A CHILD OF LIGHT WALKING IN
Efficient causes of this distress - first, the Spirit; whether He hath any hand therein, and how far.
Having thus explicated and proved this, that this doth and
may befall one who truly fears the Lord, for the more full clearing of it I
will further shew -
I. The efficient causes;
II. The cases wherein;
IlI The ends for which, God leaves his children in such distresses.
I. For the efficient causes of this so woeful, desperate, dark condition of God's child; they are three which have a hand in it
1. God's Spirit.
2. A man's own guilty and fearful heart.
1. For God's Spirit. Although he hath a hand in some part of this disquietness yet we must take heed how we put upon him any of those doubts and desperate fears and conclusions whereby the child of God calls his state into question. For the spirit is not the direct efficient, or positive cause of them.
And to this end we may consider that known place, Rom. viii. 15, Ye have not received the spirit of bondage to fear again, but the spirit of adoption;' the right uderstanding of which will also prevent an objection. For some have alleged this place, as if the child of God, after he had once the Spirit, sealing adoption to him, could never after fall into apprehension of bondage - that is, into fears of eternal damnation - any more, or of being bound over for hell; and that this can befall him but once, and that at his first conversion.
But if we mark the words well, the Apostle affirmeth not that fears of bondage can never befall God's child again, but his scope is to shew that the Spirit which we have received, having been once become the spirit of adoption, that Spirit is never after again the spirit of bondage to us, nor the cauae of such fears. Indeed, at first conversion, and before he did witness adoption, He then revealed our estate to us to be an estate of bondage; which he then doth in love, to drive us out of it; and then indeed he was a spirit of bandage:' to which he hath reference when he says, to fear again,' because he were once such to them, and such the Holy Ghost then might be, and then witness to them that their estates were damnable; for then it was a truth, in that they had lived in an estate of bondage, whereunto damnation was immediately due; and had they died in it, had certainly fallen upon. them. But when once, by taking a man a son, he hath become the spirit of adoption to him then if ever he should put him into such apprehensions and fears again he should witness an untruth.. Therefore, for the comfort of them and all believers, he tells them that he never crosseth nor reverseth his testimony of adoption, but his office is to be ready as a witness to seal to it. But yet, though the judge doth not condemn any more, yet the jailor may trouble and affright us, and our own hearts may condemn us, 1 John iii. 21. God may give Satan leave to cast us into prison, to clap bolts upon us again, and to become a lying spirit of bondage to us, as he became a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets; and he may give up our hearts to be fettered with the cords of our own sins, Prov. v. 22, and to be ensnared with its own inventions, and fears, and jealousies.
For a more distinct understanding of this, to manifest how it comes to pass that all this befalls God's child, I will shew how far the Holy Ghost proceedeth in it, and puts forth his hand towards it; and what Satan's work is, where he strikes in, and our own hearts, to work further and deeper distress than the Holy Ghost by himself alone intended. For unto these several hands is the whole to be ascribed, and the works of God's Spirit, his concurrence therein, carefully to be severed from Satan's, as light darkness at the first.
Thus far, then, the Spirit of God may concur in this darkness that be his child: -
(1.) Privatively. He may suspend his testimony, and the execution his office of witnessing adoption; he may withdraw his comfortable presence and hide himself for a moment, and conceal his love, as other fathers sometimes do; as David did, when yet his heart was towards Absalom. may not admit him to see his face, he may shut a son out of doors, when yet he doth not cast him off. He may retain their sins, as Christ's expression is, John xx. 23 - that is, call in the patent of his pardon which had passed under his hand and seal, in earth, that is in their own consciences; take it out of their hands and custody, and call for it home into the pardon-office in heaven, Matt. xviii. 18, and there keep it. also when Satan comes and gives in a false witness and evidence, and own hearts thereupon likewise condemn us, the Holy Ghost may stand as it were, silent, and say nothing to the contrary, but forbear to contradict Satan by any loud testimony or secret rebuking him, as he doth at other times; as Zech. iii. 1, 2.
