the Pharisees.

   [11] That famous experimental divine, Mr. Shepherd, says, "A Pharisee's
   trumpet shall be heard to the town's end; when simplicity walks through
   the town unseen. Hence a man will sometimes covertly commend himself
   (and myself ever comes in), and tells you a long story of conversion;
   and a hundred to one if some lie or other slip not out with it. Why,
   the secret meaning is, I pray admire me. Hence complain of wants and
   weaknesses: Pray think what a broken-hearted Christian I am." Parab. of
   the Ten Virgins. Part I. pages 179, 180.                And holy Mr.
   Flavel says thus: "O reader, if thy heart were right with God, and thou
   didst not cheat thyself with a vain profession, thou wouldst have
   frequent business with God, which thou wouldst be loth thy dearest
   friend, or the wife of thy bosom should be privy to. Non est religio,
   ubi omnia patent. Religion doth not lie open to all, to the eyes of
   men. Observed duties maintain our credit; but secret duties maintain
   our life. It was the saying of a heathen, about his secret
   correspondency with his friend, What need the world be acquainted with
   it? Thou and I are theatre enough to each other. There are inclosed
   pleasures in religion, which none but renewed spiritual souls do
   feelingly understand." Flavel's Touchstone of Sincerity, Chap. II.
   Sect. 2.

   IV. It is no sign that affections are gracious, or that they are
   otherwise, that persons did not make them themselves, or excite them of
   their own contrivance and by their own strength.

   There are many in these days, that condemn all affections which are
   excited in a way that the subjects of them can give no account of, as
   not seeming to be the fruit of any of their own endeavors, or the
   natural consequence of the faculties and principles of human nature, in
   such circumstances, and under such means; but to be from the influence
   of some extrinsic and supernatural power upon their minds. How greatly
   has the doctrine of the inward experience, or sensible perceiving of
   the immediate power and operation of the Spirit of God, been reproached
   and ridiculed by many of late! They say, the manner of the Spirit of
   God is to co-operate in a silent, secret, and undiscernable way with
   the use of means, and our own endeavors; so that there is no
   distinguishing by sense, between the influences of the Spirit of God,
   and the natural operations of the faculties of our own minds.

   And it is true, that for any to expect to receive the saving influences
   of the Spirit of God, while they neglect a diligent improvement of the
   appointed means of grace, is unreasonable presumption. And to expect
   that the Spirit of God will savingly operate upon their minds, without
   the Spirit's making use of means, as subservient to the effect, is
   enthusiastical. It is also undoubtedly true, that the Spirit of God is
   very various in the manner and circumstances of his operations, and
   that sometimes he operates in a way more secret and gradual, and from
   smaller beginnings, than at others.

   But if there be indeed a power, entirely different from, and beyond our
   power, or the power of all means and instruments, and above the power
   of nature, which is requisite in order to the production of saving
   grace in the heart, according to the general profession of the country;
   then, certainly it is in no wise unreasonable to suppose, that this
   effect should very frequently be produced after such a manner, as to
   make it very manifest, apparent, and sensible that it is so. If grace
   be indeed owing to the powerful and efficacious operation of an
   extrinsic agent, or divine efficient out of ourselves, why is it
   unreasonable to suppose it should seem to be so to them who are the
   subjects of it? Is it a strange thing, that it should seem to be as it
   is? When grace in the heart indeed is not produced by our strength, nor
   is the effect of the natural power of our own faculties, or any means
   or instruments, but is properly the workmanship and production of the
   Spirit of the Almighty, is it a strange and unaccountable thing, that
   it should seem to them who are subjects of it, agreeable to truth, and
   not right contrary to truth; so that if persons tell of effects that
   they are conscious to in their own minds, that seem to them not to be
   from the natural power or operation of their minds, but from the
   supernatural power of some other agent, it should at once be looked
   upon as a sure evidence of their being under a delusion, because things
   seem to them to be as they are? For this is the objection which is
   made: it is looked upon as a clear evidence, that the apprehensions and
   affections that many persons have, are not really from such a cause,
   because they seem to them to be from that cause: they declare that what
   they are conscious of, seems to them evidently not to be from
   themselves, but from the mighty power of the Spirit of God; and others
   from hence condemn them, and determine what they experience is not from
   the Spirit of God, but from themselves, or from the devil. Thus
   unreasonably are multitudes treated at this day by their neighbors.

   If it be indeed so, as the Scripture abundantly teaches, that grace in
   the soul is so the effect of God's power, that it is fitly compared to
   those effects which are farthest from being owing to any strength in
   the subject, such as a generation, or a being begotten, and
   resurrection, or a being raised from the dead, and creation, or a being
   brought out of nothing into being, and that it is an effect wherein the
   mighty power of God is greatly glorified, and the exceeding greatness
   of his power is manifested; [12] then what account can be given of it,
   that the Almighty, in so great a work of his power, should so carefully
   hide his power, that the subjects of it should be able to discern
   nothing of it? Or what reason or revelation have any to determine that
   he does so? If we may judge by the Scripture this is not agreeable to
   God's manner, in his operations and dispensations; but on the contrary,
   it is God's manner, in the great works of his power and mercy which he
   works for his people, to order things so as to make his hand visible,
   and his power conspicuous, and men's dependence on him most evident,
   that no flesh should glory in his presence, [13] that God alone might
   be exalted, [14] and that the excellency of the power might be of God
   and not of man, [15] and that Christ's power might be manifested in our
   weakness, [16] and none might say mine own hand hath saved me. [17] So
   it was in most of those temporal salvations which God wrought for
   Israel of old, which were types of the salvation of God's people from
   their spiritual enemies. So it was in the redemption of Israel from
   their Egyptian bondage; he redeemed them with a strong hand, and an
   outstretched arm; and that his power might be the more conspicuous, he
   suffered Israel first to be brought into the most helpless and forlorn
   circumstances. So it was in the great redemption by Gideon; God would
   have his army diminished to a handful, and they without any other arms
   than trumpets and lamps, and earthen pitchers. So it was in the
   deliverance of Israel from Goliath, by a stripling with a sling and a
   stone. So it was in that great work of God, his calling the Gentiles,
   and converting the Heathen world, after Christ's ascension, after that
   the world by wisdom knew not God, and all the endeavors of philosophers
   had proved in vain, for many ages, to reform the world, and it was by
   everything become abundantly evident, that the world was utterly
   helpless, by anything else but the mighty power of God. And so it was
   in most of the conversions of particular persons, we have an account of
   in the history of the New Testament: they were not wrought on in that
   silent, secret, gradual, and insensible manner, which is now insisted
   on; but with those manifest evidences of a supernatural power,
   wonderfully and suddenly causing a great change, which in these days
   are looked upon as certain signs of delusion and enthusiasm.

   The Apostle, in Eph. 1:18, 19, speaks of God's enlightening the minds
   of Christians, and so bringing them to believe in Christ, to the end
   that they might know the exceeding greatness of his power to them who
   believe. The words are, "The eyes of our understanding being
   enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what
   the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is
   the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward who believe, according
   to the working of his mighty power," &c. Now when the apostle speaks of
   their being thus the subjects of his power, in their enlightening and
   effectual calling, to the end that they might know what his mighty
   power was to them who believe, he can mean nothing else than, "that
   they might know by experience." But if the saints know this power by
   experience, then they feel it and discern it, and are conscious of it;
   as sensibly distinguishable from the natural operations of their own
   minds, which is not agreeable to a motion of God's operating so
   secretly, and undiscernably, that it cannot be known that they are the
   subjects of the influence of any extrinsic power at all, any otherwise
   than as they may argue it from Scripture assertions; which is a
   different thing from knowing it by experience.

   So that it is very unreasonable and unscriptural to determine that
   affections are not from the gracious operations of God's Spirit,
   because they are sensibly not from the persons themselves that are the
   subjects of them.

   On the other hand, it is no evidence that affections are gracious, that
   they are not properly produced by those who are the subjects of them,
   or that they arise in their minds in a manner they cannot account for.

   There are some who make this an argument in their own favor; when
   speaking of what they have experienced, they say, "I am sure I did not
   make it myself; it was a fruit of no contrivance or endeavor of mine;
   it came when I thought nothing of it; if I might have the world for it,
   I cannot make it again when I please." And hence they determine that
   what they have experienced, must be from the mighty influence of the
   Spirit of God, and is of a saving nature; but very ignorantly, and
   without grounds. What they have been the subjects of, may indeed not be
   from themselves directly, but may be from the operation of an invisible
   agent, some spirit besides their own: but it does not thence follow,
   that it was from the Spirit of God. There are other spirits who have
   influence on the minds of men, besides the Holy Ghost. We are directed
   not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits, whether they be of
   God. There are many false spirits, exceeding busy with men, who often
   transform themselves into angels of light, and do in many wonderful
   ways, with great subtlety and power, mimic the operations of the Spirit
   of God. And there are many of Satan's operations which are very
   distinguishable from the voluntary exercises of men's own minds. They
   are so, in those dreadful and horrid suggestions, and blasphemous
   injections with which he follows many persons; and in vain and
   fruitless frights and terrors, which he is the author of. And the power
   of Satan may be as immediate, and as evident in false comforts and
   joys, as in terrors and horrid suggestions; and oftentimes is so in
   fact. It is not in men's power to put themselves in such raptures, as
   the Anabaptists in Germany, and many other raving enthusiasts like
   them, have been the subjects of.

   And besides, it is to be considered that persons may have those
   impressions on their minds, which may not be of their own producing,
   nor from an evil spirit, but from the Spirit of God, and yet not be
   from any saving, but a common influence of the Spirit of God; and the
   subjects of such impressions may be of the number of those we read of,
   Heb. 6:4, 5, "that are once enlightened, and taste of the heavenly
   gift, and are made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and taste the good word
   of God, and the power of the world to come;" and yet may be wholly
   unacquainted with those "better things that accompany salvations" of
   spoken of ver. 9.

   And where neither a good nor evil spirit have any immediate hand,
   persons, especially such as are of a weak and vapory habit of body, and
   the brain weak and easily susceptive of impressions, may have strange
   apprehensions and imaginations, and strong affections attending them,
   unaccountably arising, which are not voluntarily produced by
   themselves. We see that such persons are liable to such impressions
   about temporal things; and there is equal reason, why they should about
   spiritual things. As a person who is asleep has dreams that he is not
   the voluntary author of; so may such persons, in like manner, be the
   subjects of involuntary impressions, when they are awake.

   [12] Eph. 1:17-20.

   [13] 1 Cor. 1:27, 28, 29.

   [14] Isa. 2:11-17.

   [15] 2 Cor. 4:7.

   [16] 2 Cor. 12:9.

   [17] Judg. 7:2.

   V. It is no sign that religious affections are truly holy and
   spiritual, or that they are not, that they come with texts of
   Scripture, remarkably brought to the mind.

   It is no sign that affections are not gracious, that they are
   occasioned by Scriptures so coming to mind; provided it be the
   Scripture itself, or the truth which the Scripture so brought contains
   and teaches, that is the foundation of the affection, and not merely,
   or mainly, the sudden and unusual manner of its coming to the mind.

   But on the other hand, neither is it any sign that affections are
   gracious, that they arise on occasion of Scriptures brought suddenly
   and wonderfully to the mind; whether those affections be fear or hope,
   joy or sorrow, or any other. Some seem to look upon this as a good
   evidence that their affections are saving, especially if the affections
   excited are hope or joy, or any other which are pleasing and
   delightful. They will mention it as an evidence that all is right, that
   their experience came with the word, and will say, "There were such and
   such sweet promises brought to my mind: they came suddenly, as if they
   were spoken to me: I had no hand in bringing such a text to my own
   mind; I was not thinking of anything leading to it; it came all at
   once, so that I was surprised. I had not thought of it a long time
   before; I did not know at first that it was Scripture; I did not
   remember that ever I had read it." And it may be, they will add, "One
   Scripture came flowing in after another, and so texts all over the
   Bible, the most sweet and pleasant, and the most apt and suitable which
   could be devised; and filled me full as I could hold: I could not but
   stand and admire: the tears flowed; I was full of joy, and could not
   doubt any longer." And thus they think they have undoubted evidence
   that their affections must be from God, and of the right kind, and
   their state good: but without any manner of grounds. How came they by
   any such rule, as that if any affections or experiences arise with
   promises, and comfortable texts of Scripture, unaccountably brought to
   mind, without their recollection, or if a great number of sweet texts
   follow one another in a chain, that this is a certain evidence their
   experiences are saving? Where is any such rule to be found in the
   Bible, the great and only sure directory in things of this nature?

   What deceives many of the less understanding and considerate sort of
   people, in this matter, seems to be this; that the Scripture is the
   word of God, and has nothing in it which is wrong, but is pure and
   perfect; and therefore, those experiences which come from the Scripture
   must be right. But then it should be considered, affections may arise
   on occasion of the Scripture, and not properly come from the Scripture,
   as the genuine fruit of the Scripture, and by a right use of it; but
   from an abuse of it. All that can be argued from the purity and
   perfection of the word of God, with respect to experiences, is this,
   that those experiences which are agreeable to the word of God, are
   right, and cannot be otherwise; and not that those affections must be
   right, which arise on occasion of the word of God coming to the mind.

   What evidence is there that the devil cannot bring texts of Scripture
   to the mind, and misapply them to deceive persons? There seems to be
   nothing in this which exceeds the power of Satan. It is no work of such
   mighty power, to bring sounds or letters to persons' minds, that we
   have any reason to suppose nothing short of Omnipotence can be
   sufficient for it. If Satan has power to bring any words or sounds at
   all to persons' minds, he may have power to bring words contained in
   the Bible. There is no higher sort of power required in men, to make
   the sounds which express the words of a text of Scripture, than to make
   the sounds which express the words of an idle story or song. And so the
   same power in Satan, which is sufficient to renew one of those kinds of
   sounds in the mind, is sufficient to renew the other: the different
   signification, which depends wholly on custom, alters not the case, as
   to ability to make or revive the sounds or letters. Or will any
   suppose, that texts or Scriptures are such sacred things, that the
   devil durst not abuse them, nor touch them? In this also they are
   mistaken. He who was bold enough to lay hold on Christ himself, and
   carry him hither and thither, into the wilderness, and into a high
   mountain, and to a pinnacle of the temple, is not afraid to touch the
   Scripture, and abuse that for his own purpose; as he showed at the same
   time that he was so bold with Christ, he then brought one Scripture and
   another, to deceive and tempt him. And if Satan did presume, and was
   permitted to put Christ himself in mind of texts of Scripture to tempt
   him, what reason have we determine that he dare not, or will not be
   permitted, to put wicked men in the mind of texts of Scripture, to
   tempt and deceive them? And if Satan may thus abuse one text of
   Scripture, so he may another. Its being a very excellent place of
   Scripture, a comfortable and precious promise, alters not the case, as
   to his courage or ability. And if he can bring one comfortable text to
   the mind, so he may a thousand; and may choose out such Scriptures as
   tend most to serve his purpose; and may heap up Scripture promises,
   tending, according to the perverse application he makes of them,
   wonderfully to remove the rising doubts, and to confirm the false joy
   and confidence of a poor deluded sinner.

   We know the devil's instruments, corrupt and heretical teachers, can
   and do pervert the Scripture, to their own and others' damnation, 2
   Pet. 3:16. We see they have the free use of Scripture, in every part of
   it: there is no text so precious and sacred, but they are permitted to
   abuse it, to the eternal ruin of multitudes of souls; and there are no
   weapons they make use of with which they do more execution. And there
   is no manner of reason to determine, that the devil is not permitted
   thus to use the Scripture, as well as his instruments. For when the
   latter do it, they do it as his instruments and servants, and through
   his instigation and influence: and doubtless he does the same he
   instigates others to do; the devil's servants do but follow their
   master, and do the same work that he does himself.

   And as the devil can abuse the Scripture, to deceive and destroy men,
   so may men's own folly and corruptions as well. The sin which is in
   men, acts like its father. Men's own hearts are deceitful like the
   devil, and use the same means to deceive.

   So that it is evident, that any person may have high affections of hope
   and joy, arising on occasion of texts of Scripture, yea, precious
   promises of Scripture coming suddenly and remarkably to their minds, as
   though they were spoken to them, yea, a great multitude of such texts,
   following one another in a wonderful manner; and yet all this be no
   argument that these affections are divine, or that they are any other
   than the effects of Satan's delusions.

   And I would further observe, that persons may have raised and joyful
   affections, which may come with the word of God, and not only so, but
   from the word, and those affections not be from Satan, nor yet properly
   from the corruptions of their own hearts, but from some influence of
   the Spirit of God with the word and yet have nothing of the nature of
   true and saving religion in them. Thus the stony ground hearers had
   great joy from the word; yea, which is represented as arising from the
   word, as growth from a seed; and their affections had, in their
   appearance, a very great and exact resemblance with those represented
   by the growth on the good ground, the difference not appearing until it
   was discovered by the consequences in a time of trial: and yet there
   was no saving religion in these affections. [18]

   [18] Mr. Stoddard in his Guide to Christ, speaks of it as a common
   thing, for persons while in a natural condition, and before they have
   ever truly accepted of Christ, to have Scripture promises come to them
   with a great deal of refreshing: which they take as tokens of God's
   love, and hope that God has accepted them; and so are confident of
   their good estate. Pages 8, 9. Impression anno 1735.

   VI. It is no evidence that religious affections are saving, or that
   they are otherwise, that there is an appearance of love in them.

   There are no professing Christians who pretend, that this is an
   argument against the truth and saving nature of religious affections.
   But, on the other hand, there are some who suppose, it is a good
   evidence that affections are from the sanctifying and saving influences
   of the Holy Ghost.--Their argument is that Satan cannot love; this
   affection being directly contrary to the devil, whose very nature is
   enmity and malice. And it is true, that nothing is more excellent,
   heavenly, and divine, than a spirit of true Christian love to God and
   men: it is more excellent than knowledge, or prophecy, or miracles, or
   speaking with the tongue of men and angels. It is the chief of the
   graces of God's Spirit, and the life, essence and sum of all true
   religion; and that by which we are most conformed to heaven, and most
   contrary to hell and the devil. But yet it is in arguing from hence,
   that there are no counterfeits of it. It may be observed that the more
   excellent anything is, the more will be the counterfeits of it. Thus
   there are many more counterfeits of silver and gold, than of iron and
   copper: there are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about to
   counterfeit common stones? Though the more excellent things are, the
   more difficult it is to make anything that shall be like them, in their
   essential nature and internal virtues; yet the more manifold will the
   counterfeits be, and the more will art and subtlety be displayed, in an
   exact imitation of the outward appearance. Thus there is the greatest
   danger of being cheated in buying of medicines that are most excellent
   and sovereign, though it be most difficult to imitate them with
   anything of the like value and virtue, and their counterfeits are good
   for nothing when we have them. So it is with Christian virtues and
   graces; the subtlety of Satan, and men's deceitful hearts, are wont
   chiefly to be exercised in counterfeiting those that are in highest
   repute. So there are perhaps no graces that have more counterfeits than
   love and humility; these being virtues wherein the beauty of a true
   Christian does especially appear.

   But with respect to love; it is plain by the Scripture, that persons
   may have a kind of religious love, and yet have no saving grace. Christ
   speaks of many professing Christians that have such love, whose love
   will not continue, and so shall fail of salvation, Matt. 24:12, 13:
   "And because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold. But
   he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Which
   latter words plainly show, that those spoken of before, whose love
   shall not endure to the end, but wax cold, should not be saved.

   Persons may seem to have love to God and Christ, yea, to have very
   strong and violent affections of this nature, and yet have no grace.
   For this was evidently the case with many graceless Jews, such as cried
   Jesus up so high, following him day and night, without meat, drink, or
   sleep; such as said, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou
   goest," and cried, "Hosanna to the Son of David." [19]

   The apostle seems to intimate, that there were many in his days who had
   a counterfeit love to Christ, in Eph. 6:24: "Grace be with all them
   that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." The last word, in the
   original, signifies incorruption; which shows, that the apostle was
   sensible that there were many who had a kind of love to Christ, whose
   love was not pure and spiritual.

   So also Christian love to the people of God may be counterfeited. It is
   evident by the Scripture, that there may be strong affections of this
   kind, without saving grace; as there were in the Galatians towards the
   Apostle Paul, when they were ready to pluck out their eyes and give
   them to him; although the apostle expresses his fear that their
   affections were come to nothing, and that he had bestowed upon them
   labor in vain, Gal. 4:11, 15.

   [19] Agreeable to this, Mr. Stoddard observes, in his Guide to Christ,
   that some sinners have pangs of affection, and give an account that
   they find a spirit of love to God, and of their aiming at the glory of
   God, having that which has a great resemblance of saving grace; and
   that sometimes their common affections are stronger than saving. And
   supposes, that sometimes natural then may have such violent pangs of
   false affection to God, that their may think themselves willing to be
   damned. Pages 21, and 65.

   VII. Persons having religious affections of many kinds, accompanying
   one another, is not sufficient to determine whether they have any
   gracious affections or no.

   Though false religion is wont to be maimed and monstrous, and not to
   have that entireness and symmetry of parts, which is to be seen in true
   religion: yet there may be a great variety of false affections
   together, that may resemble gracious affections.

   It is evident that there are counterfeits of all kinds of gracious
   affections; as of love to God, and love to the brethren, as has been
   just now observed; so of godly sorrow for sin, as in Pharaoh, Saul, and
   Ahab, and the children of Israel in the wilderness, Exod. 9:27, 1 Sam.
   24:16, 17, and 31:21, 1 Kings 21:27, Numb. 14:39, 40; and of the fear
   of God, as in the Samaritans, "who feared the Lord, and served their
   own gods at the same time," 2 Kings 17:32, 33; and those enemies of God
   we read of, Psal. 66:3, who, "through the greatness of God's power,
   submit themselves to him," or, as it is in the Hebrew, "lie unto him,"
   i.e., yield a counterfeit reverence and submission. So of a gracious
   gratitude, as in the children of Israel, who sang God's praise at the
   Red Sea, Psal. 106:12; and Naaman the Syrian, after his miraculous cure
   of his leprosy, 2 Kings 5:15, &c.

   So of spiritual joy, as in the stony ground hearers, Matt. 13:20, and
   particularly many of John the Baptist's hearers, John 5:35. So of zeal,
   as in Jehu, 2 Kings 10:16, and in Paul before his conversion, Gal.
   1:14, Phil. 3:6, and the unbelieving Jews, Acts 22:3, Rom. 10:2. So
   graceless persons may have earnest religious desires, which may be like
   Baalam's desires, which he expresses under an extraordinary view that
   he had of the happy state of God's people, as distinguished from all
   the rest of the world, Numb. 23:9, 10. They may also have a strong hope
   of eternal life, as the Pharisees had.

   And as men, while in a state of nature, are capable of a resemblance of
   all kinds of religious affections, so nothing hinders but that they may
   have many of them together. And what appears in fact, does abundantly
   evince that it is very often so indeed. It seems commonly to be so,
   that when false affections are raised high, many false affections
   attend each other. The multitude that attended Christ into Jerusalem,
   after that great miracle of raising Lazarus, seem to have been moved
   with many religious affections at once, and all in a high degree. They
   seem to have been filled with admiration, and there was a show of a
   high affection of love, and also of a great degree of reverence, in
   their laying their garments on the ground for Christ to tread upon; and
   also of great gratitude to him, for the great and good works he had
   wrought, praising him with loud voices for his salvation; and earnest
   desires of the coming of God's kingdom, which they supposed Jesus was
   now about to set up, and showed great hopes and raised expectations of
   it, expecting it would immediately appear; and hence were filled with
   joy, by which they were so animated in their acclamations, as to make
   the whole city ring with the noise of them; and appeared great in their
   zeal and forwardness to attend Jesus, and assist him without further
   delay, now in the time of the great feast of the Passover, to set up
   his kingdom. And it is easy, from nature, and the nature of the
   affections, to give an account why, when one affection is raised very
   high, that it should excite others; especially if the affection which
   is raised high, be that of counterfeit love, as it was in the multitude
   who cried Hosanna. This will naturally draw many other affections after
   it. For, as was observed before, love is the chief of the affections,
   and as it were the fountain of them. Let us suppose a person who has
   been for some time in great exercise and terror through fear of hell,
   and his heart weakened with distress and dreadful apprehensions, and
   upon the brink of despair, and is all at once delivered, by being
   firmly made to believe, through some delusion of Satan, that God has
   pardoned him, and accepts him as the object of his dear love, and
   promises him eternal life; as suppose through some vision, or strong
   idea or imagination, suddenly excited in him, of a person with a
   beautiful countenance, smiling on him, and with arms open, and with
   blood dropping down, which the person conceives to be Christ, without
   any other enlightening of the understanding, to give a view of the
   spiritual divine excellency of Christ and his fullness; and of the way
   of salvation revealed in the gospel: or perhaps by some voice or words
   coming as if they were spoken to him, such as these, "Son, be of good
   cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee;" or, "Fear not, it is the Father's
   good pleasure to give you the kingdom," which he takes to be
   immediately spoken by God to him, though there was no preceding
   acceptance of Christ, or closing of the heart with him: I say, if we
   should suppose such a case, what various passions would naturally crowd
   at once, or one after another, into such a person's mind! It is easy to
   be accounted for, from mere principles of nature, that a person's
   heart, on such an occasion, should be raised up to the skies with
   transports of joy; and be filled with fervent affection, to that
   imaginary God or Redeemer, who he supposes has thus rescued him from
   the jaws of such dreadful destruction, that his soul was so amazed with
   the fears of, and has received him with such endearment, as a peculiar
   favorite; and that now he should be filled with admiration and
   gratitude, and his mouth should be opened, and be full of talk about
   what he has experienced; and that, for a while he should think and
   speak of scarce anything else, and should seem to magnify that God who
   has done so much for him, and call upon others to rejoice with him, and
   appear with a cheerful countenance, and talk with a loud voice: and
   however, before his deliverance, he was full of quarrellings against
   the justice of God, that now it should be easy for him to submit to
   God, and own his unworthiness, and cry out against himself, and appear
   to be very humble before God, and lie at his feet as tame as a lamb;
   and that he should now confess his unworthiness, and cry out, "Why me?
   Why me?" (Like Saul, who when Samuel told him that God had appointed
   him to be king, makes answer, "Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of
   the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of
   the tribe of Benjamin? Wherefore then speakest thou so to me?" Much in
   the language of David, the true saint, 2 Sam. 7:18, "Who am I, and what
   is my father's house, that thou has brought me hitherto?") Nor is it to
   be wondered at, that now he should delight to be with them who
   acknowledge and applaud his happy circumstances, and should love all
   such as esteem and admire him and what he has experienced, and have
   violent zeal against all such as would make nothing of such things, and
   be disposed openly to separate, and as it were to proclaim war with all
   who be not of his party, and should now glory in his sufferings, and be
   very much for condemning and censuring all who seem to doubt, or make
   any difficulty of these things; and while the warmth of his affections
   lasts, should be mighty forward to take pains, and deny himself, to
   promote the interest of the party who he imagines favors such things,
   and seem earnestly desirous to increase the number of them, as the
   Pharisees compassed sea and land to make one proselyte. [20] And so I
   might go on, and mention many other things, which will naturally arise
   in such circumstances. He must have but slightly considered human
   nature, who thinks such things as these cannot arise in this manner,
   without any supernatural interposition of divine power.

   As from true divine love flow all Christian affections, so from a
   counterfeit love in like manner naturally flow other false affections.
   In both cases, love is the fountain, and the other affections are the
   streams. The various faculties, principles, and affections of the human
   nature, are as it were many channels from one fountain: if there be
   sweet water in the fountain, sweet water will from thence flow out into
   those various channels; but if the water in the fountain be poisonous,
   then poisonous streams will also flow out into all those channels. So
   that the channels and streams will be alike, corresponding one with
   another; but the great difference will lie in the nature of the water.
   Or, man's nature may be compared to a tree, with many branches, coming
   from one root: if the sap in the root be good, there will also be good
   sap distributed throughout the branches, and the fruit that is brought
   forth will be good and wholesome; but if the sap in the root and stock
   be poisonous, so it will be in many branches (as in the other case),
   and the fruit will be deadly. The tree in both cases may be alike;
   there may be an exact resemblance in shape; but the difference is found
   only in eating the fruit. It is thus (in some measure at least)
   oftentimes between saints and hypocrites. There is sometimes a very
   great similitude between true and false experiences, in their
   appearance, and in what is expressed and related by the subjects of
   them: and the difference between them is much like the difference
   between the dreams of Pharaoh's chief butler and baker; they seemed to
   be much alike, insomuch that when Joseph interpreted the chief butler's
   dream, that he should be delivered from his imprisonment, and restored
   to the king's favor, and his honorable office in the palace, the chief
   baker had raised hopes and expectations, and told his dream also; but
   he was woefully disappointed; and though his dream was so much like the
   happy and well boding dream of his companion, yet it was quite contrary
   in its issue.

   [20] "Associating with godly men does not prove that a man has grace:
   Ahithophel was David's companion. Sorrows for the afflictions of the
   church, and desires for the conversion of souls, do not prove it. These
   things may be found in carnal men, and so can be no evidence of
   grace."--Stoddard's Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 82.

   VIII. Nothing can certainly be determined concerning the nature of the
   affections, by this, that comforts and joys seem to follow awakenings
   and convictions of conscience, in a certain order.

   Many persons seem to be prejudiced against affections and experiences
   that come in such a method, as has been much insisted on by many
   divines; first, such awakenings, fears, and awful apprehensions,
   followed with such legal humblings, in a sense of total sinfulness and
   helplessness, and then, such and such light and comfort; they look upon
   all such schemes, laying down such methods and steps, to be of men's
   devising; and particularly if high affections of joy follow great
   distress and terror, it is made by many an argument against those
   affections. But such prejudices and objections are without reason or
   Scripture. Surely it cannot be unreasonable to suppose, that before God
   delivers persons from a state of sin and exposedness to eternal
   destruction, he should give them some considerable sense of the evil he
   delivers from; that they may be delivered sensibly, and understand
   their own salvation, and know something of what God does for them. As
   men that are saved are in two exceeding different states, first a state
   of condemnation, and then in a state of justification and blessedness:
   and as God, in the work of the salvation of mankind, deals with them
   suitably to their intelligent rational nature; so it seems reasonable,
   and agreeable to God's wisdom, that men who are saved should be in
   these two states sensibly; first, that they should, sensibly to
   themselves, be in a state of condemnation, and so in a state of woeful
   calamity and dreadful misery, and so afterwards in a state of
   deliverance and happiness; and that they should be first sensible of
   their absolute extreme necessity, and afterwards of Christ's
   sufficiency and God's mercy through him.

   And that it is God's manner of dealing with men, to "lead them into a
   wilderness, before he speaks comfortably to them," and so to order it,
   that they shall be brought into distress, and made to see their own
   helplessness and absolute dependence on his power and grace, before he
   appears to work any great deliverance for them, is abundantly manifest
   by the Scripture. Then is God wont to "repent himself for his
   professing people, when their strength is gone, and there is none shut
   up or left," and when they are brought to see that their false gods
   cannot help them, and that the rock in whom they trusted is vain, Deut.
   32:36, 37. Before God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt,
   they were prepared for it, by being made to "see that they were in an
   evil case," and "to cry unto God, because of their hard bondage," Exod.
   2:23, and 5:19. And before God wrought that great deliverance for them
   at the Red Sea, they were brought into great distress, the wilderness
   had shut them in, they could not turn to the right hand nor the left,
   and the Red Sea was before them, and the great Egyptian host behind,
   and they were brought to see that they could do nothing to help
   themselves, and that if God did not help them, they should be
   immediately swallowed up; and then God appeared, and turned their cries
   into songs. So before they were brought to their rest, and to enjoy the
   milk and honey of Canaan, God "led them through a great and terrible
   wilderness, that he might humble them and teach them what was in their
   heart, and so do them good in their latter end," Deut. 8:2, 16. The
   woman that had the issue of blood twelve years, was not delivered,
   until she had first "spent all her living on earthly physicians, and
   could not be healed of any," and so was left helpless, having no more
   money to spend; and then she came to the great Physician, without any
   money or price, and was healed by him, Luke 8:43, 44. Before Christ
   would answer the request of the woman of Canaan, he first seemed
   utterly to deny her, and humbled her, and brought her to own herself
   worthy to be called a dog; and then he showed her mercy, and received
   her as a dear child, Matt. 15:22, &c. The Apostle Paul, before a
   remarkable deliverance, was "pressed out of measure, above strength,
   insomuch that he despaired even of life; but had the sentence of death
   in himself, that he might not trust in himself, but in God that raiseth
   the dead," 2 Cor. 1:8, 9, 10. There was first a great tempest, and the
   ship was covered with the waves, and just ready to sink, find the
   disciples were brought to cry to Jesus, "Lord save us, we perish;" and
   then the winds and seas were rebuked, and there was a great calm, Matt.
   8:24, 25, 26. The leper, before he is cleansed, must have his mouth
   stopped, by a covering on his upper lip, and was to acknowledge his
   great misery and utter uncleannesss by rending his clothes, and crying,
   "Unclean, unclean," Lev. 13:45. And backsliding Israel, before God
   heals them, are brought to "acknowledge that they have sinned, and have
   not obeyed the voice of the Lord," and to see that "they lie down in
   their shame, and that confusion covers them," and "that in vain is
   salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of
   mountains," and that God only can save them, Jer. 3:23, 24, 25. Joseph,
   who was sold be his brethren, and therein was a type of Christ, brings
   his brethren into great perplexity and distress, and brings them to
   reflect on their sin, and to say, We are verily guilty; and at last to
   resign up themselves entirely into his hands for bondmen; and then
   reveals himself to them, as their brother and their savior.

   And if we consider those extraordinary manifestations which God made of
   himself to saints of old, we shall find that he commonly first
   manifested himself in a way which was terrible, and then by those
   things that were comfortable. So it was with Abraham; first, a horror
   of great darkness fell upon him, and then God revealed himself to him
   in sweet promises, Gen. 15:12, 13. So it was with Moses at Mount Sinai;
   first, God appeared to him in all the terrors of his dreadful Majesty,
   so that Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake," and then he made
   all his goodness to pass before him, and proclaimed his name, "The Lord
   God gracious and merciful," &c. So it was with Elijah; first, there is
   a stormy wind, and earthquakes and devouring fire, and then a still,
   small, sweet voice, 1 Kings 19. So it was with Daniel; he first saw
   Christ's countenance as lightning, that terrified him, and caused him
   to faint away; and then be is strengthened and refreshed with such
   comfortable words as these, "O Daniel, a man greatly beloved," Dan. 10.
   So it was with the apostle John, Rev. 1. And there is an analogy
   observable in God's dispensations and deliverances which he works for
   his people, and the manifestations which he makes of himself to them,
   both ordinary and extraordinary.

   But there are many things in Scripture which do more directly show,
   that this is God's ordinary manner in working salvation for the souls
   of men, and in the manifestations God makes of himself and of his mercy
   in Christ, in the ordinary works of his grace on the hearts of sinners.
   The servant that owed his prince ten thousand talents, is first held to
   his debt, and the king pronounces sentence of condemnation upon him,
   and commands him to be sold, and his wife and children, and payment to
   be made; and thus he humbles him, and brings him to own the as whole of
   the debt to be just, and then forgives him all. The prodigal son spends
   all he has, and is brought to see himself in extreme circumstances, and
   to humble himself, and own his unworthiness, before he is relieved and
   feasted by his father, Luke 15. Old inveterate wounds must be searched
   to the bottom, in order to healing: and the Scripture compares sin, the
   wound of the soul, to this, and speaks of healing this wound without
   thus searching of it, as vain and deceitful, Jer. 7:11. Christ, in the
   work of his grace on the hearts of men, is compared to rain on the new
   mown grass, grass that is cut down with a scythe, Psal. 72:6,
   representing his refreshing, comforting influences on the wounded
   spirit. Our first parents, after they had sinned, were first terrified
   with God's majesty and justice, and had their sin, with its
   aggravations, set before them by their Judge, before they were relieved
   by the promise of the seed of the woman. Christians are spoken of as
   those "that have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before
   them," Heb. 6:18, which representation implies great fear and sense of
   danger, preceding. To the like purpose, Christ is called "a hiding
   place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, and as rivers of
   water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary
   land," Isa. 32 at the beginning. And it seems to be the natural import
   of the word gospel, glad tidings, that it is news of deliverance and
   salvation, after great fear and distress. There is also reason to
   suppose, that God deals with particular believers, as he dealt with his
   church, which he first made to hear his voice in the law, with terrible
   thunders and lightning and kept her under that schoolmaster to prepare
   her for Christ; and then comforted her with the joyful sound of the
   gospel from Mount Zion. So likewise John the Baptist came to prepare
   the way for Christ, and prepare men's hearts for his reception, by
   showing them their sins, and by bringing the self-righteous Jews off
   from their own righteousness, telling them that they were "a generation
   of vipers," and showing them their danger of "the wrath to come,"
   telling them that "the axe was laid at the root of the trees," &c.

   And if it be indeed God's manner (as I think the foregoing
   considerations show that it undoubtedly is), before he gives men the
   comfort of a deliverance from their sin and misery, to give them a
   considerable sense of the greatness and dreadfulness of those evils,
   and their extreme wretchedness by reason of them; surely it is not
   unreasonable to suppose, that persons, at least oftentimes, while under
   these views, should have great distresses and terrible apprehensions of
   mind; especially if it be considered what these evils are that they
   have a view of; which are no other than great and manifold sins,
   against the infinite majesty of the great Jehovah, and the suffering of
   the fierceness of his wrath to all eternity. And the more so still,
   when we have many plain instances in Scripture of persons that have
   actually been brought into great distress, by such convictions, before
   they have received saving consolations: as the multitude at Jerusalem,
   who were "pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of
   the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" And the apostle
   Paul, who trembled and was astonished, before he was comforted; and the
   gaoler, when "he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling,
   and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do to
   be saved?"

   From these things it appears to be very unreasonable in professing
   Christians to make this an objection against the truth and spiritual
   nature of the comfortable and joyful affections which any have, that
   they follow such awful apprehensions and distresses as have been

   And, on the other hand, it is no evidence that comforts and joys are
   right, because they succeed great terrors, and amazing fears of hell.
   [21] This seems to be what some persons lay a great weight upon;
   esteeming great terrors an evidence of the great work of the law as
   wrought on the heart, well preparing the way for solid comfort; not
   considering that terror and a conviction of conscience are different
   things. For though convictions of conscience do often cause terror; yet
   they do not consist in it; and terrors do often arise from other
   causes. Convictions of conscience, through the influences of God's
   Spirit, consist in conviction of sinfulness of heart and practices and
   of the dreadfulness of sins as committed against a God of terrible
   majesty, infinite holiness and hatred of sin, and strict justice in
   punishing of it. But there are some persons that have frightful
   apprehensions of hell, a dreadful pit ready to swallow them up, and
   flames just ready to lay hold of them, and devils around them, ready to
   seize them; who at the same time seem to have very little proper
   enlightenings of conscience really convincing them of their sinfulness
   of heart and life. The devil, if permitted, can terrify men as well as
   the Spirit of God, it is a work natural to him, and he has many ways of
   doing it, in a manner tending to no good.

   He may exceedingly affright persons, by impressing on them images and
   ideas of many external things, of a countenance frowning, a sword
   drawn, black clouds of vengeance, words of an awful doom pronounced,
   [22] hell gaping, devils coming, and the like, not to convince persons
   of things that are true, and revealed in the word of God, but to lead
   them to vain and groundless determinations; as that their day is past,
   that they are reprobated, that God is implacable, that he has come to a
   resolution immediately to cut them off, &c.

   And the terrors which some persons have, are very much owing to the
   particular constitution and temper they are of. Nothing is more
   manifest than that some persons are of such a temper and frame, that
   their imaginations are more strongly impressed with everything they are
   affected with, than others; and the impression on the imagination
   reacts on the affection, and raises that still higher; and so affection
   and imagination act reciprocally, one on another, till their affection
   is raised to a vast height, and the person is swallowed up, and loses
   as possession of himself. [23]

   And some speak of a great sight they have of their wickedness, who
   really, when the matter comes to be well examined into and thoroughly
   weighted, are found to have little or no convictions of conscience.
   They tell of a dreadful hard heart, and how their heart lies like a
   stone; when truly they have none of those things in their minds or
   thoughts, wherein the hardness of men's heart does really consist. They
   tell of a dreadful load and sink of sin, a heap of black and loathsome
   filthiness within them; when, if the matter be carefully inquired into,
   they have not in view anything wherein the corruption of nature does
   truly consist, nor have they any thought of any particular thing
   wherein their hearts are sinfully defective, or fall short of what
   ought to be in them, or any exercises at all of corruption in them. And
   many think also they have great convictions of their actual sins, who
   truly have none. They tell how their sins are set in order before them,
   they see them stand encompassing them round in a row, with a dreadful,
   frightful appearance; when really they have not so much as one of the
   sins they gave been guilty of in the course of their lives, coming into
   view, that they are affected with the aggravations of.

   And if persons have had great terrors which really have been from the
   awakening and convincing influences of the Spirit of God, it doth not
   thence follow that their terrors must needs issue in true comfort. The
   unmortified corruption of the heart may quench the Spirit of God (after
   he has been striving) by leading men to presumptuous, and self-exalting
   hopes and joys, as well as otherwise. It is not every woman who is
   really in travail, that brings forth a real child; but it may be a
   monstrous production, without anything of the form or properties of
   human nature belonging to it. Pharaoh's chief baker after he had lain
   in the dungeon with Joseph, had a vision that raised his hopes and he
   was lifted out of the dungeon, as well as the chief butler; but it was
   to be hanged.

   But if comforts and joys do not only come after great terrors and
   awakenings, but there be an appearance of such preparatory convictions
   and humiliations, and brought about very distinctly, by such steps, and
   in such a method as has frequently been observable in true converts;
   this is no certain sign that the light and comforts which follow are
   true and saving. And for these following reasons:

   First, As the devil can counterfeit all the saving operations and
   graces of the Spirit of God, so he can counterfeit those operations
   that are preparatory to grace. If Satan can counterfeit those effects
   of God's Spirit, which are special, divine and sanctifying, so that
   there shall be a very great resemblance, in all that can be observed by
   others; much more easily may he imitate those works of God's Spirit
   which are common, and which men, while they are yet his own children,
   are the subjects of. These works are in no wise so much above him as
   the other. There are no works of God that are so high and divine, and
   above the powers of nature, and out of reach of the power of all
   creatures, as those works of his Spirit, whereby he forms the creature
   in his own image, and makes it to be a partaker of the divine nature.
   But if the devil can be the author of such resemblances of these as
   have been spoken of, without doubt he may of those that are of an
   infinitely inferior kind. And it is abundantly evident in fact, that
   there are false humiliations and false submissions, as well as false
   comforts. [24] How far was Saul brought, though a very wicked man, and
   of a haughty spirit, when he (though a great king) was brought, in
   conviction of his sin, as it were to fall down, all in tears, weeping
   aloud, before David his own subject (and one that he had for a long
   time mortally hated, and openly treated as an enemy), and condemn
   himself before him, crying out, "Thou art more righteous than I: for
   thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil!" And at
   another time, "I have sinned, I have played the fool, I have erred
   exceedingly," 1 Sam. 24:16, 17, and chap. 26:21. And yet Saul seems
   then to have had very little of the influences of the Spirit of God, it
   being after God's Spirit had departed from him, and given him up, and
   an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. And if this proud monarch,
   in a pang of affection, was brought to humble himself so low before a
   subject that he hated, and still continued an enemy to, there doubtless
   may be appearances of great conviction and humiliation in men, before
   God, while they yet remain enemies to him, and though they finally
   continue so. There is oftentimes in men who are terrified through fears
   of hell, a great appearance of their being brought off from their own
   righteousness, when they are not brought off from it in all ways,
   although they are in many ways that are more plain and visible. They
   have only exchanged some ways of trusting in their own righteousness,
   for others that are more secret and subtle. Oftentimes a great degree
   of discouragement, as to many things they used to depend upon, is taken
   for humiliation: that is called a submission to God, which is no
   absolute submission, but has some secret bargain in it, that it is hard
   to discover.

   Secondly, If the operations and effects of the Spirit of God, in the
   convictions, and comforts of true converts, may be sophisticated, then
   the order of them may be imitated. If Satan can imitate the things
   themselves, he may easily put them one after another, in such a certain
   order. If the devil can make A, B, and C, it is as easy for him to put
   A first, and B next, and C next, as to range item in a contrary order.
   The nature of divine things is harder for the devil to imitate, than
   their order. He cannot exactly imitate divine operations in their
   nature, though his counterfeits may be very much like them in external
   appearance, but he can exactly imitate their order. When counterfeits
   are made, there is no divine power needful in order to the placing one
   of them first, and another last. And therefore no order or method of
   operations and experiences is any certain sign of their divinity. That
   only is to be trusted to, as a certain evidence of grace, which Satan
   cannot do, and which it is impossible should be brought to pass by any
   power short of divine.

   Thirdly, We have no certain rule to determine how far God's own Spirit
   may go in those operations and convictions which in themselves are not
   spiritual and saving, and yet the person that is the subject of them
   never be converted, but fall short of salvation at last. There is no
   necessary connection in the nature of things, between anything that a
   natural man may experience while in a state of nature, and the saving
   grace of God's Spirit. And if there be no connection in the nature of
   things, then there can be no known and certain connection at all,
   unless it be by divine revelation. But there is no revealed certain
   connection between a state of salvation, and anything that a natural
   man can be the subject of, before he believes in Christ. God has
   revealed no certain connection between salvation, and any
   qualifications in men, but only grace and its fruits. And therefore we
   do not find any legal convictions, or comforts, following these legal
   convictions, in any certain method or order, ever once mentioned in the
   Scripture, as certain signs of grace, or things peculiar to the saints;
   although we do find gracious operations and effects themselves, so
   mentioned, thousands of times. Which should be enough with Christians
   who are willing to have the word of God, rather than their own
   philosophy, and experiences and conjectures, as their sufficient and
   sure guide in things of this nature.

   Fourthly, Experience does greatly confirm, that persons seeming to have
   convictions and comforts following one another in such a method and
   order, as is frequently observable in true converts, is no certain sign
   of grace. [25] I appeal to all those ministers in this land, who have
   had much occasion of dealing with souls in the late extraordinary
   season, whether there have not been many who do not prove well, that
   have given a fair account of their experiences, and have seemed to be
   converted according to rule, i.e., with convictions and affections,
   succeeding distinctly and exactly, in that order and method, which has
   been ordinarily insisted on, as the order of the operations of the
   Spirit of God in conversion.

   And as a seeming to have this distinctness as to steps and method, is
   no certain sign that a person is converted; so a being without it, is
   no evidence that a person is not converted. For though it might be made
   evident to a demonstration, on Scripture principles, that a sinner
   cannot be brought heartily to receive Christ as his Savior, who is not
   convinced of his sin and misery, and of his own emptiness and
   helplessness, and his just desert of eternal condemnation; and that
   therefore such convictions must be some way implied in what is wrought
   in his soul; yet nothing proves it to be necessary, that all those
   things which are implied or presupposed in an act of faith in Christ,
   must be plainly and distinctly wrought in the soul, in so many
   successive and separate works of the Spirit, that shall be each one
   plain and manifest, in all who are truly converted. On the contrary (as
   Mr. Shepard observes), sometimes the change made in a saint, at first
   work, is like a confused chaos; so that the saints know not what to
   make of it. The manner of the Spirit's proceeding in them that are born
   of the Spirit, is very often exceeding mysterious and unsearchable; we,
   as it were, hear the sound of it, the effect of it is discernible; but
   no man can tell whence it came, or whither it went. And it is
   oftentimes as difficult to know the way of the Spirit in the new birth,
   as in the first birth; Eccl. 11:5, "Thou knowest not what is the way of
   the Spirit, or how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with
   child; even so thou knowest not the works of God, that worketh all."
   The ingenerating of a principle of grace in the soul, seems in
   Scripture to be compared to the conceiving of Christ in the womb, Gal.
   4:19. And therefore the Church is called Christ's mother, Cant. 3:11.
   And so is every particular believer, Matt. 12:49, 50. And the
   conception of Christ in the womb of the blessed virgin, by the power of
   the Holy Ghost, seems to be a designed resemblance of the conception of
   Christ in the soul of a believer, by the power of the same Holy Ghost.
   And we know not what is the way of the Spirit, nor how the bones do
   grow, either in the womb, or heart that conceives this holy child. The
   new creature may use that language in Psal. 139:14, 15, "I am fearfully
   and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul
   knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made
   in secret." Concerning the generation of Christ, both in his person,
   and also in the hearts of his people, it may be said, as in Isa. 53:8,
   "Who can declare his generation?" We know not the works of God, that
   worketh all. "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing" (Prov. 25:2),
   and to have "his path as it were in the mighty waters, that his
   footsteps may not be known;" and especially in the works of his Spirit
   on the hearts of men, which are the highest and chief of his works. And
   therefore it is said, Isa. 40:13, "Who hath directed the Spirit of the
   Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him?" It is to be feared that
   some have gone too far towards directing the Spirit of the Lord, and
   marking out his footsteps for him, and limiting him to certain steps
   and methods. Experience plainly shows, that God's Spirit is
   unsearchable and untraceable, in some of the best of Christians, in the
   method of his operations, in their conversion. Nor does the Spirit of
   God proceed discernibly in the steps of a particular established
   scheme, one half so often as is imagined. A scheme of what is
   necessary, and according to a rule already received and established by
   common opinion, has a vast (though to many a very insensible) influence
   in forming persons' notions of the steps and method of their own
   experiences. I know very well what their way is; for I have had much
   opportunity to observe it. Very often, at first, their experiences
   appear like a confused chaos, as Mr. Shepard expresses it: but then
   those passages of their experience are picked out, that have most of
   the appearance of such particular steps that are insisted on; and these
   are dwelt upon in the thoughts, and these are told of from time to
   time, in the relation they give: these parts grow brighter and brighter
   in their view; and others, being neglected, grow more and more obscure:
   and what they have experienced is insensibly strained to bring all to
   an exact conformity to the scheme that is established. And it becomes
   natural for ministers, who have to deal with them, and direct them that
   insist upon distinctness and clearness of method, to do so too. But yet
   there has been so much to be seen of the operations of the Spirit of
   God, of late, that they who have had much to do with souls, and are not
   blinded with a seven-fold vail of prejudice, must know that the Spirit
   is so exceeding various in the manner of his operating, that in many
   cases it is impossible to trace him, or find out his way.

   What we have principally to do with, in our inquiries into our own
   state, or directions we give to others, is the nature of the effect
   that God has brought to pass in the soul. As to the steps which the
   Spirit of God took to bring that effect to pass, we may leave them to
   him. We are often in Scripture expressly directed to try ourselves by
   the nature of the fruits of the Spirit; but nowhere by the Spirit's
   method of producing them. [26] Many do greatly err in their notions of
   a clear work of conversion; calling that a clear work, where the
   successive steps of influence, and method of experience are clear:
   whereas that indeed is the clearest work (not where the order of doing
   is clearest, but) where the spiritual and divine nature of the work
   done, and effect wrought, is most clear.

   [21] Mr. Shepard speaks of "men's being cast down as low as hell by
   sorrow and lying under chains, quaking in apprehension of terror to
   come, and then raised up to heaven in joy, not able to live; and yet
   not rent from lust: and such are objects of pity now, and are likely to
   be the objects of terror at the great day."--Parable of the Ten
   Virgins, Part I. p. 125.

   [22] "The way of the Spirit's working when it does convince men, is by
   enlightening natural conscience. The Spirit does not work by giving a
   testimony, but by assisting natural conscience to do its work. Natural
   conscience is the instrument in the hand of God to accuse, condemn,
   terrify, and to urge to duty. The Spirit of God leads men into the
   consideration of their danger, and makes them to be affected therewith;
   Prov. 20:17; "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching
   all the inward parts of the belly." Stoddard's Guide to Christ, p. 44.

   [23] The famous Mr. Perkins distinguishes between "those sorrows that
   come through convictions of conscience, and melancholic passions
   arising only from mere imagination, strongly conceived in the brain;
   which, he says, usually come on a sudden, like lightning into a
   house."--Vol. I. of his works, page 385.

   [24] The venerable Mr. Stoddard observes, "A man may say, that now he
   can justify God however he deals with him, and not be brought off from
   his own righteousness; and that some men do justify God from a partial
   conviction of the righteousness of their condemnation; conscience takes
   notice of their sinfulness, and tells them that they may be righteously
   damned; as Pharaoh, who justified God, Exod. 9:27. And they give some
   kind of consent to it but many times it does not continue; they have
   only a pang upon them, that usually dies away after a little
   time."--Guide to Christ, p. 71.

   [25] Mr. Stoddard, who had much experience of things of this nature,
   long ago observed, that converted and unconverted men cannot be
   certainly distinguished by the account they give of their experience;
   the same relation of experiences being common to both. And that many
   persons have given a fair account of a work of conversion, that have
   carried well in the eye of the world for several years, but have not
   proved well at last.--Appeal to the Learned, p. 75, 76.

   [26] Mr. Shepard, speaking of the soul's closing with Christ, says, "As
   a child cannot tell how his soul comes into it, nor it may be when; but
   afterwards it sees and feels that life; so that he were as bad as a
   beast, that should deny an immortal soul; so here."--Parable of the Ten
   Virgins, Part II. p. 171.                "If the man do not know the
   time of his conversion, or first closing with Christ; the minister may
   not draw any peremptory conclusion from thence, that he is not
   godly."--Stoddard's Guide to Christ, p. 83.                "Do not
   think there is no compunction, or sense of sin, wrought in the soul,
   because you cannot so clearly discern and feel it, nor the time of the
   working, and first beginning of it. I have known many that have come
   with their complaints, that they were never humbled, they never felt it
   so; yet there it hath been, and many times they have seen it, by the
   other spectacles, and blessed God for it.--Shepard's Sound Believer,
   page 38. The late impression in Boston.

   IX. It is no certain sign that the religious affections which persons
   have are such as have in them the nature of true religion, or that they
   have not, that they dispose persons to spend much time in religion, and
   to be zealously engaged in the external duties of worship.

   This has, very unreasonably of late, been looked upon as an argument
   against the religious affections which some have had, that they spend
   so much time in reading, praying, singing, hearing sermons, and the
   like. It is plain from the Scripture, that it is the tendency of true
   grace to cause persons to delight in such religious exercises. True
   grace had this effect on Anna the prophetess: Luke 2:27, "She departed
   not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and
   day." And grace had this effect upon the primitive Christians in
   Jerusalem: Acts 2:46, 47, "And they continuing daily with one accord in
   the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat
   with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God." Grace made Daniel
   delight in the duty of prayer, and solemnly to attend it three times a
   day, as it also did David: Psal. 55:17, "Evening, morning, and at noon
   will I pray." Grace makes the saints delight in singing praises to God:
   Psal. 135: 3, "Sing praises unto his name, for it is pleasant." And
   147:1, "Praise ye the Lord; for it is good to sing praises unto our
   God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely." It also causes them to
   delight to hear the word of God preached: it makes the gospel a joyful
   sound to them, Psal. 89:15, and makes the feet of those who publish
   these good tidings to be beautiful: Isa. 52:7, "How beautiful upon the
   mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings!" &c. It makes
   them love God's public worship: Psal. 26:8, "Lord, I have loved the
   habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth." And
   27:4, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after,
   that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to
   behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Psal.
   84:1, 2, &c. "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul
   longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord.--Yea, the
   sparrow hath found a house and the swallow a nest for herself, where
   she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and
   my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still
   praising thee. Blessed is the man in whose heart are the ways of them,
   who passing through the valley of Baca--go from strength to strength,
   everyone of them in Zion appeareth before God." Ver 10, "A day in thy
   courts is better than a thousand."

   This is the nature of true grace. But yet, on the other hand, persons'
   being disposed to abound and to be zealously engaged in the external
   exercises of religion, and to spend much time in them, is no sure
   evidence of grace; because such a disposition is found in many that
   have no grace. So it was with the Israelites of old, whose services
   were abominable to God; they attended the "new moons, and Sabbaths, and
   calling of assemblies, and spread forth their hands, and made many
   prayers," Isa. 1:12-15. So it was with the Pharisees; they "made long
   prayers, and fasted twice a week." False religion may cause persons to
   be loud and earnest in prayer: Isa. 58: 4, "Ye shall not fast as ye do
   this day, to cause your voice to be heard on high." That religion which
   is not spiritual and saving, may cause men to delight in religious
   duties and ordinances: Isa. 58:2, "Yet they seek me daily, and delight
   to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not
   the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice:
   they take delight in approaching to God." It may cause them to take
   delight in hearing the word of God preached, as it was with Ezekiel's
   hearers: Ezek. 33:31, 32, "And they come unto thee as the people
   cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words,
   but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love,
   but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto
   them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can
   play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them
   not." So it was with Herod; he heard John the Baptist gladly, Mark
   6:20. So it was with others of his hearers, "for a season they rejoiced
   in his light," John 5:35. So the stony ground hearers heard the word
   with joy.

   Experience shows, that persons, from false religion, may be inclined to
   be exceeding abundant in the external exercises of religion; yea, to
   give themselves up to them, and devote almost their whole time to them.
   Formerly a sort of people were very numerous in the Romish church,
   called recluses, who forsook the world, and utterly abandoned the
   society of mankind, and shut themselves up close in a narrow cell, with
   a vow never to stir out of it, nor to see the face of any of mankind
   any more (unless that they might be visited in case of sickness), to
   spend all their days in the exercise of devotion and converse with God.
   There were also in old time, great multitudes called Hermits and
   Anchorites, that left the world to spend all their days in lonesome
   deserts, to give themselves up to religious contemplations and
   exercises of devotion; some sorts of them having no dwellings, but the
   caves and vaults of the mountains, and no food, but the spontaneous
   productions of the earth. I once lived, for many months, next door to a
   Jew (the houses adjoining one to another), and had much opportunity
   daily to observe him; who appeared to me the devoutest person that I
   ever saw in my life; great part of his time being spent in acts of
   devotion, at his eastern window, which opened next to mine, seeming to
   be most earnestly engaged, not only in the daytime, but sometimes whole

   X. Nothing can be certainly known of the nature of religious affections
   by this, that they much dispose persons with their mouths to praise and
   glorify God. This indeed is implied in what has been just now observed,
   of abounding and spending much time in the external exercises of
   religion, and was also hinted before; but because many seem to look
   upon it as a bright evidence of gracious affection, when persons appear
   greatly disposed to praise and magnify God, to have their mouths full
   of his praises, and affectionately to be calling on others to praise
   and extol him, I thought it deserved a more particular consideration.

   No Christian will make it an argument against a person, that he seems
   to have such a disposition. Nor can it reasonably be looked upon as an
   evidence for a person, if those things that have been already observed
   and proved, be duly considered, viz., that persons, without grace, may
   have high affections towards God and Christ, and that their affections,
   being strong, may fill their mouths and incline them to speak much, and
   very earnestly, about the things they are affected with, and that there
   may be counterfeits of all kinds of gracious affection. But it will
   appear more evidently and directly, that this is no certain sign of
   grace, if we consider what instances the Scripture gives us of it in
   those that were graceless. We often have an account of this, in the
   multitude that were present when Christ preached and wrought miracles;
   Mark 2:12, "And immediately he arose, took up his bed, and went forth
   before them all, insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God,
   saying, We never saw it on this fashion." So Matt. 9:8, and Luke 5:26.
   Also Matt. 15:31, "Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw
   the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the
   blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel." So we are told,
   that on occasion of Christ's raising the son of the widow of Nain, Luke
   7:16, "There came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a
   great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his
   people." So we read of their glorifying Christ, or speaking exceeding
   highly of him: Luke 4:15, "And he taught in their synagogues, being
   glorified of all." And how did they praise him, with loud voices,
   crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David; hosanna in the highest; blessed
   is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," a little before he was
   crucified! And after Christ's ascension, when the apostles had healed
   the impotent man, we are told, that all men glorified God for that
   which was done, Acts 4:21. When the Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia,
   heard from Paul and Barnabas, that God would reject the Jews, and take
   the Gentiles to be his people in their room, they were affected with
   the goodness of God to the Gentiles, "and glorified the word of the
   Lord:" but all that did so were not true believers; but only a certain
   elect number of them; as is intimated in the account we have of it,
   Acts 13:48: "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and
   glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal
   life, believed." So of old the children of Israel at the Red Sea, "sang
   God's praise; but soon forgat his works." And the Jews in Ezekiel's
   time, "with their mouth showed much love, while their heart went after
   their covetousness." And it is foretold of false professors and real
   enemies of religion, that they should show a forwardness to glorify
   God: Isa. 66:5, "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his
   word. Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's
   sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified."

   It is no certain sign that a person is graciously affected, if, in the
   midst of his hopes and comforts, he is greatly affected with God's
   unmerited mercy to him that is so unworthy, and seems greatly to extol
   and magnify free grace. Those that yet remain with unmortified pride
   and enmity against God, may, when they imagine that they have received
   extraordinary kindness from God, cry out of their unworthiness, and
   magnify God's undeserved goodness to them, from no other conviction of
   their ill deservings, and from no higher principle than Saul had, who,
   while he yet remained with unsubdued pride and enmity against David,
   was brought, though a king, to acknowledge his unworthiness, and cry
   out, "I have played the fool, I have erred exceedingly," and with great
   affection and admiration, to magnify and extol David's unmerited and
   unexampled kindness to him, 1 Sam. 25:16-19, and 26:21, and from no
   higher principle than that from whence Nebuchadnezzar was affected with
   God's dispensations, that he saw and was the subject of, and praises,
   extols and honors the King of heaven; and both he, and Darius, in their
   high affections, call upon all nations to praise God, Dan. 3:28, 29,
   30, and 4:1, 2, 3, 34, 35, 37, and 6:25, 26, 27.

   XI. It is no sign that affections are right, or that they are wrong,
   that they make persons that have them exceeding confident that what
   they experience is divine, and that they are in a good estate.

   It is an argument with some, against persons, that they are deluded if
   they pretend to be assured of their good estate, and to be carried
   beyond all doubting of the favor of God; supposing that there is no
   such thing to be expected in the church of God, as a full and absolute
   assurance of hope; unless it be in some very extraordinary
   circumstances; as in the case of martyrdom; contrary to the doctrine of
   Protestants, which has been maintained by their most celebrated writers
   against the Papists; and contrary to the plainest Scripture evidence.
   It is manifest, that it was a common thing for the saints that we have
   a history or particular account of in Scripture, to be assured. God, in
   the plainest and most positive manner, revealed and testified his
   special favor to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Daniel, and
   others. Job often speaks of his sincerity and uprightness with the
   greatest imaginable confidence and assurance, often calling God to
   witness to it; and says plainly, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and
   that I shall see him for myself, and not another," Job 19:25, &c.
   David, throughout the book of Psalms, almost everywhere speaks without
   any hesitancy, and in the most positive manner, of God as his God
   glorying in him as his portion and heritage, his rock and confidence,
   his shield; salvation, and high tower, and the like. Hezekiah appeals
   to God, as one that knew that he had walked before him in truth, and
   with a perfect heart, 2 Kings 20:3. Jesus Christ, in his dying
   discourse with his eleven disciples, in the 14th, 15th, and 16th
   chapters of John (which was as it were Christ's last will and testament
   to his disciples, and to his whole church), often declares his special
   and everlasting love to them in the plainest and most positive terms
   and promises them a future participation with him in his glory, in the
   most absolute manner; and tells them at the same time that he does so,
   to the end that their joy might be full: John 15:11, "These things have
   I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy
   might be full." See also at the conclusion of his whole discourse,
   chap. 16:33: "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might
   have peace. In the would ye shall have tribulation: but be of good
   cheer, I have overcome the world." Christ was not afraid of speaking
   too plainly and positively to them; he did not desire to hold them in
   the least suspense. And he concluded that last discourse of his with a
   prayer in their presence, wherein he speaks positively to his Father of
   those eleven disciples, as having all of them savingly know him, and
   believed in him, and received and kept his word; and that they were not
   of the world; and that for their sakes he sanctified himself; and that
   his will was, that they should be with him in his glory; and tells his
   Father, that he spake those things in his prayer, to the end, that his
   joy might be fulfilled in them, verse 13. By these things it is
   evident, that it is agreeable to Christ's designs, and the contrived
   ordering and disposition Christ makes of things in his church, that
   there should be sufficient and abundant provision made, that his saints
   might have full assurance of their future glory.

   The Apostle Paul, through all his epistles speaks in an assured strain;
   ever speaking positively of his special relation to Christ, his Lord,
   and Master, and Redeemer, and his interest in, and expectation of the
   future reward. It would be endless to take notice of all places that
   might be enumerated; I shall mention but three or four: Gal. 2:20,
   "Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I
   live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for
   me;" Phil. 1:21, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain;" 2 Tim.
   1:12, "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able
   to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day;" 2 Tim.
   4:7, 8, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have
   kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
   righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at
   that day."

   And the nature of the covenant of grace, and God's declared ends in the
   appointment and constitution of things in that covenant, do plainly
   show it to be God's design to make ample provision for the saints
   having an assured hope of eternal life, while living here upon earth.
   For so are all things ordered and contrived in that covenant, that
   everything might be made sure on God's part. "The covenant is ordered
   in all things and sure:" the promises are most full, and very often
   repeated, and various ways exhibited; and there are many witnesses, and
   many seals; and God has confirmed his promises with an oath. And God's
   declared design in all this, is, that the heirs of the promises might
   have an undoubting hope and full joy, in an assurance of their future
   glory. Heb. 6:17, 18, "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show
   unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it
   by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible
   for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for
   refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us." But all this would be in
   vain, to any such purpose, as the saints' strong consolation, and hope
   of their obtaining future glory, if their interest in those sure
   promises in ordinary cases was not ascertainable. For God's promises
   and oaths, let them be as sure as they will, cannot give strong hope
   and comfort to any particular person, any further than he can know that
   those promises are made to him. And in vain is provision made in Jesus
   Christ, that believers might be perfect as pertaining to the
   conscience, as is signified, Heb. 9:9, if assurance of freedom from the
   guilt of sin is not attainable.

   It further appears that assurance is not only attainable in some very
   extraordinary cases, but that all Christians are directed to give all
   diligence to make their calling and election sure, and are told how
   they may do it, 2 Pet. 1:5-8. And it is spoken of as a thing very
   unbecoming Christians, and an argument of something very blamable in
   them, not to know whether Christ be in them or no: 2 Cor. 13:5, "Know
   ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be
   reprobates?" And it is implied that it is an argument of a very
   blamable negligence in Christians, if they practice Christianity after
   such a manner as to remain uncertain of the reward, in 1 Cor. 9:26: "I
   therefore so run, as not uncertainly." And to add no more, it is
   manifest, that Christians' knowing their interest in the saving
   benefits of Christianity is a thing ordinarily attainable, because the
   apostle tells us by what means Christians (and not only the apostles
   and martyrs) were wont to know this: 1 Cor. 2:12, "Now we have
   received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God;
   that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." And
   1 John 2:3, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his
   commandments." And verse 5, "Hereby know we that we are in him." Chap.
   3:14, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we
   love the brethren;" ver. 19, "Hereby we know that we are of the truth,
   and shall assure our hearts before him;" ver. 24, "Hereby we know that
   he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." So chap. 4:13,
   and chap. 5:2, and verse 19.

   Therefore it must needs be very unreasonable to determine, that persons
   are hypocrites, and their affections wrong, because they seem to be out
   of doubt of their own salvation, and the affections they are the
   subjects of seem to banish all fears of hell.

   On the other hand, it is no sufficient reason to determine that men are
   saints, and their affections gracious, because the affections they have
   are attended with an exceeding confidence that their state is good, and
   their affections divine. [27] Nothing can be certainly argued from
   their confidence, how great and strong soever it seems to be. If we see
   a man that boldly calls God his Father, and commonly speaks in the most
   bold, familiar, and appropriating language in prayer, "My Father, my
   dear Redeemer, my sweet Savior, my Beloved," and the like; and it is a
   common thing for him to use the most confident expressions before men,
   about the goodness of his state; such as, I know certainly that God is
   my Father; I know so surely as there is a God in heaven, that he is my
   God; I know I shall go to heaven, as well as if I were there; I know
   that God is now manifesting himself to my soul, and is now smiling upon
   me;" and seems to have done forever with any inquiry or examination
   into his state, as a thing sufficiently known, and out of doubt, and to
   contemn all that so much as intimate or suggest that there is some
   reason to doubt or fear whether all is right; such things are no signs
   at all that it is indeed so as he is confident it is. [28] Such an
   overbearing, high-handed, and violent sort of confidence as this, so
   affecting to declare itself with a most glaring show in the sight of
   men, which is to be seen in many, has not the countenance of a true
   Christian assurance: it savors more of the spirit of the Pharisees, who
   never doubted but that they were saints, and the most eminent of
   saints, and were bold to go to God, and come up near to him, and lift
   up their eyes, and thank him for the great distinction he had made
   between them and other men; and when Christ intimated that they were
   blind and graceless, despised the suggestion: John 9:40, "And some of
   the Pharisees which were with him, heard these words, and said unto
   him, Are we blind also?" If they had more of the spirit of the
   publican, with their confidence, who, in a sense of his exceeding
   unworthiness, stood afar off, and durst not so much as lift up his eyes
   to heaven, but smote on his breast, and cried out of himself as a
   sinner, their confidence would have more of the aspect of the
   confidence of one that humbly trusts and hopes in Christ, and has no
   confidence in himself.

   If we do but consider what the hearts of natural men are, what
   principles they are under the dominion of, what blindness and deceit,
   what self-flattery, self-exaltation, and self-confidence reign there,
   we need not at all wonder that their high opinion of themselves, and
   confidence of their happy circumstances, be as high and strong as
   mountains, and as violent as a tempest, when once conscience is
   blinded, and convictions killed, with false high affections, and those
   forementioned principles let loose, fed up and prompted by false joys
   and comforts, excited by some pleasing imaginations, impressed by
   Satan, transforming himself into an angel of light.

   When once a hypocrite is thus established in a false hope, he has not
   those things to cause him to call his hope in question, that oftentimes
   are the occasion of the doubting of true saints; as, first, he has not
   that cautious spirit, that great sense of the vast importance of a sure
   foundation, and that dread of being deceived. The comforts of the true
   saints increase awakening and caution, and a lively sense how great a
   thing it is to appear before an infinitely holy, just and omniscient
   Judge. But false comforts put an end to these things and dreadfully
   stupify the mind. Secondly, The hypocrite has not the knowledge of his
   own blindness, and the deceitfulness of his own heart, and that mean
   opinion of his own understanding that the true saint has. Those that
   are deluded with false discoveries and affections, are evermore highly
   conceited of their light and understanding. Thirdly, The devil does not
   assault the hope of the hypocrite, as he does the hope of a true saint.
   The devil is a great enemy to a true Christian hope, not only because
   it tends greatly to the comfort of him that hath it, but also because
   it is a thing of a holy, heavenly nature, greatly tending to promote
   and cherish grace in the heart, and a great incentive to strictness and
   diligence in the Christian life. But he is no enemy to the hope of a
   hypocrite, which above all things establishes his interest in him that
   has it. A hypocrite may retain his hope without opposition, as long as
   he lives, the devil never disturbing it, nor attempting to disturb it.
   But there is perhaps no true Christian but what has his hope assaulted
   by him. Satan assaulted Christ himself upon this, whether he were the
   Son of God or no: and the servant is not above his Master, nor the
   disciple above his Lord; it is enough for the disciple, that is most
   privileged in this world, to be as his Master. Fourthly, He who has a
   false hope, has not that sight of his own corruptions, which the saint
   has. A true Christian has ten times so much to do with his heart and
   its corruptions, as a hypocrite: and the sins of his heart and
   practice, appear to him in their blackness; they look dreadful; and it
   often appears a very mysterious thing, that any grace can be consistent
   with such corruption, or should be in such a heart. But a false hope
   hides corruption, covers it all over, and the hypocrite looks clean and
   bright in his own eyes.

   There are two sorts of hypocrites: one that are deceived with their
   outward morality and external religion; many of whom are professed
   Arminians, in the doctrine of justification: and the other, are those
   that are deceived with false discoveries and elevations; who often cry
   down works, and men's own righteousness, and talk much of free grace;
   but at the same time make a righteousness of their discoveries and of
   their humiliation, and exalt themselves to heaven with them. These two
   kinds of hypocrites, Mr. Shepard, in his exposition of the Parable of
   the Ten Virgins, distinguishes by the name of legal and evangelical
   hypocrites; and often speaks of the latter as the worst. And it is
   evident that the latter are commonly by far the most confident in their
   hope, and with the most difficulty brought of from it: I have scarcely
   known the instance of such a one, in my life, that has been undeceived.
   The chief grounds of the confidence of many of them, are the very same
   kind of impulses and supposed revelations (sometimes with texts of
   Scripture, and sometimes without) that so many of late have had
   concerning future events; calling these impulses about their good
   estate, the witness of the Spirit; entirely misunderstanding the nature
   of the witness of the Spirit, as I shall show hereafter. Those that
   have had visions and impulses about other things, it has generally been
   to reveal such things as they are desirous and fond of: and no wonder
   that persons who give heed to such things, have the same sort of
   visions or impressions about their own eternal salvation, to reveal to
   them that their sins are forgiven them, that their names are written in
   the book of life, that they are in high favor with God, &c., and
   especially when they earnestly seek, expect, and wait for evidence of
   their election and salvation this way, as the surest and most glorious
   evidence of it. Neither is it any wonder, that when they have such a
   supposed revelation of their good estate, it raises in them the highest
   degree of confidence of it. It is found by abundant experience, that
   those who are led away by impulses and imagined revelations, are
   extremely confident: they suppose that the great Jehovah has declared
   these and those things to them; and having his immediate testimony, a
   strong confidence is the highest virtue. Hence they are bold to say, I
   know this or that--I know certainly--I am as sure as that I have a
   being, and the like; and they despise all argument and inquiry in the
   case. And above all things else, it is easy to be accounted for, that
   impressions and impulses about that which is so pleasing, so suiting
   their self-love and pride, as their being the dear children of God,
   distinguished from most in the world in his favor, should make them
   strongly confident; especially when with their impulses and revelations
   they have high affections, which they take to be the most eminent
   exercises of grace. I have known of several persons, that have had a
   fond desire of something of a temporal nature, through a violent
   passion that has possessed them; and they have been earnestly pursuing
   the thing they have desired should come to pass, and have met with
   great difficulty and many discouragements in it, but at last have had
   an impression, or supposed revelation, that they should obtain what
   they sought; and they have looked upon it as a sure promise from the
   Most High, which has made them most ridiculously confident, against all
   manner of reason to convince them to the contrary, and all events
   working against them. And there is nothing hinders, but that persons
   who are seeking their salvation, may be deceived by the like delusive
   impressions, and be made confident of that, the same way.

   The confidence of many of this sort of hypocrites, that Mr. Shepard
   calls evangelical hypocrites, is like the confidence of some mad men,
   who think they are kings; they will maintain it against all manner of
   reason and evidence. And in one sense, it is much more immovable than a
   truly gracious assurance; a true assurance is not upheld, but by the
   soul's being kept in a holy frame, and Grace maintained in lively
   exercise. If the actings of grace do much decay in the Christian, and
   he falls into a lifeless frame, he loses his assurance: but this kind
   of confidence of hypocrites will not be shaken by sin; they (at least
   some of them) will maintain their boldness in their hope, in the most
   corrupt frames and wicked ways; which is a sure evidence of their
   delusion. [29]

   And here I cannot but observe, that there are certain doctrines often
   preached to the people, which need to be delivered with more caution
   and explanation than they frequently are; for, as they are by many
   understood, they tend greatly to establish this delusion and false
   confidence of hypocrites. The doctrines I speak of are those of
   "Christians living by faith, not by sight; their giving glory to God,
   by trusting him in the dark; living upon Christ, and not upon
   experiences; not making their good frames the foundation of their
   faith:" which are excellent and important doctrines indeed, rightly
   understood, but corrupt and destructive, as many understand them. The
   Scripture speaks of living or walking by faith, and not by sight, in no
   other way than these, viz., a being governed by a respect to eternal
   things, that are the objects of faith, and are not seen, and not by a
   respect to temporal things, which are seen; and believing things
   revealed, that we never saw with bodily eyes; and also living by faith
   in the promise of future things, without yet seeing or enjoying the
   things promised, or knowing the way how they can be fulfilled. This
   will be easily evident to anyone who looks over the Scriptures, which
   speak of faith in opposition to sight; as 2 Cor. 4:18, and 5:7, Heb.
   11:1, 8, 13, 17, 27, 29, Rom. 8:24, John 20:29. But this doctrine, as
   it is understood by many, is, that Christians ought firmly to believe
   and trust in Christ, without spiritual sight or light, and although
   they are in a dark dead frame, and, for the present, have no spiritual
   experiences or discoveries. And it is truly the duty of those who are
   thus in darkness, to come out of darkness into light and believe. But
   that they should confidently believe and trust, while they yet remain
   without spiritual light or sight, is an anti-scriptural and absurd
   doctrine. The Scripture is ignorant of any such faith in Christ of the
   operation of God, that is not founded in a spiritual sight of Christ.
   That believing on Christ, which accompanies a title to everlasting
   life, is a "seeing the Son, and believing on him," John 6:40. True
   faith in Christ is never exercised, any further than persons "behold as
   in a glass the glory of the Lord, and have the knowledge of the glory
   of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. 3:18, and 4:6. They into
   whose minds "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the
   image of God, does not shine, believe not," 2 Cor. 4:5. That faith,
   which is without spiritual light, is not the faith of the children of
   the light, and of the day; but the presumption of the children of
   darkness. And therefore to press and urge them to believe, without any
   spiritual light or sight, tends greatly to help forward the delusions
   of the prince of darkness. Men not only cannot exercise faith without
   some spiritual light, but they can exercise faith only just in such
   proportion as they have spiritual light. Men will trust in God no
   further than they know him; and they cannot be in the exercise of faith
   in him one ace further than they have a sight of his fullness and
   faithfulness in exercise. Nor can they have the exercise of trust in
   God, any further than they are in a gracious frame. They that are in a
   dead carnal frame, doubtless ought to trust in God; because that would
   be the same thing as coming out of their bad frame, and turning to God;
   but to exhort men confidently to trust in God, and so hold up their
   hope and peace, though they are not in a gracious frame, and continue
   still to be so, is the same thing in effect, as to exhort them
   confidentially to trust in God, but not with a gracious trust: and what
   is that but a wicked presumption? It is just as impossible for men to
   have a strong or lively trust in God, when they have no lively
   exercises of grace, or sensible Christian experiences, as it is for
   them to be in the lively exercises of grace, without the exercises of

   It is true, that it is the duty of God's people to trust in him when in
   darkness, and though they remain still in darkness, in that sense, that
   they ought to trust in God when the aspects of his providence are dark,
   and look as though God had forsaken them, and did not hear their
   prayers, and many clouds gather, and many enemies surround them, with a
   formidable aspect, threatening to swallow them up, and all events of
   providence seem to be against them, all circumstances seem to render
   the promises of God difficult to be fulfilled, and God must be trusted
   out of sight, i.e., when we cannot see which way it is possible for him
   to fulfill his word; everything but God's mere word makes it look
   unlikely, so that if persons believe, they must hope against hope. Thus
   the ancient Patriarchs, and Job, and the Psalmist, and Jeremiah,
   Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, and the Apostle Paul, gave
   glory to God by trusting in God in darkness. And we have many instances
   of such a glorious victorious faith in the eleventh of Hebrews. But how
   different a thing is this, from trusting in God, without spiritual
   sight, and being at the same time in a dead and carnal frame!

   There is also such a thing as spiritual light's being let into the soul
   in one way, when it is not in another; and so there is such a thing as
   the saints trusting in God, and also knowing their good estate, when
   they are destitute of some kinds of experience. As for instance, they
   may have clear views of God's sufficiency and faithfulness, and so
   confidently trust in him, and know that they are his children; and at
   the same time, not have those clear and sweet ideas of his love as at
   other times: for it was thus with Christ himself in his last passion.
   And they may have views of much of God's sovereignty, holiness, and all
   sufficiency, enabling them quietly to submit to him, and exercise a
   sweet and most encouraging hope in God's fullness, when they are not
   satisfied of their own good estate. But how different things are these,
   from confidently trusting in God, without spiritual light or

   Those that thus insist on persons living by faith, when they have no
   experience, and are in very bad frames, are also very absurd in their
   notions of faith. What they mean by faith is, believing that they are
   in a good estate. Hence they count it a dreadful sin for them to doubt
   of their state, whatever frames they are in, and whatever wicked things
   they do, because it is the great and heinous sin of unbelief; and he is
   the best man, and puts most honor upon God, that maintains his hope of
   his good estate the most confidently and immovably, when he has the
   least light or experience; that is to say, when he is in the worst and
   most wicked frame and way; because, forsooth, that is a sign that he is
   strong in faith, giving glory to God, and against hope believes in
   hope. But what Bible do they learn this notion of faith out of, that it
   is a man's confidently believing that he is in a good estate? [30] If
   this be faith, the Pharisees had faith in an eminent degree; some of
   which, Christ teaches, committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy
   Ghost. The Scripture represents faith as that by which men are brought
   into a good estate; and therefore it cannot be the same thing as
   believing that they are already in a good estate. To suppose that faith
   consists in persons believing that they are in a good estate, is in
   effect the same thing, as to suppose that faith consists in a person's
   believing that he has faith, or believing that he believes.

