صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

dwelleth continually with you in your hearts. If you are wearied with evil company without, it may comfort you to think that you have better within: when you have communion with the saints, it is your joy to think that you have nearer communion with the Lord of saints. You may well say with David, (Psal, cxxxix. 18,) When I awake I am still with thee." "I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (Psal. xvi. 8.)

[ocr errors]

4. Did you know Christ within you, it would much help you in believing what is written of him in the Gospel. Though to the ungodly the mysteries of the kingdom of God do seem incredible, yet when you have experience of the power of it on your souls, and find the image of it on your hearts, and the same Christ within you, conforming you to what he commandeth in his word, this will work such a suitableness to the Gospel in your hearts, as will make the work of faith more easy. Saith the apostle, (1 John iv. 14, 16,) "We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world;" (there is their outward experience;)" and we have known and believed the love that God hath to us: God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him:" (there is their faith confirmed by their inward evidence: no wonder if they that have God dwelling in them by holy love, do believe the love that God hath to them.) This is the great advantage that the sanctified have in the work of faith, above those that much excel them in disputing, and are furnished with more arguments for the Christian verity; Christ hath his witness abiding in them." The fruits of the Spirit bear witness to the incorruptible seed, the word of God that liveth and abideth for ever," (1 Peter i. 23.) The impress on the heart bears witness to the seal that caused it. And it is not a weak and ineffectual argument for the truth of the Gospel, that believers use to fetch from within, when they plead the effects of it on their souls. Labour to know the truth of your sanctification, that you may be confirmed by it in the truth of the word that sanctifieth you," (John xvii. 17,) and may" rejoice in him that hath chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." (2 Thess. ii. 13.)

[blocks in formation]

5. If you can come to the knowledge of Christ within you, it will be much the easier to you to trust upon him, and fly to him in all your particular necessities, and to make use of his mediatorship with holy confidence. When others fly from Christ with trembling, and know not whether he will speak for them, or help them, or have any regard to them, but look at him with strange and doubtful thoughts, it will be otherwise with you that have assurance of his continual love and presence. Nearness breedeth familiarity, and overcometh strangeness: familiarity breedeth confidence and boldness: when you find Christ so near you, as to dwell within you, and so particular and abundant is his love to you, as to have given you his Spirit, and all his graces, it will breed a sweet delightful boldness, and make you run to him as your help and refuge, in all your necessities. When you find the great promise fulfilled to yourselves, "I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more;" you will have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; by the new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. And having an high priest over the house of God, you may draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience," (or the conscience of evil)" as your bodies are washed" (in baptism) "with pure water." (Heb. x. 16-22.) "In Christ we may have boldness and access with confidence, by the faith of him." (Ephes. iii. 12.) This intimate acquaintance with our great High Priest that is "passed into the heavens," and yet abideth and reigneth in our hearts, will encourage us to 'hold fast our profession, and to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. iv. 14. 16.) When by unfeigned love, we" know that we are of the truth, and may assure our hearts before him, and our heart condemneth us not, then we have confidence towards God; and whatever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." (1 John iii. 18—22.)

6. When once you know that you have Christ within you, you may cheerfully proceed in the way of life; when doubting Christians, that know not whether they are in the

way or not, are still looking behind them, and spend their time in perplexed fears, lest they are out of the way, and go on with heaviness and trouble, as uncertain whether they may not lose their labour; and are still questioning their groundwork, when the building should go on. It is an unspeakable mercy, when a believing soul is freed from these distracting, hindering doubts, and may boldly and cheerfully hold on his way, and be walking or working, when other men are fearing and inquiring of the way; and may with patience and comfort wait for the reward, the crown of life, when others are still questioning, whether they were ever regenerate, and whether their hopes have any ground. We may be "steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, when we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor. xv. 58.) We may then "gird up the loins of the mind, and in sobriety hope unto the end, for the grace that is to be brought us, at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter i. 13.)

7. When you are assured that you have Christ within you, it may preserve you from those terrors of soul that affright them that have no such assurance. O! he that knoweth what it is to think of the intolerable wrath of God, and says, I fear I am the object of this wrath, and must bear this intolerable load everlastingly,' may know what a mercy it is to be assured of our escape. He that knows what it is to think of hell, and say, I know not but those endless flames may be my portion,' will know what a mercy it is to be assured of a deliverance, and to be able to say, "I know I am saved from the wrath to come;" (1 Thess. i. 10;) And that we" are not of them that draw back to perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul;" (Heb. x. 39;) And that" God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him:" we may "comfort ourselves together, and edify one another," when we have this assurance. (1 Thess. v. 9-11.)