(2.) Positively. He may further proceed : -
(1) To reveal and represent God as angry with his child for such such sins formerly committed, and make him sensible thereof; not barely concealing his love, but by making impressions of his wrath upon his conscience immediately, and not by outward crosses only. Thus, Isa. lvii 18, God not only hid himself and was wroth, - that is, expressed his wrath by hiding himself - 'but I smote him and was wroth;' and ver. 16, 'he tended and was wroth,' - that is, fought against him as an enemy, as lxiii. 10, and this with his wrath upon his spirit. For it follows that spirit was ready to fail, and the soul which he had made. So as it was spirit which was the white God shot at and wounded, and that so deep it was ready to fail and come to nothing: which Solomon calls by way of distinction a wounded spirit, which who can bear? and differenceth it from other afflitions upon the outward man, which strike the spirit but through clothes of the body mediately; for, says he, the spirit of a man will sue his infirmity - that is, all such outward afflictions wherein it suffers but, by way of sympathy and compassion. But when the spirit itself is laid bare and naked, and wounded immediately by God's wrath, which only can hit and wound it, who can bear this? Thus towards Heman, God did not only hide his face from him, Ps. lxxxviii. 14, but his fierce wrath went over him and thy terrors, says he, 'cut me off,' ver. 16; not wounded him only, but even cut him off. And such impressions of immediate wrath, as expressions and effects of God's anger, the Holy Ghost may make upon the spirit of his child. For it is a truth that God is angry and wroth with them when they sin; which anger he may make known, not only by dumb signs in outward crosses and effects, but by an immediate witnessing, and plain and express speaking so much to their consciences, and making them to feel so much, by scalding drops of his hot displeasure let fall thereon. And as other fathers shew their anger by whipping the bodies of their children, upon this ground, as says the apostle, because they are the fathers of our flesh, Heb. xii 9; so, for the like reason, may God shew his anger and chastise his children by lashing their spirits: for he is the 'Father of our spirits,' as he speaks. in the same place. And likewise our spirits, and the very bones and marrow of them, do lie open and naked to him with whom we have to do; and his word and Spirit being 'quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,' are able to divide, and cut even to the bones and marrow, as the same author speaks, Heb. iv. 12, 13. Yet withal, so as when he expresseth his wrath thus upon their consciences, he doth not witness that this is an eternal wrath which he hath conceived against them; for it is but a temporary displeasure, it is but for a moment,' as Isaiah speaks, the indignation of a father; nor is it a wrath which revenging justice hath stirred in him, but fatherly affection, Heb. xii. 6. And though the Spirit tells them that God is displeased, yet never that they are accursed; that is a false collection made out of it. Yet -
(2) The Holy Ghost may proceed yet further herein; so far as to bring forth, and'shew him, and shake over him the rod of his eternal wrath, especially when he hath provoked Christ by presumptuous sins already, and to prevent his going on frowardly in the way of his heart. And this, both by presenting to them and setting on all those threatenings, which do hypothetically and conditionally threaten, even to believers, eternal damnation: such as that which we find, Rom. viii. 13,' If ye live after the flesh', ye, even you believers, shall die; for there is a truth in all such threatenings, so conditionally propounded, which reacheth God's dearest children, under a condition, and with relation to going on in sin. To stop him and prevent him in which, when he is agoing on frowardly in the way of his heart, the Holy Spirit may bring home such threatenings to him, with respect to such a course as he is entering into, and accordingly stir up the fear of that damnation thus threatened, if he should go on in those sins he hath begun to commit. But to apply threatenings of eternal damnation simply to his person, as that thou shalt die eternally, this the Holy Ghost doth not speak to the heart of a believer, when he is a believer. And again also, the Holy Ghost may represent to him and mind him of all those examples of men in whom, for their going on in sin, his soul hath had no pleasure, Heb. x. 39; and of God's dealings with them, - as how he aware against many of the Israelites, for their provocations of him, that they should never enter into his rest; and how he rejected Esau for the despisal of his birthright, - and all this with this end, to startle and awaken him; and with this intimation, that for such and such sins God might in like manner deal with him. For these and the like examples doth the Spirit of God set before the believing Hebrews, Heb. iii, xli.; aiid the believing Corinthians, 1 Cor. x. 5 - 13, to keep them in fearfulness to offend. But to apply any such examples absolutely unto them, so as to say, Thus God intends to do with thee for such and such sins, and that God will never be merciful, this the Holy Ghost doth not speak to believer's heart.