   Indeed persons doubting of their good estate, may in several respects
   arise from unbelief. It may be from unbelief, or because they have so
   little faith that they have so little evidence of their good estate: if
   they had more experience of the actings of faith, and so more
   experience of the exercise of grace, they would have clearer evidence
   that their state was good; and so their doubts would be removed. And
   then their doubting of their state may be from unbelief thus, when,
   though there be many things that are good evidences of a work of grace
   in them, yet they doubt very much whether they are really in a state of
   favor with God, because it is they, those that are so unworthy, and
   have done so much to provoke God to anger against them. Their doubts in
   such a case arise from unbelief, as they arise from want of a
   sufficient sense of, and reliance on, the infinite riches of God's
   grace, and the sufficiency of Christ for the chief of sinners. They may
   also be from unbelief, when they doubt of their state, because of the
   mystery of God's dealings with them; they are not able to reconcile
   such dispensations with God's favor to them; or when they doubt whether
   they have any interest in the promises, because the promises from the
   aspect of providence appear so unlikely to be fulfilled; the
   difficulties that are in the way are so many and great. Such doubting
   arises from want of dependence upon God's almighty power, and his
   knowledge and wisdom, as infinitely above theirs. But yet, in such
   persons, their unbelief, and their doubting of their state, are not the
   same thing; though one arises from the other.

   Persons may be greatly to blame for doubting of their state, on such
   grounds as these last mentioned; and they may be to blame, that they
   have no more grace, and no more of the present exercises and
   experiences of it, to be an evidence to them of the goodness of their
   state: men are doubtless to blame for being in a dead, carnal frame;
   but when they are in such a frame, and have no sensible experience of
   the exercises of grace, but on the contrary, are much under the
   prevalence of lusts and an unchristian spirit, they are not to blame
   for doubting their state. It is as impossible, in the nature of things,
   that a holy and Christian hope be kept alive, in its clearness and
   strength, in such circumstances, as it is to keep the light in the
   room, when the candle is put out; or to maintain the bright sunshine in
   the air, when the sun is gone down. Distant experiences, when darkened
   by present prevailing lust and corruption, never keep alive a gracious
   confidence and assurance; but that sickens and decays upon it, as
   necessarily as a little child by repeated blows on the head with a
   hammer. Nor is it at all to be lamented, that persons doubt of their
   state in such circumstances: but, on the contrary, it is desirable and
   every way best that they should. It is agreeable to that wise and
   merciful constitution of things, which God hath established, that it
   should be so. For so hath God contrived and constituted things, in his
   dispensations towards his own people, that when their love decays, and
   the exercises of it fail, or become weak, fear should arise; for then
   they need it to restrain them from sin, and to excite them to care for
   the good of their souls, and so to stir them up to watchfulness and
   diligence in religion: but God hath so ordered, that when love rises,
   and is in vigorous exercise, then fear should vanish, and be driven
   away; for then they need it not, having a higher and more excellent
   principle in exercise, to restrain them from sin, and stir them up to
   their duty. There are no other principles, which human nature is under
   the influence of, that will ever make men conscientious, but one of
   these two, fear or love; and therefore, if one of these should not
   prevail as the other decays, God's people, when fallen into dead and
   carnal frames, when love is asleep, would be lamentably exposed indeed:
   and therefore God has wisely ordained, that these two opposite
   principles of love and fear should rise and fall, like the two opposite
   scales of a balance; when one rises the other sinks. As light and
   darkness necessarily and unavoidably succeed each other; if light
   prevails, so much does darkness cease, and no more; and if light
   decays, so much does darkness prevail; so it is in the heart of a child
   of God: if divine love decays and falls asleep, and lust prevails, the
   light and joy of hope go out, and dark fear and doubting arises; and
   if, on the contrary, divine love prevails and comes into lively
   exercise, this brings in the brightness of hope, and drives away black
   lust, and fear with it. Love is the spirit of adoption, or the
   childlike principle; if that slumbers, men fall under fear, which is
   the spirit of bondage, or the servile principle; and so on the
   contrary. And if it be so, that love, or the spirit of adoption, be
   carried to a great height, it quite drives away all fear, and gives
   full assurance; agreeable to that of the apostle, 1 John 4:18, "There
   is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." These two
   opposite principles of lust and holy love, bring hope and fear into the
   hearts of God's children, in proportion as they prevail; that is, when
   left to their own natural influence, without something adventitious, or
   accidental intervening; as the distemper of melancholy, doctrinal
   ignorance, prejudices of education, wrong instruction, false
   principles, peculiar temptations, &c.

   Fear is cast out by the Spirit of God, no other way than by the
   prevailing of love; nor is it ever maintained by his Spirit but when
   love is asleep. At such a time, in vain is all the saint's
   self-examinations, and poring on past experience, in order to establish
   his peace, and get assurance. For it is contrary to the nature of
   things, as God hath constituted them, that he should have assurance at
   such a time.

   They therefore do directly thwart God's wise and gracious constitution
   of things, who exhort others to be confident in their hope, when in
   dead frames; under a notion of "living by faith, and not by sight, and
   trusting God in the dark, and living upon Christ, and not upon
   experiences;" and warn them not to doubt of their good estate, lest
   they should be guilty of the dreadful sin of unbelief. And it has a
   direct tendency to establish the most presumptuous hypocrites, and to
   prevent their ever calling their state in question, how much soever
   wickedness rages, and reigns in their hearts, and prevails in their
   lives; under a notion of honoring God, by hoping against hope, and
   confidently trusting in God, when things look very dark. And doubtless
   vast has been the mischief that has been done this way.

   Persons cannot be said to forsake Christ, and live on their experiences
   of the exercises of grace, merely because they take them and use them
   as evidences of grace; for there are no other evidences that they can
   or ought to take. But then may persons be said to live upon their
   experiences, when they make a righteousness of them, and instead of
   keeping their eye on God's glory and Christ's excellency, they turn
   their eyes off these objects without them, on to themselves, to
   entertain their minds, by viewing their own attainments, and high
   experiences, and the great things they have met with, and are bright
   and beautiful in their own eyes, and are rich and increased with goods
   in their own apprehensions, and think that God has as admiring an
   esteem of them, on the same account, as they have of themselves: this
   is living on experiences, and not on Christ; and is more abominable in
   the sight of God, than the gross immoralities of those who make no
   pretenses to religion. But this is a far different thing from a mere
   improving experiences as evidences of an interest in a glorious

   But to return from this digression, I would mention one thing more
   under the general head that I am upon.

   [27] "O professor, look carefully to your foundation: 'Be not high
   minded, but fear.' You have, it may be, done and suffered many things
   in and for religion; you have excellent gifts and sweet comforts; a
   warm zeal for God, and high confidence of your integrity: all this may
   be right, for aught that I, or (it may be) you know: but yet, it is
   possible it may be false. You have sometimes judged yourselves, and
   pronounced yourselves upright; but remember your final sentence is not
   yet pronounced by your Judge. And what if God weigh you over again, in
   his more equal balance, and should say, Mene Tekel, 'Thou art weighed
   in the balance, and art found wanting?' What a confounded man wilt thou
   be, under such a sentence! Quae splendent in conspectu hominis, sordent
   in conspectu judicis; things that are highly esteemed of men, are an
   abomination in the sight of God: He seeth not as man seeth. Thy heart
   may be false, and thou not know it: yea, it may be false, and thou
   strongly confident of its integrity."--Flavel's Touchstone of
   Sincerity, chap. 2. Sect. 5.                "Some hypocrites are a
   great deal more confident than many saints"--Stoddard's Discourse on
   the Way to know Sincerity and Hypocrisy, p. 128.

   [28] "Doth the work of faith, in some believers, bear upon is top
   branches the full ripe fruits of a blessed assurance? Lo, what strong
   confidence, and high built persuasions, of an interest in God, have
   sometimes been found in unsanctified ones! Yea, so strong may this
   false assurance be, that they dare boldly venture to go to the judgment
   seat of God, and there defend it. Doth the Spirit of God fill the heart
   of the assured believer with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, giving
   him, through faith, a prelibation or foretaste of heaven itself, in
   those first fruits of it? How near to this comes what the Apostle
   supposes may be found in apostates!"--Flavel's Husbandry Spiritualized,
   chap. 12.

   [29] Mr. Shepard speaks of it, as a "presumptuous peace, that is not
   interrupted and broke by evil works." And says, that the "spirit will
   sigh, and not sing in that bosom, whence corrupt dispositions and
   passions break out." And that "though men in such frames may seem to
   maintain the consolation of the Spirit, and not suspect their
   hypocrisy, under pretense of trusting the Lord's mercy; yet they cannot
   avoid the condemnation of the world"; Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part
   I. p. 139.                Dr. Ames speaks of it as a thing, by which
   the peace of a wicked man may be distinguished from the peace a godly
   man, "that the peace of a wicked man continues, whether he performs the
   duties of piety and righteousness or no; provided those crimes are
   avoided that appear horrid to nature itself.' Cases of Conscience, Lib.
   III. Chap. vii.

   [30] Men do not know that they are godly by believing that they are
   godly. We know many things by faith, Heb 11:3. 'By faith we understand
   that the worlds were made by the word of God.' Faith is the evidence of
   things not seen, Heb. 11:1. Thus men know the Trinity of persons of the
   Godhead; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that he that believes in
   him will have eternal life; the resurrection of the dead. And if God
   should tell a saint that he hath grace, he might know it by believing
   the word of God. But it is not this way, that godly men do know they
   have grace. It is not revealed in the word, and the Spirit of God doth
   not testify it to particular persons.' Stoddard's Nature of Saving
   Conversion, p. 83, 84.

   XII. Nothing can be certainly concluded concerning the nature of
   religious affections, that any are the subjects of, from this, that the
   outward manifestations of them, and the relation persons give of them,
   are very affecting and pleasing to the truly godly, and such as greatly
   gain their charity, and win their hearts.

   The true saints have not such a spirit of discerning that they can
   certainly determine who are godly, and who are not. For though they
   know experimentally what true religion is, in the internal exercises of
   it; yet these are what they can neither feel, nor see, in the heart of
   another. [31] There is nothing in others, that comes within their view,
   but outward manifestations and appearances; but the Scripture plainly
   intimates, that this way of judging what is in men by outward
   appearances, is at best uncertain, and liable to deceit: 1 Sam. 16:7,
   "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward
   appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Isa. 11:3, "He shall
   not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the
   hearing of his ears." [32] They commonly are but poor judges, and
   dangerous counselors in soul cases, who are quick and peremptory in
   determining persons' states, vaunting themselves in their extraordinary
   faculty of discerning and distinguishing, in these great affairs; as
   though all was open and clear to them. They betray one of these three
   things: either that they have had but little experience; or are persons
   of a weak judgment; or that they have a great degree of pride and
   self-confidence, and so ignorance of themselves. Wise and experienced
   men will proceed with great caution in such an affair.

   When there are many probable appearances of piety in others, it is the
   duty of the saints to receive them cordially into their charity, and to
   love them and rejoice in them, as their brethren in Christ Jesus. But
   yet the best of men may be, when the appearances seem to them exceeding
   fair and bright, as entirely to gain their charity, and conquer their
   hearts. It has been common thing in the church of God, for such bright
   professors, that are received as eminent saints, among the saints, to
   fall away and come to nothing. [33] And this we need not wonder at, if
   we consider the things that have been already observed; what things it
   has been shown may appear in men who are altogether graceless. Nothing
   hinders but that all these things may meet together in men, and yet
   they be without a spark of grace in their hearts. They may have
   religious affections of many kinds together; they may have a sort of
   affection towards God, that bears a great resemblance of dear love to
   him; and so a kind of love to the brethren, and great appearances of
   admiration of God's perfections and works, and sorrow for sin, and
   reverence, submission, self-abasement, gratitude, joy, religious
   longings, and zeal for religion and the good of souls. And these
   affections may come after great awakenings and convictions of
   conscience; and there may be great appearances of a work of
   humiliation: and counterfeit love and joy, and other affections may
   seem to follow these, and one another, just in the same order that is
   commonly observable in the holy affections of true converts. And these
   religious affections may be carried to a great height, and may cause
   abundance of tears, yea, may overcome the nature of those who are the
   subjects of them, and may make them affectionate, and fervent, and
   fluent, in speaking of the things of God, and dispose them to be
   abundant in it; and may be attended with many sweet texts of Scripture,
   and precious promises, brought with great impression on their minds;
   and may dispose them with their mouths to praise and glorify God, in a
   very ardent manner, and fervently to call upon others to praise him,
   crying out of their unworthiness, and extolling free grace. And may,
   moreover, dispose them to abound in the external duties of religion,
   such as prayer, hearing the word preached, singing, and religious
   conference; and these things attended with a great resemblance of a
   Christian assurance, in its greatest height, when the saints mount on
   eagles' wings, above all darkness and doubting. I think it has been
   made plain, that there may be all these things, and yet there be
   nothing more than the common influences of the Spirit of God, joined
   with the delusions of Satan, and the wicked and deceitful heart.--To
   which I may add, that all these things may be attended with a sweet
   natural temper, and a good doctrinal knowledge of religion, and a long
   acquaintance with the saints' way of talking, and of expressing their
   affections and experiences, and a natural ability and subtlety in
   accommodating their expressions and manner of speaking to the
   dispositions and notions of the hearers, and a taking decency of
   expression and behavior, formed by a good education. How great
   therefore may the resemblance be, as to all outward expressions and
   appearances, between a hypocrite and a true saint! Doubtless it is the
   glorious prerogative of the omniscient God, as the great searcher of
   hearts, to be able well to separate between sheep and goats. And what
   an indecent self-exaltation and arrogance it is, in poor, fallible,
   dark mortals, to pretend that they can determine and know, who are
   really sincere and upright before God, and who are not!

   Many seem to lay great weight on that, and to suppose it to be what may
   determine them with respect to others' real piety, when they not only
   tell a plausible story, but when, in giving an account of their
   experiences, they make such a representation, and speak after such a
   manner, that they feel their talk; that is to say, when their talk
   seems to harmonize with their own experience, and their hearts are
   touched and affected and delighted, by what they hear them say, and
   drawn out by it, in dear love to them. But there is not that certainty
   in such things, and that full dependence to be had upon them, which
   many imagine. A true saint greatly delights in holiness; it is a most
   beautiful thing in his eyes; and God's work, in savingly renewing and
   making holy and happy, a poor, and before perishing soul, appears to
   him a most glorious work: no wonder, therefore, that his heart is
   touched, and greatly affected, when he hears another give a probable
   account of this work, wrought on his own heart, and when he sees in him
   probable appearances of holiness; whether those pleasing appearances
   have anything real to answer them, or no. And if he uses the same
   words, which are commonly made use of, to express the affections of
   true saints, and tells of many things following one another in an
   order, agreeable to the method of the experience of him that hears him,
   and also speaks freely and boldly, and with an air of assurance; no
   wonder the other thinks his experiences harmonize with his own. And if,
   besides all this, in giving his relation, he speaks with much
   affection; and, above all, if in speaking he seems to show much
   affection to him to whom he speaks, such an affection as the Galatians
   did to the Apostle Paul; these things will naturally have a powerful
   influence, to affect and draw his hearer's heart, and open wide the
   doors of his charity towards him. David speaks as one who had felt
   Ahithophel's talk, and had once a sweet savor and relish of it. And
   therefore exceeding great was his surprise and disappointment, when he
   fell; it was almost too much for him: Psal. 55:12, 13, 14, "It was not
   an enemy--then I could have borne it; but it was thou, a man, mine
   equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance: we took sweet counsel together,
   and walked unto the house of God in company."

   It is with professors of religion, especially such as become so in a
   time of outpouring of the Spirit of God, as it is with blossoms in the
   spring; [34] there are vast numbers of them upon the trees, which all
   look fair and promising; but yet many of them never come to anything.
   And many of those, that in a little time wither up, and drop off, and
   rot under the trees; yet for a while look as beautiful and gay as
   others; and not only so, but smell sweet, and send forth a pleasant
   odor; so that we cannot, by any of our senses, certainly distinguish
   those blossoms which have in them that secret virtue, which will
   afterwards appear in the fruit, and that inward solidity and strength
   which shall enable them to bear, and cause them to be perfected by the
   hot summer sun, that will dry up the others. It is the mature fruit
   which comes afterwards, and not the beautiful colors and smell of the
   blossoms, that we must judge by. So new converts (professedly so), in
   their talk about things of religion, may appear fair, and be very
   savory, and the saints may think they talk feelingly. They may relish
   their talk, and imagine they perceive a divine savor in it, and yet all
   may come to nothing.

   It is strange how hardly men are brought to be contented with the rules
   and directions Christ has given them, but they must needs go by other
   rules of their counsels which Christ ever delivered more plainly, than
   the rule. I know of no directions or councils which Christ ever
   delivered more plainly, than the rule he has given us, to guide our
   judging of others' sincerity, viz., that we should judge of the tree
   chiefly by the fruit: but yet this will not do; but other ways are
   found out, which are imagined to be more distinguishing and certain.
   And woeful have been the mischievous consequences of this arrogant
   setting up men's wisdom above the wisdom of Christ. I believe many
   saints have gone much out of the way of Christ's word, in this respect:
   and some of them have been chastised with whips, and (I had almost
   said) scorpions, to bring them back again. But many things which have
   lately appeared, and do now appear, may convince that ordinarily those
   who have gone farthest this way, that have been most highly conceited
   of their faculty of discerning, and have appeared most forward,
   peremptorily and suddenly to determine the state of men's souls, have
   been hypocrites, who have known nothing of true religion.

   In the parable of the wheat and tares, it is said, Matt. 13:26, "When
   the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the
   tares also." As though the tares were not discerned, nor
   distinguishable from the wheat, until then, as Mr. Flavel observes,
   [35] who mentions it as an observation of Jerome's, that "wheat and
   tares are so much alike, until the blade of the wheat comes to bring
   forth the ear, that it is next to impossible to distinguish them." And
   then Mr. Flavel adds, "How difficult soever it be to discern the
   difference between wheat and tares; yet doubtless the eye of sense can
   much easier discriminate them, than the most quick and piercing eye of
   man can discern the difference between special and common grace. For
   all saving graces in the saints, have their counterfeits in hypocrites;
   there are similar works in those, which a spiritual and very judicious
   eye may easily mistake for the saving and genuine effects of a
   sanctifying spirit."

   As it is the ear of the fruit which distinguishes the wheat from the
   tares, so this is the true Shibboleth, that he who stands as judge at
   the passages of Jordan, makes use of to distinguish those that shall
   pass over Jordan into the true Canaan, from those that should be slain
   at the passages. For the Hebrew word Shibboleth signifies an ear of
   corn. And perhaps the more full pronunciation of Jephthah's friends,
   Shibboleth, may represent a full ear with fruit in it, typifying the
   fruits of the friends of Christ, the antitype of Jephthah; and the more
   lean pronunciation of the Ephraimites, his enemies, may represent their
   empty ears, typifying the show of religion in hypocrites, without
   substance and fruit. This is agreeable to the doctrine we are
   abundantly taught in Scripture, viz., that he who is set to judge those
   that pass through death, whether they have a right to enter into the
   heavenly Canaan or no, or whether they should not be slain, will judge
   every man according to his works.

   We seem to be taught the same things, by the rules given for the
   priest's discerning the leprosy. In many cases it was impossible for
   the priest to determine whether a man had the leprosy, or whether he
   were clean, by the most narrow inspection of the appearances that were
   upon him, until he had waited to see what the appearances would come
   to, and had shut up the person who showed himself to him, one seven
   days after another; and when he judged, he was to determine by the
   hair, which grew out of the spot that was showed him, which was as it
   were the fruit that it brought forth.

   And here, before I finish what I have to say under this head, I would
   say something to a strange notion some have of late been led away with,
   of certainly knowing the good estate that others are in, as though it
   were immediately revealed to them from heaven, by their love flowing
   out to them in an extraordinary manner. They argue thus, that their
   love being very sensible and great, it may be certainly known by them
   who feel it, to be a true Christian love: and if it be a true Christian
   love, the Spirit of God must be the author of it: and inasmuch as the
   Spirit of God who knows certainly, whether others are the children of
   God or no, and is a spirit of truth, is pleased by an uncommon
   influence upon them, to cause their love to flow out, in an
   extraordinary manner, towards such a person as a child of God; it must
   needs be, that this infallible Spirit, who deceives none, knows that
   that person is a child of God. But such persons might be convinced of
   the falseness of their reasoning, if they would consider whether or no
   it be not their duty, and what God requires of them, to love those as
   the children of God who they think are the children of God, and whom
   they have no reason to think otherwise of, from all that they can see
   in them, though God, who searches the hearts, knows them not to be his

   If it be their duty, then it is good, and the want of it sin; and
   therefore surely the Spirit of God may be the author of it: the Spirit
   of God, without being a spirit of falsehood, may in such a case assist
   a person to do his duty, and keep him from sin. But then they argue
   from the uncommon degree and special manner, in which their love flows
   out to the person, which they think the Spirit of God never would
   cause, if he did not know the object to be a child of God. But then I
   would ask them, whether or no it is not their duty to love all such as
   they are bound to think are the children of God, from all that they can
   see in them, to a very great degree, though God, from other things
   which he sees, that are out of sight to them, knows them not to be so.
   It is men's duty to love all whom they are bound in charity to look
   upon as the children of God, with a vastly dearer affection than they
   commonly do. As we ought to love Christ to the utmost capacity of our
   nature, so it is our duty to love those who we think are so near and
   dear to him as his members, with an exceeding dear affection, as Christ
   has loved us; and therefore it is sin in us not to love them so. We
   ought to pray to God that he would by his Spirit keep us from sin, and
   enable us to do our duty: and may not his Spirit answer our prayers,
   and enable us to do our duty, in a particular instance, without lying?
   If he cannot, then the Spirit of God is bound not to help his people to
   do their duty in some instances, because he cannot do it without being
   a spirit of falsehood. But surely God is so sovereign as that comes to,
   that he may enable us to do our duty when he pleases, and on what
   occasion he pleases. When persons think others are his children, God
   may have other ends in causing their exceedingly endeared love to flow
   out to them, besides revealing to them whether their opinion of them be
   right or no: he may have that merciful end in it to enable them to know
   their duty, and to keep them from that dreadful infinite evil, sin. And
   will they say God shall not show them that mercy in such a case? If I
   am at a distance from home, and hear, that in my absence my house is
   burnt, but my family have, in some extraordinary manner, all escaped
   the flames; and everything in the circumstances of the story, as I hear
   it, makes it appear very credible, it would be sin in me, in such a
   case, not to feel a very great degree of gratitude to God, though the
   story indeed be not true. And is not God so sovereign, that he may, if
   he pleases, show me that mercy on that occasion, and enable me to do my
   duty in a much further degree than I used to do it, and yet not incur
   the charge of deceitfulness in confirming a falsehood?

   It is exceeding manifest, that error or mistake may be the occasion of
   a gracious exercise, and consequently a gracious influence of the
   Spirit of God by Rom. 14:6: "He that eateth to the Lord he eateth, and
   giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not to the Lord he eateth not,
   and giveth God thanks!" The apostle is speaking of those, who through
   erroneous and needless scruples, avoided eating legally unclean
   meats.--By this it is very evident, that there may be true exercises of
   grace, a true respect to the Lord, and particularly, a true
   thankfulness, which may be occasioned, both by an erroneous judgment
   and practice. And consequently, an error may be the occasion of those
   true holy exercises that are from the infallible Spirit of God. And if
   so, it is certainly too much for us to determine, to how great a degree
   the Spirit of God may give this holy exercise, on such an occasion.

   This notion, of certainly discerning another's state, by love flowing
   out, is not only not founded on reason or Scripture, but it is
   anti-scriptural, it is against the rules of Scripture; which say not a
   word of any such way of judging the state of others as this, but direct
   us to judge chiefly by the fruits that are seen in them. And it is
   against the doctrines of Scripture, which do plainly teach us, that the
   state of others' souls towards God cannot be known by us, as in Rev.
   2:17: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna,
   and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written,
   which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it." And Rom. 2:29, "He
   is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart,
   in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but
   of God." That by this last expression, "whose praise is not of men, but
   of God," the apostle has respect to the insufficiency of men to judge
   concerning him, whether he be inwardly a Jew or no (as they could
   easily see by outward marks, whether men were outwardly Jews), and
   would signify, that it belongs to God alone to give a determining voice
   in this matter, is confirmed by the same apostle's use of the phrase,
   in 1 Cor. 4:5: "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord
   come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and
   will make manifest the counsels of the heart:" and then shall every man
   have praise of God. The apostle, in the two foregoing verses, says,
   "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you,
   or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know
   nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified; but he that judgeth
   me is the Lord." And again, it is further confirmed, because the
   apostle, in this second chapter to the Romans, directs his speech
   especially to those who had a high conceit of their own holiness, made
   their boast of God, and were confident of their own discerning, and
   that they knew God's will, and approved the things which were
   excellent, or tried the things that differ (as it is in the margin),
   ver. 19: "And were confident that they were guides of the blind, and a
   light to them which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish,
   teachers of babes; and so took upon them to judge others." See ver. 1,
   and 17, 18, 19, 20.

   And how arrogant must the notion be, that they have, who imagine they
   can certainly know others' godliness, when that great Apostle Peter
   pretends not to say any more concerning Sylvanus, than that he was a
   faithful brother, as he supposed! 1 Pet. 5:12. Though this Sylvanus
   appears to have been a very eminent minister of Christ, and an
   evangelist, and a famous light in God's church at that day, and an
   intimate companion of the apostles. See 2 Cor. 1:19, 1 Thess. 1:1, and
   2 Thess. 1:1.

   [31] Men may have the knowledge of their own conversion: the knowledge
   that other men have of it is uncertain, because no man can look into
   the heart of another and see the workings of grace there." Stoddard's
   Nature of Saving Conversion, chap. 15 at the beginning.

   [32] Mr. Stoddard observes, that "all visible signs are common to
   converted and unconverted men; and a relation of experiences, among the
   rest." Appeal to the Learned, p. 75.                "O how hard it is
   for the eye of man to discern betwixt chaff and wheat! And how many
   upright hearts are now censured, whom God will clear! How many false
   hearts are now approved whom God will condemn! Men ordinarily have no
   convictive proofs, but only probable symptoms; which at most beget but
   a conjectural knowledge of another's state. And they that shall
   peremptorily judge either way, may possibly wrong the generation of the
   upright, or on the other side, absolve and justify the wicked. And
   truly, considering what has been said, it is no wonder that dangerous
   mistakes are so frequently made in this matter." Flavel's Husbandry
   Spiritualized, chap. 12.

   [33] "Be not offended, if you see great cedars fall, stars fall from
   heaven, great professors die and decay: do not think they be all such:
   do not think that the elect shall fall. Truly, some are such that when
   they fall, one would think a man truly sanctified might fall away, as
   the Arminians think: 1 John 2:19, They were not of us. I speak this,
   because the Lord is shaking; and I look for great apostasies: for God
   is trying all his friends, through all the Christian world. In Germany
   what profession was there! Who would have thought it? The Lord, who
   delights to manifest that openly, which was hid secretly, ends a sword
   and they fall." Shepard's Parab. Part 1. p. 118, 119.
   "The saints may approve thee and God condemn thee. Rev. 3:1, "Thou hast
   a name that thou livest, and art dead." Men may say, There is a true
   Nathanael, and God may say, There is a self-cozening Pharisee. Reader,
   thou hast heard of Judas and Demas, of Ananias and Sapphira, of
   Hymeneus and Philetus, once renowned and famous professors, and thou
   hast heard how they proved at last." Flavel's Touchstone of Sincerity,
   Chap. 2. Sect. 5.

   [34] A time of outpouring of the Spirit of God, reviving religion, and
   producing the pleasant appearances of it, in new converts, is in
   Scripture compared to this very thing, viz., the spring season, when
   the benign influences of the heavens cause the blossoms to put forth.
   Cant. 2:11, 12.

   [35] Husbandry Spiritualized, Chap. 12.



   I COME now to the second thing appertaining to the trial of religious
   affections, which was proposed, viz., To take notice of some things,
   wherein those affections that are spiritual and gracious, do differ
   from those that are not so.

   But before I proceed directly to the distinguishing characters, I would
   previously mention some things which I desire may be observed,
   concerning the marks I shall lay down.

   1. That I am far from undertaking to give such signs of gracious
   affections, as shall be sufficient to enable any certainly to
   distinguish true affection from false in others; or to determine
   positively which of their neighbors are true professors, and which are
   hypocrites. In so doing, I should be guilty of that arrogance which I
   have been condemning. Though it be plain that Christ has given rules to
   all Christians, to enable them to judge of professors of religion, whom
   they are concerned with, so far as is necessary for their own safety,
   and to prevent their being led into a snare by false teachers, and
   false pretenders to religion; and though it be also beyond doubt, that
   the Scriptures do abound with rules, which may be very serviceable to
   ministers, in counseling and conducting souls committed to their care,
   in things appertaining to their spiritual and eternal state; yet it is
   also evident, that it was never God's design to give us any rules, by
   which we may certainly know, who of our fellow professors are his, and
   to make a full and clear separation between sheep and goats; but that,
   on the contrary, it was God's design to reserve this to himself, as his
   prerogative. And therefore no such distinguishing signs as shall enable
   Christians or ministers to do this, are ever to be expected to the
   world's end: for no more is ever to be expected from any signs, that
   are to be found in the word of God, or gathered from it, than Christ
   designed them for.

   2. No such signs are to be expected, that shall be sufficient to enable
   those saints certainly to discern their own good estate, who are very
   low in grace, or are such as have much departed from God, and are
   fallen into a dead, carnal, and unchristian frame. It is not agreeable
   to God's design (as has been already observed), that such should know
   their good estate: nor is it desirable that they should; but, on the
   contrary, every way best that they should not; and we have reason to
   bless God, that he has made no provision that such should certainly
   know the state that they are in, any other way than by first coming out
   of the ill frame and way they are in. Indeed it is not properly through
   the defect of the signs given in the word of God, that every saint
   living, whether strong or weak, and those who are in a bad frame, as
   well as others, cannot certainly know their good estate by them. For
   the rules in themselves are certain and infallible, and every saint
   has, or has had those things in himself, which are sure evidences of
   grace; for every, even the least act of grace is so. But it is through
   his defect to whom the signs are given. There is a twofold defect in
   that saint who is very low in grace, or in an ill frame, which makes it
   impossible for him to know certainly that he has true grace, by the
   best signs and rules which can be given him. First, a defect in the
   object, or the qualification to be viewed and examined. I do not mean
   an essential defect; because I suppose the person to be a real saint;
   but a defect in degree: grace being very small, cannot be clearly and
   certainly discerned and distinguished.

   Things that are very small, we cannot clearly discern their form, or
   distinguish them one from another; though, as they are in themselves,
   their form may be very different. There is doubtless a great difference
   between the body of man, and the bodies of other animals, in the first
   conception in the womb: but yet if we should view the different
   embryos, it might not be possible for us to discern the difference, by
   reason of the imperfect state of the object; but as it comes to greater
   perfection, the difference becomes very plain. The difference between
   creatures of very contrary qualities, is not so plainly to be seen
   while they are very young; even after they are actually brought forth,
   as in their more perfect state. The difference between doves and
   ravens, or doves and vultures, when they first come out of the egg, is
   not so evident; but as they grow to their perfection, it is exceeding
   great and manifest. Another defect attending the grace of those I am
   speaking of is its being mingled with so much corruption, which clouds
   and hides it, and makes it impossible for it certainly to be known.
   Though different things that are before us, may have in themselves many
   marks thoroughly distinguishing them one from another; yet if we see
   them only in a thick smoke, it may nevertheless be impossible to
   distinguish them. A fixed star is easily distinguishable from a comet,
   in a clear sky; but if we view them through a cloud, it may be
   impossible to see the difference. When true Christians are in an ill
   frame, guilt lies on the conscience; which will bring fear, and so
   prevent the peace and joy of an assured hope.

   Secondly. There is in such a case a defect in the eye. As the
   feebleness of grace and prevalence of corruption, obscures the object;
   so it enfeebles the sight; it darkens the sight as to all spiritual
   objects, of which grace is one. Sin is like some distempers of the
   eyes, that make things to appear of different colors from those which
   properly belong to them, and like many other distempers, that put the
   mouth out of taste so as to disenable it from distinguishing good and
   wholesome food from bad, but everything tastes bitter.

   Men in a corrupt and carnal frame, have their spiritual senses in but
   poor plight for judging and distinguishing spiritual things.

   For these reasons no signs that can be given, will actually satisfy
   persons in such a case: let the signs that are given be never so good
   and infallible, and clearly laid down, they will not serve them. It is
   like giving a man rules, how to distinguish visible objects in the
   dark; the things themselves may be very different, and their difference
   may be very well and distinctly described to him; yet all is
   insufficient to enable him to distinguish them, because he is in the
   dark. And therefore many persons in such a case spend time in a
   fruitless labor, in poring on past experiences, and examining
   themselves by signs they hear laid down from the pulpit, or that they
   read in books; when there is other work for them to do, that is much
   more expected of them; which, while they neglect, all their
   self-examinations are like to be in vain if they should spend never so
   much time in them. The accursed thing is to be destroyed from their
   camp, and Achan to be slain; and until this be done they will be in
   trouble. It is not God's design that men should obtain assurance in any
   other way, than by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, and
   obtaining the lively exercises of it.--And although self-examination be
   a duty of great use and importance, and by no means to be neglected;
   yet it is not the principal means, by which the saints do get
   satisfaction of their good estate. Assurance is not to be obtained so
   much by self-examination, as by action. The Apostle Paul sought
   assurance chiefly this way, even by "forgetting the things that were
   behind, and reaching forth unto those things that were before, pressing
   towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ
   Jesus; if by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the
   dead." And it was by this means chiefly that he obtained assurance: 1
   Cor. 9:26, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly." He obtained
   assurance of winning the prize, more by running, than by considering.
   The swiftness of his pace did more towards his assurance of a conquest,
   than the strictness of his examination. Giving all diligence to grow in
   grace, by adding to faith, virtue, &c., is the direction that the
   Apostle Peter gives us, for "making our calling and election sure, and
   having an entrance ministered to us abundantly, into Christ's
   everlasting kingdom;" signifying to us, that without this, our eyes
   will be dim, and we shall be as men in the dark, that cannot plainly
   see things past or to come, either the forgiveness of our sins past, or
   our heavenly inheritance that is future, and far off, 2 Pet. 1:5-11.

   Therefore, though good rules to distinguish true grace from
   counterfeit, may tend to convince hypocrites, and be of great use to
   the saints, in many respects; and among other benefits may be very
   useful to them to remove many needless scruples, and establish their
   hope; yet I am far from pretending to lay down any such rules, as shall
   be sufficient of themselves, without other means, to enable all true
   saints to see their good estate, or as supposing they should be the
   principal means of their satisfaction.

   3. Nor is there much encouragement, in the experience of present or
   past times, to lay down rules or marks to distinguish between true and
   false affections, in hopes of convincing any considerable number of
   that sort of hypocrites, who have been deceived with great false
   discoveries and affections, and are once settled in a false confidence,
   and high conceit of their own supposed great experiences and
   privileges. Such hypocrites are so conceited of their own wisdom, and
   so blinded and hardened with a very great self-righteousness (but very
   subtle and secret, under the disguise of great humility), and so
   invincible a fondness of their pleasing conceit of their great
   exaltation, that it usually signifies nothing at all to lay before them
   the most convincing evidences of their hypocrisy. Their state is indeed
   deplorable, and next to those who have committed the unpardonable sin.
   Some of this sort of persons seem to be most out of the reach of means
   of conviction and repentance. But yet the laying down good rules may be
   a means of preventing such hypocrites, and of convincing many of other
   kinds of hypocrites; and God is able to convince even this kind, and
   his grace is not to be limited, nor means to be neglected. And besides,
   such rules may be of use to the true saints, to detect false
   affections, which they may have mingled with true; and be a means of
   their religion's becoming more pure, and like gold tried in the fire.

   Having premised these things, I now proceed directly to take notice of
   those things in which true religious affections are distinguished from

   [36] The way to know your godliness is to renew the visible exercises
   of grace.--The more the visible exercises of grace are renewed, the
   more certain you will be. The more frequently these actings are
   renewed, the more abiding and confirmed your assurance will be.
           The more men's grace is multiplied, the more their peace is
   multiplied; 2 Pet. 1:2, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you,
   through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord." Stoddard's Way
   to know Sincerity and Hypocrisy, p. 139 and 142.

   I. Affections that are truly spiritual and gracious, do arise from
   those influences and operations on the heart, which are spiritual,
   supernatural and divine.

   I will explain what I mean by these terms, whence will appear their use
   to distinguish between those affections which are spiritual, and those
   which are not so.

   We find that true saints, or those persons who are sanctified by the
   Spirit of God, are in the New Testament called spiritual persons. And
   their being spiritual is spoken of as their peculiar character, and
   that wherein they are distinguished from those who are not sanctified.
   This is evident, because those who are spiritual are set in opposition
   to natural men, and carnal men. Thus the spiritual man and the natural
   man are set in opposition one to another, 1 Cor. 2:14, 15: "The natural
   man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are
   foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are
   spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things."
   The Scripture explains itself to mean an ungodly man, or one that has
   no grace, by a natural man: thus the Apostle Jude, speaking of certain
   ungodly men, that had crept in unawares among the saints, ver. 4, of
   his epistle, says, 5:19, "These are sensual, having not the Spirit."
   This the apostle gives as a reason why they behaved themselves in such
   a wicked manner as he had described. Here the word translated sensual,
   in the original is psuchikoi [psychikoi], which is the very same, which
   in those verses in 1 Cor. chap. 2 is translated natural. In the like
   manner, in the continuation of the same discourse, in the next verse
   but one, spiritual men are opposed to carnal men; which the connection
   plainly shows mean the same, as spiritual men and natural men, in the
   foregoing verses; "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you, as unto
   spiritual, but as unto carnal;" i.e., as in a great measure
   unsanctified. That by carnal the apostle means corrupt and
   unsanctified, is abundantly evident, by Rom. 7:25, and 8:1, 4, 5, 6, 7,
   8, 9, 19, 13, Gal. 5:16, to the end, Col. 2:18. Now therefore, if by
   natural and carnal in these texts, be intended unsanctified, then
   doubtless by spiritual, which is opposed thereto, is meant sanctified
   and gracious.

   And as the saints are called spiritual in Scripture, so we also find
   that there are certain properties, qualities, and principles, that have
   the same epithet given them. So we read of a "spiritual mind," Rom.
   8:6, 7, and of "spiritual wisdom," Col. 1:9, and of "spiritual
   blessings," Eph. 1:3.

   Now it may be observed, that the epithet spiritual, in these and other
   parallel texts of the New Testament, is not used to signify any
   relation of persons or things to the spirit or soul of man, as the
   spiritual part of man, in opposition to the body, which is the material
   part. Qualities are not said to be spiritual, because they have their
   seat in the soul, and not in the body: for there are some properties
   that the Scripture calls carnal or fleshly, which have their seat as
   much in the soul, as those properties that are called spiritual. Thus
   it is with pride and self-righteousness, and a man's trusting to his
   own wisdom, which the apostle calls fleshly, Col. 2:18. Nor are things
   called spiritual, because they are conversant about those things that
   are immaterial, and not corporeal. For so was the wisdom of the wise
   men, and princes of this world, conversant about spirits, and
   immaterial beings; which yet the apostle speaks of as natural men,
   totally ignorant of those things that are spiritual, 1 Cor. chap. 2.
   But it is with relation to the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, that
   persons or things are termed spiritual in the New Testament. Spirit, as
   the word is used to signify the third person in the Trinity, is the
   substantive, of which is formed the adjective spiritual, in the holy
   Scriptures. Thus Christians are called spiritual persons, because they
   are born of the Spirit, and because of the indwelling and holy
   influences of the Spirit of God in them. And things are called
   spiritual as related to the Spirit of God; 1 Cor. 2:13, 14, "Which
   things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but
   which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with
   spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit
   of God." Here the apostle himself expressly signifies, that by
   spiritual things, he means the things of the Spirit of God, and things
   which the Holy Ghost teacheth. The same is yet more abundantly apparent
   by viewing the whole context. Again, Rom. 8:6, "To be carnally minded,
   is death; to be spiritually minded, is life and peace" The apostle
   explains what he means by being carnally and spiritually minded in what
   follows in the 9th verse, and shows that by being spiritually minded,
   he means a having the indwelling and holy influences of the Spirit of
   God in the heart: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, it
   so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the
   Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." The same is evident by all the
   context. But time would fail to produce all the evidence there is of
   this, in the New Testament.

   And it must be here observed, that although it is with relation to the
   Spirit of God and his influences, that persons and things are called
   spiritual; yet not all those persons who are subject to any kind of
   influence of the Spirit of God, are ordinarily called spiritual in the
   New Testament. They who have only the common influences of God's
   Spirit, are not so called, in the places cited above, but only those
   who have the special, gracious, and saving influences of God's Spirit;
   as is evident, because it has been already proved, that by spiritual
   men is meant godly men, in opposition to natural, carnal, and
   unsanctified men. And it is most plain, that the apostle by spiritually
   minded, Rom. 8:6, means graciously minded. And though the extraordinary
   gifts of the Spirit, which natural men might have, are sometimes called
   spiritual, because they are from the Spirit; yet natural men, whatever
   gifts of the Spirit they had, were not, in the usual language of the
   New Testament, called spiritual persons. For it was not by men's having
   the gifts of the Spirit, but by their having the virtues of the Spirit,
   that they were called spiritual; as is apparent by Gal. 6:1: "Brethren,
   if any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore
   such a one in the spirit of meekness." Meekness is one of those virtues
   which the apostle had just spoken of, in the verses next preceding,
   showing what are the fruits of the Spirit. Those qualifications are
   said to be spiritual in the language of the New Testament, which are
   truly gracious and holy, and peculiar to the saints.

   Thus, when we read of spiritual wisdom and understanding (as in Col.
   1:9, "We desire that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will,
   in all wisdom and spiritual understanding"), hereby is intended that
   wisdom which is gracious, and from the sanctifying influences of the
   Spirit of God. For, doubtless, by spiritual wisdom is meant that which
   is opposite to what the Scripture calls natural wisdom; as the
   spiritual man is opposed to the natural man. And therefore spiritual
   wisdom is doubtless the same with that wisdom which is from above, that
   the Apostle James speaks of, Jam. 3:17: "The wisdom that is from above,
   is first pure, then peaceable, gentle," &c., for this the apostle
   opposes to natural wisdom, ver. 15: "This wisdom descendeth not from
   above, but is earthly, sensual"--the last word in the original is the
   same that is translated natural, in 1 Cor. 2:14.

   So that although natural men may be the subjects of many influences of
   the Spirit of God, as is evident by many Scriptures, as Numb. 24:2, 1
   Sam. 10:10, and 11:6, and 16:14, 1 Cor. 13:1, 2, 3, Heb. 6:4, 5, 6, and
   many others; yet they are not, in the sense of the Scripture, spiritual
   persons; neither are any of those effects, common gifts, qualities, or
   affections, that are from the influence of the Spirit of God upon them,
   called spiritual things. The great difference lies in these two things.

   1. The Spirit of God is given to the true saints to dwell in them, as
   his proper lasting abode; and to influence their hearts, as a principle
   of new nature or as a divine supernatural spring of life and action.
   The Scriptures represent the Holy Spirit not only as moving, and
   occasionally influencing the saints, but as dwelling in them as his
   temple, his proper abode, and everlasting dwelling place, 1 Cor. 3:16,
   2 Cor. 6:16, John 14:16, 17. And he is represented as being there so
   united to the faculties of the soul, that he becomes there a principle
   or spring of new nature and life.

   So the saints are said to live by Christ living in them, Gal. 2:20.
   Christ by his Spirit not only is in them, but lives in them; and so
   that they live by his life; so is his Spirit united to them, as a
   principle of life in them; they do not only drink living water, but
   this "living water becomes a well or fountain of water," in the soul,
   "springing up into spiritual and everlasting life," John 4:14, and thus
   becomes a principle of life in them. This living water, this evangelist
   himself explains to intend the Spirit of God, chap. 7:38, 39. The light
   of the Sun of righteousness does not only shine upon them, but is so
   communicated to them that they shine also, and become little images of
   that Sun which shines upon them; the sap of the true vine is not only
   conveyed into them, as the sap of a tree may be conveyed into a vessel,
   but is conveyed as sap is from a tree into one of its living branches,
   where it becomes a principle of life. The Spirit of God being thus
   communicated and united to the saints, they are from thence properly
   denominated from it, and are called spiritual.

   On the other hand, though the Spirit of God may many ways influence
   natural men; yet because it is not thus communicated to them, as an
   indwelling principle, they do not derive any denomination or character
   from it: for, there being no union, it is not their own. The light may
   shine upon a body that is very dark or black; and though that body be
   the subject of the light, yet, because the light becomes no principle
   of light in it, so as to cause the body to shine, hence that body does
   not properly receive its denomination from it, so as to be called a
   lightsome body. So the Spirit of God acting upon the soul only, without
   communicating itself to be an active principle in it, cannot denominate
   it spiritual. A body that continues black, may be said not to have
   light, though the light shines upon it: so natural men are said "not to
   have the Spirit," Jude 19, sensual or natural (as the word is elsewhere
   rendered), having not the Spirit.

   2. Another reason why the saints and their virtues are called spiritual
   (which is the principal thing) is, that the Spirit of God, dwelling as
   a vital principle in their souls, there produces those effects wherein
   he exerts and communicates himself in his own proper nature. Holiness
   is the nature of the Spirit of God, therefore he is called in Scripture
   the Holy Ghost. Holiness, which is as it were the beauty and sweetness
   of the divine nature, is as much the proper nature of the Holy Spirit,
   as heat is the nature of fire, or sweetness was the nature of that holy
   anointing oil, which was the principal type of the Holy Ghost in the
   Mosaic dispensation; yea, I may rather say, that holiness is as much
   the proper nature of the Holy Ghost, as sweetness was the nature of the
   sweet odor of that ointment. The Spirit of God so dwells in the hearts
   of the saints, that he there, as a seed or spring of life, exerts and
   communicates himself, in this his sweet and divine nature, making the
   soul a partaker of God's beauty and Christ's joy, so that the saint has
   truly fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, in
   thus having the communion or participation of the Holy Ghost. The grace
   which is in the hearts of the saints, is of the same nature with the
   divine holiness, as much as it is possible for that holiness to be,
   which is infinitely less in degree; as the brightness that is in a
   diamond which the sun shines upon, is of the same nature with the
   brightness of the sun, but only that it is as nothing to it in degree.
   Therefore Christ says, John 3:6, "That which is born of the Spirit, is
   spirit;" i.e., the grace that is begotten in the hearts of the saints,
   is something of the same nature with that Spirit, and so is properly
   called a spiritual nature; after the same manner as that which is born
   of the flesh is flesh, or that which is born of corrupt nature is
   corrupt nature.

   But the Spirit of God never influences the minds of natural men after
   this manner. Though he may influence them many ways, yet he never, in
   any of his influences, communicates himself to them in his own proper
   nature. Indeed he never acts disagreeably to his nature, either on the
   minds of saints or sinners: but the Spirit of God may act upon men
   agreeably to his own nature, and not exert his proper nature in the
   acts and exercises of their minds: the Spirit of God may act so, that
   his actions may be agreeable to his nature, and yet may not at all
   communicate himself in his proper nature, in the effect of that action.
   Thus, for instance, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
   waters, and there was nothing disagreeable to his nature in that
   action; but yet he did not at all communicate himself in that action,
   there was nothing of the proper nature of the Holy Spirit in that
   motion of the waters. And so he may act upon the minds of men many
   ways, and not communicate himself any more than when be acts on
   inamimate things.

   Thus not only the manner of the relation of the Spirit, who is the
   operator, to the subject of his operations, is different; as the Spirit
   operates in the saints, as dwelling in them, as an abiding principle of
   action, whereas he doth not so operate upon sinners; but the influence
   and operation itself is different, and the effect wrought exceeding
   different. So that not only the persons are called spiritual, as having
   the Spirit of God dwelling in them; but those qualifications,
   affections, and experiences, that are wrought in them by the Spirit,
   are also spiritual, and therein differ vastly in their nature and kind
   from all that a natural man is or can be the subject of, while he
   remains in a natural state; and also from all that men or devils can be
   the authors of. It is a spiritual work in this high sense; and
   therefore above all other works is peculiar to the Spirit of God. There
   is no work so high and excellent; for there is no work wherein God doth
   so much communicate himself, and wherein the mere creature hath, in so
   high a sense a participation of God; so that it is expressed in
   Scripture by the saints "being made partakers of the divine nature," 2
   Pet. 1:4, and "having God dwelling in them, and they in God," 1 John
   4:12, 15, 16, and chap. 3:21; "and having Christ in them," John 17:21,
   Rom. 8:10; "being the temples of the living God," 2 Cor. 6:16; "living
   by Christ's life," Gal. 2:20; "being made partakers of God's holiness,"
   Heb. 12:10; "having Christ's love dwelling in them," John 17:26;
   "having his joy fulfilled in them," John 17:13; "seeing light in God's
   light, and being made to drink of the river of God's pleasures," Psal.
   36:8, 9; "having fellowship with God, or communicating and partaking
   with him (as the word signifies)," 1 John 1:3. Not that the saints are
   made partakers of the essence of God, and so are godded with God, and
   christed with Christ, according to the abominable and blasphemous
   language and notions of some heretics: but, to use the Scripture
   phrase, they are made partakers of God's fullness, Eph. 3:17, 18, 19,
   John 1:16, that is, of God's spiritual beauty and happiness, according
   to the measure and capacity of a creature; for so it is evident the
   word fullness signifies in Scripture language. Grace in the hearts of
   the saints, being therefore the most glorious work of God, wherein he
   communicates of the goodness of his nature, it is doubtless his
   peculiar work, and in an eminent manner above the power of all
   creatures. And the influences of the Spirit of God in this, being thus
   peculiar to God, and being those wherein God does, in so high a manner,
   communicate himself, and make the creature partaker of the divine
   nature (the Spirit of God communicating itself in its own proper
   nature); this is what I mean by those influences that are divine, when
   I say that "truly gracious affections do arise from those influences
   that are spiritual and divine."

   The true saints only have that which is spiritual; others have nothing
   which is divine, in the sense that has been spoken of. They not only
   have not these communications of the Spirit of God in so high a degree
   as the saints, but have nothing of that nature or kind. For the Apostle
   James tells us, that natural men have not the Spirit; and Christ
   teaches the necessity of a new birth, or of being born of the Spirit,
   from this, that he that is born of the flesh, has only flesh, and no
   spirit, John 3:6. They have not the Spirit of God dwelling in them in
   any degree; for the apostle teaches, that all who have the Spirit of
   God dwelling in them, are some of his, Rom. 8:9-11. And a having the
   Spirit of God is spoken of as a certain sign that persons shall have
   the eternal inheritance; for it is spoken of as the earnest of it, 2
   Cor. 1:29, and 5:5, Eph. 1:14; and a having anything of the Spirit is
   mentioned as a sure sign of being in Christ, 1 John 4:13: "Hereby know
   we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit."
   Ungodly men not only have not so much of the divine nature as the
   saints, but they are not partakers of it; which implies that they have
   nothing of it; for a being partaker of the divine nature is spoken of
   as the peculiar privilege of the true saints, 2 Pet. 1:4. Ungodly men
   are not "partakers of God's holiness," Heb. 12:10. A natural man has no
   experience of any of those things that are spiritual: the apostle
   teaches us, that he is so far from it, that he knows nothing about
   them, he is a perfect stranger to them, the talk about such things is
   all foolishness and nonsense to him, he knows not what it means; 1 Cor.
   2:14, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God;
   for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they
   are spiritually discerned." And to the like purpose Christ teaches us
   that the world is wholly unacquainted with the Spirit of God, John
   14:17: "Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,
   because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him." And it is further
   evident, that natural men have nothing in them of the same nature with
   the true grace of the saints, because the apostle teaches us, that
   those of them who go farthest in religion have no charity, or true
   Christian love, 1 Cor. chap. 13. So Christ elsewhere reproves the
   Pharisees, those high pretenders to religion, that they "had not the
   love of God in them," John 5:42. Hence natural men have no communion or
   fellowship with Christ, or participation with him (as these words
   signify), for this is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of the
   saints, 1 John 1:3, together with ver. 6, 7, and 1 Cor. 1:8, 9. And the
   Scripture speaks of the actual being of a gracious principle in the
   soul, though in its first beginning, as a seed there planted, as
   inconsistent with a man's being a sinner, 1 John 3:9. And natural men
   are represented in Scripture, as having no spiritual light, no
   spiritual life, and no spiritual being; and therefore conversion is
   often compared to opening the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, and
   a work of creation (wherein creatures are made entirely new), and
   becoming new-born children.

   From these things it is evident, that those gracious influences which
   the saints are subjects of, and the effects of God's Spirit which they
   experience, are entirely above nature, altogether of a different kind
   from anything that men find within themselves by nature, or only in the
   exercise of natural principles; and are things which no improvement of
   those qualifications, or principles that are natural, no advancing or
   exalting them to higher degrees, and no kind of composition of them,
   will ever bring men to; because they not only differ from what is
   natural, and from everything that natural men experience, in degree and
   circumstances, but also in kind; and are of a nature vastly more
   excellent. And this is what I mean, by supernatural, when I say that
   gracious affections are from those influences that are supernatural.

   From hence it follows, that in those gracious exercises and affections
   which are wrought in the minds of the saints, through the saving
   influences of the Spirit of God, there is a new inward perception or
   sensation of their minds, entirely different in its nature and kind,
   from anything that ever their minds were the subjects of before they
   were sanctified. For doubtless if God by his mighty power produces
   something that is new, not only in degree and circumstances, but in its
   whole nature, and that which could be produced by no exalting, varying,
   or compounding of what was there before, or by adding anything of the
   like kind; I say, if God produces something thus new in a mind, that is
   a perceiving, thinking, conscious thing; then doubtless something
   entirely new is felt, or perceived, or thought; or, which is the same
   thing, there is some new sensation or perception of the mind, which is
   entirely of a new sorts and which could be produced by no exalting,
   varying, or compounding of that kind of perceptions or sensations which
   the mind had before; or there is what some metaphysicians call a new
   simple idea. If grace be, in the sense above described, an entirely new
   kind of principle, then the exercises of it are also entirely a new
   kind of exercises. And if there be in the soul a new sort of exercises
   which it is conscious of, which the soul knew nothing of before, and
   which no improvement, composition, or management of what it was before
   conscious or sensible of, could produce, or anything like it; then it
   follows that the mind has an entirely new kind of perception or
   sensation; and here is, as it were, a new spiritual sense that the mind
   has, or a principle of a new kind of perception or spiritual sensation,
   which is in its whole nature different from any former kinds of
   sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other
   senses; and something is perceived by a true saint, in the exercise of
   this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely
   diverse from anything that is perceived in them, by natural men, as the
   sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men have of honey by
   only looking on it, and feeling of it. So that the spiritual
   perceptions which a sanctified and spiritual person has, are not only
   diverse from all that natural men have after the manner that the ideas
   or perceptions of the same sense may differ one from another, but
   rather as the ideas and sensations of different senses do differ. Hence
   the work of the Spirit of God in regeneration is often in Scripture
   compared to the giving a new sense, giving eyes to see, and ears to
   hear, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and opening the eyes of them
   that were born blind, and turning from darkness unto light. And because
   this spiritual sense is immensely the most noble and excellent, and
   that without which all other principles of perception, and all our
   faculties are useless and vain; therefore the giving this new sense,
   with the blessed fruits and effects of it in the soul, is compared to a
   raising the dead, and to a new creation.

   This new spiritual sense, and the new dispositions that attend it, are
   no new faculties, but are new principles of nature. I use the word
   principles for want of a word of a more determinate signification. By a
   principle of nature in this place, I mean that foundation which is laid
   in nature, either old or new, for any particular manner or kind of
   exercise of the faculties of the soul; or a natural habit or foundation
   for action, giving a personal ability and disposition to exert the
   faculties in exercises of such a certain kind; so that to exert the
   faculties in that kind of exercises may be said to be his nature. So
   this new spiritual sense is not a new faculty of understanding, but it
   is a new foundation laid in the nature of the soul, for a new kind of
   exercises of the same faculty of understanding. So that new holy
   disposition of heart that attends this new sense is not a new faculty
   of will, but a foundation laid in the nature of the soul, for a new
   kind of exercises of the same faculty of will.

   The Spirit of God, in all his operations upon the minds of natural men,
   only moves, impresses, assists, improves, or some way acts upon natural
   principles; but gives no new spiritual principle. Thus when the Spirit
   of God gives a natural man visions, as he did Balaam, he only impresses
   a natural principle, viz., the sense of seeing, immediately exciting
   ideas of that sense; but he gives no new sense; neither is there
   anything supernatural, spiritual, or divine in it. So if the Spirit of
   God impresses on a man's imagination, either in a dream, or when he is
   awake, any outward ideas of any of the senses, either voices, or shapes
   and colors, it is only exciting ideas of the same kind that he has by
   natural principles and senses. So if God reveals to any natural man any
   secret fact: as, for instance, something that he shall hereafter see or
   hear; this is not infusing or exercising any new spiritual principle,
   or giving the ideas of any new spiritual sense; it is only impressing,
   in an extraordinary manner, the ideas that will hereafter be received
   by sight and hearing.--So in the more ordinary influences of the Spirit
   of God on the hearts of sinners, he only assists natural principles to
   do the same work to a greater degree, which they do of themselves by
   nature. Thus the Spirit of God by his common influences may assist
   men's natural ingenuity, as he assisted Bezaleel and Aholiab in the
   curious works of the tabernacle: so he may assist men's natural
   abilities in political affairs, and improve their courage and other
   natural qualifications, as he is said to have put his spirit on the
   seventy elders, and on Saul, so as to give him another heart: so God
   may greatly assist natural men's reason, in their reasoning about
   secular things, or about the doctrines of religion, and may greatly
   advance the clearness of their apprehensions and notions of things of
   religion in many respects, without giving any spiritual sense. So in
   those awakenings and convictions that natural men may have, God only
   assists conscience, which is a natural principle, to do that work in a
   further degree, which it naturally does. Conscience naturally gives men
   an apprehension of right and wrong, and suggests the relation there is
   between right and wrong, and a retribution: the Spirit of God assists
   men's consciences to do this in a greater degree, helps conscience
   against the stupifying influence of worldly objects and their lusts.
   And so many other ways might be mentioned wherein the Spirit acts upon,
   assists, and moves natural principles; but after all it is no more than
   nature moved, acted and improved; here is nothing supernatural and
   divine. But the Spirit of God in his spiritual influences on the hearts
   of his saints, operates by infusing or exercising new, divine, and
   supernatural principles; principles which are indeed a new and
   spiritual nature, and principles vastly more noble and excellent than
   all that is in natural men.

   From what has been said it follows, that all spiritual and gracious
   affections are attended with and do arise from some apprehension, idea,
   or sensation of mind, which is in its whole nature different, yea,
   exceeding different, from all that is, or can be in the mind of a
   natural man; and which the natural man discerns nothing of, and has no
   manner of idea of (agreeable to 1 Cor. 2:14), and conceives of no more
   than a man without the sense of tasting can conceive of the sweet taste
   of honey, or a man without the sense of hearing can conceive of the
   melody of a tune, or a man born blind can have a notion of the beauty
   of the rainbow.

   But here two things must be observed, in order to the right
   understanding of this.

   1. On the one hand it must be observed, that not everything which in
   any respect appertains to spiritual affections, is new and entirely
   different from what natural men can conceive of, and do experience;
   some things are common to gracious affections with other affections;
   many circumstances, appendages and effects are common. Thus a saint's
   love to God has a great many things appertaining to it, which are
   common with a man's natural love to a near relation; love to God makes
   a man have desires of the honor of God, and a desire to please him; so
   does a natural man's love to his friend make him desire his honor, and
   desire to please him; love to God causes a man to delight in the
   thoughts of God, and to delight in the presence of God, and to desire
   conformity to God, and the enjoyment of God; and so it is with a man's
   love to his friend; and many other things might be mentioned which are
   common to both. But yet that idea which the saint has of the loveliness
   of God, and that sensation, and that kind of delight he has in that
   view, which is as it were the marrow and quintessence of his love, is
   peculiar, and entirely diverse from anything that a natural man has, or
   can have any notion of. And even in those things that seem to be
   common, there is something peculiar; both spiritual and natural love
   cause desires after the object beloved; but they be not the same sort
   of desires: there is a sensation of soul in the spiritual desires of
   one that loves God, which is entirely different from all natural
   desires: both spiritual love and natural love are attended with delight
   in the object beloved; but the sensations of delight are not the same,
   but entirely and exceedingly diverse. Natural men may have conceptions
   of many things about spiritual affections; but there is something in
   them which is as it were the nucleus, or kernel of them, that they have
   no more conception of, than one born blind, has of colors.

   It may be clearly illustrated by this: we will suppose two men; one is
   born without the sense of tasting, the other has it; the latter loves
   honey, and is greatly delighted in it, because he knows the sweet taste
   of it; the other loves certain sounds and colors; the love of each has
   many things that appertain to it, which is common; it causes both to
   desire and delight in the object beloved, and causes grief when it is
   absent, &c., but yet that idea or sensation which he who knows the
   taste of honey has of its excellency and sweetness, that is the
   foundation of his love, is entirely different from anything the other
   has or can have; and that delight which he has in honey is wholly
   diverse from anything that the other can conceive of, though they both
   delight in their beloved objects. So both these persons may in some
   respects love the same object: the one may love a delicious kind of
   fruit, which is beautiful to the eye, and of a delicious taste; not
   only because he has seen its pleasant colors, but knows its sweet
   taste; the other, perfectly ignorant of this, loves it only for its
   beautiful colors: there are many things seen, in some respect, to be
   common to both; both love, both desire, and both delight; but the love
   and desire, and delight of the one, is altogether diverse from that of
   the other. The difference between the love of a natural man and a
   spiritual man is like to this; but only it must be observed, that in
   one respect it is vastly greater, viz., that the kinds of excellency
   which are perceived in spiritual objects, by these different kinds of
   persons, are in themselves vastly more diverse than the different kinds
   of excellency perceived in delicious fruit, by a tasting and a
   tasteless man; and in another respect it may not be so great, viz., as
   the spiritual man may have a spiritual sense or taste, to perceive that
   divine and most peculiar excellency but in small beginnings, and in a
   very imperfect degree.

   2. On the other hand, it must be observed that a natural man may have
   those religious apprehensions and affections, which may be in many
   respects very new and surprising to him, and what before he did not
   conceive of; and yet what he experiences be nothing like the exercises
   of a principle of new nature, or the sensations of a new spiritual
   sense; his affections may be very new, by extraordinarily moving
   natural principles in a very new degree, and with a great many new
   circumstances, and a new co-operation of natural affections, and a new
   composition of ideas; this may be from some extraordinary powerful
   influence of Satan, and some great delusion; but there is nothing but
   nature extraordinarily acted. As if a poor man that had always dwelt in
   a cottage and, had never looked beyond the obscure village where he was
   born, should in a jest be taken to a magnificent city and prince's
   court, and there arrayed in princely robes, and set on the throne, with
   the crown royal on his head, peers and nobles bowing before him, and
   should be made to believe that he was now a glorious monarch; the ideas
   he would have, and the affections he would experience, would in many
   respects be very new, and such as he had no imagination of before; but
   all this is no more than extraordinarily raising and exciting natural
   principles, and newly exalting, varying, and compounding such sort of
   ideas, as he has by nature; here is nothing like giving him a new

   Upon the whole, I think it is clearly manifest, that all truly gracious
   affections do arise from special and peculiar influences of the Spirit,
   working that sensible effect or sensation in the souls of the saints,
   which are entirely different from all that is possible a natural man
   should experience, not only different in degree and circumstances, but
   different in its whole nature; so that a natural man not only cannot
   experience that which is individually the same, but cannot experience
   anything but what is exceeding diverse, and immensely below it, in its
   kind; and that which the power of men or devils is not sufficient to
   produce the like of, or anything of the same nature.

   I have insisted largely on this matter, because it is of great
   importance and use evidently to discover and demonstrate the delusions
   of Satan, in many kinds of false religious affections, which multitudes
   are deluded by, and probably have been in all ages of the Christian
   church; and to settle and determine many articles of doctrine,
   concerning the operations of the Spirit of God, and the nature of true

   Now, therefore, to apply these things to the purpose of this discourse.

   From hence it appears, that impressions which some have made on their
   imagination, or the imaginary ideas which they have of God or Christ,
   or heaven, or anything appertaining to religion, have nothing in them
   that is spiritual, or of the nature of true grace. Though such things
   may attend what is spiritual, and be mixed with it, yet in themselves
   they have nothing that is spiritual, nor are they any part of gracious

   Here, for the sake of common people, I will explain what is intended by
   impressions on the imagination and imaginary ideas. The imagination is
   that power of the mind whereby it can have a conception, or idea of
   things of an external or outward nature (that is, of such sort of
   things as are the objects of the outward senses) when those things are
   not present, and be not perceived by the senses. It is called
   imagination from the word image; because thereby a person can have an
   image of some external thing in his mind, when that thing is not
   present in reality, nor anything like it. All such things as we
   perceive by our five external senses, seeing, hearing, smelling,
   tasting, and feeling, are external things: and when a person has an
   idea or image of any of these sorts of things in his mind, when they
   are not there, and when he does not really see, hear, smell, taste, nor
   feel them; that is to have an imagination of them, and these ideas are
   imaginary ideas: and when such kinds of ideas are strongly impressed
   upon the mind, and the image of them in the mind is very lively, almost
   as if one saw them, or heard them, &c., that is called an impression on
   the imagination. Thus colors and shapes, and a form of countenance,
   they are outward things; because they are that sort of things which are
   the objects of the outward sense of seeing; and therefore when any
   person has in his mind a lively idea of any shape, or color, or form of
   countenance; that is to have an imagination of those things. So if he
   has an idea, of such sort of light or darkness, as he perceives by the
   sense of seeing; that is to have an idea of outward light, and so is an
   imagination. So if he has an idea of any marks made on paper, suppose
   letters and words written in a book; that is to have an external and
   imaginary idea of such kind of things as we sometimes perceive by our
   bodily eyes. And when we have the ideas of that kind of things which we
   perceive by any of the other senses, as of any sounds or voices, or
   words spoken; this is only to have ideas of outward things, viz., of
   such kind of things as are perceived by the external sense of hearing,
   and so that also is imagination: and when these ideas are livelily
   impressed, almost as if they were really heard with the ears, this is
   to have an impression on the imagination. And so I might go on, and
   instance in the ideas of things appertaining to the other three senses
   of smelling, tasting, and feeling.

   Many who have had such things have very ignorantly supposed them to be
   of the nature of spiritual discoveries. They have had lively ideas of
   some external shape, and beautiful form of countenance; and this they
   call spiritually seeing Christ. Some have had impressed upon them ideas
   of a great outward light; and this they call a spiritual discovery of
   God's or Christ's glory. Some have had ideas of Christ's hanging on the
   cross, and his blood running from his wounds; and this they call a
   spiritual sight of Christ crucified, and the way of salvation by his
   blood. Some have seen him with his arms open ready to embrace them; and
   this they call a discovery of the sufficiency of Christ's grace and
   love. Some have had lively ideas of heaven, and of Christ on his throne
   there, and shining ranks of saints and angels; and this they call
   seeing heaven opened to them. Some from time to time have had a lively
   idea of a person of a beautiful countenance smiling upon them; and this
   they call a spiritual discovery of the love of Christ to their souls,
   and tasting the love of Christ. And they look upon it a sufficient
   evidence that these things are spiritual discoveries, and that they see
   them spiritually because they say they do not see these things with
   their bodily eyes, but in their hearts; for they can see them when
   their eyes are shut. And in like manner, the imaginations of some have
   been impressed with ideas of the sense of hearing; they have had ideas
   of words, as if they were sunken to them, sometimes they are the words
   of Scripture, and sometimes other words: they have had ideas of
   Christ's speaking comfortable words to them. These things they have
   called having the inward call of Christ, hearing the voice of Christ
   spiritually in their hearts, having the witness of the Spirit, and the
   inward testimony of the love of Christ, &c.

   The common and less considerate and understanding sort of people, are
   the more easily led into apprehensions that these things are spiritual
   things, because spiritual things being invisible, and not things that
   can be pointed forth with the finger, we are forced to use figurative
   expressions in speaking of them, and to borrow names from external and
   sensible objects to signify them by. Thus we call a clear apprehension
   of things spiritual by the name of light; and a having such an
   apprehension of such or such things, by the name of seeing such things;
   and the conviction of the judgment, and the persuasion of the will by
   the word of Christ in the gospel, we signify by spiritually hearing the
   call of Christ: and the scripture itself abounds with such like
   figurative expressions. Persons hearing these often used, and having
   pressed upon them the necessity of having their eyes opened, and having
   a discovery of spiritual things, and seeing Christ in his glory and
   having the inward call, and the like, they ignorantly look and wait for
   some such external discoveries, and imaginary views as have been spoken
   of; and when they have them are confident, that now their eyes are
   opened, now Christ has discovered himself to them, and they are his
   children; and hence are exceedingly affected and elevated with their
   deliverance and happiness, and many kinds of affections are at once set
   in a violent motion in them.

   But it is exceedingly apparent that such ideas have nothing in them
   which is spiritual and divine, in the sense wherein it has been
   demonstrated that all gracious experiences are spiritual and divine.
   These external ideas are in no wise of such a sort, that they are
   entirely, and in their whole nature diverse from all that men have by
   nature, perfectly different from, and vastly above any sensation which
   it is possible a man should have by any natural sense or principle, so
   that in order to have them, a man must have a new spiritual and divine
   sense given him, in order to have any sensations of that sort: so far
   from this, that they are ideas of the same sort which we have by the
   external senses, that are some of the inferior powers of the human
   nature: they are merely ideas of external objects, or ideas of that
   nature, of the same outward, sensitive kind: the same sort of
   sensations of mind (differing not in degree, but only in circumstances)
   that we have by those natural principles which are common to us with
   the beasts, viz., the five external senses. This is a low, miserable
   notion of spiritual sense, to suppose that it is only a conceiving or
   imagining that sort of ideas which we have by our animal senses, which
   senses the beasts have in as great perfection as we; it is, as it were,
   a turning Christ, or the divine nature in the soul, into a mere animal.
   There is nothing wanting in the soul, as it is by nature, to render it
   capable of being the subject of all these external ideas, without any
   new principles. A natural man is capable of having an idea, and a
   lively idea of shapes, and colors, and sounds, when they are absent,
   and as capable as a regenerate man is: so there is nothing supernatural
   in them. And it is known by abundant experience, that it is not the
   advancing or perfecting human nature, which makes persons more capable
   of having such lively and strong imaginary ideas, but that on the
   contrary, the weakness of body and mind, and distempers of body, make
   persons abundantly more susceptive of such impressions. [37]

   As to a truly spiritual sensation, not only is the manner of its coming
   into the mind extraordinary, but the sensation itself is totally
   diverse from all that men have, or can have, in a state of nature, as
   has been shown. But as to these external ideas, though the way of their
   coming into the mind is sometimes unusual, yet the ideas in themselves
   are not the better for that; they are still of no different sort from
   what men have by their senses; they are of no higher kind, nor a whit
   better. For instance, the external idea a man has now of Christ hanging
   on the cross, and shedding his blood, is no better in itself, than the
   external idea that the Jews his enemies had, who stood round his cross,
   and saw this with their bodily eyes. The imaginary idea which men have
   now of an external brightness and glory of God, is no better than the
   idea the wicked congregation in the wilderness had of the external
   glory of the Lord at Mount Sinai, when they saw it with their bodily
   eyes; or any better than that idea which millions of cursed reprobates
   will have of the external glory of Christ at the day of judgment, who
   shall see, and have a very lively idea of ten thousand times greater
   external glory of Christ, than ever yet was conceived in any man's
   imagination: [38] yea, the image of Christ, which men conceive in their
   imaginations, is not in its own nature of any superior kind to the idea
   the Papists conceive of Christ, by the beautiful and affecting images
   of him which they see in their churches (though the way of their
   receiving the idea may not be so bad); nor are the affections they
   have, if built primarily on such imaginations, any better than the
   affections raised in the ignorant people, by the sight of those images,
   which oftentimes are very great; especially when these images, through
   the craft of the priests, are made to move, and speak, and weep, and
   the like. [39] Merely the way of persons receiving these imaginary
   ideas, does not alter the nature of the ideas themselves that are
   received; let them be received in what way they will, they are still
   but external ideas, or ideas of outward appearances, and so are not
   spiritual. Yea, if men should actually receive such external ideas by
   the immediate power of the most high God upon their minds, they would
   not be spiritual, they would be no more than a common work of the
   Spirit of God; as is evident in fact, in the instance of Balaam, who
   had impressed on his mind, by God himself, a clear and lively outward
   representation or idea of Jesus Christ, as "the Star rising out of
   Jacob, when he heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the
   Most High, and saw the vision of the Almighty, failing into a trance,"
   Numb. 24:16, 17, but yet had no manner of spiritual discovery of
   Christ; that Day Star never spiritually rose in his heart, he being but
   a natural man.

   And as these external ideas have nothing divine or spiritual in their
   nature and nothing but what natural men, without any new principles,
   are capable of; so there is nothing in their nature which requires that
   peculiar, inimitable and unparalleled exercise of the glorious power of
   God, in order to their production, which it has been shown there is in
   the production of true grace. There appears to be nothing in their
   nature above the power of the devil. It is certainly not above the
   power of Satan to suggest thoughts to men; because otherwise he could
   not tempt them to sin. And if he can suggest any thoughts or ideas at
   all, doubtless imaginary ones, or ideas of things external, are not
   above his power; [40] for the external ideas men have are the lowest
   sort of ideas. These ideas may be raised only by impressions made on
   the body, by moving the animal spirits, and impressing the
   brain.--Abundant experience does certainly show, that alterations in
   the body will excite imaginary or external ideas in the mind; as often,
   in the case of a high fever, melancholy, &c. These external ideas are
   as much below the more intellectual exercises of the soul, as the body
   is a less noble part of man than the soul.

   And there is not only nothing in the nature of these external ideas or
   imaginations of outward appearances, from whence we can infer that they
   are above the power of the devil; but it is certain also that the devil
   can excite, and often hath excited such ideas. They were external ideas
   which he excited in the dreams and visions of the false prophets of
   old, who were under the influence of lying spirits, that we often read
   of in Scripture, as Deut. 13:1., 1 Kings 22:22, Isa. 33:7, Ezek. 13:7.
   And they were external ideas that he often excited in the minds of the
   heathen priests, magicians and sorcerers, in their visions and
   ecstasies, and they were external ideas that he excited in the mind of
   the man Christ Jesus, when he showed him all the kingdoms of the world,
   with the glory of them, when those kingdoms were not really in sight.

   And if Satan or any created being, has power to impress the mind with
   outward representations, then no particular sort of outward
   representations can be any evidence of a divine power. Almighty power
   is no more requisite to represent the shape of man to the imagination,
   than the shape of anything else: there is no higher kind of power
   necessary to form in the brain one bodily shape or color than another:
   it needs a no more glorious power to represent the form of the body of
   a man, than the form of a chip or block; though it be of a very
   beautiful human body, with a sweet smile in his countenance, or arms
   open, or blood running from the hands, feet and side: that sort of
   power which can represent black or darkness to the imagination, can
   also represent white and shining brightness: the power and skill which
   can well and exactly paint a straw, or a stick of wood, on a piece of
   paper or canvass; the same in kind, only perhaps further improved, will
   be sufficient to paint the body of a man, with great beauty and in
   royal majesty, or a magnificent city, paved with gold, full of
   brightness, and a glorious throne, &c. So it is no more than the same
   sort of power that is requisite to paint one as the other of these on
   the brain. The same sort of power that can put ink upon paper, can put
   on leaf gold. So that it is evident to a demonstration, if we suppose
   it to be in the devil's power to make any sort of external
   representation at all on the fancy (as without doubt it is, and never
   anyone questioned it who believed there was a devil, that had any
   agency with mankind): I say, if so, it is demonstrably evident, that a
   created power may extend to all kinds of external appearances and ideas
   in the mind. From hence it again clearly appears, that no such things
   have anything in them that is spiritual, supernatural, and divine, in
   the sense in which it has been proved that all truly gracious
   experiences have. And though external ideas, through man's make and
   frame, do ordinarily in some degree attend spiritual experiences, yet
   these ideas are no part of their spiritual experience, any more than
   the motion of the blood, and beating of the pulse, that attend
   experiences, are a part of spiritual experience. And though
   undoubtedly, through men's infirmity in the present state, and
   especially through the weak constitution of some persons, gracious
   affections which are very strong, do excite lively ideas in the
   imagination; yet it is also undoubted, that when persons' affections
   are founded on imaginations, which is often the case, those affections
   are merely natural and common, because they are built on a foundation
   that is not spiritual; and so are entirely different from gracious
   affections, which, as has been proved, do evermore arise from those
   operations that are spiritual and divine.

   These imaginations do oftentimes raise the carnal affections of men to
   an exceeding great height: [41] and no wonder, when the subjects of
   them have an ignorant, but undoubting persuasion, that they are divine
   manifestations, which the great Jehovah immediately makes to their
   souls, therein giving them testimonies in an extraordinary manner, of
   his high and peculiar favor.

