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be never so good and infallible, and clearly laid down, they will not serye 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. ix. 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 everlast
ing kingdom ;" signifying to us, that without this, our eyes will be dim, and we shall be as men in the darks 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. i. 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
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 that have committed the unpardonable sin. Some of this sort of persons seem to be most out of the reach of means of conviction
* 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. i. 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 148.
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 false.
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. ji. 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 v. 19. « These are sensual, having not the Spirit.” This the apostle gives us a reason why they behaved themselves in such a wicked manner as he had described. Here the word translated sensual, in the original is Psychikoi ; which is the very same, which in those verses in 1 Cor. chap. ü. 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 connexion plainly shews 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. vii. 25, and viii. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13. Gal. v. 16, to the end. Col. ii. 18. Now therefore, if by natural and carnal, in these texts, he 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 al. so find that there are certain properties, qualities, and principles, that have the same epithet given them. So we read of a « spiritual mind," Rom. vüi. 6, 7, and of “ spiritual wisdom," Col. i. 9, and of « spiritual blessings,” Eph. i. 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. ii. 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. ii. 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 per. sons, 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, I Cor. ii. 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 signifres, 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, viii. 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 shews 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, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is pone 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 opdinarily 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 mcant godly men, in opposition to natural, carnal, and unsanctified men. And it is most plain, that the apostle by spiritually minded, Rom. viii. 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