How Satan and our hearts increase this darkness by false conclusions from the Spirit's work, illustrated by the like in the illumination of temporaries. - The Spirit's work in both compared.
And now the Spirit of God having proceeded thus far himself in causing such darkness and terrors of conscience in them that fear him; Satan and their own hearts, unto which he may and doth often further also leave them, may take occasion from these dispensations of the Holy Ghost, which are all holy, righteous, and true, to draw forth false and fearful conclusions against themselves and their estates, and start amazing doubts and fears of their utter want of grace, and lying under the curse and threatenings of eternal wrath at the present, yea, and further, of eternal rejection for the future and that God will never be merciful; and so lay them lower, and cast them into a further darkness and bondage than the Holy Ghost was cause of or intended: misinterpreting and perverting all these his righteous proceedings, as interpreting that withdrawing his light and presence, and himself; to be a casting them off (thus Heman, Ps. lxxxviii. 14;) so, likewise, misconstruing that temporary wrath, chastising and wounding the spirits for the present, to be no other than the impressions and earnest of God's eternal vengeance; and arguing, from their being under wrath, themselves to be children of wrath; and misapplying the application of all those threatenings of eternal damnation made by the Spirit, but in relation and under a condition of such and such courses for the future, to be absolute against their persons, and to speak their present estate. And because such examples of men cast off are presented to them, to shew them what advantage God might take against them; they, mistaking, think they read it be own destiny laid before them in them, and conclude that God will deal so with them. And thus the Apostle saysof sin, Rom. vii. 11, that 'sin taking occasion by the commandment' - he misunderstanding the scope of it when a Pharisee, - ' it deceived him, and therefore slew him;' and yet the commandment is holy, just, and good,' ver. 12. So Satan and our hearts, by occasion of these dealings of the Spirit, which are righteous and true, as himself is, who is the Spirit of truth and leads into truth, do deceive believers, and lay them in their apprehensions among the slain, whom God remembereth no more, as Heman speaks, Ps. lxxxviii. 5.
And as in these, so in other works and dispensations of God's Spirit, it is ordinary for Satan and our hearts to practise the like delusions and faulty conclusions upoz them. To instance in those more common and inferior works of the Spirit on the hearts of men, not as yet savingly regenerated: the Spirit enlightening them, together with impressions of joy, and a taste of sweetness in the promises of the gospel, and of salvation revealed therein which, under a condition of true repentance and conversion, the Spirit of God doth make the offer and tender of, known unto their hearts. Thus he wrought upon the stony ground, and in the Jews by John's ministry, John v. 35; which light, and taste, and revelation of this conditional proffer, tending in a way unto salvation, by alluring their hearts to seek it, they often through Satan's abuse of this good work, and the self-flattery of their own hearts, do too hastily take to be that grace which accompanies salvation, or which hath salvation annexed to it; from which the Apostle, by that very expression,Heb. vi. 9, doth difference those enlightenings mentioned ver. 4. They thus mistaking these works precursory to grace, even as the Jews mistook John, that was sent but before to prepare the way for Christ, to be that very true Christ that was to come into the world, and misunderstanding the intendment of God's most blessed Spirit in such his dealings, they make up too hasty a conclusion not meant by the Spirit in those premises.