   Again, it is evident from what has been observed and proved of the
   manner in which gracious operations and effects in the heart are
   spiritual, supernatural and divine, that the immediate suggesting of
   the words of Scripture to the mind has nothing in it which is

   I have had occasion to say something of this already; and what has been
   said may be sufficient to evince it; but if the reader bears in mind
   what has been said concerning the nature of spiritual influences and
   effects, it will be more abundantly manifest that this is no spiritual
   effect. For I suppose there is no person of common understanding, who
   will say or imagine that the bringing words (let them be what words
   they will) to the mind is an effect of that nature which it is
   impossible the mind of a natural man, while he remains in a state of
   nature, should be the subject of, or anything like it; or that it
   requires any new divine sense in the soul; or that the bringing sounds
   or letters to the mind, is an effect of so high, holy, and excellent a
   nature, that it is impossible any created power should be the cause of

   As the suggesting words of Scripture to the mind, is only the exciting
   in the mind ideas of certain sounds or letters; so it is only one way
   of exciting ideas in the imagination; for sounds and letters are
   external things, that are the objects of the external senses of seeing
   and hearing. Ideas of certain marks upon paper, such as any of the
   twenty-four letters, in whatever order, or any sounds of the voice, are
   as much external ideas, as of any other shapes or sounds whatsoever;
   and therefore, by what has been already said concerning these external
   ideas, it is evident they are nothing spiritual; and if at any time the
   Spirit of God suggests these letters or sounds to the mind, this is a
   common, and not any special or gracious influence of that Spirit. And
   therefore it follows from what has been already proved, that those
   affections which have this effect for their foundation, are no
   spiritual or gracious affections. But let it be observed what it is
   that I say, viz., when this effect, even the immediate and
   extraordinary manner of words of Scripture's coming to the mind, is
   that which excites the affections, and is properly the foundation of
   them, then these affections are not spiritual. It may be so, that
   persons may have gracious affections going with Scriptures which come
   to their minds, and the Spirit of God may make use of those Scriptures
   to excite them; when it is some spiritual sense, taste or relish they
   have of the divine and excellent things contained in those Scriptures,
   that is the thing which excites their affections, and not the
   extraordinary and sudden manner of words being brought to their minds.
   They are affected with the instruction they receive from the words, and
   the view of the glorious things of God or Christ, and things
   appertaining to them, that they contain and teach; and not because the
   words came suddenly, as though some person had spoken them to them,
   thence concluding that God did as it were immediately speak to them.
   Persons oftentimes are exceedingly affected on this foundation; the
   words of some great and high promises of Scripture came suddenly to
   their minds, and they look upon the words as directed immediately by
   God to them, as though the words that moment proceeded out of the mouth
   of God as spoken to them: so that they take it as a voice from God,
   immediately revealing to them their happy circumstances, and promising
   such and such great things to them: and this it is that effects and
   elevates them. There is no near spiritual understanding of the divine
   things contained in the Scripture, or new spiritual sense of the
   glorious things taught in that part of the Bible going before their
   affection, and being the foundation of it. All the new understanding
   they leave, or think they have, to be the foundation of their
   affection, is this, that the words are spoken to them, because they
   come so suddenly and extraordinarily. And so this affection is built
   wholly on the sand! Because it is built on a conclusion for which they
   have no foundation. For, as has been shown, the sudden coming of the
   words to their minds, is no evidence that the bringing them to their
   minds in that manner was from God. And if it was true that God brought
   the words to their minds, and they certainly knew it, that would not be
   spiritual knowledge; it may be without any spiritual sense: Balaam
   might know that the words which God suggested to him, were indeed
   suggested to him by God, and yet have no spiritual knowledge. So that
   these affections which are built on that notion, that texts of
   Scripture are sent immediately from God, are built on no spiritual
   foundation, and are vain and delusive. Persons who have their
   affections thus raised, if they should be inquired of, whether they
   have a new sense of the excellency of things contained in those
   Scriptures, would probably say, Yes, without hesitation: but it is true
   no otherwise than thus, that then they have taken up that notion, that
   the words are spoken immediately to them, that makes them seem sweet to
   them, and they own the things which these Scriptures say to them, for
   excellent things and wonderful things. As for instance supposing these
   were the words which were suddenly brought to their minds, Fear not, it
   is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom; they having
   confidently taken up a notion that the words were as it were
   immediately spoken from heaven to them, as an immediate revelation that
   God was their Father, and had given the kingdom to them, they are
   greatly affected by it, and the words seem sweet to them; and oh, they
   say, "they are excellent things that are contained in those words!" But
   the reason why the promise seems excellent to them, is only because
   they think it is made to them immediately; all the sense they have of
   any glory in them, is only from self-love, and from their own imagined
   interest in the words; not that they had any view or sense of the holy
   and glorious nature of the kingdom of heaven and the spiritual glory of
   that God who gives it, and of his excellent grace to sinful men, it
   offering and giving them this kingdom, of his own good pleasure
   preceding their imagined interest in these things, and their being
   affected by them, and being the foundation of their affection, and hope
   of an interest in them. On the contrary, they first imagine they are
   interested, and then are highly affected with that, and then can own
   these things to be excellent. So that the sudden and extraordinary way
   of the Scripture's coming to their mind is plainly the first foundation
   of the whole; which is a clear evidence of the wretched delusion they
   are under.

   The first comfort of many persons, and what they call their conversion,
   is after this manner: after awakening and terror, some comfortable
   sweet promise comes suddenly and wonderfully to their minds; and the
   manner of its coming makes them conclude it comes from God to them; and
   this is the very thing that is all the foundation of their faith, and
   hope, and comfort: from hence they take their first encouragement to
   trust in God and in Christ, because they think that God, by some
   Scripture so brought, has now already revealed to them that he loves
   them, and has already promised them eternal life, which is very absurd;
   for every one of common knowledge of the principles of religion, knows
   that it is God's manner to reveal his love to men, and their interest
   in the promises, after they have believed, and not before, because they
   must first believe before they have any interest in the promises to be
   revealed. The Spirit of God is a Spirit of truth and not of lies: he
   does not bring Scriptures to men's minds, to reveal to them that they
   have an interest in God's favor and promises, when they have none,
   having not yet believed: which would be the case, if God's bringing
   texts of Scripture to men's minds, to reveal to them that their sins
   were forgiven, or that it was God's pleasure to give them the kingdom,
   or anything of that nature, went before, and was the foundation of
   their first faith. No promise of the covenant of grace belongs to any
   man, until he has first believed in Christ; for it is by faith alone
   that we become interested in Christ, and the promises of the new
   covenant made in him: and therefore whatever spirit applies the
   promises of that covenant to a person who has not first believed, as
   being already his, must be a lying spirit, and that faith which is
   first built on such an application of promises is built upon a lie.
   God's manner is not to bring comfortable texts of Scripture to give men
   assurance of his love, and that they shall be happy, before they have
   had a faith of dependence. [42] And if the Scripture which comes to a
   person's mind, be not so properly a promise, as an invitation; yet if
   he makes the sudden or unusual manner of the invitations coming to his
   mind, the ground on which he believes that he is invited, it is not
   true faith; because it is built on that which is not the true ground of
   faith. True faith is built on no precarious foundation: but a
   determination that the words of such a particular text were, by the
   immediate power of God, suggested to the mind, at such a time, as
   though then spoken and directed by God to him, because the words came
   after such a manner, is wholly an uncertain and precarious
   determination, as has been now shown; and therefore is a false and
   sandy foundation for faith; and accordingly that faith which is built
   upon it is false. The only certain foundation which any person has to
   believe that he is invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel,
   is, that the word of God declares that persons so qualified as he is,
   are invited, and God who declares it, is true, and cannot lie. If a
   sinner be once convinced of the veracity of God, and that the
   Scriptures are his word, he will need no more to convince and satisfy
   him that he is invited; for the Scriptures are full of invitations to
   sinners, to the chief of sinners, to come and partake of the benefits
   of the gospel; he will not want any never speaking of God to him; what
   he hath spoken already will be enough with him.

   As the first comfort of many persons, and their affections at the time
   of their supposed conversion, are built on such grounds as these which
   have been mentioned; so are their joys and hopes and other affections,
   from time to time afterwards. They have often particular words of
   Scripture, sweet declarations and promises suggested to them, which by
   reason of the manner of their coming, they think are immediately sent
   from God to them, at that time, which they look upon as their warrant
   to take them, and which they actually make the main ground of their
   appropriating them to themselves, and of the comfort they take in them,
   and the confidence they receive from them. Thus they imagine a kind of
   conversation is carried on between God and them; and that God, from
   time to time, does, as it were, immediately speak to them, and satisfy
   their doubts, and testifies his love to them, and promises them
   supports and supplies, and his blessing in such and such cases, and
   reveals to them clearly their interest in eternal blessings. And thus
   they are often elevated, and have a course of a sudden and tumultuous
   kind of joys, mingled with a strong confidence, and high opinion of
   themselves; when indeed the main ground of these joys, and this
   confidence, is not anything contained in, or taught by these
   Scriptures, as they lie in the Bible, but the manner of their coming to
   them; which is a certain evidence of their delusion. There is no
   particular promise in the word of God that is the saint's, or is any
   otherwise made to him, or spoken to him, than all the promises of the
   covenant of grace are his, and are made to him and spoken to him; [43]
   though it be true that some of these promises may be more peculiarly
   adapted to his case than others, and God by his Spirit may enable him
   better to understand some than others, and to have a greater sense of
   the preciousness, and glory, and suitableness of the blessings
   contained in them.

   But here some may be ready to say, What, is there no such thing as any
   particular spiritual application of the promises of Scripture by the
   Spirit of God? I answer, there is doubtless such a thing as a spiritual
   and saving application of the invitations and promises of Scripture to
   the souls of men; but it is also certain, that the nature of it is
   wholly misunderstood by many persons, to the great ensnaring of their
   own souls, and the giving Satan a vast advantage against them, and
   against the interest of religion, and the church of God. The spiritual
   application of a Scripture promise does not consist in its being
   immediately suggested to the thoughts by some extrinsic agent, and
   being borne into the mind with this strong apprehension, that it is
   particularly spoken and directed to them at that time; there is nothing
   of the evidence of the hand of God in this effect, as events have
   proved, in many notorious instances; and it is a mean notion of a
   spiritual application of Scripture; there is nothing in the nature of
   it at all beyond the power of the devil, if he be not restrained by
   God; for there is nothing in the nature of the effect that is
   spiritual, implying any vital communication of God. A truly spiritual
   application of the word of God is of a vastly higher nature; as much
   above the devil's power, as it is, so to apply the word of God to a
   dead corpse, as to raise it to life; or to a stone, to turn it into an
   angel. A spiritual application of the word of God consists in applying
   it to the heart, in spiritually enlightening, sanctifying influences. A
   spiritual application of an invitation or offer of the gospel consists,
   in giving the soul a spiritual sense or relish of the holy and divine
   blessings offered, and the sweet and wonderful grace of the offerer, in
   making so gracious an offer, and of his holy excellency and
   faithfulness to fulfill what he offers, and his glorious sufficiency
   for it; so leading and drawing forth the heart to embrace the offer;
   and thus giving the man evidence of his title to the thing offered. And
   so a spiritual application of the promises of Scripture, for the
   comfort of the saints, consists in enlightening their minds to see the
   holy excellency and sweetness of the blessings promised, and also the
   holy excellency of the promiser, and his faithfulness and sufficiency;
   thus drawing forth their hearts to embrace the promiser, and thing
   promised; and by this means, giving the sensible actings of grace,
   enabling them to see their grace, and so their title to the promise. An
   application not consisting in this divine sense and enlightening of the
   mind, but consisting only in the word's being borne into the thoughts,
   as if immediately then spoken, so making persons believe, on no other
   foundation, that the promise is theirs, is a blind application, and
   belongs to the spirit of darkness, and not of light.

   When persons have their affections raised after this manner, those
   affections are really not raised by the word of God; the Scripture is
   not the foundation of them; it is not anything contained in those
   Scriptures which come to their minds, that raise their affections; but
   truly that effect, viz., the strange manner of the word's being
   suggested to their minds, and a proposition from thence taken up by
   them, which indeed is not contained in that Scripture, nor any other;
   as that his sins are forgiven him, or that it is the Father's good
   pleasure to give him in particular the kingdom, or the like. There are
   propositions to be found in the Bible, declaring that persons of such
   and such qualifications are forgiven and beloved of God: but there are
   no propositions to be found in the Bible declaring that such and such
   particular persons, independent on any previous knowledge of any
   qualifications, are forgiven and beloved of God: and therefore, when
   any person is comforted, and affected by any such proposition, it is by
   another word, a word newly coined, and not any word of God contained in
   the Bible. [44] And thus many persons are vainly affected and deluded.

   Again, it plainly appears from what has been demonstrated, that no
   revelation of secret facts by immediate suggestion, is anything
   spiritual and divine, in that sense wherein gracious effects and
   operations are so.

   By secret facts, I mean things that have been done, or are come to
   pass, or shall hereafter come to pass, which are secret in that sense
   that they do not appear to the senses, nor are known by any
   argumentation, or any evidence to reason, nor any other way, but only
   by that revelation by immediate suggestion of the ideas of them to the
   mind. Thus for instance, if it should be revealed to me, that the next
   year this land would be invaded by a fleet from France, or that such
   and such persons would then be converted, or that I myself should then
   be converted; not by enabling me to argue out these events from
   anything which now appears in providence, but immediately suggesting
   and bearing in upon my mind, in an extraordinary manner, the
   apprehension or ideas of these facts, with a strong suggestion or
   impression on my mind, that I had no hand in myself, that these things
   would come to pass: or if it should be revealed to me, that this day
   there is a battle fought between the armies of such and such powers in
   Europe; or that such a prince in Europe was this day converted, or is
   now in a converted state, having been converted formerly, or that one
   of my neighbors is converted, or that I myself am converted; not by
   having any other evidence of any of these facts, from whence I argue
   them, but an immediate extraordinary suggestion or excitation of these
   ideas, and a strong impression of them upon my mind: this is a
   revelation of secret facts by immediate suggestion, as much as if the
   facts were future; for the facts being past, present, or future, alters
   not the case, as long as they are secret and hidden from my senses and
   reason, and not spoken of in Scripture, nor known by me any other way
   than by immediate suggestion. If I have it revealed to me, that such a
   revolution is come to pass this day in the Ottoman Empire, it is the
   very same sort of revelation, as if it were revealed to me that such a
   revolution would come to pass there this day come twelvemonth; because,
   though one is present and the other future, yet both are equally hidden
   from me, any other way than by immediate revelation. When Samuel told
   Saul that the asses which he went to seek were found, and that his
   father had left caring for the asses and sorrowed for him; this was by
   the same kind of revelation, as that by which he told Saul, that in the
   plain of Tabor there should meet him three men going up to God to
   Bethel (1 Sam. 10:2, 3), though one of these things was future, and the
   other was not. So when Elisha told the king of Israel the words that
   the king of Syria spake in his bed-chamber, it was by the same kind of
   revelation with that by which he foretold many things to come.

   It is evident that this revelation of secret facts by immediate
   suggestions, has nothing of the nature of a spiritual and divine
   operation, in the sense forementioned; there is nothing at all in the
   nature of the perceptions or ideas themselves, which are excited in the
   mind, that is divinely excellent, and so, far above all the ideas of
   natural men; though the manner of exciting the ideas be extraordinary.
   In those things which are spiritual, as has been shown, not only the
   manner of producing the effect, but the effect wrought is divine, and
   so vastly above all that can be in an unsanctified mind. Now simply the
   having an idea of facts, setting aside the manner of producing those
   ideas, is nothing beyond what the minds of wicked men are susceptible
   of, without any goodness in them; and they all, either have or will
   have, the knowledge of the truth of the greatest and most important
   facts, that have been, are, or shall be.

   And as to the extraordinary manner of producing the ideas or perception
   of facts, even by immediate suggestion, there is nothing in it, but
   what the minds of natural men, while they are yet natural men, are
   capable of, as is manifest in Balaam, and others spoken of in the
   Scripture. And therefore it appears that there is nothing appertaining
   to this immediate suggestion of secret facts that is spiritual, in the
   sense in which it has been proved that gracious operations are so. If
   there be nothing in the ideas themselves, which is holy and divine, and
   so nothing but what may be in a mind not sanctified, then God can put
   them into the mind by immediate power without sanctifying it. As there
   is nothing in the idea of a rainbow itself that is of a holy and divine
   nature; so that nothing hinders but that an unsanctified mind may
   receive that idea; so God, if he pleases, and when he pleases,
   immediately, and in an extraordinary manner, may excite that idea in an
   unsanctified mind. So also, as there is nothing in the idea or
   knowledge that such and such particular persons are forgiven and
   accepted of God, and entitled to heaven, but what unsanctified minds
   may have and will have concerning many at the day of judgment; so God
   can, if he pleases, extraordinarily and immediately, suggest this to,
   and impress it upon an unsanctified mind now: there is no principle
   wanting in an unsanctified mind, to make it capable of such a
   suggestion or impression, nor is there anything in it to exclude, or
   necessarily to prevent such a suggestion.

   And if these suggestions of secret facts be attended with texts of
   Scripture, immediately and extraordinarily brought to mind, about some
   other facts that seem in some respects similar, that does not make the
   operation to be of a spiritual and divine nature. For that suggestion
   of words of Scripture is no more divine, than the suggestion of the
   facts themselves; as has been just now demonstrated: and two effects
   together, which are neither of them spiritual cannot make up one
   complex effect, that is spiritual.

   Hence it follows, from what has been already shown, and often repeated,
   that those affections which are properly founded on such immediate
   suggestions, or supposed suggestions, of secret facts, are not gracious
   affections. Not but that it is possible that such suggestions may be
   the occasion, or accidental cause of gracious affections; for so may a
   mistake and delusion; but it is never properly the foundation of
   gracious affections: for gracious affections, as has been shown, are
   all the effects of an influence and operation which is spiritual,
   supernatural, and divine. But there are many affections, and high
   affections, which some have, that have such kind of suggestions or
   revelations for their very foundation: they look upon these as
   spiritual discoveries, which is a gross delusion, and this delusion is
   truly the spring whence their affections flow.

   Here it may be proper to observe, that it is exceedingly manifest from
   what has been said, that what many persons call the witness of the
   Spirit, that they are the children of God, has nothing in it spiritual
   and divine; and consequently that the affections built upon it are vain
   and delusive. That which many call the witness of the Spirit, is no
   other than an immediate suggestion and impression of that fact,
   otherwise secret, that they are converted, or made the children of God,
   and so that their sins are pardoned, and that God has given them a
   title to heaven. This kind of knowledge, viz., knowing that a certain
   person is converted, and delivered from hell, and entitled to heaven,
   is no divine sort of knowledge in itself. This sort of fact, is not
   that which requires any higher or more divine kind of suggestion, in
   order to impress it on the mind, than any other fact which Balaam had
   impressed on his mind. It requires no higher sort of idea or sensation,
   for a man to have the apprehension of his own conversion impressed upon
   him, than to have the apprehension of his neighbor's conversion, in
   like manner impressed: but God, if he pleased, might impress the
   knowledge of this fact, that he had forgiven his neighbor's sins, and
   given him a title to heaven, as well as any other fact, without any
   communication of his holiness: the excellency and importance of the
   fact, do not at all hinder a natural man's mind being susceptible of an
   immediate suggestion and impression of it. Balaam had as excellent, and
   important, and glorious facts as this, immediately impressed on his
   mind, without any gracious influence; as particularly, the coming of
   Christ, and his setting up his glorious kingdom, and the blessedness of
   the spiritual Israel in his peculiar favor, and their happiness living
   and dying. Yea, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, had God's special
   favor to a particular person, even Abraham, revealed to him, Gen. 20:6,
   7. So it seems that he revealed to Laban his special favor to Jacob,
   see Gen. 31:24, and Psal. 105:15. And if a truly good man should have
   an immediate revelation or suggestion from God, after the like manned
   concerning his favor to his neighbor or himself; it would be no higher
   kind of influence; it would be no more than a common sort of influence
   of God's Spirit; as the gift of prophecy, and all revelation by
   immediate suggestion is; see 1 Cor. 13:2. And though it be true, that
   it is not possible that a natural man should have that individual
   suggestion from the Spirit of God, that he is converted, because it is
   not true; yet that does not arise from the nature of the influence, or
   because that kind of influence which suggests such excellent facts, is
   too high for him to be the subject of; but purely from the defect of a
   fact to be revealed. The influence which immediately suggests this
   fact, when it is true, is of no different kind from that which
   immediately suggests other true facts: and so the kind and nature of
   the influence is not above what is common to natural men, with good

   But this is a mean, ignoble notion of the witness of the Spirit of God
   given to his dear children, to suppose that there is nothing in the
   kind and nature of that influence of the Spirit of God, in imparting
   this high and glorious benefit, but what is common to natural men, or
   which men are capable of, and be in the mean time altogether
   unsanctified and the children of hell; and that therefore the benefit
   or gift itself has nothing of the holy nature of the Spirit of God in
   it, nothing of a vital communication of that Spirit. This notion
   greatly debases that high and most exalted kind of influence and
   operation of the Spirit, which there is in the true witness of the
   Spirit. [45] That which is called the witness of the Spirit, Rom. 8, is
   elsewhere in the New Testament called the seal of the Spirit, 2 Cor.
   1:22, Eph. 1:13, and 4:13, alluding to the seal of princes, annexed to
   the instrument, by which they advanced any of their subjects to some
   high honor and dignity, or peculiar privilege in the kingdom, as a
   token of their special favor. Which is an evidence that the influence
   of the Spirit, of the Prince of princes, in sealing his favorites, is
   far from being of a common kind; and that there is no effect of God's
   Spirit whatsoever, which is in its nature more divine; nothing more
   holy, peculiar, inimitable and distinguishing of divinity: as nothing
   is more royal than the royal seal; nothing more sacred, that belongs to
   a prince, and more peculiarly denoting what belongs to him; it being
   the very end and design of it, to be the most peculiar stamp and
   confirmation of the royal authority, and great note of distinction,
   whereby that which proceeds from the king, or belongs to him, may be
   known from everything else. And therefore undoubtedly the seal of the
   great King of heaven and earth enstamped on the heart, is something
   high and holy in its own nature, some excellent communication from the
   infinite fountain of divine beauty and glory; and not merely a making
   known a secret fact by revelation or suggestion; which is a sort of
   influence of the Spirit of God, that the children of the devil have
   often been the subjects of. The seal of the Spirit is a kind of effect
   of the Spirit of God on the heart, which natural men, while such, are
   so far from a capacity of being the subjects of; that they can have no
   manner of notion or idea of it, agreeable to Rev. 2:17: "To him that
   overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him
   a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man
   knoweth, saving he that receiveth it." There is all reason to suppose
   that what is here spoken of, is the same mark, evidence, or blessed
   token of special favor, which is elsewhere called the seal of the

   What has misled many in their notion of that influence of the Spirit of
   God we are speaking of, is the word witness, its being called the
   witness of the Spirit. Hence they have taken it, not to be any effect
   or work of the Spirit upon the heart, giving evidence, from whence men
   may argue that they are the children of God; but an inward immediate
   suggestion, as though God inwardly spoke to the man, and testified to
   him, and told him that he was his child, by a kind of a secret voice,
   or impression: not observing the manner in which the word witness, or
   testimony, is often used in the New Testament, where such terms often
   signify, not only a mere declaring and asserting a thing to be true,
   but holding forth evidence from whence a thing may be argued, and
   proved to be true. Thus Heb. 2:4, God is said to "bear witness, with
   signs and wonders and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost."
   Now these miracles, here spoken of, are called God's witness, not
   because they are of the nature of assertions, but evidences and proofs.
   So Acts 14:3: "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the
   Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted
   signs and wonders to be done by their hands." And John 5:36: "But I
   have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father
   hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me,
   that the Father hath sent of me." Again, chap. 10:25: "The works that I
   do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me." So the water and the
   blood are said to bear witness, 1 John 5:8, not that they spoke or
   asserted anything, but they were proofs and evidences. So God's works
   of providence, in the rain and fruitful seasons, are spoken of as
   witnesses of God's being and goodness, i.e., they are evidences of
   these things. And when the Scripture speaks of the seal of the Spirit,
   it is an expression which properly denotes, not an immediate voice or
   suggestion, but some work or effect of the Spirit, that is left as a
   divine mark upon the soul, to be an evidence by which God's children
   might be known. The seals of princes were the distinguishing marks of
   princes: and thus God's seal is spoken of as God's mark, Rev. 7:3:
   "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have
   sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads;" together with Ezek.
   9:4, "Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry
   for all the abominations that are done in the midst thereof." When God
   sets his seal on a man's heart by his Spirit, there is some holy stamp,
   some image impressed and left upon the heart by the Spirit, as by the
   seal upon the wax. And this holy stamp, or impressed image, exhibiting
   clear evidence to the conscience, that the subject of it is the child
   of God, is the very thing which in Scripture is called the seal of the
   Spirit, and the witness, or evidence of the Spirit. And this image
   enstamped by the Spirit on God's children's hearts, is his own image;
   that is the evidence by which they are known to be God's children, that
   they have the image of their Father stamped upon their hearts by the
   Spirit of adoption. Seals anciently had engraven on them two things,
   viz., the image and the name of the person whose seal it was. Therefore
   when Christ says to his spouse, Cant. 8:6, "Set me as a seal upon thine
   heart, as a seal upon thine arm;" it is as much as to say, let my name
   and image remain impressed there. The seals of princes were wont to
   bear their image; so that what they set their seal and royal mark upon,
   had their image left on it. It was the manner of princes of old to have
   their image engraven on their jewels and precious stones; and the image
   of Augustus engraven on a precious stone, was used as the seal of the
   Roman emperors, in Christ's and the Apostle's times. [46] And the
   saints are the jewels of Jesus Christ, the great potentate, who has the
   possession of the empire of the universe; and these jewels have his
   image enstamped upon them by his royal signet, which is the Holy
   Spirit. And this is undoubtedly what the Scripture means by the seal of
   the Spirit; especially when it is stamped in so fair and clear a
   manner, as to be plain to the eye of conscience; which is what the
   Scripture calls our spirit. This is truly an effect that is spiritual,
   supernatural and divine. This is in itself of a holy nature, being a
   communication of the divine nature and beauty. That kind of influence
   of the Spirit which gives and leaves this stamp upon the heart, is such
   that no natural man can be the subject of anything of the like nature
   with it. This is the highest sort of witness of the Spirit, which it is
   possible the soul should be the subject of: if there were any such
   thing as a witness of the Spirit by immediate suggestion or revelation,
   this would be vastly more noble and excellent, and as much above it as
   the heaven is above the earth. This the devil cannot imitate; as to an
   inward suggestion of the Spirit of God, by a kind of secret voice
   speaking, and immediately asserting and revealing a fact, he can do
   that which is a thousand times so like to this, as he can to that holy
   and divine effect, or work of the Spirit of God, which has now been
   spoken of.

   Another thing which is a full proof that the seal of the Spirit is no
   revelation of any fact by immediate suggestion, but is grace itself in
   the soul, is, that the seal of the Spirit is called in the Scripture,
   the earnest of the Spirit. It is very plain that the seal of the Spirit
   is the same thing with the earnest of the Spirit, by 2 Cor. 1:22: "Who
   hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our
   hearts;" and Eph. 1:13, 14, "In whom, after that ye believed, ye were
   sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our
   inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the
   praise of his glory." Now the earnest is part of the money agreed for,
   given in hand, as a token of the whole, to be paid in due time; a part
   of the promised inheritance granted now, in token of full possession of
   the whole hereafter. But surely that kind of communication of the
   Spirit of God, which is of the nature of eternal glory, is the highest
   and most excellent kind of communication, something that is in its own
   nature spiritual, holy and divine, and far from anything that is
   common: and therefore high above anything of the nature of inspiration,
   or revelation of hidden facts by suggestion of the Spirit of God, which
   many natural men have had. What is the earnest, and beginning of glory,
   but grace itself, especially in the more lively and clear exercises of
   it? It is not prophecy, nor tongues, nor knowledge, but that more
   excellent divine thing, "charity that never faileth," which is a
   prelibation and beginning of the light, sweetness and blessedness of
   heaven, that world of love or charity. It is grace that is the seed of
   glory and dawning of glory in the heart, and therefore it is grace that
   is the earnest of the future inheritance. What is it that is the
   beginning or earnest of eternal life in the soul, but spiritual life;
   and what is that but grace? The inheritance that Christ has purchased
   for the elect, is the Spirit of God; not in any extraordinary gifts,
   but in his vital indwelling in the heart, exerting and communicating
   himself there, in his own proper, holy, or divine nature; and this is
   the sum total of the inheritance that Christ purchased for the elect.
   For so are things constituted in the affair of our redemption, that the
   Father provides the Savior or purchaser, and the purchase is made of
   him; and the Son is the purchaser and the price; and the Holy Spirit is
   the great blessing or inheritance purchased, as is intimated, Gal.
   3:13, 14; and hence the Spirit often is spoken of as the sum of the
   blessings promised in the gospel, Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, and chap. 2:38,
   39, Gal. 3:14, Eph. 1:13. This inheritance was the grand legacy which
   Christ left his disciples and church, in his last will and testament,
   John chap. 14, 15, 16. This is the sum of the blessings of eternal
   life, which shall be given in heaven. (Compare John 7:37, 38, 39, and
   John 4:14, with Rev. 21:6, and 22:1, 17.) It is through the vital
   communications and indwelling of the Spirit that the saints have all
   their light, life, holiness, beauty, and joy in heaven; and it is
   through the vital communications and indwelling of the same Spirit that
   the saints have all light, life, holiness, beauty and comfort on earth;
   but only communicated in less measure. And this vital indwelling of the
   Spirit in the saints, in this less measure and small beginning is, "the
   earnest of the Spirit, the earnest of the future inheritance, and the
   first fruits of the Spirit," as the apostle calls it, Rom. 8:22, where,
   by "the first fruits of the Spirit," the apostle undoubtedly means the
   same vital, gracious principle that he speaks of in all the preceding
   part of the chapter, which he calls Spirit, and sets in opposition to
   flesh or corruption.--Therefore this earnest of the Spirit, and first
   fruits of the Spirit, which has been shown to be the same with the seal
   of the Spirit, is the vital, gracious, sanctifying communication and
   influence of the Spirit, and not any immediate suggestion or revelation
   of facts by the Spirit. [47]

   And indeed the apostle, when in that, Rom. 8:16, he speaks of the
   Spirit's bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of
   God, does sufficiently explain himself, if his words were but attended
   to. What is here expressed is connected with the two preceding verses,
   as resulting from what the apostle had said there as every reader may
   see. The three verses together are thus: "For as many as are led by the
   Spirit of God, they are the sons of God: for ye have not received the
   spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of
   adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father: the Spirit itself beareth
   witness with our spirits that we are the children of God." Here, what
   the apostle says, if we take it together, plainly shows that what he
   has respect to, when he speaks of the Spirit's giving us witness or
   evidence that we are God's children, is his dwelling in us, and leading
   us, as a spirit of adoption, or spirit of a child, disposing us to
   behave towards God as to a Father. This is the witness or evidence
   which the apostle speaks of that we are children, that we have the
   spirit of children, or spirit of adoption. And what is that but the
   spirit of love? There are two kinds of spirits the apostle speaks of,
   the spirit of a slave or the spirit of bondage, that is fear; and the
   spirit of a child, or spirit of adoption, and that is love. The apostle
   says, we have not received the spirit of bondage, or of slaves, which
   is a spirit of fear; but we have received the more ingenuous noble
   spirit of children, a spirit of love, which naturally disposes us to go
   to God as children to a father, and behave towards God as children. And
   this is the evidence or witness which the Spirit of God gives us that
   we are his children. This is the plain sense of the apostle; and so
   undoubtedly he here is speaking of the very same way of casting out
   doubting and fear and the spirit of bondage, which the Apostle John
   speaks of, 1 John 4:18, viz., by the prevailing of love, that is the
   spirit of a child. The spirit of bondage works by fear, the slave fears
   the rod: but love cries, Abba, Father; it disposes us to go to God, and
   behave ourselves towards God as children; and it gives us clear
   evidence of our union to God as his children, and so casts out fear. So
   that it appears that the witness of the Spirit the apostle speaks of,
   is far from being any whisper, or immediate suggestion or revelation;
   but that gracious holy effect of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the
   saints, the disposition and temper of children, appearing in sweet
   childlike love to God, which casts out fear, or a spirit of a slave.

   And the same thing is evident from all the context: it is plain the
   apostle speaks of the Spirit, over and over again, as dwelling in the
   hearts of the saints as a gracious principle, set in opposition to the
   flesh or corruption: and so he does in the words that immediately
   introduce this passage we are upon, ver. 13, "For if ye live after the
   flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds
   of the flesh, ye shall live."

   Indeed it is past doubt with me, that the apostle has a more special
   respect to the spirit of grace, or the spirit of love, or spirit of a
   child, in its more lively actings; for it is perfect love, or strong
   love only, which so witnesses or evidences that we are children as to
   cast out fear, and wholly deliver from the spirit of bondage. The
   strong and lively exercises of a spirit of childlike, evangelical,
   humble love to God, give clear evidence of the soul's relation to God
   as his child; which does very greatly and directly satisfy the soul.
   And though it be far from being true, that the soul in this case,
   judges only by an immediate witness without any sign or evidence; for
   it judges and is assured by the greatest sign and clearest evidence;
   yet in this case the saint stands in no need of multiplied signs, or
   any long reasoning upon them. And though the sight of his relative
   union with God, and his being in his favor, is not without a medium,
   because he sees it by that medium, viz., his love; yet his sight of the
   union of his heart to God is immediate: love, the bond of union, is
   seen intuitively: the saint sees and feels plainly the union between
   his soul and God; it is so strong and lively, that he cannot doubt of
   it. And hence he is assured that he is a child. How can he doubt
   whether he stands in a childlike relation to God, when he plainly sees
   a childlike union between God and his soul, and hence does boldly, and
   as it were naturally and necessarily cry, Abba, Father?

   And whereas the apostle says, the Spirit bears witness with our
   spirits; by our spirit here, is meant our conscience, which is called
   the spirit of man, Prov. 20:17, "The spirit of man is the candle of the
   Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly." We elsewhere read
   of the witness of this spirit of ours: 2 Cor. 1:12, "For our rejoicing
   is this, the testimony of our conscience." And 1 John 3:19, 20, 21:
   "And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our
   hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our
   heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not,
   then have we confidence towards God." When the Apostle Paul speaks of
   the Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit, he is not to be
   understood of two spirits that are two separate, collateral,
   independent witnesses; but it is by one that we receive the witness of
   the other: the Spirit of God gives the evidence by infusing and
   shedding abroad the love of God, the spirit of a child, in the heart,
   and our spirit, or our conscience, receives and declares this evidence
   for our rejoicing.

   Many have been the mischiefs that have arisen from that false and
   delusive notion of the witness of the Spirit, that it is a kind of
   inward voice, suggestion, or declaration from God to man, that he is
   beloved of him, and pardoned, elected, or the like, sometimes with, and
   sometimes without a text of Scripture; and many have been the false and
   vain (though very high) affections that have arisen from hence. And it
   is to be feared that multitudes of souls have been eternally undone by
   it. I have therefore insisted the longer on this head. But I proceed
   now to a second characteristic of gracious affections.

   II. The first objective ground of gracious affections, is the
   transcendently excellent and amiable nature of divine things as they
   are themselves; and not any conceived relation they bear to self, or

   I say, that the supremely excellent nature of divine things, is the
   first, or primary and original objective foundation of the spiritual
   affections of true saints; for I do not suppose that all relation which
   divine things bear to themselves, and their own particular interest, is
   wholly excluded from all influence in their gracious affections. For
   this may have, and indeed has, a secondary and consequential influence
   in those affections that are truly holy and spiritual, as I shall show
   how by and by.

   It was before observed that the affection of love is, as it were, the
   fountain of all affection; and particularly that Christian love is the
   fountain of all gracious affections: now the divine excellency and
   glory of God and Jesus Christ the word of God, the works of God, and
   the ways of God, &c., is the primary reason why a true saint loves
   these things; and not any supposed interest that he has in them, or any
   conceived benefit that he has received from them, or shall receive from
   them, or any such imagined relation which they bear to his interest,
   that self-love can properly be said to be the first foundation of his
   love to these things.

   Some say that all love arises from self-love; and that it is impossible
   in the nature of things, for any man to have any love to God, or any
   other beings, but that love to himself must be the foundation of it.
   But I humbly suppose it is for want of consideration that they say so.
   They argue, that whoever loves God, and so desires his glory or the
   enjoyment of him, he desires these things as his own happiness; the
   glory of God, and the beholding and enjoying his perfections are
   considered as things agreeable to him, tending to make him happy; he
   places his happiness in them, and desires them as things, which (if
   they were obtained) would be delightful to him, or would fill him with
   delight and joy, and so make him happy. And so, they say, it is from
   self-love, or a desire of his own happiness, that he desires God should
   be glorified, and desires to behold and enjoy his glorious perfections.
   But then they ought to consider a little further, and inquire how the
   man came to place his happiness in God's being glorified, and in
   contemplating and enjoying God's perfections.--There is no doubt but
   that after God's glory, and the beholding his perfections, are become
   so agreeable to him, that he places his highest happiness in these
   things then he will desire them, as he desires his own happiness. But
   how came these things to be so agreeable to him, that he esteems it his
   highest happiness to glorify God, &c.? Is not this the fruit of love? A
   man must first love God or have his heart united to him, before he will
   esteem God's good his own, and before he will desire the glorifying,
   and enjoying of God as his happiness. It is not strong arguing, that
   because after a man has his heart united to God in love, as a fruit of
   this, he desires his glory and enjoyment, as his own happiness, that
   therefore a desire of this happiness of his own must needs be the cause
   and foundation of his love; unless it be a strong arguing, that because
   a father begat a son, therefore his son certainly begat him. If after a
   man loves God, and has his heart so united to him, as to look upon God
   as his chief good, and on God's good as his own, it will be a
   consequence and fruit of this, that even self-love, or love to his own
   happiness, will cause him to desire the glorifying and enjoying of God;
   it will not thence follow, that this very exercise of self-love, went
   before his love to God, and that his love to God was a consequence and
   fruit of that. Something else, entirely distinct from self-love, might
   be the cause of this, viz., a change made in the views of his mind, and
   relish of his heart; whereby he apprehends a beauty, glory, and supreme
   good, in God's nature, as it is in itself. This may be the thing that
   first draws his heart to him, and causes his heart to be united to him,
   prior to all considerations of his own interest or happiness, although
   after this, and as a fruit of this, he necessarily seeks his interest
   and happiness in God.

   There is such a thing as a kind of love or affection that a man may
   have towards persons or things, which does properly arise from
   self-love; a preconceived relation to himself, or some respect already
   manifested by another to him, or some benefit already received or
   depended on, is truly the first foundation of his love, and what his
   affection does wholly arise from; and is what precedes any relish of,
   or delight in the nature and qualities inherent in the being beloved,
   as beautiful and amiable. When the first thing that draws a man's
   benevolence to another, is the beholding those qualifications and
   properties in him, which appear to him lovely in themselves; and the
   subject of them, on this account, worthy of esteem and good will, love
   arises in a very different manners than when it first arises from some
   gift bestowed by another or depended on from him, as a judge loves and
   favors a man that has bribed him; or from the relation he supposes
   another has to him, as a man who loves another, because he looks upon
   him as his child. When love to another arises thus, it does truly and
   properly arise from self-love.

   That kind of affection to God or Jesus Christ, which does thus properly
   arise from self-love, cannot be a truly gracious and spiritual love, as
   appears from what has been said already: for self-love is a principle
   entirely natural, and as much in the hearts of devils as angels; and
   therefore surely nothing that is the mere result of it can be
   supernatural and divine, in the manner before described. [48] Christ
   plainly speaks of this kind of love, as what is nothing beyond the love
   of wicked men: Luke 6:32, "If ye love them that love you, what thank
   have ye? For sinners also love those that love them." And the devil
   himself knew that that kind of respect to God which was so mercenary,
   as to be only for benefits received or depended on (which is all one),
   is worthless in the sight of God; otherwise he never would have made
   use of such a slander before God, against Job, as in Job 1:9, 10: "Doth
   Job serve God for nought? Has not thou made a hedge about him, and
   about his house," &c. Nor would God ever have implicitly allowed the
   objection to have been good, in case the accusation had been true, by
   allowing that that matter should be tried, and that Job should be so
   dealt with, that it might appear in the event, whether Job's respect to
   God was thus mercenary or no, and by putting the proof of the sincerity
   and goodness of his respect upon that issue.

   It is unreasonable to think otherwise, than that the first foundation
   of a true love to God, is that whereby he is in himself lovely, or
   worthy to be loved, or the supreme loveliness of his nature. This is
   certainly what makes him chiefly amiable. What chiefly makes a man, or
   any creature lovely, is his excellency; and so what chiefly renders God
   lovely, and must undoubtedly be the chief ground of true love, is his
   excellency. God's nature, or the divinity, is infinitely excellent; yea
   it is infinite beauty, brightness, and glory itself. But how can that
   be true love of this excellent and lovely nature, which is not built on
   the foundation of its true loveliness? How can that be true love of
   beauty and brightness which is not for beauty and brightness' sake? How
   can that be a true prizing of that which is in itself infinitely worthy
   and precious, which is not for the sake of its worthiness and
   preciousness? This infinite excellency of the divine nature, as it is
   in itself, is the true ground of all that is good in God in any
   respect; but how can a man truly and rightly love God, without loving
   him for that excellency in him, which is the foundation of all that is
   in any manner of respect good or desirable in him? They whose affection
   to God is founded first on his profitableness to them, their affection
   begins at the wrong end; they regard God only for the utmost limit of
   the stream of divine good, where it touches them, and reaches their
   interest; and have no respect to that infinite glory of God's nature,
   which is the original good, and the true fountain of all good, the
   first fountain of all loveliness of every kind, and so the first
   foundation of all true love.

   A natural principle of self-love may be the foundation of great
   affections towards God and Christ, without seeing anything of the
   beauty and glory of the divine nature. There is a certain gratitude
   that is a mere natural thing. Gratitude is one of the natural
   affections of the soul of man, as well as anger, and there is a
   gratitude that arises from self-love, very much in the same manner that
   anger does. Anger in men is an affection excited against another, or in
   opposition to another, for something in him that crosses self-love:
   gratitude is an affection one has towards another, for loving him, or
   gratifying him, or for something in him that suits self-love. And there
   may be a kind of gratitude, without any true or proper love: as there
   may be anger without any proper hatred, as in parents towards their
   children, that they may be angry with, and yet at the same time have a
   strong habitual love to them. This gratitude is the principle which is
   an exercise in wicked men, in that which Christ declares concerning
   them, in the 6th of Luke, where he says, sinners love those that love
   them; and which he declares concerning even the publicans, who were
   some of the most carnal and profligate sort of men, Matt. 5:46. This is
   the very principle that is wrought upon by bribery, in unjust judges;
   and it is a principle that even the brute beasts do exercise; a dog
   will love his master that is kind to him. And we see in innumerable
   instances, that mere nature is sufficient to excite gratitude in men,
   or to affect their hearts with thankfulness to others for kindnesses
   received; and sometimes towards them, whom at the same time they have a
   habitual enmity against. Thus Saul was once and again greatly affected,
   and even dissolved with gratitude towards David, for sparing his life,
   and yet remained a habitual enemy to him. And as men, from mere nature,
   may be thus affected towards men; so they may towards God. There is
   nothing hinders but that the same self-love may work after the same
   manner towards God as towards men. And we have manifest instances of it
   in Scripture; as indeed the children of Israel, who sang God's praises
   at the Red Sea, but soon forgot God's works: and in Naaman the Syrian,
   who was greatly affected with the miraculous cure of his leprosy, so as
   to have his heart engaged thenceforward to worship the God that had
   healed him, and him only, excepting when it would expose him to be
   ruined in his temporal interest. So was Nebuchadnezzar greatly affected
   with God's goodness to him, in restoring him to his reason and kingdom,
   alter his dwelling with the beasts.

   Gratitude being thus a natural principle, it renders ingratitude so
   much the more vile and heinous; because it shows a dreadful prevalence
   of wickedness, when it even overbears and suppresses the better
   principles of human nature: as it is mentioned as an evidence of the
   high degree of the wickedness of many of the heathen, that they were
   without natural affection, Rom. 2:31. But that the want of gratitude,
   or natural affection, is evidence of a high degree of vice, is no
   argument that all gratitude and natural affection has the nature of
   virtue, or saving grace.

   Self-love, through the exercise of mere natural gratitude, may be the
   foundation of a sort of love to God many ways. A kind of love may arise
   from a false notion of God, that men have been educated in, or have
   some way imbibed; as though he were only goodness and mercy, and not
   revenging justice; or as though the exercises of his goodness were
   necessary, and not free and sovereign; or as though his goodness were
   dependent on what is in them, and as it were constrained by them. Men
   on such grounds as these, may love a God of their own forming in their
   imaginations, when they are far from loving such a God as reigns in

   Again, self-love may be the foundation of an affection in men towards
   God, through a great insensibility of their state with regard to God,
   and for want of conviction of conscience to make them sensible how
   dreadfully they have provoked God to anger; they have no sense of the
   heinousness of sin, as against God, and of the infinite and terrible
   opposition of the holy nature of God against it: and so, having formed
   in their minds such a God as suits them, and thinking God. to be such a
   one as themselves, who favors and agrees with them, they may like him
   very well, and feel a sort of love to him, when they are far from
   loving the true God. And men's affections may be much moved towards
   God, from self-love, by some remarkable outward benefits received from
   God; as it was with Naaman, Nebuchadnezzar, and the children of Israel
   at the Red Sea.

   Again, a very high affection towards God may, and often does, arise in
   men, from an opinion of the favor and love of God to them, as the first
   foundation of their love to him. After awakenings and distress, through
   fears of hell, they may suddenly get a notion, through some impression
   on their imagination, or immediate suggestion with or without texts of
   Scripture, or by some other means, that God loves them, and has
   forgiven their sins, and made them his children; and this is the first
   thing that causes their affections to flow towards God and Jesus
   Christ: and then after this, and upon this foundation, many things in
   God may appear lovely to them, and Christ may seem excellent. And if
   such persons are asked, whether God appears lovely and amiable in
   himself, they would perhaps readily answer, yes; when indeed, if the
   matter be strictly examined, this good opinion of God was purchased and
   paid for before ever they afforded it, in the distinguishing and
   infinite benefits they imagined they received from God: and they allow
   God to be lovely in himself, no otherwise than that he has forgiven
   them, and accepted them, and loves them above most in the world, and
   has engaged to improve all his infinite power and wisdom in preferring,
   dignifying, and exalting them, and will do for them just as they would
   have him. When once they are firm in this apprehension, it is easy to
   own God and Christ to be lovely and glorious, and to admire and extol
   them. It is easy for them to own Christ to be a lovely person, and the
   best in the world, when they are first firm in it, that he, though Lord
   of the universe, is captivated with love to them, and has his heart
   swallowed up in them, and prizes them far beyond most of their
   neighbors, and loved them from eternity, and died for them, and will
   make them reign in eternal glory with him in heaven. When this is the
   case with carnal men, their very lusts will make him seem lovely: pride
   itself will prejudice them in favor of that which they call Christ:
   selfish, proud man naturally calls that lovely that greatly contributes
   to his interest, and gratifies his ambition.

   And as this sort of persons begin, so they go on. Their affections are
   raised from time to time, primarily on this foundation of self-love and
   a conceit of God's love to them. Many have a false notion of communion
   with God, as though it were carried on by impulses, and whispers, and
   external representations, immediately made to their imagination. These
   things they often have; which they take to be manifestations of God's
   great love to them, and evidences of their high exaltation above others
   of mankind; and so their affections, we often renewedly set agoing.

   Whereas the exercises of true and holy love in the saints arise in
   another way. They do not first see that God loves them, and then see
   that he is lovely, but they first see that God is lovely, and that
   Christ is excellent and glorious, and their hearts are first captivated
   with this view, and the exercises of their love are wont from time to
   time to begin here, and to arise primarily from these views; and then,
   consequentially, they see God's love, and great favor to them. [49] The
   saint's affections begin with God; and self-love has a hand in these
   affections consequentially, and secondarily only. On the contrary,
   those false affections begin with self, and an acknowledgment of an
   excellency in God, and an affectedness with it, is only consequential
   and dependent. In the love of the true saint God is the lowest
   foundation; the love of the excellency of his nature is the foundation
   of all the affections which come afterwards wherein self-love is
   concerned as a handmaid: on the contrary, the hypocrite lays himself at
   the bottom of all, as the first foundation, and lays on God as the
   superstructure; and even his acknowledgment of God's glory itself
   depends on his regard to his private interest.

   Self-love may not only influence men, so as to cause them to be
   affected with God's kindness to them separately; but also with God's
   kindness to them as parts of a community: as a natural principle of
   self-love, without any other principle, may be sufficient to make a man
   concerned for the interest of the nation to which he belongs: as for
   instance, in the present war, self-love may make natural men rejoice at
   the successes of our nation, and sorry for their disadvantages, they
   being concerned as members of the body. So the same natural principle
   may extend further, and even to the world of mankind, and might be
   affected with the benefits the inhabitants of the earth have, beyond
   those of the inhabitants of other planets, if we knew that such there
   were, and how it was with them. So this principle may cause men to be
   affected with the benefits that mankind have received beyond the fallen
   angels. And hence men, from this principle, may be much affected with
   the wonderful goodness of God to mankind, his great goodness in giving
   his Son to die for fallen man, and the marvellous love of Christ in
   suffering such great things for us, and with the great glory they hear
   God has provided in heaven for us; looking on themselves as persons
   concerned and interested, as being some of this species of creatures so
   highly favored: the same principle of natural gratitude may influence
   men here, as in the case of personal benefits.

   But these things that I have said do by no means imply, that all
   gratitude to God is a mere natural thing, and that there is no such
   thing as a spiritual gratitude, which is a holy and divine affection:
   they imply no more, than that there is a gratitude which is merely
   natural, and that when persons have affections towards God only or
   primarily for benefits received, their affection is only the exercise
   of a natural gratitude. There is doubtless such a thing as a gracious
   gratitude, which does greatly differ from all that gratitude which
   natural men experience. It differs in the following respects:

   1. True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises
   from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what he is in
   himself, whereas a natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation.
   The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God, for kindness
   received, always are from a stock of love already in the heart,
   established in the first place on other grounds, viz., God's own
   excellency; and hence the affections are disposed to flow out on
   occasions of God's kindness. The saint, having seen the glory of God,
   and his heart being overcome by it, and captivated with love to him on
   that account, his heart hereby becomes tender, and easily affected with
   kindnesses received. If a man has no love to another, yet gratitude be
   moved by some extraordinary kindness; as in Saul towards David: but
   this is not the same kind of thing, as a man's gratitude to a dear
   friend, that his heart was before possessed with a high esteem of, and
   love to; whose heart by this means became tender towards him, and more
   easily affected with gratitude, and affected in another manner.
   Self-love is not excluded from a gracious gratitude; the saints love
   God for his kindness to them: Psal. 116:1, "I love the Lord, because he
   hath heard the voice of my supplication." But something else is
   included; and another love prepares the way, and lays the foundation
   for these grateful affections.

   2. In a gracious gratitude men are affected with the attribute of God's
   goodness and free grace not only as they are concerned in it, or as it
   affects their interest, but as a part of the glory and beauty of God's
   nature. That wonderful and unparalleled grace of God, which is
   manifested in the work of redemption, and shines forth in the face of
   Jesus Christ, is infinitely glorious in itself, and appears so to the
   angels; it is a great part of the moral perfection and beauty of God's
   nature. This would be glorious, whether it were exercised towards us or
   no; and the saint who exercises a gracious thankfulness for it, sees it
   to be so, and delights in it as such: though his concern in it serves
   the more to engage his mind and raise the attention and affection; and
   self-love here assists as a handmaid, being subservient to higher
   principles, to lead forth the mind to the view and contemplation, and
   engage and fix the attention, and heighten the joy and love.--God's
   kindness to them is a glass that God sets before them, wherein to
   behold the beauty of the attribute of God's goodness: the exercises and
   displays of this attribute, by this means, are brought near to them,
   and set right before them. So that in a holy thankfulness to God, the
   concern our interest has in God's goodness is not the first foundation
   of our being affected with it; that was laid in the heart before, in
   that stock of love which was to God, for his excellency in himself,
   that makes the heart tender and susceptive of such impressions from his
   goodness to us. Poor is our own interest, or the benefits we have
   received, the only, or the chief objective ground of the present
   exercises of the affection, but God's goodness, as part of the beauty
   of his nature; although the manifestations of that lovely attribute,
   set immediately before our eyes, in the exercises of it for us, be the
   special occasion of the mind's attention to that beauty, at that time,
   and serves to fix the attention, and heighten the affection.

   Some may perhaps be ready to object against the whole that has been
   said, that text, 1 John 4:19: "We love him, because he first loved us,"
   as though this implied that God's love to the true saints were the
   first foundation of their love to him.

   In answer to this, I would observe, that the apostle's drift in these
   words, is to magnify the love of God to us from hence, that he loved
   us, while we had no love to him; as will be manifest to anyone who
   compares this verse and the two following with the 9th, 10th, and 11th
   verses. And that God loved us, then we had no love to him, the apostle
   proves by this argument, that God's love to the elect is the ground of
   their love to him. And that it is three ways.--1. The saints' love to
   God is the fruit of God's love to them, as it is the gift of that love.
   God gave them a spirit of love to him, because he loved them from
   eternity. And in this respect God's love to his elect is the first
   foundation of their love to him as it is the foundation of their
   regeneration, and the whole of their redemption. 2. The exercises and
   discoveries that God has made of his wonderful love to sinful men, by
   Jesus Christ, in the work of redemption, is one of the chief
   manifestations, which God has made of the glory of his moral
   perfection, to both angels and men; and so is one main objective ground
   of the love of both to God; in a good consistence with what was said
   before. 3. God's love to a particular elect person, discovered by his
   conversion, is a great manifestation of God's moral perfection and
   glory to him, and a proper occasion of the excitation of the love of
   holy gratitude, agreeable to what was before said. And that the saints
   do in these respects love God, because he first loved them, fully
   answers the design of the apostle's argument in that place. So that no
   good argument can be drawn from hence, against a spiritual and gracious
   love in the saints, arising primarily from the excellency of divine
   things, as they are in themselves, and not from any conceived relation
   they bear to their interest.

   And as it is with the love of the saints, so it is with their joy, and
   spiritual delight and pleasure: the first foundation of it is not any
   consideration or conception of their interest in divine things; but it
   primarily consists in the sweet entertainment their minds have in the
   view of contemplation of the divine and holy beauty of these things, as
   they are in themselves. And this is indeed the very main difference
   between the joy of the hypocrite, and the joy of the true saint. The
   former rejoices in himself; self is the first foundation of his joy:
   the latter rejoices in God. The hypocrite has his mind pleased and
   delighted, in the first place, with his own privilege, and the
   happiness which he supposes he has attained to, or shall attain to.
   True saints have their minds, in the first place, inexpressibly pleased
   and delighted with the sweet ideas of the glorious and amiable nature
   of the things of God. And this is the spring of all their delights, and
   the cream of all their pleasures: it is the joy of their joy. This
   sweet and ravishing entertainment they have in the view of the
   beautiful and delightful nature of divine things, is the foundation of
   the joy that they have afterwards, in the consideration of their being
   theirs. But the dependence of the affections of hypocrites is in a
   contrary order: they first rejoice and are elevated with it, that they
   are made so much of by God; and then on that ground he seems, in a
   sort, lovely to them.

   The first foundation of the delight a true saint has in God, is his own
   perfection; and the first foundation of the delight he has in Christ,
   is his own beauty; he appears in himself the chief among ten thousand,
   and altogether lovely. The way of salvation by Christ is a delightful
   way to him, for the sweet and admirable manifestations of the divine
   perfections in it: the holy doctrines of the gospel, by which God is
   exalted and man abased, holiness honored and promoted, and sin greatly
   disgraced and discouraged, and free and sovereign love manifested, are
   glorious doctrines in his eyes, and sweet to his taste, prior to any
   conception of his interest in these things. Indeed the saints rejoice
   in their interest in God, and that Christ is theirs: and so they have
   great reason, but this is not the first spring of their joy. They first
   rejoice in God as glorious and excellent in himself, and then
   secondarily rejoice in it, that so glorious a God is theirs.--They
   first have their hearts filled with sweetness, from the view of
   Christ's excellency, and the excellency of his grace and the beauty of
   the way of salvation by him, and then they have a secondary joy in that
   so excellent a Savior, and such excellent grace are theirs. [50] But
   that which is the true saint's superstructure is the hypocrite's
   foundation. When they hear of the wonderful things of the gospel, of
   God's great love in sending his Son, of Christ's diving love to
   sinners, and the great things Christ has purchased and promised to the
   saints, and hear these things livelily and eloquently set forth; they
   may bear with a great deal of pleasure, and be lifted up with what they
   hear; but if their joy be examined, it will be found to have no other
   foundation than this, that they look upon these things as theirs, all
   this exalts them, they love to hear of the great love of Christ, so
   vastly distinguishing some from others; for self-love, and even pride
   itself makes them affect great distinction from others. No wonder, in
   this confident opinion of their own good estate, that they feel well
   under such doctrine, and are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing
   how much God and Christ makes of them. So that their joy is really a
   joy in themselves, and not in God.

   And because the joy of hypocrites is in themselves, hence it comes to
   pass that in their rejoicings and elevations, they are wont to keep
   their eye upon themselves: having received what they call spiritual
   discoveries or experience, their minds are taken up about them,
   admiring their own experiences; and what they are principally taken and
   elevated with, is not the glory of God, or beauty of Christ, but the
   beauty of their experiences. They keep thinking with themselves, What a
   good experience is this! What a great discovery is this! What wonderful
   things have I met with! And so they put their experiences in the place
   of Christ, and his beauty and fullness; and instead of rejoicing in
   Christ Jesus, they rejoice in their admirable experiences; instead of
   feeding and fasting their souls in the view of what is without them,
   viz., the innate, sweet refreshing amiableness of the things exhibited
   in the gospel, their eyes are off from these things, or at least they
   view them only as it were sideways; but the object that fixes their
   contemplation, is their experience; and they are feeding their souls,
   and feasting a selfish principle, with a view of their discoveries:
   they take more comfort in their discoveries than in Christ discovered,
   which is the true notion of living upon experiences and frames, and not
   a using experiences as the signs on which they rely for evidence of
   their good estate, which some call living on experiences; though it be
   very observable, that some of them who do so are most notorious for
   living upon experiences, according to the true notion of it.

   The affections of hypocrites are very often after this manner; they are
   first much affected with some impression on their imagination, or some
   impulse which they take to be an immediate suggestion or testimony from
   God of his love and their happiness, and high privileges in some
   respect, either with or without a text of Scripture; they are mightily
   taken with this as a great discovery, and hence arise high affections.
   And when their affections are raised, then they view those high
   affections, and call them great and wonderful experiences; and they
   have a notion that God is greatly pleased with those affections; and
   this affects them more; and so they are affected with their affections.
   And thus their affections rise higher and higher, until they sometimes
   are perfectly swallowed up: and self-conceit, and a fierce zeal rises
   withal; and all is built like a castle in the air, on no other
   foundation but imagination, self-love, and pride.

   And as the thoughts of this sort of persons are, so is their talk; for
   out of the abundance of their heart their mouth speaketh. As in their
   high affections they keep their eye upon the beauty of their
   experiences, and greatness of their attainments; so they are great
   talkers about themselves.--The true saint, when under great spiritual
   affections, from the fullness of his heart, is ready to be speaking
   much of God, and his glorious perfections and works, and of the beauty
   and amiableness of Christ, and the glorious things of the gospel: but
   hypocrites, in their high affections, talk more of the discovery, than
   they do of the thing discovered; they are full of talk about the great
   things they have met with, the wonderful discoveries they have had, how
   sure they are of the love of God to them, how safe their condition is,
   and how they know they shall go to heaven, &c.

   A true saint, when in the enjoyment of true discoveries of the sweet
   glory of God and Christ, has his mind too much captivated and engaged
   by what he views without himself, to stand at that time to view
   himself, and his own attainments: it would be a diversion and loss
   which he could not bear, to take his eye off from the ravishing object
   of his contemplation, to survey his own experience, and to spend time
   in thinking with himself, what a high attainment this is, and what a
   good story I now have to tell others. Nor does the pleasure and
   sweetness of his mind at that time chiefly arise from the consideration
   of the safety of his state, or anything he has in view of his own
   qualifications, experiences, or circumstances; but from the divine and
   supreme beauty of what is the object of his direct views without
   himself; which sweetly entertains, and strongly holds his mind.

   As the love and joy of hypocrites are all from the source of self love,
   so it is with their other affections, their sorrow for sin, their
   humiliation and submission, their religious desires and zeal:
   everything is, as it were, paid tail beforehand, in God's highly
   gratifying their self-love, and their lusts, by making so much of them,
   and exalting them so highly, as things are in their imagination. It is
   easy for nature, as corrupt as it is, under a notion of being already
   some of the highest favorites of heaven, and having a God who does so
   protect them and favor them in their sins, to love this imaginary God
   that suits them so well, and to extol him, and submit to him, and to be
   fierce and zealous for him. The high affections of many are all built
   on the supposition of their being eminent saints. If that opinion which
   they have of themselves were taken away, if they thought they were some
   of the lower form of saints (though they should yet suppose themselves
   to be real saints), their high affections would fall to the ground. If
   they only saw a little of the sinfulness and vileness of their own
   hearts, and their deformity, in the midst of their best duties and
   their best affections, it would knock their affections on the head;
   because their affections are built upon self, therefore self-knowledge
   would destroy them. But as to truly gracious affections, they are built
   elsewhere; they have their foundation out of self in God and Jesus
   Christ; and therefore a discovery of themselves, of their own
   deformity, and the meanness of their experiences, though it will purify
   their affections, yet it will not destroy them, but in some respects
   sweeten and heighten them.

   [48] "There is a natural love to Christ, as to one that doth thee good,
   and for thine own ends; and spiritual, for himself, whereby the Lord
   only is exalted." Shepard's Par. of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 25.

   [49] "There is a seeing of Christ after a man believes, which is Christ
   in his love, &c. But I speak of that first sight of him that precedes
   the second act of faith, and it is an intuitive, or real sight of him
   as he is in his glory." Shepard's Par. of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p.

   [50] Dr. Owen, on the spirit, p. 199, speaking of a common work of the
   spirit, says, "The effects of this work on the mind, which is the first
   subject affected with it, proceeds not so far as to give delight,
   complacency and satisfaction, in the lovely spiritual nature and
   excellency of the things revealed unto it. The true nature of saving
   illumination consists in this, that it gives the mind such a direct
   intuitive insight and prospect into spiritual things, as that in their
   own spiritual nature they suit, please, and satisfy it; so that it is
   transformed into them, cast into the mould of them, and rests in them."

   III. Those affections that are truly holy, are primarily founded on the
   loveliness of the moral excellency of divine things. Or (to express it
   otherwise) a love to divine things for the beauty and sweetness of
   their moral excellency is the first beginning and spring of all holy

   Here, for the sake of the more illiterate reader, I will explain what I
   mean by the moral excellency of divine things.

   And it may be observed, that the word moral is not to be understood
   here according to the common and vulgar acceptation of the word when
   men speak of morality, and a moral behavior; meaning an outward
   conformity to the duties of the moral law, and especially the duties of
   the second table; or intending no more at farthest, than such seeming
   virtues, as proceed from natural principles, in opposition to those
   virtues that are more inward, spiritual, and divine; as the honesty,
   justice, generosity, good nature, and public spirit of many of the
   heathen are called moral virtues, in distinction from the holy faith,
   love, humility, and heavenly-mindedness of true Christians: I say, the
   word moral is not to be understood thus in this place.

   But in order to a right understanding what is meant, it must be
   observed, that divines commonly make a distinction between moral good
   and evil, and natural good and evil. By moral evil, they mean the evil
   of sin, or that evil which is against duty, and contrary to what is
   right and ought to be. By natural evil, they do not mean that evil
   which is properly opposed to duty; but that which is contrary to mere
   nature, without any respect to a rule of duty. So the evil of suffering
   is called natural evil, such as pain and torment, disgrace, and the
   like: these things are contrary to mere nature, contrary to the nature
   of both bad and good, hateful to wicked men and devils, as well as good
   men and angels. So likewise natural defects are called natural evils,
   as if a child be monstrous or a natural fool; these are natural evils,
   but are not moral evils, because they have not properly the nature of
   the evil of sin. On the other hand, as by moral evil, divines mean the
   evil of sin, or that which is contrary to what is right; so by moral
   good, they mean that which is contrary to sin, or that good in beings
   who have will and choice, whereby, as voluntary agents, they are, and
   act, as it becomes them to be and to act, or so as is most fit, and
   suitable, and lovely. By natural good, they mean that good that is
   entirely of a different kind from holiness or virtue, viz., that which
   perfects or suits nature, considering nature abstractly from any holy
   or unholy qualifications, and without any relation to any rule or
   measure of right and wrong.

   Thus pleasure is a natural good; so is honor, so is strength; so is
   speculative knowledge, human learning, and policy.--Thus there is a
   distinction to be made between the natural good that men are possessed
   of, and their moral good; and also between the natural and moral good
   of the angels in heaven: the great capacity of their understandings,
   and their great strength, and the honorable circumstances they are in
   as the great ministers of God's kingdom, whence they are called
   thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, is the natural good
   which they are possessed of; but their perfect and glorious holiness
   and goodness, their pure and flaming love to God, and to the saints and
   to one another, is their moral good. So divines make a distinction
   between the natural and moral perfections of God: by the moral
   perfections of God, they mean those attributes which God exercises as a
   moral agent, or whereby the heart and will of God are good, right, and
   infinitely becoming and lovely; such as his righteousness, truth,
   faithfulness, and goodness; or, in one word, his holiness. By God's
   natural attributes or perfections, they mean those attributes, wherein,
   according to our way of conceiving of God, consists, not the holiness
   or moral goodness of God, but his greatness, such as his power, his
   knowledge, whereby he knows all things, and his being eternal, from
   everlasting to everlasting, his omnipresence, and his awful and
   terrible majesty.

   The moral excellency of an intelligent voluntary being is more
   immediately seated in the heart or will of moral agents. That
   intelligent being, whose will is truly right and lovely, is morally
   good or excellent.

   This moral excellency of an intelligent being, when it is true and
   real, and not only external or merely seeming and counterfeit, is
   holiness. Therefore holiness comprehends all the true moral excellency
   of intelligent beings: there is no other true virtue, but real
   holiness. Holiness comprehends all the true virtue of a good man, his
   love to God, his gracious love to men, his justice, his charity, and
   bowels of mercies, his gracious meekness and gentleness, and all other
   true Christian virtues that he has, belong to his holiness. So the
   holiness of God in the more extensive sense of the word, and the sense
   in which the word is commonly, if not universally used concerning God
   in Scripture, is the same with the moral excellency of the divine
   nature, or his purity and beauty as a moral agent, comprehending all
   his moral perfections, his righteousness faithfulness, and goodness. As
   in holy men, their charity, Christian kindness and mercy, belong to
   their holiness; so the kindness and mercy of God belong to his
   holiness. Holiness in man is but the image of God's holiness; there are
   not more virtues belonging to the image than are in the original:
   derived holiness has not more in it than is in that underived holiness
   which is its fountain: there is no more than grace for grace, or grace
   in the image, answerable to grace in the original.

   As there are two kinds of attributes in God, according to our way of
   conceiving of him, his moral attributes, which are summed up in his
   holiness, and his natural attributes of strength, knowledge, &c., that
   constitute the greatness of God; so there is a twofold image of God in
   man, his moral or spiritual image, which is his holiness, that is the
   image of God's moral excellency (which image was lost by the fall), and
   God's natural image, consisting in man's reason and understanding, his
   natural ability, and dominion over the creatures, which is the image of
   God's natural attribute.

   From what has been said, it may easily be understood what I intend,
   when I say that a love to divine things for the beauty of their moral
   excellency, is the beginning and spring of all holy affections. It has
   been already shown, under the former head, that the first objective
   ground of all holy affections is the supreme excellency of divine
   things as they are in themselves, or in their own nature; I now proceed
   further, and say more particularly, that that kind of excellency of the
   nature of divine things, which is the first objective ground of all
   holy affections, is their moral excellency, or their holiness. Holy
   persons, in the exercise of holy affections, do love divine things
   primarily for their holiness: they love God, in the first place, for
   the beauty of his holiness or moral perfection, as being supremely
   amiable in itself. Not that the saints, in the exercise of gracious
   affections, do love God only for his holiness; all his attributes are
   amiable and glorious in their eyes; they delight in every divine
   perfection; the contemplation of the infinite greatness, power,
   knowledge, and terrible majesty of God, is pleasant to them. But their
   love to God for his holiness is what is most fundamental and essential
   in their love. Here it is that true love to God begins; all other holy
   love to divine things flows from hence: this is the most essential and
   distinguishing thing that belongs to a holy love to God, with regard to
   the foundation of it. A love to God for the beauty of his moral
   attributes leads to, and necessarily causes a delight in God for all
   his attributes; for his moral attributes cannot be without his natural
   attributes: for infinite holiness supposes infinite wisdom, and an
   infinite capacity and greatness; and all the attributes of God do as it
   were imply one another.

   The true beauty and loveliness of all intelligent beings does primarily
   and most essentially consist in their moral excellency or holiness.
   Herein consists the loveliness of the angels, without which, with all
   their natural perfections, their strength, and their knowledge, they
   would have no more loveliness than devils. It is a moral excellency
   alone, that is in itself, and on its own account, the excellency of
   intelligent beings: it is this that gives beauty to, or rather is the
   beauty of their natural perfections and qualifications. Moral
   excellency is the excellency of natural excellencies. Natural
   qualifications are either excellent or otherwise, according as they are
   joined with moral excellency or not. Strength and knowledge do not
   render any being lovely, without holiness, but more hateful; though
   they render them more lovely, when joined with holiness. Thus the elect
   angels are the more glorious for their strength and knowledge, because
   these natural perfections of theirs are sanctified by their moral
   perfection. But though the devils are very strong, and of great natural
   understanding, they be not the more lovely: they are more terrible
   indeed, but not the more amiable; but on the contrary, the more
   hateful. The holiness of an intelligent creature, is the beauty of all
   his natural perfections. And so it is in God, according to our way of
   conceiving of the divine Being: holiness is in a peculiar manner the
   beauty of the divine nature. Hence we often read of the beauty of
   holiness, Psal. 29:2, Psal. 96:9, and 110:3. This renders all his other
   attributes glorious and lovely. It is the glory of God's wisdom, that
   it is a holy wisdom, and not a wicked subtlety and craftiness. This
   makes his majesty lovely; and not merely dreadful and horrible, that it
   is a holy majesty. It is the glory of God's immutability, that it is a
   holy immutability, and not an flexible obstinacy in wickedness.

   And therefore it must needs be, that a sight of God's loveliness must
   begin here. A true love to God must begin with a delight in his
   holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other
   attribute is truly lovely without this, and no otherwise than as
   (according to our way of conceiving of God) it derives its loveliness
   from this; and therefore it is impossible that other attributes should
   appear lovely, in their true loveliness, until this is seen; and it
   impossible that any perfection of the divine nature should be loved
   with true love until this is loved. If the true loveliness of all God's
   perfections arises from the loveliness of his holiness; then the true
   love of all his perfections arises from the love of his holiness. They
   that do not see the glory of God's holiness, cannot see anything of the
   true glory of his mercy and grace: they see nothing of the glory of
   those attributes, as any excellency of God's nature, as it is in
   itself; though they may be affected with them, and love them, as they
   concern their interest: for these attributes are no part of the
   excellency of God's nature, as that is excellent in itself, any
   otherwise than as they are included in his holiness, more largely
   taken; or as they are a part of his moral perfection.

   As the beauty of the divine nature does primarily consist in God's
   holiness, so does the beauty of all divine things. Herein consists the
   beauty of the saints, that they are saints, or holy ones; it is the
   moral image of God in them, which is their beauty; and that is their
   holiness. Herein consists the beauty and brightness of the angels of
   heaven, that they are holy angels, and so not devils. Dan. 4:13, 17,
   23; Matt. 25:31, Mark 8:38, Acts 10:22, Rev. 14:10. Herein consists the
   beauty of the Christian religion, above all other religions, that it is
   so holy a religion. Herein consists the excellency of the word of God,
   that it is so holy: Psal. 119:140, "Thy word is very pure, therefore
   thy servant loveth it." Ver. 128, "I esteem all thy precepts concerning
   all things to be right; and I hate every false way." Ver. 138, "Thy
   testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous, and very faithful."
   And 172, "My tongue shall speak of thy word; for all thy commandments
   are righteousness." And Psal. 19:7-10, "The law of the Lord is perfect,
   converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the
   simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the
   commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the
   Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true,
   and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea,
   than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb."
   Herein does primarily consist the amiableness and beauty of the Lord
   Jesus, whereby he is the chief among ten thousands, and altogether
   lovely, even in that he is the holy one of God, Acts 3:14, and God's
   holy child, Acts 4:27, and he that is holy, and he that is true, Rev.
   3:7. All the spiritual beauty of his human nature, consisting in his
   meekness, lowliness, patience, heavenliness, love to God, love to men,
   condescension to the mean and vile, and compassion to the miserable,
   &c., all is summed up in his holiness. And the beauty of his divine
   nature, of which the beauty of his human nature is the image and
   reflection, does also primarily consist in his holiness. Herein
   primarily consists the glory of the gospel, that it is a holy gospel,
   and so bright an emanation of the holy beauty of God and Jesus Christ:
   herein consists the spiritual beauty of its doctrines, that they are
   holy doctrines, or doctrines according to goodness. And herein does
   consist the spiritual beauty of the way of salvation by Jesus Christ,
   that it is so holy a way. And herein chiefly consists the glory of
   heaven, that it is the holy city, the holy Jerusalem, the habitation of
   God's holiness, and so of his glory, Isa. 63:15. All the beauties of
   the new Jerusalem, as it is described in the two last chapters of
   Revelation, are but various representations of this. See chap. 21:2,
   10, 11, 18, 21, 27, chap. 22:1, 3.

   And therefore it is primarily on account of this kind of excellency,
   that the saints do love all these things. Thus they love the word of
   God, because it is very pure. It is on this account they love the
   saints; and on this account chiefly it is, that heaven is lovely to
   them, and those holy tabernacles of God amiable in their eyes: it is on
   this account that they love God; and on this account primarily it is,
   that they love Christ, and that their hearts delight in the doctrines
   of the gospel, and sweetly acquiesce in the way of salvation therein
   revealed. [51]

   Under the head of the first distinguishing characteristic of gracious
   affections, I observed, that there is given to those that are
   regenerated, a new supernatural sense, that is as it were a certain
   divine spiritual taste, which is, in its whole nature, diverse from any
   former kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from saint
   in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine
   things as entirely different from anything that is perceived in them by
   natural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men
   get of honey by looking on it or feeling it. Now this that I have been
   speaking of, viz., the beauty of holiness, is that thing in spiritual
   and divine things, which is perceived by this spiritual sense, that is
   so diverse from all that natural men perceive in them; this kind of
   beauty is the quality that is the immediate object of this spiritual
   sense; this is the sweetness that is the proper object of this
   spiritual taste. The Scripture often represents the beauty and
   sweetness of holiness as the grand object of a spiritual taste and
   spiritual appetite. This was the sweet food of the holy soul of Jesus
   Christ, John 4:32, 34: "I have meat to eat that ye know not of--My meat
   is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." I know
   of no part of the holy Scriptures, where the nature and evidences of
   true and sincere godliness are so much of set purpose and so fully and
   largely insisted on and delineated, as the 119th Psalm; the Psalmist
   declares his design in the first verses of the Psalm, and he keeps his
   eye on this design all along, and pursues it to the end: but in this
   Psalm the excellency of holiness is represented as the immediate object
   of a spiritual taste, relish, appetite, and delight of God's law; that
   grand expression and emanation of the holiness of God's natures and
   prescription of holiness to the creature, is all along represented as
   the food and entertainment, and as the great object of the love, the
   appetite, the complacence and rejoicing of the gracious nature, which
   prizes God's commandments above gold, yea, the finest gold, and to
   which they are sweeter than the honey and honey comb; and that upon
   account of their holiness, as I observed before. The same Psalmist
   declares, that this is the sweetness that a spiritual taste relishes in
   God's law: Psal. 19:7, 8, 9, 10, "The law of the Lord is perfect; the
   commandment of the Lord is pure; the fear of the Lord is clean; the
   statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;--the judgments of
   the Lord are true, and righteous altogether; more to be desired are
   they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and
   the honey comb."

   A holy love has a holy object. The holiness of love consists especially
   in this, that it is the love of that which is holy, as holy, or for its
   holiness; so that it is the holiness of the object, which is the
   quality whereon it fixes and terminates. A holy nature must needs love
   that in holy things chiefly, which is most agreeable to itself; but
   surely that in divine things, which above all others is agreeable to a
   holy nature, is holiness, because holiness must be above all other
   things agreeable to holiness; for nothing can be more agreeable to any
   nature than itself; holy nature must be above all things agreeable to
   holy nature: and so the holy nature of God and Christ, and the word of
   God, and other divine things, must be above all other things agreeable
   to the holy nature that is in the saints.

   And again, a holy nature doubtless loves holy things, especially on the
   account of that for which sinful nature has enmity against them; but
   that for which chiefly sinful nature is at enmity against holy things,
   is their holiness; it is for this, that the carnal mind is at enmity
   against God, and against the law of God, and the people of God. Now it
   is just arguing from contraries; from contrary causes to contrary
   effects; from opposite natures to opposite tendencies. We know that
   holiness is of a directly contrary nature to wickedness; as therefore
   it is the nature of wickedness chiefly to oppose and hate holiness; so
   it must be the nature of holiness chiefly to tend to, and delight in

   The holy nature in the saints and angels in heaven (where the true
   tendency of it best appears) is principally engaged by the holiness of
   divine things. This is the divine beauty which chiefly engages the
   attention, admiration, and praise of the bright and burning seraphim:
   Isa. 6:3, "One cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the
   Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory." And Rev. 4:8,
   "They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God
   Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." So the glorified saints
   chap. 15:4, "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For
   thou only art holy."

   And the Scriptures represent the saints on earth as adoring God
   primarily on this account, and admiring and extolling all God's
   attributes, either as deriving loveliness from his holiness, or as
   being a part of it. Thus when they praise God for his power, his
   holiness is the beauty that engages them: Psal. 98:1, "O sing unto the
   Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand,
   and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory." So when they praise him
   for his justice and terrible majesty: Psal. 99:2, 3, "The Lord is great
   in Zion, and he is high above all people. Let them praise thy great and
   terrible name; for it is holy." Ver. 5, "Exalt ye the Lord our God, and
   worship at his footstool; for he is holy." Ver. 8, 9, "Thou wast a God
   that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.
   Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill: for the Lord
   our God, is holy." So when they praise God for his mercy and
   faithfulness: Psal. 97:11, 12, "Light is sown for the righteous, and
   gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous;
   and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness." 1 Sam. 2:2, "There
   is none holy as the Lord: for there is none besides thee; neither is
   there any rock like our God."

   By this therefore all may try their affections, and particularly their
   love and joy. Various kinds of creatures show the difference of their
   natures, very much in the different things they relish as their proper
   good, one delighting in that which another abhors. Such a difference is
   there between true saints, and natural men: natural men have no sense
   of the goodness and excellency of holy things at least for their
   holiness; they have no taste for that kind of good; and so may be said
   not to know that divine good, or not to see it; it is wholly hid from
   them; but the saints, by the mighty power of God, have it discovered to
   them; they have that supernatural, most noble and divine sense given
   them, by which they perceive it; and it is this that captivates their
   hearts, and delights them above all things; it is the most amiable and
   sweet thing to the heart of a true saint, that is to be found in heaven
   or earth; that which above all others attracts and engages his soul;
   and that whereby above all things, he places his happiness, and which
   he lots upon for solace and entertainment to his mind, in this world,
   and full satisfaction and blessedness in another. By this, you may
   examine your love to God, and to Jesus Christ, and to the word of God,
   and your joy in them, and also your love to the people of God, and your
   desires after heaven; whether they be from a supreme delight in this
   sort of beauty, without being primarily moved from your imagined
   interest in them, or expectations from them. There are many high
   affections, great seeming love and rapturous joys, which have nothing
   of this holy relish belonging to them.

   Particularly, by what has been said you may try your discoveries of the
   glory of God's grace and love, and your affections arising from them.
   The grace of God may appear lovely two ways; either as bonum utile, a
   profitable good to me, that which greatly serves my interest, and so
   suits my self-love; or as bonum formosum, a beautiful good in itself,
   and part of the moral and spiritual excellency of the divine nature. In
   this latter respect it is that the true saints have their hearts
   affected, and love captivated by the free grace of God in the first

   From the things that have been said, it appears, that if persons have a
   great sense of the natural perfections of God, and are greatly affected
   with them, or have any other sight or sense of God than that which
   consists in, or implies a sense of the beauty of his moral perfections,
   it is no certain sign of grace; as particularly men's having a great
   sense of the awful greatness and terrible majesty of God; for this is
   only God's natural perfection, and what men may see and yet be entirely
   blind to the beauty of his moral perfection, and have nothing of that
   spiritual taste which relishes this divine sweetness.