They that have felt the burden of a wounded spirit, and know what it is to feel the terrors of the Lord, and to see hell fire as it were before their eyes, and to be kept waking by the dreadful apprehensions of their danger, and to be pursued daily by an accusing conscience, setting their sins in order before them, and bringing the threatenings of God to

their remembrance; these persons will understand, that to be assured of a Christ within us, and consequently of a Christ that is preparing a place of glory for us, is a mercy that the mind of man is now unable to value, according to the ten thousandth part of its worth.


8. Were you assured that Christ himself is in you, it would sweeten all the mercies of your lives. It would assure you, that they are all the pledges of his love; and love in all, would be the kernel and the life of all: Your friends, your health, your wealth, your deliverances, would be steeped in the dearest love of Christ, and have a spiritual sweetness in them, when to the worldling they have but a carnal, wholesome, luscious sweetness; and to the doubting Christians they will be turned into troubles, while they are questioning the love, and meaning of the Giver; and whether they are sent for good to them, or to aggravate their condemnation; and the company of the Giver will advance your estimation of the gift. Mean things with the company of our dearest friends are sweeter than abundance in their absence. To have money in your purses, and goods in your houses, and books in your studies, and friends in your near and sweet society, are all advanced to the higher value, when you know that you have also Christ in your hearts; and that all these are but the attendants of your Lord, and the fruits that drop from the tree of life, and the tokens of his love, importing greater things to follow. Whereas in the crowd of all those mercies, the soul would be uncomfortable, or worse, if it missed the presence of its dearest friend: and in the midst of all, would live but as in a wilderness, and go seeking after Christ with tears, as Mary at his sepulchre, because they had" taken away her Lord," (as she thought) "and she knew not where they had laid him." (John xx. 13.) All mercies would be bitter to us, if the presence of Christ do not put into them that special sweetness which is above the estimate of sense.

9. This assurance would do much to preserve you from the temptation of sensual delight. While you had within you the matter of more excellent contentment, and when you find that these inferior pleasures are enemies to those which are your happiness and life, you would not be easily taken with the bait. The poorest brutish pleasures are made much of by them that never were acquainted with any better.



But after the sweetness of assurance of the love of God, how little relish is there to be found in the pleasures that are so valued by sensual unbelievers! Let them take them for me, saith the believing soul; may I but still have the comforts of the presence of my Lord, how little shall I miss them! How easily can I spare them! Silver will be cast by, if it be set in competition with gold. The company of common acquaintance may be acceptable, till better and greater come; and then they must give place. Men that are taken up with the pleasing entertainment of Christ within them, can scarce afford any more than a transient salutation or observance to those earthly things that are the felicity of the carnal mind, and take up its desires, endeavours and delight; when the soul is tempted to turn from Christ, to those deceiving vanities that promise him more content and pleasure, the comfortable thoughts of the love of Christ, and his abode within us, and our abode with him, do sensibly scatter and confound such temptations. The presence of Christ, the great reconciler, doth reconcile us to ourselves, and make us willing to be more at home. He that is out of love with the company that he hath at home, is easily drawn to go abroad. But who can endure to be much abroad, that knoweth of such a guest as Christ at home? We shall say as Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure, thou art that Christ the Son of the living God." (John vi. 68, 69.) And as Matt. vii. 4, when he saw him in little of his glory, "Master, it is good for us to be here." And if the riches of the world were offered to draw a soul from Christ, that hath the knowledge of his special love and presence, the tempter would have no better entertainment than Simon Magus had with Peter, Their money perish with them that think Christ and his graces to be no better than money. (Acts viii. 20.)


10. How easy and sweet would all God's service be to you, if you were assured that Christ abideth in you! What delightful access might you have in prayer, when you know that Christ himself speaks for you! Not as if the Father himself were unwilling to do us good, but that he will do it in the name, and for the sake and merits of his Son: which is the meaning of Christ in those words, which seem to deny his intercession, "At that 'day ye shall ask in my name;

« السابقةمتابعة »