And I instance in these the rather, because these his dispensations of desertion, which we have in hand, towards them already regenerated, and those forementioned visitations towards such as often attain not to regeneration, are in an opposite way of comparison exceeding parallel, and much alike in the dispensations themselves, - as well as in the differing false conclusions which are drawn from either, - and do therefore exceedingly illustrate the one the other; God withdrawing himself as much in their sense from those who are in covenant with him, as he draws near unto and visits their hearts from on high who are as yet strangers to him. The needle of God's favour and love varying as much, that I may so allude, towards hell in their compass. who shall be saved, as it doth heavenward in the other, many of whom arrive not thither. For as they are brought nigh to the kingdom of heaven, as Christ told him, Matt. xii. 34; so of true believers it may be said, that their souls do often draw near to hell in their own sense and apprehension, and the pains of hell do take hold upon them. And as the other are enlightened, as Balaam was, so they are left to walk in darkness and see no light; and do taste of that wrath which the law threatens, as those other taste the goodness of that salvation the gospel offereth. God, out of a temporary anger, chastising them for a moment, as with a temporary favour he shineth upon the other. That as they for a season rejoice in that light, John v. 35, so God's dearest children may be for a season in much heaviness, as the Apostle speaks, 1 Pet. i. 6, and walk in darkness. And as the similitude of the dealings themselves runs thus far along in a parallel line of comparison, so it holds in the fake apprehensions which Satan and our hearts do make out of both. And the cause of the mistake in each is also alike. For God's dealings with those temporary believers being so like to those dealings towards such as receive a state of adoption from him, they thence too hastily conclude their acceptance unto life. And, on the contrary, God's dealings with these temporary despairers, as I may so call them, being so like in their sense to his proceedings with those he cuts off for ever, they, in like manner, as hastily conclude (I said in my haste, says David) their eternal rejection. Only in the issue they prove unlike: these desertions tending but to the present discomfort of true believers through their frailty; but in the other, through their own willing neglect, their enlightenings turn to their destruction.
So as, to conclude, we must warily sever the work of God's Spirit herein from that of Satan and our own hearts, not attributing such desperate conclusions to the Spirit. Thus that depth of sorrow wherewith that humbled Corinthian was well-nigh swallowed up, 2 Cor. ii. 7, is ascribed unto Satan, when, ver. 11, it is made and termed one of his devices, which word doth in part refer to the Corinthian's sorrow. Thus David also imputes that his questioning, Pa. lxxvii., whether God would be merciful to him, ver. 7, unto his own heart; this is my infirmity, says he, ver. 10.. So as the blame herein is to be divided between Satan and our hearts - To speak more particularly of either.
How our own hearts are the causes of this darkness. - The principles therein which are the causes of it.
2. THAT our own hearts should be the causes and producers
of such distress and darkness, when the Holy Ghost thus deals with us, is at
all no wonder; because -
(1.) As we are creatures, there is such a weakness and infirmity in us, as David speaks; by reason of which, if God doth but hide himself and withdraw his presence, which supporteth us in comfort, as in being, we are ready presently to fall into these fears of ourselves. The Psalmist saith of all the creatures, 'Thou hidest thy face, and they are troubled,' Ps. civ. 29; and this by reason of their weakness and dependence upon God. And no less, but far greater, is the dependence of the new creature upon God's face and presence; that it cannot be alone and bear up itself; but it fails if God hide himself, as Isaiah speaks, chap. lvii. Especially now in this life, during the infancy thereof, whilst it is a child, as God speaks of Ephraim, Hos. xi. 1; then it cannot stand or go alone, unless God bear it up in his arms, and teach it to go, as he speaks there, ver. 1 - 3 And then also, as children left alone in the dark are afraid of bugbears, and they know, not what, and are apt to stumble and full, which is by reason of their weakness; so is it with the new creature in its childhood here in this life. It was my infirmity, says David; and again, 'Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled,' Ps. xxx. 7.
There is not only such a weakness in us as we are creatures; but -
(2.) Also an innate darkness in our spirits as we are sinful creatures. Since the fall, our hearts of themselves are nothing but darkness, and therefore no wonder if when God but draws the curtains, and shuts up the light, from us, that our hearts should engender and conceive such horrid fears and doubts. Thus, in 2 Cor. iv. 6, the Apostle compareth this native darkness of our hearts unto that chaos and lump of darkness which, at the first creation, covered the face of the deep, when he says that God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness,- he referreth to the first creation, Gen. i. 1, 2, hath shined into our hearts, even of us apostles, 'to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' So that no longer than God continues to shine, either the light of comfort or of grace, no longer do our hearts, even of us believers, retain light in them. And if at any time he withhold that light of comfort in his face, when yet he continueth an influence of grace, then so far do our hearts presently return to their former darkness; and then doth that vast womb of darkness conceive and form all those fears and doubts within itself. Considering withal that our hearts are a great deep also, so deep in darkness and deceitfulness as no plummet can fathom them; deceitful above all things, who can know it! Jer. xvii. 9. Darkness covereth not the face of this deep only, but it is darkness to the bottom, throughout darkness. No wonder then, if when the Spirit ceaseth to move upon this deep with beams of light, it cast us into such deeps and darkness as Heman, complaining, speaks of, Ps. lxxxviii. 6, and frameth in itself such hideous apprehensions and desperate conclusions of a man's own estate.