   It has been shown already, in what was said upon the first
   distinguishing mark of gracious affections, that that which is
   spiritual, is entirely different in its nature, from all that it is
   possible any graceless person should be the subject of, while he
   continues graceless. But it is possible that those who are wholly
   without grace should have a clear sight and very great and affecting
   sense of God's greatness, his mighty power, and awful majesty; for this
   is what the devils have, though they have lost the spiritual knowledge
   of God, consisting in a sense of the amiableness of his moral
   perfections; they are perfectly destitute of any sense or relish of
   that kind of beauty, yet they have a very great knowledge of the
   natural glory of God (if I may so speak), or his awful greatness and
   majesty; this they behold, and are affected with the apprehensions of,
   and therefore tremble before him. This glory of God all shall behold at
   the day of judgment; God will make all rational beings to behold it to
   a great degree indeed, angels and devils, saints and sinners: Christ
   will manifest his infinite greatness, and awful majesty, to everyone,
   in a most open, clear, and convincing manner, and in a light that none
   can resist, "when he shall come in the glory of his Father, and every
   eye shall see him;" when they shall cry to the mountains to fall upon
   them, to hide them from the face of him that sits upon the throne, they
   are represented as seeing the glory of God's majesty, Isa. 2:10, 19,
   21. God will make all his enemies to behold this, and to live in a most
   clear and affecting view of it, in hell, to all eternity. God hath
   often declared his immutable purpose to make all his enemies to know
   him in this respect, in so often annexing these words to the
   threatenings he denounces against them: "And they shall know that I am
   the Lord;" yea he hath sworn that all men shall see his glory in this
   respect: Numb. 14:21, "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be
   filled with the glory of the Lord." And this kind of manifestation of
   God is very often spoken of in Scripture, as made, or to be made, in
   the sight of God's enemies in this world, Exod. 9:16, and chap. 14:18,
   and 15:16, Psal. 66:3, and 46:10, and other places innumerable. This
   was a manifestation which God made of himself in the sight of that
   wicked congregation at Mount Sinai; deeply affecting them with it; so
   that all the people in the camp trembled. Wicked men and devils will
   see, and have a great sense of everything that appertains to the glory
   of God, but only the beauty of his moral perfection; they will see his
   infinite greatness and majesty, his infinite power, and will be fully
   convinced of his omniscience, and his eternity and immutability; and
   they will see and know everything appertaining to his moral attributes
   themselves, but only the beauty and amiableness of them; they will see
   and know that he is perfectly just, and righteous, and true, and that
   he is a holy God, of purer eyes than to behold evil, who cannot look on
   iniquity; and they will see the wonderful manifestations of his
   infinite goodness and free grace to the saints; and there is nothing
   will be hid from their eyes, but only the beauty of these moral
   attributes, and that beauty of the other attributes, which arises from
   it. And so natural men in this world are capable of having a very
   affecting sense of everything else that appertains to God, but this
   only. Nebuchadnezzar had a great and very affecting sense of the
   infinite greatness and awful majesty of God, of his supreme and
   absolute dominion, and mighty and irresistible power, and of his
   sovereignty, and that he, and all the inhabitants of the earth were
   nothing before him; and also had a great conviction in his conscience
   of his justice, and an affecting sense of his great goodness, Dan. 4:1,
   2, 3, 34, 35, 37. And the sense that Darius had of God's perfections,
   seems to be very much like his, Dan. 6:25, &c. But the saints and
   angels do behold the glory of God consisting in the beauty of his
   holiness; and it is this sight only that will melt and humble the
   hearts of men, and wean them from the world, and draw them to God, and
   effectually change them. A sight of the awful greatness of God, may
   overpower men's strength, and be more than they can endure; but if the
   moral beauty of God be hid, the enmity of the heart will remain in its
   full strength, no love will be enkindled, all will not be effectual to
   gain the will, but that will remain inflexible; whereas the first
   glimpse of the moral and spiritual glory of God shining into the heart,
   produces all these effects as it were with omnipotent power, which
   nothing can withstand.

   The sense that natural men may have of the awful greatness of God may
   affect them various ways; it may not only terrify them, but it may
   elevate them, and raise their joy and praise, as their circumstances
   may be. This will be the natural effect of it, under the real or
   supposed receipt of some extraordinary mercy from God, by the influence
   of mere principles of nature. It has been shown already, that the
   receipt of kindness may, by the influence of natural principles, affect
   the heart with gratitude and praise to God; but if a person, at the
   same time that he receives remarkable kindness from God, has a sense of
   his infinite greatness, and that he is but nothing in comparison of
   him, surely this will naturally raise his gratitude and praise the
   higher, for kindness to one so much inferior. A sense of God's
   greatness had this effect upon Nebuchadnezzar, under the receipt of
   that extraordinary favor of his restoration, after he had been driven
   from men, and had his dwelling with the beasts: a sense of God's
   exceeding greatness raises his gratitude very high; so that he does, in
   the most lofty terms, extol and magnify God, and calls upon all the
   world to do it with him; and much more if a natural man, at the same
   time that he is greatly affected with God's infinite greatness and
   majesty, entertains a strong conceit that this great God has made him
   his child and special favorite, and promised him eternal glory in his
   highest love, will this have a tendency, according to the course of
   nature, to raise his joy and praise to a great height.

   Therefore, it is beyond doubt that too much weight has been laid, by
   many persons of late, on discoveries of God's greatness, awful majesty,
   and natural perfection, operating after this manner, without any real
   view of the holy majesty of God. And experience does abundantly witness
   to what reason and Scripture declare as to this matter; there having
   been very many persons, who have seemed to be overpowered with the
   greatness and majesty of God, and consequently elevated in the manner
   that has been spoken of, who have been very far from having appearances
   of a Christian spirit and temper, in any manner of proportion, or
   fruits in practice in any wise agreeable; but their discoveries have
   worked in a way contrary to the operation of truly spiritual

   Not that a sense of God's greatness and natural attributes is not
   exceeding useful and necessary. For, as I observed before, this is
   implied in a manifestation of the beauty of God's holiness. Though that
   be something beyond it, it supposes it, as the greater supposes the
   less. And though natural men may have a sense of the natural
   perfections of God; yet undoubtedly this is more frequent and common
   with the saints than with natural men; and grace tends to enable men to
   see these things in a better manner than natural men do; and not only
   enables them to see God's natural attributes, but that beauty of those
   attributes, which (according to our way of conceiving of God) is
   derived from his holiness.

   [51] "To the right closing with Christ's person, this is always
   required, to taste the bitterness of sin, as the greatest evil: else a
   man will never close with Christ, for his holiness in him, and from
   him, as the greatest good. For we told you, that that is the right
   closing with Christ for himself, when it is for his holiness. For ask a
   whorish heart, what beauty he sees in the person of Christ; he will,
   after he has looked over his kingdom, his righteousness, and all his
   works, see a beauty in them, because they do serve his turn, to comfort
   him only. Ask a virgin, he will see his happiness in all; but that
   which makes the Lord amiable is his holiness, which is in him to make
   him holy too. As in marriage, it is the personal beauty draws the
   heart. And hence I have thought it reason, that he that loves the
   brethren for a little grace, will love Christ much more." Shepard's
   Parable, Part I. p. 84.

   IV. Gracious affections do arise from the mind's being enlightened,
   richly and spiritually to understand or apprehend divine things.

   Holy affections are not heat without light; but evermore arise from the
   information of the understanding, some spiritual instruction that the
   mind receives, some light or actual knowledge. The child of God is
   graciously affected, because he sees and understands something more of
   divine things than he did before, more of God or Christ, and of the
   glorious things exhibited in the gospel; he has some clearer and better
   view than he had before, when he was not affected: either he receives
   some understanding of divine things that is new to him; or has his
   former knowledge renewed after the view was decayed: 1 John 4:7,
   "Everyone that loveth, knoweth God." Phil. 1:9, "I pray that your love
   may abound more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment." Rom. 10:2,
   "They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." Col. 3:10,
   "The new man, which is renewed in knowledge." Psalm 43:3, 4, "O send
   out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, let them bring me unto
   thy holy hill." John 6:45, "It is written in the prophets, And they
   shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and
   learned of the Father, cometh unto me." Knowledge is the key that first
   opens the hard heart, and enlarges the affections, and so opens the way
   for men into the kingdom of heaven; Luke 11:52, "Ye have taken away the
   key of knowledge."

   Now there are many affections which do not arise from any light in the
   understanding. And when it is thus, it is a sure evidence that these
   affections are not spiritual, let them be ever so high. [52] Indeed
   they have some new apprehensions which they had not before. Such is the
   nature of man, that it is impossible his mind should be affected,
   unless it be by something that he apprehends, or that his mind
   conceives of. But in many persons those apprehensions or conceptions
   that they have, wherewith they are affected, have nothing of the nature
   of knowledge or instruction in them. As for instance, when a person is
   affected with a lively idea, suddenly excited in his mind, of some
   shape or very beautiful pleasant form of countenance, or some shining
   light, or other glorious outward appearance: here is something
   apprehended or conceived by the mind; but there is nothing of the
   nature of instruction in it; persons become never the wiser by such
   things, or more knowing about God, or a Mediator between God and man,
   or the way of salvation by Christ, or anything contained in any of the
   doctrines of the gospel. Persons by these external ideas have no
   further acquaintance with God, as to any of the attributes or
   perfections of his nature; nor have they any further understanding of
   his word, or any of his ways or works. Truly spiritual and gracious
   affections are not raised after this manner; these arise from the
   enlightening of the understanding to understand the things that are
   taught of God and Christ, in a new manner, the coming to a new
   understanding of the excellent nature of God, and his wonderful
   perfections, some new view of Christ in his spiritual excellencies and
   fullness, or things opened to him in a new manner, that appertain to
   the way of salvation by Christ, whereby he now sees how it is, and
   understands those divine and spiritual doctrines which once were
   foolishness to him. Such enlightenings of the understanding as these,
   are things entirely different in their nature from strong ideas of
   shapes and colors, and outward brightness and glory, or sounds and
   voices. That all gracious affections do arise from some instruction or
   enlightening of the understanding, is therefore a further proof, that
   affections which arise from such impression on the imagination, are not
   gracious affections, besides the things observed before, which make
   this evident.

   Hence also it appears, that affections arising from texts of Scripture
   coming to the mind: are vain, when no instruction received in the
   understanding from those texts, or anything taught in those texts, is
   the ground of the affection, but the manner of their coming to the
   mind. When Christ makes the Scripture a means of the heart's burning
   with gracious affection, it is by opening the Scriptures to their
   understandings; Luke 24:32, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he
   talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
   It appears also that the affection which is occasioned by the coming of
   a text of Scripture must be vain, when the affection is founded on some
   thing that is supposed to be taught by it, which really is not
   contained in it nor in any other Scripture; because such supposed
   instruction is not real instruction, but a mistake and misapprehension
   of the mind. As for instance, when persons suppose that they are
   expressly taught by some Scripture coming to their minds, that they in
   particular are beloved of God, or that their sins are forgiven, that
   God is their Father, and the like, this is a mistake or
   misapprehension; for the Scripture nowhere reveals the individual
   persons who are be loved, expressly; but only by consequence, by
   revealing the qualifications of persons that are beloved of God: and
   therefore this matter is not to be learned from Scripture any other way
   than by consequence, and from these qualifications; for things are not
   to be learned from the Scripture any other way than they are taught in
   the Scripture.

   Affections really arise from ignorance, rather than instruction, in
   these instances which have been mentioned; as likewise in some others
   that might be mentioned. As some, when they find themselves free of
   speech in prayer, they call it God's being with them; and this affects
   them more; and so their affections are set agoing and increased; when
   they look not into the cause of this freedom of speech, which may arise
   many other ways besides God's spiritual presence. So some are much
   affected with some apt thoughts that come into their minds about the
   Scripture, and call it the Spirit of God teaching them. So they ascribe
   many of the workings of their own minds, which they have a high opinion
   of, and are pleased and taken with, to the special immediate influences
   of God's Spirit; and so are mightily affected with their privilege. And
   there are some instances of persons, in whom it seems manifest, that
   the first ground of their affection is some bodily sensation. The
   animal spirits, by some cause (and probably sometimes by the devil) are
   suddenly and unaccountably put into a very agreeable motion, causing
   persons to feel pleasantly in their bodies; the animal spirits are put
   into such a motion as is wont to be connected with the exhilaration of
   the mind; and the soul, by the laws of the union of soul and body,
   hence feels pleasure. The motion of the animal spirits does not first
   arise from any affection or apprehension of the mind whatsoever; but
   the very first thing that is felt, is an exhilaration of the animal
   spirits, and a pleasant external sensation it may be in their breasts.
   Hence through ignorance the person being surprised, begins to think,
   surely this is the Holy Ghost coming into him. And then the mind begins
   to be affected and raised. There is first great joy; and then many
   other affections, in a very tumultuous manner putting all nature, both
   body and mind, into a mighty ruffle. For though, as I observed before,
   it is the soul only that is the seat of the affections; yet this
   hinders not but that bodily sensations may, in this manner, be an
   occasion of affections in the mind.

   And if men's religious affections do truly arise from some instruction
   or light in the understanding; yet the affection is not gracious,
   unless the light which is the ground of it be spiritual. Affections may
   be excited by that understanding of things, which they obtain merely by
   human teaching, with the common improvement of the faculties of the
   mind. Men may be much affected by knowledge of things of religion that
   they obtain this way; as some philosophers have been mightily affected
   and almost carried beyond themselves, by the discoveries they have made
   in mathematics and natural philosophy. So men may be much affected from
   common illuminations of the Spirit of God, in which God assists men's
   faculties to a greater degree of that kind of understanding of
   religious matters, which they have in some degree, by only the ordinary
   exercise and improvement of their own faculties. Such illuminations may
   much affect the mind; as in many whom we read of in Scripture, that
   were once enlightened; but these affections are not spiritual.

   There is such a thing, if the Scriptures are of any use to teach us
   anything, as a spiritual, supernatural understanding of divine things,
   that is peculiar to the saints, and which those who are not saints have
   nothing of. It is certainly a kind of understanding, apprehending or
   discerning of divine things, that natural men have nothing of, which
   the apostle speaks of, 1 Cor. 2:14: "But the natural man receiveth not
   the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him;
   neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." It
   is certainly a kind of seeing or discerning spiritual things peculiar
   to the saints, which is spoken of, 1 John 3:6: "Whosoever sinneth, hath
   not been him, neither known him." 3 John 11, "He that doeth evil, hath
   not seen God." And John 6:40, "This is the will of him that sent me,
   that everyone that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have
   everlasting life." Chap. 14:19, "The world seeth me no more; but ye see
   me." Chap. 17:3, "This is eternal life, that they might know thee, the
   only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Matt. 11:27, "No
   man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the
   Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
   John 12:45, "He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me." Psal. 9:10,
   "They that know thy name, will put their trust in thee." Phil. 3:8, "I
   count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of
   Christ Jesus my Lord:"--ver. 10, "That I may know him." And innumerable
   other places there are, all over the Bible, which show the same. And
   that there is such a thing as an understanding of divine things, which
   in its nature and kind is wholly different from all knowledge that
   natural men have, is evident from this, that there is an understanding
   of divine things, which the scripture calls spiritual understanding,
   Col. 1:9: "We do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you may
   be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual
   understanding." It has been already shown, that that which is
   spiritual, in the ordinary use of the word in the New Testament, is
   entirely different in nature and kind, from all which natural men are,
   or can be the subjects of.

   From hence it may be surely inferred wherein spiritual understanding
   consists. For if there be in the saints a kind of apprehension or
   perception, which is in its nature perfectly diverse from all that
   natural men have, or that it is possible they should have, until they
   have a new nature; it must consist in their having a certain kind of
   ideas or sensations of mind, which are simply diverse from all that is
   or can be in the minds of natural men. And that is the same thing as to
   say, that it consists in the sensations of a new spiritual sense, which
   the souls of natural men have not; as is evident by what has been
   before, once and again observed. But I have already shown what that new
   spiritual sense is which the saints have given them in regeneration,
   and what is the object of it. I have shown that the immediate object of
   it is the supreme beauty and excellency of the nature of divine things,
   as they are in themselves. And this is agreeable to the Scripture; the
   apostle very plainly teaches, that the great thing discovered by
   spiritual light, and understood by spiritual knowledge, is the glory of
   divine things, 2 Cor. 4:3, 4: "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to
   them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the
   minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel
   of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them;" together
   with ver. 6: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of
   darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the
   knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ." And chap.
   3:18, preceding: "But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass
   the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to
   glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." And it must needs be so,
   for, as has been before observed, the Scripture often teaches that all
   true religion summarily consists in the love of divine things. And
   therefore that kind of understanding or knowledge, which is the proper
   foundation of true religion, must be the knowledge of the loveliness of
   divine things. For doubtless, that knowledge which is the proper
   foundation of love, is the knowledge of loveliness. What that beauty of
   divine things is, which is the proper and immediate object of a
   spiritual sense of mind, was showed under the last head insisted on,
   viz., that it is the beauty of their moral perfection. Therefore it is
   in the view or sense of this, that spiritual understanding does more
   immediately and primarily consist. And indeed it is plain it can be
   nothing else; for (as has been shown) there is nothing pertaining to
   divine things besides the beauty of their moral excellency, and those
   properties and qualities of divine things which this beauty is the
   foundation of, but what natural men and devils can see and know, and
   will know fully and clearly to all eternity.

   From what has been said, therefore, we come necessarily to this
   conclusion, concerning that wherein spiritual understanding consists,
   viz., that it consists in "a sense of the heart, of the supreme beauty
   and sweetness of the holiness or moral perfection of divine things,
   together with all that discerning and knowledge of things of religion,
   that depends upon, and flows from such a sense."

   Spiritual understanding consists primarily in a sense of heart of that
   spiritual beauty. I say, a sense of heart; for it is not speculation
   merely that is concerned in this kind of understanding; nor can there
   be a clear distinction made between the two faculties of understanding
   and will, as acting distinctly and separately, in this matter. When the
   mind is sensible of the sweet beauty and amiableness of a thing, that
   implies a sensibleness of sweetness and delight in the presence of the
   idea of it: and this sensibleness of the amiableness or delightfulness
   of beauty, carries in the very nature of it the sense of the heart; or
   an effect and impression the soul is the subject of, as a substance
   possessed of taste, inclination and will.

   There is a distinction to be made between a mere notional understanding
   wherein the mind only beholds things in the exercise of a speculative
   faculty; and the sense of the heart, wherein the mind does not only
   speculate and behold, but relishes and feels. That sort of knowledge,
   by which a man has a sensible perception of amiableness and
   loathsomeness, or of sweetness and nauseousness, is not just the same
   sort of knowledge with that by which he knows what a triangle is, and
   what a square is. The one is mere speculative knowledge, the other
   sensible knowledge, in which more than the mere intellect is concerned;
   the heart is the proper subject of it, or the soul, as a being that not
   only beholds, but has inclination, and is pleased or displeased. And
   yet there is the nature of instruction in it; as he that has perceived
   the sweet taste of honey, knows much more about it, than he who has
   only looked upon, and felt of it.

   The apostle seems to make a distinction between mere speculative
   knowledge of the things of religion, and spiritual knowledge, in
   calling that the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law, Rom.
   2:20, "Which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law."
   The latter is often represented by relishing, smelling, or tasting 2
   Cor. 2:14, "Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in
   Christ Jesus, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge in every
   place." Matt. 16:23, "Thou savorest not the things that be of God, but
   those things that be of men." 1 Pet. 2:2, 3, "As new born babes, desire
   the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby; if so be ye
   have tasted that the Lord is gracious." Cant. 1:3, "Because of the
   savor of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth,
   therefore do the virgins love thee;" compared with 1 John 2:20, "But ye
   have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things."

   Spiritual understanding primarily consists in this sense, of taste of
   the moral beauty of divine things; so that no knowledge can be called
   spiritual, any further than it arises from this, and has this in it.
   But secondarily it includes all that discerning and knowledge of things
   of religion, which depend upon and flow from such a sense.

   When the true beauty and amiableness of the holiness or true moral good
   that is in divine things is discovered to the soul, it as it were opens
   a new world to its views. This shows the glory of all the perfections
   of God, and of everything appertaining to the divine Being. For, as was
   observed before, the beauty of all arises from God's moral perfection.
   This shows the glory of all God's works, both of creation and
   providence. For it is the special glory of them, that God's holiness,
   righteousness, faithfulness, and goodness, are so manifested in them;
   and without these moral perfections, there would be no glory in that
   power and skill with which they are wrought. The glorifying of God's
   moral perfections, is the special end of all the works of God's hands.
   By this sense of the moral beauty of divine things, is understood the
   sufficiency of Christ as a mediator; for it is only by the discovery of
   the beauty of the moral perfection of Christ, that the believer is let
   into the knowledge of the excellency of his person, so as to know
   anything more of it than the devils do; and it is only by the knowledge
   of the excellency of Christ's person, that any know his sufficiency as
   a mediator; for the latter depends upon, and arises from the former. It
   is by seeing the excellency of Christ's person, that the saints are
   made sensible of the preciousness of his blood, and its sufficiency to
   atone for sin; for therein consists the preciousness of Christ's blood,
   that it is the blood of so excellent and amiable a person. And on this
   depends the meritoriousness of his obedience, and sufficiency and
   prevalence of his intercession. By this sight of the moral beauty of
   divine things, is seen the beauty of the way of salvation by Christ;
   for that consists in the beauty of the moral perfections of God, which
   wonderfully shines forth in every step of this method of salvation,
   from beginning to end. By this is seen the fitness and suitableness of
   this way: for this wholly consists in its tendency to deliver us from
   sin and hell, and to bring us to the happiness which consists in the
   possession and enjoyment of moral good, in a way sweetly agreeing with
   God's moral perfections. And in the way's being contrived so as to
   attain these ends, consists the excellent wisdom of that way. By this
   is seen the excellency of the word of God. Take away all the moral
   beauty and sweetness in the word, and the Bible is left wholly a dead
   letter, a dry, lifeless, tasteless thing. By this is seen the true
   foundation of our duty, the worthiness of God to be so esteemed,
   honored, loved, submitted to, and served, as he requires of us, and the
   amiableness of the duties themselves that are required of us. And by
   this is seen the true evil of sin; for he who sees the beauty of
   holiness, must necessarily see the hatefulness of sin, its contrary. By
   this men understand the true glory of heaven, which consists in the
   beauty and happiness that is in holiness. By this is seen the
   amiableness and happiness of both saints and angels. He that sees the
   beauty of holiness, or true moral good, sees the greatest and most
   important thing in the world, which is the fullness of all things,
   without which all the world is empty, no better than nothing, yea,
   worse than nothing. Unless this is seen, nothing is seen that is worth
   the seeing; for there is no other true excellency or beauty. Unless
   this be understood, nothing is understood that is worthy of the
   exercise of the noble faculty of understanding. This is the beauty of
   the Godhead, and the divinity of divinity (if I may so speak), the good
   of the infinite fountain of good; without which, God himself (if that
   were possible) would be an infinite evil; without which we ourselves
   had better never have been; and without which there had better have
   been no being. He therefore in effect knows nothing, that knows not
   this; his knowledge is but the shadow of knowledge, or the form of
   knowledge, as the apostle calls it. Well therefore may the Scriptures
   represent those who are destitute of that spiritual sense by which is
   perceived the beauty of holiness, as totally blind, deaf, and
   senseless, yea, dead. And well may regeneration, in which this divine
   sense is given to the soul by its Creator, be represented as opening
   the blind eyes, and raising the dead, and bringing a person into a new
   world. For if what has been said be considered, it will be manifest,
   that when a person has this sense and knowledge given him, he will view
   nothing as he did before; though before he knew all things "after the
   flesh, yet henceforth he will know them so no more; and he is become a
   new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become
   new;" agreeable to 2 Cor. 5:16, 17.

   And besides the things that have been already mentioned, there arises
   from this sense of spiritual beauty, all true experimental knowledge of
   religion, which is of itself as it were a new world of knowledge. He
   that sees not the beauty of holiness, knows not what one of the graces
   of God's Spirit is, he is destitute of any idea or conception of all
   gracious exercises of the soul, and all holy comforts and delights, and
   all effects of the saving influences of the Spirit of God on the heart;
   and so is ignorant of the greatest works of God, the most important and
   glorious effects of his power upon the creature; and also is wholly
   ignorant of the saints as saints, he knows not what they are; and in
   effect is ignorant of the whole spiritual world.

   Things being thus, it plainly appears, that God's implanting that
   spiritual supernatural sense which has been spoken of, makes a great
   change in a man. And were it not for the very imperfect degree, in
   which this sense is commonly given at first, or the small degree of
   this glorious light, that first dawns upon the soul; the change made by
   this spiritual opening of the eyes in conversion, would be much greater
   and more remarkable every way, than if a man, who had been born blind,
   and with only the other four senses, should continue so a long time,
   and then at once should have the sense of seeing imparted to him, in
   the midst of the clear light of the sun, discovering a world of visible
   objects. For though sight be more noble than any of the other external
   senses, yet this spiritual sense which has been spoken of, is
   infinitely more noble than that, or any other principle of discerning
   that a man naturally has, and the object of this sense infinitely
   greater and more important.

   This sort of understanding or knowledge, is that knowledge of divine
   things from whence all truly gracious affections do proceed; by which
   therefore all affections are to be tried. Those affections that arise
   wholly from any other kind of knowledge, or do result from any other
   kind of apprehensions of mind, are vain.

   From what has been said, may be learned wherein the most essential
   difference lies between that light or understanding which is given by
   the common influences of the Spirit of God, on the hearts of natural
   men, and that saving instruction which is given to the saints. The
   latter primarily and most essentially lies in beholding the holy beauty
   that is in divine things; which is the only true moral good, and which
   the soul of fallen man is by nature totally blind to. The former
   consists only in a further understanding, through the assistance of
   natural principles, of those things which men may know, in some
   measure, by the alone ordinary exercise of their faculties. And this
   knowledge consists only in the knowledge of those things pertaining to
   religion, which are natural. Thus for instance, in those awakenings of
   the conscience, that natural men are often subject to, the Spirit of
   God gives no knowledge of the true moral beauty which is in divine
   things; but only assists the mind to a clearer idea of the guilt of
   sin, or its relation to punishment, and connection with the evil of
   suffering (without any sight of its moral evil, or odiousness as sin),
   and a clearer idea of the natural perfections of God, wherein consists,
   not his holy beauty and glory, but his awful and terrible greatness. It
   is a clear sight of this, that will fully awaken the consciences of
   wicked men at the day of judgment, without any spiritual light. And it
   is a less degree of the same that awakens the consciences of natural
   men, without spiritual light in this world. The same discoveries are in
   some measure given in the conscience of an awakened sinner in this
   world, which will be given more fully, in the consciences of sinners at
   the day of judgment. The same kind of sight or apprehension of God, in
   a less degree, makes awakened sinners in this world sensible of the
   dreadful guilt of sin, against so great and terrible a God, and
   sensible of its amazing punishment, and fills them with fearful
   apprehensions of divine wrath, that will thoroughly convince all wicked
   men, of the infinitely dreadful nature and guilt of sin, and astonish
   them with apprehensions of wrath, when Christ shall come in the glory
   of his power and majesty, and every eye shall see him, and all the
   kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. And in those common
   illuminations which are sometimes given to natural men, exciting in
   them some kind of religious desire, love, and joy, the mind is only
   assisted to a clearer apprehension of the natural good that is in
   divine things. Thus sometimes, under common illuminations, men are
   raised with the ideas of the natural good that is in heaven; as its
   outward glory; its ease, its honor and advancement, a being there the
   object of the high favor of God, and the great respect of men, and
   angels, &c. So there are many things exhibited in the gospel concerning
   God and Christ, and the way of salvation, that have a natural good in
   them, which suits the natural principle of self-love. Thus in that
   great goodness of God to sinners, and the wonderful dying love of
   Christ, there is a natural good which all men love, as they love
   themselves; as well as a spiritual and holy beauty, which is seen only
   by the regenerate. Therefore there are many things appertaining to the
   word of God's grace delivered in the gospel, which may cause natural
   men, when they hear it, anon with joy to receive it. All that love
   which natural men have to God and Christ, and Christian virtues, and
   good men, is not from any sight of the amiableness of the holiness, or
   true moral excellency of these things; but only for the sake of the
   natural good there is in them. All natural men's hatred of sin, is as
   much from principles of nature, as men's hatred of a tiger for his
   rapaciousness, or their aversion to a serpent for his poison and
   hurtfulness; and all their love of Christian virtue, is from no higher
   principle, than their love of a man's good nature, which appears
   amiable to natural men; but no otherwise than silver and gold appears
   amiable in the eyes of a merchant, or than the blackness of the soil is
   beautiful in the eyes of the farmer.

   From what has been said of the nature of spiritual understanding, it
   appears that spiritual understanding does not consist in any new
   doctrinal knowledge or in having suggested to the mind any new
   proposition, not before read or heard of; for it is plain that this
   suggesting of new propositions, is a thing entirely diverse from giving
   the mind a new taste or relish of beauty and sweetness. [53] It is also
   evident that spiritual knowledge does not consist in any new doctrinal
   explanation of any part of the Scripture; for still, this is but
   doctrinal knowledge, or the knowledge of propositions; the doctrinal
   explaining of an part of Scripture, is only giving us to understand
   what are the propositions contained or taught in that part of

   Hence it appears, that the spiritual understanding of the Scripture,
   does not consist in opening to the mind the mystical meaning of the
   Scripture, in its parables, types, and allegories; for this is only a
   doctrinal explication of the Scripture. He that explains what is meant
   by the stony ground, and the seed's springing up suddenly, and quickly
   withering away, only explains what propositions or doctrines are taught
   in it. So he that explains what is typified by Jacob's ladder, and the
   angels of God ascending and descending on it, or what was typified by
   Joshua's leading Israel through Jordan, only shows what propositions
   are hid in these passages. And many men can explain these types who
   have no spiritual knowledge. It is possible that a man might know how
   to interpret all the types, parables, enigmas, and allegories in the
   Bible, and not have one beam of spiritual light in his mind; because he
   may not have the least degree of that spiritual sense of the holy
   beauty of divine things which has been spoken of, and may see nothing
   of this kind of glory in anything contained in any of these mysteries,
   or any other part of the Scripture. It is plain, by what the apostle
   says, that a man might understand all such mysteries, and have no
   saving grace, 1 Cor. 13:2: "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and
   understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not charity, it
   profiteth me nothing." They therefore are very foolish, who are exalted
   in an opinion of their own spiritual attainments, from notions that
   come into their minds, of the mystical meaning of these and those
   passages of Scripture, as though it was a spiritual understanding of
   these passages, immediately given them by the Spirit of God, and hence
   have their affections highly raised; and what has been said shows the
   vanity of such affections.

   From what has been said, it is also evident, that it is not spiritual
   knowledge for persons to be informed of their duty, by having it
   immediately suggested to their minds, that such and such outward
   actions or deeds are the will of God. If we suppose that it is truly
   God's manner thus to signify his will to his people, by immediate
   inward suggestions, such suggestions have nothing of the nature of
   spiritual light. Such kind of knowledge would only be one kind of
   doctrinal knowledge; a proposition concerning the will of God, is as
   properly a doctrine of religion, as a proposition concerning the nature
   of God, or a work of God; and a having either of these kinds of
   propositions, or any other proposition, declared to a man, either by
   speech, or inward suggestion, differs vastly from a having the holy
   beauty of divine things manifested to the soul, wherein spiritual
   knowledge does most essentially consist. Thus there was no spiritual
   light in Balaam; though he had the will of God immediately suggested to
   him by the Spirit of God from time to time, concerning the way that he
   should go, and what he should do and say.

   It is manifest, therefore, that a being led and directed in this
   manner, is not that holy and spiritual leading of the Spirit of God,
   which is peculiar to the saints, and a distinguishing mark of the sons
   of God, spoken of, Rom. 8:14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of
   God, are the sons of God." Gal. 5:18, "But if ye be led by the Spirit,
   ye are not under the law."

   And if persons have the will of God concerning their actions, suggested
   to them by some text of Scripture, suddenly and extraordinarily brought
   to their minds, which text, as the words lay in the Bible before they
   came to their minds, related to the action and behavior of some other
   person, but they suppose, as God sent the words to them, he intended
   something further by them, and meant such a particular action of
   theirs; I say, if persons should have the will of God thus suggested to
   them with texts of Scripture, it alters not the case. The suggestion
   being accompanied with an apt text of Scripture, does not make the
   suggestion to be the nature of spiritual instruction. As for instance,
   if a person in New England, on some occasion, were at a loss whether it
   was his duty to go into some popish or heathenish land, where he was
   like to be exposed to many difficulties and dangers, and should pray to
   God that he would show him the way of his duty; and after earnest
   prayer, should have those words which God spake to Jacob, Gen. 46,
   suddenly and extraordinarily brought to his mind, as if they were
   spoken to him; "Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will go with
   thee; and I will also surely bring you up again." In which words,
   though as they lay in the Bible before they came to his mind, they
   related only to Jacob, and his behavior; yet he supposes that God has a
   further meaning, as they were brought and applied to him; that thus
   they are to be understood in a new sense, that by Egypt is to be
   understood this particular country he has in his mind, and that the
   action intended is his going thither, and that the meaning of the
   promise is, that God would bring him back into New England again. There
   is nothing of the nature of a spiritual or gracious leading of the
   Spirit in this; for there is nothing of the nature of spiritual
   understanding in it. Thus to understand texts of Scripture, is not to
   have a spiritual understanding of them. Spiritually to understand the
   Scriptures, is rightly to understand what is in the Scripture, and what
   was in it before it was understood: it is to understand rightly, what
   used to be contained in the meaning of it, and not the making of a new
   meaning. When the mind is enlightened spiritually and rightly to
   understand the Scripture, it is enabled to see that in the Scripture,
   which before was not seen by reason of blindness. But if it was by
   reason of blindness, that is an evidence that the same meaning was in
   it before, otherwise it would have been no blindness not to see it; it
   is no blindness not to see a meaning which is not there. Spiritually
   enlightening the eyes to understand the Scripture, is to open the eyes:
   Psal. 119:18, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things
   out of thy law;" which argues that the reason why the same was not seen
   in the Scripture before, was that the eyes were shut; which would not
   be the case, if the meaning that is now understood was not there
   before, but is now newly added to the Scripture, by the manner of the
   Scripture's coming to my mind. This making a new meaning to the
   Scripture, is the same thing as making a new Scripture; it is properly
   adding to the word, which is threatened with so dreadful a curse.
   Spiritually to understand the Scripture, is to have the eyes of the
   mind opened, to behold the wonderful spiritual excellency of the
   glorious things contained in the true meaning of it, and that always
   were contained in it, ever since it was written; to behold the amiable
   and bright manifestations of the divine perfections, and of the
   excellency and sufficiency of Christ, and the excellency and
   suitableness of the way of salvation by Christ, and the spiritual glory
   of the precepts and promises of the Scripture, &c., which things are,
   and always were in the Bible, and would have been seen before, if it
   had not been for blindness, without having any new sense added, by the
   words being sent by God to a particular person, and spoken anew to him,
   with a new meaning.

   And as to a gracious leading of the Spirit, it consists in two things:
   partly in instructing a person in his duty by the Spirit, and partly in
   powerfully inducing him to comply with that instruction. But so far as
   the gracious leading of the Spirit lies in instruction, it consists in
   a person's being guided by a spiritual and distinguishing taste of that
   which has in it true moral beauty. I have shown that spiritual
   knowledge primarily consists in a taste or relish of the amiableness
   and beauty of that which is truly good and holy: this holy relish is a
   thing that discerns and distinguishes between good and evil, between
   holy and unholy, without being at the trouble of a train of reasoning.
   As he who has a true relish of external beauty, knows what is beautiful
   by looking upon it; he stands in no need of a train of reasoning about
   the proportion of the features, in order to determine whether that
   which he sees be a beautiful countenance or no; he needs nothing, but
   only the glance of his eye. He who has a rectified musical ear, knows
   whether the sound he hears be true harmony; he does not need first to
   be at the trouble of the reasonings of a mathematician about the
   proportion of the notes. He that has a rectified palate knows what is
   good food, as soon as he tastes it, without the reasoning of a
   physician about it. There is a holy beauty and sweetness in words and
   actions, as well as a natural beauty in countenances and sounds, and
   sweetness in food: Job 12:11, "Doth not the ear try words, and the
   mouth taste his meat?" When a holy and amiable action is suggested to
   the thoughts of a holy soul, that soul, if in the lively exercise of
   its spiritual taste, at once sees a beauty in it, and so inclines to
   it, and closes with it. On the contrary, if an unworthy, unholy action
   be suggested to it, its sanctified eye sees no beauty in it, and is not
   pleased with it; its sanctified taste relishes no sweetness in it, but
   on the contrary, it is nauseous to it. Yea, its holy taste and appetite
   leads it to think of that which is truly lovely, and naturally suggests
   it; as a healthy taste and appetite naturally suggests the idea of its
   proper object. Thus a holy person is led by the Spirit, as he is
   instructed and led by his holy taste and disposition of heart; whereby,
   in the lively exercise of grace, he easily distinguishes good and evil,
   and knows at once what is a suitable amiable behavior towards God, and
   towards man, in this case and the other, and Judges what is right, as
   it were spontaneously, and of himself, without a particular deduction,
   by any other arguments than the beauty that is seen, and goodness that
   is tasted. Thus Christ blames the Pharisees, that they "did not, even
   of their own selves, judge what was right," without needing miracles to
   prove it, Luke 12:57. The apostle seems plainly to have respect to this
   way of judging of spiritual beauty, in Rom. 12:2: "Be ye transformed by
   the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and
   perfect, and acceptable will of God."

   There is such a thing as good taste of natural beauty (which learned
   men often speak of) that is exercised about temporal things, in judging
   of them, as about the justness of a speech, the goodness of style, the
   beauty of a poem, the gracefulness of deportment, &c. A late great
   philosopher of our nation writes thus upon it: [54] "To have a taste,
   is to give things their real value, to be touched with the good, to be
   shocked with the ill; not to be dazzled with false lusters, out in
   spite of all colors, and everything that might deceive or amuse, to
   judge soundly. Taste and judgment, then, should be the same thing; and
   yet it is easy to discern a difference. The judgment forms its opinions
   from reflection: the reason on this occasion fetches a kind of circuit,
   to arrive at its end; it supposes principles, it draws consequences,
   and it judges; but not without a thorough knowledge of the case; so
   that after it has pronounced, it is ready to render a reason of its
   decrees. Good taste observes none of these formalities; ere it has time
   to consult, it has taken its side; as soon as ever the object is
   presented, the impression is made, the sentiment formed, ask no more of
   it. As the ear is wounded with a harsh sound, as the smell is soothed
   with an agreeable odor, before ever the reason have meddled with those
   objects to judge of them, so the taste opens itself at once, and
   prevents all reflection. They may come afterwards to confirm it, and
   discover the secret reasons of its conduct; but it was not in its power
   to wait for them. Frequently it happens not to know them at all, and
   what pains soever it uses, cannot discover what it was determined it to
   think as it did. This conduct is very different from what the judgment
   observes in its decisions: unless we choose to say, that good taste is,
   as it were, a first motion, or a kind of instinct of right reason,
   which hurries on with rapidity and conducts more securely, than all the
   reasonings she could make; it is a first glance of the eye, which
   discovers to us the nature and relations of things in a moment.

   Now as there is such a kind of taste of the mind as this, which
   philosophers speak of, whereby persons are guided in their judgment, of
   the natural beauty, gracefulness, propriety, nobleness, and sublimity
   of speeches and action, whereby they judge as it were by the glance of
   the eye, or by inward sensation, and the first impression of the
   object; so there is likewise such a thing as a divine taste, given and
   maintained by the Spirit of God, in the hearts of the saints, whereby
   they are in like manner led and guided in discerning and distinguishing
   the true spiritual and holy beauty of actions; and that more easily,
   readily, and accurately, as they have more or less of the Spirit of God
   dwelling in them. And thus "the sons of God are led by the Spirit of
   God, in their behavior in the world."

   A holy disposition and spiritual taste, where grace is strong and
   lively, will enable the soul to determine what actions are right and
   becoming Christians, not only more speedily, but far more exactly, than
   the greatest abilities without it. This may be illustrated by the
   manner in which some habits of mind, and dispositions of heart, of a
   nature inferior to true grace, will teach and guide a man in his
   actions. As for instance, if a man be a very good natured man, his good
   nature will teach him better how to act benevolently amongst mankind,
   and will direct him, on every occasion, to those speeches and actions,
   which are agreeable to rules of goodness, than the strongest reason
   will a man of a morose temper. So if a man's heart be under the
   influence of an entire friendship, and most endeared affection to
   another; though he be a man of an indifferent capacity, yet this habit
   of his mind will direct him, far more readily and exactly, to a speech
   and deportment, or manner of behavior, which shall in all respects be
   sweet and kind, and agreeable to a benevolent disposition of heart,
   than the greatest capacity without it. He has as it were a spirit
   within him, that guides him; the habit of his mind is attended with a
   taste, by which he immediately relishes that air and mien which is
   benevolent, and disrelishes the contrary, and causes him to distinguish
   between one and the other in a moment, more precisely, than the most
   accurate reasonings can find out in many hours. As the nature and
   inward tendency of a stone, or other heavy body, that is let fall from
   aloft, shows the way to the center of the earth, more exactly in an
   instant, than the ablest mathematician, without it, could determine, by
   his most accurate observations, in a whole day. Thus it is that a
   spiritual disposition and taste teaches and guides a man in his
   behavior in the world. So an eminently humble, or meek, or charitable
   disposition, will direct a person of mean capacity to such a behavior,
   as is agreeable to Christian rules of humility, meekness and charity
   far more readily and precisely than the most diligent study, and
   elaborate reasonings, of a man of the strongest faculties, who has not
   a Christian spirit within him. So also will a spirit of love to God,
   and holy fear and reverence towards God, and filial confidence in God,
   and a heavenly disposition, teach and guide a man in his behavior.

   It is an exceedingly difficult thing for a wicked man, destitute of
   Christian principles in his heart to guide him, to know how to demean
   himself like a Christian with the life and beauty, and heavenly
   sweetness of a truly holy, humble, Christ like behavior. He knows not
   how to put on these garments, neither do they fit him: Eccl. 10:2, 3,
   "A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart is at his
   left. Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the ways his wisdom
   faileth him, and he saith to everyone that he is a fool;" with ver. 15,
   "The labor of the foolish wearieth everyone of them, because he knoweth
   not how to go to the city." Prov. 10:32, "The lips of the righteous
   know what is acceptable." Chap. 15:2, "The tongue of the wise useth
   knowledge aright; but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness." And
   chap. 16:23, "The heart of the righteous teacheth his mouth, and addeth
   learning to his lips." The saints in thus judging of actions by a
   spiritual taste, have not a particular recourse to express rules of
   God's word, with respect to every word and action that is before them,
   the good or evil of which they thus judge: but yet their taste itself,
   in general, is subject to the rule of God's word, and must be tried by
   that, and a right reasoning upon it. As a man of a rectified palate
   judges of particular morsels by his taste; but yet his palate itself
   must be judged of, whether it be right or no, by certain rules and
   reasons. But a spiritual taste of soul mightily helps the soul in its
   reasonings on the word of God, and in judging of the true meaning of
   its rules: as it removes the prejudices of a depraved appetite, and
   naturally leads the thoughts in the right channel, casts a light on the
   word of God, and causes the true meaning most naturally to come to
   mind, through the harmony there is between the disposition and relish
   of a sanctified soul, and the true meaning of the rules of God's word.
   Yea, this harmony tends to bring the texts themselves to mind, on
   proper occasions; as the particular state of the stomach and palate
   tends to bring such particular meats and drinks to mind, as are
   agreeable to that state. "Thus the children of God are led by the
   Spirit of God," in judging of actions themselves, and in their
   meditations upon, and judging of, and applying the rules of God's holy
   word: and so God "teaches them his statutes, and causes them to
   understand the way of his precepts;" which the Psalmist so often prays

   But this leading of the Spirit is a thing exceedingly diverse from that
   which some call so; which consists not in teaching them God's statutes
   and precepts, that he has already given; but in giving them new
   precepts, by immediate inward speech or suggestion, and has in it no
   tasting the true excellency of things, or judging or discerning the
   nature of things at all. They do not determine what is the will of God
   by any taste or relish, or any manner of judging of the nature of
   things, but by an immediate dictate concerning the thing to be done;
   there is no such thing as any judgment or wisdom in the case. Whereas
   in that leading of the Spirit which is peculiar to God's children, is
   imparted that true wisdom, and holy discretion, so often spoken of in
   the word of God; which is high above the other way, as the stars are
   higher than a glow worm; and that which Balaam and Saul (who sometimes
   were led by the Spirit in that other way) never had, and no natural man
   can have, without a change of nature.

   What has been said of the nature of spiritual understanding, as
   consisting most essentially in a divine supernatural sense and relish
   of the heart, not only shows that there is nothing of it in this
   falsely supposed leading of the Spirit, which has been now spoken of;
   but also shows the difference between spiritual understanding, and all
   kinds and forms of enthusiasm, all imaginary sights of God, and Christ,
   and heaven, all supposed witnessing of the Spirit, and testimonies of
   the love of God by immediate inward suggestion: and all impressions of
   future events, and immediate revelations of any secret facts
   whatsoever; all enthusiastical impressions and applications of words of
   Scripture, as though they were words now immediately spoken by God to a
   particular person, in a new meaning, and carrying something more in
   them, than the words contain as they lie in the Bible; and all
   interpretations of the mystical meaning of the Scripture, by supposed
   immediate revelation. None of these things consists in a divine sense
   and relish of the heart, of the holy beauty and excellency of divine
   things; nor have they anything to do with such a sense; but all
   consists in impressions in the head; all are to be referred to the head
   of impressions on the imagination, and consist in the exciting external
   ideas in the mind, either in ideas of outward shapes and colors, or
   words spoken, or letters written, or ideas of things external and
   sensible, belonging to actions done, or events accomplished or to be
   accomplished. An enthusiastical supposed manifestation of the love of
   God, is made by the exciting an idea of a smiling countenance, or some
   other pleasant outward appearance, or by the idea of pleasant words
   spoken, or written, excited in the imagination, or some pleasant bodily
   sensation. So when persons have an imaginary revelation of some secret
   fact, it is by exciting external ideas; either of some words, implying
   a declaration of that fact, or some visible or sensible circumstances
   of such a fact. So the supposed leading of the Spirit, to do the will
   of God, in outward behavior, is either by exciting the idea of words
   (which are outward things) in their minds, either the words of
   Scripture, or other words, which they look upon as an immediate command
   of God; or else by exciting and impressing strongly the ideas of the
   outward actions themselves. So when an interpretation of a Scripture
   type or allegory, is immediately, in an extraordinary way, strongly
   suggested, it is by suggesting words, as though one secretly whispered
   and told the meaning, or by exciting other ideas in the imagination.

   Such sort of experiences and discoveries as these, commonly raise the
   affections of such as are deluded by them, to a great height, and make
   a mighty uproar in both soul and body. And a very great part of the
   false religion that has been in the world, from one age to another,
   consists in such discoveries as these, and in the affections that flow
   from them. In such things consisted the experiences of the ancient
   Pythagoreans among the heathen, and many others among them, who had
   strange ecstasies and raptures, and pretended to a divine afflatus, and
   immediate revelations from heaven. In such things as these seem to have
   consisted the experiences of the Essenes, an ancient sect among the
   Jews, at and after the time of the apostles. In such things as these
   consisted the experiences of many of the ancient Gnostics, and the
   Montanists, and many other sects of ancient heretics, in the primitive
   ages of the Christian church. And in such things as these consisted the
   pretended immediate converse with God and Christ, and saints and angels
   of heaven, of the Monks, Anchorites, and Recluses, that formerly
   abounded in the Church of Rome. In such things consisted the pretended
   high experiences and great spirituality of many sects of enthusiasts,
   that swarmed in the world after the Reformation; such as the
   Anabaptists, Antinomians, and Familists, the followers of N. Stork, Th.
   Muncer, Jo. Becold, Henry Pfeiser, David George, Casper Swenckfield,
   Henry Nicolas Johannes Agrcola Eislebius; and the many wild enthusiasts
   that were in England in the days of Oliver Cromwell; and the followers
   of Mrs. Hutchison in New England; as appears by the particular and
   large accounts given of all these sects by that eminently holy man, Mr.
   Samuel Rutherford, in his "Display of the Spiritual Antichrist." And in
   such things as these consisted the experiences of the late French
   prophets, and their followers. And in these things seems to lie the
   religion of the many kinds of enthusiasts of the present day. It is by
   such sort of religion as this, chiefly, that Satan transforms himself
   into an angel of light: and it is that which he has ever most
   successfully made use of to confound hopeful and happy revivals of
   religion, from the beginning of the Christian church to this day. When
   the Spirit of God is poured out, to begin a glorious work, then the old
   serpent, as fast as possible, and by all means, introduces this bastard
   religion, and mingles it with the true; which has from time to time
   soon brought all things into confusion. The pernicious consequence of
   it is not easily imagined or conceived of, until we see and are amazed
   with the awful effects of it, and the dismal desolation it has made. If
   the revival of true religion be very great in its beginning, yet if
   this bastard comes in, there is danger of its doing as Gideon's bastard
   Abimelech did, who never left until he had slain all his threescore and
   ten true-born sons, excepting one, that was forced to fly. Great and
   strict therefore should be the watch and guard that ministers maintain
   against such things, especially at a time of great awakening: for men,
   especially the common people, are easily bewitched with such things;
   they having such a glaring and glistering show of high religion; and
   the devil biding his own shape, and appearing as an angel of light,
   that men may not be afraid of him, but may adore him.

   The imagination or phantasy seems to be that wherein are formed all
   those delusions of Satan, which those are carried away with, who are
   under the influence of false religion, and counterfeit graces and
   affections. Here is the devil's grand lurking place, the very nest of
   foul and delusive spirits. It is very much to be doubted, whether the
   devil can come at the soul of man at all to affect it, or to excite any
   thought, or motion, or produce any effect whatsoever in it, any other
   way, than by the phantasy; which is that power of the soul, by which it
   receives, and is the subject of the species, or ideas of outward and
   sensible things. As to the laws and means which the Creator has
   established, for the intercourse and communication of unbodied spirits,
   we know nothing about them; we do not know by what medium they manifest
   their thoughts to each other, or excite thoughts in each other. But as
   to spirits that are united to bodies, those bodies God has united them
   to, are their medium of communication. They have no other medium of
   acting on other creatures, or being acted on by them, than the body.
   Therefore it is not to be supposed that Satan can excite any thought,
   or produce any effect in the soul of man, any otherwise, than by some
   motion of the animal spirits, or by causing some motion or alteration
   in some thing which appertains to the body. There is this reason to
   think that the devil cannot produce thoughts in the soul immediately,
   or any other way than by the medium of the body, viz., that he cannot
   immediately see or know the thoughts of the soul: it is abundantly
   declared in the Scripture, to be peculiar to the omniscient God to do
   that. But it is not likely that the devil can immediately produce an
   effect, which is out of the reach of his immediate view. It seems
   unreasonable to suppose, that his immediate agency should be out of his
   own sight, or that it should be impossible for him to see what he
   himself immediately does. Is it not unreasonable to suppose, that any
   spirit or intelligent agent, should by the act of his will, produce
   effects according to his understanding, or agreeable to his own
   thoughts, and that immediately, and yet the effects produced be beyond
   the reach of his understanding, or where he can have no immediate
   perception or discerning at all? But if this be so, that the devil
   cannot produce thoughts in the soul immediately, or any other way than
   by the animal spirits, or by the body, then it follows, that he never
   brings to pass anything in the soul, but by the imagination or
   phantasy, or by exciting external ideas. For we know that alterations
   in the body do immediately excite no other sort of ideas in the mind,
   but external ideas, or ideas of the outward senses, or ideas which are
   of the same outward nature. As to reflection, abstraction, reasoning,
   &c., and those thoughts and inward motions which are the fruits of
   these acts of the mind, they are not the next effects of impressions on
   the body. So that it must be only by the imagination, that Satan has
   access to the soul, to tempt and delude it, or suggest anything to it.
   [55] And this seems to be the reason why persons that are under the
   disease of melancholy, are commonly so visibly and remarkably subject
   to the suggestions and temptations of Satan; that being a disease which
   peculiarly affects the animal spirits, and is attended with weakness of
   that part of the body which is the fountain of the animal spirits, even
   the brain, which is, as it were, the seat of the phantasy. It is by
   impressions made on the brain, that any ideas are excited in the mind,
   by the motion of the animal spirits, or any changes made in the body.
   The brain being thus weakened and diseased, it is less under the
   command of the higher faculties of the soul, and yields the more easily
   to extrinsic impressions, and is overpowered by the disordered motions
   of the animal spirits; and so the devil has greater advantage to affect
   the mind, by working on the imagination. And thus Satan, when he casts
   in those horrid suggestions into the minds of many melancholy persons,
   in which they have no hand themselves, he does it by exciting imaginary
   ideas, either of some dreadful words or sentences, or other horrid
   outward ideas. And when he tempts other persons who are not melancholy,
   he does it by presenting to the imagination, in a lively and alluring
   manner, the objects of their lusts, or by exciting ideas of words, and
   so by them exciting thoughts; or by promoting an imagination of outward
   actions, events, circumstances, &c. Innumerable are the ways by which
   the mind might be led on to all kind of evil thoughts, by exciting
   external ideas in the imagination.

   If persons keep no guard at these avenues of Satan, by which he has
   access to the soul, to tempt and delude it, they will be likely to have
   enough of him. And especially, if instead of guarding against him, they
   lay themselves open to him, and seek and invite him, because he appears
   as an angel of light, and counterfeits the illuminations and graces of
   the Spirit of God, by inward whispers, and immediate suggestions of
   facts and events, pleasant voices, beautiful images, and other
   impressions on the imagination. There are many who are deluded by such
   things, and are lifted up with them, and seek after them, that have a
   continued course of them, and can have them almost when they will; and
   especially when their pride and vainglory has most occasion for them,
   to make a show of them before company. It is with them, something as it
   is with those who are professors of the art of telling where lost
   things are to be found, by impressions made on their imaginations; they
   laying themselves open to the devil, he is always on hand to give them
   the desired impression.

   Before I finish what I would say on this head of imaginations,
   counterfeiting spiritual light, and affections arising from them, I
   would renewedly (to prevent misunderstanding of what has been said)
   desire it may be observed, that I am far from determining, that no
   affections are spiritual which are attended with imaginary ideas. Such
   is the nature of man, that he can scarcely think of anything intensely,
   without some kind of outward ideas. They arise and interpose themselves
   unavoidably, in the course of a man's thoughts; though oftentimes they
   are very confused, and are not what the mind regards. When the mind is
   much engaged, and the thoughts intense, oftentimes the imagination is
   more strong, and the outward idea more lively, especially in persons of
   some constitutions of body. But there is a great difference between
   these two things viz., lively imaginations arising from strong
   affections, and strong affections arising from lively imaginations. The
   former may be, and doubtless often is, in case of truly gracious
   affections. The affections do not arise from the imagination, nor have
   any dependence upon it; but on the contrary, the imagination is only
   the accidental effect, or consequent of the affection, through the
   infirmity of human nature. But when the latter is the case, as it often
   is, that the affection arises from the imagination, and is built upon
   it, as its foundation, instead of a spiritual illumination or
   discovery, then is the affection, however elevated, worthless and vain.
   And this is the drift of what has been now said, of impressions on the
   imagination. Having observed this, I proceed to another mark of
   gracious affections.

   [52] "Many that have had mighty strong affections at first conversion,
   afterwards become dry and wither, and consume, and pine, and die away:
   and now their hypocrisy is manifest; if not to all the world by open
   profaneness, yet to the discerning eye of living Christians by a
   formal, barren, unsavory, unfruitful heart and course; because they
   never had light to conviction enough as yet."

   [53] Calvin, in his Institutions, Book I. Chap. 9:§ 1, says, "It is not
   the office of the Spirit that is promised to us, to make new and before
   unheard of revelations, or to coin some new kind of doctrine, which
   tends to draw us away from the received doctrine of the gospel; but to
   seal and confirm to us that very doctrine which is by the gospel." And
   in the same place he speaks of some that in those days maintained the
   contrary notion, "pretending to be immediately led by the Spirit, as
   persons that were governed by a most haughty self-conceit: and not so
   properly to be looked upon as only laboring under a mistake, as driven
   by a sort of raving madness."

   [54] Chambers' Dictionary, under the word Taste.

   [55] "The imagination is that room of the soul wherein the devil doth
   often appear. Indeed (to speak exactly) the devil hath no efficient
   power over the rational part of a man: he cannot change the will, he
   cannot alter the heart of a man. So that the utmost he can do, in
   tempting a man to sin, is by suasion and suggestion only. But how doth
   the devil do this? Even by working upon the imagination. He observeth
   the temper, and bodily constitution of a man; and thereupon suggests to
   his fancy, and injects his fiery darts thereinto, by which the mind
   will come to be wrought upon. The devil then, though he hath no
   imperious efficacy over thy will, yet because he can thus stir and move
   thy imagination, and thou being naturally destitute of grace, canst not
   withstand these suggestions: hence it is that any sin in thy
   imagination, though but in the outward works of the soul, yet doth
   quickly lay hold on all. And indeed, by this means, do arise those
   horrible delusions that are in many erroneous ways of religion; all is
   because their imaginations are corrupted. Yea, how often are these
   diabolical delusions of the imagination taken for the gracious
   operation of God's Spirit! It is from hence that many have pretended to
   enthusiasms: they leave the Scriptures and wholly attend to what they
   perceive and feel within them." Burgess on Original Sin, p. 369.
            The great Turretine, speaking on that question, What is the
   power of angels? says, "As to bodies there is no doubt but that they
   can do a great deal upon all sorts of elementary and sublunary bodies,
   to move them locally and variously to agitate them. It is also certain,
   that they can act upon the external and internal senses, to excite them
   or to bind them. But as to the rational soul itself, they can do
   nothing immediately upon that; for to God alone, who knows and searches
   the hearts, and who has them in his hands, does it also appertain to
   bow and move them whithersoever he will. But angels can act upon the
   rational soul, only mediately, by imaginations." Theolog. Elench. Loc.
   VII. Quest. 7.

   V. Truly gracious affections are attended with a reasonable and
   spiritual conviction of the judgment, of the reality and certainty of
   divine things.

   This seems to be implied in the text that was laid as the foundation of
   this discourse: "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye
   see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full
   of glory."

   All those who are truly gracious persons have a solid, full, thorough
   and effectual conviction of the truth of the great things of the
   gospel; I mean, that they no longer halt between two opinions; the
   great doctrines of the gospel cease to be any longer doubtful things,
   or matters of opinion, which, though probable, are yet disputable; but
   with them, they are points settled and determined, as undoubted and
   indisputable, so that they are not afraid to venture their all upon
   their truth. Their conviction is an effectual conviction; so that the
   great spiritual mysterious and invisible things of the gospel, have the
   influence of real and certain things upon them; they have the weight
   and power of real things in their hearts; and accordingly rule in their
   affections, and govern them through the course of their lives. With
   respect to Christ's being the Son of God, and Savior of the world, and
   the great things he has revealed concerning himself, and his Father,
   and another world, they have not only a predominating opinion that
   these things are true, and so yield their assent, as they do in many
   other matters of doubtful speculation; but they see that it is really
   so; their eyes are opened, so that they see that really Jesus is the
   Christ, the Son of the living God. And as to the things which Christ
   has revealed, of God's eternal purposes and designs, concerning fallen
   man, and the glorious and everlasting things prepared for the saints in
   another world, they see that they are so indeed; and therefore these
   things are of great weight with them, and have a mighty power upon
   their hearts, and influence over their practice, in some measure
   answerable to their infinite importance.

   That all true Christians have such a kind of conviction of the truth of
   the things of the gospel, is abundantly manifest from the Holy
   Scriptures. I will mention a few places of many: Matt. 16:15, 16, 17,
   "But whom say ye that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art
   Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto
   him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona;--My Father which is in heaven
   hath revealed it unto thee." John 6:68, 69 "Thou hast the words of
   eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ,
   the son of the living God." John 17:6, 7, 8, "I have manifested thy
   name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they have
   known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee. For I
   have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have
   received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and
   they have believed that thou didst send me." Acts 8:37, "If thou
   believest with all thy heart, thou mayest." 2. Cor. 4:11, 12, 13, 14,
   "We which live, are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake.--Death
   worketh in us.--We having the spirit of faith, according as it is
   written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and
   therefore speak; knowing, that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall
   raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you." Together
   with ver. 16, "For which cause we faint not." And ver. 18 "While we
   look not at the things which are seen," &c. And chap. 5:1, "For we
   know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we
   have a building of God." And ver. 6, 7, 8, "Therefore we are always
   confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are
   absent from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are
   confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and
   present with the Lord." 2 Tim. 1:12, "For the which cause I also suffer
   these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have
   believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have
   committed unto him against that day." Heb. 3:6, "Whose house are we, if
   we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto
   the end." Heb. 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
   and the evidence of things not seen;" together with that whole chapter.
   1 John 4:13, 14, 15, 16, "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he
   in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen, and do
   testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
   Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in
   him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God
   hath to us." Chap. 5:4, 5, "For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh
   the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our
   faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that
   Jesus is the Son of God?"

   Therefore truly gracious affections are attended with such a kind of
   conviction and persuasion of the truth of the things of the gospel, and
   sight of their evidence and reality, as these and other Scriptures
   speak of.

   There are many religious affections, which are not attended with such a
   conviction of the judgment. There are many apprehensions and ideas
   which some have, that they call divine discoveries, which are
   affecting, but not convincing. Though for a little while they may seem
   to be more persuaded of the truth of the things of religion than they
   used to be, and may yield a forward assent, like many of Christ's
   hearers, who believed for a while; yet they have no thorough and
   effectual conviction; nor is there any great abiding change in them, in
   this respect, that whereas formerly they did not realize the great
   things of the gospel, now these things, with regard to reality and
   certainty, appear new to them, and they behold them, quite in another
   view than they used to do. There are many persons who have been
   exceedingly raised with religious affections, and think they have been
   converted, that do not go about the world any more convinced of the
   truth of the gospel, than they used to be; or at least, there is no
   remarkable alteration: they are not men who live under the influence
   and power of a realizing conviction of the infinite and eternal things
   which the gospel reveals; if they were, it would be impossible for them
   to live as they do. Because their affections are not attended with a
   thorough conviction of the mind, they are not at all to be depended on;
   however great a show and noise they make, it is like the blaze of tow,
   or crackling of thorns, or like the forward flourishing blade on stony
   ground, that has no root, nor deepness of earth to maintain its life.

   Some persons, under high affections, and a confident persuasion of
   their good estate, have that, which they very ignorantly call a seeing
   the truth of the word of God, and which is very far from it, after this
   manner; they have some text of Scripture coming to their minds in a
   sudden and extraordinary manner, immediately declaring unto them (as
   they suppose) that their sins are forgiven, or that God loves them, and
   will save them; and it may be, have a chain of Scriptures coming one
   after another, to the same purpose; and they are convinced that it is
   truth; i.e., they are confident that it is certainly so, that their
   sins are forgiven, and God does love them, &c.--they say they know it
   is so; and when the words of Scripture are suggested to them, and as
   they suppose immediately spoken to them by God, in this meaning, they
   are ready to cry out, Truth, truth! It is certainly so! The word of God
   is true! And this they call a seeing the truth of the word of God.
   Whereas the whole of their faith amounts to no more, than only a strong
   confidence of their own good estate, and so a confidence that these
   words are true, which they suppose tell them they are in a good estate:
   when indeed (as was shown before) there is no Scripture which declares
   that any person is in a good estate directly, or any other way than by
   consequence. So that this, instead of being a real sight of the truth
   of the word of God, is a sight of nothing but a phantom, and is wholly
   a delusion. Truly to see the truth of the word of God, is to see the
   truth of the gospel; which is the glorious doctrine the word of God
   contains, concerning God, and Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by
   him, and the world of glory that he is entered into, and purchased for
   all them who believe; and not a revelation that such and such
   particular persons are true Christians, and shall go to heaven.
   Therefore those affections which arise from no other persuasion of the
   truth of the word of God than this, arise from delusion, and not true
   conviction; and consequently are themselves delusive and vain.

   But if the religious affections that persons have, do indeed arise from
   a strong persuasion of the truth of the Christian religion, their
   affections are not the better, unless their persuasion be a reasonable
   persuasion or conviction. By a reasonable conviction, I mean, a
   conviction founded on real evidence, or upon that which is a good
   reason, or just ground of conviction. Men may have a strong persuasion
   that the Christian religion is true, when their persuasion is not at
   all built on evidence, but altogether on education, and the opinion of
   others; as many Mahometans are strongly persuaded of the truth of the
   Mahometan religion, because their fathers, and neighbors, and nation
   believe it. That belief of the truth of the Christian religion, which
   is built on the very same grounds with a Mahometan's belief of the
   Mahometan religion, is the same sort of belief. And though the thing
   believed happens to be better, yet that does not make the belief itself
   to be of a better sort; for though the thing believed happens to be
   true, yet the belief of it is not owing to this truth, but to
   education. So that as the conviction is no better than the Mahometan's
   conviction; so the affections that flow from it, are no better in
   themselves, than the religious affections of Mahometans.

   But if that belief of Christian doctrines, which persons' affections
   arise from, be not merely from education, but indeed from reasons and
   arguments which are offered, it will not from thence necessarily
   follow, that their affections are truly gracious: for in order to that,
   it is requisite not only that the belief which their affections arise
   from, should be a reasonable, but also a spiritual belief or
   conviction. I suppose none will doubt but that some natural men do
   yield a kind of assent of their judgments to the truth of the Christian
   religion, from the rational proofs or arguments that are offered to
   evince it. Judas, without doubt, thought Jesus to be the Messiah, from
   the things which he saw and heard; but yet all along was a devil. So in
   John 2:23, 24, 25, we read of many that believed in Christ's name, when
   they saw the miracles that he did; whom yet Christ knew had not that
   within them, which was to be depended on. So Simon the sorcerer
   believed, when he beheld the miracles and signs which were done; but
   yet remained in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, Acts
   8:13, 23. And if there is such a belief or assent of the judgment in
   some natural men, none can doubt but that religious affections may
   arise from that assent or belief; as we read of some who believed for a
   while, that were greatly affected, and anon with joy received the word.

   It is evident that there is such a thing as a spiritual belief or
   conviction of the truth of the things of the gospel, or a belief that
   is peculiar to those who are spiritual, or who are regenerated, and
   have the Spirit of God, in his holy communications, and dwelling in
   them as a vital principle. So that the conviction they have, does not
   only differ from that which natural men have, in its concomitants, in
   that it is accompanied with good works; but the belief itself is
   diverse, the assent and conviction of the judgment is of a kind
   peculiar to those who are spiritual, and that which natural men are
   wholly destitute of. This is evident by the Scripture, if anything at
   all is so: John 17:8, "They have believed that thou didst send me."
   Tit. 1:1, "According to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging
   of the truth which is after godliness." John 16:27, "The Father himself
   loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out
   from God." 1 John 4:15, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son
   of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." Chap. 5:1, "Whosoever
   believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." Ver. 10, "He that
   believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself."

   What a spiritual conviction of the judgment is, we are naturally led to
   determine from what has been said already under the former head of a
   spiritual understanding. The conviction of the judgment arises from the
   illumination of the understanding; the passing of a right judgment on
   things, depends on having a right apprehension or idea of things. And
   therefore it follows, that a spiritual conviction of the truth of the
   great things of the gospel, is such a conviction, as arises from having
   a spiritual view or apprehension of those things in the mind. And this
   is also evident from the Scripture, which often represents, that a
   saving belief of the reality and divinity of the things proposed and
   exhibited to us in the gospel, is from the Spirit of God's enlightening
   the mind, to have right apprehensions of the nature of those things,
   and so as it were unveiling things, or revealing them, and enabling the
   mind to view them and see them as they are. Luke 10:21, 22, "I thank
   thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these
   things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes:
   even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are
   delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but
   the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son
   will reveal him." John 6:40, "And this is the will of him that sent me,
   that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have
   everlasting life." Where it is plain, that true faith arises from a
   spiritual sight of Christ. And John 17:6, 7, 8, "I have manifested thy
   name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they have
   known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee. For I
   have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have
   received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and
   they have believed that thou didst send one." Where Christ's
   manifesting God's name to the disciples, or giving them a true
   apprehension and view of divine things, was that whereby they knew that
   Christ's doctrine was of God, and that Christ himself was of him, and
   was sent by him: Matt. 16:16, 17, "Simon Peter said, Thou art Christ,
   the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him,
   Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed
   it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." 1 John 5:10, "He that
   believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself." Gal. 1:14,
   16, 16, "Being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my
   fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's
   womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might
   preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh
   and blood."

   If it be so, that that is a spiritual conviction of the divinity and
   reality of the things exhibited in the gospel, which arises from a
   spiritual understanding of those things; I have shown already what that
   is, viz., a sense and taste of the divine, supreme, and holy excellency
   and beauty of those things. So that then is the mind spiritually
   convinced of the divinity and truth of the great things of the gospel,
   when that conviction arises, either directly or remotely, from such a
   sense or view of their divine excellency and glory as is there
   exhibited. This clearly follows, from things that have been already
   said: and for this the Scripture is very plain and express, 2 Cor.
   4:3-6: "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in
   whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe
   not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image
   of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ
   Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God,
   who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our
   hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the
   face of Jesus Christ." Together with the last verse of the foregoing
   chapter, which introduces this, "but we all, with open face, beholding
   as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image,
   from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Nothing can be
   more evident, than that a saving belief of the gospel is here spoken
   of, by the apostle, as arising from the mind's being enlightened to
   behold the divine glory of the things it exhibits.

   This view or sense of the divine glory, and unparalleled beauty of the
   things exhibited to us in the gospel, has a tendency to convince the
   mind of their divinity, two ways; directly, and more indirectly, and
   remotely. 1. A view of this divine glory directly convinces the mind of
   the divinity of these things, as this glory is in itself a direct,
   clear, and all-conquering evidence of it; especially when clearly
   discovered, or when this supernatural sense is given in a good degree.

   He that has his judgment thus directly convinced and assured of the
   divinity of the things of the gospel, by a clear view of their divine
   glory, has a reasonable conviction; his belief and assurance is
   altogether agreeable to reason; because the divine glory and beauty of
   divine things is, in itself, real evidence of the divinity, and the
   most direct and strong evidence. He that truly sees the divine
   transcendent, supreme glory of those things which are divine, does as
   it were know their divinity intuitively: he not only argues that they
   are divine, but he sees that they are divine; he sees that in them
   wherein divinity chiefly consists, for in this glory which is so vastly
   and inexpressibly distinguished from the glory of artificial things,
   and all other glory, does mainly consist the true notion of divinity.
   God is God, and distinguished from all other beings, and exalted above
   them, chiefly by his divine beauty, which is infinitely diverse from
   all other beauty.--They therefore that see the stamp of this glory in
   divine things, they see divinity in them, they see God in them, and see
   them to be divine; because they see that in them wherein the truest
   idea of divinity does consist. Thus a soul may have a kind of intuitive
   knowledge of the divinity of the things exhibited in the gospel; not
   that he judges the doctrines of the gospel to be from God, without any
   argument or deduction at all; but it is without any long chain of
   arguments; the argument is but one, and the evidence direct; the mind
   ascends to the truth of the gospel but by one step, and that is its
   divine glory.

   It would be very strange, if any professing Christian should deny it to
   be possible, that there should be an excellency in divine things, which
   is so transcendent, and exceedingly different from what is in other
   things, that if it were seen, would evidently distinguish them. We
   cannot rationally doubt, but that things that are divine, that
   appertain to the Supreme Being, are vastly different from things that
   are human: that there is a Godlike, high, and glorious excellency in
   them, that does so distinguish them from the things which are of men,
   that the difference is inevitable; and therefore such as, if seen, will
   have a most convincing, satisfying influence upon anyone, that they are
   what they are, viz., divine. Doubtless there is that glory and
   excellency in the divine Being, by which he is so infinitely
   distinguished from all other beings, that if it were seen, he might be
   known by it. It would therefore be very unreasonable to deny, that it
   is possible for God to give manifestations of this distinguishing
   excellency, in things by which he is pleased to make himself known; and
   that this distinguishing excellency may be clearly seen in them. There
   are natural excellencies, that are very evidently distinguishing of the
   subjects or authors, to anyone who beholds them. How vastly is the
   speech of an understanding man different from that of a little child!
   And how greatly distinguished is the speech of some men of great
   genius, as Homer, Cicero, Milton, Locke, Addison, and others, from that
   of many other understanding men! There are no limits to be set to the
   degrees of manifestation of mental excellency, that there may be in
   speech. But the appearances of the natural perfections of God, in the
   manifestations he makes of himself, may doubtless be unspeakably more
   evidently distinguishing, than the appearances of those excellencies of
   worms of the dust, in which they differ one from another. He that is
   well acquainted with mankind, and their works, by viewing the sun, may
   know it is no human work. And it is reasonable to suppose, that when
   Christ comes at the end of the world, in the glory of his Father, it
   will be with such ineffable appearances of divinity, as will leave no
   doubt to the inhabitants of the world, even the most obstinate
   infidels, that he who appears is a divine person. But above all, do the
   manifestations of the moral and spiritual glory of the divine Being
   (which is the proper beauty of the divinity) bring their own evidence,
   and tend to assure the heart. Thus the disciples were assured that
   Jesus was the Son of God, "for they beheld his glory, as the glory of
   the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John 1:14.
   When Christ appeared in the glory of his transfiguration to his
   disciples, with that outward glory to their bodily eyes, which was a
   sweet and admirable symbol and semblance of his spiritual glory,
   together with his spiritual glory itself, manifested to their minds;
   the manifestation of glory was such, as did perfectly, and with good
   reason, assure them of his divinity; as appears by what one of them,
   viz., the Apostle Peter, says concerning it, 2 Pet. 1:16, 17, 18, "For
   we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto
   you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were
   eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, honor
   and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent
   glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this
   voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the
   holy mount." The apostle calls that mount, the holy mount, because the
   manifestations of Christ which were there made to their minds, and
   which their minds were especially impressed and ravished with, were the
   glory of his holiness, or the beauty of his moral excellency; or, as
   another of these disciples, who saw it, expresses it, "his glory, as
   full of grace and truth."

   Now this distinguishing glory of the divine Being has its brightest
   appearance and manifestation, in the things proposed and exhibited to
   us in the gospel, the doctrines there taught, the word there spoken,
   and the divine counsels, acts and works there revealed. These things
   have the clearest, most admirable, and distinguishing representations
   and exhibitions of the glory of God's moral perfections, that ever were
   made to the world. And if there be such a distinguishing, evidential
   manifestation of divine glory in the gospel, it is reasonable to
   suppose that there may be such a thing as seeing it. What should hinder
   but that it may be seen? It is no argument that it cannot be seen, that
   some do not see it; though they may be discerning men in temporal
   matters. If there be such ineffable, distinguishing, evidential
   excellencies in the gospel, it is reasonable to suppose, that they are
   such as are not to be discerned, but by the special influence and
   enlightenings of the Spirit of God. There is need of uncommon force of
   mind to discern the distinguishing excellencies of the works of authors
   of great genius: those things in Milton, which, to mean judges, appear
   tasteless and imperfections, are his inimitable excellencies in the
   eyes of those, who are of greater discerning and better taste. And if
   there be a book, which God is the author of, it is most reasonable to
   suppose, that the distinguishing glories of his word are of such a
   kinds as that the corruption of men's hearts, which above all things
   alienates men from the Deity, and makes the heart dull and stupid to
   any sense or taste of those things wherein the moral glory of the
   divine perfections consists: I say, it is but reasonable to suppose,
   that this would blind men from discerning the beauties of such a book;
   and that therefore they will not see them, but as God is pleased to
   enlighten them, and restore a holy taste, to discern and relish divine

   This sense of the spiritual excellency and beauty of divine things,
   does also tend directly to convince the mind of the truth of the
   gospel, as there are very many of the most important things declared in
   the gospel, that are hid from the eyes of natural men, the truth of
   which does in effect consist in this excellency, or does so immediately
   depend upon it, and result from it, that in this excellency's being
   seen, the truth of those things is seen. As soon as ever the eyes are
   opened to behold the holy beauty and amiableness that is in divine
   things, a multitude of most important doctrines of the gospel that
   depend upon it (which all appear strange and dark to natural men) are
   at once seen to be true. As for instance, hereby appears the truth of
   what the word of God declares concerning the exceeding evil of sin; for
   the same eye that discerns the transcendent beauty of holiness,
   necessarily therein sees the exceeding odiousness of sin: the same
   taste which relishes the sweetness of true moral good, tastes the
   bitterness of moral evil. And by this means a man sees his own
   sinfulness and loathsomeness; for he has now a sense to discern objects
   of this nature; and so sees the truth of what the word of God declares
   concerning the exceeding sinfulness of mankind, which before he did not
   see. He now sees the dreadful pollution of his heart, and the desperate
   depravity of his nature, in a new manner; for his soul has now a sense
   given it to feel the pain of such a disease; and this shows him the
   truth of what the Scripture reveals concerning the corruption of man's
   nature, his original sin, and the ruinous, undone condition man is in,
   and his need of a Savior, his need of the mighty power of God to renew
   his heart and change his nature. Men, by seeing the true excellency of
   holiness, do see the glory of all those things, which both reason and
   Scripture show to be in the divine Being; for it has been shown, that
   the glory of them depends on this: and hereby they see the truth of all
   that the Scripture declares concerning: God's glorious excellency and
   majesty, his being the fountain of all good, the only happiness of the
   creature, &c. And this again shows the mind the truth of what the
   Scripture teaches concerning the evil of sin against so glorious a God;
   and also the truth of what it teaches concerning sin's just desert of
   that dreadful punishment which it reveals; and also concerning the
   impossibility of our offering any satisfaction, or sufficient atonement
   for that which is so infinitely evil and heinous. And this again shows
   the truth of what the Scripture reveals concerning the necessity of a
   Savior, to offer an atonement of infinite value for sin. And this sense
   of spiritual beauty that has been spoken of, enables the soul to see
   the glory of those things which the gospel reveals concerning the
   person of Christ; and so enables to see the exceeding beauty and
   dignity of his person, appearing in what the gospel exhibits of his
   word, works, acts, and life: and this apprehension of the superlative
   dignity of his person shows the truth of what the gospel declares
   concerning the value of his blood and righteousness, and so the
   infinite excellency of that offering he has made to God for us, and so
   its sufficiency to atone for our sins, and recommend us to God. And
   thus the Spirit of God discovers the way of salvation by Christ; thus
   the soul sees the fitness and suitableness of this way of salvation,
   the admirable wisdom of the contrivance, and the perfect answerableness
   of the provision that the gospel exhibits (as made for us) to our
   necessities. A sense of true divine beauty being given to the soul, the
   soul discerns the beauty of every part of the gospel scheme. This also
   shows the soul the truth of what the word of God declares concerning
   man's chief happiness, as consisting in holy exercises and enjoyments.
   This shows the truth of what the gospel declares concerning the
   unspeakable glory of the heavenly state. And what the prophecies of the
   Old Testaments and the writings of the apostles declare concerning the
   glory of the Messiah's kingdom, is now all plain; and also what the
   Scripture teaches concerning the reasons and grounds of our duty. The
   truth of all these things revealed in the Scripture, and many more that
   might be mentioned, appears to the soul, only by imparting that
   spiritual taste of divine beauty, which has been spoken of; they being
   hidden things to the soul before.

   And besides all this, the truth of all those things which the Scripture
   says about experimental religion, is hereby known; for they are now
   experienced. And this convinces the soul, that one who knew the heart
   of man, better than we know our own hearts, and perfectly knew the
   nature of virtue and holiness, was the author of the Scriptures. And
   the opening to view, with such clearness, such a world of wonderful and
   glorious truth in the gospel, that before was unknown, being quite
   above the view of a natural eye, but now appearing so clear and bright,
   has a powerful and invincible influence on the soul, to persuade of the
   divinity of the gospel.

   Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of
   the truth of the gospel, by the internal evidences of it, in the way
   that has been spoken, viz., by a sight of its glory; it is impossible
   that those who are illiterate, and unacquainted with history, should
   have any thorough and effectual conviction of it at all. They may
   without this, see a great deal of probability of it; it may be
   reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and
   historians tell them; and they may tell them so much, that it may look
   very probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion is
   true; and so much that they would be very unreasonable not to entertain
   this opinion. But to have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and
   assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness to sell
   all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all
   things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued torments,
   and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but dung for
   Christ, the evidence they can have from history, cannot be sufficient.
   It is impossible that men, who have not something of a general view of
   the historical world, or the series of history from age to age, should
   come at the force of arguments for the truth of Christianity, drawn
   from history, to that degree, as effectually to induce them to venture
   their all upon it. After all that learned men have said to them, there
   will remain innumerable doubts on their minds; they will be ready, when
   pinched with some great trial of their faith, to say, "How do I know
   this, or that? How do I know when these histories were written? Learned
   men tell me these histories were so and so attested in the day of them;
   but how do I know that there were such attestations then? They tell me
   there is equal reason to believe these facts, as any whatsoever that
   are related at such a distance; but how do I know that other facts
   which are related of those ages, ever were? Those who have not
   something of a general view of the series of historical events, and of
   the state of mankind from age to age, cannot see the clear evidence
   from history of the truth of facts, in distant ages; but there will
   endless doubts and scruples remain.

   But the gospel was not given only for learned men. There are at least
   nineteen in twenty, if not ninety-nine in a hundred, of those for whom
   the Scriptures were written, that are not capable of any certain or
   effectual conviction of the divine authority of the Scriptures, by such
   arguments as learned men make use of. If men who have been brought up
   in Heathenism, must wait for a clear and certain conviction of the
   truth of Christianity, until they have learning and acquaintance with
   the histories of politer nations, enough to see clearly the force of
   such kind of arguments; it will make the evidence of the gospel to them
   immensely cumbersome, and will render the propagation of the gospel
   among them infinitely difficult. Miserable is the condition of the
   Houssatunnuck Indians, and others, who have lately manifested a desire
   to be instructed in Christianity, if they can come at no evidence of
   the truth of Christianity, sufficient to induce them to sell all for
   Christ, in any other way but this.

