« НазадПродовжити »
which must end in eternal life. If the arminians are found to be right, you also are right. For you have the same sincerity, the same good works, which any of them may have to depend upon for justification and salvation. And it can be no prejudice to your salvation, that you obtained these in a way of dependence upon Christ only, as well as in a way of diligent activity. If the antinomians are right, you also are right. For you depend only upon Christ for righteousness and strength, as well as they ; and it can no ways be injurious to you, that you have insisted upon the necessity of holiness as the way leading to eternal life. But now, to turn the tables; if they who plead for justification by works are at last found in a mistake, and instead of building upon Christ Jesus and the sovereign grace of God in him, are built upon the sand; or, if they who disclaim the necessity of holiness are too late found in a mistake, and sorted among the workers of iniquity, what will become of their hopes 1 How dreadful will their disappointment bel
That you may be found united to Christ, and may be built up in faith and holiness, with peace and comfort, unto God's heavenly kingdom, is the earnest desire and prayer of,
containING PARTICULAR ADVICES AND DIRECTIONS, FOR A CLOSE AND COMFORTABLE WALK WITH GOD.
You justly observe, that, “according to my former letters, a religious life must be a course of serious, earnest, and assiduous application.” And you have therefore good reason to be “solicitous in your inquiry, How you must give diligence to make your calling and election sure, and how you shall find that peace and pleasure I speak of, in your walk with God?" But there is no cause at all of any apprehension that you “shall weary me out with the continual burdensome tasks you are imposing upon me.” Indeed, sir, you can no way gratify me more, than by putting it in my power to be any way serviceable to your best interests. I sincerely thank you, that you are now giving me the pleasing task of proposing “some directions for a close walk with God.” It is an affair of the utmost consequence to myself, as well as to you; an affair too little considered, even by those of whom we must hope the better things that accompany salvation; and an affair, in which I have cause, with shame, to confess, that my remissness has turned to my unspeakable disadvantage. Let us then, as in the presence of God, resolve, by the assistance of his Spirit and grace, not only to consult, but to practise such methods of piety, as may be likely means to sweeten the labours and trials of life, prepare us to encounter the last enemy, and give us a refreshing prospect of our future inheritance.
I shall endeavour, according to your desire, to be plain, familiar, and practical, in the directions and counsels which I am now to lay before you.
And here my advice to you is,
1. That you endeavour to obtain and maintain a deep impression of this important truth, that you have but one business to do; and that every affair and conduct of human life must be calculated for, and subservient to, that one great end of your being. God has made us for himself, to glorify and enjoy him. We are but pilgrims and strangers upon earth; and have no continuing city. There is another state before us, a state of our everlasting residence, a state where we must be unspeakably and inconceivably happy or miserable, to all eternity. Our whole work, therefore, is, to be pressing towards the mark for the prize of our high calling; to be looking to, and preparing for, another and better country, even an heavenly. This, I say, is our whole business; and therefore not to be made a secondary concern; nor to be crowded into a corner, to make room for more agreeable entertainments; nor to be attended to only at our vacant hours, when disencumbered from our worldly business and sensual gratifications. “To fear God, and keep his commandments, is the whole of man.” You will not so far misunderstand me, as to suppose, that I am inculcating the necessity of a recluse life, wholly taken up in devotion, wholly separated from the common business and society of the world. No! I am only recommending to you, and to myself, a due sense, that we are under obligations, in point of duty and interest, to serve God, and thereby to promote our eternal welfare, as well at one time as another; and as much in one business of life as another ; as much in our secular affairs, domestic concerns, company, and diversions, as
in the special duties of religion and devotion. Though these call for the more solemn engagement of the whole soul in their performance, being immediately directed to God himself, yet the other also are to be done in obedience to God, and with an eye to his glory. So that we have but one business, though we have a great many duties of various kinds belonging to it. Resolve, then, to engage in, and to endeavour to manage every affair of common life, out of duty to God, with a spiritual frame of soul, and with a hearty desire therein to show yourself approved unto God. Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Consider, therefore, that you have the same God to deal with, the same omniscient eye, to observe your thoughts, views, affections, tempers, language, and behaviour, while conversant in the common affairs of life, as when upon your knees in your closet or family, or in the public worship of God's house; and that the same upright views, the same holy desires, the same faith in Christ, are necessary in the one as in the other, if you would have them acceptable to God. This consideration duly impressed, is the true philosopher's stone, that turns all to gold. This will make every thing serve as a fresh gale, to waft us forward to our desired harbour. 2. Be solemnly careful to attend upon all the ordinances of God, without any reserve. The duties and ordinances of religion belong to the way which God has appointed us to walk in, in order to our salvation; and we must be found in his way, as we would expect his presence and blessing. Herein therefore be careful to have no reserve. Let every duty, whether of the closet, the family, or public worship, be diligently and constantly attended to, each in its proper season. Live in the omission of none of them; nor let any ordinary occurrence or excuse divert and put you by, when the proper season and opportunity calls for your attendance on them. You are under the same obligations at all times, as at any time, to perform duty; and to observe all duties, as to observe any. For they are all required by the same authority; and to be performed to the same object, and for the same end. He, therefore, who lives in the wilful neglect of any known duty, does thereby turn his back upon God and his salvation. Herein, then, the greatest care should be exercised, that we may prove (or know and do) what is the good and perfect, and acceptable will of God concerning us. You should also remember, that the duties of religious worship are to be performed to an omniscient and heart-searching God; a God who cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked; a God who will be sanctified in all them that come nigh him; and who will highly resent our flattering him with our lips, and lying to him with our tongues, when our hearts are far from him. You should therefore be careful, by previous meditation, to obtain a lively sense of the infinite perfections of the glorious God to be worshipped, of the nature and importance of the duty to be attended, and to have your affections inflamed and much engaged when you come into God's immediate presence, in any ordinance of religious worship. You should keep your heart with all diligence; watch against, and carefully suppress every roving and wandering thought; endeavour to retain a lively impression of the Divine presence; and to keep up a devout, spiritual frame of soul, while in the performance of the worship of God. Our transactions with God, in the duties of religious worship, above all things call for the greatest seriousness, watchfulness, and care. And all the pains we