(3.) Especially seeing there is so much strength of carnal and corrupt reason in men, ready to forge and invent strong reasons and arguments to confirm those sad fears and darkened apprehensions; and those drawn from those dealings of God's Spirit mentioned. For as it is said of the Gentiles, that when their foolish hearts were darkened, - that is, when left and given over to their own natural darkness, - ' they became vain in their imaginations', (as the original hath it) in their reasonings, Rom. i. 21; and even in those things which God had clearly revealed in his works to the light of nature, of which that place speaks: so may it be said even of those who have been most enlightened, that their hearts are apt to become much more vain in their reasonings about, and in the judging of, their own estates before God, out of his word and dealings with them, if God once leaves them in darkness. And this that great caveat given to professors, James i. 22, gives understand, when they are exhorted to take heed that in hearing the word they be not found deceiving themselves by false reasonings. As if we should say, false-reasoning themselves: as we use to say, in a like phrase of speech, befooling themselves. And this is spoken of judging of their own estates, concerning which men are more apt, through the distempers and prejudices of self-love to make (to speak in that phrase of the Apostle) false syllogisms, and misconclude, than about any other spiritual truth whatever. And as men that want true faith, the unsound hearers of the word, of whom the Apostle there speaks, are thus apt, through carnal reason misapplying the word they hear, to frame and draw from thence, as he insinuates, multitudes of falal reasons to uphold and maintain to themselves a good opinion of their estates so, on the contrary, in those who have true faith, all that carnal reason which remains in a great measure unsubdued in them, is as apt to raise and forge as strong objections against the work of faith begun, and as peremptorily to conclude against their present estates by the like misapplication of the word, but especially by misinterpreting God's dealings towards them
And they being sometimes led by sense and reason, whilst they walk in darkness, they are apt to misinterpret God's mind towards them rather by His works and dispensations, which they see and feel, than by his word, which they are to believe, This we see in Gideon, Judges vi, who, because God wrought not miracles, as he had formerly for his people, but had delivered them into their enemies hands, from thence reasoneth against the message of the angel, (Christ himself;) who had told him, 'The Lord is with thee,' ver. 12. But he objects, Oh, my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? Where be all the miracles which our fathers told us of? But now the Lord hath forsaken us,' &c. This we may also see in Asaph, that other holy penman of the 73rd. Psalm; 'his heels were well-nigh tripped up in the dark: My feet were almost gone,' says he, ver. 2, - that is, from keeping his standing by faith,' as the apostle speaks, Rom. v., - and this by an argument framed by carnal reason, from God's dispensation of outward prosperity to wicked men, but, on the contrary, chastening of him every morning, with outward afflictions, as the opposition doth there import And how peremptory is he in his conclusion thence deduced? 'Verily, I cleansed my heart in vain,'ver. 13; and what reason hath he? For all the day long I have been plagued,' &c., ver. 14. He thonght his reason strong and irrefragable, else he would not have been so concludent: Verily,' &c. But what would this man have said and thought if he had been in Heman's condition, or in Job's or David's? If in those shallows of outward troubles, which are common to man, his faith could not find footing, but he was well- nigh carried away with the common stream and error of wicked men, to have condemned himself and the generation of the righteous,' ver. 15; how would his faith have been overborne if all God's waves and billows had gone over him? as David complains, Psalm xiii. 7. How would he have sunk in Heman's deeps, Psalm lxxxviii.? or in David's, Psalm lxix. 2, I sink in the deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me? speaking of such waters as came in unto his soul, ver 1, even the floods of God's immediate wrath breaking in upon his conscience, overflowing the inward man, and not the outward only. How much more peremptorily would he have concluded against him, self if this had been his condition? As indeed they, and many others of the generation of God's chjldren have done, when they have lain under and walked in such distresses.