   It is unreasonable to suppose, that God has provided for his people no
   more than probable evidence of the truth of the gospel. He has with
   great care, abundantly provided, and given them, the most convicting,
   assuring, satisfying and manifold evidence of his faithfulness in the
   covenant of grace; and as David says, "made a covenant, ordered in all
   things and sure." Therefore it is rational to suppose, that at the same
   time, he would not fail of ordering the matter so, that there should
   not be wanting, as great, and clear evidence, that this is his
   covenant, and that these promises are his promises; or, which is the
   same thing, that the Christian religion is true, and that the gospel is
   his word. Otherwise in vain are those great assurances he has given of
   his faithfulness in his covenant, by confirming it with his oath, and
   so variously establishing it by seals and pledges. For the evidence
   that it is his covenant, is properly the foundation on which all the
   force and effect of those other assurances do stand. We may therefore
   undoubtedly suppose and conclude, that there is some sort of evidence
   which God has given, that this covenant, and these promises are his,
   beyond all mere probability; that there are some grounds of assurance
   of it held forth, which, if we were not blind to them, tend to give a
   higher persuasion, than any arguing from history, human traditions &c.,
   which the illiterate and unacquainted with history are capable of; yea,
   that which is good ground of the highest and most perfect assurance,
   that mankind have in any case whatsoever, agreeable to those high
   expressions which the apostle uses, Heb. 10:22, "Let us draw near in
   full assurance of faith." And Col. 2:2, "That their hearts might be
   comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full
   assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of
   God, and of the Father, and of Christ." It is reasonable to suppose,
   that God would give the greatest evidence of those things which are
   greatest, and the truth of which is of greatest importance to us: and
   that we therefore, if we are wise, and act rationally, shall have the
   greatest desire of having full, undoubting and perfect assurance of.
   But it is certain, that such an assurance is not to be attained by the
   greater part of them who live under the gospel, by arguments fetched
   from ancient traditions, histories, and monuments.

   And if we come to fact and experience, there is not the least reason to
   suppose, that one in a hundred of those who have been sincere
   Christians, and have had a heart to sell all for Christ, have come by
   their convection of the truth of the gospel this way. If we read over
   the histories of the many thousands that died martyrs for Christ, since
   the beginning of the Reformation, and have cheerfully undergone extreme
   tortures in a confidence of the truth of the gospel, and consider their
   circumstances and advantages; how few of them were there, that we can
   reasonably suppose, ever came by their assured persuasion this way; or
   indeed for whom it was possible, reasonably to receive so full and
   strong an assurance, from such arguments! Many of them were weak women
   and children, and the greater part of them illiterate persons, many of
   whom had been brought up in popish ignorance and darkness, and were but
   newly come out of it, and lived and died in times wherein those
   arguments for the truth of Christianity, from antiquity and history had
   been but very imperfectly handled. And indeed, it is but very lately
   that these arguments have been set in a clear and convincing light,
   even by learned men themselves: and since it has been done, there never
   were fewer thorough believers among those who have been educated in the
   true religion; infidelity never prevailed so much, in any age, as in
   this, wherein these arguments are handled to the greatest advantage.

   The true martyrs of Jesus Christ, are not those who have only been
   strong in opinion that the gospel of Christ is true, but those that
   have seen the truth of it; as the very name of martyrs or witnesses (by
   which they are called in Scripture) implies. Those are very improperly
   called witnesses of the truth of any them, who only declare they are
   very much of opinion that such a thing is true. Those only are proper
   witnesses, who can, and do testify, that they have seen the truth of
   the thing they assert: John 3:11, "We speak that we do know, and
   testify that we have seen." John 1:34, "And I saw and bare record that
   this is the Son of God." 1 John 4:14, "And we have seen and do testify
   that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." Acts
   22:14, 15, "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst
   know his will, and see that just one, and shouldst hear the voice of
   his mouth; for thou shalt be his witness unto all men, of what thou
   hast seen and heard." But the true martyrs of Jesus Christ are called
   his witnesses; and all the saints, who by their holy practice under
   great trials, declare that faith, which is the substance of things
   hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, are called witnesses,
   Heb. 11:1, and 12:1, because by their profession and practice, they
   declare their assurance of the truth and divinity of the gospel, having
   had the eyes of their minds enlightened to see divinity in the gospel,
   or to behold that unparalleled, ineffably excellent, and truly divine
   glory shining in it, which is altogether distinguishing, evidential,
   and convincing: so that they may truly be said to have seen God in it,
   and to have seen that it is indeed divine; and so can speak in the
   style of witnesses; and not only say, that they think the gospel is
   divine, but say, that it is divine, giving it in as their testimony,
   because they have seen it to be so. Doubtless Peter, James and John,
   after they had seen that excellent glory of Christ in the mount, would
   have been ready, when they came down, to speak in the language of
   witnesses, and to say positively that Jesus is the Son of God; as Peter
   says, they were eyewitnesses, 2 Pet. 1:16. And so all nations will be
   ready positively to say this, when they shall behold his glory at the
   day of judgment; though what will be universally seen, will be only his
   natural glory, and not his moral and spiritual glory, which is much
   more distinguishing. But yet it must be noted, that among those who
   have a spiritual sight of the divine glory of the gospel, there is a
   great variety of decrees of strength of faith, as there is a vast
   variety of the degrees of clearness of views of this glory: but there
   is no true and saving faith, or spiritual conviction of the judgment,
   of the truth of the gospel, that has nothing in it, of this
   manifestation of its internal evidence in some degree. The gospel of
   the blessed God does not go abroad a begging for its evidence, so much
   as some think; it has its highest and most proper evidence in itself.
   Though great use may be made of external arguments, they are not to be
   neglected, but highly prized and valued; for they may be greatly
   serviceable to awaken unbelievers, and bring them to serious
   consideration, and to confirm the faith of true saints; yea, they may
   be in some respect subservient to the begetting of a saving faith in
   men. Though what was said before remains true, that there is no
   spiritual conviction of the judgment, but what arises from an
   apprehension of the spiritual beauty and glory of divine things: for,
   as has been observed, this apprehension or view has a tendency to
   convince the mind of the truth of the gospel, two ways, either directly
   or indirectly. Having therefore already observed how it does this
   directly, I proceed now,

   2. To observe how a view of this divine glory does convince the mind of
   the truth of Christianity, more indirectly.

   First, it doth so, as the prejudices of the heart against the truth of
   divine things are hereby removed, so that the mind thereby lies open to
   the force of the reasons which are offered. The mind of man is
   naturally full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel; which is
   a disadvantage to those arguments that prove their truth, and causes
   them to lose their force upon the mind; but when a person has
   discovered to him the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this
   destroys that enmity, and removes the prejudices, and sanctifies the
   reason, and causes it to be open and free. Hence is a vast difference,
   as to the force that arguments have to convince the mind. Hence was the
   very different effect, which Christ's miracles had to convince the
   disciples, from what they had to convince the Scribes and Pharisees:
   not that they had a stronger reasons or had their reason more improved;
   but their reason was sanctified, and those blinding prejudices, which
   the Scribes and Pharisees were under, were removed by the sense they
   had of the excellency of Christ and his doctrine.

   Secondly, It not only removes the hinderances of reason, but positively
   helps reason. It makes even the speculative notions more lively. It
   assists and engages the attention of the mind to that kind of objects
   which causes it to have a clearer view of them, and more clearly to see
   their mutual relations. The ideas themselves, which otherwise are dim
   and obscure, by this means have a light cast upon them, and are
   impressed with greater strength, so that the mind can better judge of
   them; as he that beholds the objects on the face of the earth, when the
   light of the sun is cast upon them, is under greater advantage to
   discern them, in their true forms, and mutual relations, and to see the
   evidences of divine wisdom and skill in their contrivance, than he that
   sees them in a dim starlight, or twilight.

   What has been said, may serve in some measure to show the nature of a
   spiritual conviction of the judgment of the truth and reality of divine
   things; and so to distinguish truly gracious affections from others;
   for gracious affections are evermore attended with such a conviction of
   the judgment.

   But before I dismiss this head, it will be needful to observe the ways
   whereby some are deceived, with respect to this matter; and take notice
   of several things, that are sometimes taken for a spiritual and saving
   belief of the truth of the things of religion, which are indeed very
   diverse from it.

   1. There is a degree of conviction of the truth of the great things of
   religion, that arises from the common enlightenings of the Spirit of
   God. That more lively and sensible apprehension of the things of
   religion, with respect to what is natural in them, such as natural men
   have who are under awakenings and common illuminations, will give some
   degree of conviction of the truth of divine things, beyond what they
   had before they were thus enlightened. For hereby they see the
   manifestations there are, in the revelation made in the holy
   Scriptures, and things exhibited in that revelation, of the natural
   perfections of God; such as his greatness, power, and awful majesty;
   which tends to convince the minds that this is the word of a great and
   terrible God. From the tokens there are of God's greatness and majesty
   in his word and works, which they have a great sense of, from the
   common influence of the Spirit of God, they may have a much greater
   conviction that these are indeed the words and works of a very great
   invisible Being. And the lively apprehension of the greatness of God,
   which natural men may have, tends to make them sensible of the great
   guilt which sin against such a God brings, and the dreadfulness of his
   wrath for sin. And this tends to cause them more easily and fully to
   believe the revelation the Scripture makes of another world, and of the
   extreme misery it threatens there to be indicted on sinners. And so
   from that sense of the great natural good there is in the things of
   religion, which is sometimes given in common illuminations, men may be
   the more induced to believe the truth of religion. These things persons
   may have, and yet have no sense of the beauty and amiableness of the
   moral and holy excellency that is in the things of religion; and
   therefore no spiritual conviction of their truth. But yet such
   convictions are sometimes mistaken for saving convictions, and the
   affections flowing from them, for saving affections.

   2. The extraordinary impressions which are made on the imaginations of
   some persons, in the visions and immediate strong impulses and
   suggestions that they have, as though they saw sights, and had words
   spoken to them, may, and often do beget a strong persuasion of the
   truth of invisible things. Though the general tendency of such things,
   in their final issue, is to draw men off from the word of God, and to
   cause them to reject the gospel, and to establish unbelief and Atheism;
   yet for the present, they may, and often do beget a confident
   persuasion of the truth of some things that are revealed in the
   Scriptures; however their confidence is founded in delusion, and so
   nothing worth. As for instance, if a person has by some invisible
   agent, immediately and strongly impressed on his imagination, the
   appearance of a bright light, and glorious form of a person seated on a
   throne, with great external majesty and beauty, uttering some
   remarkable words, with great force and energy; the person who is the
   subject of such an operation, may be from hence confident, that there
   are invisible agents, spiritual beings, from what he has experienced,
   knowing that he had no hand himself in this extraordinary effect, which
   he has experienced: and he may also be confident, that this is Christ
   whom he saw and heard speaking: and this may make him confident that
   there is a Christ, and that Christ reigns on a throne in heaven, as he
   saw him; and may be confident that the words which he heard him speak
   are true, &c.--In the same manner, as the lying miracles of the Papists
   may, for the present, beget in the minds of the ignorant deluded
   people, a strong persuasion of the truth of many things declared in the
   New Testament. Thus when the images of Christ, in Popish churches, are
   on some extraordinary occasions, made by priestcraft to appear to the
   people as if they wept, and shed fresh blood, and moved, and uttered
   such and such words; the people may be verily persuaded that it is a
   miracle wrought by Christ himself; and from thence may be confident
   there is a Christ, and that what they are told of his death and
   sufferings, and resurrection, and ascension, and present government or
   the world is true; for they may look upon this miracle, as a certain
   evidence of all these things, and a kind of ocular demonstration of
   them. This may be the influence of these lying wonders for the present;
   though the general tendency of them is not to convince that Jesus
   Christ is come in the flesh, but finally to promote Atheism. Even the
   intercourse which Satan has with witches, and their often experiencing
   his immediate power, has a tendency to convince them of the truth of
   some of the doctrines of religion; as particularly the reality of an
   invisible world, or world of spirits, contrary to the doctrine of the
   Sadducees. The general tendency of Satan's influence is delusion: but
   yet he may mix some truth with his lies, that his lies may not be so
   easily discovered.

   There are multitudes that are deluded with a counterfeit faith, from
   impressions on their imagination, in the manner which has been now
   spoken of. They say they know that there is a God, for they have seen
   him; they know that Christ is the Son of God, for they have seen him in
   his glory; they know that Christ died for sinners, for they have seen
   him hanging on the cross, and his blood running from his wounds; they
   know there is a heaven and a hell, for they have seen the misery of the
   damned souls in hell, and the glory of saints and angels in heaven
   (meaning some external representations strongly impressed on their
   imagination); they know that the Scriptures are the word of God, and
   that such and such promises in particular are his word, for they have
   heard him speak them to them, they came to their minds suddenly and
   immediately from God, without their having any hand in it.

   3. Persons may seem to have their belief of the truth of the things of
   religion greatly increased, when the foundation of it is only a
   persuasion they have received of their interest in them. They first, by
   some means or other, take up a confidence, that if there be a Christ
   and heaven, they are theirs; and this prejudices them more in favor of
   the truth of them. When they hear of the great and glorious things of
   religion, it is with this notion, that all these things belong to them;
   and hence easily become confident that they are true; they look upon it
   to be greatly for their interest that they should be true. It is very
   obvious what a strong influence men's interest and inclinations have on
   their judgments. While a natural man thinks, that if there be a heaven
   and hell, the latter, and not the former, belongs to him; then he will
   be hardly persuaded that there is a heaven or hell: but when he comes
   to be persuaded, that hell belongs only to other folks, and not to him,
   then he can easily allow the reality of hell, and cry out of others'
   senselessness and sottishness in neglecting means of escape from it:
   and being confident that he is a child of God, and that God has
   promised heaven to him, he may seem strong in the faith of its reality,
   and may have a great zeal against that infidelity which denies it.

   But I proceed to another distinguishing sign of gracious affections.

   VI. Gracious affections are attended with evangelical humiliation.
   Evangelical humiliation is a sense that a Christian has of his own
   utter insufficiency, despicableness, and odiousnesss, with an
   answerable frame of heart.

   There is a distinction to be made between a legal and evangelical
   humiliation. The former is what men may be the subjects of, while they
   are yet in a state of nature, and have no gracious affections; the
   latter is peculiar to true saints: the former is from the common
   influence of the Spirit of God, assisting natural principles, and
   especially natural conscience; the latter is from the special
   influences of the Spirit of God, implanting and exercising supernatural
   and divine principles: the former is from the mind's being assisted to
   a greater sense of the things of religion, as to their natural
   properties and qualities, and particularly of the natural perfections
   of God, such as his greatness, terrible majesty, &c., which were
   manifested to the congregation of Israel, in giving the law at mount
   Sinai; the latter is from a sense of the transcendent beauty of divine
   things in their moral qualities: in the former, a sense of the awful
   greatness, and natural perfections of God, and of the strictness of his
   law, convinces men that they are exceeding sinful, and guilty, and
   exposed to the wrath of God, as it will wicked men and devils at the
   day of judgment; but they do not see their own odiousness on the
   account of sin; they do not see the hateful nature of sin; a sense of
   this is given in evangelical humiliation, by a discovery of the beauty
   of God's holiness and moral perfection. In a legal humiliation, men are
   made sensible that they are little and nothing before the great and
   terrible God, and that they are undone, and wholly insufficient to help
   themselves; as wicked men will be at the day of judgment: but they have
   not an answerable frame of heart, consisting in a disposition to abase
   themselves, and exalt God alone; this disposition is given only in
   evangelical humiliation, by overcoming the heart, and changing its
   inclination, by a discovery of God's holy beauty: in a legal
   humiliation, the conscience is convinced; as the consciences of all
   will be most perfectly at the day of judgment; but because there is no
   spiritual understanding, the will is not bowed, nor the inclination
   altered: this is done only in evangelical humiliation. In legal
   humiliation, men are brought to despair of helping themselves; in
   evangelical, they are brought voluntarily to deny and renounce
   themselves: in the former, they are subdued and forced to the ground;
   in the latter, they are brought sweetly to yield, and freely and with
   delight to prostrate themselves at the feet of God.

   Legal humiliation has in it no spiritual good, nothing of the nature of
   true virtue; whereas evangelical humiliation is that wherein the
   excellent beauty of Christian grace does very much consist. Legal
   humiliation is useful, as a means in order to evangelical; as a common
   knowledge of the things of religion is a means requisite in order to
   spiritual knowledge. Men may be legally humbled and have no humility:
   as the wicked at the day of judgment will be thoroughly convinced that
   they have no righteousness, but are altogether sinful, and exceedingly
   guilty, and justly exposed to eternal damnation, and be fully sensible
   of their own helplessness, without the least mortification of the pride
   of their hearts: but the essence of evangelical humiliation consists in
   such humility, as becomes a creature, in itself exceeding sinful, under
   a dispensation of grace; consisting in a mean esteem of himself, as in
   himself nothing, and altogether contemptible and odious; attended with
   a mortification of a disposition to exalt himself, and a free
   renunciation of his own glory.

   This is a great and most essential thing in true religion. The whole
   frame of the gospel, and everything appertaining to the new covenant,
   and all God's dispensations towards fallen man, are calculated to bring
   to pass this effect in the hearts of men. They that are destitute of
   this, have no true religion, whatever profession they may make, and how
   high soever their religious affections may be: Hab. 2:4, "Behold, his
   soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him; but the just shall live
   by his faith;" i.e., he shall live by his faith on God's righteousness
   and grace, and not his own goodness and excellency. God has abundantly
   manifested in his word, that this is what he has a peculiar respect to
   in his saints, and that nothing is acceptable to him without it. Psalm
   34:18, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and
   saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices
   of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou
   wilt not despise." Psalm 138:6, "Though the Lord be high, yet hath he
   respect unto the lowly." Prov. 3:34, "He giveth grace unto the lowly."
   Isa. 57:15, "Thus saith the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity,
   whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also
   that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the
   humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isa. 66:1, 2,
   "Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is my
   footstool: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and
   of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." Micah 6:8, "He hath
   showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord thy God
   require of thee; but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
   humbly with thy God?" Matt. 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for
   theirs is the kingdom of God." Matt. 18:3, 4, "Verily I say unto you,
   except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not
   enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble
   himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of
   heaven." Mark 10:15, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not
   receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter
   therein." The centurion, that we have an account of, Luke 7,
   acknowledged that he was not worthy that Christ should enter under his
   roof, and that he was not worthy to come to him. See the manner of the
   woman's coming to Christ, that was a sinner, Luke 7:37, &c.: "And
   behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that
   Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of
   ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash
   his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head." She
   did not think the hair of her head, which is the natural crown and
   glory of a woman (1 Cor. 11:15), too good to wipe the feet of Christ
   withal. Jesus most graciously accepted her, and says to her, "thy faith
   hath saved thee, go in peace." The woman of Canaan submitted to Christ,
   in his saying, "it is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it
   to dogs," and did as it were own that she was worthy to be called a
   dog; whereupon Christ says unto her, "O woman, great is thy faith; be
   it unto thee, even as thou wilt," Matt. 15:26, 27, 28. The prodigal son
   said, "I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him,
   Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more
   worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants,"
   Luke 15:18, &c. See also Luke 18:9, &c.: "And he spake this parable
   unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and
   despised others, &c. The publican, standing afar off, would not so much
   as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God
   be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house
   justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself,
   shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted." Matt.
   28:9, "And they came, and held him by the feet and worshipped him."
   Col. 3:12, "Put ye on, as the elect of God, humbleness of mind." Ezek.
   20:41, 42, "I will accept you with your sweet savor, when I bring you
   out from the people, &c. And there shall ye remember your ways, and all
   your doings, wherein ye have been defiled, and ye shall loathe
   yourselves in your own sight, for all your evils that ye have
   committed." Chap. 36:26, 27, 31, "A new heart also will I give unto
   you--and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my
   statutes, &c. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your
   doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own
   sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations." Chap. 16:63,
   "That thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth
   any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all
   that thou hast done, saith the Lord." Job 42:6, "I abhor myself, and
   repent in dust and ashes."

   As we would therefore make the holy Scriptures our rule in judging of
   the nature of true religion, and judging of our own religious
   qualifications and state; it concerns us greatly to look at this
   humiliation, as one of the most essential things pertaining to true
   Christianity. [56] This is the principal part of the great Christian
   duty of self-denial. That duty consists in two things, viz., first, in
   a man's denying his worldly inclinations, and in forsaking and
   renouncing all worldly objects and enjoyments; and, secondly, in
   denying his natural self-exaltation, and renouncing his own dignity and
   glory and in being emptied of himself; so that he does freely and from
   his very heart, as it were renounce himself, and annihilate himself.
   Thus the Christian doth in evangelical humiliation. And this latter is
   the greatest and most difficult part of self-denial: although they
   always go together, and one never truly is, where the other is not; yet
   natural men can come much nearer to the former than the latter. Many
   Anchorites and Recluses have abandoned (though without any true
   mortification) the wealth, and pleasures, and common enjoyments of the
   world, who were far from renouncing their own dignity and
   righteousness; they never denied themselves for Christ, but only sold
   one lust to feed another, sold a beastly lust to pamper a devilish one;
   and so were never the better, but their latter end was worse than their
   beginning; they turned out one black devil, to let in seven white ones,
   that were worse than the first, though of a fairer countenance. It is
   inexpressible, and almost inconceivable, how strong a self-righteous,
   self-exalting disposition is naturally in man; and what he will not do
   and suffer to feed and gratify it: and what lengths have been gone in a
   seeming self-denial in other respects, by Essenes and Pharisees among
   the Jews, and by Papists, many sects of heretics, and enthusiasts,
   among professing Christians; and by many Mahometans; and by Pythagorean
   philosophers, and others among the Heathen; and all to do sacrifice to
   this Moloch of spiritual pride or self-righteousness; and that they may
   have something wherein to exalt themselves before God, and above their
   fellow creatures.

   That humiliation which has been spoken of, is what all the most
   glorious hypocrites, who make the most splendid show of mortification
   to the world, and high religious affection, do grossly fail in. Were it
   not that this is so much insisted on in Scripture, as a most essential
   thing in true grace, one would be tempted to think that many of the
   heathen philosophers were truly gracious, in whom was so bright an
   appearance of many virtues, and also great illuminations, and inward
   fervors and elevations of mind, as though they were truly the subjects
   of divine illapses and heavenly communications. [57] It is true, that
   many hypocrites make great pretenses to humility, as well as other
   graces; and very often there is nothing whatsoever which they make a
   higher profession of. They endeavor to make a great show of humility in
   speech and behavior; but they commonly make bungling work of it, though
   glorious work in their own eyes. They cannot find out what a humble
   speech and behavior is, or how to speak and act so that there may
   indeed be a savor of Christian humility in what they say and do: that
   sweet humble air and mien is beyond their art, being not led by the
   Spirit, or naturally guided to a behavior becoming holy humility, by
   the vigor of a lowly spirit within them. And therefore they have no
   other way, many of them, but only to be much in declaring that they be
   humble, and telling how they were humbled to the dust at such and such
   times, and abounding in very bad expressions which they use about
   themselves; such as, "I am the least of all saints, I am a poor vile
   creature, I am not worthy of the least mercy, or that God should look
   upon me! Oh, I have a dreadful wicked heart! My heart is worse than the
   devil! Oh, this cursed heart of mine," &c. Such expressions are very
   often used, not with a heart that is broken, not with spiritual
   mourning, not with the tears of her that washed Jesus's feet, not as
   "remembering and being confounded, and never opening their mouth more
   because of their shame, when God is pacified," as the expression is,
   Ezek. 16:63, but with a light air, with smiles in the countenance, or
   with a pharisaical affectation: and we must believe that they are thus
   humble, and see themselves so vile, upon the credit of their say so;
   for there is nothing appears in them of any savor of humility, in the
   manner of their deportment and deeds that they do. There are many that
   are full of expressions of their own vileness, who yet expect to be
   looked upon as eminent and bright saints by others, as their due; and
   it is dangerous for any, so much as to hint the contrary, or to carry
   it towards them any otherwise, than as if we looked upon them as some
   of the chief of Christians. There are many that are much in crying out
   of their wicked hearts, and their great short comings, and
   unprofitableness, and speaking as though they looked on themselves as
   the meanest of the saints; who yet, if a minister should seriously tell
   them the same things in private, and should signify, that he feared
   they were very low and weak Christians, and thought they had reason
   solemnly to consider of their great barrenness and unprofitableness,
   and falling so much short of many others, it would be more than they
   could digest; they would think themselves highly injured; and there
   would be a danger of a rooted prejudice in them against such a

   There are some that are abundant in talking against legal doctrines,
   legal preaching, and a legal spirit, who do but little understand the
   thing they talk against. A legal spirit is a more subtle thing than
   they imagine; it is too subtle for them. It lurks, and operates, and
   prevails in their hearts, and they are most notoriously guilty of it,
   at the same time, when they are inveighing against it. So far as a man
   is not emptied of himself, and of his own righteousness and goodness,
   in whatever form or shape, so far he is of a legal spirit. A spirit of
   pride of man's own righteousness, morality, holiness, affection,
   experience, faith, humiliation, or any goodness whatsoever, is a legal
   spirit. It was no pride in Adam before the fall, to be of a legal
   spirit; because of his circumstances, he might seek acceptance by his
   own righteousness. But a legal spirit in a fallen, sinful creature, can
   be nothing else but spiritual pride; and reciprocally, a spiritually
   proud spirit is a legal spirit. There is no man living that is lifted
   up with a conceit of his own experiences and discoveries, and upon the
   account of them glisters in his own eyes, but what trusts in his
   experiences, and makes a righteousness of them; however he may use
   humble terms, and speak of his experiences as of the great things God
   has done for him, and it may be calls upon others to glorify God for
   them; yet he that is proud of his experiences, arrogates something to
   himself, as though his experiences were some dignity of his. And if he
   looks on them as his own dignity, he necessarily thinks that God looks
   on them so too; for he necessarily thinks his own opinion of them, to
   be true; and consequently judges that God looks on them as he does; and
   so unavoidably imagines that God looks on his experiences as a dignity
   in him, as he looks on them himself; and that he glisters as much in
   God's eyes, as he does in his own. And thus he trusts in what is
   inherent in him, to make him shine in God's sight, and recommend him to
   God: and with this encouragement he goes before God in prayer; and this
   makes him expect much from God; and this makes him think that Christ
   loves him, and that he is willing clothe him with his righteousness;
   because he supposes that he is taken with his experiences and graces.
   And this is a high degree of living on his own righteousness; and such
   persons are in the high road to hell. Poor deluded wretches, who think
   they look so glistering in God's eyes, when they are smoke in his nose,
   and are many of them more odious to him, than the most impure beast in
   Sodom, that makes no pretense to religion! To do as these do, is to
   live upon experiences, according to the true notion of it; and not to
   do as those who only make use of spiritual experiences, as evidences of
   a state of grace, and in that way receive hope and comfort from them.

   There is a sort of men, who indeed abundantly cry down works, and cry
   up faith in opposition to works, and set up themselves very much as
   evangelical persons, in opposition to those that are of a legal spirit,
   and make a fair show of advancing Christ and the gospel, and the way of
   free grace; who are indeed some of the greatest enemies to the gospel
   way of free grace, and the most dangerous opposers of pure humble

   There is a pretended great humiliation, and being dead to the law, and
   emptied of self, which is one of the biggest and most elated things in
   the world. Some there are, who have made great profession of experience
   of a thorough work of the law on their hearts, and of being brought
   fully off from works; whose conversation has savored most of a
   self-righteous spirit of any that ever I had opportunity to observe.
   And some who think themselves quite emptied of themselves, and are
   confident that they are abased in the dust, are full as they can hold
   with the glory of their own humility, and lifted up to heaven with a
   high opinion of their own abasement. Their humility is a swelling,
   self-conceited, confident, showy, noisy, assuming humility. It seems to
   be the nature of spiritual pride to make men conceited and ostentatious
   of their humility. This appears in that first born of pride among the
   children of men, that would be called his holiness, even the man of
   sin, that exalts himself above all that is called God or is worshipped;
   he styles himself Servant of servants; and to make a show of humility,
   washes the feet of a number of poor men at his inauguration.

   For persons to be truly emptied of themselves, and to be poor in
   spirit, and broken in heart, is quite another thing, and has other
   effects, than many imagine. It is astonishing how greatly many are
   deceived about themselves as to this matter, imagining themselves most
   humble, when they are most proud, and their behavior is really the most
   haughty. The deceitfulness of the heart of man appears in no one thing
   so much as this of spiritual pride and self-righteousness. The subtlety
   of Satan appears in its height, in his managing of persons with respect
   to this sin. And perhaps one reason may be, that here he has most
   experience; he knows the way of its coming in; he is acquainted with
   the secret springs of it: it was his own sin.--Experience gives vast
   advantage in leading souls, either in good or evil.

   But though spiritual pride be so subtle and secret an iniquity, and
   commonly appears under a pretext of great humility; yet there are two
   things by which it may (perhaps universally and surely) be discovered
   and distinguished.

   The first thing is this; he that is under the prevalence of this
   distemper, is apt to think highly of his attainments in religion, as
   comparing himself with others. It is natural for him to fall into that
   thought of himself, that he is an eminent saint, that he is very high
   amongst the saints, and has distinguishingly good and great
   experiences. That is the secret language of his heart: Luke 18:11,
   "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men." And Isa. 65:5, "I am
   holier than thou." Hence such are apt to put themselves forward among
   God's people, and as it were to take a high seat among them, as if
   there was no doubt of it but it belonged to them. They, as it were,
   naturally do that which Christ condemns, Luke 14:7, &c., take the
   highest room. This they do, by being forward to take upon them the
   place and business of the chief; to guide, teach, direct, and manage;
   "they are confident that they are guides to the blind, a light of them
   which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes,"
   Rom. 2:19, 20. It is natural for them to take it for granted, that it
   belongs to them to do the part of dictators and masters in matters of
   religion; and so they implicitly affect to be called of men Rabbi,
   which is by interpretation Master, as the Pharisees did, Matt. 23:6, 7,
   i.e., they are yet apt to expect that others should regard them, and
   yield to them, as masters in matters of religion. [58]

   But he whose heart is under the power of Christian humility, is of a
   contrary disposition. If the Scriptures are at all to be relied on,
   such a one is apt to think his attainments in religion to be
   comparatively mean, and to esteem himself low among the saints, and one
   of the least of saints. Humility, or true lowliness of mind, disposes
   persons to think others better than themselves: Phil. 2:3, "In
   lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves."
   Hence they are apt to think the lowest room belongs to them, and their
   inward disposition naturally leads them to obey that precept of our
   Savior, Luke 14:10. It is not natural to them to take it upon them to
   do the part of teachers; but on the contrary, they are disposed to
   think that they are not the persons, that others are fitter for it than
   they; as it was with Moses and Jeremiah (Exod. 3:11, Jer. 1:6), though
   they were such eminent saints, and of great knowledge. It is not
   natural to them to think that it belongs to them to teach, but to be
   taught; they are much more eager to hear, and to receive instruction
   from others, than to dictate to others: Jam. 1:19, "Be ye swift to
   hear, slow to speak." And when they do speak, it is not natural to them
   to speak with a bold, masterly air; but humility disposes them rather
   to speak, trembling. Hos. 13:1, "When Ephraim spake trembling, he
   exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died." They
   are not apt to assume authority, and to take upon them to be chief
   managers and masters; but rather to be subject to others: Jam. 3:1, 2,
   "Be not many masters." 1 Pet. 5:5, "All of you be subject one to
   another, and be clothed with humility." Eph. 5:21, "Submitting
   yourselves one to another in the fear of God."

   There are some persons' experiences that naturally work that way, to
   make them think highly of them; and they do often themselves speak of
   their experiences as very great and extraordinary; they freely speak of
   the great things they have met with. This may be spoken and meant in a
   good sense. In one sense, every degree of saving mercy is a great
   thing: it is indeed a thing great, yea, infinitely great, for God to
   bestow the least crumb of children's bread on such dogs as we are in
   ourselves; and the more humble a person is that hopes that God has
   bestowed such mercy on him, the more apt will he be to call it a great
   thing that he has met with in this sense. But if by great things which
   they have experienced they mean comparatively great spiritual
   experiences, or great compared with others' experiences, or beyond what
   is ordinary, which is evidently oftentimes the case; then for a person
   to say, I have met with great things, is the very same thing as to say,
   I am an eminent saint, and have more grace than ordinary: for to have
   great experiences, if the experiences be true and worth the telling of,
   is the same thing as to have great grace: there is no true experience,
   but the exercise of grace; and exactly according to the degree of true
   experience, is the degree of grace and holiness. The persons that talk
   thus about their experiences, when they give an account of them, expect
   that others should admire them. Indeed they do not call it boasting to
   talk after this manner about their experiences, nor do they look upon
   it as any sign of pride; because they say, "they know that it was not
   they that did it, it was free grace, they are things that God has done
   for them, they would acknowledge the great mercy God has shown them,
   and not make light of it." But so it was with the Pharisee that Christ
   tells us of, Luke 18. He in words gave God the glory of making him to
   differ from other men; God, I thank thee, says he, that I am not as
   other men. [59] Their verbally ascribing it to the grace of God, that
   they are holier than other saints, does not hinder their forwardness to
   think so highly of their holiness, being a sure evidence of the pride
   and vanity of their minds. If they were under the influence of a humble
   spirit, their attainments in religion would not be so apt to shine in
   their own eyes, nor would they be so much in admiring their own beauty.
   The Christians that are really the most eminent saints, and therefore
   have the most excellent experiences, and are the greatest in the
   kingdom of heaven, humble themselves as a little child, Matt. 8:4;
   because they look on themselves as but little children in grace, and
   their attainments to be but the attainments of babes in Christ, and are
   astonished at, and ashamed of the low degrees of their love, and their
   thankfulness, and their little knowledge of God. Moses, when he had
   been conversing with God in the mount, and his face shone so bright in
   the eyes of others as to dazzle their eyes, wist not that his face
   shone. There are some persons that go by the name of high professors,
   and some will own themselves to be high professors: but eminently
   humble saints, that will shine brightest in heaven, are not at all apt
   to profess high. I do not believe there is an eminent saint in the
   world that is a high professor. Such will be much more likely to
   profess themselves to be least of all saints, and to think that every
   saint's attainments and experiences are higher than his. [60]

   Such is the nature of grace, and of true spiritual light, that they
   naturally dispose the saints in the present state, to look upon their
   grace and goodness little, and their deformity great. And they that
   have the most grace and spiritual light, of any in this world, have
   most of this disposition. As will appear most clear and evident to
   anyone that soberly and thoroughly weighs the nature and reason of
   things, and considers the things following.

   That grace and holiness is worthy to be called little, that is, little
   in comparison of what it ought to be. And so it seems to one that is
   truly gracious: for such a one has his eye upon the rule of his duty; a
   conformity to that is that he aims at; it is what his soul struggles
   and reaches after; and it is by that that he estimates and judges of
   what he does, and what he has. To a gracious soul, and especially to
   one eminently gracious, that holiness appears little, which is little
   of what it should be; little of what he sees infinite reason for, and
   obligation to. If his holiness appears to him to be at a vast distance
   from this, it naturally appears despicable in his eyes, and not worthy
   to be mentioned as any beauty or amiableness in him. For the like
   reason as a hungry man naturally accounts that which is set before him,
   but a little food, a small matter, not worth mentioning, that is
   nothing in comparison of his appetite. Or as the child of a great
   prince, that is jealous for the honor of his father, and beholds He
   respect which men show him, naturally looks on that honor and respect
   very little, and not worthy to be regarded, which is nothing in
   comparison of that which the dignity of his father requires.

   But that is the nature of true grace and spiritual light, that it opens
   to a person's view the infinite reason there is that he should be holy
   in a high degree. And the more grace he has, the more this is opened to
   view, the greater sense he has of the infinite excellency and glory of
   the divine Being, and of the infinite dignity of the person of Christ,
   and the boundless length and breadth, and depth and height, of the love
   of Christ to sinners. And as grace increases, the field opens more and
   more to a distant view, until the soul is swallowed up with the
   vastness of the object, and the person is astonished to think how much
   it becomes him to love this God, and this glorious Redeemer, that has
   so loved man, and how little he does love. And so the more he
   apprehends, the more the smallness of his grace and love appears
   strange and wonderful: and therefore is more ready to think that others
   are beyond him. For wondering at the littleness of his own grace, he
   can scarcely believe that so strange a thing happens to other saints:
   it is amazing to him, that one that is really a child of God, and that
   has actually received the saving benefits of that unspeakable love of
   Christ, should love no more: and he is apt to look upon it as a thing
   peculiar to himself, a strange and exempt instance; for he sees only
   the outside of other Christians, but he sees his own inside.

   Here the reader may possibly object, that love to God is really
   increased in proportion as the knowledge of God is increased; and
   therefore how should an increase of knowledge in a saint make his love
   appear less, in comparison of what is known? To which I answer, that
   although grace and the love of God in the saints, be answerable to the
   degree of knowledge or sight of God; yet it is not in proportion to the
   object seen and known. The soul of a saint, by having something of God
   opened to sight, is convinced of much more than is seen. There is
   something that is seen, that is wonderful; and that sight brings with
   it a strong conviction of something vastly beyond, that is not
   immediately seen. So that the soul, at the same time, is astonished at
   its ignorance, and that it knows so little, as well as that it loves so
   little. And as the soul, in a spiritual view, is convinced of
   infinitely more in the object, yet beyond sight; so it is convinced of
   the capacity of the soul, of knowing vastly more, if the clouds and
   darkness were but removed. Which causes the soul, in the enjoyment of a
   spiritual view, to complain greatly of spiritual ignorance, and want of
   love, and to long and reach after more knowledge and more love.

   Grace and the love of God in the most eminent saints in this world, is
   truly very little in comparison of what it ought to be. Because the
   highest love that ever any attain to in this life, is poor, cold,
   exceedingly low, and not worthy to be named in comparison of what our
   obligations appear to be, from the joint consideration of these two
   things, viz.: 1. The reason God has given us to love him, in the
   manifestations he has made of his infinite glory, in his word, and in
   his works; and particularly in the gospel of his Son, and what he has
   done for sinful man by him. And, 2. The capacity there is in the soul
   of man, by those intellectual faculties which God has given it, of
   seeing and understanding these reasons, which God has given us to love
   him. How small indeed is the love of the most eminent saint on earth,
   in comparison of what these things, jointly considered, do require! And
   this grace tends to convince men of this, and especially eminent grace;
   for grace is of the nature of light, and brings truth to view. And
   therefore he that has much grace, apprehends much more than others that
   great height to which his love ought to ascend; and he sees better than
   others, how little a way he has risen towards that height. And
   therefore estimating his love by the whole height of his duty, hence it
   appears astonishingly little and low in his eyes.

   And the eminent saint, having such a conviction of the high degree in
   which he ought to love God, this shows him, not only the littleness of
   his grace, but the greatness of his remaining corruption. In order to
   judge how much corruption or sin we have remaining in us, we must take
   our measure from that height to which the rule of our duty extends: the
   whole of the distance we are at from that height, is sin: for failing
   of duty is sin; otherwise our duty is not our duty, and by how much the
   more we fall short of our duty, so much the more sin have we. Sin is no
   other than disagreeableness, in a moral agent, to the law or rule of
   his duty. And therefore the degree of sin is to be judged of by the
   rule: so much disagreeableness to the rule, so much sin, whether it be
   in defect or excess. Therefore if men, in their love to God, do not
   come up half way to that height which duty requires, then they have
   more corruption in their hearts than grace; because there is more
   goodness wanting, than is there: and all that is wanting is sin: it is
   an abominable defect; and appears so to the saints; especially those
   that are eminent; it appears exceeding abominable to them, that Christ
   should be loved so little, and thanked so little for his dying love: it
   is in their eyes hateful ingratitude.

   And then the increase of grace has a tendency another way, to cause the
   saints to think their deformity vastly more than their goodness: it not
   only tends to convince them that their corruption is much greater than
   their goodness, which is indeed the case; but it also tends to cause
   the deformity that there is in the least sin, or the least degree of
   corruption, to appear so great as vastly to outweigh all the beauty
   there is in their greatest holiness; for this also is indeed the case.
   For the least sin against an infinite God, has an infinite hatefulness
   or deformity in it, but the highest degree of holiness in a creature,
   has not an infinite loveliness in it: and therefore the loveliness of
   it is as nothings, in comparison of the deformity of the least sin.
   That every sin has infinite deformity and hatefulness in it, is most
   demonstrably evident; because what the evil, or iniquity, or
   hatefulness of sin consists in, is the violating of an obligation, or
   the being or doing contrary to what we should be or do, or are obliged
   to. And therefore by how much the greater the obligation is that is
   violated, so much the greater is the iniquity and hatefulness of the
   violation. But certainly our obligation to love and honor any being is
   in some proportion to his loveliness and honorableness, or to his
   worthiness to be loved and honored by us; which is the same thing. We
   are surely under greater obligation to love a more lovely being, than a
   less lovely; and if a Being be infinitely lovely or worthy to be loved
   by us, then our obligations to love him are infinitely great; and
   therefore, whatever is contrary to this love, has in it infinite
   iniquity, deformity, and unworthiness. But on the other hand, with
   respect to our holiness or love to God, there is not an infinite
   worthiness in that. The sin of the creature against God, is in
   deserving and hateful in proportion to the distance there is between
   God and the creature: the greatness of the object, and the meanness and
   inferiority of the subject, aggravates it. But it is the reverse with
   regard to the worthiness of the respect of the creature to God; it is
   worthless, and not worthy, in proportion to the meanness of the
   subject. So much the greater the distance between God and the creature,
   so much the less is the creature's respect worthy of God's notice or
   regard. The great degree of superiority increases the obligation on the
   inferior to regard the superior; and so makes the want of regard more
   hateful. But the great degree of inferiority diminishes the worth of
   the regard of the inferior; because the more he is inferior, the less
   he is worthy of notice; the less he is, the less is what he can offer
   worth; for he can offer no more than himself, in offering his best
   respect; and therefore as he is little, and little worth, so is his
   respect little worth. And the more a person has of true grace and
   spiritual light, the more will it appear thus to him; the more will he
   appear to himself infinitely deformed by reason of sin, and the less
   will the goodness that is in his grace, or good experience, appear in
   proportion to it. For indeed it is nothing to it; it is less than a
   drop to the ocean; for finite bears no proportion at all to that which
   is infinite. But the more a person has of spiritual light, the more do
   things appear to him, in this respect, as they are indeed.--Hence it
   most demonstrably appears, that true grace is of that nature, that the
   more a person has of it, with remaining corruption, the less does his
   goodness and holiness appear, in proportion to his deformity; and not
   only to his past deformity, but to his present deformity, in the sin
   that now appears in his heart, and the abominable defects of his
   highest and best affections, and brightest experiences.

   The nature of many high and religious affections, and great discoveries
   (as they are called) in many persons that I have been acquainted with,
   is to hide and cover over the corruption of their hearts, and to make
   it seem to them as if all their sin was gone, and to leave them without
   complaints of any hateful evil left in them (though it may be they cry
   out much of their past unworthiness); a sure and certain evidence that
   their discoveries (as they call them) are darkness and not light. It is
   darkness that hides men's pollution and deformity; but light let into
   the heart discovers it, searches it out in its secret corners, and
   makes it plainly to appear; especially that penetrating, all searching
   light of God's holiness and glory. It is true, that saving discoveries
   may for the present hide corruption in one sense; they restrain the
   positive exercises of it, such as malice, envy, covetousness,
   lasciviousness, murmuring, &c., but they bring corruption to light, in
   that which is privative, viz., that there is no more love, no more
   humility, no more thankfulness. Which defects appear most hateful in
   the eyes of those who have the most eminent exercises of grace; and are
   very burdensome, and cause the saints to cry out of their leanness, and
   odious pride and ingratitude. And whatever positive exercises of
   corruption at any time arise, and mingle themselves with eminent
   actings of grace, grace will exceedingly magnify the view of them, and
   render their appearance far more heinous and horrible.

   The more eminent saints are, and the more they have of the light of
   heaven in their souls, the more do they appear to themselves, as the
   most eminent saints in this world do to the saints and angels in
   heaven. How can we rationally suppose the most eminent saints on earth
   appear to them, if beheld any otherwise than covered over with the
   righteousness of Christ, and their deformities swallowed up and hid in
   the coruscation of the beams of his abundant glory and love? How can we
   suppose our most ardent love and praises appear to them, that do behold
   the beauty and glory of God without a vail? How does our highest
   thankfulness for the dying love of Christ appear to them, who see
   Christ as he is, who know as they are known, and see the glory of the
   person of him that died, and the wonders of his dying love, without any
   cloud of darkness? And how do they look on the deepest reverence and
   humility, with which worms of the dust on earth approach that infinite
   Majesty which they behold? Do they appear great to them, or so much as
   worthy of the name of reverence and humility, in those that they see to
   be at such an infinite distance from that great and holy God, in whose
   glorious presence they are? The reason why the highest attainments of
   the saints on earth appear so mean to them, is because they dwell in
   the light of God's glory, and see God as he is. And it is in this
   respect with the saints on earth, as it is with the saints in heaven,
   in proportion as they are more eminent in grace.

   I would not be understood, that the saints on earth have in all
   respects the worst opinion of themselves, when they have most of the
   exercises of grace. In many respects it is otherwise. With respect to
   the positive exercises of corruption, they may appear to themselves
   freest and best when grace is most in exercise, and worst when the
   actings of grace are lowest. And when they compare themselves with
   themselves at different times, they may know, when grace is in lively
   exercise, that it is better with them than it was before (though
   before, in the time of it, they did not see so much badness as they see
   now) and when afterwards they sink again in the frame of their minds,
   they may know that they sink, and have a new argument of their great
   remaining corruption, and a rational conviction of a greater vileness
   than they saw before; and many have more of a sense of guilt, and a
   kind of legal sense of their sinfulness by far, than when in the lively
   exercise of grace. But yet it is true, and demonstrable from the
   forementioned considerations, that the children of God never have so
   much of a sensible and spiritual conviction of their deformity, and so
   great, and quick and abasing a sense of their present vileness and
   odiousness, as when they are highest in the exercise of true and pure
   grace; and never are they so much disposed to set themselves low among
   Christians as then. And thus he that is greatest in the kingdom, or
   most eminent in the church of Christ, is the same that humbles himself,
   as the least infant among them; agreeable to that great saying of
   Christ, Matt. 18:4.

   A true saint may know that he has some true grace: and the more grace
   there is, the more easily is it known, as was observed and proved
   before. But yet it does not follow, that an eminent saint is easily
   sensible that he is an eminent saint, when compared with others. I will
   not deny that it is possible, that he that has much grace, and is an
   eminent saint, may know it. But he will not be apt to know it; it will
   not be a thing obvious to him: that he is better than others, and has
   higher experiences and attainments, is not a foremost thought; nor is
   it that which, from time to time readily offers itself; it is a thing
   that is not in his way, but lies far out of sight; he must take pains
   to convince himself of it; there will be need of a great command of
   reason, and a high degree of strictness and care in arguing, to
   convince himself. And if he be rationally convinced by a very strict
   consideration of his own experiences compared with the great
   appearances of low degrees of grace in some other saints, it will
   hardly seem real to him, that he has more grace than they; and he will
   be apt to lose the conviction that he has by pains obtained: nor will
   it seem at all natural to him to act upon that supposition. And this
   may be laid down as an infallible thing, "that the person who is apt to
   think that he, as compared with others, is a very eminent saint, much
   distinguished in Christian experience, in whom this is a first thoughts
   that rises of itself, and naturally offers itself; he is certainly
   mistaken; he is no eminent saint, but under the great prevailings of a
   proud and self-righteous spirit." And if this be habitual with the man,
   and is steadily the prevailing temper of his mind, he is no saint at
   all; he has not the least degree of any true Christian experience; so
   surely as the word of God is true.

   And that sort of experiences that appears to be of that tendency, and
   is found from time to time to have that effect, to elevate the subject
   of them with a great conceit of those experiences, is certainly vain
   and delusive. Those supposed discoveries that naturally blow up the
   person with an admiration of the eminency of his discoveries, and fill
   him with conceit that now he has seen, and knows more than most other
   Christians, have nothing of the nature of true spiritual light in them.
   All true spiritual knowledge is of that nature, that the more a person
   has of it, the more is he sensible of his own ignorance; as is evident
   by 1 Cor. 8:2: "He that thinketh he knoweth any thing, he knoweth
   nothing yet as he ought to know." Agur, when he had a great discovery
   of God, and sense of the wonderful height of his glory, and of his
   marvellous works, and cries out of his greatness and
   incomprehensibleness; at the same time, had the deepest sense of his
   brutish ignorance, and looked upon himself the most ignorant of all the
   saints. Prov. 30:2, 3, 4: "Surely I am more brutish than any man, and
   have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have
   the knowledge of the holy. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or
   descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the
   waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth?
   What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?"

   For a man to be highly conceited of his spiritual and divine knowledge,
   is for him to be wise in his own eyes, if anything is. And therefore it
   comes under those prohibitions: Prov. 3:7, "Be not wise in thine own
   eyes." Rom. 12:16, "Be not wise in your own conceits;" and brings men
   under that woe, Isa. 5:21: "Woe unto them that are wise in their own
   eyes, and prudent in their own sight." Those that are thus wise in
   their own eyes, are some of the least likely to get good of any in the
   world. Experience shows the truth of that, Prov. 26:12: "Seest thou a
   man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him."

   To this some may object, that the Psalmist, when we must suppose that
   he was in a holy frame, speaks of his knowledge as eminently great, and
   far greater than that of other saints: Psal. 119:99, 100, "I have more
   understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my
   meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy

   To this I answer two things:

   (1.) There is no restraint to be laid upon the Spirit of God, as to
   what he shall reveal to a prophet, for the benefit of his church, who
   is speaking or writing under immediate inspiration. The Spirit of God
   may reveal to such a one, and dictate to him, to declare to others
   secret things, that otherwise would be hard, yea impossible for him to
   find out. As he may reveal to him mysteries, that otherwise would be
   above the reach of his reason; or things in a distant place, that he
   cannot see; or future events, that it would be impossible for him to
   know and declare, if they were not extraordinarily revealed to him; so
   the Spirit of God might reveal to David this distinguishing benefit he
   had received by conversing much with God's testimonies; and use him as
   his instrument to record it for the benefit of others, to excite them
   to the like duty, and to use the same means to gain knowledge. Nothing
   can be gathered concerning the natural tendency of the ordinary
   gracious influences of the Spirit of God, from that that David declares
   of his distinguishing knowledge under the extraordinary influences of
   God's Spirit, immediately dictating to him the divine mind by
   inspiration, and using David as his instrument to write what he pleased
   for the benefit of his church; any more than we can reasonably argue,
   that it is the natural tendency of grace to incline men to curse
   others, and wish the most dreadful misery to them that can be thought
   of, because David, under inspiration, often curses others, and prays
   that such misery may come upon them.

   (2.) It is not certain that the knowledge David here speaks of, is
   spiritual knowledge, wherein holiness does fundamentally consist. But
   it may be that greater revelation which God made to him of the Messiah,
   and the things of his future kingdom, and the far more clear and
   extensive knowledge that he had of the mysteries and doctrines of the
   gospel, than others; as a reward for his keeping God's testimonies. In
   this, it is apparent by the book of Psalms, that David far exceeded all
   that had gone before him.

   Secondly, Another thing that is an infallible sign of spiritual pride,
   is persons being apt to think highly of their humility. False
   experiences are commonly attended with a counterfeit humility. And it
   is the very nature of a counterfeit humility, to be highly conceited of
   itself. False religious affections have generally that tendency,
   especially when raised to a great height to make persons think that
   their humility is great, and accordingly to take much notice of their
   great attainments in this respect, and admire them. But eminently
   gracious affections (I scruple not to say it) are evermore of a
   contrary tendency, and have universally a contrary effect in those that
   have them. They indeed make them very sensible what reason there is
   that they should be deeply humbled, and cause them earnestly to thirst
   and long after it; but they make their present humility, or that which
   they have already attained to, to appear small; and their remaining
   pride great, and exceedingly abominable.

   The reason why a proud person should be apt to think his humility
   great, and why a very humble person should think his humility small,
   may be easily seen, if it be considered, that it is natural for
   persons, in judging of the degree of their own humiliation, to take
   their measure from that which they esteem their proper height, or the
   dignity wherein they properly stand. That may be great humiliation in
   one, that is no humiliation at all in another; because the degree of
   honorableness, or considerableness wherein each does properly stand, is
   very different. For some great man, to stoop to loose the latchet of
   the shoes of another great man, his equal, or to wash his feet, would
   be taken notice of as an act of abasement in him; and he, being
   sensible of his own dignity, would look upon it so himself. But if a
   poor slave is seen stooping to unloose the shoes of a great prince,
   nobody will take any notice of this, as any act of humiliation in him,
   or token of any great degree of humility: nor would the slave himself,
   unless he be horribly proud and ridiculously conceited of himself: and
   if after he had done it, he should, in his talk and behavior, show that
   he thought his abasement great in it, and had his mind much upon it, as
   an evidence of his being very humble; would not every body cry out upon
   him, "Whom do you think yourself to be, that you should think this that
   you have done such a deep humiliation?" This would make it plain to a
   demonstration, that this slave was swollen with a high degree of pride
   and vanity of mind, as much as if he declared in plain terms, "I think
   myself to be some great one." And the matter is no less plain and
   certain, when worthless, vile, and loathsome worms of the dust, are apt
   to put such a construction on their acts of abasement before God; and
   to think it a token of great humility in them that obey, under their
   affections, can find themselves so willing to acknowledge themselves to
   be so mean and unworthy, and to behave themselves as those that are so
   inferior. The very reason why such outward acts, and such inward
   exercises, look like great abasement in such a one, is because he has a
   high conceit of himself. Whereas if he thought of himself more justly,
   these things would appear nothing to him, and his humility in them
   worthy of no regard; but would rather be astonished at his pride, that
   one so infinitely despicable and vile is brought no lower before
   God.--When he says in his heart, "This is a great act of humiliation;
   it is certainly a sign of great humility in me, that I should feel thus
   and do so;" his meaning is, "This is great humility for me, for such a
   one as I, that am so considerable and worthy." He considers how low he
   is now brought, and compares this with the height of dignity on which
   he in his heart thinks he properly stands, and the distance appears
   very great, and he calls it all mere humility, and as such admires it.
   Whereas, in him that is truly humble, and really sees his own vileness,
   and loathsomeness before God, the distance appears the other way. When
   he is brought lowest of all, it does not appear to him, that he is
   brought below his proper station, but that he is not come to it; he
   appears to himself yet vastly above it, he longs to get lower, that he
   may come to it, but appears at a great distance from it. And this
   distance he calls pride. And therefore his pride appears great to him,
   and not his humility. For although he is brought much lower than he
   used to be, yet it does not appear to him worthy of the name of
   humiliation, for him that is so infinitely mean and detestable, to come
   down to a place, which, though it be lower than what he used to assume,
   is yet vastly higher than what is proper for him. As men would hardly
   count it worthy of the name of humility, in a contemptible slave, that
   formerly affected to be a prince, to have his spirit so far brought
   down, as to take the place of a nobleman; when this is still so far
   above his proper station.

   All men in the world, in judging of the degree of their own and others'
   humility, as appearing in any act of theirs, consider two things, viz.,
   the real degree of dignity they stand in; and the degree of abasement,
   and the relation it bears to that real dignity. Thus the complying with
   the same low place, or low act, may be an evidence of great humility in
   one, that evidences but little or no humility in another. But truly
   humble Christians have so mean an opinion of their own real dignity,
   that all their self-abasement, when considered with relation to that,
   and compared to that, appears very small to them. It does not seem to
   them to be any great humility, or any abasement to be made much of, for
   such poor, vile, abject creatures as they, to lie at the foot of God.

   The degree of humility is to be judged of by the degree of abasement,
   and the degree of the cause for abasement: but he that is truly and
   eminently humble, never thinks his humility great, considering the
   cause. The cause why he should be abased appears so great, and the
   abasement of the frame of his heart so greatly short of it, that he
   takes much more notice of his pride than his humility.

   Everyone that has been conversant with souls under convictions of sin,
   knows that those who are greatly convinced of sin, are not apt to think
   themselves greatly convinced. And the reason is this: men judge of the
   degree of their own convictions of sin by two things jointly
   considered, viz., the degree of sense which they have of guilt and
   pollution, and the degree of cause they have for such a sense, in the
   degree of their real sinfulness. It is really no argument of any great
   conviction of sin, for some men to think themselves to be very sinful,
   beyond most others in the world; because they are so indeed, very
   plainly and notoriously. And therefore a far less conviction of sin may
   incline such a one to think so than another; he must be very blind
   indeed not to be sensible of it. But he that is truly under great
   convictions of sin, naturally thinks this to be his case. It appears to
   him, that the cause he has to be sensible of guilt and pollution, is
   greater than others have; and therefore he ascribes his sensibleness of
   this to the greatness of his sin, and not to the greatness of his
   sensibility. It is natural for one under great convictions, to think
   himself one of the greatest of sinners in reality, and also that it is
   so very plainly and evidently; for the greater his convictions are, the
   more plain and evident it seems to be to him. And therefore it
   necessarily seems to him so plain and so easy to him to see it, that it
   may be seen without much conviction. That man is under great
   convictions, whose conviction is great in proportion to his sin. But no
   man that is truly under great convictions, thinks his conviction great
   in proportion to his sin. For if he does, it is a certain sign that he
   inwardly thinks his sins small. And if that be the case, that is a
   certain evidence that his conviction is small. And this, by the way, is
   the main reason that persons, when under a work of humiliation, are not
   sensible of it in the time of it.

   And as it is with conviction of sin, just so it is, by parity of
   reason, with respect to persons' conviction or sensibleness of their
   own meanness and vileness, their own blindness, their own impotence,
   and all that low sense that a Christian has of himself, in the exercise
   of evangelical humiliation. So that in a high degree of this, the
   saints are never disposed to think their sensibleness of their own
   meanness, filthiness, impotence, &c., to be great; because it never
   appears great to them considering the cause.

   An eminent saint is not apt to think himself eminent in any thing; all
   his graces and experiences are ready to appear to him to be
   comparatively small; but especially his humility. There is nothing that
   appertains to Christian experience, and true piety, that is so much out
   of his sight as his humility. He is a thousand times more quicksighted
   to discern his pride than his humility: that he easily discerns, and is
   apt to take much notice of, but hardly discerns his humility. On the
   contrary, the deluded hypocrite, that is under the power of spiritual
   pride, is so blind to nothing as his pride; and so quicksighted to
   nothing, as the shows of humility that are in him.

   The humble Christian is more apt to find fault with his own pride than
   with other men's. He is apt to put the best construction on others'
   words and behavior, and to think that none are so proud as himself. But
   the proud hypocrite is quick to discern the mote in his brother's eye,
   in this respect; while he sees nothing of the beam in his own. He is
   very often much in crying out of others' pride, finding fault with
   others' apparel, and way of living; and is affected ten times as much
   with his neighbor's ring or ribband, as with all the filthiness of his
   own heart.

   From the disposition there is in hypocrites to think highly of their
   humility, it comes to pass that counterfeit humility is forward to put
   itself forth to view. Those that have it, are apt to be much in
   speaking of their humiliations, and to set them forth in high terms,
   and to make a great outward show of humility, in affected looks,
   gestures, or manner of speech, or meanness of apparel, or some affected
   singularity. So it was of old with the false prophets, Zech. 13:4; so
   it was with the hypocritical Jews, Isa. 57:5, and so Christ tells us it
   was with the Pharisees, Matt. 6:16. But it is contrariwise with true
   humility; they that have it, are not apt to display their eloquence in
   setting it forth, or to speak of the degree of their abasement in
   strong terms. [61] It does not affect to show itself in any singular
   outward meanness of apparel, or way of living; agreeable to what is
   implied in Matt. 6:17, "But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head
   and wash thy face. Col. 2:23. Which things have indeed a show of wisdom
   in will worship and humility, and neglecting of the body." Nor is true
   humility a noisy thing; it is not loud and boisterous. The Scripture
   represents it as of a contrary nature. Ahab, when he had a visible
   humility, a resemblance of true humility, went softly, 1 Kings 21:27. A
   penitent, in the exercise of true humiliation, is represented as still
   and silent, Lam. 3:28: "He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because
   he hath borne it upon him." And silence is mentioned as what attends
   humility, Prov. 30:32: "If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up
   thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth."

   Thus I have particularly and largely shown the nature of that true
   humility that attends holy affections, as it appears in its tendency to
   cause persons to think meanly of their attainments in religion, as
   compared with the attainments of others, and particularly of their
   attainments in humility: and have shown the contrary tendency of
   spiritual pride, to dispose persons to think their attainments in these
   respects to be great. I have insisted the longer on this, because I
   look upon it as a matter of great importance, as it affords a certain
   distinction between true and counterfeit humility; and also as this
   disposition of hypocrites to look on themselves better than others, is
   what God has declared to be very hateful to him, "a smoke in his nose,
   and a fire that burneth all the day," Isa. 65:5. It is mentioned as an
   instance of the pride of the inhabitants of that holy city (as it was
   called) Jerusalem, that they esteemed themselves far better than the
   people of Sodom, and so looked upon them worthy to be overlooked and
   disregarded by them: Ezek. 16:56, "For thy sister Sodom was not
   mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride."

   Let not the reader lightly pass over these things in application to
   himself. If you once have taken it in, that it is a bad sign for a
   person to be apt to think himself a better saint than others, there
   will arise a blinding prejudice in your own favor; and there will
   probably be need of a great strictness of self-examination, in order to
   determine whether it be so with you. If on the proposal of the
   question, you answer, "No, it seems to me, none are so bad as I," do
   not let the matter pass off so; but examine again, whether or no you do
   not think yourself better than others on this very account, because you
   imagine you think so meanly of yourself. Have not you a high opinion of
   this humility? And if you answer again, "No; I have not a high opinion
   of my humility; it seems to one I am as proud as the devil;" yet
   examine again, whether self-conceit do not rise up under this cover;
   whether on this very account, that you think yourself as proud as the
   devil, you do not think yourself to be very humble.

   From this opposition that there is between the nature of a true, and of
   a counterfeit humility, as to the esteem that the subjects of them have
   of them selves, arises a manifold contrariety of temper and behavior.

   A truly humble person, having such a mean opinion of his righteousness
   and holiness, is poor in spirit. For a person to be poor in spirit, is
   to be in his own sense and apprehension poor, as to what is in him, and
   to be of an answerable disposition. Therefore a truly humble person,
   especially one eminently humble, naturally behaves himself in many
   respects as a poor man. "The poor useth entreaties, but the rich
   answereth roughly." A poor man is not disposed to quick and high
   resentment when he is among the rich: he is apt to yield to others, for
   he knows others are above him; he is not stiff and self-willed; he is
   patient with hard fare; he expects no other than to be despised, and
   takes it patently; he does not take it heinously that he is overlooked
   and but little regarded; he is prepared to be in a low place; he
   readily honors his superiors; he takes reproofs quietly; he readily
   honors others as above him; he easily yields to be taught, and does not
   claim much to his understanding and judgment; he is not over nice or
   humorsome, and has his spirit subdued to hard things, he is not
   assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but it is natural for him to
   be subject to others. Thus it is with the humble Christian. Humility is
   (as the great Mastricht expresses it) a kind of holy pusillanimity.

   A man that is very poor is a beggar; so is he that is poor in spirit.
   There is a great difference between those affections that are gracious,
   and those that are false: under the former, the person continues still
   a poor beggar at God's gates, exceeding empty and needy; but the latter
   make men appear to themselves rich, and increased with goods, and not
   very necessitous; they have a great stock in their own imagination for
   their subsistence. [62]

   A poor man is modest in his speech and behavior; so, and much more, and
   more certainly and universally, is one that is poor in spirit; he is
   humble and modest in his behavior amongst men. It is in vain for any to
   pretend that they are humble, and as little children before God, when
   they are haughty, assuming, and impudent in their behavior amongst men.
   The apostle informs us, that the design of the gospel is to cut off all
   glorying, not only before God, but also before men, Rom 4:1, 2. Some
   pretend to great humiliation, that are very haughty, audacious, and
   assuming in their external appearance and behavior: but they ought to
   consider those Scriptures, Psal. 131:1, "Lord, my heart is not haughty,
   nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters or
   in things too high for me." Prov. 6:16, 17, "These six things doth the
   Lord hate; yea seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look,
   &c."--Chap. 21:4, "A high look, and a proud heart are sin." Psal.
   18:27, "Thou wilt bring down high looks." And Psal. 101:5, "Him that
   hath a high look, and a proud heart, I will not suffer." 1 Cor. 13:4.
   "Charity vaunteth not itself, doth not behave itself unseemly." There
   is a certain amiable modesty and fear that belongs to a Christian
   behavior among men, arising from humility, that the Scripture often
   speaks of, 1 Pet. 3:15, "Be ready to give an answer to every man that
   asketh you--with meekness and fear." Romans 13:7, "Fear to whom fear."
   2 Cor. 7:15, "Whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with
   fear and trembling you received him." Eph. 6:5, "Servants, be obedient
   to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and
   trembling." 1 Pet. 2:18, "Servants, be subject to your masters with all
   fear." 1 Pet. 3:2, "While they behold your chaste conversation coupled
   with fear." 1 Tim. 2:9, "That women adorn themselves in modest apparel,
   with shamefacedness and sobriety." In this respect a Christian is like
   a little child; a little child is modest before men, and his heart is
   apt to be possessed with fear and awe amongst them.

   The same spirit will dispose a Christian to honor all men: 1 Pet. 2:17,
   "Honor all men." A humble Christian is not only disposed to honor the
   saints in his behavior; but others also, in all those ways that do not
   imply a visible approbation of their sins. Thus Abraham, the great
   pattern of believers, honored the children of Heth: Gen. 23:7, "Abraham
   stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land." This was a
   remarkable instance of a humble behavior towards them that were out of
   Christ, and that Abraham knew to be accursed: and therefore would by no
   means suffer his servant to take a wife to his son, from among them;
   and Esau's wives, being of these children of Heth, were a grief of mind
   to Isaac and Rebekah. So Paul honored Festus: Acts 26:25, "I am not
   mad, most noble Festus." Not only will Christian humility dispose
   persons to honor those wicked men that are out of the visible church,
   but also false brethren and persecutors. As Jacob, when he was in an
   excellent frame, having just been wrestling all night with God, and
   received the blessing, honored Esau, his false and persecuting brother:
   Gen. 33:3, "Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he
   came near to his brother Esau." So he called him lord; and commanded
   all his family to honor him in like manner.

   Thus I have endeavored to describe the heart and behavior of one that
   is governed by a truly gracious humility, as exactly agreeable to the
   Scriptures as I am able.

   Now, it is out of such a heart as this, that all truly holy affections
   do flow. Christian affections are like Mary's precious ointment that
   she poured on Christ's head, that filled the whole house with a sweet
   odor. That was poured out of an alabaster box; so gracious affections
   flow out to Christ out of a pure heart. That was poured out of a broken
   box; until the box was broken, the ointment could not flow, nor diffuse
   its odor; so gracious affections flow out of a broken heart. Gracious
   affections are also like those of Mary Magdalene (Luke 7 at the latter
   end), who also pours precious ointment on Christ, out of an alabaster
   broken box, anointing therewith the feet of Jesus, when she had washed
   them with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. All
   gracious affections that are a sweet odor to Christ, and that fill the
   soul of a Christian with a heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are broken
   hearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a
   humble broken hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest,
   are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even
   when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble broken hearted
   joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit; and more like a
   little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior.

   [56] Calvin in his Institutions, Book II chap. 2. § 11, says "I was
   always exceedingly pleased with that saying of Chrysostom. "The
   foundation of our philosophy is humility;" and yet more pleased with
   that of Augustine: "As," says he, "the rhetorician being asked, what
   was the first thing in the rules of eloquence, he answered,
   pronunciation; what was the second, pronunciation; what was the third,
   still he answered, pronunciation. So if you shall ask me concerning the
   precept of the Christian religion, I would answer, firstly, secondly,
   and thirdly, and forever, humility."

   [57] Albeit the Pythagoreans were thus famous for Judaic mysterious
   wisdom, and many moral, as well as natural accomplishments, yet were
   they not exempted from boasting and pride; which was indeed a vice most
   epidemic, and as is were congenial, among all the philosophers; but in
   a more particular manner, among the Pythagoreans. So Hornius Hist.
   Philosoph. L. III. chap. 11. The manners of the Pythagoreans were not
   free from boasting. They were all such as abounded in the sense and
   commendation of their own excellencies, and boasting even almost to the
   degree of immodesty and impudence, as great Heinsius, ad Horat. has
   rightly observed. Thus indeed does proud nature delight to walk in the
   sparks of its own fire. And although many of these old philosophers
   could, by the strength of their own lights and heats, together with
   some common elevations and raisures of spirit (peradventure from a more
   than ordinary, though not special and saving assistance of the Spirit),
   abandon many grosser vices; yet they were all deeply immersed in that
   miserable cursed abyss of spiritual pride, so that all their natural,
   and moral, and philosophic attainments, did feed, nourish, strengthen,
   and render most inveterate, this hell-bred pest of their hearts. Yea,
   those of them that seemed most modest, as the Academics, who professed
   they knew nothing, and the Cynics, who greatly decried, both in words
   and habits, the pride of others, yet even they abounded in the most
   notorious and visible pride. So connatural and morally essential to
   corrupt nature, is this envenomed root, fountain, and plague of
   spiritual pride; especially where there is any natural, moral, or
   philosophic excellence to feed the same. Whence, Austin rightly judged
   all these philosophic virtues to be but splendid sins. Gale's Court of
   the Gentiles, Part II. B. II. chap. 10:§ 17.

   [58] "There be two things wherein it appears that a man has only common
   gifts, and no inward principle. 1. These gifts ever puff up, and make a
   man something in his own eyes, as the Corinthian knowledge did, and
   many a private man thinks himself fit to be a minister." Shepard's
   Parable Part 1. p.181, 182.

   [59] Calvin, in his Institutions, B. III. chap. 12 § 7, speaking of
   this Pharisee, observed "That in his outward confession, he
   acknowledges that the righteousness that he has, is the gift of God but
   (says he) because he trusts that he is righteous, he goes away out of
   the presence of God, unacceptable and odious."

   [60] Luther, as his words are cited by Rutherford, in his Display of
   the Spiritual Antichrist, p. 143, 144, says thus: "So is the life of a
   Christian, that he that has begun, seems to himself to have nothing;
   but strives and presses forward, that he may apprehend: whence Paul
   says, I count not myself to have apprehended. For indeed nothing is
   more pernicious to a believer, than that presumption, that he has
   already apprehended, and has no further need of seeking. Hence also
   many fall back, and pine away in spiritual security and slothfulness.
   So Bernard says, 'To stand still in God's way, is to go back.'
   Wherefore this remains to him that has begun to be a Christian, to
   think that he is not yet a Christian, but to seek that he may be a
   Christian, that he may glory with Paul, 'I am not, but I desire to be;'
   a Christian not yet finished, but only in his beginnings. Therefore he
   is not a Christian, that is a Christian, that is, he that thinks
   himself a finished Christian, is not sensible how he falls short. We
   reach after heaven, but we are not in heaven. Woe to him that is wholly
   renewed, that is, that thinks himself to be so. That man, without
   doubt, has never so much as begun to be renewed, nor did he ever taste
   what it is to be a Christian.

   [61] It is an observation of Mr. Jones, in his excellent treatise of
   the canon of the New Testament, that the evangelist Mark, who was the
   companion of St. Peter, and is supposed to have written his gospel
   under the direction of that apostle, when he mentions Peter's
   repentance after his denying his Master, does not use such strong terms
   to set it forth as the other evangelists; he only uses these words,
   "When he thought thereon, he wept," Mark 14:72; whereas the other
   evangelists say thus, "he went out and wept bitterly," Matt. 26:75,
   Luke 22:62.

   [62] "This spirit ever keeps a man poor and vile in his own eyes, and
   empty.--When the man hath got some knowledge, and can discourse pretty
   well, and hath some taste of the heavenly gift, some sweet illapses of
   grace, and so his conscience is pretty well quieted: and if he hath got
   some answers to his prayers, and hath sweet affections, he grows full:
   and having ease to his conscience, casts off sense, and daily groaning
   under sin. And hence the spirit of prayer dies: he loses his esteem of
   God's ordinances, feels not such need of them; or gets no good, feels
   no life or power by them.--This is the woeful condition of some; but
   yet they know it not. But now he that is filled with the Spirit the
   Lord empties him; and the more, the longer he lives. So that others
   think he needs not much grace, yet he accounts himself the poorest."
   Shepard's Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part II. p. 132.
   "After all fillings, be ever empty, hungry, and feeling need, and
   praying for more." Ibid., p. 151.                "Truly, brethren, when
   I see the curse of God upon many Christians, who are now grown full of
   their parts, gifts, peace, comforts, abilities, duties, I stand adoring
   the riches of the Lord's mercy, to a little handful of poor believers,
   not only in making them empty, but in keeping them so all their days."
   Shepard's Sound Believer, the late edition in Boston, p. 158, 159.

   VII. Another thing, wherein gracious affections are distinguished from
   others, is, that they are attended with a change of nature.

   All Gracious affections do arise from a spiritual understanding, in
   which the soul has the excellency and glory of divine things discovered
   to it, as was shown before. But all spiritual discoveries are
   transforming; and not only make an alteration of the present exercise,
   sensation, and frame of the soul, but such power and efficacy have
   they, that they make an alteration in the very nature of the soul: 2
   Cor. 3:18, "But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the
   glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to
   Glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Such power as this is
   properly divine power, and is peculiar to the Spirit of the Lord: other
   power may make an alteration in men's present frames and feelings: but
   it is the power of a Creator only that can change the nature, or give a
   new nature. And no discoveries or illuminations but those that are
   divine and supernatural, will have this supernatural effect. But this
   effect all those discoveries have, that are truly divine. The soul is
   deeply affected by these discoveries, and so affected as to be

   Thus it is with those affections that the soul is the subject of in its
   conversion. The Scripture representations of conversion do strongly
   imply and signify a change of nature: such as "being born again;
   becoming new creatures; rising from the dead; being renewed in the
   spirit of the mind; dying to sin, and living to righteousness; putting
   off the old man, and putting on the new man; a being ingrafted into a
   new stock; a having a divine seed implanted in the heart; a being made
   partakers of the divine nature," &c.

   Therefore if there be no great and remarkable abiding change in persons
   that think they have experienced a work of conversion, vain are all
   their imaginations and pretenses, however they have been affected. [63]
   Conversion is a great and universal change of the man, turning him from
   sin to God. A man may be restrained from sin before he is converted;
   but when he is converted, he is not only restrained from sin, his very
   heart and nature is turned from it unto holiness: so that thenceforward
   he becomes a holy person, and an enemy to sin. If, therefore, after a
   person's high affections at his supposed first conversion, it comes to
   that in a little time, that there is no very sensible, or remarkable
   alteration in him, as to those bad qualities, and evil habits, which
   before were visible in him, and he is ordinarily under the prevalence
   of the same kind of dispositions that he used to be, and the same thing
   seems to belong to his character; he appears as selfish, carnal, as
   stupid, and perverse, as unchristian and unsavory as ever; it is
   greater evidence against him, than the brightest story of experiences
   that ever was told, is for him. For in Christ Jesus neither
   circumcision, nor uncircumcision, neither high profession, nor low
   profession, neither a fair story, nor a broken one, avails any thing;
   but a new creature.

   If there be a very great alteration visible in a person for a while; if
   it be not abiding, but he afterwards returns, in a stated manner, to be
   much as he used to be; it appears to be no change of nature; for nature
   is an abiding thing. A swine that is of a filthy nature may be washed,
   but the swinish nature remains; and a dove that is of a cleanly nature
   may be defiled, but its cleanly nature remains. [64]

   Indeed allowances must be made for the natural temper; conversion does
   not entirely root out the natural temper; those sins which a man by his
   natural constitution was most inclined to before his conversions he may
   be most apt to fall into still. But yet conversion will make a great
   alteration even with respect to these sins. Though grace, while
   imperfect, does not root out an evil natural temper, yet it is of great
   power and efficacy with respect to it, to correct it. The change that
   is wrought in conversion, is a universal change; grace changes a man
   with respect to whatever is sinful in him; the old man is put off, and
   the new man put on, he is sanctified throughout; and the man becomes a
   new creature, old things are passed away, and all things are become
   new; all sin is mortified, constitution sins, as well as others. If a
   man before his conversion; was by his natural constitution especially
   inclined to lasciviousness, or drunkenness, or maliciousness;
   converting grace will make a great alteration in him, with respect to
   these evil dispositions; so that however he may be still most in danger
   of these sins, yet they shall no longer have dominion over him; nor
   will they any more be properly his character. Yea, true repentance does
   in some respects, especially turn a man against his own iniquity, that
   wherein he has been most guilty, and has chiefly dishonored God. He
   that forsakes other sins, but saves his leading sin, the iniquity he is
   chiefly inclined to, is like Saul, when sent against God's enemies the
   Amalekites, with a strict charge to save none of them alive, but
   utterly to destroy them, small and great; who utterly destroyed
   inferior people, but saved the king, the chief of them all, alive.

   Some foolishly make it an argument in favor of their discoveries and
   affections, that when they are gone, they are left wholly without any
   life or sense, or anything beyond what they had before. They think it
   an evidence that what they experienced was wholly of God, and not of
   themselves, because (say they) when God is departed, all is gone; they
   can see and feel nothing, and are no better than they used to be.

   It is very true, that all grace and goodness in the hearts of the
   saints is entirely from God; and they are universally and immediately
   dependent on him for it. But yet these persons are mistaken, as to the
   manner of God's communicating himself and his Holy Spirit, in imparting
   saving grace to the soul. He gives his Spirit to be united to the
   faculties of the soul, and to dwell there after the manner of a
   principle of nature; so that the soul, in being endued with grace, is
   endued with a new nature: but nature is an abiding thing. All the
   exercises of grace are entirely from Christ: but those exercises are
   not from Christ, as something that is alive, moves and stirs, something
   that is without life, and remains without life; but as having life
   communicated to it; so as, through Christ's power, to have inherent in
   itself a vital nature. In the soul where Christ savingly is, there he
   lives. He does not only live without it, so as violently to actuate it,
   but he lives in it, so that that also is alive. Grace in the soul is as
   much from Christ, as the light in a glass, held out in the sunbeams, is
   from the sun. But this represents the manner of the communication of
   grace to the soul, but in part; because the glass remains as it was,
   the nature of it not being at all changed, it is as much without any
   lightsomeness in its nature as ever. But the soul of a saint receives
   light from the Sun of righteousness, in such a manner, that its nature
   is changed, and it becomes properly a luminous thing; not only does the
   sun shine in the saints, but they also become little suns, partaking of
   the nature of the fountain of their light. In this respect, the manner
   of their derivation of light, is like that of the lamps in the
   tabernacle, rather than that of a reflecting glass; which, though they
   were lit up by fire from heaven, yet thereby became themselves burning
   shining things. The saints do not only drink of the water of life, that
   flows from the original fountain; out this water becomes a fountain of
   water in them, springing up there, and flowing out of them, John 4:14,
   and chap. 7:38, 39. Grace is compared to a seed implanted, that not
   only is in the ground, but has hold of it, has root there, and grows
   there, and is an abiding principle of life and nature there.

   As it is with spiritual discoveries and affections given at first
   conversion, so it is in all illuminations and affections of that kind,
   that persons are the subjects of afterwards; they are all transforming.
   There is a like divine power and energy in them, as in the first
   discoveries; and they still reach the bottom of the heart, and affect
   and alter the very nature of the soul, in proportion to the degree in
   which they are given. And a transformation of nature is continued and
   carried on by them, to the end of life, until it is brought to
   perfection in glory. Hence the progress of the work of grace in the
   hearts of the saints, is represented in Scripture, as a continued
   conversion and renovation of nature. So the apostle exhorts those that
   were at Rome, "beloved of God, called to be saints," and that were
   subjects of God's redeeming mercies, "to be transformed by the renewing
   of their mind:" Rom. 12:1, 2, "I beseech you therefore, by the mercies
   of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice; and be not
   conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your
   mind;" compared with chap. 1:7. So the apostle, writing to the "saints
   and faithful in Christ Jesus," that were at Ephesus (Eph. 1:1), and
   those who were once dead in trespasses and sins, but were now quickened
   and raised up, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ,
   and created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that were once far off,
   but were now made nigh by the blood of Christ, and that were no more
   strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of
   the household of God, and that were built together for a habitation of
   God through the Spirit; I say, the apostle writing to these, tells
   them, "that he ceased not to pray for them, that God would give them
   the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ; the
   eyes of their understanding being enlightened, that they might know, or
   experience, what was the exceeding greatness of God's power towards
   them that believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which
   he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at
   his own right hand in the heavenly places," Eph. 1:16, to the end. In
   this the apostle has respect to the glorious power and work of God in
   converting and renewing the soul; as is most plain by the sequel. So
   the apostle exhorts the same persons "to put off the old man, which is
   corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit
   of their minds; and to put on the new man, which after God is created
   in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. 4:22, 23, 24.

