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imagines he has got far beyond such a place in his road, and never yet came to it, must be mistaken. He has not yet arrived at the top of the hill, who never yet got half-way thither. But this by the way.

What has been observed of the affections of love, is applicable also to other religious affections. Those that are true, extend in some proportion to their due and proper objects : but the false, are commonly strangely disproportionate. So it is with religious desires and longings; these in the saints, are towards those things that are spiritual and excellent in general, and in some proportion to their excellency, importance, or necessity, or the near concern they have in them: but io false longings, it is often far otherwise. They will strangely run, with impatient vehemence, after something of less importance, when other things of greater importance are neglected. Thus for instance, some persons are attended with a vehement inclination, an accountably violent pressure, to declare to others what they experience, and to exhort them, when there is at the same time no inclination, in any proportionable measure, to other things, to which true Christianity has as great, yea, a greater tendency ; as pouring out the soul before God in secret, earnest prayer and praise to him, more conformity to him, living more to his glory, &c. We read in scripture of groanings

, that cannot be ultered, and soul-breakings for the longing it hath ; and longings, thirstings, and pantings, much more frequently to these latter things, than the former.

And so as to hatred and zeal, when these are from right principles, they are against sin in general, in some proportion to the degree of sinfulness; Psal. cxix. 104. I hate every false way. So ver. 128. But a false hatred and zeal against sin, is against some particular sin only. Thus some seem to be very zealous against profaneness, and pride in apparel, who themselves are notorious for covetousness, closeness, and it may be backbiting, envy towards superiors, turbulency of spirit towards rulers, and rooted ill-will to those who have injured them. False zeal is against the sins of others; while he that has true zeal, exercises it chiefly against his own sins; though he shews also a proper zeal against prevailing and dangerous iniquity in others. Some pretend to have a great abhorrence of their own inward corruption; and yet make light of sins in practice, and seem to commit them without much restraint or remorse; though these imply sin, both in heart and life.

As there is a much greater disproportion in the exercises of false affections, than of true, as to different objects; so there is also, as to different times. For although true Christians are not always alike-yea, there is very great difference, at different times, and the best have reason to be greatly ashamed of their unsteadiness—yet there is in no wise the instability and inconstancy of the false-hearted, in those who are true virgins, that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. The righteous man is truly said to be one whose heart is fixed, trusting in God, (Psal. cxii. 7.) and whose heart is established with grace; (Heb. xiii. 9.) Job xvii. 9. The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger. It is spoken of as a note of the hypocrisy of the Jewish church, that they were as a swift dromedary, traversing her ways.

If therefore persons are religious only by fits and starts; it they now and then seem to be raised up to the clouds in their alfections, and then suddenly fall down again, lose all, and become quite careless and carnal, and this is their manner of carrying on religion; if they appear greatly moved, and mightily engaged in religion, only in extraordinary seasons-as in the time of a remarkable out-pouring of the Spirit

, or other uncommon dispensations of Providence, or upon the real or supposed receipt of some great mercy, &c.—but quickly return to such a frame, that their hearts are chiefly upon other things, and the prevailing stream of their affections is ordinarily towards the things of this world, they clearly evince their unsoundness. When they are like the children of Israel in the wilderness, who had their affections highly raised by what God had done for them at the Red sea, and sang his praise, and soon fell a lusting after the flesh-pots of Egypt; but then again when they came to Mount Sinai, and saw the great manifestations God made of himself there, seemed to be greatly engaged again, and mightily forward to enter into covenant with God, saying, All that the Lord hath spoken, will we do, and be obedient, but then quickly made them a golden call; I say, when it is thus with persons, it is a sign of the unsoundness of affectionst. They are like the waters in the time of a shower