And the reason of all this is as evident as the experience of it
[1.] In general; reason is of itself a busy principle, that will be prying. into, and making false glosses upon all God's matters as well as our own, and trying its skill in arguing upon all his dealings with us. Thus Jeremiah must needs be reasoning with God about his dispensations towards wicked men, chap. iii. 1, 2; and Job, of his dealings with himself, chap. xiii. 3. And reason being likewise the supreme principle in us by nature, and our highest difference as we are men, therefore no wonder if, when we are left to ourselves to walk in darkness, we walk as men, as the Apostle speaks, 2 Cor. x. 3; and, to use Solomon's words, do lean to our own wisdom, Prov. iii. 5, even because it is our own, and was brought up with us. It is our great Ahithophel, and, as David says of him, our guide, with whom we have taken so 'such sweet counsel' in all our worldly and politic affairs. In which only we should make use of its advice; but we too often take it into the sanctuary with us, and walk in company with it into the house of God,' (to allude to what David says there, Psalm lv. 13, 14;) that is, we suffer it to meddle in matters that pertain to the sanctuary, and to debate and conclude of our spiritual and eternal estates, as well as of our temporal And, which is worse, we are opinionative of its judgment therein: 'I thought,' says Asaph, in that forementioned psalm, to know this,' ver.16, - that is, he thought to have comprehended and reached God's mind, in those his dispensations, by the discussions of reason, and so to have concluded rightly from them; whereas, after he had gone into the sanctuary ver, 17, with faith alone, and thereby consulted with the word, be confesseth is own wisdom and best reason to have been as ignorant of God's meaning, and of those rules he proceedeth by, in those his dispensations towards his children, even as a beast (ver 22) is of those principles men walk by, or the intentions they have in their ways. If reason then, when it is so utterly unskilful and mistaken in the premises, will yet be exercising and trying its faculty in reasoning from them, no wonder if the conclusions thence deduced be so wide and wild; and yet, with Asaph, we think we know this.
[2.] But more particularly; carnal reason is the most desperate enemy to faith of all other principles man. For until faith be wrought, it is the most supreme principle; but then faith deposeth and subjecteth it, and afterwards doth often contradict it; yea, exclude it, as unskilful in its matters, from being of its counsel. And so deep and desperate is this enmity against faith, that look, what is the most especial work and business of faith, which is to alter our estates before God, and put us into a state of justification and to assure us of it, therein it shews a more peculiar enmity agamst faith, by opposing it in that work of it more than in any other. This enmity shews itself both before and after faith is wrought, and the one illustrates the other. For as before faith was wrought, carnal reason shews its opposition, by using the utmost of its strength to persuade a man of the goodness of his estate, though without faith; thereby to prevent the entrance of faith and our seeking after it at all, as not needful to change our estates or to justify us, and thus would keep it wholly out; and therefore, in the first working of faith, the Holy Ghost brings faith in by force of open arms, as a conqueror casting down all those strongholds and reasonings - which carnal reason had been long a-building and a-fortifying and so erecteth faith a throne upon the ruins of them all: thus, in like manner, after faith is thus wrought, all that carnal reason which is left un-subdued doth, out of a further revenge of such an overthrow, and with a greater degree of enmity, oppose faith still; only it diverts the war, now mustering up new forces, and turneth all the great ordnance a clean contrary way; namely, to persuade a man, by all the objections it can raise, of the badness of his estate now, as before of the goodness of it; hereby to blaspheme the great work of faith in justifying of us. And also because that, next to justifying us, the office and errand of faith is to settle in our hearts peace with God, and a persuasion of our being in his favour, as Rom. v. 1 ; therefore doth carnal reason bend the utmost of its power and acumen to persuade upon all occasions, by all the most specious and seeming arguments it can start and suggest, that God is not at peace with us, nor as yet reconciled to us; merely to contradict faith in what is the principal point it would persuade us of.
