Page images
PDF
EPUB

nor a renewed confcience, be able to difcern his own vilenefs?

ANSW. There is a double knowledge or understanding that men may have of themfelves, viz. fpeculative and practical. As to the general fpeculative knowledge, a man may have this; common fenfe and reafon may tell him his fin, and he may know himself to be a finner, as being guilty of grofs fins, fuch as drunkenness, whoredom, fwearing, and the like. But there is a particular practical knowledge and understanding, which is two-fold, viz. either from the Spirit of God without us, or from the Spirit of God within us. That practical understanding which is from the Spirit of God without us, is what all the unregenerate may have. The Spirit of God, not yet received, but without a man, may come and make fuch difcoveries of his fin, and guilt, and wickednefs, as may make him cry out, That he is undone, undone. Such a knowledge had Nebuchadnezzar of the God of Shadrach, Mefech, and Abednego. Such a knowledge alfo, it seems, Cain and Judas had. But the Spirit of God within us, gives fpiritual light and fenfe upon the confcience, and rectifies the judgment; whereas the Spirit of God, without a man, difcovers fin mainly in order to hell and wrath, making him fay, Undone, undone. The Spirit of God within a man makes him fee the vilenefs of fin, and lament and mourn for that, faying, "Unclean, unclean. O wretched man that I am! Behold I am vile!" This affects him more than the wrath of God; yea, even when he fees the wrath of God is turned away, and that the shower is over his head, and hath lighted on the head of the Cautioner, even then he abhors himself for his own wickedness more than ever. This is from the Spirit of God within, and a gofpel-light. The Spirit of God without a man, and the Spirit of God within him, differs as much as day-light differs from lightening. A flash of lightening from Sinai, or the fiery law, terrifies and aftonifhes the man, and makes him tremble and quake under a fenfe of fin; but the day-light of a faving difcovery of Chrift makes one fee himself the chief of finners, and yet fills him with holy triumph in the Lord the Saviour. A lightenVOL. III. † Ii

ing

ing confounds and furprises; but the day-light gives a clear, diftinct, and fedate view of things as they are, with quiet and compofure.-Now, try if you have got a humbling view and difcovery of Chrift, or a word from him, that hath filled you with felf-abafement, fo as you reckon you cannot have vile enough thoughts of yourfelf, because he hath, in effect, told you all things that ever you did. '

2dly, Try what Chrift-exalting and commending exercife you have been brought under; or what difpofition is wrought in you to commend and exalt Chrift to the higheft. If Chrift and you have met together, as he did with this woman of Samaria, then the meeting hath wrought in you the fame effect, the fame difpofition to commend and exalt Chrift; which you may try by thefe particulars.

1. If you have met with Chrift in this manner, then you have feen him to be the CHRIST indeed, the Godman, the Anointed of the Father, the true Meffias. Hath he told you, in effect, I that speak unto thee, am be? I that fpeak unto you by this gofpel am he? Hath he borne home this upon your heart with convincing light and evidence, so as you have been brought to the apoflle's faith, John vi. 69. "We believe and are fure, that thou art the Chrift, the Son of the living God?" The faith of this is of fuch importance, that Chrift hath faid, "If ye believe not that I am he, ye fhall die in your fins." Now, hath he fo fpoken to you, as you were made, in effect, to think and fay, I believe and am fure, that he that spoke unto me was he. It was not the minifler only that I heard, but the word came with fuch light, life and power, that, I think, no minifter on earth, nor angel in heaven, could make the word to go thro' my heart asi did. It was like the found of the voice of the Son of God.

2. If you have met with Chrift in this manner, then he hath made fuch a gradual approach and difcovery of himself to you as to raife in you gradually more and more a high efteem of him as a Prophet, fent of God to teach you, and to tell you all things, as it was with this woman: and though he himfelf, and all his words are precious to you, yet there are fome particular words, among

many,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

many, that have taken more impreffion, and stick more fait than others. Though Chrift fpake many good words to this woman for her inftruction, yet the word that made the firft and deepeft impreffion, is what the efpecially kept in heart, He told me all things that ever I did: and what the faw in this more clearly at firft, fhe faw more clearly after Chrift gave her a clearer manifeftation of himfelf. If the faving difcovery of Chrift commenced and began, when he gave her the firft difcovery of her lewdnefs and whoredom, and conveyed light, at the fame time, into her mind to perceive that he was a prophet, yet he was much in the dark, and took not up all that was intended by this difcovery, till after he clearlv difcovered himfelf; and then the former leffon is clearly taken up in all the parts of it. Therefore now, fays fhe, He told me all things that ever I did. Some may have fuch obfcure and cloudy difcoveries of Chrift at first, that though they raife a high efteem of Chrift, yet the foul may be at a great lofs to know, what the full meaning of fuch a word is that Chrift fpake to their foul, till after they get a brighter difcovery of him; and then they may come to be more perfectly inftructed in the fame leflon, which, at firft, they did not fo well apprehend and in this his dealing with them, may be like that, John xiii. 7. "What I do, thou knoweft not now, but thou. thalt know hereafter."