Dr. Owen (on the Spirit, Book III. Chap. ii. $ 18) speaking of a common work of the Spirit, says, “ This work operates greatly on the affectious; we have given instances, in fear, sorrow, joy, and delight, about spiritual things, that are stirred up and acted thereby ; but yet it conies short in two things, of a thorough work upon the affections themselves. For, 1st, It doth not fix them. And 2dly, It doth not fill them. 1. It is required that our affections be fixed on heavenly and spiritual things : and true grace will effect it; Col. iii. 1, 2. If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Chrisi sillelh on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above. The joys, the fears, the hopes, the sorrows, with reference to spiritual and eternal things, which the work before mentioned doth produce, are evanid, uncertain, unstable, not only as to the degrees, but as to the very being of them. Sometimes they are as a river ready to overflow its banks, men cannot but be pouring them out on all occasions; and sometimes as waters that fuil, no drop comes from them. Sometimes they are hot, and sometimes cold: sometimes up, and sometimes down; sometimes all heaven, and sometimes all world; without equality, without stability. But true grace fixeth the affections on spiritual things. As to the degrees of their exercise, there may be, and is in them, a great variety, according as they may be excited, aided, assisted by grace and the means of il; or obstructed and impeded, by the interpo.

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of rain, which, during the shower, and a little aster, run like a brook, and Aow abundantly, but are presently quite dry: and when another shower comes, they will flow again. Whereas a true saint is like a stream from a living spring; which though it may be greatly increased by a shower of rain, and diminished in time of drought, yet constantly runs: (John iv. 14. The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up, &c.) or like a tree planted by such a stream, that has a constant supply at the root, and is always green, even in time of the greatest drought; Jer. xvii. 7, 6. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Many hypocrites are like comets, that appear for a while with a mighty blaze; but are very unsteady and irregular in their motion, (and are therefore called wandering stars, Jude 13;) their blaze soon disappears, and they appear but once in a great wbile. But true saints are like the fixed stars, which, though they rise and set, and are often clouded, yet are stedfast in their orb, and shine with a constant light. Hypocritical affections are like a violent motion; as that of the air moved with winds, (Jude 12.) But gracious affections are more a natural motion; like the stream of a river, which, though it has many turns, may meet with obstacles, and run more freely and swisily in some places than others; yet in the general, with a steady and constant course, tends the same way, until it gets to the ocean.

And as there is a strange unevenness and disproportion in false affections, at different times ; so there often is in different places. Some are greatly affected when in company; but have nothing that bears any manner of proportion to it in secret, in close meditation, prayer and conversing with God when alone, and separated from all the worldt. A true Christian doubtless delights in religious fellowship and Christian conversation, and finds much to affect his heart in it; but he also delights at times to retire from all mankind, to converse with God in solitude. And this also has its peculiar advantages for fixing his heart, and engaging bis affections. True religion disposes persons to be much alone in solitary places, for holy meditation and prayer. So it wrought in Isaac, Gen. xxiv. 63. And wbich is much more, so it wrought in Jesus Christ. How often do we read of his retiring into mountains and solitary places, for holy converse with his Father? It is difficult to conceal great affections, but yet gracious affections are of a much more silent and secret nature, than those that are counterfeil. So it is with gracious sorrow of the saints for their own sinst. Thus the future gracious mourning of true penitents, at the beginning of the latter-day glory, is represented as being so secret, as to be hidden from the companions of their bosom ; Zech. xii. 12, 13, 14. And the land shall mourn every family apart: the family of the house of David apart, and their wires apart: the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart: the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart: the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart : all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. So it is with their sorrow for the sins of others. The saints' pains and travail for the souls of sinners is chiefly in secret places; Jer. xiii. 17. If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive. So it is with gracious joys: they are hidden manna, in this respect, as well as others, Rev. ii. 17. The Psalmist seems to speak of his sweetest comforts, as those which he had in secret ; Psal. lxii. 5, 6. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips : wherz I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the mightwatches. Christ calls forth his spouse away from the world into retired places, that he may give her bis sweetest love; Cant. vii. 11, 12. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field ; let us lodge in the villages ;—there will I give thee my loves. The most eminent divine favours which the saints obtained, that we read of in scripture, were in their retirement. The principal manifestations that God made of himsell, and his covenant-mercy to Abraham, were when he was alone, apart from his numerous family; as any one will judge that carefully reads bis history. Isaac received that special gift of God, Rebekah, who was so great a comfort to him, and by whom he obtained the promised seed, walking alone, meditating in the field. Jacob was retired for secret prayer, when Christ came to him; and he wrestled with bim, and obtained the blessing. God revealed himself to Moses in the bush, when he was in a solitary place in the desert, in mount Horeb, Exod. ii. And afterwards, when God shewed him his glory, and he was admitted to the highest degree of communion with God that ever he enjoyed; he was alone, in the same mountain, and continued there forty days and forty nights, and then came down with his face shining. God came to those great prophets, Elijah and Elislia, and conversed freely with them, chiefly in their retirement. Elijah conversed alone with God at mount Sinai, as Moses did. And when Jesus Christ had his greatest prelibation of his future glory, when he was transfigured; it was not when he was with the multitude, or with the twelve disciples, but retired into a solitary place in a mountain, with only three select disciples, whom he charged that they should tell no man, until he was risen from the dead. When the angel Gabriel came to the blessed virgin, and when the Holy Ghost came upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her, she seems to have been alone, in this matter hid from the world; her nearest and dearest earthly friend Joseph, who had betrothed her, knew nothing of the matter. And she that first partook of the joy of Christ's resurrection, was alone with Christ at the sepulchre, John XX. And when the beloved disciple was favoured with those wonderful visions of Christ, and his future dispensations towards the church and the world, he was alone in the isle of Patmos. Not but that we have also instances of great privileges that the saints have received when with others; there is much in Christian conversation, and social and public worship, tending greatly to refresh and rejoice the hearts of the saints. But this is all that I aim at by what has been said, to shew that it is the nature of true grace, however it loves Christian society in its place, in a peculiar manner to delight in retirement, and secret converse with God. So