   There is a sort of high affections that some have from time to time,
   that leave them without any manner of appearance of an abiding effect.
   They go off suddenly; so that from the very height of their emotion,
   and seeming rapture, they pass at once to be quite dead, and void of
   all sense and activity. It surely is not wont to be thus with high
   gracious affections; [65] they leave a sweet savor and a relish of
   divine things on the heart, and a stronger bent of soul towards God and
   holiness. As Moses' face not only shone while he was in the mount,
   extraordinarily conversing with God, but it continued to shine after he
   came down from the mount. When men have been conversing with Christ in
   an extraordinary manner, there is a sensible effect of it remaining
   upon them; there is something remarkable in their disposition and
   frame, which if we take knowledge of, and trace to its cause, we shall
   find it is because they have been with Jesus, Acts 4:13.

   [63] "I would not judge of the whole soul's coming to Christ, so much
   by sudden pangs as by inward bent. For the whole soul, in affectionate
   expressions and actions, may be carried to Christ; but being without
   this bent, and change of affections, is unsound." Shepard's Parable,
   Part I. p. 203.

   [64] "It is with the soul, as with water; all the cold may be gone, but
   the native principle of cold remains still. You may remove the burning
   of lusts, not the blackness of nature. Where the power of sin lies,
   change of conscience from security to terror, change of life from
   profaneness to civility, and fashions of the world, to escape the
   pollutions thereof, change of lusts, may quench them for a time: but
   the nature is never changed in the best hypocrite that ever was."
   Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 194.

   [65] "Do you think the Holy Ghost comes on a man as on Balaam, by
   immediate acting, and then leaves him, and then he has nothing?"
   Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 126.

   VIII. Truly gracious affections differ from those affections that are
   false and delusive, in that they tend to, and are attended with the
   lamblike, dovelike spirit and temper of Jesus Christ; or in other
   words, they naturally beget and promote such a spirit of love,
   meekness, quietness, forgiveness and mercy, as appears in Christ.

   The evidence of this in the Scripture is very abundant. If we judge of
   the Nature of Christianity, and the proper spirit of the gospel, by the
   word of God, this spirit is what may, by way of eminency, be called the
   Christian spirit; and may be looked upon as the true, and
   distinguishing disposition of the hearts of Christians as Christians.
   When some of the disciples of Christ said something, through
   inconsideration and infirmity, that was not agreeable to such a spirit,
   Christ told them, that they knew not what manner of spirit they were
   of, Luke 9:55, implying that this spirit that I am speaking of, is the
   proper spirit of his religion and kingdom. All that are truly godly,
   and real disciples of Christ, have this spirit in them; and not only
   so, but they are of this spirit; it is the spirit by which they are so
   possessed and governed, that it is their true and proper character.
   This is evident by what the wise man says, Prov. 17:27 (having respect
   plainly to such a spirit as this): "A man of understanding is of an
   excellent spirit." And by the particular description Christ gives of
   the qualities and temper of such as are truly blessed, that shall
   obtain mercy, and are God's children and heirs: Matt. 5:5, 7, 9,
   "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are
   the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers:
   for they shall be called the children of God." And that this spirit is
   the special character of the elect of God, is manifested by Col. 3:12,
   13: "Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of
   mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
   forbearing one another, and forgiving one another." And the apostle,
   speaking of that temper and disposition, which he speaks of as the most
   excellent and essential thing in Christianity, and that without which
   none are true Christians, and the most glorious profession and gifts
   are nothing (calling this spirit by the name of charity), he describes
   it thus, 1 Cor. 13:4, 5: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity
   envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not
   behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked,
   thinketh no evil." And the same apostle, Gal. 5, designedly declaring
   the distinguishing marks and fruits of true Christian grace, chiefly
   insists on the things that appertain to such a temper and spirit as I
   am speaking of, ver. 22, 23: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
   peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
   temperance." And so does the Apostle James, in describing true grace,
   or that wisdom that is from above, with that declared design, that
   others who are of a contrary spirit may not deceive themselves, and lie
   against the truth, in professing to be Christians, when they are not,
   James 3:14-17: "If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts,
   glory not; and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not
   from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and
   strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. But the wisdom that
   is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be
   entreated, full of mercy and good fruits."

   Every thing that appertains to holiness of heart, does indeed belong to
   the nature of true Christianity; and the character of Christians; but a
   spirit of holiness as appearing in some particular graces, may more
   especially be called the Christian spirit or temper. There are some
   amiable qualities and virtues, that do more especially agree with the
   nature of the gospel constitution, and Christian profession; because
   there is a special agreeableness in them, with those divine attributes
   which God has more remarkably manifested and glorified in the work of
   redemption by Jesus Christ, that is the grand subject of the Christian
   revelation; and also a special agreeableness with those virtues that
   were so wonderfully exercised by Jesus Christ towards us in that
   affair, and the blessed example he hath therein set us; and likewise
   because they are peculiarly agreeable to the special drift and design
   of the work of redemption, and the benefits we thereby receive, and the
   relation that it brings us into, to God and one another. And these
   virtues are such as humility, meekness, love, forgiveness, and mercy.
   These things therefore especially belong to the character of
   Christians, as such.

   These things are spoken of as what are especially the character of
   Jesus Christ himself, the great head of the Christian church. They are
   so spoken of in the prophecies of the Old Testament; as in that cited
   Matt. 21:5: "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto
   thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." So
   Christ himself speaks of them, Matt. 11:29: "Learn of me, for I am meek
   and lowly in heart." The same appears by the name by which Christ is so
   often called in Scripture, viz., the Lamb. And as these things are
   especially the character of Christ, so they are also especially the
   character of Christians. Christians are Christlike; none deserve the
   name of Christians, that are not so in their prevailing character. "The
   new man is renewed, after the image of him that created him," Col.
   3:10. All true Christians behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
   and are changed into the same image, by his Spirit, 2 Cor. 3:18. The
   elect are all predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of
   God, that he might be the first born among many brethren, Rom. 8:29. As
   we have borne the image of the first man, that is earthly, so we must
   also bear the image of the heavenly; for as is the earthly, such are
   they also that are earthly; and as is the heavenly, such are they also
   that are heavenly, 1 Cor. 15:47, 48, 49.--Christ is full of grace; and
   Christians all receive of his fullness, and grace for grace; i.e.,
   there is grace in Christians answering to grace in Christ, such an
   answerableness as there is between the wax and the seal; there is
   character for character: such kind of graces, such a spirit and temper,
   the same things that belong to Christ's character, belong to theirs.
   That disposition, wherein Christ's character does in a special manner
   consist, therein does his image in a special manner consist. Christians
   that shine by reflecting the light of the Sun of righteousness, do
   shine with the same sort of brightness, the same mild, sweet, and
   pleasant beams. These lamps of the spiritual temple, that are enkindled
   by fire from heaven, burn with the same sort of flame. The branch is of
   the same nature with the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears
   the same sort of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with the
   head. It would be strange if Christians should not be of the same
   temper and spirit that Christ is of; when they are his flesh and his
   bone, yea, are one spirit, 1 Cor. 6:17; and live so, that it is not
   they that live, but Christ that lives in them. A Christian spirit is
   Christ's mark that he sets upon the souls of his people, his seal in
   their foreheads, bearing his image and superscription.--Christians are
   the followers of Christ; and they are so, as they are obedient to that
   call of Christ, Matt. 11:28, 29, "Come unto me--and learn of me: for I
   am meek and lowly of heart." They follow him as the Lamb: Rev. 14:4,
   "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." True
   Christians are as it were clothed with the meek, quiet, and loving
   temper of Christ; for as many as are in Christ, have put on Christ. And
   in this respect the church is clothed with the sun, not only by being
   clothed with his imputed righteousness, but also by being adorned with
   his graces, Rom. 13:14. Christ, the great Shepherd, is himself a Lamb,
   and believers are also lambs; all the flock are lambs: John 21:15,
   "Feed my lambs." Luke 10:3, "I send you forth as lambs in the midst of
   wolves. "The redemption of the church by Christ from the power of the
   devil, was typified of old, by David's delivering the lamb out of the
   mouth of the lion and the bear.

   That such manner of virtue as has been spoken of, is the very nature of
   the Christian spirit, or the spirit that worketh in Christ, and in his
   members, and in the distinguishing nature of it, is evident by this,
   that the dove is the very symbol or emblem, chosen of God, to represent
   it. Those things are fittest emblems of other things, which do best
   represent that which is most distinguishing in their nature. The Spirit
   that descended on Christ, when he was anointed of the Father, descended
   on him like a dove. The dove is a noted emblem of meekness,
   harmlessness, peace and love. But the same Spirit that descended on the
   head of the church, descends to the members. "God hath sent forth the
   Spirit of his Son into their hearts," Gal. 4:6. And "if any man have
   not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Rom. 8:9. There is but
   one Spirit to the whole mystical body, head and members, 1 Cor. 6:17,
   Eph. 4:4. Christ breathes his own Spirit on his disciples, John 20:22.
   As Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost, descending on him like a
   dove, so Christians also "have an anointing from the Holy One," 1 John
   2:20, 27. And they are anointed with the same oil; it is the same
   "precious ointment on the head, that goes down to the skirts of the
   garments." And on both, it is a spirit of peace and love. Psalm 133:1,
   2, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell
   together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that
   ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the
   skirts of his garments." The oil on Aaron's garments had the same sweet
   and inimitable odor with that on his head; the smell of the same sweet
   spices, Christian affections, and a Christian behavior, is but the
   flowing out of the savor of Christ's sweet ointments. Because the
   church has a dovelike temper and disposition, therefore it is said of
   her that she has doves' eyes, Cant. 1:15: "Behold, thou art fair, my
   love, behold, thou art fair, thou hast doves' eyes." And chap. 4:1,
   "Behold, thou art fair, my love, behold, thou art fair, thou hast
   doves' eyes within thy locks." The same that is said of Christ, chap.
   6:12: "His eyes are as the eyes of doves." And the church is frequently
   compared to a dove in Scripture: Cant. 2:14, "O, my dove, that art in
   the clefts of the rock." Chap. 5:2, "Open to me, my love, my dove." And
   chap. 6:9, "My dove, my undefiled is but one." Psal. 68:13, "Ye shall
   be as the wings of a dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with
   yellow gold." And 74:19, "O deliver not the soul of the turtle dove
   unto the multitude of the wicked." The dove that Noah sent out of the
   ark, that could find no rest for the sole of her foot, until she
   returned, was a type of a true saint.

   Meekness is so much the character of the saints, that the meek and the
   godly, are used as synonymous terms in Scripture: so Psalm 37:10, 11,
   the wicked and the meek are set in opposition one to another, as wicked
   and godly: "Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be; but the
   meek shall inherit the earth." So Psal. 147:6, "The Lord lifteth up the
   meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground."

   It is doubtless very much on this account, that Christ represents all
   his disciples, all the heirs of heaven, as little children: Matt.
   19:14, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not;
   for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 10:42, "Whosoever shall
   give to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water, in
   the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose
   his reward." Matt. 18:6, "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones,
   &c." Ver. 10, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones."
   Ver. 14, "It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that
   one of these little ones should perish." John 13:33, "Little children,
   yet a little while I am with you." Little children are innocent and
   harmless; they do not do a great deal of mischief in the world; men
   need not be afraid of them; they are no dangerous sort of persons;
   their anger does not last long, they do not lay up injuries in high
   resentment, entertaining deep and rooted malice. So Christians, in
   malice, are children, 1 Cor. 14:20. Little children are not guileful
   and deceitful, but plain and simple; they are not versed in the arts of
   fiction and deceit; and are strangers to artful disguises. They are
   yieldable and flexible, and not willful and obstinate; do not trust to
   their own under standing, but rely on the instructions of parents, and
   others of superior understanding. Here is therefore a fit and lively
   emblem of the followers of the Lamb. Persons being thus like little
   children, is not only a thing highly commendable, and what Christians
   approve and aim at, and which some extraordinary proficiency do attain
   to: but it is their universal character, and absolutely necessary in
   order to enter into the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 18:3, "Verily I say
   unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye
   shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Mark 10:15, "Verily I say
   unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little
   child, he shall not enter therein."

   But here some may be ready to say, Is there no such thing as Christian
   fortitude, and boldness for Christ, being good soldiers in the
   Christian warfare, and coming out boldly against the enemies of Christ
   and his people?

   To which I answer, There doubtless is such a thing. The whole Christian
   life is compared to a warfare, and fitly so. And the most eminent
   Christians are the best soldiers, endued with the greatest degrees of
   Christian fortitude. And it is the duty of God's people to be steadfast
   and vigorous in their opposition to the designs and ways of such as are
   endeavoring to overthrow the kingdom of Christ, and the interest of
   religion. But yet many persons seem to be quite mistaken concerning the
   nature of Christian fortitude. It is an exceeding diverse thing from a
   brutal fierceness, or the boldness of the beasts of prey. True
   Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace,
   exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly
   passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely
   exerting, and following good affections and dispositions, without being
   hindered by sinful fear, or the opposition of enemies. But the passions
   that are restrained and kept under, in the exercise of this Christian
   strength and fortitude, are those very passions that are vigorously and
   violently exerted in a false boldness for Christ. And those affections
   that are vigorously exerted in true fortitude, are those Christian,
   holy affections that are directly contrary to them. Though Christian
   fortitude appears, in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that
   are without us; yet it much more appears, in resisting and suppressing
   the enemies that are within us; because they are our worst and
   strongest enemies, and have greatest advantage against us. The strength
   of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more, than in
   steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and
   benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange
   behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable
   world. The Scripture seems to intimate that true fortitude consists
   chiefly in this: Prov. 16:32, "He that is slow to anger, is better than
   the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city."

   The directest and surest way in the world, to make a right judgment
   what a holy fortitude is, in fighting with God's enemies, is to look to
   the Captain of all God's hosts, and our great leader and example, and
   see wherein his fortitude and valor appeared, in his chief conflict,
   and in the time of the greatest battle that ever was, or ever will be
   fought with these enemies, when he fought with them alone, and of the
   people there was none with him, and exercised his fortitude in the
   highest degree that ever he did, and got that glorious victory that
   will be celebrated in the praises and triumphs of all the hosts of
   heaven, throughout all eternity; even to Jesus Christ in the time of
   his last sufferings, when his enemies in earth and hell made their most
   violent attack upon him, compassing him round on every side, like
   renting and roaring lions. Doubtless here we shall see the fortitude of
   a holy warrior and champion in the cause of God, in its highest
   perfection and greatest luster, and an example fit for the soldiers to
   follow that fight under this Captain. But how did he show his holy
   boldness and valor at that time? Not in the exercise of any fiery
   passions; not in fierce and violent speeches, and vehemently declaiming
   against and crying out of the intolerable wickedness of opposers,
   giving them their own in plain terms: but in not opening his mouth when
   afflicted and oppressed, in going as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a
   sheep before his shearers is dumb, not opening his mouth; praying that
   the Father would forgive his cruel enemies because they knew not what
   they did; not shedding others' blood, but with all conquering patience
   and love, shedding his own. Indeed one of his disciples, that made a
   forward pretense to boldness for Christ, and confidently declared he
   would sooner die with Christ than deny him, began to lay about him with
   a sword: but Christ meekly rebukes him, and heals the wound he gives.
   And never was the patience, meekness, love, and forgiveness of Christ
   in so glorious a manifestation, as at that time. Never did he appear so
   much a lamb, and never did he show so much of the dovelike spirit, as
   at that time. If therefore we see any of the followers of Christ, in
   the midst of the most violent, unreasonable, and wicked opposition of
   God's and his own enemies, maintaining under all this temptation, the
   humility, quietness, and gentleness of a lamb, and the harmlessness,
   and love and sweetness of a dove, we may well judge that here is a good
   soldier of Jesus Christ.

   When persons are fierce and violent, and exert their sharp and bitter
   passions, it shows weakness instead of strength and fortitude. 1 Cor. 3
   at the beginning, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto
   spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. For ye are
   yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
   divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"

   There is a pretended boldness for Christ that arises from no better
   principle than pride. A man may be forward to expose himself to the
   dislike of the world, and even to provoke their displeasure out of
   pride. For it is the nature of spiritual pride to cause men to seek
   distinction and singularity; and so oftentimes to set themselves at war
   with those that they call carnal, that they may be more highly exalted
   among their party. True boldness for Christ is universal, and overcomes
   all, and carries men above the displeasure of friends and foes; so that
   they will forsake all rather than Christ; and will rather offend all
   parties, and be thought meanly of by all, than offend Christ. And that
   duty which tries whether a man is willing to be despised by them that
   are of his own party, and thought the least worthy to be regarded by
   them, is a much more proper trial of his boldness for Christ, than his
   being forward to expose himself to the reproach of opposers. The
   apostle sought not glory, not only of Heathens and Jews, but of
   Christians; as he declares, 1 Thess. 2:6. [66] He is bold for Christ,
   that has Christian fortitude enough, to confess his fault openly, when
   he has committed one that requires it, and as it were to come down upon
   his knees before opposers. Such things as these are of vastly greater
   evidence of holy boldness, than resolutely and fiercely confronting

   As some are much mistaken concerning the nature of true boldness for
   Christ, so they are concerning Christian zeal. It is indeed a flame,
   but a sweet one; or rather it is the heat and fervor of a sweet flame.
   For the flame of which it is the heat, is no other than that of divine
   love, or Christian charity; which is the sweetest and most benevolent
   thing that is, or can be, in the heart of man or angel. Zeal is the
   fervor of this flame, as it ardently and vigorously goes out towards
   the good that is its object, in desires of it, and pursuit after it and
   so consequentially, in opposition to the evil that is contrary to it,
   and impedes it. There is indeed oppositions and vigorous opposition,
   that is a part of it, or rather is an attendant of it; but it is
   against things and not persons. Bitterness against the persons of men
   is no part of it, but is very contrary to it; insomuch that so much the
   warmer true zeal is, and the higher it is raised, so much the farther
   are persons from such bitterness, and so much fuller of love, both to
   the evil and to the good. As appears from what has been just now
   observed, that it is no other, in its very nature and essence, than the
   fervor of a spirit of Christian love. And as to what opposition there
   is in it to things, it is firstly and chiefly against the evil things
   in the person himself, who has this zeal: against the enemies of God
   and holiness, that are in his own heart (as these are most in view, and
   what he has most to do with); and but secondarily against the sins of
   others And therefore there is nothing in a true Christian zeal, that is
   contrary to that spirit of meekness, gentleness, and love, that spirit
   of a little child, a lamb and dove, that has been spoken of; but it is
   entirely agreeable to it, and tends to promote it.

   But to say something particularly concerning this Christian spirit I
   have been speaking of, as exercised in these three things, forgiveness,
   love, and mercy; I would observe that the Scripture is very clear and
   express concerning the absolute necessity of each of these, as
   belonging to the temper and character of every Christian.

   It is so as to a forgiving spirit, or a disposition to overlook and
   forgive injuries. Christ gives it to us both as a negative and positive
   evidence; and is express in teaching us, that if we are of such a
   spirit, it is a sign that we are in a state of forgiveness and favor
   ourselves: and that if we are not of such a spirit, we are not forgiven
   of God; and seems to take special care that we should take good notice
   of it, and always bear it on our minds: Matt. 6:12, 14, 15, "Forgive us
   our debts as we forgive our debtors. For if ye forgive men their
   trespassed your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye
   forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
   trespasses." Christ expresses the same again at another time, Mark
   11:25, 26, and again in Matt. 18:22, to the end, in the parable of the
   servant that owed his lord ten thousand talents, that would not forgive
   his fellow servant a hundred pence; and therefore was delivered to the
   tormentors. In the application of the parable Christ says, ver. 35, "So
   likewise shall my heavenly Father do, if ye from your hearts forgive
   not everyone his brother their trespasses."

   And that all true saints are of a loving, benevolent, and beneficent
   temper, the Scripture is very plain and abundant. Without it the
   apostle tells us, though we should speak with the tongues of men and
   angels, we are as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; and that
   though we have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and
   all knowledge, yet without this spirit we are nothing. And there is no
   one virtue or disposition of the mind, that is so often, and so
   expressly insisted on, in the marks that are laid down in the New
   Testament, whereby to know true Christians. It is often given as a sign
   that is peculiarly distinguishing, by which all may know Christ's
   disciples, and by which they may know themselves; and is often laid
   down, both as a negative and positive evidence. Christ calls the law of
   love, by way of eminency, his commandment: John 13:34, "A new
   commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved
   you, that ye also love one another." And chap. 15:12, "This is my
   commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you." And ver.
   17, "These things I command you, that ye love one another." And says,
   chap. 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if
   ye have love one to another." And chap. 14:21 (still with a special
   reference to this which he calls his commandment), "He that hath my
   commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." The beloved
   disciple who had so much of this sweet temper himself, abundantly
   insists on it, in his epistles. There is none of the apostles so much
   in laying down express signs of grace, for professors to try themselves
   by, as he; and in his signs, he insists scarcely on anything else, but
   a spirit of Christian love, and an agreeable practice: 1 John 2:9, 10,
   "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in
   darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the
   light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him." Chap. 3:14, "We
   know that we are passed from death unto life, because we love the
   brethren: he that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Ver. 18,
   19, "My little children, let us not love in word and in tongue, but in
   deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and
   shall assure our hearts before him." Ver. 23, 24, "This is his
   commandment, that we should love one another. And he that keepeth his
   commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him; and hereby we know that he
   abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." Chap. 4:7, 8,
   "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone
   that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not,
   knoweth not God: for God is love." Ver. 12, 13, "No man hath seen God
   at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love
   is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he
   hath given us of his Spirit." Ver. 16, "God is love; and he that
   dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." Ver. 20, "If a man
   say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that
   loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he
   hath not seen?"

   And the Scripture is as plain as it is possible it should be, that none
   are true saints, but those whose true character it is, that they are of
   a disposition to pity and relieve their fellow creatures, that are
   poor, indigent, and afflicted: Psal. 37:21, "The righteous showeth
   mercy, and giveth." Ver. 26, "He is ever merciful, and lendeth." Psal.
   112:5, "A good man showeth favor, and lendeth." Ver. 9, "He hath
   dispersed abroad, and given to the poor." Prov. 14:31, "He that
   honoreth God, hath mercy on the poor." Prov. 21:26, "The righteous
   giveth, and spareth not." Jer. 22:16, "He judged the cause of the poor
   and needy, then it was well with him: Was not this to know me? saith
   the Lord." Jam 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the
   Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their
   affliction," &c. Hos. 6:6, "For I have desired mercy, and not
   sacrifice; and the knowledge of God, more than burnt offerings." Matt.
   5:7, "Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. "2 Cor.
   8:8, "I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of
   others, and to prove the sincerity of your love." Jam. 2:13-16, "For he
   shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy. What doth
   it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not
   works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and
   destitute of daily food; and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace,
   be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things
   which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?" 1 John 3:17,
   "Whoso hath this world's good and seeth his brother have need, and
   shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of
   God in him?" Christ in that description he gives us of the day of
   judgment, Matt. 25 (which is the most particular that we have in the
   Bible), represents that judgment will be passed at that day, according
   as men have been found to have been of a merciful spirit and practice
   or otherwise. Christ's design in giving such a description of the
   process of that day, is plainly to possess all his followers with that
   apprehension, that unless this was their spirit and practice, there was
   no hope of their being accepted and owned by him at that day. Therefore
   this is an apprehension that we ought to be possessed with. We find in
   Scripture, that a righteous man, and a merciful man are synonymous
   expressions, Isa: 57:1, "The righteous perisheth and no man layeth it
   to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the
   righteous is taken away from the evil to come."

   Thus we see how full, clear, and abundant, the evidence from Scripture
   is that those who are truly gracious, are under the government of that
   lamblike, dovelike Spirit of Jesus Christ, and that this is essentially
   and eminently the nature of the saving grace of the gospel, and the
   proper spirit of true Christianity. We may therefore undoubtedly
   determine, that all truly Christian affections are attended with such a
   spirit, and that this is the natural tendency of the fear and hope, the
   sorrow and the joy, the confidence and the zeal of true Christians.

   None will understand me, that true Christians have no remains of a
   contrary Spirit, and can never, in any instances, be guilty of a
   behavior disagreeable to such a spirit. But this I affirm, and shall
   affirm, until I deny the Bible to be anything worth, that everything in
   Christians that belongs to true Christianity, is of this tendency, and
   works this way; and that there is no true Christian upon earth, but is
   so under the prevailing power of such a spirit, that he is properly
   denominated from it, and it is truly and justly his character, and that
   therefore ministers, and others, have no warrant from Christ to
   encourage persons that are of a contrary character and behavior, to
   think they are converted, because they tell a fair story of
   illuminations and discoveries. In so doing, they would set up their own
   wisdom against Christ's, and judge without, and against that rule by
   which Christ has declared all men should know his disciples. Some
   persons place religion so much in certain transient illuminations and
   impressions (especially if they are on such a particular method and
   order) and so little in the spirit and temper persons are of, that they
   greatly deform religion, and form notions of Christianity quite
   different from what it is, as delineated in the Scriptures. The
   Scripture knows of no such true Christians, as are of a sordid,
   selfish, cross and contentious spirit. Nothing can be invented that is
   a greater absurdity, than a morose, hard, close, high-spirited,
   spiteful, true Christian. We must learn the way of bringing men to
   rules, and not rules to men, and so strain and stretch the rules of
   God's word, to take in ourselves, and some of our neighbors, until we
   make them wholly of none effect.

   It is true, that allowances must be made for men's natural temper, with
   regard to these things, as well as others; but not such allowances, as
   to allow men, that once were wolves and serpents, to be now converted,
   without any remarkable change in the spirit of their mind. The change
   made by true conversion is wont to be most remarkable and sensible,
   with respect to that which before was the wickedness the person was
   most notoriously guilty of. Grace has as great a tendency to restrain
   and mortify such sins, as are contrary to the spirit that has been
   spoken of, as it is to mortify drunkenness or lasciviousness. Yea, the
   Scripture represents the change wrought by gospel grace, as especially
   appearing in an alteration of the former sort: Isa. 11:6-9, "The wolf
   shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid:
   and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a
   little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed,
   their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw
   like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp,
   and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They
   shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall
   be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." And
   to the same purpose is Isa. 65:25. Accordingly we find, that in the
   primitive times of the Christian church, converts were remarkably
   changed in this respect: Tit. 3:3, &c., "For we ourselves also were
   sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and
   pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
   But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior towards man
   appeared--he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of
   the Holy Ghost." And Col. 3:7, 8, "In the which ye also walked
   sometime, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these:
   anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communications out of your

   [66] Mr. Shepard, speaking of hypocrites affecting applause, says,
   "Hence men forsake their friends and trample under foot the scorns of
   the world: they have credit elsewhere. To maintain their interest in
   the love of godly men, they will suffer much." Parable of the Ten
   Virgins, Part I. p. 180.

   IX. Gracious affections soften the heart, and are attended and followed
   with a Christian tenderness of spirit.

   False affections, however persons may seem to be melted by them while
   they are new, yet have a tendency in the end to harden the heart. A
   disposition to some kind of passions may be established; such as imply
   self-seeking, self-exaltation, and opposition to others. But false
   affections, with the delusion that attends them, finally tend to
   stupify the mind, and shut it up against those affections wherein
   tenderness of heart consists: and the effect of them at last is, that
   persons in the settled frame of their minds, become less affected with
   their present and past sins, and less conscientious with respect to
   future sins, less moved with the warnings and cautions of God's word,
   or God's chastisements in his providence, more careless of the frame of
   their hearts, and the manner and tendency of their behavior, less
   quicksighted to discern what is sinful, less afraid of the appearance
   of evil, than they were while they were under legal awakenings and
   fears of hell. Now they have been the subjects of such and such
   impressions and affections, and have a high opinion of themselves, and
   look on their state to be safe; they can be much more easy than before,
   in living in the neglect of duties that are troublesome and
   inconvenient; and are much more slow and partial in complying with
   difficult commands; are in no measure so alarmed at the appearance of
   their own defects and transgressions; are emboldened to favor
   themselves more, with respect to the labor, and painful care and
   exactness in their walk, and more easily yield to temptations, and the
   solicitations of their lusts; and have far less care of their behavior,
   when they come into the holy presence of God, in the time of public or
   private worship. Formerly it may be, under legal convictions, they took
   much pains in religion, and denied themselves in many things: but now
   they think themselves out of danger of hell, they very much put off the
   burden of the cross, and save themselves the trouble of difficult
   duties, and allow themselves more in the enjoyment of their ease and
   their lusts.

   Such persons as these, instead of embracing Christ as their Savior from
   sin, trust in him as the Savior of their sins; instead of flying to him
   as their refuge from their spiritual enemies they make use of him as
   the defense of their spiritual enemies, from God, and to strengthen
   them against him. They make Christ the minister of sin, and great
   officer and vicegerent of the devil, to strengthen his interest, and
   make him above all things in the world strong against Jehovah; so that
   they may sin against him with good courage, and without any fear, being
   effectually secured from restraints, by his most solemn warnings and
   most awful threatenings. They trust in Christ to preserve to them the
   quiet enjoyment of their sins, and to be their shield to defend them
   from God's displeasure; while they come close to him, even to his
   bosom, the place of his children, to fight against him, with their
   mortal weapons, hid under their skirts. [67] However, some of these, at
   the same time, make a great profession of love to God, and assurance of
   his favor, and great joy in tasting the sweetness of his love.

   After this manner they trusted in Christ, that the Apostle Jude speaks
   of, who crept in among the saints unknown; but were really ungodly men,
   turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, Jude 4. These are they
   that trust in their being righteous; and because God has promised that
   the righteous shall surely live, or certainly be saved, are therefore
   emboldened to commit iniquity, whom God threatens in Ezek. 33:13: "When
   I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to
   his own righteousness, and commit iniquity; all his righteousness shall
   not be remembered, but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he
   shall die for it."

   Gracious affections are of a quite contrary tendency; they turn a heart
   of stone more and more into a heart of flesh. A holy love and hope are
   principles that are vastly more efficacious upon the heart, to make it
   tender, and to fill it with a dread of sin, or whatever might displease
   and offend God, and to engage it to watchfulness, and care, and
   strictness, than a slavish fear of hell. Gracious affections, as was
   observed before, flow out of a contrite heart, or (as the word
   signifies) a bruised heart, bruised and broken with godly sorrow; which
   makes the heart tender, as bruised flesh is tender, and easily hurt.
   Godly sorrow has much greater influence to make the heart tender, than
   mere legal sorrow from selfish principles.

   The tenderness of the heart of a true Christian, is elegantly signified
   by our Savior, in his comparing such a one to a little child. The flesh
   of a little child is very tender; so is the heart of one that is new
   born. This is represented in what we are told of Naaman's cure of his
   leprosy, by his washing in Jordan; which was undoubtedly a type of the
   renewing of the soul, by washing in the laver of regeneration. We are
   told, 2 Kings 5:14, "That he went down, and dipped himself seven times
   in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh
   came again like unto the flesh of a little child." Not only is the
   flesh of a little child tender, but his mind is tender. A little child
   has his heart easily moved, wrought upon and bowed: so is a Christian
   in spiritual things. A little child is apt to be affected with
   sympathy, to weep with them that weep, and cannot well bear to see
   others in distress: so it is with a Christian, John 11:25, Rom. 12:15,
   1 Cor. 12:26. A little child is easily won by kindness: so is a
   Christian. A little child is easily affected with grief at temporal
   evils, and has his heart melted, and falls a weeping: thus tender is
   the heart of a Christian, with regard to the evil of sin. A little
   child is easily affrighted at the appearance of outward evils, or
   anything that threatens its hurt: so is a Christian apt to be alarmed
   at the appearance of moral evil, and anything that threatens the hurt
   of the soul. A little child, when it meets enemies, or fierce beasts,
   is not apt to trust its own strength, but flies to its parents for
   refuge: so a saint is not self-confident in engaging spiritual enemies,
   but flies to Christ. A little child is apt to be suspicious of evil in
   places of danger, afraid in the dark, afraid when left alone, or far
   from home: so is a saint apt to be sensible of his spiritual dangers,
   jealous of himself, full of fear when he cannot see his way plain
   before him, afraid to be left alone, and to be at a distance from God:
   Prov. 28:14, "Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that
   hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." A little child is apt to
   be afraid of superiors, and to dread their anger, and tremble at their
   frowns and threatenings: so is a true saint with respect to God: Psal.
   119:120, "My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy
   judgments." Isa. 66:2, "To this man will I look, even to him that is
   poor, and trembleth at my word." ver. 5, "Hear ye the word of the Lord,
   ye that tremble at his word." Ezra. 9:4, "Then were assembled unto me
   everyone that trembled at the words of the God of Israel." Chap. 10:3;
   "According to the counsel of my Lord, and of those that tremble at the
   commandment of our God." A little child approaches superiors with awe:
   so do the saints approach God with holy awe and reverence: Job 13:2,
   "Shall not his excellency make you afraid? And his dread fall upon
   you?" Holy fear is so much the nature of true godliness, that it is
   called in Scripture by no other name more frequently, than the fear of

   Hence gracious affections do not tend to make men bold, forward, noisy,
   and boisterous; but rather to speak trembling: Hos. 13:1, "When Ephraim
   spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in
   Baal, he died;" and to clothe with a kind of holy fear in all their
   behavior towards God and man; agreeably to Psal. 2:11, 1 Pet. 3:15, 2
   Cor. 7:15, Eph. 6:5, 1 Pet. 3:2, Rom. 11:20.

   But here some may object and say, is there no such thing as a holy
   boldness in prayer, and the duties of divine worship? I answer, there
   is doubtless such a thing; and it is chiefly to be found in eminent
   saints, persons of great degrees of faith and love. But this holy
   boldness is not in the least opposite to reverence; though it be to
   disunion and servility. It abolishes or lessens that dispositions which
   arises from moral distance or alienation; and also distance of
   relation, as that of a slave; but not at all, that which becomes the
   natural distance, whereby we are infinitely inferior. No boldness in
   poor sinful worms of the dust, that have a right sight of God and
   themselves, will prompt them to approach to God with less fear and
   reverence, than spotless and glorious angels in heaven, who cover their
   faces before his throne, Isa. 6, at the beginning. Rebecca (who in her
   marriage with Isaac, in almost all its circumstances, was manifestly a
   great type of the church, the spouse of Christ) when she meets Isaac,
   lights off from her camel, and takes a vail and covers herself;
   although she was brought to him as his bride, to be with him in the
   nearest relation, and most intimate union, that mankind are ever united
   one to another. [68] Elijah, that great prophet, who had so much holy
   familiarity with God, at a time of special nearness to God, even when
   he conversed with him in the mount, wrapped his face in his mantle.
   Which was not because he was terrified with any servile fear, by the
   terrible wind, and earthquake, and fire; but after these were all over,
   and God spake to him as a friend, in a still small voice: 1 Kings
   19:12, 13, "And after the fire, a still small voice; and it was so,
   when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle." And Moses,
   with whom God spake face to face, as a man speaks with his friend, and
   was distinguished from all the prophets, in the familiarity with God
   that he was admitted to; at a time when he was brought nearest of all,
   when God showed him his glory in that same mount where he afterwards
   spake to Elijah: "He made haste, and bowed his head towards the earth,
   and worshipped," Exod. 34:8. There is in some persons a most unsuitable
   and unsufferable boldness, in their addresses to the great Jehovah, in
   an affectation of a holy boldness, and ostentation of eminent nearness
   and familiarity; the very thoughts of which would make them shrink into
   nothing, with horror and confusion, if they saw the distance that is
   between God and them. They are like the Pharisee, that boldly came up
   near, in a confidence of his own eminency in holiness. Whereas, if they
   saw their vileness, they would be more like the publican, that "stood
   afar off, and durst not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven; but
   smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." It
   becomes such sinful creatures as we, to approach a holy God (although
   with faith, and without terror, yet) with contrition, and penitent
   shame and confusion of face. It is foretold that this should be the
   disposition of the church, in the time of her highest privileges on
   earth in her latter day of glory, when God should remarkably comfort
   her, by revealing his covenant mercy to her, Ezek. 16:60, to the end:
   "I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shalt
   remember thy ways and be ashamed.--And I will establish my covenant
   with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; that thou mayest
   remember and be confounded and never open thy mouth any more because of
   thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done,
   saith the Lord God." The woman that we read of in the 7th chapter of
   Luke, that was an eminent saint, and had much of that true love which
   casts out fear, by Christ's own testimony, ver. 47, she approached
   Christ in an amiable and acceptable manner, when she came with that
   humble modesty, reverence and shame, when she stood at his feet,
   weeping behind him, as not being fit to appear before his face, and
   washed his feet with her tears.

   One reason why gracious affections are attended with this tenderness of
   spirit which has been spoken of, is, that true grace tends to promote
   convictions of conscience. Persons are wont to have convictions of
   conscience before they have any grace: and if afterwards they are truly
   converted, and have true repentance, and joy, and peace in believing;
   this has a tendency to put an end to errors, but has no tendency to put
   an end to convictions of sin, but to increase them. It does not stupify
   man's conscience; but makes it more sensible, more easily and
   thoroughly discerning the sinfulness of that which is sinful, and
   receiving a greater conviction of the heinous and dreadful nature of
   sin, susceptive of a quicker and deeper sense of it, and more convinced
   of his own sinfulness and wickedness of his heart; and consequently it
   has a tendency to make him more jealous of his heart. Grace tends to
   give the soul a further and better conviction of the same things
   concerning sin, that it was convinced of, under a legal work of the
   Spirit of God; viz., its great contrariety to the will, and law, and
   honor of God, the greatness of God's hatred of it, and displeasure
   against it, and the dreadful punishment it exposes to and deserves. And
   not only so, but it convinces the soul of something further concerning
   sin, that it saw nothing of, while only under legal convictions; and
   that is the infinitely hateful nature of sin, and its dreadfulness upon
   that account. And this makes the heart tender with respect to sin; like
   David's heart, that smote him when he had cut off Saul's skirt. The
   heart of a true penitent is like a burnt child that dreads the fire.
   Whereas, on the contrary, he that has had a counterfeit repentance, and
   false comforts and joys, is like iron that has been suddenly heated and
   quenched; it becomes much harder than before. A false conversion puts
   an end to convictions of conscience; and so either takes away, or much
   diminishes that conscientiousness, which was manifested under a work of
   the law.

   All gracious affections have a tendency to promote this Christian
   tenderness of heart, that has been spoken of; not only a godly sorrow,
   but also a gracious joy: Psal. 2:11, "Serve the Lord with fear, and
   rejoice with trembling." As also a gracious hope: Psal. 33:18, "Behold
   the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him; upon them that hope in
   his mercy." And Psal. 147:11, "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that
   fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Yea, the most confident and
   assured hope, that is truly gracious, has this tendency. The higher a
   holy hope is raised, the more there is of this Christian tenderness.
   The banishing of a servile fear, by a holy assurance, is attended with
   a proportionable increase of a reverential fear. The diminishing of the
   fear of the fruits of God's displeasure in future punishment, is
   attended with a proportionable increase of fear of his displeasure
   itself; the diminishing of the fear of hell, with an increase of the
   fear of sin. The vanishing of jealousies of the person's state, is
   attended with a proportionable increase of jealousies of his heart, in
   a distrust of its strength, wisdom, stability, faithfulness, &c. The
   less apt he is to be afraid of natural evil, having his heart fixed,
   trusting in God, and so not afraid of evil tidings; the more apt he is
   to be alarmed, with the appearance of moral evil, or the evil of sin.
   As he has more holy boldness, so he has less of self-confidence, and a
   forward assuming boldness, and more modesty. As he is more sure than
   others of deliverance from hell, so he has more of a sense of the
   desert of it. He is less apt than others to be shaken in faith; but
   more apt than others to be moved with solemn warnings, and with God's
   frowns, and with the calamities of others. He has the firmest comfort,
   but the softest heart: richer than others, but the poorest of all in
   spirit: the tallest and strongest saint, but the least and tenderest
   child among them.

   [67] "These are hypocrites that believe, but fail in regard of the use
   of the gospel and of the Lord Jesus. And these we read of, Jude 3,
   viz., of some men that did turn grace into wantonness. For therein
   appears the exceeding evil of man's heart, that not only the law, but
   also the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus, works in him all manner of
   unrighteousness. And it is too common for men at the first work of
   conversion, Oh then to cry for grace and Christ, and afterwards grow
   licentious, live and lie in the breach of the law, and take their
   warrant for their course from the gospel!" Shepard's Parable, Part I.
   p. 126.

   [68] Dr. Ames, in his Cases of Conscience, Book III. chap iv., speaks
   of a holy modesty in the worship God as one sign of true humility.

   X. Another thing wherein those affections that are truly gracious and
   holy, differ from those that are false, is beautiful symmetry and

   Not that the symmetry of the virtues, and gracious affections of the
   saints, in this life is perfect: it oftentimes is in many things
   defective, through the imperfection of grace, for want of proper
   instructions, through errors in judgment, or some particular
   unhappiness of natural temper, or defects in education, and many other
   disadvantages that might be mentioned. But yet there is, in no wise,
   that monstrous disproportion in gracious affections, and the various
   parts of true religion in the saints, that is very commonly to be
   observed, in the false religion, and counterfeit graces, of hypocrites.

   In the truly holy affections of the saints is found that proportion,
   which is the natural consequence of the universality of their
   sanctification. They have the whole image of Christ upon them: they
   have put off the old man, and have put on the new man entire in all its
   parts and members. It hath pleased the Father that in Christ all
   fullness should dwell: there is in him every grace; he is full of grace
   and truth: and they that are Christ's, do, "of his fullness receive
   grace for grace" (John 1:14, 16); i.e., there is every grace in them
   which is in Christ; grace for grace; that is, grace answerable to
   grace: there is no grace in Christ, but there is its image in believers
   to answer it: the image is a true image; and there is something of the
   same beautiful proportion in the image, which is in the original; there
   is feature for feature, and member for member. There is symmetry and
   beauty in God's workmanship. The natural body, which God hath made,
   consists of many members; and all are in a beautiful proportion: so it
   is in the new man, consisting of various graces and affections. The
   body of one that was born a perfect child, may fail of exact proportion
   through distemper, and the weakness and wounds of some of its members;
   yet the disproportion is in no measure like that of those that are born

   It is with hypocrites, as it was with Ephraim of old, at a time when
   God greatly complains of their hypocrisy, Hos. 7:8: "Ephraim is a cake
   not turned," half roasted and half raw: there is commonly no manner of
   uniformity in their affections.

   There is in many of them great partiality with regard to the several
   kinds of religious affections; great affections in some things, and no
   manner of proportion in others. A holy hope and holy fear go together
   in the saints, as has been observed from Psal. 33:18, and 147:11. But
   in some of these is the most confident hope, while they are void of
   reverence, self-jealousy and caution, to a great degree cast off fear.
   In the saints, joy and holy fear go together, though the joy be never
   so great: as it was with the disciples, in that joyful morning of
   Christ's resurrection, Matt. 28:8: "And they departed quickly from the
   sepulcher, with fear and great joy." [69] But many of these rejoice
   without trembling: their joy is of that sort, that it is truly opposite
   to godly fear.

   But particularly one great difference between saints and hypocrites is
   this, that the joy and comfort of the former is attended with godly
   sorrow and mourning for sin. They have not only sorrow to prepare them
   for their first comfort, but after they are comforted, and their joy
   established. As it is foretold of the church of God, that they should
   mourn and loathe themselves for their sins, after they were returned
   from the captivity, and were settled in the land of Canaan, the land of
   rest, and the land that flows with milk and honey, Ezek. 20:42, 43:
   "And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall bring you into the
   land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to
   give it to your fathers. And there shall ye remember your ways, and all
   your doings, wherein ye have been defiled, and ye shall loathe
   yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have
   committed." As also in Ezek. 16:61, 6S, 63. A true saint is like a
   little child in this respect; he never had any godly sorrow before he
   was born again; but since has it often in exercise: as a little child,
   before it is born, and while it remains in darkness, never cries; but
   as soon as it sees the light, it begins to cry; and thenceforward is
   often crying. Although Christ hath borne our griefs, and carried our
   sorrows, so that we are freed from the sorrow of punishment, and may
   now sweetly feed upon the comforts Christ hath purchased for us; yet
   that hinders not but that our feeding on these comforts should be
   attended with the sorrow of repentance. As of old, the children of
   Israel were commanded, evermore to feed upon the paschal lamb, with
   bitter herbs. True saints are spoken of in Scripture, not only as those
   that have mourned for sin, but as those that do mourn, whose manner it
   is still to mourn: Matt. 5:4, "Blessed are they that mourn; for they
   shall be comforted."

   Not only is there often in hypocrites an essential deficiency as to the
   various kinds of religious affections, but also a strange partiality
   and disproportion, in the same affections, with regard to different

   Thus, as to the affection of love, some make high pretenses, and a
   great show of love to God and Christ, and it may be, have been greatly
   affected with what they have heard or thought concerning them: but they
   have not a spirit of love and benevolence towards men, but are disposed
   to contention, envy, revenge, and evil speaking; and will, it may be,
   suffer an old grudge to rest in their bosoms towards a neighbor, for
   seven years together, if not twice seven years; living in real ill will
   and bitterness of spirit towards him: and it may be in their dealings
   with their neighbors, are not very strict and conscientious in
   observing the rule of "doing to others as they would that they should
   do to them." And, on the other hand, there are others that appear as if
   they had a great deal of benevolence to men, are very good natured and
   generous in their way, but have no love to God.

   And as to love to men, there are some that have flowing affections to
   some; but their love is far from being of so extensive and universal a
   nature, as a truly Christian love is. They are full of dear affections
   to some, and full of bitterness towards others. They are knit to their
   own party, them that approve of them, love them and admire them; but
   are fierce against those that oppose and dislike them. Matt. 5:45, 46,
   "Be like your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise
   upon the evil, and on the good. For if ye love them which love you,
   what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?" Some show a
   great affection to their neighbors, and pretend to be ravished with the
   company of the children of God abroad; and at the same time are
   uncomfortable and churlish towards their wives and other near relations
   at home, and are very negligent of relative duties. And as to the great
   love to sinners and opposers of religion, and the great concern for
   their souls, that there is an appearance of in some, even to extreme
   distress and agony, singling out a particular person, from among a
   multitude, for its object, there being at the same time no general
   compassion to sinners, that are in equally miserable circumstances, but
   what is in a monstrous disproportion; this seems not to be of the
   nature of gracious affection. Not that I suppose it to be at all
   strange, that pity to the perishing souls of sinners should be to a
   degree of agony; if other things are answerable: or that a truly
   gracious compassion to souls should be exercised much more to some
   persons than others that are equally miserable, especially on some
   particular occasions: there may many things happen to fix the mind, and
   affect the heart, with respect to a particular person, at such a
   juncture; and without doubt some saints have been in great distress for
   the souls of particular persons, so as to be as it were in travail for
   them; but when persons appear, at particular times, in racking agonies
   for the soul of some single person, far beyond what has been usually
   heard or read of in eminent saints, but appear to be persons that have
   a spirit of meek and fervent love, charity, and compassion to mankind
   in general, in a far less degree than they: I say, such agonies are
   greatly to be suspected, for reasons already given; viz., that the
   Spirit of God is wont to give graces and gracious affections in a
   beautiful symmetry and proportion.

   And as there is a monstrous disproportion in the love of some, in its
   exercises towards different persons, so there is in their seeming
   exercises of love towards the same persons.--Some men show a love to
   others as to their outward man, they are liberal of their worldly
   substance, and often give to the poor; but have no love to, or concern
   for the souls of men. Others pretend a great love to men's souls, that
   are not compassionate and charitable towards their bodies. The making a
   great show of love, pity and distress for souls, costs them nothing;
   but in order to show mercy to men's bodies, they must part with money
   out of their pockets. But a true Christian love to our brethren extends
   both to their souls and bodies; and herein is like the love and
   compassion of Jesus Christ. He showed mercy to men's souls, by laboring
   for them, in preaching the gospel to them; and showed mercy to their
   bodies in going about doing good, healing all manner of sickness and
   diseases among the people. We have a remarkable instance of Christ's
   having compassion at once both to men's souls and bodies, and showing
   compassion by feeding both, in Mark 6:34, &c.: "And Jesus when he came
   out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion towards them,
   because they were as sheep not having a shepherd; and he began to teach
   them many things." Here was his compassion to their souls. And in the
   sequel we have an account of his compassion to their bodies, because
   they had been a long while having nothing to eat; he fed five thousand
   of them with five loaves and two fishes. And if the compassion of
   professing Christians towards others does not work in the same ways, it
   is a sign that it is no true Christian compassion.

   And furthermore, it is a sign that affections are not of the right
   sort, if persons seem to be much affected with the bad qualities of
   their fellow Christians as the coldness and lifelessness of other
   saints, but are in no proportion affected with their own defects and
   corruptions. A true Christian may be affected with the coldness and
   unsavoriness of other saints, and may mourn much over it: but at the
   same time, he is not so apt to be affected with the badness of
   anybody's heart, as his own; this is most in his view; this he is most
   quicksighted to discern; this he sees most of the aggravations of, and
   is most ready to lament. And a less degree of virtue will bring him to
   pity himself, and be concerned at his own calamities, than rightly to
   be affected with others' calamities. And if men have not attained to
   the less, we may determine they never attained to the greater.

   And here by the way, I would observe, that it may be laid down as a
   general rule, that if persons pretend that they come to high
   attainments in religion, but have never yet arrived to the less
   attainments, it is a sign of a vain pretense. As if persons pretend,
   that they have got beyond mere morality, to live a spiritual and divine
   life; but really have not come to be so much as moral persons: or
   pretend to be greatly affected with the wickedness of their hearts, and
   are not affected with the palpable violations of God's commands in
   their practice, which is a less attainment: or if they pretend to be
   brought to be even willing to be damned for the glory of God, but have
   no forwardness to suffer a little in their estates and names, and
   worldly convenience, for the sake of their duty: or pretend that they
   are not afraid to venture their souls upon Christ, and commit their all
   to God, trusting to his bare word, and the faithfulness of his
   promises, for their eternal welfare; but at the same time, have not
   confidence enough in God, to dare to trust him with a little of their
   estates, bestowed to pious and charitable uses; I say, when it is thus
   with persons, their pretenses are manifestly vain. He that is in a
   journey, and imagines he has got far beyond such a place in his road,
   and never yet came to it, must be mistaken; and he is not yet arrived
   to the top of the hill, that never yet got half way thither. But this
   by the way.

   The same that has been observed of the affection of love, is also to be
   observed of other religious affections. Those that are true, extend in
   some proportion to the various things that are their due and proper
   objects; but when they are false, they are commonly strangely
   disproportionate. So it is with religious desires and longings: these
   in the saints, are to those things that are spiritual and excellent in
   general, and that in some proportion to their excellency, importance or
   necessity, or their near concern in them; but in false longing it is
   often far otherwise. They will strangely run, with an impatient
   vehemence, after something of less importance, when other things of
   greater importance are neglected.--Thus for instance, some persons,
   from time to time, are attended with a vehement inclination, and
   unaccountably violent pressure, to declare to others what they
   experience, and to exhort others; when there is, at the same time, no
   inclination, in any measure equal to it, to other things, that true
   Christianity has as great, yea, a greater tendency to; as the pouring
   out the soul before God in secret, earnest prayer and praise to him,
   and more conformity to him, and living more to his glory, &c. We read
   in Scripture of "groanings that cannot be uttered, and soul breakings
   for the longing it hath, and longings, thirstings, and pantings," much
   more frequently to these latter things, than the former.

   And so as to hatred and zeal; when these are from right principles,
   they are against sin in general, in some proportion to the degree of
   sinfulness: Psal. 119:104, "I hate every false way." So ver. 128. But a
   false hatred and zeal against sin, is against some particular sin only.
   Thus some seem to be very zealous against profaneness, and pride in
   apparel, who themselves are notorious for covetousness, closeness, and
   it may be backbiting, envy towards superiors, turbulency of spirit
   towards rulers, and rooted ill will to them that have injured them.
   False zeal is against the sins of others, while men have no zeal
   against their own sins. But he that has true zeal, exercises it chiefly
   against his own sins; though he shows also a proper zeal against
   prevailing and dangerous iniquity in others. And some pretend to have a
   great abhorrence of their own sins of heart, and cry out much of their
   inward corruption; and yet make light of sins in practice, and seem to
   commit them without much restraint or remorse; though these imply sin
   both in heart and life.

   As there is a much greater disproportion in the exercises of false
   affections than of true, as to different objects, so there is also, as
   to different times. For although true Christians are not always alike;
   yea, there is very great difference, at different times, and the best
   have reason to be greatly ashamed of their unsteadiness; yet there is
   in no wise that instability and inconstancy in the hearts of those who
   are true virgins, "that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," which
   is in false-hearted professors. The righteous man is truly said to be
   one whose heart is fixed, trusting in God, Psal. 112:7, and to have his
   heart established with grace, Heb. 13:9, and to hold on his way, Job.
   17:9: "The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean
   hands shall wax stronger and stronger." It is spoken of as a note of
   the hypocrisy of the Jewish church, that they were as a swift
   dromedary, traversing her ways.

   If therefore persons are religious only by fits and starts; if they now
   and then seem to be raised up to the clouds in their affections, and
   then suddenly fall down again, lose all, and become quite careless and
   carnal, and this is their manner of carrying on religion; if they
   appear greatly moved, and mightily engaged in religion, only in
   extraordinary seasons, in the time of a remarkable outpouring of the
   Spirit, or other uncommon dispensation of providence, or upon the real
   or supposed receipt of some great mercy, when they have received some
   extraordinary temporal mercy, or suppose that they are newly converted,
   or have lately had what they call a great discovery; but quickly return
   to such a frame, that their hearts are chiefly upon other things, and
   the prevailing bent of their hearts and stream of their affections, is
   ordinarily towards the things of this world; when they are like the
   children of Israel in the wilderness, who had their affections highly
   raised by what God had done for them at the Red Sea, and sang his
   praise, and soon fell a lusting after the fleshpots of Egypt; but then
   again, when they came to Mount Sinai, and saw the great manifestations
   God made of himself there, seemed to be greatly engaged again, and
   mightily forward to enter into covenant with God, saying, "All that the
   Lord hath spoken will we do, and be obedient," but then quickly made
   them a golden calf; I say, when it is thus with persons, it is a sign
   of the unsoundness of their affections. [70] They are like the waters
   in the time of a shower of rain, which, during the shower, and a little
   after, run like a brook, and flow abundantly; but are presently quite
   dry; and when another shower comes, then they will flow again. Whereas
   a true saint is like a stream from a living spring; which, though it
   may be greatly increased by a shower of rain, and diminished in time of
   drought, yet constantly runs: John 4:14, "The water that I shall give
   him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up," &c., or like a
   tree planted by such a stream, that has a constant supply at the root,
   and is always green, even in time of the greatest drought: Jer. 17:7,
   8, "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the
   Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that
   spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat
   cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the
   year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." Many
   hypocrites are like comets that appear for a while with a mighty blaze;
   but are very unsteady and irregular in their motion (and are therefore
   called wandering stars, Jude 13), and their blaze soon disappears, and
   they appear but once in a great while. But the true saints are like the
   fixed stars, which, though they rise and set, and are often clouded,
   yet are steadfast in their orb, and may truly be said to shine with a
   constant light. Hypocritical affections are like a violent motion; like
   that of the air that is moved with winds (Jude 12), but gracious
   affections are more a natural motion; like the stream of a river,
   which, though it has many turns hither and thither, and may meet with
   obstacles, and runs more freely and swiftly in some places than others;
   yet in the general, with a steady and constant course, tends the same
   stay, until it gets to the ocean.

   And as there is a strange unevenness and disproportion in false
   affections, at different times; so there often is in different places.
   Some are greatly affected from time to time, when in company; but have
   nothing that bears any manner of proportion to it in secret, in close
   meditations secret prayer, and conversing with God, when alone, and
   separated from all the world. [71] A true Christian doubtless delights
   in religious fellowship, and Christian conversation, and finds much to
   affect his heart in it; but he also delights at times to retire from
   all mankind to converse with God in solitary places. And this also has
   its peculiar advantages for fixing his heart, and engaging its
   affections. True religion disposes persons to be much alone in solitary
   places, for holy meditation and prayer. So it wrought in Isaac, Gen.
   24:63. And which is much more, so it wrought in Jesus Christ. How often
   do we read of his retiring into mountains and solitary places, for holy
   converse with his Father! It is difficult to conceal great affections,
   but yet gracious affections are of a much more silent and secret
   nature, than those that are counterfeit. So it is with the gracious
   sorrow of the saints. So it is with their sorrow for their own sins.
   Thus the future gracious mourning of true penitents, at the beginning
   of the latter day glory, is represented as being so secret, as to be
   hidden from the companions of their bosom, Zech. 12:12, 13, 14: "And
   the land shall mourn, every family apart, the family of the house of
   David apart, and their wives apart: the family of the house of Nathan
   apart, and their wives apart: the family of the house of Levi apart,
   and their wives apart: the family of Shimei apart, and their wives
   apart: all the families that remain, every family apart, and their
   wives apart." So it is with their sorrow for the sins of others. The
   saints' pains and travailing for the souls of sinners are chiefly in
   secret places: Jer. 13:17, "If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep
   in secret places for your pride, and mine eye shall weep sore, and run
   down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive." So
   it is with gracious joys: they are hidden manna, in this respect, as
   well as others, Rev. 2:17.

   The Psalmist seems to speak of his sweetest comforts, as those that
   were to be had in secret: Psal. 63:5, 6, "My soul shall be satisfied as
   with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful
   lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the
   night watches." Christ calls forth his spouse, away from the world,
   into retired places, that he may give her his sweetest love: Cant.
   7:11, 12, "Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us
   lodge in the villages: Here I will give thee my loves." The most
   eminent divine favors that the saints obtained, that we read of in
   Scripture, were in their retirement. The principal manifestations that
   God made of himself, and his covenant mercy to Abraham, were when he
   was alone, apart from his numerous family; as anyone will judge that
   carefully reads his history. Isaac received that special gift of God to
   him, Rebekah, who was so great a comfort to him, and by whom he
   obtained the promised seed, walking alone meditating in the field.
   Jacob was retired for secret prayer, when Christ came to him, and he
   wrestled with him, and obtained the blessing. God revealed himself to
   Moses in the bush, when he was in a solitary place in the desert, in
   Mount Horeb, Exod 3 at the beginning. And afterwards, when God showed
   him his glory, and he was admitted to the highest degree of communion
   with God that ever he enjoyed; he was alone, in the same mountain, and
   continued there forty days and forty nights, and then came down with
   his face shining. God came to those great prophets, Elijah and Elisha,
   and conversed freely with them, chiefly in their retirement. Elijah
   conversed alone with God at Mount Sinai, as Moses did. And when Jesus
   Christ had his greatest prelibation of his future glory, when he was
   transfigured; it was not when he was with the multitude, or with the
   twelve disciples, but retired into a solitary place in a mountain, with
   only three select disciples, charging then, that they should tell no
   man until he was risen from the dead. When the angel Gabriel came to
   the blessed virgin, and when the Holy Ghost came upon her, and the
   power of the Highest overshadowed her, she seems to have been alone,
   and to be in this matter hid from the world; her nearest and dearest
   earthly friend Joseph, that had betrothed her (though a just man), knew
   nothing of the matter. And she that first partook of the joy of
   Christ's resurrection, was alone with Christ at the sepulcher, John 20.
   And when the beloved disciple was favored with those wonderful visions
   of Christ and his future dispensations towards the church and the
   world, he was alone in the isle of Patmos. Not but that we have also
   instances of great privileges that the saints have received when with
   others; or that there is not much in Christian conversation, and social
   and public worship, tending greatly to refresh and rejoice the hearts
   of the saints. But this is all that I aim at by what has been said, to
   show that it is the nature of true grace, that however it loves
   Christian society in its place, yet it in a peculiar manner delights in
   retirement, and secret converse with God. So that if persons appear
   greatly engaged in social religion, and but little in the religion of
   the closet, and are often highly affected when with others, and but
   little moved when they have none but God and Christ to converse with,
   it looks very darkly upon their religion.

   [69] "Renewed care and diligence follows the sealings of the Spirit.
   Now is the soul at the foot of Christ, as Mary was at the sepulcher,
   with fear and great joy. He that travels the road with a rich treasure
   about him, is afraid of a thief in every bush." Flavel's Sacramental
   Meditations, Med. 4.

   [70] Dr. Owen (on the Spirit, Book III. Chap. 2 Sect. 18), speaking of
   a common work of the Spirit, says, "This work operates greatly on the
   affections: we have given instances, in fear, sorrow, joy, and delight,
   about spiritual things, that are stirred up and acted thereby: but yet
   it comes short in two things, of a thorough work upon the affections
   themselves. For first, it doth not fix them. And secondly, it doth not
   fill them."                "There is (says Dr. Preston) a certain love,
   by fits, which God accepts not: when men come and offer to God great
   promises, like the waves of the sea, as big as mountains: oh, they
   think they will do much for God! But their minds change; and they
   become as those high waves, which at last fall level with the other
   waters."                Mr. Flavel, speaking of these changeable
   professors, says, "These professors have more of the moon than of the
   sun: little light, less heat, and many changes. They deceive many, yea,
   they deceive themselves, but cannot deceive God. They want that ballast
   and establishment in themselves, that would have kept them tight and
   steady." Touchstone of Sincerity, Chap. 2 Sect. 2.

   [71] The Lord is neglected secretly, yet honored openly; because there
   is no wind in their chambers to blow their sails, and therefore there
   they stand still. Hence many men keep their profession, when they lose
   their affection. They have by the one a name to live (and that is
   enough) though their hearts be dead. And hence so long as you love and
   commend them, so long they love you; but if not, they will forsake you.
   They were warm only by another's fire, and hence, having no principle
   of life within, soon grow dead. This is the water that turns a
   Pharisee's mill." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 180. "The hypocrite
   (says Mr. Flavel) is not for the closet, but the synagogue, Matt. 6:5,
   6. It is not his meat and drink to retire from the clamor of the world,
   to enjoy God in secret." Touchstone of Sincerity, Chap. 7 Sect. 2.
              Dr. Ames, in his Cases of Conscience, Lib. III. Chap. v.,
   speaks of it as a thing by which sincerity may be known, "That persons
   be obedient in the absence, as well as in the presence of lookers on;
   in secret, as well, yea more, than in public:" alleging Phil. 2:12, and
   Matt. 6:6.

   XI. Another great and very distinguishing difference between gracious
   affections and others is, that gracious affections, the higher they are
   raised, the more is a spiritual appetite and longing of soul after
   spiritual attainments increased. On the contrary, false affections rest
   satisfied in themselves. [72]

   The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he
   desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to
   him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments
   that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he mourns for sin,
   the more he longs to mourn for sin; the more his heart is broke, the
   more he desires it should be broke the more he thirsts and longs after
   God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very
   soul in longings after God: the kindling and raising of gracious
   affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more
   ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend
   and seek to burn. So that the spiritual appetite after holiness, and an
   increase of holy affections is much more lively and keen in those that
   are eminent in holiness, than others, and more when grace and holy
   affections are in their most lively exercise, than at other times. It
   is as much the nature of one that is spiritually new born, to thirst
   after growth in holiness, as it is the nature of a new born babe to
   thirst after the mother's breast; who has the sharpest appetite, when
   best in health. 1 Pet. 2:2, 3, "As new born babes, desire the sincere
   milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted
   that the Lord is gracious." The most that the saints have in this
   world, is but a taste, a prelibation of that future glory which is
   their proper fullness; it is only an earnest of their future
   inheritance in their hearts, 2 Cor. 1:22, and 5:5, and Eph. 1:14. The
   most eminent saints in this state are but children, compared with their
   future, which is their proper state of maturity and perfection; as the
   apostle observes, 1 Cor. 13:10, 11. The greatest eminency that the
   saints arrive to in this world, has no tendency to satiety, or to abate
   their desires after more; but, on the contrary, makes them more eager
   to press forwards; as is evident by the apostle's words, Phil. 3:13,
   14, 15: "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth
   unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark.--Let us
   therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded."

   The reasons of it are, that the more persons have of holy affections,
   the more they have of that spiritual taste which I have spoken of
   elsewhere; whereby they perceive the excellency, and relish the divine
   sweetness of holiness. And the more grace they have, while in this
   state of imperfection, the more they see their imperfection and
   emptiness, and distance from what ought to be: and so the more do they
   see their need of grace; as I showed at large before, when speaking of
   the nature of evangelical humiliation. And besides, grace, as long as
   it is imperfect, is of a growing nature, and in a growing state. And we
   see it to be so with all living things, that while they are in a state
   of imperfection, and in their growing state, their nature seeks after
   growth; and so much the more, as they are more healthy and prosperous.
   Therefore the cry of every true grace, is like that cry of true faith,
   Mark 9:24: "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief." And the greater
   spiritual discoveries and affections the true Christian has, the more
   does he become an earnest beggar for grace, and spiritual food, that he
   may grow; and the more earnestly does he pursue after it, in the use of
   proper means and endeavors; for true and gracious longings after
   holiness are no idle ineffectual desires.

   But here some may object and say, How is this consistent with what all
   allow, that spiritual enjoyments are of a soul satisfying nature?

   I answer, its being so, will appear to be not at all inconsistent with
   what has been said, if it be considered in what manner spiritual
   enjoyments are said to be of a soul satisfying nature. Certainly they
   are not so in that sense, that they are of so cloying a nature, that he
   who has anything of them, though but in a very imperfect degree,
   desires no more. But spiritual enjoyments are of a soul satisfying
   nature in the following respects. 1. They in their kind and nature, are
   fully adapted to the nature, capacity, and need of the soul of man. So
   that those who find them, desire no other kind of enjoyments; they sit
   down fully contented with that kind of happiness which they have,
   desiring no change, nor inclining to wander about any more, saying,
   "Who will show us any good?" The soul is never cloyed, never weary; but
   perpetually giving up itself, with all its powers, to this happiness.
   But not that those who have something of this happiness, desire no more
   of the same. 2. They are satisfying also in this respect, that they
   answer the expectation of the appetite. When the appetite is high to
   any thing, the expectation is consequently so. Appetite to a particular
   object, implies expectation in its nature. This expectation is not
   satisfied by worldly enjoyments; the man expected to have a great
   accession of happiness, but he is disappointed. But it is not so with
   spiritual enjoyments; they fully answer and satisfy the expectation. 3.
   The gratification and pleasure of spiritual enjoyments is permanent. It
   is not so with worldly enjoyments. They in a sense satisfy particular
   appetites: but the appetite, in being satisfied, is glutted, and then
   the pleasure is over: and as soon as that is over, the general appetite
   of human nature after happiness returns; but is empty, and without
   anything to satisfy it. So that the glutting of a particular appetite,
   does but take away from, and leave empty, the general thirst of nature.
   4. Spiritual good is satisfying, as there is enough in it to satisfy
   the soul, as to degree, if obstacles were but removed, and the enjoying
   faculty duly applied. There is room enough here for the soul to extend
   itself; here is an infinite ocean of it. If men be not satisfied here,
   in degree of happiness, the cause is with themselves; it is because
   they do not open their mouths wide enough.

   But these things do not argue that a soul has no appetite excited after
   more of the same, that has tasted a little; or that his appetite will
   not increase, the more he tastes, until he comes to fullness of
   enjoyment: as bodies that are attracted to the globe of the earth, tend
   to it more strongly, the nearer they come to the attracting body, and
   are not at rest out of the center. Spiritual good is of a satisfying
   nature; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its
   nature, will thirst after it, and a fullness of it, that it may be
   satisfied. And the more he experiences, and the more he knows this
   excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more
   earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, until he comes to
   perfection. And therefore this is the nature of spiritual affections,
   that the greater they be, the greater the appetite and longing is,
   after grace and holiness.

   But with those joys, and other religious affections, that are false and
   counterfeit, it is otherwise. If before, there was a great desire, of
   some sort, after grace; as these affections rise, that desire ceases,
   or is abated. It may be before, while the man was under legal
   convictions, and much afraid of hell, he earnestly longed that he might
   obtain spiritual light in his understanding, and faith in Christ, and
   love to God: but now, when these false affections are risen, that
   deceive him, and make him confident that he is converted, and his state
   good, there are no more earnest longings after light and grace; for his
   end is answered; he is confident that his sins are forgiven him, and
   that he shall go to heaven; and so he is satisfied. And especially when
   false affections are raised very high, they put an end to longings
   after grace and holiness. The man now is far from appearing to himself
   a poor empty creature; on the contrary, he is rich, and increased with
   goods, and hardly conceives of anything more excellent than what he has
   already attained to.

   Hence there is an end to many persons' earnestness in seeking, after
   they have once obtained that which they call their conversion; or at
   least, after they have had those high affections, that make them fully
   confident of it. Before while they looked upon themselves as in a state
   of nature, they were engaged in seeking after God and Christ, and cried
   earnestly for grace, and strove in the use of means: but now they act
   as though they thought their work was done; they live upon their first
   work, or some high experiences that are past; and there is an end to
   their crying, and striving after God and grace. Whereas the holy
   principles that actuate a true saint, have a far more powerful
   influence to stir him up to earnestness in seeking God and holiness,
   than servile fear. Hence seeking God is spoken of as one of the
   distinguishing characters of the saints, and those that seek God is one
   of the names by which the godly are called in Scripture: Psal. 24:6,
   "This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O
   Jacob!" Psal. 69:6, "Let not those that seek thee, be confounded for my
   sake." Ver. 32, "The humble shall see this and be glad: and your heart
   shall live that seek God." And 70:4, "Let all these that seek thee,
   rejoice, and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation, say
   continually, The Lord be magnified." And the Scriptures everywhere
   represent the seeking, striving, and labor of a Christian, as being
   chiefly after his conversion, and his conversion as being but the
   beginning of his as work. And almost all that is said in the New
   Testament, of men's watching, giving earnest heed to themselves,
   running the race that is set before them, striving, and agonizing,
   wrestling not with flesh and blood, but principalities and powers,
   fighting, putting on the whole armor of God, and standing, having done
   all to stand, pressing forward, reaching forth, continuing instant in
   prayer, crying to God day and night; I say, almost all that is said in
   the New Testament of these things, is spoken of, and directed to the
   saints. Where these things are applied to sinners' seeking conversion
   once, they are spoken of the saints' prosecution of the great business
   of their high calling ten times. But many in these days have got into a
   strange antiscriptural way, of having all their striving and wrestling
   over before they are converted; and so having an easy time of it
   afterwards, to sit down and enjoy their sloth and indolence; as those
   that now have a supply of their wants, and are become rich and full.
   But when the Lord "fills the hungry with good things, these rich are
   like to be sent away empty," Luke 1:53.

   But doubtless there are some hypocrites, that have only false
   affections, who will think they are able to stand this trial; and will
   readily say, that they desire not to rest satisfied with past
   attainments, but to be pressing forward, they do desire more, they long
   after God and Christ, and desire more holiness, and do seek it. But the
   truth is, their desires are not properly the desires of appetite after
   holiness, for its own sake, or for the moral excellency and holy
   sweetness that is in it; but only for by-ends. They long after clearer
   discoveries, that they may be better satisfied about the state of their
   souls; or because in great discoveries self is gratified, in being made
   so much of by God, and so exalted above others; they long to taste the
   love of God (as they call it) more than to have more love to God. Or,
   it may be, they have a kind of forced, fancied, or made longings;
   because they think they must long for more grace, otherwise it will be
   a dark sign upon them. But such things as these are far different from
   the natural, and as it were necessary appetite and thirsting of the new
   man, after God and holiness. There is an inward burning desire that a
   saint has after holiness, as natural to the new creature, as vital heat
   is to the body. There is a holy breathing and panting after the Spirit
   of God, to increase holiness, as natural to a holy nature, as breathing
   is to a living body. And holiness or sanctification is more directly
   the object of it, than any manifestation of God's love and favor. This
   is the meat and drink that is the object of the spiritual appetite:
   John 4:34, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to
   finish his work." Where we read in Scripture of the desires, longings,
   and thirstings of the saints, righteousness and God's laws are much
   more frequently mentioned as the object of them, than anything else.
   The saints desire the sincere milk of the word, not so much to testify
   God's love to them, as that they may grow thereby in holiness. I have
   shown before, that holiness is that good which is the immediate object
   of a spiritual taste. But undoubtedly the same sweetness that is the
   chief object of a spiritual taste, is also the chief object of a
   spiritual appetite. Grace is the godly man's treasure: Isa. 32:6, "The
   fear of the Lord is his treasure." Godliness is the gain that he is
   covetous and greedy of. 1 Tim. 6:6. Hypocrites long for discoveries
   more for the present comfort of the discovery, and the high
   manifestation of God's love in it, than for any sanctifying influence
   of it. But neither a longing after great discoveries, or after great
   tastes of the love of God, nor longing to be in heaven nor longing to
   die, are in any measure so distinguishing marks of true saints, as
   longing after a more holy heart, and living a more holy life.

   But I am come now to the last distinguishing mark of holy affections
   that I shall mention.

   [72] "Truly there is no work of Christ that is right (says Mr. Shepard)
   but it carries the soul to long for more of it." Parable of the Ten
   Virgins, Part I. p. 136.

   XII. Gracious and holy affections have their exercise and fruit in
   Christian practice.--I mean, they have that influence and power upon
   him who is the subject of them, that they cause that a practice, which
   is universally conformed to, and directed by Christian rules, should be
   the practice and business of his life.

   This implies three things: 1. That his behavior or practice in the
   world be universally conformed to, and directed by Christian rules. 2.
   That he makes a business of such a holy practice above all things; that
   it be a business which he is chiefly engaged in, and devoted to, and
   pursues with highest earnestness and diligence: so that he may be said
   to make this practice of religion eminently his work and business. And
   3. That he persists in it to the end of life: so that it may be said,
   not only to be his business at certain seasons, the business of Sabbath
   days, or certain extraordinary times, or the business of a month, or a
   year, or of seven years, or his business under certain circumstances;
   but the business of his life; it being that business which he
   perseveres in through all changes, and under all trials, as long as he

   The necessity of each of these, in all true Christians, is most clearly
   and fully taught in the word of God.

   1. It is necessary that men should be universally obedient: 1 John 3:3
   &c., "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as
   he is pure.--And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins;
   and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever
   sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. He that doeth
   righteousness, is righteous even as he is righteous: he that committeth
   sin is of the devil." Chap. 5:18, "We know that whosoever is born of
   God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and
   that wicked one toucheth him not." John 15:14, "Ye are my friends, if
   ye do whatsoever I command you."

   If one member only be corrupt, and we do not cut it off, it will carry
   the whole body to hell, Matt. 5:29, 30. Saul was commanded to slay all
   God's enemies, the Amalekites; and he slew all but Agag, and the saving
   him alive proved his ruin. Caleb and Joshua entered into God's promised
   rest, because they wholly followed the Lord, Numb. 14:24, and 32:11,
   12, Deut. 1:36. Josh. 14:6, 8, 9, 14. Naaman's hypocrisy appeared in
   that, however ever he seemed to be greatly affected with gratitude to
   God for healing his leprosy, and engaged to serve him, yet in one thing
   he desired to be excused. And Herod, though he feared John, and
   observed him, and heard him gladly, and did many things; yet was
   condemned, in that in one thing he would not hearken to him, even in
   parting with his beloved Herodias. So that it is necessary that men
   should part with their dearest iniquities, which are as their right
   hand and right eyes, sins that most easily beset them, and which they
   are most exposed to by their natural inclinations, evil customs, or
   particular circumstances, as well as others. As Joseph would not make
   known himself to his brethren, who had sold him, until Benjamin the
   beloved child of the family, that was most hardly parted with, was
   delivered up; no more will Christ reveal his love to us, until we part
   with our dearest lusts, and until we are brought to comply with the
   most difficult duties, and those that we have the greatest aversion to.

   And it is of importance that it should be observed that in order to
   man's being truly said to be universally obedient, his obedience must
   not only consist in negatives, or in universally avoiding wicked
   practices, consisting in sins of commission, but he must also be
   universal in the positives of religion. Sins of omission are as much
   breaches of God's commands as sins of commission. Christ, in Matt. 25
   represents those on the left hand as being condemned and cursed to
   everlasting fire for sins of omission. "I was an hungered, and ye gave
   me no meat," &c. A man, therefore, cannot be said to be universally
   obedient, and of a Christian conversation, only because he is no thief,
   nor oppressor, nor fraudulent person, nor drunkard, nor tavern haunter,
   nor whoremaster, nor rioter, nor night walker, nor unclean, nor profane
   in his language, nor slanderer, nor liar, nor furious, nor malicious,
   nor reviler. He is falsely said to be of a conversation that becomes
   the gospel, who goes thus far and no farther; but in order to this, it
   is necessary that he should also be of a serious, religious, devout,
   humble, meek, forgiving, peaceful, respectful, condescending,
   benevolent, merciful, charitable and beneficent walk and conversation.
   Without such things as these, he does not obey the laws of Christ, and
   laws that he and his apostles did abundantly insist on, as of the
   greatest importance and necessity.

   2. In order to men's being true Christians, it is necessary that they
   prosecute the business of religion, and the service of God with great
   earnestness and diligence, as the work which they devote themselves to,
   and make the main business of their lives. All Christ's peculiar people
   not only do good works, but are zealous of good works, Tit. 2:14. No
   man can do the service of two masters at once. They that are God's true
   servants do give up themselves to his service, and make it as it were
   their whole work, therein employing their whole hearts, and the chief
   of their strength: Phil. 3:13, "This one thing I do." Christians in
   their effectual calling, are not called to idleness, but to labor in
   God's vineyard, and spend their day in doing a great and laborious
   service. All true Christians comply with this call (as is implied in
   its being an effectual call), and do the work of Christians; which is
   everywhere in the New Testament compared to those exercises wherein men
   are wont to exert their strength with the greatest earnestness, as
   running, wrestling, fighting. All true Christians are good and faithful
   soldiers of Jesus Christ, and "fight the good fight of faith;" for none
   but those who do so, do "ever lay hold on eternal life." Those who
   "fight as those that beat the air," never win the crown of victory.
   "They that run in a race, run all, but one wins the prize," and they
   that are slack and negligent in their course, do not "so run as that
   they may obtain." The kingdom of heaven is not to be taken but by
   violence. Without earnestness there is no getting along, in that narrow
   way that leads to life; and so no arriving at that state of glorious
   life and happiness which it leads to. Without earnest labor there is no
   ascending the steep and high hill of Zion, and so no arriving at the
   heavenly city on the top of it. Without a constant laboriousness there
   is no stemming the swift stream in which we swim, so as ever to come to
   that fountain of water of life that is at the head of it. There is need
   that we should "watch and pray always, in order to our escaping those
   dreadful things that are coming on the ungodly, and our being counted
   worthy to stand before the Son of man." There is need of our "putting
   on the whole armor of God, and doing all, to stand," in order to our
   avoiding a total overthrow, and being utterly destroyed by "the fiery
   darts of the devil." There is need that we should "forget the things
   that are behind, and be reaching forth to the things that are before,
   and pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God
   in Christ Jesus our Lord," in order to our obtaining that prize.
   Slothfulness in the service of God in his professed servants, is as
   damning as open rebellion; for the slothful servant is a wicked
   servant, and shall be cast into outer darkness, among God's open
   enemies, Matt. 25:26, 30. They that are slothful are not "followers of
   them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Heb. 6:11,
   12, "And we desire that everyone of you do show the same diligence, to
   the full assurance of hope unto the end; that ye be not slothful, but
   followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the
   promises." And all they who follow that cloud of witnesses that are
   gone before to heaven, "do lay aside every weight, and the sin that
   easily besets them, and do run with patience the race that is set
   before them," Heb. 12:1. That true faith, by which persons rely on the
   righteousness of Christ, and the work that he hath done for them, and
   do truly feed and live upon him, is evermore accompanied with such a
   spirit of earnestness in the Christian work and course. Which was
   typified of old, by the manner of the children of Israel's feeding on
   the paschal lamb; who were directed to eat it, as those that were in
   haste, with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their
   staff in their hand, Exod. 12:11.