So that as in men, whilst unregenerate, carnal reason endeavours by false reasonings to preserve a good opinion of their estates in them; in like manner, the very same principle of carnal reason, continuing its opposition to faith, doth as much persuade to a bad opinion of their estates when they are once regenerated. -
[3.] And to conclude this; if in any condition that befalls God's child carnal reason hath the advantage and upper ground of faith, it is now when it is in the valley of the shadow of death,' as David speaks, when it walks in darkness, and hath no light. A condition that doth afford a most complete topic for carnal reason to frame objections out of; when, in respect God's dealings with him, there is a seeming conjunction of all bad aspects, threatening perdition and destruction; when faith is under so great an eclipse, and is left to fight it out alone in darkness, and hath no second, when, on the contrary, carnal reason and our dark hearts, which are led by sense, are possessed with the sense, the deepest and most exquisite sense, - and impressions of (that which the heart is most jealous of) God's sore wrath and displeasure, and that felt and argued, not mediately and afar or by consequence from outward afflictions, but immediately from God's own hand. -Thou always hast suspected, says carnal reason, that thou wert a child of wrath, and that thou and God were enemies, but now thou findest it put out of question, and that from God's own mouth, who speaketh grievous things against thee,' Jer. xxxi. 20:. thou hast it also under his own hand, for lo, he writeth bitter things against thee,' - that is, in thy conscience, - as Job speaks, chap. xiii. 26, and holdeth thee for an enemy,' ver. 24; and whips thee with the same rod of his immediate wrath and displeasure wherewith he lasheth those that are cut from his hand, and whom he remembereth no more, but are now in hell, as Heman speaks. A time also this is when this present sense of wrath so distempers, and, to use Heman's words, distracts the mind, that it cannot listen to faith, which speaks of nothing too but of what it sees not; even as the people of Israel could not attend to Moses's message of deliverance, through the anguish of their present bondage, Exod. vi. 9. So as no wonder if then carnal reason be most busy, and takes this advantage to frame and suggest the strongest objections tb the soul whilst it is in this distemper.
(4.) Add unto all this, that as there is such strength of corrupt reason which is thus opposite to faith, so that there are many other principles of corrupt affections in the heart which join and take part with carnal reason in all this its opposition against faith, and which set it a-work and do back it as much in persuading God's children that their estates are nought, as in securing men unregenerate that their estates are good; and the hand of self-love, which bribeth and biaseth carnal reason, especially in judging of our estates, is found as deep in the one as in the other; - and this doth yet give further light to this point in hand. For look, as before faith is wrought, self-flattery, which is one branch of self-love, bribeth and setteth carnal reason a-work to plead the goodness of their estates to men unregenerate, and causeth all such false reasons to take with them which tend to persuade them to think well of themselves: so when once faith is wrought, jealousy, and suspiciousnss, and incredulity, - which are other as great sprigs of pride and self-love in us as the former, which do begin to sprout and shew themselves when that other is lopped off, and which do grow up together with the work of faith, - these do edge and sharpen the wit of carnal reason to argue and. wrangle against the work of faith and grace begun; and all such objections as carnal reason doth find out against it are pleasing and plausible to these corrupt principles, for they are thereby nourished and strengthened.
And the reason why such jealousies and suspicions, &c., - which are such contrary dispositions unto self-flattery, which swayed our opinions of our estates before, - should thus arise and be started up in the heart upon the work of faith, and be apt rather to prevail now after faith, is, [1.] because that in the work of humiliation, which prepares for faith, all those strongholds of carnal reason being demolished which upheld self-flattery, and that false good opinion of a man's estate, and those mountainous thoughts of presumption as then laid low, a man is for ever put out of conceit with himself; as of himself At which time also, [2.] he was so thoroughly and feelingly convinced of the heinousness of sin, which before he slighted, and of the greatness and multitude of his sins, that he is apt now, instead of presuming as before, to be jealous of God, lest he might have been so provoked as never to pardon him; and is accordingly apt to draw a misinterpretation of all God's dealings with him to strengthen that conceit. And, I having through the same conviction, the infinite error and deceitfulness of his heart before, in flattering him and judging his estate good when it is most accursed, so clearly discovered and discerned, he thereby becomes exceeding jealous, and afraid of erring on that hand still, and so is apt to lend an ear to any doubt and scruple that is suggested. Especially,  he being withal made apprehensive both of that infinite danger to his eternal salvation there may be in nourishing a false opinion of the goodness of his estate, if it should prove otherwise; because such a false conceit keeps a man from saving faith, whereas to cherish the contrary error in judging his estate bad, when it is in truth good, tends but to his present discomfort: so as he thinks it safer to err on that hand than the other - And,  being also sensible of what transcendent concernment his eternal salvtion is of, which he before slighted, this rouseth suspicion, - which in all matter of great consequence and moment is always doubting and inquisitive, and also keeps it waking, which before lay asleep all these being now startled and stirred up, do not only provoke carnal reason unsatisfiedly to pry into all things that may seem to argue God's disfavour, - or the unsoundness of our hearts, but also do give entertainment and applaud all such objections as are found out, and makes up too hastily false conclusions from them.