sition of temptations and diversions. But the constant bent and inclination of re. Dewed affections, is unto spiritual things; as the scripture every where testifieth, und as experience doth covfirm."

“ There is (says Dr. Preston) a certain love, by fils, which God accepts net; when men come and offer to God great promises, like the waves of the sea, as big as mountains: Oh, they think, they will do much for God! But their minds change; and they become as those high waves, which at last (all level with the other wa. ters. If a man should proffer thee great kindnesses, and thou shouldst alterwards come to him to make use of him, and he should look strangely upon thee, as if he were never acquainted with thee, how wouldst thou esteem of such love? If we are now on, now off, in our love, God will not esteem of such love." Discourse on the divine love of Chrisl.

Mr. Flavel, speaking of these changeable professors, says, “ These professors have more of the moon than of the sun ; little light, less heat, and many changes. They deceive many, yea, they deceive themselves, but cannot deceive God. They want that ballast and establishment in themselves, that would have kept them light and stcady." Touchstone of Sincerity, chap.ji. S 2.

† “ The Lord is neglected secretly, yet honoured openly; because there is no wiud in their chambers to blow their sails; and therefore they shall stand still. Hence many men keep their profession, when they lose their affection. They have by the one a pame to live, (and that is enough,) though their hearts be dead. And hence so long as you love and commend them, so long they love you ; but if not, they will forsake you. They were warm only by another's fire, and hence having no principle of life withio, soon grow dead. This is the water that turns a Pharisee's mill." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 180.

* The hypocrite (says Mr. Flavel) is not for the closet, but the synagogue, Maltb. vi. 5, 6. It is not his meat and drink to retire from the clamour of the worlì, to enjoy God in secret.” Touchstone of Sincerity, chap. vii. 5 2.

Dr. Ames, in his Cases of Conscience, Lib. III. Chap. v. speaks of it as a thing by which sincerity may be known; “ That persons be obedient in the absence, as well as in the presence of lookers on; in secret, yea more than in public;" alledging Phil. ii. 12. and Matth. vi. 6.

* Mr. Flavel, in reckoning up those things, wherein the sorrow of sa nts is distinguished from the sorrow of hypocrites, about their sins, says, " Their troubles for sin are more private and silent troubles than others are; their sore runs in the night.” Touchsione of Sincerity, Chap. vi. 9 5.

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