   3. Every true Christian perseveres in this way of universal obedience,
   and diligent and earnest service of God, through all the various kinds
   of trials that he meets with, to the end of life. That all true saints,
   all those that do obtain eternal life, do thus persevere in the
   practice of religion, and the service of God, is a doctrine so
   abundantly taught in the Scripture, that particularly to rehearse all
   the texts which imply it would be endless; I shall content myself with
   referring to some in the margin. [73]

   But that perseverance in obedience, which is chiefly insisted on in the
   Scripture, as a special note of the truth of grace, is the continuance
   of professors in the practice of their duty, and being steadfast in a
   holy walk, through the various trials that they meet with.

   By trials here, I mean those things that occur, and that a professor
   meets with in his course, that do especially render his continuance in
   his duty and faithfulness to God, difficult to nature. These things are
   from time to time called in Scripture by the name of trials, or
   temptations (which are words of the same signification). These are of
   various kinds: there are many things that render persons' continuance
   in the way of their duty difficult, by their tendency to cherish and
   foment, or to stir up and provoke their lusts and corruptions. Many
   things make it hard to continue in the way of their duty, by their
   being of an adhering nature, and having a tendency to entice persons to
   sin, or by their tendency to take off restraints, and embolden them in
   iniquity. Other things are trials of the soundness and steadfastness of
   professors, by their tendency to make their duty appear terrible to
   them, and so to affright and drive them from it; such as the sufferings
   which their duty will expose them to; pain, ill will, contempt, and
   reproach, or loss of outward possessions and comforts. If persons,
   after they have made a profession of religion, live any considerable
   time in this world, which is so full of changes, and so full of evil,
   it cannot be otherwise than that they should meet with many trials of
   their sincerity and steadfastness. And besides, it is God's manner, in
   his providence, to bring trials on his professing friends and servants
   designedly, that he may manifest them, and may exhibit sufficient
   matter of conviction of the state which they are in, to their own
   consciences, and oftentimes to the world; as appears by innumerable

   True saints may be guilty of some kinds and degrees of backsliding, and
   may be foiled by particular temptations, and may fall into sin, yea
   great sins; but they never can fall away so as to grow weary of
   religion, and the service of God, and habitually to dislike it and
   neglect it, either on its own account, or on account of the
   difficulties that attend it; as is evident by Gal. 6:9, Rom. 2:7, Heb.
   10:36, Isa. 43:22, Mal. 1:13. They can never backslide, so as to
   continue no longer in a way of universal obedience; or so, that it
   shall cease to be their manner to observe all the rules of
   Christianity, and do all duties required, even in the most difficult
   circumstances. This is abundantly manifest by the things that have been
   observed already. Nor can they ever fall away so as habitually to be
   more engaged in other things than in the business of religion; or so
   that it should become their way and manner to serve something else more
   than God; or so as statedly to cease to serve God, with such
   earnestness and diligence, as still to be habitually devoted and given
   up to the business of religion; unless those words of Christ can fall
   to the ground, "Ye cannot serve two masters," and those of the apostle,
   "He that will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God;" and
   unless a saint can change his God, and yet be a true saint. Nor can a
   true saint ever fall away so, that it shall come to this, that
   ordinarily there shall be no remarkable difference in his walk and
   behavior since his conversion, from what was before. They that are
   truly converted are new men, new creatures; new not only within, but
   without; they are sanctified throughout, in spirit, soul and body; old
   things are passed away, all things are become new; they have new
   hearts, and new eyes, new ears, new tongues, new hands, new feet; i.e.,
   a new conversation and practice; and they walk in newness of life, and
   continue to do so to the end of life. And they that fall away, and
   cease visibly to do so, it is a sign they never were risen with Christ.
   And especially when men's opinion of their being converted, and so in a
   safe estate, is the very cause of their coming to this, it is a most
   evident sign of their hypocrisy. And that, whether their falling away
   be into their former sins, or into some new kind of wickedness, having
   the corruption of nature only turned into a new channel, instead of its
   being mortified. As when persons that think themselves converted,
   though they do not return to former profaneness and lewdness; yet from
   the high opinion they have of their experiences, graces, and
   privileges, gradually settle more and more in a self-righteous and
   spiritually proud temper of mind, and in such a manner of behavior as
   naturally arises therefrom. When it is thus with men, however far they
   may seem to be from their former evil practices, this alone is enough
   to condemn them, and may render their last state far worse than the
   first. For this seems to be the very case of the Jews of that
   generation that Christ speaks of, Matt. 12:43, 44, 45, who being
   awakened by John the Baptist's preaching, and brought to a reformation
   of their former licentious courses, whereby the unclean Spirit was as
   it were turned out, and the house swept and garnished; yet, being empty
   of God and of grace, became full of themselves, and were exalted in an
   exceeding high opinion of their own righteousness and eminent holiness,
   and became habituated to an answerably self-exalting behavior; so
   changing the sins of publicans and harlots, for those of the Pharisees;
   and in issue, had seven devils, worse than the first.

   Thus I have explained what exercise and fruit I mean, when I say, that
   gracious affections have their exercise and fruit in Christian

   The reason why gracious affections have such a tendency and effect
   appears from many things that have already been observed, in the
   preceding parts of this discourse.

   The reason of it appears from this, that gracious affections do arise
   from those operations and influences which are spiritual, and that the
   inward principle from whence they flow, is something divine, a
   communication of God, a participation of the divine nature, Christ
   living in the heart, the Holy Spirit dwelling there, in union with the
   faculties of the soul, as an internal vital principle, exerting his own
   proper nature, in the exercise of those faculties. This is sufficient
   to show us why true grace should have such activity, power, and
   efficacy. No wonder that which is divine, is powerful and effectual;
   for it has omnipotence on its side. If God dwells in the heart, and be
   vitally united to it, he will show that he is a God, by the efficacy of
   his operation. Christ is not in the heart of a saint, as in a
   sepulcher, or as a dead savior, that does nothing; but as in his
   temple, and as one that is alive from the dead. For in the heart where
   Christ savingly is, there he lives, and exerts himself after the power
   of that endless life that he received at his resurrection. Thus every
   saint that is a subject of the benefit of Christ's sufferings, is made
   to know and experience the power of his resurrection. The Spirit of
   Christ, which is the immediate spring of grace in the heart, is all
   life, all power, all act: 1 Cor. 2:4, "In demonstration of the Spirit,
   and of power." 1 Thess. 1:5, "Our gospel came not unto you in word
   only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost." 1 Cor. 4:20, "The
   kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." Hence saving affections,
   though oftentimes they do not make so great a noise and show as others,
   yet have in them a secret solidity, life, and strength, whereby they
   take hold of, and carry away the heart, leading it into a kind of
   captivity, 2 Cor. 10:5, gaining a full and steadfast determination of
   the will for God and holiness. Psal. 110:3, "Thy people shall be
   willing in the day of thy power." And thus it is that holy affections
   have a governing power in the course of a man's life. A statue may look
   very much like a real man, and a beautiful man; yea, it may have, in
   its appearance to the eye, the resemblance of a very lively, strong,
   and active man; but yet an inward principle of life and strength is
   wanting; and therefore it does nothing, it brings nothing to pass,
   there is no action or operation to answer the show. False discoveries
   and affections do not go deep enough to reach and govern the spring of
   men's actions and practice. The seed in stony ground had not deepness
   of earth, and the root did not go deep enough to bring forth fruit. But
   gracious affections go to the very bottom of the heart and take hold of
   the very inmost springs of life and activity.

   Herein chiefly appears the power of true godliness, viz., in its being
   effectual practice. And the efficacy of godliness in this respect, is
   what the apostle has respect to, when he speaks of the power of
   godliness, 2 Tim. 3:5, as is very plain; for he there is particularly
   declaring, how some professors of religion would notoriously fail in
   the practice of it, and then in the 5th verse observes, that in being
   thus of an unholy practice, they deny the power of godliness, though
   they have the form of it. Indeed the power of godliness is exerted in
   the first place within the soul, in the sensible, lively exercise of
   gracious affections there. Yet the principal evidence of this power of
   godliness, is in those exercises of holy affections that are practical,
   and in their being practical; in conquering the will, and conquering
   the lusts and corruptions of men, and carrying men on in the way of
   holiness, through all temptations, difficulty, and opposition.

   Again, the reason why gracious affections have their exercise and
   effect in Christian practice, appears from this (which has also been
   before observed), that "the first objective around of gracious
   affections, is the transcendently excellent and amiable nature of
   divine things, as they are in themselves, and not any conceived
   relation they bear to self, or self-interest." This shows why holy
   affection will cause men to be holy in their practice universally. What
   makes men partial in religion is, that they seek themselves, and not
   God, in their religion; and close with religion, not for its own
   excellent nature, but only to serve a turn. He that closes with
   religion only to serve a turn, will close with no more of it than he
   imagines serves that turn; but he that closes with religion for its own
   excellent and lovely nature, closes with all that has that nature: he
   that embraces religion for its own sake, embraces the whole of
   religion. This also shows why gracious affections will cause men to
   practice religion perseveringly, and at all times. Religion may alter
   greatly in process of time, as to its consistence with men's private
   interest, in many respects; and therefore he that complies with it only
   for selfish views, is liable, in chance of times, to forsake it; but
   the excellent nature of religion, as it is in itself, is invariable; it
   is always the same, at all times, and through all changes; it never
   alters in any respect.

   The reason why gracious affections issue in holy practice, also further
   appears from the kind of excellency of divine things, that it has been
   observed is the foundation of all holy affections, viz., "their moral
   excellency, or the beauty of their holiness." No wonder that a love to
   holiness, for holiness' sake, inclines persons to practice holiness,
   and to practice everything that is holy. Seeing holiness is the main
   thing that excites, draws, and governs all gracious affections, no
   wonder that all such affections tend to holiness. That which men love,
   they desire to have and to be united to, and possessed of. That beauty
   which men delight in, they desire to be adorned with. Those acts which
   men delight in, they necessarily incline to do.

   And what has been observed of that divine teaching and leading of the
   Spirit of God, which there is in gracious affections, shows the reason
   of this tendency of such affections to a universally holy practice.
   For, as has been observed, the Spirit of God in this his divine
   teaching and leading gives the soul a natural relish of the sweetness
   of that which is holy, and of everything that is holy, so far as it
   comes in view and excites a disrelish and disgust of everything that is

   The same also appears from what has been observed of the nature of that
   spiritual knowledge, which is the foundation of all holy affection, as
   consisting in a sense and view of that excellence in divine things,
   which is supreme and transcendent. For hereby these things appear above
   all others, worthy to be chosen and adhered to. By the sight of the
   transcendent glory of Christ, true Christians see him worthy to be
   followed; and so are powerfully drawn after him; they see him worthy
   that they should forsake all for him: by the sight of that superlative
   amiableness, they are thoroughly disposed to be subject to him, and
   engaged to labor with earnestness and activity in his service, and made
   willing to no through all difficulties for his sake. And it is the
   discovery of this divine excellency of Christ, that makes them constant
   to him: for it makes a deep impression upon their minds, that they
   cannot forget him; and they will follow him whithersoever he goes, and
   it is in vain for any to endeavor to draw them away from him.

   The reason of this practical tendency and issue of gracious affections,
   further appears from what has been observed of such affections being
   "attended as with a thorough conviction of the judgment of the reality
   and certainty of divine things." No wonder that they who were never
   thoroughly convinced that there is any reality in the things of
   religion, will never be at the labor and trouble of such an earnest,
   universal, and persevering practice of religion, through all
   difficulties, self-denials, and sufferings in a dependence on that,
   which they are not convinced of. But on the other hand, they who are
   thoroughly convinced of the certain truth of those things, must needs
   be governed by them in their practice; for the things revealed in the
   word of God are so great, and so infinitely more important than all
   other things, that it is inconsistent with the human nature, that a man
   should fully believe the truth of them, and not he influenced by them
   above all things in his practice.

   Again, the reason of this expression and effect of holy affections in
   the practice, appears in what has been observed of "a change of nature,
   accompanying such affections." Without a change of nature, men's
   practice will not be thoroughly changed. Until the tree be made good,
   the fruit will not be good. Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor
   figs of thistles. The swine may be washed and appear clean for a little
   while, but yet, without a change of nature, he will still wallow in the
   mire. Nature is a more powerful principle of action, than anything that
   opposes it: though it may be violently restrained for a while, it will
   finally overcome that which restrains it: it is like the stream of a
   river, it may be stopped a while with a dam, but if nothing be done to
   dry the fountain, it will not be stopped always; it will have a course,
   either in its old channel, or a new one. Nature is a thing more
   constant and permanent, than any of those things that are the
   foundation of carnal men's reformation and righteousness. When a
   natural man denies his lust, and lives a strict, religious life, and
   seems humble, painful, and earnest in religion, it is not natural; it
   is all a force against nature; as when a stone is violently thrown
   upwards; but that force will be gradually spent; yet nature will remain
   in its full strength, and so prevails again, and the stone returns
   downwards. As long as corrupt nature is not mortified, but the
   principle left whole in a man, it is a vain thing to expect that it
   should not govern. But if the old nature be indeed mortified, and a new
   and heavenly nature infused, then may it well be expected, that men
   will walk in newness of life, and continue to do so to the end of their

   The reason of this practical exercise and effect of holy affections,
   may also be partly seen, from what has been said of that spirit of
   humility which attends them. Humility is that wherein a spirit of
   obedience does much consist. A proud spirit is a rebellious spirit, but
   a humble spirit is a yieldable, subject, obediential spirit. We see
   among men, that the servant who is of a haughty spirit is not apt in
   everything to be submissive and obedient to the will of his master; but
   it is otherwise with that servant who is of a lowly spirit.

   And that lamblike, dovelike spirit, that has been spoken of, which
   accompanies all gracious affections, fulfills (as the apostle observes,
   Rom. 13:8, 9, 10 and Gal. 5:14) all the duties of the second table of
   the law; wherein Christian practice does very much consist, and wherein
   the external practice of Christianity chiefly consists.

   And the reason why gracious affections are attended with that strict,
   universal and constant obedience which has been spoken of, further
   appears, from what has been observed of that tenderness of spirit,
   which accompanies the affections of true saints, causing in them so
   quick and lively a sense of pain through the presence of moral evil,
   and such a dread of the appearance of evil.

   And one great reason why the Christian practice which flows from
   gracious affections, is universal, and constant, and persevering,
   appears from That has been observed of those affections themselves,
   from whence this practice flows, being universal and constant, in all
   kinds of holy exercises, and towards all objects, and in all
   circumstances and at all seasons in a beautiful symmetry and

   And much of the reason why holy affections are expressed and manifested
   in such an earnestness, activity, and engagedness and perseverance in
   holy practice, as has been spoken of, appears from what has been
   observed, of the spiritual appetite and longing after further
   attainments in religion, which evermore attends true affection, and
   does not decay, but increases as those affections increase.

   Thus we see how the tendency of holy affections to such a Christian
   practice as has been explained, appears from each of those
   characteristics of holy affection that have been before spoken of.

   And this point may be further illustrated and confirmed, if it be
   considered, that the holy Scriptures do abundantly place sincerity and
   soundness in religion, in making a full choice of God as our only Lord
   and portion, forsaking all for him, and in a full determination of the
   will for God and Christ, on counting the cost; in our heart's closing
   and complying with the religion of Jesus Christ, with all that belongs
   to it, embracing it with all its difficulties, as it were hating our
   dearest earthly enjoyments, and even our own lives, for Christ, giving
   up ourselves, with all that we have, wholly and forever, unto Christ,
   without keeping back any thing, or making any reserve; or, in one word,
   in the great duty of self-denial for Christ; or in denying, i.e., as it
   were, disowning and renouncing ourselves for him, making ourselves
   nothing that he may be all. See the texts to this purpose referred to
   in the margin. [74] Now surely having a heart to forsake all for
   Christ, tends to actually forsaking all for hire, so far as there is
   occasion, and we have the trial. A having a heart to deny ourselves for
   Christ, tends to a denying ourselves indeed, when Christ and
   self-interest stand in competition. A giving up of ourselves, with all
   that we have, in our hearts, without making any reserve there, tends to
   our behaving ourselves universally as his, as subject to his will, and
   devoted to his ends. Our heart's entirely closing with the religion of
   Jesus, with all that belongs to it, and as attended with all its
   difficulties, upon a deliberate counting the cost, tends to a universal
   closing with the same in act and deed, and actually going through all
   the difficulties that we meet with in the way of religion, and so
   holding out with patience and perseverance.

   The tendency of grace in the heart to holy practice, is very direct,
   and the connection most natural, close, and necessary. True grace is
   not an unactive thing; there is nothing in heaven or earth of a more
   active nature, for it is life itself, and the most active kind of life,
   even spiritual and divine life. It is no barren thing; there is nothing
   in the universe that in its nature has a greater tendency to fruit.
   Godliness in the heart has as direct a relation to practice, as a
   fountain has to a stream, or as the luminous nature of the sun has to
   beams sent forth, or as life has to breathing, or the beating of the
   pulse, or any other vital act; or as a habit or principle of action has
   to action; for it is the very nature and notion of grace, that it is a
   principle of holy action or practice. Regeneration which is that work
   of God in which grace is infused, has a direct relation to practice;
   for it is the very end of it, with a view to which the whole work is
   wrought; all is calculated and framed, in this mighty and manifold
   change wrought in the soul, so as directly to tend to this end. Eph;
   2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good
   works. Yea, it is the very end of the redemption of Christ: Tit. 2:14,
   "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
   and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Eph.
   1:4, "According as he hath chose us in him, before the foundation of
   the world, that we should be holy, and with out blame before him in
   love." Chap. 2:10, "Created unto good works, which God hath
   foreordained that we should walk in them." Holy practice is as much the
   end of all that God does about his saints, as fruit is the end of all
   the husbandman does about the growth of his field or vineyard; as the
   matter is often represented in Scripture, Matt. 3:10, chapter 13:8, 23,
   30, 38, chapter 21:19, 33, 34, Luke 13:6, John 15:1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 1
   Cor. 3:9, Heb. 6:7, 8, Isa. 5:1-8, Cant. 8:11, 12, Isa. 27:2, 3. [75]
   And therefore everything in a true Christian is calculated to reach
   this end. This fruit of holy practice is what every grace, and every
   discovery, and every individual thing which belongs to Christian
   experience, has a direct tendency to.

   The constant and indissoluble connection that there is between a
   Christian principle and profession in the true saints, and the fruit of
   holy practice in their lives, was typified of old in the frame of the
   golden candlestick in the temple. It is beyond doubt that that golden
   candlestick, with its seven branches and seven lamps, was a type of the
   church of Christ. The Holy Ghost himself has been pleased to put that
   matter out of doubt, by representing his church by such a golden
   candlestick, with seven lamps, in the fourth chapter of Zechariah, and
   representing the seven churches of Asia by seven golden candlesticks,
   in the first chapter of the Revelation. That golden candlestick in the
   temple was everywhere, throughout its whole frame, made with knops and
   flowers: Exod. 25:31, to the end, and chapter 37:17-24. The word
   translated knop, in the original, signifies apple or pomegranate. There
   was a knop and a flower, a knop and a flower: wherever there was a
   flower, there was an apple or pomegranate with it: the flower and the
   fruit were constantly connected, without fail. The flower contained the
   principle of the fruit, and a beautiful promising appearance of it; and
   it never was a deceitful appearance; the principle or show of fruit,
   had evermore real fruit attending it, or succeeding it. So it is in the
   church of Christ: there is the principle of fruit in grace in the
   heart; and there is an amiable profession, signified by the open
   flowers of the candlestick; and there is answerable fruit, in holy
   practice, constantly attending this principle and profession. Every
   branch of the golden candlestick, thus composed of golden apples and
   flowers, was crowned with a burning, shining lamp on the top of it. For
   it is by this means that the saints shine as lights in the world, by
   making a fair and good profession of religion, and having their
   profession evermore joined with answerable fruit in practice: agreeable
   to that of our Savior, Matt. 5:15, 16, "Neither do men light a candle,
   and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light
   unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men,
   that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in
   heaven." A fair and beautiful profession, and golden fruits
   accompanying one another, are the amiable ornaments of the true church
   of Christ. Therefore we find that apples and flowers were not only the
   ornaments of the candlesticks in the temple, but of the temple itself,
   which is a type of the church; which the apostle tells us "is the
   temple of the living God." See 1 Kings 6:18: "And the cedar of the
   house within was carved with knops, and open flowers." The ornaments
   and crown of the pillars, at the entrance of the temple, were of the
   same sort: they were lilies and pomegranates, or flowers and fruits
   mixed together, 1 Kings 7:18, 19. So it is with all those that are "as
   pillars in the temple of God, who shall go no more out," or never be
   ejected as intruders; as it is with all true saints: Rev. 3:12, "Him
   that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he
   shall go no more out."

   Much the same thing seems to be signified by the ornaments on the skirt
   of the ephod, the garment of Aaron, the high priest; which were golden
   bells and pomegranates.--That these skirts of Aaron's garment represent
   the church, or the saints (that are as it were the garment of Christ),
   is manifest; for they are evidently so spoken of, Psal. 133:1, 2:
   "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together
   in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down
   upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his
   garments." That ephod of Aaron signified the same with the seamless
   coat of Christ our great High Priest. As Christ's coat had no seam, but
   was woven from the top throughout, so it was with the ephod, Exod.
   29:22. As God took care in his providence, that Christ's coat should
   not be rent; so God took special care that the ephod should not be
   rent, Exod. 28:32, and chap. 39:23. The golden bells on this ephod, by
   their precious matter and pleasant sound, do well represent the good
   profession that the saints make; and the pomegranates, the fruit they
   bring forth. And as in the hem of the ephod, bells and pomegranates
   were constantly connected, as is once and again observed, there was a
   golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, Exod.
   28:34, and chap. 39:26, so it is in the true saints; their good
   profession and their good fruit, do constantly accompany one another:
   the fruit they bring forth in life, evermore answers the pleasant sound
   of their profession.

   Again, the very same thing is represented by Christ, in his description
   of his spouse, Cant. 7:2: "Thy belly is like a heap of wheat, set about
   with lilies." Here again are beautiful flowers, and good fruit,
   accompanying one another. The lilies were fair and beautiful flowers,
   and the wheat was good fruit.

   As this fruit of Christian practice is evermore found in true saints,
   according as they have opportunity and trial, so it is found in them
   only; none but true Christians do live such an obedient life, so
   universally devoted to their duty, and given up to the business of a
   Christian, as has been explained. All unsanctified men are workers of
   iniquity: they are of their father the devil, and the lusts of their
   father they will do. There is no hypocrite that will go through with
   the business of religion, and both begin and finish the tour: they will
   not endure the trials God is wont to bring on the professors of
   religion, but will turn aside to their crooked ways: they will not be
   thoroughly faithful to Christ in their practice, and follow him
   whithersoever he goes. Whatever lengths they may go in religion in some
   instances, and though they may appear exceeding strict, and mightily
   engaged in the service of God for a season; yet they are servants to
   sin; the chains of their old taskmasters are not broken: their lusts
   have yet a reigning power in their hearts; and therefore to these
   masters they will bow down again. [76] Daniel 12:10, "Many shall be
   purified and made white, and tried: but the wicked will do wickedly,
   and none of the wicked shall understand." Isa. 26:10, "Let favor be
   showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land
   of uprightness will he deal unjustly." Isa 35:8, "And a highway shall
   be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the
   unclean shall not pass over it. Hos. 14:9, "The ways of the Lord are
   right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall
   fall therein." Job. 27:8, 9, 10, "What is the hope of the hypocrite?
   Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God?"
   An unsanctified man may hide his sin, and may in many things, and for a
   season refrain from sin; but he will not be brought finally to renounce
   his sin, and give it a bill of divorce; sin is too dear to him, for him
   to be willing for that: "Wickedness is sweet in his mouth; and
   therefore he hides it under his tongue he spares it, and forsakes it
   not; but keeps it still within his mouth," Job 20:12, 13. Herein
   chiefly consists the straitness of the gate, and the narrowness of the
   way that leads to life; upon the account of which, carnal men will not
   go in thereat, viz., that it is a way of utterly denying and finally
   renouncing all ungodliness, and so a way of self-denial or

   Many natural men, under the means that are used with them, and God's
   strivings with them to bring them to forsake their sins, do by their
   sins as Pharaoh did by his pride and covetousness, which he gratified
   by keeping the children of Israel in bondage, when God strove with him,
   to bring him to let the people go. When God's hand pressed Pharaoh
   sore, and he was exercised with fears of God's future wrath, he
   entertains some thoughts of letting the people go, and promised he
   would do it; but from time to time he broke his promises, when he saw
   there was respite. When God filled Egypt with thunder and lightning,
   and the fire ran along the ground, then Pharaoh is brought to confess
   his sin with seeming humility, and to have a great resolution to let
   the people go. Exod. 9:27, 28, "And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses
   and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is
   righteous, and I and my people are wicked: entreat the Lord (for it is
   enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will
   let you go, and ye shall stay no longer." So sinners are sometimes, by
   thunders and lightnings and great terrors of the law, brought to a
   seeming work of humiliation, and to appearance to part with their sins;
   but are no more thoroughly brought to a disposition to dismiss them,
   than Pharaoh was to let the people go. Pharaoh, in the struggle that
   was between his conscience and his lusts, was for contriving that God
   might be served, and he enjoy his lusts that were gratified by the
   slavery of the people. Moses insisted that Israel's God should be
   served and sacrificed to: Pharaoh was willing to consent to that; but
   would have it done without his parting with the people: "Go sacrifice
   to your God in the land," says he, Exod. 8:25. So, many sinners are for
   contriving to serve God, and enjoy their lusts too. Moses objected
   against complying with Pharaoh's proposal, that serving God, and yet
   continuing in Egypt under their taskmasters, did not agree together,
   and were inconsistent one with another (there is no serving God, and
   continuing slaves to such enemies of God at the same time). After this
   Pharaoh consented to let the people go, provided they would not go far
   away: he was not willing to part with them finally, and therefore would
   have them within reach. So do many hypocrites with respect to their
   sins.--Afterwards Pharaoh consented to let the men go, if they would
   leave the women and children, Exod. 10:8, 9, 10. And then after that,
   when God's hand was yet harder upon him, he consented that they should
   go, even women and children, as well as men, provided they would leave
   their cattle behind! But he was not willing to let them go, and all
   that they had, Exod. 10:24. So it oftentimes is with sinners; they are
   willing to part with some of their sins, but not all; they are brought
   to part with the more gross acts of sin, but not to part with their
   lusts, in lesser indulgencies of them. Whereas we must part with all
   our sins, little and great; and all that belongs to them, men, women,
   children, and cattle; they must be let go, with "their young, and with
   their old, with their sons, and with their daughters, with their
   flocks, and with their herds, there must not be a hoof left behind;" as
   Moses told Pharaoh, with respect to the children of Israel. At last,
   when it came to extremity, Pharaoh consented to let the people all go,
   and all that they had; but he was not steadfastly of that mind, he soon
   repented and pursued after them again, and the reason was, that those
   lusts of pride and covetousness that were gratified by Pharaoh's
   dominion over the people, and the gains of their service, were never
   really mortified in him, but only violently restrained. And thus, being
   guilty of backsliding, after his seeming compliance with God's
   commands, he was destroyed without remedy. Thus there may be a forced
   parting with ways of disobedience to the commands of God, that may seem
   to be universal, as to what appears for a little season; but because it
   is a mere force, without the mortification of the inward principle of
   sin, they will not persevere in it; but will return as the dog to his
   vomit; and so bring on themselves dreadful and remediless destruction.
   There were many false disciples in Christ's time, that followed him for
   a while; but none of them followed him to the end; but some on one
   occasion, and some on another, went back and walked no more with him.

   From what has been said, it is manifest, that Christian practice, or a
   holy life, is a great and distinguishing sign of true and saving grace.
   But I may go farther, and assert, that it is the chief of all the signs
   of grace, both as an evidence of the sincerity of professors unto
   others, and also to their own consciences.

   But then it is necessary that this be rightly taken, and that it be
   well understood and observed, in what sense and manner Christian
   practice is the greatest sign of grace. Therefore to set this matter in
   a clear light, I will endeavor particularly and distinctly to prove,
   that Christian practice is the principal sign by which Christians are
   to judge, both of their own and others' sincerity of godliness; withal
   observing some things that are needful to be particularly noted, in
   order to a right understanding of this matter.

   1. I shall consider Christian practice and holy life, as a
   manifestation and sign of the sincerity of a professing Christian, to
   the eye of his neighbors and brethren.

   And that this is the chief sign of grace in this respect, is very
   evident from the word of God. Christ, who knew best how to give us
   rules to judge of others, has repeated it and inculcated it, that we
   should know them by their fruits: Matt. 7:16, "Ye shall know them by
   their fruits." And then, after arguing the point, and giving clear
   reasons why it must needs be, that men's fruits must be the chief
   evidence of what sort they are, in the following verses, he closes by
   repeating the assertion, verse 20, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall
   know them." Again, chap. 12:33, "Either make the tree good, and his
   fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt." As
   much as to say, it is a very absurd thing, for any to suppose that the
   tree is good and yet the fruit bad, that the tree is of one sort, and
   the fruit of another; for the proper evidence of the nature of the tree
   is its fruit. Nothing else can be intended by that last clause in the
   verse, "For the tree is known by its fruit," than that the tree is
   chiefly known by its fruit, that this is the main and most proper
   diagnostic by which one tree is distinguished from another. So Luke
   6:44, "Every tree is known by his own fruit." Christ nowhere says, Ye
   shall know the tree by its leaves or flowers, or ye shall know men by
   their talk, or ye shall know them by the good story they tell of their
   experiences, or ye shall know them by the manner and air of their
   speaking, and emphasis and pathos of expression, or by their speaking
   feelingly, or by making a very great show by abundance of talk, or by
   many tears and affectionate expressions, or by the affections ye feel
   in your hearts towards them; but by their fruits shall ye know them;
   the tree is known by its fruit; every tree is known by its own fruit.
   And as this is the evidence that Christ has directed us mainly to look
   at in others, in judging of them, so it is the evidence that Christ has
   mainly directed us to give to others, whereby they may judge of us:
   Matt. 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that others seeing
   your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven." Here
   Christ directs us to manifest our godliness to others. Godliness is as
   it were a light that shines in the soul. Christ directs that this light
   not only shine within, but that it should shine out before men, that
   they may see it. But which way shall this be? It is by our good works.
   Christ doth not say, that others hearing your good works, your good
   story, or your pathetical expressions; but "that others, seeing your
   good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven." Doubtless,
   when Christ gives us a rule how to make our light shine, that others
   may have evidence of it, his rule is the best that is to be found. And
   the apostles do mention Christian practice as the principal ground of
   their esteem of persons as true Christians. As the Apostle Paul, in the
   6th chapter of Hebrews. There the apostle, in the beginning of the
   chapter, speaks of them that have great common illuminations, that have
   "been enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made
   partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and
   the powers of the world to come, that afterwards fall away, and are
   like barren ground, that is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be
   burned;" and then immediately adds in the 9th verse (expressing his
   charity for the Christian Hebrews, as having that saving grace, which
   is better then all these common illuminations), "but beloved, we are
   persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation,
   though we thus speak." And then, in the next verse, he tells them what
   was the reason he had such good thoughts of them: he does not say, that
   it was because they had given him a good account of a work of God upon
   their souls, and talked very experimentally; but it was their work and
   labor of love; "for God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and
   labor of love, which ye have showed towards his name, in that ye have
   ministered to the saints, and do minister." And the same apostle speaks
   of a faithful serving of God in practice, as the proper proof to others
   of men's loving Christ above all, and preferring his honor to their
   private interest: Phil. 2:21: 22, "For all seek their own, not the
   things which are Jesus Christ's; but ye know the proof of him, that as
   a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel." So the
   Apostle John expresses the same, as the ground of his good opinion of
   Gaius, 3 John 3-6, "For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and
   testified of the truth that is in thee." But how did the brethren
   testify of the truth that was in Gaius? And how did the apostle judge
   of the truth that was in him? It was not because they testified that he
   had given them a good account of the steps of his experiences, and
   talked like one that felt what he said, and had the very language of a
   Christian, but they testified that he walked in the truth; as it
   follows, "even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than
   to hear that my children walk in the truth. Beloved, thou doest
   faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren and to strangers;
   which have borne witness of thy charity before the church." Thus the
   apostle explains what the brethren had borne witness of when they came
   and testified of his walking in the truth. And the apostle seems in
   this same place, to give it as a rule to Gaius how he should judge of
   others; in verse 10, he mentions one Diotrephes, that did not carry
   himself well, and led away others after him; and then in the 11th
   verse, he directs Gaius to beware of such, and not to follow them; and
   gives him a rule whereby he may know them, exactly agreeable to that
   rule Christ had given before, "by their fruits ye shall know them;"
   says the apostle, "beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that
   which is good. He that doeth good, is of God; but he that doeth evil
   hath not seen God." And I would further observe, that the Apostle
   James, expressly comparing that way of showing others our faith and
   Christianity by our practice or works, with other ways of showing our
   faith without works, or not by works, does plainly and abundantly
   prefer the former: James 2:18, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith,
   and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show
   thee my faith by my works." A manifestation of our faith without works,
   or in a way diverse from works, is a manifestation of it in words,
   whereby a man professes faith. As the apostle says, verse 14, "What
   doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith?" Therefore
   here are two ways of manifesting to our neighbor what is in our hearts;
   one by what we say, and the other by what we do. But the apostle
   abundantly prefers the latter as the best evidence. Now certainly all
   accounts we give of ourselves in words, our saying that we have faith,
   and that we are converted, and telling the manner how we came to have
   faith, and the steps by which it was wrought, and the discoveries and
   experiences that accompany it, are still but manifesting our faith by
   what we say; it is but showing our faith by our words; which the
   apostle speaks of as falling vastly short of manifesting of it by what
   we do, and showing our faith by our works.

   And as the Scripture plainly teaches, that practice is the best
   evidence of the sincerity of professing Christians; so reason teaches
   the same thing. Reason shows, that men's deeds are better and more
   faithful interpreters of their minds, than their words. The common
   sense of all mankind, through all ages and nations, teaches them to
   judge of men's hearts chiefly by their practice, in other matters; as,
   whether a man be a loyal subject, a true lover, a dutiful child, or a
   faithful servant. If a man profess a great deal of love and friendship
   to another, reason teaches all men, that such a profession is not so
   great an evidence of his being a real and hearty friend, as his
   appearing a friend in deeds; being faithful and constant to his friend
   in prosperity and adversity, ready to lay out himself, and deny
   himself, and suffer in his personal interest, to do him a kindness. A
   wise man will trust to such evidences of the sincerity of friendship,
   further than a thousand earnest professions and solemn declarations,
   and most affectionate expressions of friendship in words. And there is
   equal reason why practice should also be looked upon as the best
   evidence of friendship towards Christ. Reason says the same that Christ
   said, in John 14:21, "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he
   it is that loveth me." Thus if we see a man, who in the course of his
   life seems to follow and imitate Christ and greatly to exert and deny
   himself for the honor of Christ, and to promote his kingdom and
   interest in the world; reason teaches, that this is an evidence of love
   to Christ, more to be depended on, than if a man only says he has love
   to Christ, and tells of the inward experiences he has had of love to
   him, what strong love he felt, and how his heart was drawn out in love
   at such and such a time, when it may be there appears but little
   imitation of Christ in his behavior and he seems backward to do any
   great matter for him, or to put himself out of his way for the
   promoting of his kingdom, but seems to be apt to excuse himself
   whenever he is called to deny himself for Christ. So if a man, in
   declaring his experiences, tells how he found his heart weaned from the
   world, and saw the vanity of it, so that all looked as nothing to him,
   at such and such times, and professes that he gives up all to God, and
   calls heaven and earth to witness to it; but yet in has practice is
   violent in pursuing the world, and what he gets he keeps close, is
   exceeding loth to part with much of it to charitable and pious uses, it
   comes from him almost like his heart's blood. But there is another
   professing Christian, that says not a great deal, yet in his behavior
   appears ready at all times to forsake the world, whenever it stands in
   the way of his duty, and is free to part with it at any time to promote
   religion and the good of his fellow creatures. Reason teaches, that the
   latter gives far the most credible manifestation of a heart weaned from
   the world. And if a man appears to walk humbly before God and men, and
   to be of a conversation that savors of a broken heart, appearing
   patient and resigned to God under affliction, and meek in his behavior
   amongst men; this is a better evidence of humiliation, than if a person
   only tells how great a sense he had of his own unworthiness, how he was
   brought to lie in the dust, and was quite emptied of himself, and saw
   himself nothing and all overfilthy and abominable &c. &c., but yet acts
   as if he looked upon himself one of the first and best of saints, and
   by just right the head of all the Christians in the town, and is
   assuming, self-willed, and impatient of the least contradiction or
   opposition; we may be assured in such a case, that a man's practice
   comes from a lower place in his heart than his profession. So (to
   mention no more instances) if a professor of Christianity manifests in
   his behavior a pitiful tender spirit towards others in calamity, ready
   to bear their burdens with them, willing to spend his substance for
   them, and to suffer many inconveniences in his worldly interest to
   promote the good of others' souls and bodies; is not this a more
   credible manifestation of a spirit of love to men, than only a man's
   telling what love he felt to others at certain times, how he pitied
   their souls, how his soul was in travail for them, and how he felt
   hearty love and pity to his enemies; when in his behavior he seems to
   be of a very selfish spirit, close and niggardly, all for himself, and
   none for his neighbors and perhaps envious and contentious? Persons in
   a pang of affection may think they have a willingness of heart for
   great things, to do much and to suffer much, and so may profess it very
   earnestly and confidently, when really their hearts are far from it.
   Thus many in their affectionate pangs, have thought themselves willing
   to be damned eternally for the glory of God. Passing affections easily
   produce words; and words are cheap; and godliness is more easily
   feigned in words than in actions. Christian practice is a costly,
   laborious thing. The self-denial that is required of Christians, and
   the narrowness of the way that leads to life, does not consist in
   words, but in practice. Hypocrites may much more easily be brought to
   talk like saints, than to act like saints.

   Thus it is plain, that Christian practice is the best sign or
   manifestation of the true godliness of a professing Christian, to the
   eye of his neighbors.

   But then the following things should be well observed, that this matter
   may be rightly understood.

   First, it must be observed, that when the Scripture speaks of Christian
   practice, as the best evidence to others, of sincerity and truth of
   grace, a profession of Christianity is not excluded, but supposed. The
   rules mentioned, were rules given to the followers of Christ, to guide
   them in their thoughts of professing Christians, and those that offered
   themselves as some of their society, whereby they might judge of the
   truth of their pretenses, and the sincerity of the profession they
   made; and not for the trial of Heathens, or those that made no pretense
   to Christianity, and that Christians had nothing to do with. This is as
   plain as is possible in that great rule which Christ gives in the 7th
   of Matthew, "By their fruits ye shall know them." He there gives a rule
   how to judge of those that professed to be Christians, yea, that made a
   very high profession, false prophets, "who came in sheep's clothing,"
   as ver. 15. So it is also with that of the Apostle James, chap 2:18,
   "Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by
   my works." It is evident, that both these sorts of persons, offering to
   give these diverse evidences of their faith, are professors of faith:
   this is implied in their offering each of them to give evidences of the
   faith they professed. And it is evident by the preceding verses, that
   the apostle is speaking of professors of faith in Jesus Christ. So it
   is very plain, that the Apostle John, in those passages that have been
   observed in his third epistle, is speaking of professing Christians.
   Though in these rules, the Christian practice of professors be spoken
   of as the greatest and most distinguishing sign of their sincerity in
   their profession, much more evidential than their profession itself;
   yet a profession of Christianity is plainly presupposed: it is not the
   main thing in the evidence, nor anything distinguishing in it; yet it
   is a thing requisite and necessary in it. As the having an animal body,
   is not anything distinguishing of a man, from other creatures, and is
   not the main thing in the evidence of human nature, yet it is a thing
   requisite and necessary in the evidence. So that if any man should say
   plainly that he was not a Christian, and did not believe that Jesus was
   the Son of God, or a person sent of God; these rules of Christ and his
   apostles do not at all oblige us to look upon him as a sincere
   Christian, let his visible practice and virtues be what they will. And
   not only do these rules take no place with respect to a man that
   explicitly denies Christianity, and is a professed Deist, Jew, Heathen,
   or open Infidel; but also with respect to a man that only forbears to
   make a profession of Christianity; because these rules were given us to
   judge of professing Christians only: fruits must be joined with open
   flowers; bells and pomegranates go together.

   But here will naturally arise this inquiry, viz., when may a man be
   said to profess Christianity, or what profession may properly be called
   a profession of Christianity?

   I answer, in two things.

   1. In order to a man's being properly said to make a profession of
   Christianity, there must undoubtedly be a profession of all that is
   necessary to his being a Christian, or of so much as belongs to the
   essence of Christianity. Whatsoever is essential in Christianity
   itself, the profession of that is essential in the profession of
   Christianity. The profession must be of the thing professed. For a man
   to profess Christianity, is for him to declare that he has it. And
   therefore so much as belongs to a thing, so as to be necessary in order
   to its being truly denominated that thing; so much is essential to the
   declaration of that thing, in order to its being truly denominated a
   declaration of that thing if we take only a part of Christianity, and
   leave out a part that is essential to it, what we take is not
   Christianity; because something that is of the essence of it is
   wanting. So if we profess only a part, and leave out a part that is
   essential, that which we profess is not Christianity. Thus, in order to
   a profession of Christianity, we must profess that we believe that
   Jesus is the Messiah for this reason, because such a belief is
   essential to Christianity. And so we must profess, either expressly or
   implicitly, that Jesus satisfied for our sins, and other essential
   doctrines of the gospel, because a belief of these things also is
   essential to Christianity. But there are other things as essential to
   religion, as an orthodox belief; which it is therefore as necessary
   that we should profess, in order to our being truly said to profess
   Christianity. Thus it is essential to Christianity that we repent of
   our sins, that we be convinced of our own sinfulness, and that we are
   sensible we have justly exposed ourselves to God's wrath, and that our
   hearts do renounce all sin, and that we do with our whole hearts
   embrace Christ as our only Savior; and that we love him above all, and
   are willing for his sake to forsake all, and that we do give up
   ourselves to be entirely and forever his, &c. Such things as these do
   as much belong to the essence of Christianity, as the belief of any of
   the doctrines of the gospel: and therefore the profession of them does
   as much belong to a Christian profession. Not that in order to a being
   professing Christians, it is necessary that there should be an explicit
   profession of every individual thing that belongs to Christian grace or
   virtue: but certainly, there must be a profession, either express or
   implicit, of what is of the essence of religion. And as to those things
   that Christians should express in their profession, we ought to be
   guided by the precepts of God's word or by Scripture examples of public
   professions of religion, God's people have made from time to time. Thus
   they ought to profess their repentance of sin: as of old, when persons
   were initiated as professors, they came confessing their sins,
   manifesting their humiliation for sin, Matt. 3:6. And the baptism they
   were baptized with, was called the baptism of repentance, Mark 1:4. And
   John, when he had baptized them, exhorted them to bring forth fruits
   meet for repentance, Matt. 3:8, i.e., agreeable to that repentance
   which they had professed; encouraging them that if they did so, they
   should escape the wrath to come, and be gathered as wheat into God's
   garner, Matt. 3:7, 8, 9, 10, 12. So the Apostle Peter says to the Jews,
   Acts 2:38, "Repent, and be baptized;" which shows, that repentance is a
   qualification that must be visible in order to baptism; and therefore
   ought to be publicly professed. So when the Jews that returned from
   captivity, entered publicly into covenant, it was with confession or
   public confession of repentance of their sins, Neh. 9:2. This
   profession of repentance should include or imply a profession of
   conviction, that God would be just in our damnation: see Neh. 9:33,
   together with ver. 35, and the beginning of the next chapter. They
   should profess their faith in Jesus Christ, and that they embrace
   Christ, and rely upon him as their Savior, with their whole hearts, and
   that they do joyfully entertain the gospel of Christ. Thus Philip, in
   order to baptizing the eunuch, required that he should profess that he
   believed with all his heart: and they that were received as visible
   Christians, at that great outpouring of the Spirit, which began at the
   day of Pentecost, appeared gladly to receive the gospel: Acts 2:41,
   "Then they that gladly received the word, were baptized; and the same
   day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." They should
   profess that they rely on Christ's righteousness only, and strength;
   and that they are devoted to him, as their only Lord and Savior, and
   that they rejoice in him as their only righteousness and portion. It is
   foretold, that all nations shall be brought publicly to make this
   profession, Isa. 45:29, to the end: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all
   the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. I have
   sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and
   shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall
   swear. Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and
   strength; even to him shall men come, and all that are incensed against
   him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be
   justified, and shall glory." They should profess to give up themselves
   entirely to Christ, and to God through him; as the children of Israel,
   when they publicly recognized their covenant with God: Deut. 26:17,
   "Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his
   ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his
   judgments, and to hearken unto his voice." They ought to profess a
   willingness of heart to embrace religion with all its difficulties, and
   to walk in a way of obedience to God universally and perseveringly,
   Exod. 19:8, and 24:3, 7, Deut. 26:16, 17, 18, 2 Kings 23:3, Neh. 10:28,
   29, Psal. 119:57, 106. They ought to profess, that all their hearts and
   souls are in these engagements to be the Lord's and forever to serve
   him, 2 Chron. 15:12, 13, 14. God's people swearing to God, and swearing
   by his name, or to his name, as it might be rendered (by which seems to
   be signified their solemnly giving up themselves to him in covenant,
   and vowing to receive him as their God, and to be entirely his, to obey
   and serve him), is spoken of as a duty to be performed by all God's
   visible Israel, Deut. 6:13, and 10:20, Psal. 63:11, Isa. 19:18, chap.
   14:23, 24, compared with Rom. 14:11, and Phil. 2:10, 11, Isa. 48:1, 2,
   and 65:15, 16, Jer. 4:2, and 5:7, and 12:16, Hos. 4:16, and 10:4.
   Therefore, in order to persons being entitled to full esteem and
   charity, with their neighbors, as being sincere professors of
   Christianity; by those forementioned rules of Christ and his apostles,
   there must be a visibly holy life, with a profession, either
   expressing, or plainly implying such things as those which have been
   now mentioned. We are to know them by their fruits, that is, we are by
   their fruits to know whether they be what they profess to be; not that
   we are to know by their fruits, that they have something in them, they
   do not so much as pretend to.

   And moreover,

   2. That profession of these things, which is properly called a
   Christian profession, and which must be joined with Christian practice,
   in order to persons being entitled to the benefit of those rules, must
   be made (as to what appears) understandingly: that is, they must be
   persons that appear to have been so far instructed in the principles of
   religion, as to be in an ordinary capacity to understand the proper
   import of what is expressed in their profession. For sounds are no
   significations or declarations of any thing, any further than men
   understand the meaning of their own sounds.

   But in order to persons making a proper profession of Christianity,
   such as the Scripture directs to and such as the followers of Christ
   should require, in order to the acceptance of the professors with full
   charity, as of their society; it is not necessary they should give an
   account of the particular steps and method by which the Holy Spirit,
   sensibly to them, wrought and brought about those great essential
   things of Christianity in their hearts. There is no footstep in the
   Scripture of any such way of the apostles, or primitive ministers and
   Christians requiring any such relation, in order to their receiving and
   treating others as their Christian brethren, to all intents and
   purposes, or of their first examining them, concerning the particular
   method and order of their experiences. They required of them a
   profession of the things wrought; but no account of the manner of
   working was required of them. Nor is there the least shadow in the
   Scripture of any such custom in the church of God from Adam to the
   death of the Apostle John.

   I am far from saying, that it is not requisite that persons should give
   any sort of account of their experiences to their brethren. For persons
   to profess those things wherein the essence of Christianity lies, is
   the same thing as to profess that they experience those things. Thus
   for persons solemnly to profess, that, in a full conviction of their
   own utter sinfulness, misery, and impotence, and totally undone state
   as in themselves, and their just desert of God's utter rejection and
   eternal wrath, and the utter insufficiency of their own righteousness,
   or anything in them, to satisfy divine justice, or recommend them to
   God's favor; they do entirely depend on the Lord Jesus Christ, and his
   satisfaction and righteousness; that they do with all their hearts
   believe the truth of the gospel of Christ: and that in a full
   conviction of his sufficiency and perfect excellency as a Savior, as
   exhibited in the gospel, they do with their whole souls cleave to him,
   and acquiesce in him, as the refuge and rest of their souls, and
   fountain of their comfort; that they repent of their sins, and utterly
   renounce all sin, and give up themselves wholly to Christ, willingly
   subjecting themselves to him as their King; that they give him their
   hearts and their whole man; and are willing and resolved to have God
   for their whole and everlasting portion; and in a dependence on his
   promises of a future eternal enjoyment of him in heaven, to renounce
   all the enjoyments of this vain world, selling all for this great
   treasure and future inheritance, and to comply with every command of
   God, even the most difficult and self-denying, and devote their whole
   lives to God's service; and that in forgiveness of those that have
   injured them, and a general benevolence to mankind, their hearts are
   united to the people of Jesus Christ as their people, to cleave to them
   and love them as their brethren, and worship and serve God, and follow
   Christ in union and fellowship with them, being willing and resolved to
   perform all those duties that belong to them, as members of the same
   family of God and mystical body of Christ: I say, for persons solemnly
   to profess such things as these, as in the presence of God, is the same
   thing as to profess that they are conscious to, or do experience such
   things in their hearts.

   Nor is it what I suppose, that persons giving an account of their
   experience of particular exercises of grace, with the times and
   circumstances, gives no advantage to others in forming a judgment of
   their state; or that persons may not fitly be inquired of concerning
   these in some cases, especially cases of great importance, where all
   possible satisfaction concerning persons' piety is especially to be
   desired and sought after, as in the case of ordination or approbation
   of a minister. It may give advantage in forming a judgment, in several
   respects; and among others, in this, that hereby we may be better
   satisfied, that the professor speaks honestly and understandingly, in
   what he professes; and that he does not make the profession in mere

   In order to a profession of Christianity being accepted to any purpose,
   there ought to be good reason, from the circumstances of the
   profession, to think, that the professor does not make such a
   profession out of a mere customary compliance with a prescribed form,
   using words without any distinct meaning, or in a very lax and
   ambiguous manner, as confessions of faith are often subscribed; but
   that the professor understandingly and honestly signifies what he is
   conscious of in his own heart; otherwise his profession can be of no
   significance, and no more to be regarded than the sound of things
   without life. But indeed (whatever advantage an account of particular
   exercises may give in judging of this) it must be owned, that the
   professor having been previously thoroughly instructed by his teachers,
   and given good proof of his sufficient knowledge, together with a
   practice agreeable to his profession, is the best evidence of this.

   Nor do I suppose, but that, if a person that is inquired of about
   particular passages, times, and circumstances of his Christian
   experiences among other things, seems to be able to give a distinct
   account of the manner of his first conversion, in such a method as has
   been frequently observable in true conversion, so that things seem
   sensibly and distinctly to follow one another, in the order of time,
   according to the order of nature; it is an illustrating circumstance,
   that among other things adds luster to the evidence he gives his
   brethren of the truth of his experiences.

   But the thing that I speak of as unscriptural, is the insisting on a
   particular account of the distinct method and steps, wherein the Spirit
   of God did sensibly proceed, in first bringing the soul into a state of
   salvation, as a thing requisite in order to receiving a professor into
   full charity as a real Christian; or so, as for the want of such
   relation, to disregard other things in the evidence persons give to
   their neighbors of their Christianity, that are vastly more important
   and essential.

   Secondly, That we may rightly understand how Christian practice is the
   greatest evidence that others can have of the sincerity of a professing
   Christian, it is needful that what was said before, showing what
   Christian practice is, should be borne in mind; and that it should be
   considered how far this may be visible to others. Merely that a
   professor of Christianity is what is commonly called an honest man, and
   a moral man (i.e., we have no special transgression or iniquity to
   charge him with, that might bring a blot on his character), is no great
   evidence of the sincerity of his profession. This is not making his
   light shine before men. This is not that work and labor of love showed
   towards Christ's name, which gave the apostle such persuasion of the
   sincerity of the professing Hebrews, Heb. 6:9, 10. It may be so, that
   we may see nothing in a man, but that he may be a good man; there may
   appear nothing in his life and conversation inconsistent with his being
   godly, and yet neither may there be any great positive evidence that he
   is so. But there may be great positive appearance of holiness in men's
   visible behavior. Their life may appear to be a life of the service of
   God: they may appear to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and come up
   in a great measure to those excellent rules in the 5th, 6th, and 7th
   chapters of Matthew, and 12th of Romans, and many other parts of the
   New Testament: there may be a great appearance of their being universal
   in their obedience to Christ's commands and the rules of the gospel.
   They may appear to be universal in the performance of the duties of the
   first table, manifesting the fear and love of God; and also universal
   in fulfilling rules of love to men, love to saints, and love to
   enemies: rules of meekness and forgiveness rules of mercy and charity,
   and looking not only at our own things but also at the things of
   others; rules of doing good to men's souls and bodies, to particular
   persons and to the public; rules of temperance and mortification, and
   of a humble conversation; rules of bridling the tongue, and improving
   it to glorify God and bless men, showing that in their tongues is the
   law of kindness. They may appear to walk as Christians, in all places,
   and at all seasons, in the house of God, and in their families, and
   among their neighbors, on Sabbath days and every day, in business and
   in conversation, towards friends and enemies, towards superiors,
   inferiors, and equals. Persons in their visible walk may appear to be
   very earnestly engaged in the service of God and mankind, much to labor
   and lay out themselves in this work of a Christian, and to be very
   constant and steadfast in it, under all circumstances and temptations.
   There may be great manifestations of a spirit to deny themselves, and
   suffer for God and Christ, and the interest of religion, and the
   benefit of their brethren. There may be great appearances in a man's
   walk, of a disposition to forsake any thing, rather than to forsake
   Christ, and to make everything give place to his honor. There may be
   great manifestations in a man's behavior of such religion as this,
   being his element, and of his placing the delight and happiness of his
   life in it; and his conversation may be such, that he may carry with
   him a sweet odor of Christian graces and heavenly dispositions,
   wherever he goes. And when it is thus in the professors of
   Christianity, here is an evidence to others of their sincerity in their
   profession, to which all other manifestations are not worthy to be

   There is doubtless a great variety in the degrees of evidence that
   professors do exhibit of their sincerity, in their life and practice;
   as there is a variety in the fairness and clearness of accounts persons
   give of the manner and method of their experiences: but undoubtedly
   such a manifestation as has been described of a Christian spirit in
   practice, is vastly beyond the fairest and brightest story of
   particular steps and passages of experience that ever was told. And in
   general, a manifestation of the sincerity of a Christian profession in
   practice, is far better than a relation of experiences. But yet,

   Thirdly, It must be noted, agreeable to what was formerly observed,
   that no external manifestations and outward appearances whatsoever,
   that are visible to the world, are infallible evidences of grace. These
   manifestations that have been mentioned, are the best that mankind can
   have; and they are such as do oblige Christians entirely to embrace
   professors as saints, and love them and rejoice in them as the children
   of God, and are sufficient to give them as great satisfaction
   concerning them, as ever is needful to guide them in their conduct, or
   for any purpose that needs to be answered in this world. But nothing
   that appears to them in their neighbor, can be sufficient to beget an
   absolute certainty concerning the state of his soul: for they see not
   his heart, nor can they see all his external behavior; for much of it
   is in secret, and hid from the eye of the world; and it is impossible
   certainly to determine how far a man may go in many external
   appearances and imitations of grace, from other principles. Though
   undoubtedly, if others could see so much of what belongs to men's
   practice, as their own consciences may see of it, it might be an
   infallible evidence of their state, as will appear from what follows.

   Having thus considered Christian practice as the best evidence of the
   sincerity of professors to others, I now proceed,

   2. To observe, that the Scripture also speaks of Christian practice as
   a distinguishing and sure evidence of grace to persons' own
   consciences. This is very plain in 1 John 2:3: "Hereby we do know that
   we know him, if we keep his commandments." And the testimony of our
   consciences, with respect to our good deeds, is spoken of as that which
   may give us assurance of our own godliness, 1 John 3:18, 19: "My little
   children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and
   in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure
   our hearts before him." And the Apostle Paul, in Heb. 6, speaks of the
   work and labor of love, of the Christian Hebrews, as that which both
   gave him a persuasion that they had something above the highest common
   illuminations, and also as that evidence which tended to give them the
   highest assurance of hope concerning themselves, verse 9, &c.: "But,
   beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that
   accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous,
   to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his
   name, in that ye have ministered to his saints, and do minister. And we
   desire that everyone of you do show the same diligence, to the full
   assurance of hope unto the end." So the apostle directs the Galatians
   to examine their behavior or practice, that they might have rejoicing
   in themselves in their own happy state, Gal. 6:4: "Let every man prove
   his own work, so shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in
   another." And the psalmist says, Psal. 119:6, "Then shall I not be
   ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments;" i.e., then I
   shall be bold, and assured, and steadfast in my hope. And in that of
   our Savior, Matt. 7:19, 20: "Every tree that bringeth not forth good
   fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits
   ye shall know them." Though Christ gives this, firstly, as a rule by
   which we should judge of others, yet in the words that next follow he
   plainly shows, that he intends it also as a rule by which we would
   judge ourselves: "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
   Enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my
   Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord,
   &c.--And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from
   me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings
   of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built
   his house upon a rock.--And everyone that heareth these sayings of
   mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which
   built his house upon the sand." I shall have occasion to mention other
   texts to show the same thing, hereafter.

   But for the greater clearness in this matter, I would, first, show how
   Christian practice, doing good works, or keeping Christ's commandments,
   is to be taken, when the Scripture represents it as a sure sign to our
   own consciences, that we are real Christians. And secondly, will prove,
   that this is the chief of all evidences that men can have of their own
   sincere godliness.

   First, I would show how Christian practice, or keeping Christ's
   commandments, is to be taken, when the Scripture represents it as a
   sure evidence to our own consciences, that we are sincere Christians.

   And here I would observe, that we cannot reasonably suppose, that when
   the Scripture in this case speaks of good works, good fruit, and
   keeping Christ's commandments, it has respect merely to what is
   external, or the motion and action of the body without including
   anything else, having no respect to any aim or intention of the agent,
   or any act of his understanding or will. For consider men's actions so,
   and they are no more good works or acts of obedience, than the regular
   motions of a clock; nor are they considered as the actions of the man,
   nor any human actions at all. The actions of the body, taken thus, are
   neither acts of obedience nor disobedience, any more than the motions
   of the body in a convulsion. But the obedience and fruit that is spoken
   of, is the obedience and fruit of the man; and therefore not only the
   acts of the body, but the obedience of the soul, consisting in the acts
   and practice of the soul. Not that I suppose, that when the Scripture
   speaks, in this case, of gracious works, and fruit and practice, that
   in these expressions are included all inward piety and holiness of
   heart, both principle and exercise, both spirit and practice: because
   then, in these things being given as signs of a gracious principle in
   the heart, the same thing would be given as a sign of itself, and there
   would be no distinction between root and fruit. But only the gracious
   exercise, and holy act of the soul is meant, and given as the sign of
   the holy principle and good estate. Neither is every kind of inward
   exercise of grace meant; but the practical exercise, that exercise of
   the soul, and exertion of inward holiness, which there is in an
   obediential act; or that exertion of the mind, and act of grace which
   issues and terminates in what they call the imperate acts of the will;
   in which something is directed and commanded by the soul to be done,
   and brought to pass in practice.

   Here, for a clearer understanding, I would observe, that there are two
   kinds of exercises of grace. 1. There are those that some call immanent
   acts, that is, those exercises of grace that remain within the soul,
   that begin and are terminated there, without any immediate relation to
   anything to be done outwardly, or to be brought to pass in practice.
   Such are the exercises of grace, which the saints often have in
   contemplation; when the exercise that is in the heart does not directly
   proceed to, or terminate in anything beyond the thoughts of the mind;
   however they may tend to practice (as all exercises of grace do) more
   remotely. 2. There is another kind of acts of grace, that are more
   strictly called practical, or effective exercises, because they
   immediately respect something to be done. They are the exertions of
   grace in the commanding acts of the will, directing the outward
   actions. As when a saint gives a cup of cold water to a disciple, in
   and from the exercise of the grace of charity; or voluntarily endures
   persecution in the way of his duty; immediately from the exercise of a
   supreme love to Christ. Here is the exertion of grace producing its
   effect in outward actions. These exercises of grace are practical and
   productive of good works, not only in this sense, that they are of a
   productive nature (for so are all exercises of true grace), but they
   are the producing acts. This is properly the exercise of grace in the
   act of the will; and this is properly the practice of the soul. And the
   soul is the immediate actor of no other practice but this; the motions
   of the body follow from the laws of union between the soul and body,
   which God, and not the soul, has fixed and does maintain. The act of
   the soul and the exercise of grace, that is exerted in the performance
   of a good work, is the good work itself, so far as the soul is
   concerned in it, or so far as it is the soul's good work. The
   determinations of the will are indeed our very actions, so far as they
   are properly ours, as Dr. Doddridge observes. [78] In this practice of
   the soul is included the aim and intention of the soul, which is the
   agent. For not only should we not look on the motions of a statue,
   doing justice or distributing alms by clockwork, as any acts of
   obedience to Christ in that statue; but neither would anybody call the
   voluntary actions of a man, externally and materially agreeable to a
   command of Christ, by the name of obedience to Christ, if he had never
   heard of Christ, or any of his commands, or had no thought of his
   commands in what he did. If the acts of obedience and good fruit spoken
   of, be looked upon, not as mere motions of the body, but as acts of the
   soul; the whole exercise of the spirit of the mind in the action must
   be taken in, with the end acted for, and the respect the soul then has
   to God, &c., otherwise they are no acts of denial of ourselves, or
   obedience to God, or service done to him, but something else. Such
   effective exercises of grace as these that I have now described, many
   of the Martyrs have experienced in a high degree. And all true saints
   live a life of such acts of grace as these; as they all live a life of
   gracious works, of which these operative exertions of grace are the
   life and soul. And this is the obedience and fruit that God mainly
   looks at, as he looks at the soul more than the body; as much as the
   soul, in the constitution of the human nature, is the superior part. As
   God looks at the obedience and practice of the man, he looks at the
   practice of the soul; for the soul is the man in God's sight, "for the
   Lord seeth not as man seeth, for he looketh on the heart."

   And thus it is that obedience, good works, good fruits, are to be
   taken, when given in Scripture as a sure evidence to our own
   consciences of a true principle of grace: even as including the
   obedience and practice of the soul, as preceding and governing the
   actions of the body. When practice is given in Scripture as the main
   evidence to others of our true Christianity, then is meant that in our
   practice which is visible to them, even our outward actions: but when
   practice is given as a sure evidence of our real Christianity to our
   own consciences, then is meant that in our practice which is visible to
   our own consciences; which is not only the motion of our bodies, but
   the exertion of the soul, which directs and commands that motion; which
   is more directly and immediately under the view of our own consciences,
   than the act of the body. And that this is the intent of the Scripture,
   not only does the nature and reason of the thing show, but it is plain
   by the Scripture itself. Thus it is evident that when Christ, at the
   conclusion of his sermon on the mount, speaks of doing or practicing
   those sayings of his, as the grand sign of professors being true
   disciples, without which he likens them to a man that built his house
   upon the sand, and with which, to a man that built his house upon a
   rock; he has a respect, not only to the outward behavior, but to the
   inward exercise of the mind in that behavior: as is evident by
   observing what those preceding sayings of his are that he refers to,
   when he speaks of our doing or practicing them; and we shall find they
   are such as these: "Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are they
   that mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are they that do hunger and
   thirst after righteousness; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the
   pure in heart; whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause,
   &c.; whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, &c.; love your
   enemies; take no thought for your life," and others of the like nature,
   which imply inward exercises: and when Christ says, John 14:2, "He that
   hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me;" he
   has evidently a special respect to that command several times repeated
   in the same discourse (which he calls, by way of eminence, his
   commandment), that they should love one another as he had loved them
   (see chap. 13:34, and chap. 15:10, 12, 13, 14). But this command
   respects chiefly an exercise of the mind or heart, though exerted in
   practice. So when the Apostle John says, 1 John 2:3, "Hereby we do know
   that we know him, if we keep his commandments;" he has plainly a
   principal respect to the same command, as appears by what follows, ver.
   7-11, and 2d Epist. ver. 5, 6; and when we are told in Scripture that
   men shall at the last day be judged according to their works, and all
   shall receive according to the things done in the body, it is not to be
   understood only of outward acts; for if so, why is God so often spoken
   of as searching the hearts and trying the reins, "that he may render to
   everyone according to his works?" As Rev. 2:23, "And all the churches
   shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I
   will give unto everyone according to his works." Jer. 17:9, 10, "I the
   Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man
   according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." But
   if by his ways, and the fruit of his doings, is meant only the actions
   of his body, what need of searching the heart and reins in order to
   know them? Hezekiah in his sickness pleads his practice as an evidence
   of his title to God's favor, as including not only his outward actions,
   but what was in his heart: Isa. 38:3, "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech
   thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect

   Though in this great evidence of sincerity that the Scripture gives us,
   what is inward is of greatest importance; yet what is outward is
   included and intended, as connected with the practical exertion of
   grace in the will, directing and commanding the actions of the body.
   And hereby are effectually cut off all pretensions that any man can
   have to evidences of godliness, who externally lives wickedly; because
   the great evidence lies in that inward exercise and practice of the
   soul, which consists in the acts of the will, commanding outward acts.
   But it is known, that these commanding acts of the will are not one way
   and the actions of the bodily organs another: for the unalterable law
   of nature is, that they should be united as long as soul and body are
   united, and the organs are not so destroyed as to be incapable of those
   motions that the soul commands. Thus it would be ridiculous for a man
   to plead, that the commanding act of his will was to go to the public
   worship, while his feet carry him to a tavern or brothel-house; or that
   the commanding act of his will was to give such a piece of money he had
   in his hand to a poor beggar, while his hand at the same instant kept
   it back, and held it fast.

   Secondly, I proceed to show, that Christian practice, taken in the
   sense that has been explained, is the chief of all the evidences of a
   saving sincerity in religion, to the consciences of the professors of
   it; much to be preferred to the method of the first convictions,
   enlightenings, and comforts in conversion, or any immanent discoveries
   or exercises of grace whatsoever, that begin and end in contemplation.
   [79] The evidence of this appears by the following arguments.

   ARGUMENT I.--Reason plainly shows, that those things which put it to
   the proof what men will actually cleave to and prefer in their
   practice, when left to follow their own choice and inclinations, are
   the proper trial what they do really prefer in their hearts. Sincerity
   in religion, as has been observed already, consists in setting God
   highest in the heart, in choosing him before other things, in having a
   heart to sell all for Christ, &c. But a man's actions are the proper
   trial what a man's heart prefers. As for instance, when it is so that
   God and other things come to stand in competition, God is as it were
   set before a man on one hand, and his worldly interest or pleasure on
   the other (as it often is so in the course of a man's life); his
   behavior in such case, in actually cleaving to the one and forsaking
   the other, is the proper trial which he prefers. Sincerity consists in
   forsaking all for Christ in heart; but to forsake all for Christ in
   heart, is the very same thing as to have a heart to forsake all for
   Christ; but certainly the proper trial whether a man has a heart to
   forsake all for Christ is his being actually put to it, the having
   Christ and other things coming in competition, that he must actually or
   practically cleave to one and forsake the other. To forsake all for
   Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a heart to forsake all
   for Christ when called to it: but the highest proof to ourselves and
   others, that we have a heart to forsake all for Christ when called to
   it, is actually doing it when called to it, or so far as called to it.
   To follow Christ in heart is to have a heart to follow him. To deny
   ourselves in heart for Christ, is the same thing as to have a heart to
   deny ourselves for him in fact. The main and most proper proof of a
   man's having a heart to any thing, concerning which he is at liberty to
   follow his own inclinations, and either to do or not to do as he
   pleases, is his doing of it. When a man is at liberty whether to speak
   or keep silence, the most proper evidence of his having a heart to
   speak, is his speaking. When a man is at liberty whether to walk or sit
   still, the proper proof of his having a heart to walk, is his walking.
   Godliness consists not in a heart to intend to do the will of God, but
   in a heart to do it. The children of Israel in the wilderness had the
   former, of whom we read, Deut. 5:27, 28, 29, "Go thou near, and hear
   all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that
   the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it, and do it.
   And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and
   the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this
   people, which they have spoken unto thee; they have well said all that
   they have spoken. O that there were such a heart in them, that they
   would fear me and keep all my commandments always, that it might be
   well with them, and with their children forever!" The people manifested
   that they had a heart to intend to keep God's commandments, and to be
   very forward in those intentions; but God manifests, that this was far
   from being the thing that he desired, wherein true godliness consists,
   even a heart actually to keep them.

   It is therefore exceedingly absurd, and even ridiculous, for any to
   pretend that they have a good heart, while they live a wicked life, or
   do not bring forth the fruit of universal holiness in their practice.
   For it is proved in fact, that such men do not love God above all. It
   is foolish to dispute against plain fact and experience. Men that live
   in ways of sin, and yet flatter themselves that they shall go to
   heaven, or expect to be received hereafter as holy persons, without a
   holy practice, act as though they expected to make a fool of their
   Judge. Which is implied in what the apostle says (speaking of men's
   doing good works and living a holy life, thereby exhibiting evidence of
   their title to everlasting life), Gal. 6:7: "Be not deceived; God is
   not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." As
   much as to say, "Do not deceive yourselves with an expectation of
   reaping life everlasting hereafter, if you do not sow to the Spirit
   here; it is in vain to think that God will be made a fool of by you,
   that he will be shammed and baffled with shadows instead of substances,
   and with vain pretense, instead of that good fruit which he expects,
   when the contrary to what you pretend appears plainly in your life,
   before his face." In this manner the word mock is sometimes used in
   Scripture. Thus Delilah says to Sampson, "behold thou hast mocked me,
   and told me lies." Judges 16:10, 13; i.e., "Thou hast baffled me, as
   though you would have made a fool of me, as if I might be easily turned
   off with any vain pretense, instead of the truth." So it is said that
   Lot, when he told his sons in law that God would destroy that place,
   "he seemed as one that mocked, to his sons in law," Gen. 19:14; i.e.,
   he seemed as one that would make a game of them, as though they were
   such credulous fools as to regard such bugbears. But the great Judge,
   whose eyes are as a flame of fire, will not be mocked or baffled with
   any pretenses, without a holy life. If in his name men have prophesied
   and wrought miracles, and have had faith, so that they could remove
   mountains, and cast out devils, and however high their religious
   affections have been, however great resemblances they have had of
   grace, and though their hiding-place has been so dark and deep, that no
   human skill nor search could find them out, yet if they are workers or
   practicers of iniquity, they cannot hide their hypocrisy from their
   Judge: Job 34:22, there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the
   workers of iniquity may hide themselves." Would a wise prince suffer
   himself to be fooled and baffled by a subject, who should pretend that
   he was a loyal subject, and should tell his prince that he had an
   entire affection to him, and that at such and such a time he had
   experience of it, and felt his affections strongly working towards him,
   and should come expecting to be accepted and rewarded by his prince, as
   one of his best friends on that account, though he lived in rebellion
   against him, following some pretender to his crown, and from time to
   time stirring up sedition against him? Or would a master suffer himself
   to be shammed and gulled by a servant, that should pretend to great
   experiences of love and honor towards him in his heart, and a great
   sense of his worthiness and kindness to him, when at the same time he
   refused to obey him, and he could get no service done by him?

   ARGUMENT II.--As reason shows, that those things which occur in the
   course of life, that put it to the proof whether men will prefer God to
   other things in practice, are the proper trial of the uprightness and
   sincerity of their hearts; so the same are represented as the proper
   trial of the sincerity of professors in the Scripture. There we find
   that such things are called by that very name, trials or temptations
   (which I before observed are both words of the same signification). The
   things that put it to the proof, whether men will prefer God to other
   things in practice, are the difficulties of religion, or those things
   which occur, that make the practice of duty difficult and cross to
   other principles beside the love of God; because in them, God and other
   things are both set before men together, for their actual and practical
   choice; and it comes to this, that we cannot hold to both, but one or
   the other must be forsaken. And these things are all over the Scripture
   called by the name of trials or proofs. [80] And they are called by
   this name, because hereby professors are tried and proved of what sort
   they be, whether they be really what they profess and appear to be; and
   because in them, the reality of a supreme love to God is brought to the
   test of experiment and fact; they are the proper proofs in which it is
   truly determined by experience, whether men have a thorough disposition
   of heart to cleave to God or no: Deut. 8:2, "And thou shalt remember
   all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the
   wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, whether thou wouldest
   keep his commandments or no:" Judges 2:21, 22, "I also will not
   henceforth drive out any from before them, of the nations which Joshua
   left when he died; that through them I may prove Israel, whether they
   will keep the way of the Lord." So chap. 3:1, 4, and Exod. 16:4.

   The Scripture, when it calls these difficulties of religion by the name
   of temptations or trials, explains itself to mean thereby the trial or
   experiment of their faith: James 1:2, 3, "My brethren, count it all joy
   when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of
   your faith worketh patience:" 1 Pet. 1:6, 7, "Now, for a season ye are
   in heaviness, through manifold temptations; that the trial of your
   faith being much more precious than of gold," &c. So the Apostle Paul
   speaks of that expensive duty of parting with our substance to the
   poor, as the proof of the sincerity of the love of Christians: 2 Cor.
   8:8. And the difficulties of religion are often represented in
   Scripture, as being the trial of professors, in the same manner that
   the furnace is the proper trial of gold and silver: Psal. 66:10, 11,
   "Thou, O God, hast proved us: thou has tried us as silver is tried:
   thou broughtest us into the net, thou laidest affliction upon our
   loins." Zech. 13:9, "And I will bring the third part of them through
   the fire; and I will refine them as silver is refined; and I will try
   them as gold is tried." That which has the color and appearance of
   gold, is put into the furnace to try whether it be what it seems to be,
   real gold or no. So the difficulties of religion are called trials,
   because they try those that have the profession and appearance of
   saints, whether they are what they appear to be, real saints.

   If we put true gold into the furnace, we shall find its great value and
   preciousness: so the truth and inestimable value of the virtues of a
   true Christian appear when under these trials: 1 Pet. 1:7, "That the
   trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that
   perisheth, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory." True and
   pure gold will come out of the furnace in full weight, so true saints,
   when tried, come forth as gold, Job 23:10. Christ distinguishes true
   grace from counterfeit by this, that it is gold tried in the fire, Rev.
   3:17, 18. So that it is evident, that these things are called trials in
   Scripture, principally as they try or prove the sincerity of
   professors. And, from what has now been observed, it is evident that
   they are the most proper trial or proof of their sincerity; inasmuch as
   the very meaning of the word trial, as it is ordinarily used in
   Scripture, is the difficulty occurring in the way of a professor's
   duty, as the trial or experiment of his sincerity. If trial of
   sincerity be the proper name of these difficulties of religion, then,
   doubtless, these difficulties of religion are properly and eminently
   the trial of sincerity; for they are doubtless eminently what they are
   called by the Holy Ghost: God gives things their name from that which
   is eminently their nature. And, if it be so, that these things are the
   proper and eminent trial, proof, or experiment of the sincerity of
   professors, then certainly the result of the trial or experiment (that
   is, persons' behavior or practice under such trials) is the proper and
   eminent evidence of their sincerity; for they are called trials or
   proofs, only with regard to the result, and because the effect is
   eminently the proof or evidence. And this is the most proper proof and
   evidence to the conscience of those that are the subjects of these
   trials. For when God is said by these things to try men, and prove
   them, to see what is in their hearts, and whether they will keep his
   commandments or no; we are not to understand, that it is for his own
   information, or that he may obtain evidence himself of their sincerity
   (for he needs no trials for his information); but chiefly for their
   conviction, and to exhibit evidence to their consciences. [81]

   Thus, when God is said to prove Israel by the difficulties they met
   with in the wilderness, and by the difficulties they met with from
   their enemies in Canaan, to know what was in their hearts, whether they
   would keep his commandments or no; it must be understood, that it was
   to discover them to themselves, that they might know what was in their
   own hearts. So when God tempted or tried Abraham with that difficult
   command of offering up his son, it was not for his satisfaction,
   whether he feared God or no, but for Abraham's own greater satisfaction
   and comfort, and the more clear manifestation of the favor of God to
   him. When Abraham had proved faithful under this trial, God says to
   him, "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld
   thy son, thine only son, from me." Which plainly implies, that in this
   practical exercise of Abraham's grace under this trial, was a clearer
   evidence of the truth of his grace, than ever was before; and the
   greatest evidence to Abraham's conscience; because God himself gives it
   to Abraham as such, for his comfort and rejoicing; and speaks of it to
   him as what might be the greatest evidence to his conscience of his
   being upright in the sight of his Judge. Which proves what I say, that
   holy practice, under trials, is the highest evidence of the sincerity
   of professors to their own consciences. And we find that Christ, from
   time to time, took the same method to convince the consciences of those
   that pretended friendship to him, and to show them what they were. This
   was the method he took with the rich young man, Matt. 19:16, &c. He
   seemed to show a great respect to Christ; he came kneeling to high and
   called him good Master, and made a great profession of obedience to the
   commandments; but Christ tried him, by bidding him go and sell all that
   he had, and give to the poor, and come and take up his cross and follow
   him, telling him that then he should have treasure in heaven. So he
   tried another that we read of, Matt. 8:20. He made a great profession
   of respect to Christ: says he, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever
   thou goest. Christ immediately puts his friendship to the proof, by
   telling him, that the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had
   nests, but that the Son of Man had not where to lay his head. And thus
   Christ is wont still to try professed disciples in general, in his
   providence. So the seed sown, in every kind of ground, stony ground,
   thorny ground, and good ground, which, in all appears alike, when it
   first springs up; yet is tried, and the difference made to appear, by
   the burning heat of the sun.

   Seeing therefore, that these are the things that God makes use of to
   try us, it is undoubtedly the surest way for us to pass a right
   judgment on ourselves, to try ourselves by the same things. These
   trials of his are not for his information but for ours; therefore we
   ought to receive our information from thence. The surest way to know
   our gold, is to look upon it and examine it in God's furnace, where he
   tries it for that end, that we may see what it is. If we have a mind to
   know whether a building stands strong or no, we must look upon it when
   the wind blows. If we would know whether that which appears in the form
   of wheat, has the real substance of wheat, or be only chaff, we must
   observe it when it is winnowed. If we would know whether a staff be
   strong, or a rotten broken reed, we must observe it when it is leaned
   on, and weight is borne upon it. If we would weigh ourselves justly, we
   must weigh ourselves in God's scales that he makes use of to weigh us.
   [82] These trials, in the course of our practice, are as it were the
   balances in which our hearts are weighed, or in which Christ and the
   world, or Christ and his competitors, as to the esteem and regard they
   have in our hearts are weighed, or are put into opposite scales, by
   which there is opportunity to see which preponderates. When a man is
   brought to the dividing of paths, the one of which leads to Christ, and
   the other to the object of his lusts, to see which way he will go, or
   is brought, and as it were set between Christ and the world, Christ on
   the right hand, and the world on the left, so that, if he goes to one,
   he must leave the other, to see which his heart inclines most to, or
   which preponderates in his heart; this is just the same thing as laying
   Christ and the world in two opposite scales; and his going to the one,
   and leaving the other, is just the same thing as the sinking of one
   scale, and rising of the other. A man's practice, therefore, under the
   trials of God's providence, is as much the proper evidence of the
   superior inclination of his heart as the motion of the balance, with
   different weights, in opposite scales, is the proper experiment of the
   superior weight.

