صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

when we fay we bewail them? If fo, we fhall enjoy the comfort promised in the text, and not otherwife: for let us not deceive our felves, * God is not to be mocked or impofed upon. The heart is deceitful above all things and defperately wicked: But the Lord fearcheth the heart, and trieth the reins, neither is there any creature that is not manifeft in his fight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. The fame is to be apply'd to the concern we fhew for the fins of others; it must be deep and real, proceeding not from a flight formality, or affectation of appearing better than other men, much less from a fpirit of pride and cenforioufnels; there must be nothing of the Pharifee in it, but it must be the iffue of a well rooted love of God, and zeal for his honour, and hearty deteftation of all fins, and an affectionate charity to the fouls of men, if ever we expect our mourning upon this occafion fhould be bleffed with comfort.

I will now proceed to the fecond limitation of mourning in the fenfe of this text. It must be religiously employ'd, and upon fpiritual objects. We are not to make our felves uneafy for the want of riches, or honours, or other worldly enjoyments, but for those wants which affect our better and immortal part, our fouls. We are not to throw away our grief upon what our felves or any body elfe has done against our fecular intereft; but what difpleafes God, obftructs us in our way to hea ven, and darkens our eternal hopes.

To state more particularly the proper objects of that mourning which is indeed religious, we will confider them in these following heads.

* Ga!. vi. 7.

† Jer. xvii. 9, 10.

D 2

Heb. iv. 13.

1. THE

K

I. THE firft is the want of that unfinning purity and righteousness wherewith the firft man Adam was adorn'd in paradife, and in which all after-generations had been born, if he by his disobedience had not forfeited and loft it. It is a great aggravation of the unhappiness of mankind, that they did once bear a better and more glorious character, the image and fuperfcription of God himself, and fuch a perfection of being as that they might look up to their Creator with an holy joy and confidence, and look into themselves with that peace and fatisfaction of mind which is the effect of innocence, when fin was not yet enter'd into the world, nor mifery and death by fin, but God and man were in perfect good agreement, and it was as natural to obey and love our Maker, as it is now to offend and dread him. But alas! that crown is fallen from our heads, thofe robes of original purity and righteousness were torn to picces by that careless and unhappy couple from whose loins we all defcend. Evident it is that we carry about us the feeds and principles of fin and disobedience, which improv'd by our malicious enemy the Devil, and fed by ill examples in the world, are daily breaking out into rebellion against God; and thefe *have feparated between our God and us, and have fet him at an angry diftance from us, as the fenfe of guilt has made us alfo afraid, and the love of fin unwilling to approach him. The confideration of this fhould be a perpetual fpring of tears and forrow, and that not only upon our own accounts, but in behalf of all mankind, who are expos'd in the fame nakedness and dishonour.

2. ANOTHER thing which enters deep into the heart of a religious mourner is a confequence of the laft, namely, the want of power and fufficiency,

* Ifai. lix. 2.

(even in the best of men) as to any ftrength of their own, to come up to thofe more moderate terms which God has now eftablifh'd in his Son Jefus Chrift, for our recovery; and thofe are faith, repentance, and amendment, to be heartily forry for our offences paft, to implore and hope for pardon through the alone merits of our Saviour's facrifice, and to govern our selves for the future by the law of God. But though these terms are fo merciful and easy in the nature and the reafon of them, yet our old corruption ftill fo clogs us, the world has fo long ufurp'd upon our affections, our fecular interefts and our paffions do fo often blind us, and a course of finning fo fatally tend to harden us, that it is not without great difficulty and many fad interruptions, that we can apply our felves to believe, repent, and change our evil cuftoms for a life of virtue and obedience, nor without the affiftance of God's powerful grace that we can at length perform this. And because there is fuch a defect of power in men to do these things as they ought to be done, the religious mourner reflects upon himself with forrow, and his heart is troubled within him. He fees the excellency and reasonableness of the law of God; that a conftant uniform obedience to it is his trueft intereft as well as duty, his greatest honour and perfection, and his utmost happiness; but he finds, by fad experience, that *in our flefb dwells no good thing. Our understandings are fhort and defective in the things of God, involved in prejudices and mistakes; our wills are byafs'd and perverted to evil by habit and inclination, or chain'd down from good by that aguish liftleffness which hangs upon them in fuch matters; our memories are not only weak, retaining the images of evil, and the notion of worldly things, and

*Rom. vii. 18.

[ocr errors]

the arts of gain and profit, but are very faithless and unheeding of the treasures of divine wifdom and knowledge, the precepts of God's law by. which our lives are to be govern'd, and the repeated benefits and bleffings of God, by which he daily encourages us to obedience. God requires us to love him with all our foul and with all our strength; but alas! how hard it is not to love the world and our felves above him! fo much do our fenfes and the charms of outward things debauch us. He has placed our confciences as a guard to keep us to our duty, and admonish and accuse us when we do amifs; but either, like Saul upon the mountains, they are afleep with the fpear ftuck by them; or elfe, like Lazarus at the gates of the rich man, their cries and clamours are not heard, for the noise of the rude appetites and defires within. And is not all this juft matter for forrow and fad thoughts?

3. A third thing which gives him cause of mourning, is the effect of this corruption, in fo many publick inftances. For from hence it is, from the general prevalence of weak understandings and unruly paffions, that in all ages there have rifen up errors and herefies, to pervert the truth, and break the peace and order of the Church, and stir up difference and diffention; which by degrees has brought men to place almoft their whole religion in the practice of what is most condemn'd by it, * bitter envying and strife, the chufing little fides and parties, adhering to them with a zcal inflam'd to faction, and pursuing with a fierce and furious heat all fuch as differ from them: a temper, which (if we will believe the Apoftle) defcends not from above, but is earthly, fenfual, devilish, and unworthy of the chriftian name. If therefore we would learn

Jam. iii. 14, 15.

[ocr errors]

a juft and acceptable argument for mourning, let this, amongst others, fink deep into our hearts, that the Church of Chrift is a broken and difunited body, the peculiar people whom he purchased to himself to be zealous in good works, is become zealous only for particular parties and opinions, (and thofe fometimes of little confequence, not worth contending for;) while that peace and charity our Saviour left behind him as a diftinguishing mark of his disciples is now hardly vifible, that one would think there were no fuch thing as a body of Chrif tians in the world.

4. THE fourth cause of mourning and forrow to a religious mind is fin; and this may be confider'd under a double character; either the fins of common infirmity, which the beft men are too often guilty of; or wilful fins, and great apoftacies from God and goodness, which ftrike at the very life and being of religion. I call thofe fins of infirmity, which proceed from the weakness and imperfection of our graces, fuppofing nevertheless the fincere devotion of our wills to God, and a general watchfulness (though not fo ftrict and conftant as it fhould be) againft offending. And I call thofe wilful fins and apoftacies from God and goodness, which proceed from the ftrength and uncontrolled dominion of fin in our hearts, and that willing flavery and fubjection which too many are under to it by finful habits, and indulging themfelves in practices contrary to the law of God. Now firft, as to fins of infirmity; the weakness of our faith, the coldness of our love to God, and of our zeal for his honour and glory; our backwardness to spiritual duties, our wretched wandrings and distractions in them, our too great fondness for the world, and the bufinefs or enjoyments of it; our impatience under fufferings and

[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »