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perfect his former victories in them, by dispelling or dispersing the auxiliaries of Christ, that were sent for their rescue and relief. They live as if they were purposely made great, that they may be able to drive away the messengers of salvation, and to keep the voice of mercy far enough from their ears; and to command that which the Gadarenes did entreat, that Christ would go out of their coasts, (Mark v. 17,) because they would not be troubled with him. They so much love the way to hell, that they cannot abide to be told whither it leadeth them, and therefore they come thither before they are aware, and must know themselves by the unquenchable fire, because they would not know themselves by the discovering recovering light. And thus by prosperity and flattery, Satan pursues and wins his game.

Direct. 2. In opposition to this hindrance, two things are to be done. 1. Desire not so perilous a station as worldly prosperity and greatness is. Love not, and seek not a condition so hazardous to your souls. Leave that to them that take it for their portion, as not believing what they must lose and suffer by it; or what God hath revealed of the life

to come.

Or if you be in such prosperity, not by your desire, but by the will and providence of God, let your fear and watchfulness be doubled, as your dangers are: Be not like those sensualists, that "feed themselves without fear." (Jude 12.) Use not prosperity to the pleasing of the flesh, and the prospering of your lusts, but deny yourselves in the midst of your abundance; and turn it into an adversity to your sensual inclinations, by taming the body and bringing it into subjection, and suspecting yourselves, and walking humbly with God and man.

And when adversity is upon you, improve the opportunity for the knowledge of yourselves. Then take a just survey of your former course of life. Then try your ways, when the drunkenness and deceits of prosperity are past, and the hand of God hath, brought you into a sober and considerate state. O how many souls do know that in one day, when adversity hath made them wise and sensible, which before they knew and would not know; they saw it, but did not understand and feel it! Then on a sudden they are able to pass a right judgment, upon their yielding to temptations, and the value of the things that tempted them,

and upon their worldly designs, and fleshly wisdom, and their neglects of God, and heaven, and duty, than before they could do, though they had never so much instruction, and though they could speak the same words of sin as now. Affliction taketh away the deceiving advantages of fleshly objects, and unmasketh the glory and profit of the world, and awakeneth the rational faculties to perform their office, and therefore is an excellent opportunity for self-acquaintance. The prodigal came to himself, when he was denied to fill his belly with the food of swine. (Luke xv. 16, 17.) Nature teacheth men to understand, that it is the principal lesson that affliction readeth to us, to know ourselves, and our ways, as they are related to God and to his judgment.

2. If you are in prosperity, be the more suspicious of flatterers, and drive them away with the greater detestation : be more careful to keep them from you, than to keep your bodies clean from vermin. And be the more solicitous to procure such faithful overseers and physicians for your souls, as will do their best to save you, though they displease you. O that you knew what an advantage it is to have a faithful pastor, and a faithful friend, that seek not yours but you, and make no advantage to themselves by flattering you, but choose the means that tend most to your salvation! And O that you knew the great disadvantage of those that want such a pastor, and such a friend! You would then be sure to give it as your strictest charge to both, to deal plainly with you, and never to hide or extenuate your sin or danger. You would charge your teachers, 'Whatever you do, deal faithfully with my soul! If you see me in any dangerous course, I beseech you tell me of it: if I should be hardened against your warnings and reproofs, I beseech you deal not lightly with me, but labour to awaken me, and set it home, and pull me out of the fire, and save me as with fear. (Jude 23.) O suffer me not to be quiet in my sins.' The like charge also you would give to your friends that are about you, and converse with you; choose such pastors, and choose such friends as are fittest, thus to prove your friends indeed: and charge them, and entreat them as they love your souls, and as they will answer it before God, that they suffer you not to sin for fear of displeasing you by plain reproofs; and resolve to submit and take it well. A stander-by hath the great advantage of impartiality,

and therefore may see that in you which you observe not in yourselves; an object too near the eye, or too far off, is not well discerned: self-love doth not hinder us so much in judging of other men's cases as our own. Friendly and faithful dealing in the matters of eternal consequence, is the principal use and benefit of friendship. This differenceth the communion of saints from Beelzebub's swarm of flies and caterpillars. Thus "two are better than one: for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up." (Eccles. iv. 9, 10.) Much more woe to him that hath a multitude to cast him and to keep him down.

Hind. 3. The third extrinsical impediment to self-knowledge, is conversing only with such as are as bad as ourselves; and not with such whose lives display the spiritual endowment, and excellencies which we want. Among the Ethiopians, it seemeth no deformity to be black: Seneca saith, that "no man is to be upbraided with that which is 'vitium humani generis,' the common fault of all the world, or of the country where he lives:" for this were but to upbraid him that he is a man, or that he was born in such a time or place. Though Christians that know better the common disease, do know that there must be a common humiliation and remedy; yet these indeed are the thoughts of most; they know not that it is a matter of dishonour and lamentation, to be no better than the most, and to lie in the common corruptions of the world, and to have no better hearts than they had by nature. To hear preachers talk of holiness, and a Divine nature, and a new birth, and of being made new creatures, and of living in the love of God, and in the joyful hopes of endless glory, doth seem to them but as the talk of a world in the sun, or the description of an angel, which humbleth not them at all, for not being such, nor exciteth in them any great desires to be such: as long as they see not the persons that are such, they think these are but devout imaginations, or the pious dreams of melancholy men; and that indeed there are no such persons in the world: or if there be, that they are but as the Papists' saints, here and there one to be admired and canonized, and not upon pain of damnation to be imitated. They judge of all the world, or almost all, by those about them; and they think that God should be unmerciful if he should condemn

so great a number as they see are like themselves; and should save none but those few transcendent souls that they are described, but are unacquainted with.

It sometimes melteth my heart, in pity of many great ones of the world, to think how hard a matter it is for them to know indeed what holiness is; when they seldom hear so much as one heavenly prayer or discourse, or any serious talk of the matters of sanctification, and communion with Christ. When profaneness and inhuman wickedness dwell about them, and make such as are but civil and temperate, and good-natured persons, to seem saints: when they see but few that fear the Lord, and love him unfeignedly, and live by faith and those few are perhaps of the more cold, and timerous, and temporizing strain, that shew forth but little of the heavenly nature, and the virtues of their holy faith; that dare scarce open their mouths to speak against the wickedness which they see or hear; that dare not discourse like the saints of the Most High, and the heirs of heaven, for fear of being made the scorn and by-word of the rest, or of falling under the frowns and dislike of their superiors; so that they live among others almost like common men, save only that they run not with them to their excess of riot; and think it enough that by such forbearance of gross sin, they are in some measure evil spoken of: When they that should "let their light so shine before men, that they might see their good works, and glorify their Heavenly Father, do hide their religion, and put their light as under a bushel, and not in a candlestick, that it might give light to all that are in the house;" (Matt. v. 15, 16;) and so when religion never appeareth in its proper splendour and power, and heavenly tendency, to those great ones that have no better company, what wonder if they never know themselves, nor truly understand the nature, necessity, or excellency of religion? When they know it, for the most part, but by hearsay, yea, and when they hear it more reproached than applauded, it must be a miracle of mercy that must make such men to be sincerely and heartily religious. When they see so many about them worse than themselves, and so few better, and those few that are better do hide it, and live almost as if they were no better; and when the godly, whom they see not, are described to them by the serpent's seed, as if they were but a company of whining, melancholy,

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brain-sick hypocrites, who can expect that ever such men should savingly know themselves or Christ, unless a wonder of mercy rescue them, and bring them from this darkness and delusion into the light? O how oft have I wished in compassion to many of the great ones of the world, that they had but the company which we that are their inferiors have! That they did but hear the humble, holy, heavenly language, that we have heard! And hear the faithful fervent prayers that many poor Christians pour out before the Lord! and saw but the humble, harmless, exemplary, and heavenly lives of many poor Christians, that are represented to them as the filth and the offscouring of the world, and perhaps no more regarded than Lazarus was at the rich man's gate. (Luke xvi.) Did they but see and hear, and know such holy and heavenly believers, and were as well acquainted with them as we are, how many of them would better know themselves, and see what they want, and what they must be, and better discern between the righteous and the wicked, between those that fear God, and those that fear him not? (Mal. iii. 18.)

Direct. 3. It will therefore be a great help to the knowledge of yourselves, if you will converse with those that bear the holy image of their Creator, (Col. iii. 10,) and whose lives will tell you what it is to live by faith, and what it is to walk in the Spirit, to mortify the flesh, and to live above all the alluring vanities of the world. We can more sensibly perceive the nature of holiness, when we see it in action before our eyes, than when we only read a description of it. Who could have known what life is, or what reason is, by bare reading or hearing their descriptions, if he knew them not in himself and others, by another kind of demonstration! Many thousands can honour the name of a saint, and the Scripture descriptions of a saint, that hate the life of holiness, when it appeareth to them in practice, and cannot endure a saint indeed. It will most convincingly tell you what you want, when you see what others have. To see how naturally they breathe after heaven, will most convincingly shew you the dulness and earthliness of your minds to see how easily they can love an enemy, and forgive a wrong, will acquaint you most sensibly with the ulcers of your passionate, revengeful minds. Do but lay by your prejudice and partiality, and see whether there be not

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