   ARGUMENT III.--Another argument, that holy practice, in the sense which
   has been explained, is the highest kind of evidence of the truth of
   grace to the consciences of Christians, is, that in practice, grace, in
   Scripture style, is said to be made perfect, or to be finished. So the
   Apostle James says, James 2:22, "Seest thou how faith wrought with his
   works, and by works was faith made perfect" (or finished, as the word
   in the original properly signifies)?" So the love of God is said to be
   made perfect, or finished, in keeping his commandments. 1 John 2:4, 5,
   "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a
   liar, and the truth is not in him: but, whoso keepeth his word, in him
   verily is the love of God perfected." The commandment of Christ, which
   the apostle has especially respect to, when he here speaks of our
   keeping his commandments, is (as I observed before) that great
   commandment of his, which respects deeds of love to our brethren, as
   appears by the following verses. Again, the love of God is said to be
   perfected in the same sense, chapter 4:12: "If we love one another, God
   dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." Here, doubtless, the
   apostle has still respect to loving one another, in the same manner
   that he had explained in the preceding chapter, speaking of loving one
   another, as a sign of the love of God, verses 17, 18: "Whoso hath this
   world's goods, and shutteth up his bowels, &c., how dwelleth the love
   of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in
   tongue, but in deed (or in work) and in truth." By thus loving in work,
   the apostle says, "The love of God is perfected in us." Grace is said
   to be perfected or finished in holy practice, as therein it is brought
   to its proper effect, and to that exercise which is the end of the
   principle; the tendency and design of grace herein is reached, and its
   operation completed and crowned. As the tree is made perfect in the
   fruit; it is not perfected in the seed's being planted in the ground;
   it is not perfected in the first quickening of the seed, and in its
   putting forth root and sprout; nor is it perfected when it comes up out
   of the ground; nor is it perfected in bringing forth leaves; nor yet in
   putting forth blossoms: but, when it has brought forth good ripe fruit,
   when it is perfected, therein it reaches its end, the design of the
   tree is finished: all that belongs to the tree is completed and brought
   to its proper effect in the fruit. So is grace in its practical
   exercises. Grace is said to be made perfect or finished in its work or
   fruit, in the same manner as it is said of sin, James 1:15, "When lust
   hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished,
   bringeth forth death." Here are three steps; first, sin in its
   principle or habit, in the being of lust in the heart; and nextly, here
   is its conceiving, consisting in the immanent exercises of it in the
   mind; and lastly, here is the fruit that was conceived, actually
   brought forth in the wicked work and practice. And this the apostle
   calls the finishing or perfecting of sin: for the word, in the
   original, is the same that is translated perfected in those
   forementioned places.

   Now certainly, if it be so, if grace be in this manner made perfect in
   its fruit, if these practical exercises of grace are those exercises
   wherein grace is brought to its proper effect and end, and the
   exercises wherein whatsoever belongs to its design, tendency and
   operation, is completed and crowned; then these exercises must be the
   highest evidences of grace, above all other exercises. Certainly the
   proper nature and tendency of every principle must appear best and most
   fully in its most perfect exercises, or in those exercises wherein its
   nature is most completely exerted, and in its tendency most fully
   answered and crowned in its proper effect and end. If we would see the
   proper nature of anything whatsoever, and see it in its full
   distinction from other things; let us look upon it in the finishing of
   it. The Apostle James says, by works is faith made perfect; and
   introduces this as an argument to prove, that works are the chief
   evidence of faith, whereby the sincerity of the professors of faith is
   justified, James 2. And the Apostle John, after he had once and again
   told us that love was made perfect in keeping Christ's commandments,
   observes, 1 John 4:18. That perfect love casteth out fear; meaning (at
   least in part) love made perfect in this sense; agreeable to what he
   had said in the foregoing chapter that, by loving in deed, or work, we
   know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts, verses 18,

   ARGUMENT IV.--Another thing which makes it evident, that holy practice
   is the principal evidence that we ought to make use of in judging both
   of our own and others' sincerity, is, that this evidence is above all
   others insisted on in Scripture. A common acquaintance with the
   Scripture, together with a little attention and observation, will be
   sufficient to show to anyone that this is ten times more insisted on as
   a note of true piety, throughout the Scripture, from the beginning of
   Genesis to the end of Revelations, than anything else. And, in the New
   Testament, where Christ and his apostles do expressly, and of declared
   purpose, lay down signs of true godliness, this is almost wholly
   insisted on. It may be observed, that Christ, and his apostles, do not
   only often say those things, in their discoursing on the great
   doctrines of religion, which do show what the nature of true godliness
   must be, or from whence the nature and signs of it may be inferred by
   just consequence, and often occasionally mention many things which do
   appertain to godliness; but they do also often, of set purpose, give
   signs and marks for the trial of professors, putting them upon trying
   themselves by the signs they give, introducing what they say, with such
   like expressions as these: "By this you shall know, that you know God:
   by this are manifest the children of God, and the children of the
   devil: he that hath this, builds on a good foundation; he that hath it
   not, builds on the sand: hereby we shall assure our hearts: he is the
   man that loveth Christ," &c. But I can find no place, where either
   Christ or his apostles do, in this manner, give signs of godliness
   (though the places are many), but where Christian practice is almost
   the only thing insisted on. Indeed in many of these places, love to the
   brethren is spoken of as a sign of godliness; and, as I have observed
   before, there is no one virtuous affection, or disposition, so often
   expressly spoken of as a sign of true grace, as our having love one to
   another: but then the Scriptures explain themselves to intend chiefly
   this love as exercised and expressed in practice, or in deeds of love.
   So does the Apostle John, who, above all others, insists on love to the
   brethren as a sign of godliness, most expressly explain himself, in
   that 1 John 3:14, &c, "We know that we have passed from death unto
   life, because we love the brethren: he that loveth not his brother,
   abideth in death. Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother
   have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how
   dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us love, not
   in word, neither in tongue, but in deed (i.e., in deeds of love) and in
   truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure
   our hearts before him." So that when the Scripture so much insists on
   our loving one another, as a great sign of godliness, we are not
   thereby to understand the immanent workings of affection which men feel
   one to another, so much as the soul's practicing all the duties of the
   second table of the law; all which the New Testament tells us again and
   again, a true love one to another comprehends, Rom. 13:8 and 10, Gal.
   5:14, Matt. 22:39, 40. So that, really, there is no place in the New
   Testament where the declared design is to give signs of godliness, but
   that holy practice, and keeping Christ's commandments, is the mark
   chosen out from all others to be insisted on. Which is an invincible
   argument, that it is the chief of all the evidences of godliness:
   unless we suppose that when Christ and his apostles, on design, set
   themselves about this business of giving signs, by which professing
   Christians, in all ages, might determine their state; they did not know
   how to choose signs so well as we could have chosen for them. But, if
   we make the word of Christ our rule, then undoubtedly those marks which
   Christ and his apostles did chiefly lay down, and give to us, that we
   might try ourselves by them, those same marks we ought especially to
   receive, and chiefly to make use of, in the trial of ourselves. [83]
   And surely those things, which Christ and his apostles chiefly insisted
   on, in the rules they gave, ministers ought chiefly to insist on in the
   rules they give. To insist much on those things that the Scripture
   insists little on, and to insist very little on those things on which
   the Scripture insists much, is a dangerous thing; because it is going
   out of God's way, and is to judge ourselves, and guide others, in an
   unscriptural manner. God knew which way of leading and guiding souls
   was safest and best for them: he insisted so much on some things,
   because he knew it to be needful that they should be insisted on; and
   let other things more alone as a wise God, because he knew it was not
   best for us, so much to lay the weight of the trial there. As the
   Sabbath was made for man, so the Scriptures were made for man; and they
   are, by infinite wisdom, fitted for our use and benefit. We should,
   therefore, make them our guide in all things, in our thoughts of
   religion, and of ourselves. And for us to make that great which the
   Scripture makes little, and that little which the Scripture makes
   great, tends to give us a monstrous idea of religion; and (at least
   indirectly and gradually) to lead us wholly away from the right rule,
   and from a right opinion of ourselves, and to establish delusion and

   ARGUMENT V.--Christian practice is plainly spoken of in the word of
   God, as the main evidence of the truth of grace, not only to others,
   but to men's own consciences. It is not only more spoken of and
   insisted on than other signs, but in many places where it is spoken of,
   it is represented as the chief of all evidences. This is plain in the
   manner of expression from time to time. If God were now to speak from
   heaven to resolve our doubts concerning signs of godliness, and should
   give some particular sign, that by it all might know whether they were
   sincerely godly or not, with such emphatical expressions as these, the
   man that has such a qualification or mark, "that is the man that is a
   true saint, that is the very man, by this you may know, this is the
   thing by which it is manifest who are saints and who are sinners, such
   men as these are saints indeed;" should not we look upon it as a thing
   beyond doubt, that this was given, as a special, and eminently
   distinguishing note of true godliness? But this is the very case with
   respect to the sign of grace I am speaking of; God has again and again
   uttered himself in his word in this very manner, concerning Christian
   practice, as John 14, "he that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,
   he it is that loveth me." Thus Christ in this place gives to the
   disciples, not so much to guide them in judging of others, as to apply
   to themselves for their own comfort after his departure, as appears by
   every word of the context. And by the way I would observe, that not
   only the emphasis with which Christ utters himself is remarkable, but
   also his so much insisting on, and repeating the matter, as he does in
   the context: verse 15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Verse 23,
   "If a man love me, he will keep my words." And verse 24, "He that
   loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings." And in the next chapter over
   and over: verse 2, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he
   taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit; he purgeth it." Verse
   8. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye
   be my disciples." Verse 14, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I
   command you." We have this mark laid down with the same emphasis again,
   John 8:31 "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."
   And again 1 John 2:3, "Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep
   his commandments." And verse 5, "Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily
   is the love of God perfected; hereby know we, that we are in him" And
   chapter 3:18, 19, "Let us love in deed, and in truth; hereby we know
   that we are of the truth." What is translated hereby would have been a
   little more emphatical if it had been rendered more literally from the
   original, by this we do know.--And how evidently is holy practice
   spoken of as the grand note of distinction between the children of God
   and the children of the devil, in verse 10, of the same chapter? "In
   this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil."
   Speaking of a holy, and a wicked practice, as may be seen in all the
   context; as verse 3, "Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth
   himself even as he is pure." Verses 6-10, "Whosoever abideth in him,
   sinneth not whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him.
   Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness,
   is righteous, even as he is righteous: he that committeth sin is of the
   devil.--Whosoever is born of God sinneth not.--Whosoever doeth not
   righteousness, is not of God." So we have the like emphasis, 2 John 6:
   "This is love, that we walk after his commandments;" that is (as we
   must understand it), this is the proper evidence of love. So 1 John
   5:3, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." So the
   Apostle James, speaking of the proper evidences of true and pure
   religion, says, James 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and
   the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their
   affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." We have the
   like emphatical expressions used about the same thing in the Old
   Testament, Job 28:28: "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the
   Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." Jer.
   22:16, 16, "Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and
   justice? He judged the cause of the poor and needy: was not this to
   know me? saith the Lord." Psal. 34:11, &c. "Come, ye children, unto me,
   and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.--Keep thy tongue from evil,
   and thy lips from speaking guile; depart from evil, and do good; seek
   peace and pursue it." Psal. 15, at the beginning, "Who shall abide in
   thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh
   uprightly," &c. Psal. 24:3, 4, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the
   Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands,
   and a pure heart," &c. Psal. 119:1, "Blessed are the undefiled in the
   way, who walk in the law of the Lord." Verse 6, "Then shall I not be
   ashamed, when I have respect to all thy commandments.'' Prov. 8:13,
   "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil."

   So the Scripture never uses such emphatical expressions concerning any
   other signs of hypocrisy, and unsoundness of heart, as concerning an
   unholy practice. So Gal. 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for
   whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." 1 Cor. 6:9, 10, "Be
   not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, &c., shall inherit
   the kingdom of God." Eph. 5:5, 6, "For this ye know, that no
   whoremonger nor unclean person, &c, hath any inheritance in the kingdom
   of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words." 1 John
   3:7, 8, "Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth
   righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous; he that committeth
   sin is of the devil." Chap. 2:4, "He that saith, I know him, and
   keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
   And chap. 1:6. "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in
   darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." James 1:26, "If any man among
   you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth
   his own heart, this man's religion is vain." Chap. 3:14, 15, "If ye
   have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not
   against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is
   earthly, sensual, devilish." Psal. 125:5, "As for such as turn aside
   unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the
   workers of iniquity." Isa. 35:8, "A high way shall be there, and it
   shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over
   it." Rev. 21:27, "And there shall in no noise enter into it, whatsoever
   worketh abomination, or maketh a lie." And in many places, "Depart from
   me, I know you not, ye that work iniquity."

   ARGUMENT VI.--Another thing which makes it evident, that holy practice
   is the chief of all the signs of the sincerity of professors, not only
   to the world, but to their own consciences, is, that this is the grand
   evidence which will hereafter be made use of, before the judgment seat
   of God; according to which his judgment will be regulated, and the
   state of every professor of religion unalterably determined. In the
   future judgment, there will be an open trial of professors, and
   evidences will be made use of in the judgment. For God's future judging
   of men, in order to their eternal retribution, will not be his trying,
   and finding out, and passing a judgment upon the state of men's hearts,
   in his own mind; but it will be, a declarative judgment; and the end of
   it will be, not God's forming a judgment within himself, but the
   manifestation of his judgment, and the righteousness of it, to men's
   own consciences, and to the world. And therefore the day of judgment is
   called the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Rom.
   2:6. And the end of God's future trial and judgment of men, as to the
   part that each one in particular is to have in the judgment, will be
   especially the clear manifestation of God's righteous judgment, with
   respect to him, to his conscience; as is manifest by Matt. 18:31, to
   the end; chap. 20:8-15, chap. 22:11, 12, 13, chap. 25:19-30, and verse
   35, to the end, Luke 19:16-23. And therefore, though God needs no
   medium whereby to make the truth evident to himself, yet evidences will
   be made use of in his future judging of men. And doubtless the
   evidences that will be made use of in their trial, will be such as will
   be best fitted to serve the ends of the judgment; viz., the
   manifestation of the righteous judgment of God, not only to the world,
   but to men's own consciences. But the Scriptures do abundantly teach
   us, that the grand evidences which the Judge will make use of in the
   trial, for these ends, according to which the judgment of everyone
   shall be regulated, and the irreversible sentence passed, will be men's
   works, or practice, here in this world: Rev. 20:12, "And I saw the
   dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were
   opened;--and the dead were judged out of those things which were
   written in the books, according to their works." So verse 13, "And the
   sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell gave up the
   dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to
   their works." 2 Cor. 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment
   seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body,
   whether it be good or bad." So men's practice is the only evidence that
   Christ represents the future judgment as regulated by, in that most
   particular description of the day of judgment, which we have in the
   Holy Bible, Matt. 25 at the latter end. See also Rom. 2:6, 13, Jer.
   17:10, Job 34:11, Prov. 24:12, Jer. 32:19, Rev. 22:12, Matt. 16:27,
   Rev. 2:23, Ezek. 33:20, 1 Pet. 1:17. The Judge, at the day of judgment,
   will not (for the conviction of men's own consciences, and to manifest
   them to the world) go about to examine men, as to the method of their
   experiences, or set every man to tell his story of the manner of his
   conversion; but his works will be brought forth, as evidences of what
   he is; what he has done in darkness and in light: Eccl. 12:14, "For God
   will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether
   it be good, or whether it be evil." In the trial that professors shall
   be the subjects of, in the future judgment, God will make use of the
   same evidences, to manifest them to themselves and to the world, which
   he makes use of to manifest them, in the temptations or trials of his
   providence here, viz., their practice, in cases wherein Christ and
   other things come into actual and immediate competition. At the day of
   judgment, God, for the manifestation of his righteous judgment, will
   weigh professors in a balance that is visible. And the balance will be
   the same that he weighs men in now, which has been already described.

   Hence we may undoubtedly infer, that men's works (taken in the sense
   that has been explained) are the highest evidences by which they ought
   to try themselves. Certainly that which our supreme Judge will chiefly
   make use of to judge us by, when we come to stand before him, we should
   chiefly make use of, to judge ourselves by. [84] If it had not been
   revealed in what manner, and by what evidence the Judge would proceed
   with us hereafter, how natural would it be for one to say, "O that I
   knew what token God will chiefly look for and insist upon in the last
   and decisive judgment, and which he expects that all should be able to
   produce, who would then be accepted of him, and according to which
   sentence shall be passed; that I might know what token or evidence
   especially to look at and seek after now, as I would be sure not to
   fail then." And seeing God has so plainly and abundantly revealed what
   this token or evidence is, surely, if we act wisely, we shall regard it
   as of the greatest importance.

   Now from all that has been said, I think it to be abundantly manifest,
   that Christian practice is the most proper evidence of the gracious
   sincerity of professors, to themselves and others; and the chief of all
   the marks of grace, the sign of signs, and evidence of evidences, that
   which seals and crowns all other signs.--I had rather have the
   testimony of my conscience, that I have such a saying of my Supreme
   Judge on my side, as that, John 14:21, "He that hath my commandments,
   and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me;" than the judgment and
   fullest approbation of all the wise, sound, and experienced divines,
   that have lived this thousand years, on the most exact and critical
   examination of my experiences, as to the manner of my conversion. Not
   that there are no other good evidences of a state of grace but this.
   There may be other exercises of grace besides these efficient
   exercises, which the saints may have in contemplation, that may be very
   satisfying to them, but yet this is the chief and most proper evidence.
   There may be several good evidences that a tree is a fig tree; but the
   highest and most proper evidence of it is, that it actually bears figs.
   It is possible, that a man may have a good assurance of a state of
   grace, at his first conversion, before he has had opportunity to gain
   assurance, by this great evidence I am speaking of.--If a man hears
   that a great treasure is offered him, in a distant place, on condition
   that he will prize it so much, as to be willing to leave what he
   possesses at home, and go a journey for it, over the rocks and
   mountains that are in the way, to the place where it is; it is possible
   the man may be well assured, that he values the treasure to the degree
   spoken of, as soon as the offer is made him: he may feel within him, a
   willingness to go for the treasure, beyond all doubt; but yet, this
   does not hinder but that his actual doing for it, is the highest and
   most proper evidence of his being willing, not only to others, but to
   himself. But then as an evidence to himself, his outward actions, and
   the motions of his body in his journey, are not considered alone,
   exclusive of the action of his mind, and a consciousness within
   himself, of the thing that moves him, and the end he goes for;
   otherwise his bodily motion is no evidence to him of his prizing the
   treasure. In such a manner is Christian practice the most proper
   evidence of a saving value of the pearl of great price, and treasure
   hid in the field.

   Christian practice is the sign of signs, in this sense, that it is the
   great evidence, which confirms and crowns all other signs of godliness.
   There is no one grace of the Spirit of God, but that Christian practice
   is the most proper evidence of the truth of it. As it is with the
   members of our bodies, and all our utensils, the proper proof of the
   soundness and goodness of them, is in the use of them: so it is with
   our graces (which are given to be used in practice, as much as our
   hands and feet, or the tools with which we work, or the arms with which
   we fight), the proper trial and proof of them is in their exercise in
   practice. Most of the things we use are serviceable to us, and so have
   their serviceableness proved, in some pressure, straining, agitation,
   or collision. So it is with a bow, a sword, an axe, a saw, a cord, a
   chain, a staff, a foot, a tooth, &c. And they that are so weak, as not
   to bear the strain or pressure we need to put them to, are good for
   nothing. So it is with all the virtues of the mind. The proper trial
   and proof of them, is in being exercised under those temptations and
   trials that God brings us under, in the course of his providence, and
   in being put to such service as strains hard upon the principles of

   Practice is the proper proof of the true and saving knowledge of God;
   as appears by that of the apostle already mentioned, "hereby do we know
   that we know him, that we keep his commandments." It is in vain for us
   to profess that we know God, if in works we deny him, Tit. 1:16. And if
   we know God, but glorify him not as God; our knowledge will only
   condemn us, and not save us, Rom. 1:21. The great note of that
   knowledge which saves and makes happy, is, that it is practical: John
   13:17, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Job
   28:28, "To depart from evil is understanding."

   Holy practice is the proper evidence of repentance. When the Jews
   professed repentance, when they came confessing their sins, to John,
   preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; he
   directed them to the right way of getting and exhibiting proper
   evidences of the truth of their repentance, when he said to them,
   "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance," Matt. 3:8. Which was
   agreeable to the practice of the Apostle Paul; see Acts 26:20. Pardon
   and mercy are from time to time promised to him who has this evidence
   of true repentance, that he forsakes his sin, Prov. 28:13, and Isa.
   55:7, and many other places.

   Holy practice is the proper evidence of a saving faith. It is evident
   that the Apostle James speaks of works, as what do eminently justify
   faith, or (which is the same thing) justify the professors of faith,
   and vindicate and manifest the sincerity of their profession, not only
   to the world, but to their own consciences; as is evident by the
   instance he gives of Abraham, James 2:21-24. And in verses 20 and 26,
   he speaks of the practical and working nature of faith, as the very
   life and soul of it; in the same manner that the active nature and
   substance, which is in the body of a man, is the life and soul of that.
   And if so, doubtless practice is the proper evidence of the life and
   soul of true faith by which it is distinguished from a dead faith. For
   doubtless, practice is the most proper evidence of a practical nature,
   and operation the most proper evidence of an operative nature.

   Practice is the best evidence of a saving belief of the truth. That is
   spoken of as the proper evidence of the truth's being in a professing
   Christian, that he walks in the truth, 3 John 3: "I rejoiced greatly
   when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even
   as thou walkest in the truth."

   Practice is the most proper evidence of a true coming to Christ, and
   accepting of, and closing with him. A true and saving coming to Christ,
   is (as Christ often teaches) a coming so as to forsake all for him.
   And, as was observed before, to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the
   same thing as to have a heart actually to forsake all; but the proper
   evidence of having a heart actually to forsake all, is, indeed,
   actually to forsake all so far as called to it. If a prince make suit
   to a woman in a far country, that she would forsake her own people, and
   father's house, and come to him to be his bride; the proper evidence of
   the compliance of her heart with the king's suit, is her actually
   forsaking her own people and father's house, and coming to him.--By
   this her compliance with the king's suit is made perfect, in the same
   sense that the Apostle James says, By works is faith made perfect. [85]
   Christ promises us eternal life, on condition of our coming to him: but
   it is such a coming as he directed the young man to, who came to
   inquire what he should do that he might have eternal life; Christ bade
   him go and sell all that he had, and come to him, and follow him. If he
   had consented in his heart to the proposal, and had therein come to
   Christ in his heart, the proper evidence of it would have been his
   doing of it; and therein his coming to Christ would have been made
   perfect. When Christ called Levi the publican, when sitting at the
   receipt of custom, and in the midst of his worldly gains; the closing
   of Levi's heart with this invitation of his Savior to come to him, was
   manifested, and made perfect by his actually rising up, leaving all,
   and following him, Luke 5:27, 28. Christ, and other things, are set
   before us together, for us particularly to cleave to one, and forsake
   the other; in such a case, a practical cleaving to Christ is a
   practical acceptance of Christ; as much as a beggar's reaching out his
   hand and taking a gift that is offered, is his practical acceptance of
   the gift. Yea, that act of the soul that is in cleaving to Christ in
   practice is itself the most perfect coming of the soul to Christ.

   Practice is the most proper evidence of trusting in Christ for
   salvation. The proper signification of the word trust, according to the
   more ordinary use of it, both in common speech and in the Holy
   Scriptures, is the emboldening and encouragement of a person's mind, to
   run some venture in practice, or in something that he does on the
   credit of another's sufficiency and faithfulness. And, therefore, the
   proper evidence of his trusting, is the venture he runs in what he
   does. He is not properly said to run any venture, in a dependence on
   any thing, that does nothing on that dependence, or whose practice is
   no otherwise than if he had no dependence. For a man to run a venture
   on a dependence on another, is for him to do something from that
   dependence by which he seems to expose himself, and which he would not
   do, were it not for that dependence. And, therefore, it is in complying
   with the difficulties, and seeming dangers of Christian practice, in a
   dependence on Christ's sufficiency and faithfulness to bestow eternal
   life, that persons are said to venture themselves upon Christ, and
   trust in him for happiness and life. They depend on such promises as
   that, Matt. 10:39, "He that loseth his life for my sake, shall, find
   it." And so they part with all, and venture their all, in a dependence
   on Christ's sufficiency and truth. And this is the Scripture notion of
   trusting in Christ, in the exercise of a saving faith in him. Thus
   Abraham, the father of believers, trusted in Christ, and by faith
   forsook his own country, in a reliance on the covenant of grace God
   established with him, Heb. 11:8, 9. Thus also, "Moses, by faith refused
   to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer
   affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin
   for a season," Heb. 11:23, &c. So by faith, others exposed themselves
   to be stoned and sawn asunder, or slain with the sword; "endured the
   trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, bonds and imprisonments, and
   wandered about in sheep skins, and goat skins, being destitute,
   afflicted, tormented." And in this sense the Apostle Paul, by faith
   trusted in Christ, and committed himself to him, venturing himself, and
   his whole interest, in a dependence on the ability and faithfulness of
   his Redeemer, under great persecutions, and in suffering the loss of
   all things: 2 Tim. 1:12, "For the which cause I also suffer these
   things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed,
   and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed
   unto him against that day."

   If a man should have word brought him from the king of a distant
   island, that he intended to make him his heir, if, upon receiving the
   tidings, he immediately leaves his native land and friends, and all
   that he has in the world, to go to that country, in a dependence on
   what he hears, then he may be said to venture himself, and all that he
   has in the world upon it. But, if he only sits still, and hopes for the
   promised benefit, inwardly pleasing himself with the thoughts of it; he
   cannot properly be said to venture himself upon it; he runs no venture
   in the case; he does nothing, otherwise than he would do, if he had
   received no such tidings, by which he would be exposed to any suffering
   in case all should fail. So he that, on the credit of what he hears of
   a future world, and, in a dependence on the report of the gospel,
   concerning life and immortality, forsakes all, or does so at least, so
   far as there is occasion, making everything entirely give place to his
   eternal interest; he, and he only, may properly be said to venture
   himself on the report of the gospel. And this is the proper evidence of
   a true trust in Christ for salvation.

   Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious love, both to God and
   men. The texts that plainly teach this, have been so often mentioned
   already, that it is needless to repeat them.

   Practice is the proper evidence of humility. That expression, and
   manifestation of humility of heart, which God speaks of, as the great
   expression of it, that he insists on; that we should look upon as the
   proper expression and manifestation of it: but this is walking humbly.
   Micah 6:8, "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the
   Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk
   humbly with thy God?"

   This is also the proper evidence of the true fear of God: Prov. 8:13,
   "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Psal. 34:11, &c., "Come, ye
   children, hearken unto me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
   Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile: depart
   from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Prov. 3:7, "Fear the
   Lord, and depart from evil." Prov. 16:6, "By the fear of the Lord, men
   depart from evil." Job 1:8, "Hast thou considered my servant Job--a
   perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?"
   Chap. 2:3, "Hast thou considered my servant Job--a perfect and an
   upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he
   holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him."
   Psal. 36:1, "The transgression of the wicked saith within thy heart,
   There is no fear of God before his eyes."

   So practice, in rendering again according to benefits received, is the
   proper evidence of true thankfulness. Psal. 116:12, "What shall I
   render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me?" 2 Chron. 32:25,
   "But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto
   him." Paying our vows unto God, and ordering our conversation aright,
   seem to be spoken of as the proper expression and evidence of true
   thankfulness, in the 50th Psalm, ver. 14: "Offer unto God thanksgiving,
   and pay thy vows unto the Most High." Verse 92, &c; Whoso offereth
   praise, glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation
   aright, will I show the salvation of God."

   So the proper evidence of gracious desires and longings, and that which
   distinguishes them from those that are false and vain, is, that they
   are not idle wishes and wouldings like Balaam's; but effectual in
   practice, to stir up persons earnestly and thoroughly to seek the
   things they long for. Psalm 27:4 "One thing have I desired of the Lord,
   that will I seek after." Psal. 63:1, 2, "O God, thou art my God, early
   will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee
   in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, to see thy power and thy
   glory." Verse 8, "My soul followeth hard after thee." Cant. 1:4, "Draw
   me, we will run after thee."

   Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious hope: 1 John 3:3, "Every
   man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure."
   Patient continuance in well-doing, through the difficulties and trials
   of the Christian course, is often mentioned as the proper expression
   and fruit of a Christian hope. 1 Thess. 1:3, "Remembering without
   ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope." 1
   Pet. 1:13, 14, "Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober,
   and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at
   the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children," &c. Psal.
   119:166, "Lord, I have hoped in thy salvation, and done thy
   commandments." Psal. 78:7, "That they might set their hope in God, and
   not forget the works of the Lord, but keep his commandments."

   A cheerful practice of our duty, and doing the will of God, is the
   proper evidence of a truly holy joy. Isa. 64:5, "Thou meetest him that
   rejoiceth, and worketh righteousness." Psal. 119:111, 112, "Thy
   testimonies have I taken for my heritage forever; for they are the
   rejoicing of my heart. I have inclined mine heart to perform thy
   statutes alway, even to the end." Verse 14, "I have rejoiced in the way
   of thy testimonies as much as in all riches." 1 Cor. 13:6, "Charity
   rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." 2 Cor. 8:2,
   "The abundance of their joy abounded unto the riches of their

   Practice also is the proper evidence of Christian fortitude. The trial
   of a good soldier is not in his chimney corner, but in the field of
   battle, 1 Cor. 9:25, 26, 2 Tim. 2:3, 4, 6.

   And, as the fruit of holy practice is the chief evidence of the truth
   of grace, so the degree in which experiences have influence on a
   person's practice, is the surest evidence of the degree of that which
   is spiritual and divine in his experiences. Whatever pretenses persons
   may make to great discoveries, great love and joys, they are no further
   to be regarded than they have influence on their practice. Not but that
   allowances must be made for the natural temper. But that does not
   hinder, but that the degree of grace is justly measured, by the degree
   of the effect in practice. For the effect of grace is as great, and the
   alteration as remarkable, in a very ill natural temper, as another.
   Although a person of such a temper will not behave himself so well,
   with the same degree of grace as another, the diversity from what was
   before conversion, may be as great; because a person of a good natural
   temper did not behave himself so in before conversion.

   Thus I have endeavored to represent the evidence there is, that
   Christian practice is the chief of all the signs of saving grace. And,
   before I conclude this discourse, I would say something briefly in
   answer to two objections that may possibly be made by some against what
   has been said upon this head.

   Objection I.--Some may be ready to says this seems to be contrary to
   that opinion, so much received among good people; that professors
   should judge of their state, chiefly by their inward experience, and
   that spiritual experiences are the main evidences of true grace.

   I answer, it is doubtless a true opinion, and justly much received
   among good people, that professors should chiefly judge of their state
   by their experience. But it is a great mistake, that what has been said
   is at all contrary to that opinion. The chief sign of grace to the
   consciences of Christians being Christian practice, in the sense that
   has been explained, and according to what has been shown to be the true
   notion of Christian practice, is not at all inconsistent with Christian
   experience, being the chief evidence of grace. Christian or holy
   practice is spiritual practice; and that is not the motion of a body
   that knows not how, nor when, nor wherefore it moves: but spiritual
   practice in man is the practice of a spirit and body jointly, or the
   practice of a spirit animating, commanding, and actuating a body to
   which it is united, and over which it has power given it by the
   Creator. And, therefore, the main thing, in this holy practice, is the
   holy action of the mind, directing and governing the motions of the
   body. And the motions of the body are to be looked upon as belonging to
   Christian practices only secondarily, and as they are dependent and
   consequent on the acts of the soul. The exercises of grace that
   Christians find, or are conscious to within themselves, are what they
   experience within themselves; and herein therefore lies Christian
   experience: and this Christian experience consists as much in those
   operative exercises of grace in the will, that are immediately
   concerned in the management of the behavior of the body, as in other
   exercises. These inward exercises are not the less a part of Christian
   experience, because they have outward behavior immediately connected
   with them. A strong act of love to God, is not the less a part of
   spiritual experience, because it is the act that immediately produces
   and effects some self-denying and expensive outward action, which is
   much to the honor and glory of God.

   To speak of Christian experience and practice, as if they were two
   things, properly and entirely distinct, is to make a distinction
   without consideration or reason. Indeed, all Christian experience is
   not properly called practice, but all Christian practice is properly
   experience. And the distinction that is made between them, is not only
   an unreasonable, but an unscriptural distinction. Holy practice is one
   kind or part of Christian experience; and both reason and Scripture
   represent it as the chief, and most important and most distinguishing
   part of it. So it is represented in Jer. 22:15, 16: "Did not thy father
   eat and drink, and do justice and judgment? He judged the cause of the
   poor and needy--Was not this to know me, saith the Lord?" Our inward
   acquaintance with God surely belongs to the head of experimental
   religion: but this, God represents as consisting chiefly in that
   experience which there is in holy practice. So the exercises of those
   graces of the love of God, and the fear of God are a part of
   experimental religion: but these the Scripture represents as consisting
   chiefly in practice, in those forementioned texts: 1 John 5:3, "This is
   the love of God, that we keep his commandments." 2 John 6, "This is
   love, that we walk after his commandments." Psal 34:11, &c., "Come, ye
   children, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord: depart from evil,
   and do good." Such experiences as these Hezekiah took comfort in,
   chiefly on his sick bed, when he said, "Remember, O Lord, I beseech
   thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect
   heart." And such experiences as these, the Psalmist chiefly insists
   upon, in the 119th Psalm, and elsewhere.

   Such experiences as these the Apostle Paul mainly insists upon, when he
   speaks of his experiences in his epistles; as, Rom. 1:9, "God is my
   witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son." 2 Cor.
   1:12, "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,
   that--by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world."
   Chap. 4:13, "We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is
   written, I have believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe,
   and therefore speak." Chap. 5:7, "We walk by faith, not by sight." Ver.
   14, "The love of Christ constraineth us." Chap. 6:4-7, "In all things
   approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in
   afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in labors, in watchings, in
   fastings. By pureness, by knowledge, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by
   love unfeigned; by the power of God." Gal. 2:20, "I am crucified with
   Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and
   the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son
   of God." Phil. 3:7, 8, "But what things were gain to me, those I
   counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but
   loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, and
   do count them but dung that I may win Christ." Col. 1:29, "Whereunto I
   also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me
   mightily." 1 Thess. 2:2, "We were bold in our God, to speak unto you
   the gospel of God with much contention." Ver. 8, 9, 10, "Being
   affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto
   you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye
   were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travel,
   laboring night and day. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and
   justly, and unblamably, we behaved ourselves among you." And such
   experiences as these they were, that this blessed apostle chiefly
   comforted himself in the consideration of, when he was going to
   martyrdom: 2 Tim. 4:6, 7, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the
   time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have
   finished my course, I have kept the faith."

   And not only does the most important and distinguishing part of
   Christian experience lie in spiritual practice; but such is the nature
   of that sort of exercises of grace, wherein spiritual practice
   consists, that nothing is so properly called by the name of
   experimental religion. For, that experience, which is in these
   exercises of grace, that are found and prove effectual at the very
   point of trial, wherein God proves, which we will actually cleave to,
   whether Christ or our lusts, is, as has been shown already, the proper
   experiment of the truth and power of our godliness; wherein its
   victorious power and efficacy, in producing its proper effect, and
   reaching its end, is found by experience. This is properly Christian
   experience, wherein the saints have opportunity to see, by actual
   experience and trial, whether they have a heart to do the will of God,
   and to forsake other things for Christ, or no. As that is called
   experimental philosophy which brings opinions and notions to the test
   of fact, so is that properly called experimental religion, which brings
   religious affections and intentions to the like test.

   There is a sort of external religious practice, wherein is no inward
   experience, which no account is made of in the sight of God, but it is
   esteemed good for nothing. And there is what is called experience, that
   is without practice, being neither accompanied nor followed with a
   Christian behavior; and this is worse than nothing. Many persons seem
   to have very wrong notions of Christian experience and spiritual light
   and discoveries. Whenever a person finds within him a heart to treat
   God as God, at the time that he has the trial, and finds his
   disposition effectual in the experiment, that is the most proper, and
   most distinguishing experience. And to have, at such a time, that sense
   of divine things, that apprehension of the truth, importance and
   excellency of the things of religion, which then sways and prevails,
   and governs his heart and hands; this is the most excellent spiritual
   light, and these are the most distinguishing discoveries. Religion
   consists much in holy affection; but those exercises of affection which
   are most distinguishing of true religion, are these practical
   exercises. Friendship between earthly friends consists much in
   affection; but yet, those strong exercises of affection, that actually
   carry them through fire and water for each other, are the highest
   evidences of true friendship.

   There is nothing in what has been said, contrary to what is asserted by
   some sound divines; when they say, that there are no sure evidences of
   grace, but the acts of grace. For that doth not hinder, but that these
   operative, productive acts, those exercises of grace that are effectual
   in practice, may be the highest evidences above all other kinds of acts
   of grace. Nor does it hinder, but that, when there are many of these
   acts and exercises, following one another in a course, under various
   trials of every kind, the evidence is still heightened; as one act
   confirms another. A man, once by seeing his neighbor, may have good
   evidence of his presence; but by seeing him from day to day, and
   conversing with him in a course, in various circumstances, the evidence
   is established. The disciples when they first saw Christ, after his
   resurrection, had good evidence that he was alive; but, by conversing
   with him for forty days, and his showing himself to them alive by many
   infallible proofs, they had yet higher evidence. [86]

   The witness or seal of the Spirit that we read of, doubtless consists
   in the effect of the Spirit of God on the heart, in the implantation
   and exercises of grace there, and so consists in experience. And it is
   also beyond doubt, that this seal of the Spirit, is the highest kind of
   evidence of the saints' adoption, that ever they obtain. But in these
   exercises of grace in practice, that have been spoken of, God gives
   witness, and sets to his seal, in the most conspicuous, eminent, and
   evident manner. It has been abundantly found to be true in fact, by the
   experience of the Christian church, that Christ commonly gives, by his
   Spirit, the greatest and most joyful evidences to his saints of their
   sonship, in those effectual exercises of grace under trials, which have
   been spoken of; as is manifest in the full assurance, and unspeakable
   joys of many of the martyrs. Agreeable to that, 1 Pet. 4:14, "If ye are
   reproached for the name of Christ happy are ye; for the Spirit of
   glory, and of God resteth upon you." And that in Rom. 5:2, 3, "We
   rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and glory in tribulations." And
   agreeable to what the Apostle Paul often declares of what he
   experienced in his trials. And when the Apostle Peter, in my text,
   speaks of the joy unspeakable, and full of glory, which the Christians
   to whom he wrote, experienced; he has respect to what they found under
   persecution, as appears by the context. Christ's thus manifesting
   himself, as the friend and savior of his saints, cleaving to him under
   trials seems to have been represented of old, by his coming and
   manifesting himself, to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in the furnace.
   And when the apostle speaks of the witness of the Spirit, in Rom. 8:15,
   16, 17, he has a more immediate respect to what the Christians
   experienced, in their exercises of love to God, in suffering
   persecution; as is plain by the context. He is, in the foregoing
   verses, encouraging the Christian Romans under their sufferings, that
   though their bodies be dead because of sin, yet they should be raised
   to life again. But it is more especially plain by the verse immediately
   following, verse 18, "For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present
   time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be
   revealed in us." So the apostle has evidently respect to their
   persecutions, in all that he says to the end of the chapter. So when
   the apostle speaks of the earnest of the Spirit, which God had given to
   him, in 2 Cor. 5:5, the context shows plainly that he has respect to
   what was given him in his great trials and sufferings. And in that
   promise of the white stone and new name, to him that overcomes, Rev.
   2:17, it is evident Christ has a special respect to a benefit that
   Christians should obtain, by overcoming, in the trial they had, in that
   day of persecution. This appears by verse 13, and many other passages
   in this epistle, to the seven churches of Asia.

   Objection II.--Some also may be ready to object against what has been
   said of Christian practice being the chief evidence of the truth of
   grace, that this is a legal doctrine; and that this making practice a
   thing of such great importance in religion, magnifies works, and tends
   to lead men to make too much of their own doings, to the diminution of
   the glory of free grace, and does not seem well to consist with the
   great gospel doctrine of justification by faith alone.

   But this objection is altogether without reason. Which way is it
   inconsistent with the freeness of God's grace, that holy practice
   should be a sign of God's grace? It is our works being the price of
   God's favor, and not their being the sign of it, that is the thing
   which is inconsistent with the freeness of that favor. Surely the
   beggar's looking on the money he has in his hands, as a sign of the
   kindness of him who gave it to him, is in no respect inconsistent with
   the freeness of that kindness. It is his having money in his hands as
   the price of a benefit, that is the thing which is inconsistent with
   the free kindness of the giver. The notion of the freeness of the grace
   of God to sinners, as that is revealed and taught in the gospel, is not
   that no holy and amiable qualifications or actions in us shall be a
   fruit, and so a sign of that grace; but that it is not the worthiness
   or loveliness of any qualification or action of ours which recommends
   us to that grace; that kindness is shown to the unworthy and unlovely;
   that there is great excellency in the benefit bestowed and no
   excellency in the subject as the price of it; that goodness goes forth
   and flows out, from the fullness of God's nature, the fullness of the
   fountain of good, without any amiableness in the object to draw it. And
   this is the notion of justification without works (as this doctrine is
   taught in the Scripture), that it is not the worthiness or loveliness
   of our works, or anything in us, which is in any wise accepted with
   God, as a balance for the guilt of sin, or a recommendation of sinners
   to his acceptance as heirs of life. Thus we are justified only by the
   righteousness of Christ, and not by our righteousness. And when works
   are opposed to faith in this affair, and it is said that we are
   justified by faith and not by works; thereby is meant, that it is not
   the worthiness or amiableness of our works, or anything in us, which
   recommends us to an interest in Christ and his benefits; but that we
   have this interest only by faith, or by our souls receiving Christ, or
   adhering to and closing with him. But that the worthiness or
   amiableness of nothing in us recommends and brings us to an interest in
   Christ, is no argument that nothing in us is a sign of an interest in

   If the doctrines of free grace, and justification by faith alone, be
   inconsistent with the importance of holy practice as a sign of grace;
   then they are equally inconsistent with the importance of anything
   whatsoever in us as a sign of grace, any holiness, or any grace that is
   in us, or any of our experiences of religion; for it is as contrary to
   the doctrines of free grace and justification by faith alone, that any
   of these should be the righteousness which we are justified by, as that
   holy practice should be so. It is with holy works, as it is with holy
   qualifications; it is inconsistent with the freeness of gospel grace,
   that a title to salvation should be given to men for the loveliness of
   any of their holy qualifications, as much as that it should be given
   for the holiness of their works. It is inconsistent with the gospel
   doctrine of free grace, that an interest in Christ and his benefits
   should be given for the loveliness of a man's true holiness, for the
   amiableness of his renewed, sanctified, heavenly heart, his love to
   God, and being like God, or his experience of joy in the Holy Ghost,
   self-emptiness, a spirit to exalt Christ above all, and to give all
   glory to him, and a heart devoted unto him; I say it is inconsistent
   with the gospel doctrine of free grace, that a title to Christ's
   benefits should be given out of regard to the loveliness of any of
   these, or that any of these should be our righteousness in the affair
   of justification. And yet this does not hinder the importance of these
   things as evidences of an interest in Christ. Just so it is with
   respect to holy actions and works. To make light of works, because we
   be not justified by works, is the same thing in effect, as to make
   light of all religion, all grace and holiness, yea, true evangelical
   holiness, and all gracious experience; for all is included, when the
   Scripture says, we are not justified by works; for by works in this
   case, is meant all our own righteousness, religion, or holiness, and
   everything that is in us, all the good we do, and all the good which we
   are conscious of all external acts, and all internal acts and exercises
   of grace, and all experiences, and all those holy and heavenly things
   wherein the life and power, and the very essence of religion do
   consist, all those great things which Christ and his apostles mainly
   insisted on in their preaching, and endeavored to promote, as of the
   greatest consequence in the hearts and lives of men, and all good
   dispositions, exercises and qualifications of every kind whatsoever;
   and even faith itself, considered as a part of our holiness. For we are
   justified by none of these things; and if we were, we should, in a
   Scripture sense, be justified by works. And therefore if it be not
   legal, and contrary to the evangelical doctrine of justification
   without works, to insist on any of these, as of great importance, as
   evidences of an interest in Christ; then no more is it, thus to insist
   on the importance of holy practice. It would be legal to suppose, that
   holy practice justifies by bringing us to a title to Christ's benefits,
   as the price of it, or as recommending to it by its preciousness or
   excellence; but it is not legal to suppose, that holy practice
   justifies the sincerity of a believer, as the proper evidence of it.
   The Apostle James did not think it legal to say, that Abraham our
   father was justified by works in this sense. The Spirit that indited
   the Scripture, did not think the great importance and absolute
   necessity of holy practice, in this respect, to be inconsistent with
   the freeness of grace; for it commonly teaches them both together; as
   in Rev. 21:6, 7, God says, "I will give unto him that is athirst, of
   the fountain of the water of life freely;" and then adds, in the very
   next words, "he that overcometh shall inherit all things." As though
   behaving well in the Christian race and warfare, were the condition of
   the promise. So in the next chapter, in the 14th and 15th verses,
   Christ says, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may
   have a right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into
   the city;" and then declares in the 15th verse, "how they that are of a
   wicked practice" shall be excluded; and yet in the two verses next
   following, does with very great solemnity give forth an invitation to
   all to come and take of the water of life freely: "I am the root and
   the offspring of David, the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and
   the bride say, come. And let him that heareth, say, come. And let him
   that is athirst, come; and whosoever will, let him come and take of the
   water of life freely." So chapter 3:20, 21, "Behold I stand at the door
   and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in
   to him, and sup with him, and he with me." But then it is added in the
   next words, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my
   throne." And in that great invitation of Christ, Matt. 11 latter end,
   "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give
   you rest;" Christ adds in the next words, "Take my yoke upon you, and
   learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest
   unto your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light:" as
   though taking the burden of Christ's service, and imitating his
   example, were necessary in order to the promised rest. So in that great
   invitation to sinners to accept of free grace, Isa. 55, "Ho, everyone
   that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come
   ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without
   price;" even there, in the continuation of the same invitation, the
   sinner's forsaking his wicked practice is spoken of as necessary to the
   obtaining mercy: verse 7, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the
   unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he
   will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly
   pardon." So the riches of divine grace, in the justification of
   sinners, is set forth with the necessity of holy practice, Isa. 1:16,
   &c.: "Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from
   before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn too do well, seek judgment,
   relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come
   now, let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as
   scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like
   crimson, they shall be as wool."

   And in that most solemn invitation of wisdom, Prov. 9, after it is
   represented what great provision is made, and how that all things were
   ready, the house built, the beasts killed, the wine mingled, and the
   table furnished, and the messengers sent forth to invite the guests;
   then we have the free invitation, verses 4, 5, 6: "Whoso is simple, let
   him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding (i.e. has no
   righteousness) she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of
   the wine which I have mingled." But then in the next breath it follows,
   "Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding;" as
   though forsaking sin, and going in the way of holiness, were necessary
   in order to life. So that the freeness of grace, and the necessity of
   holy practice, which are thus from time to time joined together in
   Scripture, are not inconsistent one with another. Nor does it at all
   diminish the honor and importance of faith, that the exercises and
   effects of faith in practice, should be esteemed the chief signs of it;
   any more than it lessens the importance of life, that action and motion
   are esteemed the chief signs of that.

   So that in what has been said of the importance of holy practice as the
   main sign of sincerity; there is nothing legal, nothing derogatory to
   the freedom and sovereignty of gospel grace, nothing in the least
   clashing with the gospel doctrine of justification by faith alone,
   without the works of the law, nothing in the least tending to lessen
   the glory of the Mediator, and our dependence on his righteousness,
   nothing infringing on the special prerogatives of faith in the affair
   of our salvation, nothing in any wise detracting from the glory of God
   and his mercy, or exalting man, or diminishing his dependence and
   obligation. So that if any are against such an importance of holy
   practice as has been spoken of, it must be only from a senseless
   aversion to the letters and sound of the word works, when there is no
   reason in the world to be given for it, but what may be given with
   equal force, why they should have an aversion to the words holiness,
   godliness, grace, religion, experience, and even faith itself; for to
   make a righteousness of any of these, is as legal, and as inconsistent
   with the way of the new covenant, as to make a righteousness of holy

   It is greatly to the hurt of religion, for persons to make light of,
   and insist little on, those things which the Scripture insists most
   upon, as of most importance in the evidence of our interest in Christ,
   under a notion that to lay weight on these things is legal, and an old
   covenant way; and so, to neglect the exercises, and effectual
   operations of grace in practice, and insist almost wholly on
   discoveries, and the method and manner of the immanent exercises of
   conscience and grace in contemplation; depending on an ability to make
   nice distinctions in these matters, and a faculty of accurate
   discerning in them, from philosophy or experience. It is in vain to
   seek for any better, or any further signs than those that the
   Scriptures have most expressly mentioned, and most frequently insisted
   on, as signs of godliness. They who pretend to a greater accuracy in
   giving signs, or by their extraordinary experience or insight into the
   nature of things, to give more distinguishing marks, which shall more
   thoroughly search out and detect the hypocrite, are but subtle to
   darken their own minds, and the minds of others; their refinings and
   nice discerning, are in God's sight, but refined foolishness and a
   sagacious delusion. Here are applicable those words of Agur, Prov.
   30:5, 6, "Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to them that put
   their trust in him: add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee,
   and thou be found a liar." Our discerning, with regard to the hearts of
   men, is not much to be trusted. We can see but a little way into the
   nature of the soul, and the depths of;man's heart. The ways are so many
   whereby persons' affections may be moved without any supernatural
   influence, the natural springs of the affections are so various and so
   secret, so many things have oftentimes a joint influence on the
   affections, the imagination, and that in ways innumerable and
   unsearchable, natural temper, education, the common influences of the
   Spirit of God, a surprising concourse of affecting circumstances, an
   extraordinary coincidence of things in the course of men's thoughts,
   together with the subtle management of invisible malicious spirits,
   that no philosophy or experience will ever be sufficient to guide us
   safely through this labyrinth and maze, without our closely following
   the clew which God has given us in his word. God knows his own reasons
   why he insists on some things, and plainly sets them forth as the
   things that we should try ourselves by rather than others. It may be it
   is because he knows that these things are attended with less
   perplexity, and that we are less liable to be deceived by them than
   others. He best knows our nature; and he knows the nature and manner of
   his own operations; and he best knows the way of our safety; he knows
   what allowances to make for different states of his church, and
   different tempers of particular persons, and varieties in the manner of
   his own operations, how far nature may resemble grace, and how far
   nature may be mixed with grace, what affections may rise from
   imagination, and how far imagination may be mixed with spiritual
   illumination. And therefore it is our wisdom, not to take his work out
   of his hands, but to follow him, and lay the stress of the judgment of
   ourselves there, where he has directed us. If we do otherwise, no
   wonder if we are bewildered, confounded, and fatally deluded. But if we
   had got into the way of looking chiefly at those things, which Christ
   and his apostles and prophets chiefly insisted on, and so in judging of
   ourselves and others, chiefly regarding practical exercises and effects
   of grace, not neglecting other things; it would be of manifold happy
   consequence; it would above all things tend to the conviction of
   deluded hypocrites, and to prevent the delusion of those whose hearts
   were never brought to a thorough compliance with the straight and
   narrow way which leads to life; it would tend to deliver us from
   innumerable perplexities, arising from the various inconsistent schemes
   there are about methods and steps of experience; it would greatly tend
   to prevent professors neglecting strictness of life, and tend to
   promote their engagedness and earnestness in their Christian walk; and
   it would become fashionable for men to show their Christianity, more by
   an amiable distinguished behavior, than by an abundant and excessive
   declaring their experiences; and we should get into the way of
   appearing lively in religion, more by being lively in the service of
   God and our generation, than by the liveliness and forwardness of our
   tongues, and making a business of proclaiming on the house tops, with
   our mouths, the holy and eminent acts and exercises of our own hearts;
   and Christians that are intimate friends, would talk together of their
   experiences and comforts, in a manner better becoming Christian
   humility and modesty, and more to each other's profit: their tongues
   not running before, but rather going behind their hands and feet, after
   the prudent example of the blessed apostle, 2 Cor. 12:6, and many
   occasions of spiritual pride would be cut off; and so a great door shut
   against the devil; and a great many of the main stumbling-blocks
   against experimental and powerful religion would be removed; and
   religion would be declared and manifested in such a way that, instead
   of hardening spectators, and exceedingly promoting infidelity and
   atheism, would, above all things, tend to convince men that there is a
   reality in religion, and greatly awaken them, and win them, by
   convincing their consciences of the importance and excellency of
   religion. Thus the light of professors would so shine before men, that
   others, seeing their good works, would glorify their Father which is in

   [73] Deut. v. 29; Deut. 32:18, 19, 20; 1 Chron. 28:9; Psal. 78:7, 8,
   10, 11, 35, 36, 37, 41, 56, &c.; Psal. 106:3. 12-15; Psal. 125:4, 5;
   Prov. 26:11, Isa. 64:5, Jer. 17:13, Ezek. 3:20, and 18:24, and 33:12,
   13; Matt. 10:22, and 13:4-8, with verses 19-23, and 25:8, and 24:12,
   13, Luke 9:62, and 12:35, &c., and 22:28, and 17:32; John 8:30, 31, and
   15:6, 7, 8, 10, 16; Rev. 2:7, and 40:22; Col. 1:22, 23, Heb. 3:6, 12,
   14, and 6:11, 12, and 10:35, &c.; James 1:25; Rev. 2:13, 26, and 2:10;
   2 Tim 2:15; 2 Tim 4:4-8.

   [74] Matt. 5:29, 30; chap. 6:24; chap. 8:19-22; chap. 4:18, to 22;
   chap. 9:37, 38, 39; chap. 13:44, 45, 46; chap. 16:24, 25, 26; chap.
   18:8, 9; chap. 19:21, 27, 28, 29; chap. 10:42; chap. 12:33, 34; chap.
   14:16-20, 25-33; chap. 16:13; Acts 4:34, 35, with chap. 5:1-11; Rom.
   6:3-8; Gal. 2:20; chap. 6:14; Philip 3:7.

   [75] "To profess to know much, is easy; but to bring your affections
   into subjection, to wrestle with lusts, to cross your wills and
   yourselves, upon every occasion, this is hard. The Lord looketh that in
   our lives we should be serviceable to him, and useful to men. That
   which is within, the Lord and our brethren are never the better for it:
   but the outward obedience, flowing thence, glorifieth God, and does
   good to men. The Lord will have this done. What else is the end of our
   planting and watering, but that the trees may be filled with sap? And
   what is the end of that sap, but that the trees man bring forth fruit?
   What careth the husbandman for leaves and barren trees?" Dr. Preston of
   the Church's Carriage.

   [76] No unregenerate man, though he go never so far, let him do never
   so much, but he lives in some one sin or other, secret or open, little
   or great. Judas went far, but he was covetous; Herod went far, but be
   loved his Herodias. Every dog hath his kennel, every swine hath his
   swill; and every wicked man his lust." Shepard's Sincere Convert, 1st
   edition, p. 96.

   [77] "The counterfeit and common grace of foolish virgins after some
   time of glorious profession, will certainly go out and be quite spent.
   It consumes in the using, and shining, and burning--Men that have been
   most forward, decay: their gifts decay, life decays. It is so, after
   some time of profession: for at first, it rather grows than decays and
   withers, but afterwards they have enough of it, it withers and dies.
   The spirit of God comes upon many hypocrites, in abundant and plentiful
   measure of awakening grace: it comes upon them, as it did upon Balaam,
   and as it is in overflowing waters, which spread far, and grow very
   deep, and fill many empty places. Though it doth come upon them so, yet
   it doth never rest within, so as to dwell there, to take up an eternal
   mansion for himself.--Hence it doth decay by little and little, until
   at last it is quite gone. As ponds filled with rain water, which comes
   upon them; not spring water, that riseth up within then; it dries up by
   little and little until quite dry." Shepard's Parable, Part II. p. 58,

   [78] Scripture Doctrine of Salvation, Sermon I. p. 11

   [79] "Look upon John, Christ's beloved disciple and bosom companion! He
   had received the anointing to know him that is true, and he knew that
   he knew him, 1 John 2:3. But how did he know that? He might be
   deceived; (as it is strange to see what a melancholy fancy will do, and
   the effects of it; as honest men are reputed to have weak brains, and
   never saw the depths of the secrets of God;) what is his last proof?
   'Because we keep his commandments.'" Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 131.

   [80] 2 Cor. 8:2; Heb. 11:36; 1 Pet 1:7; chap. 4:12; Gen. 22:1; Deut.
   8:2, 16; chap. 13:3; Exod. 15:25; chap. 16:4; Judges 2:22; chap. 3:1,
   4; Psal. 66:10, 11, Dan. 12:10, Rev. 3:10; Job 23:10; Zech 13:9; James
   1:12, Rev. 2:10; Luke 8:13; Acts 20:19; James 1:2, 3; 1 Pet. 1:6.

   [81] "I am persuaded, as Calvin is, that all the several trials of men
   are to show them to themselves, and to the world, that they be but
   counterfeits; and to make saints known to themselves the better, Rom.
   v. 5. Tribulation works trial, and hope, Prov. 17:3. If you will know
   whether it will hold weight, the trial will tell you. Shepard's
   Parable, Part I. p. 191.

   [82] Dr. Sibbs, in his Bruised Reed, says, "When Christ's will cometh
   in competition with any worldly loss or gain, yet, if then, in that
   particular case, the heart will stoop to Christ, it is a true sign. For
   the truest trial of the power of grace, is in such particular cases as
   touch us the nearest for there our corruption maketh the greatest head.
   When Christ came home to the young man in the gospel, he lost a
   disciple of him."

   [83] "It is a sure rule," says, Dr. Preston, "that, what the Scriptures
   bestow much words on, we should have much thoughts on: and what the
   Holy Ghost urgeth most, we should prize most." Church's Carriage.

   [84] "That which God maketh a rule of his own judgment, as that by
   which he judgeth of every man, that is a sure rule for every man to
   judge himself by. That which we shall be judged by at the last day, is
   a sure rule to apply to ourselves for the present. Now by our obedience
   and works he judgeth us. 'He will give to every man according to his
   works.'" Dr. Preston's Church's Carriage.

   [85] "Our real taking Christ appears in our actions and works: Isa.
   1:19. 'If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the
   land.' That is, if ye will consent to take JEHOVAH for your Lord and
   King: if ye give consent, there is the first thing; but that is not
   enough, but if ye also obey. The consent that standeth in the inward
   act of the mind, the truth of it will be seen in your obedience, in the
   acts of your lives. 'If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good
   things of the land;' that is, you shall take of all that he hath that
   is convenient for you; for then you are married to him in truth, and
   have an interest in all his good." Dr. Preston's Church's Carriage.

   [86] "The more these visible exercises of grace are renewed, the more
   certain you will be. The more frequently these actings are renewed, the
   more abiding and confirmed your assurance win be. A man that has been
   assured of such visible exercises of grace, may quickly after be in
   doubt whether he was not mistaken. But when such actings are renewed
   again and again, he grows more settled and established about has good
   estate. If a man see a thing once, that makes him sure; but, if
   afterwards, he fear he was deceived, when he comes to see it again, he
   is more sure he was not mistaken. If a man read such passages in a
   book, he is sure it is so. Some months after, some may bear him down,
   that he was mistaken, so as to make him question it himself; but, when
   he looks, and reads it again, he is abundantly confirmed. The more
   men's grace is multiplied, the more their peace is multiplied:" 2 Pet.
   1:2, "Grace and peace he multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of
   God, and Jesus our Lord." Stoddard's Way to know Sincerity and

   [37] Conceits and whimsies abound most in men of weak reason, children,
   and such as are cracked in their understanding, have most of them;
   strength of reason banishes them, as the sun does mists and vapors. But
   now the more rational any gracious person is, by so much more is he
   fixed and settled, and satisfied in the grounds of religion; yea, there
   is the highest and purest reason in religion; and when this change is
   wrought upon men, it is carried on in a rational way. Isa. 1:18, John
   19:9." Flavel's Preparation for Sufferings, Chap. vi.

   [38] "If any man should see, and behold Christ really and immediately,
   this is not the saving knowledge of him. I know the saints do know
   Christ as if immediately present; they are not strangers by their
   distance: if others have seen him more immediately, I will not dispute
   it. But if they have seen the Lord Jesus as immediately as if here on
   earth, yet Capernaum saw him so; nay, some of them were disciples for a
   time, and followed him, John 6. And yet the Lord was hid from their
   eyes. Nay, all the world shall see him in his glory, which shall amaze
   them; and yet this is far short of having the saving knowledge of him,
   which the Lord doth communicate to the elect. So that though you see
   the Lord so really, as that you become familiar with him, yet, Luke
   13:26: 'Lord have we not eat and drank,' &c.--and so perish." Shepard's
   Par. of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 197, 198.

   [39] Satan is transformed into an angel of light: and hence we have
   heard that some have heard voices; some have seen the very blood of
   Christ dropping on them, and his wounds in his side: some have seen a
   great light shining in the chamber, some have been wonderfully affected
   with their dreams; some in great distress have had inward witness, 'Thy
   sins are forgiven;' and hence such liberty and joy, that they are ready
   to leap up and down the chamber. O adulterous generation! this is
   natural and usual with men, they would fain see Jesus, and have him
   present to give them peace; and hence Papists have his images. Woe to
   them that have no other manifested Christ, but such a one." Shepard's
   Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part I, p. 198.

   [40] "Consider how difficult, yea and impossible it is to determine
   that such a voice, vision, or revelation is of God, and that Satan
   cannot feign or counterfeit it: seeing he hath left no certain marks by
   which we may distinguish one spirit from another." Flavel's Causes and
   Cures of Mental Terrors, Cause 14.

   [41] There is a remarkable passage of Mr. John Smith, in his discourse
   on the shortness of a Pharisaic righteousness, p. 370, 371, of his
   select discourses, describing that sort of religion which is built on
   such s foundation as I am here speaking of. I cannot forbear
   transcribing the whole of it. Speaking of a sort of Christians, whose
   life is nothing but a strong energy of fancy, he says: "Lest their
   religion might too grossly discover itself to be nothing else but a
   piece of art, there may be sometimes such extraordinary motions stirred
   up within them, which may prevent all their own thoughts, that they may
   seem to be a true operation of the divine life; when yet all this is
   nothing else but the energy of their own self-love touched with some
   fleshly apprehensions of divine things, and excited by them. There are
   such things in our Christian religion when a carnal, unhallowed mind
   takes the chair and gets the expounding of them, may seem very
   delicious to the fleshly appetites of men; some doctrines and notions
   of free grace and justification, the magnificent titles of sons of God
   and heirs of heaven, ever flowing streams of joy and pleasure that
   blessed souls shall swim in to all eternity, a glorious paradise in the
   world to come always springing up with well scented and fragrant
   beauties, a new Jerusalem paved with gold, and bespangled with stars,
   comprehending in its vast circuit such numberless varieties, that a
   busy curiosity may spend itself about to all eternity. I doubt not but
   that sometimes the most fleshly and earthly men, that fly in their
   ambition to the pomp of this world, may be so ravished with the
   conceits of such things as these, that they may seem to be made
   partakers of the powers of the world to come. I doubt not but that they
   might be much exalted with them, as the souls of crazed or distracted
   persons seem to be sometimes, when their fancies play with those quick
   and nimble spirits, which a distempered frame of body, and unnatural
   heat in their heads, beget within them. Thus may these blazing comets
   rise up above the moon, and climb higher than the sun, which yet,
   because they have no solid consistence of their own, and are of a base
   and earthly alloy, will soon vanish and fall down again, being only
   borne up by all external force. They may seem to themselves to have
   attained higher than those noble Christians that are gently moved by
   the natural force of true goodness: they seem to be pleniores Deo
   (i.e., more full of God) than those that are really informed and
   actuated by the divine Spirit, and do move on steadily and constantly
   in the way towards heaven. As the seed that was sown in stony ground,
   grew up, and lengthened out its blade faster, than that which was sown
   in the good and fruitful soil. And as the motions of our sense, and
   fancy, and passions, while our souls are in this mortal condition, sunk
   down deeply into the body, are many times more vigorous, and make
   stronger impressions upon us, than those of the higher powers of the
   soul, which are more subtle, and remote from these mixed animal
   perceptions: that devotion which is there seated, may seem to have more
   energy and life in it, than that which gently and with a more delicate
   kind of touch spreads itself upon the understanding, and from thence
   mildly derives itself through our wills and affections. But however the
   former may be more boisterous for a time, yet this is of a more
   consistent, spermatical and thriving nature. For that proceeding indeed
   from nothing but a sensual and fleshly apprehension of God and true
   happiness, is but of a flitting and fading nature, and as the sensible
   powers and faculties grow more languid, or the sun of divine light
   shines more brightly upon us, these earthly devotions, like our
   culinary fires, will abate their heat and fervor. But a true celestial
   warmth will never be extinguished, because it is of an immortal nature;
   and being once seated vitally in the souls of men, it will regulate and
   order all the motions of it in a due manner the natural heat, radicated
   in the hearts of living creatures, hath the dominion and economy of the
   whole body under it. True religion is no piece of artifice, it is no
   boiling up of our imaginative powers, nor the glowing heats of passion,
   though these are too often mistaken for it, when in our jugglings in
   religion we cast a mist before our own eyes: but it is a new nature,
   informing the souls of men; it is a Godlike frame of spirit,
   discovering itself most of all in serene and clear minds, in deep
   humility, meekness, self-denial, universal love to God and all true
   goodness, without partiality, and without hypocrisy, whereby we are
   taught to know God, and knowing him to love him, and conform ourselves
   as much as may be to all that perfection which shines in him.

   [42] Mr. Stoddard in his Guide to Christ, p. 8, says, that "sometimes
   men, after they have been in trouble a while, have some promises come
   to them, with a great deal of refreshing; and they hope God has
   accepted them:" and says that, "In this case, the minister may tell
   them, that God never gives a faith of assurance, before he gives a
   faith of dependence; for he never manifests his love, until men are in
   a state of favor and reconciliation, which is by faith of dependence.
   When men have comfortable Scriptures come to them, they are apt to take
   them as tokens of God's love: but men must be brought into Christ, by
   accepting the offer of the gospel, before they are fit for such
   manifestations. God's method is first to make the soul accept of the
   offers of grace, and then to manifest his good estate unto him." And p.
   76, speaking of them "that seem to be brought to lie at God's foot, and
   give an account of their closing with Christ, and that God has revealed
   Christ to them, and drawn their hearts to him, and they do accept of
   Christ," he says: "In this case, it is best to examine whether by that
   light that was given him, he saw Christ and salvation offered to him,
   or whether he saw that God loved him, or pardoned him: for the offer of
   grace and our acceptance goes before pardon, and therefore, much more
   before the knowledge of it."                Mr. Shepard, in his Parable
   of the Ten Virgins, Part II. p. 15, says, that "Grace and the love of
   Christ (the fairest colors under the sun) may be pretended; but if you
   shall receive, under this appearance, that God witnesseth his love,
   first by an absolute promise, take heed there; for under this
   appearance you may as well bring in immediate revelations, and from
   thence come to forsake the Scriptures."                And in Part I.
   p. 86, he says, "Is Christ yours? Yes, I see it. How? By any word or
   promise? No; this is delusion." And p. 136, speaking of them that have
   no solid ground of peace, he reckons "those that content themselves
   with the revelation of the Lord's love without the sight of any work,
   or not looking to it." And says presently after, "The testimony of the
   Spirit does not make a man more a Christian, but only evidenceth it; as
   it is the nature of a witness not to make a thing to be true, but to
   clear and evidence it." And p. 140, speaking of them that say they have
   the witness of the spirit, that makes a difference between them and
   hypocrites, he says, "the witness of the Spirit makes not the first
   difference: for first a man is a believer, and in Christ, and
   justified, called and sanctified, before the spirit does witness it;
   else the spirit should witness to an untruth and lie."

   [43] Mr. Shepard, in his Sound Believer, p. 159, of the late impression
   at Boston, says, "Embrace in thy bosom, not only some few promises, but
   all." And then he asks the question, "When may a Christian take a
   promise without presumption, as spoken to him?" He answers, "The rule
   is very sweet, but certain; when he takes all the scripture, and
   embraces it as spoken unto him, he may then take any particular promise
   boldly. My meaning is, when a Christian takes hold, and wrestles with
   God for the accomplishment of all the promises of the New Testament,
   when he sets all the commands before him, as a compass and guide to
   walk after, when he applies all the threatenings to drive him nearer to
   Christ, the end of them. This no hypocrite can do; this the saints
   shall do; and by this they may know when the Lord speaks in particular
   unto them."

   [44] Some Christians have rested with a work without Christ, which is
   abominable: but after a man is in Christ, not to judge by the work, is
   first not to judge from a word. For though there is a word, which may
   give a man a dependence on Christ, without feeling any work, nay when
   he feels none as absolute promises: yet no word giving assurance, but
   that which is made to some work, he that believeth or is poor in
   spirit, &c., until that work is seen, has no assurance from that
   promise." Shepard's Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 86.
          "If God should tell a saint that he has grace, he might know it
   by believing the word of God: but it is not in this way that godly men
   do know that they have grace: it is not revealed in the word, and the
   Spirit of God doth not testify it to particular persons." Stoddard's
   Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 84, 85.

   [45] The late venerable Stoddard, in his younger time, falling in with
   the opinion of some others, received this notion of the witness of the
   Spirit, by way of immediate suggestion; but, in the latter part of his
   life, when he had more thoroughly weighed things, and had more
   experience, he entirely rejected it; as appears by his treatise of the
   Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 84: "The Spirit of God doth not testify
   to particular persons, that they are godly.--Some think that the Spirit
   of God doth testify to some; and they ground it on Rom. viii. 16, 'The
   Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children
   of God.' They think the Spirit reveals it by giving an inward testimony
   to it; and some godly men think they have had experience of it: but
   they may easily mistake when the Spirit of God doth eminently stir up
   the spirit of faith, and sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, it
   is easy to take it for a testimony. And that is not the meaning of
   Paul's words. The Spirit reveals things to us, by opening our eyes to
   see what is revealed in the word; but the Spirit doth not reveal new
   truths, not revealed in the word. The Spirit discovers the grace of God
   in Christ, and thereby draws forth special actings of faith and love,
   which are evidential; but it doth not work in way of testimony. If God
   but help us to receive the revelations in the word we shall have
   comfort enough without new revelations."

   [46] See Chamber's Dictionary, under the word Engraving.

   [47] "After a man is in Christ, not to judge the work, is not to judge
   by the Spirit. For the apostle makes the earnest of the Spirit to be
   the seal.--Now earnest is part of the money bargained for, the
   beginning of heaven, of the light and life of it. He that sees not that
   the Lord is his by that, sees no God of his at all. Oh, therefore, do
   not look for a Spirit, without a word to reveal, nor a word to reveal,
   without seeing and feeling of some work first. I thank the Lord, I do
   but pity those that think otherwise. If a sheep of Christ, Oh, wonder
   not." Shepard's Par. Part I. p. 26.


   The cover art for this book is a derivative work of
   [1] and
   available for use under the [2]Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike
   3.0 license.


Index of Scripture References


   [3]15:12-13   [4]19:14   [5]20:6-7   [6]22:1   [7]23:7   [8]24:63
   [9]31:24   [10]33:3   [11]46


   [12]2:23   [13]3   [14]3:11   [15]5:19   [16]8:25   [17]9:16
   [18]9:27   [19]9:27   [20]9:27-28   [21]10:8-10   [22]10:24
   [23]12:11   [24]14:18   [25]15:16   [26]15:25   [27]16:4   [28]19:8
   [29]24:3   [30]24:7   [31]25:31   [32]28:32   [33]28:34   [34]29:22
   [35]34:8   [36]39:23   [37]39:26




   [39]14:21   [40]14:24   [41]14:39-40   [42]23:9-10   [43]24:1
   [44]24:2   [45]24:16-17   [46]32:11-12


   [47]1:36   [48]5:27-29   [49]5:29   [50]6:13   [51]8:2   [52]8:2
   [53]8:2   [54]8:16   [55]8:16   [56]10:12   [57]10:20   [58]13:1
   [59]26:2   [60]26:16-18   [61]26:17   [62]30:6   [63]32:18-20


   [65]14:6   [66]14:8   [67]14:9   [68]14:14


   [69]2:21-22   [70]2:22   [71]7:2   [72]16:10   [73]16:13

   1 Samuel

   [74]2:2   [75]10:2-3   [76]16:7   [77]24:16-17   [78]24:16-17
   [79]25:16-19   [80]26:21   [81]26:21   [82]31:21

   2 Samuel


   1 Kings

   [84]6:18   [85]7:18-19   [86]19   [87]19:12-13   [88]21:27
   [89]21:27   [90]22:22

   2 Kings

   [91]5:14   [92]5:15   [93]10:16   [94]17:32-33   [95]20:3   [96]22:19

   1 Chronicles


   2 Chronicles

   [98]15:12-14   [99]32:25   [100]36:13


   [101]9:4   [102]9:4


   [103]9:2   [104]9:33   [105]10:28-29


   [106]1:8   [107]1:9-10   [108]12:11   [109]13:2   [110]17:9
   [111]19:25   [112]20:12-13   [113]23:10   [114]23:10   [115]27:8-10
   [116]28:28   [117]28:28   [118]34:11   [119]34:22   [120]39:16


   [122]2:1   [123]2:11   [124]2:11   [125]9:10   [126]15   [127]18:27
   [128]19:7-9   [129]19:7-10   [130]19:10   [131]21:1   [132]24:3-4
   [133]24:6   [134]26:8   [135]27:4   [136]27:4   [137]29:2
   [138]31:24   [139]33:1   [140]33:18   [141]33:18   [142]33:18
   [143]34:11   [144]34:11   [145]34:11   [146]34:18   [147]34:18
   [148]36:1   [149]36:8-9   [150]37:4   [151]37:9-10   [152]37:10-11
   [153]37:21   [154]37:21   [155]37:21   [156]37:29   [157]38:10
   [158]42:1   [159]42:1-2   [160]43:3-4   [161]46:10   [162]51:17
   [163]51:17   [164]55:12-14   [165]55:17   [166]63:1   [167]63:1-2
   [168]63:1-2   [169]63:3-5   [170]63:5-6   [171]63:6   [172]63:7
   [173]63:11   [174]66:3   [175]66:3   [176]66:10-11   [177]66:10-11
   [178]68:3   [179]68:13   [180]69:6   [181]69:32   [182]69:35
   [183]69:36   [184]71:23   [185]72:6   [186]73:25   [187]78:7
   [188]78:7-8   [189]78:10   [190]78:11   [191]78:35   [192]78:36
   [193]78:37   [194]78:41   [195]78:56   [196]84:1-2   [197]84:1-2
   [198]84:2   [199]84:2   [200]84:2   [201]89:15   [202]89:15-16
   [203]95:7-10   [204]96:9   [205]97:10   [206]97:11-12   [207]97:12
   [208]98:1   [209]99:2-3   [210]101:2-3   [211]101:5   [212]105:15
   [213]106:3   [214]106:12   [215]110:3   [216]112:5   [217]112:7
   [218]116:1   [219]116:12   [220]119:1   [221]119:6   [222]119:14
   [223]119:18   [224]119:20   [225]119:57   [226]119:81   [227]119:97
   [228]119:99-100   [229]119:104   [230]119:104   [231]119:106
   [232]119:111-112   [233]119:120   [234]119:120   [235]119:120
   [236]119:131   [237]119:136   [238]119:140   [239]119:166
   [240]125:4-5   [241]125:5   [242]130:6   [243]131:1   [244]133:1-2
   [245]133:1-2   [246]135   [247]138:6   [248]139:14-15   [249]139:21
   [250]139:21   [251]139:29   [252]143:6-7   [253]146:5   [254]147:6
   [255]147:11   [256]147:11   [257]147:11   [258]149:2


   [259]3:7   [260]3:7   [261]3:34   [262]4:18   [263]6:16-17
   [264]8:13   [265]8:13   [266]8:13   [267]9   [268]10:32   [269]14:21
   [270]14:31   [271]16:6   [272]16:32   [273]17:3   [274]17:27
   [275]20:17   [276]20:17   [277]21:26   [278]24:12   [279]25:2
   [280]25:24   [281]26:11   [282]26:12   [283]28:13   [284]28:14
   [285]28:14   [286]30:2-4   [287]30:5-6   [288]30:32


   [289]10:2-3   [290]11:5   [291]12:14

   Song of Solomon

   [292]1:3   [293]1:4   [294]1:15   [295]2:5   [296]2:11-12   [297]2:14
   [298]3:1-2   [299]3:11   [300]5:8   [301]6:8   [302]7:2
   [303]7:11-12   [304]8:6   [305]8:11-12


   [306]1:12-15   [307]1:16   [308]1:18   [309]1:19   [310]2:10
   [311]2:11-17   [312]2:19   [313]2:21   [314]5:1-8   [315]5:21
   [316]6   [317]6:3   [318]11:3   [319]11:6-9   [320]14:23-24
   [321]19:18   [322]26:8   [323]26:10   [324]27:2-3   [325]32
   [326]32:6   [327]33:7   [328]35:8   [329]35:8   [330]35:8
   [331]35:10   [332]38:3   [333]40:13   [334]43:22   [335]45:29
   [336]48:1-2   [337]52:1   [338]52:7   [339]53:8   [340]55   [341]55:7
   [342]57:1   [343]57:5   [344]57:15   [345]57:15   [346]58   [347]58:2
   [348]61:1-2   [349]63:15   [350]63:17   [351]64:5   [352]64:5
   [353]65:5   [354]65:5   [355]65:25   [356]66:1-2   [357]66:2
   [358]66:2   [359]66:5   [360]66:5


   [361]1:6   [362]3:10   [363]3:23-25   [364]4:2   [365]4:3-4
   [366]5:7   [367]7:11   [368]12:16   [369]13:17   [370]17:7
   [371]17:7-8   [372]17:9-10   [373]17:10   [374]17:13   [375]22:15-16
   [376]22:16   [377]22:16   [378]22:16   [379]32:19


   [380]1:17   [381]3:28


   [382]3:7   [383]3:20   [384]9:4   [385]11:19   [386]13:7   [387]16:6
   [388]16:56   [389]16:60   [390]16:61   [391]16:63   [392]18:24
   [393]20:38   [394]20:41-42   [395]20:42-43   [396]33:1
   [397]33:12-13   [398]33:13   [399]33:20   [400]33:31-32   [401]36:26


   [403]3:28-30   [404]4:1-3   [405]4:1-3   [406]4:13   [407]4:17
   [408]4:23   [409]4:34   [410]4:34-35   [411]4:35   [412]4:37
   [413]4:37   [414]6:25   [415]6:25-27   [416]10   [417]10:8
   [418]12:10   [419]12:10


   [420]4:16   [421]6:6   [422]6:6   [423]7:8   [424]10:4   [425]13:1
   [426]13:1   [427]14:9




   [429]6:8   [430]6:8   [431]6:8


   [432]2:4   [433]3:16   [434]3:16


   [435]9:9   [436]12:12-14   [437]13:4   [438]13:9   [439]13:9


   [441]1:13   [442]3:3


   [443]3:6   [444]3:7-9   [445]3:8   [446]3:8   [447]3:10   [448]3:10
   [449]3:12   [450]5:3   [451]5:4   [452]5:4   [453]5:5   [454]5:6
   [455]5:7   [456]5:7   [457]5:7   [458]5:9   [459]5:12   [460]5:12
   [461]5:15-16   [462]5:16   [463]5:29-30   [464]5:29-30   [465]5:45-46
   [466]5:46   [467]6:5-6   [468]6:6   [469]6:12   [470]6:14   [471]6:15
   [472]6:16   [473]6:17   [474]7:16   [475]7:19-20   [476]8:4
   [477]8:20   [478]8:24-26   [479]9:8   [480]9:13   [481]9:36
   [482]10:22   [483]10:39   [484]10:42   [485]11   [486]11:27
   [487]11:28-29   [488]11:29   [489]12:7   [490]12:43-45
   [491]12:49-50   [492]13:4-8   [493]13:19-23   [494]13:20   [495]13:26
   [496]14:14   [497]15:22   [498]15:26-28   [499]15:31   [500]15:32
   [501]16:15-17   [502]16:16-17   [503]16:23   [504]16:27   [505]18
   [506]18:3   [507]18:3-4   [508]18:4   [509]18:6   [510]18:22
   [511]18:31   [512]19:14   [513]19:16   [514]21:5   [515]22:37-40
   [516]22:39-40   [517]23:6-7   [518]23:23   [519]24:10-13
   [520]24:12-13   [521]24:12-13   [522]25   [523]25   [524]25
   [525]25:8   [526]25:26   [527]25:30   [528]25:31   [529]26:1
   [530]26:41   [531]26:75   [532]28:8   [533]28:8   [534]28:9   [535]34


   [536]1:4   [537]2:12   [538]3:5   [539]3:5   [540]6:20   [541]6:34
   [542]6:34   [543]8:38   [544]9:24   [545]10:15   [546]10:15
   [547]11:25-26   [548]14:72


   [549]1:53   [550]2:27   [551]4:15   [552]5:26   [553]5:27-28
   [554]6:23   [555]6:32   [556]6:44   [557]7   [558]7   [559]7:13
   [560]7:16   [