3. If you have met with Chrift in this manner, then your mind is fet above the world, and you have left it behind you, as the woman here left her water-pot and ran to the city. O Sirs, when Chrift appears to a man, he thinks no more of the world than a potfherd; he counts all but lofs and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Chrift; yea, the moft valuable things in the world are undervalued when Chrift is difcovered. As naturalifts tells us, the loadftone will not draw in the prefence of the diamond; neither does the world in all its glory and galantry draw the heart of any to it in the presence of Christ. The reafon of this is, the Sun of righteoufnefs darkens all the ftars of creature-enjoyments, and makes them dif appear and evanish. A drink out of the fountain of living

Ii2

waters

waters makes all worldly comforts to be nothing but broken cifterns that can hold no water. They whofe hearts were never weaned from the world, never met with Chrift. Again,

4. If you have met with Chrift, then your hearts will be fet upon the work of commending him to others, and particularly to your neighbours and friends, that they may become acquaint with him alfo. Thus the dif covery of Chrift vents itself in the woman here, Come fee a man that told me all things that ever I did; Is not this the Chrift? A manifeflation of Chrift gives men fuch a fill of the fulness of God, that they must have a vent: and as, in every saving manifestation, there is fomething of the nature of Chrift communicate, who loves to communicate of his fulness; fo they to whom Christ difpenfes of his grace and fulness, love to communicate alfo of what they have: not that the faints are to make a blaze of their religion to every one they meet with, or to caft pearls before fwine; but the love of Christ difcovered to them, fills them with fuch ardent love to him, as obliges them, in all proper ways, to trumpet forth his glory and honour. They fee fuch a glory in him, that they think all fhould wonder at him, and own him; Is not this the Chrift? They reckon none fo obliged to free-grace as they, and therefore they think it well becomes them to fpread the favour of his name. They know alfo, by remembring what they them felves were before they met with Chrift, they know what a fad ftate they are into who want acquaintance with Chrift; therefore, both out of love and regard to the glory and honour of Chrift, and out of love, pity, and compassion to the perifhing fouls of others, they defire and endeavour to commend Chrift to them both by their words and actions; both by their talk and walk, as the woman of Samaria did. What heart then and difpofition have you got to commend Chrift to your neighbours and friends, to your children and fervants? If you have no heart nor difpofition to fuch exercise as this, furely you cannot make it out that you have met with Christ.

[ocr errors]

5. If you have met with Chrift, then it will be your

hearty

hearty defire not only to commend Chrift, and fpeak of him to others, making him the great fubject of your converfation, but alfo to have them tafte what you have. tafted, and see what you have feen, without refting merely on your report; Come fee a man that told me all things that ever I did: Is not this the Chrift? Reft not on my report, might fhe fay; but, O come and fee him!-My friends, fpiritual converfe about Chrift, is much out of fafhion in our degenerate age; yea, to enter on fpiritual difcourfe in fome companies, would be to expofe a man to fcorn and ridicule; a fad inftance of eflrangement from Chrift and religion. But are there not fome profeffors, whofe fpeech of Chrift, and of the things of God, betrays them and bewrays them; for, either it is but the outfide of religion they talk of; for example, How well fuch a man preached, and how long fuch a man preached, and how many tables, or how inany ftrangers were at fuch a communion, and all fuch little-worth queflions, no better than idlenefs; treating of the fhell and not the kernel of ordinances: or, if they enter upon any fubftantial converfation, either they foon weary of that, or give evidence of fuch a flfifh fpirit, as befpeaks an inclination to commend themfelves rather than to commend Chrift. The import of their language is rather, Come and hear me, than, Come and fee Chrift. But, O Sirs, a meeting with Chrift will fill the foul with a defire that others may fhare of what they fhare, and fee what they have feen, with a defire to take the moft effectual method that may be for drawing them to Christ. Hence, as this woman fpeaks out her very heart, fo fhe attempts to draw them to Chrift with the very fame hook with which fhe was drawn afhore herfelf: He told me all things that ever I did: Is not this the Chrift? Therefore, come fee him.

[ocr errors]

6. If you have met with Chrift, and converfed with him, you will think long for another meeting with him, another fight of him; for this was the woman's disposition here; Come fee the man: fhe fpake as if fhe defired to be the foremoft in returning again to fee him. If you think you have got enough of Chrift, it is a fign you

have

Ii3

« PreviousContinue »