(5.) Last of all, as there are these corrupt principles of carnal reason and suspiciousness in us, to raise and foment these doubts- and fears from God's dealing towards us; so there is an abundance of guilt within us, of our false dealings towards him. And we have consciences, which remain in part defiled, which may further join with all these, and increase our fears and doubtings ; and as we are dark and weak creatures, so guilty creatures also. And this guilt, like the waves of the sea, or the swellings of Jordan, do begin upon these terrible storms from God to rise, and swell, and overflow in our consciences. As in David, Ps. xxxviii. when God's wrath was upon him, ver. 1, 2, then also he complains, 'mine iniquities are gone over head,' ver 4.- There is much guile and falseness of heart, which in those distemper when our consciences do boil within us, and are stirred and heated to the bottom, doth, like the scum, come up and float aloft. Thus, in David, when he was under the rod for his sin of murder, as the guilt of his sin, so the guile of his spirit came up, and he calls for truth in the inward parts,' Pa .- & For as his sin, ver. 2, so his falseness of heart was ever before him; and with an eye to this he spake that speech, Ps. xxxii. Oh, blessed is that man in whose spirit is no guile, and to whom the Lord imputeth no sin. Thus he spake when God had charged upon him the guilt of his sin, and discovered to him the guile of his spirit, ver. 4, 5. And this guile doth oftentimes so appear, that our consciences can hardly discern any thing else to be in us; it lies uppermost, and covers our graces from our view: and like as the chaff, when the wheat is tossed in the fan, comes up to the top, so in these commotions and winnowings of spirit do our corruptions float in our consciences, whilst the graces that are in us lie covered under them out of sight; and the dark side of our hearts, as of the cloud, is turned towards us and the light side from us. And indeed there are the best of us humours enough, which if they be stirred and congreted from our consciences, -may alone cast us into these burning fits of trouble and d& tress; so as whilst God's Spirit shall withhold from us the light of our graces, and our own consciences represent to us the guile and corruptions that are in our best performances, our hearts may conclude ourselves hypocrites, as Mr Bradford in some of his letters doth of himself, and others of the saints have done. Yes, so as even our own consciences - which are the only principle now left in us which should take part with and encourag faith, and witness to us, as the office of it is, the goodness of our estates - In this may join with the former corruptions against us, and bring in a false evidence, and pronounce a false judgment. Even conscience itself, which is ordained, as the urine of the body, to shew the estate of the whole, and therefore is accordingly called good or evil as the man's state is, this is apt in such distempers to change and turn colour, and look to a man's own view as foul as the state of a very hypocrite.
And the reason of this is also as evident as is the experience of it because conscience remains in part defiled in a man that is regenerate; and though we are sprinkled from an evil conscience in part, yet not wholly: so as though our persons are fully discharged from the guilt of our sins, through the sprinkling of Christ's blood, before God; yet the sprinkling of that blood upon our consciences, whereby we apprehend this, is imperfect. And the reason is, because this very sprinkling of conscience, whereby it testifies the sprinkling of Christ's blood, and our justification thereby, is but part of the sanctification of conscience, as it is a faculty, whose office and duty is to testify and witness our estates; and therefore, as the sanctification of all other faculties is imperfect, so of conscience also herein. And hence it is that when God's Spirit forbeareth to witness with conscience the goodess of our estates, and ceaseth to embolden and encourage conscience by his presence, and the sprinkling of Christ's blood upon it against the remaining defilement, that then our consciences are as apt to fall into fears, and doubts, and self-condemnings, even as much as when be withdraws the assistance of his grace, those other faculties are to fall into any other sin. And therefore, as the law of sin in the other members may be up in arms and prevail so far as to lead us captive unto sin; so may the guilt of sin in our conscience remaining in part defiled, by the same reason prevail against us, and get the upper hand, and lead us captive to fears and doubting; and cast us into bondage.
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