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if it be not utterly extinguished : in the latter it retains . its full force, or rather increases daily. In these, faith itself, if not totally lost, is howerer grievously decayed. Their evidence and conviction of things not seen, particularly of the pardoning love of God, is not, so clear or strong as in time past : and their trust in him is proportionably weakened. Those, though they see him pot, yet have a clear, unshaken confidence in God, and an abiding evidence of that love, whereby all their sins are blotted out. So that as long as we can distinguish faith from unbelief, hope from despair, peace from war, the love of God from the love of the world, we may in. fallibly distinguish heaviness from darkness.
2. We may learn from hence, secondly, That there may be need of heaviness, but there can be no need of darkness. There may be need of our being in heaviness for a season, in order to the ends above recited: at least, in this sense, as it is a natural result of those manifold temptations, which are needful to try and increase our faith, to confirm and enlarge our hope, to purify our heart from all unholy tempers, and to perfect us in love. · And by consequence they are needful, in order to brighten our crown, and add to our eternal weight of glory. But we cannot say, that darkness is needful in order to any of these ends. It is no way conducive to them : the loss of faith, hope, love, is surely neither conducive to holiness, nor to the increase of that reward in heaven, which will be in proportion to our holiness on earth.
3. From the apostle's manner of speaking we may gather, thirdly, That even heaviness is not always beedful. Now, for a season, if need be : so it is not needfull for all persons ; nor for any person, at all times. God is able, he hath both power and wisdom, to work when he pleases, the same work of grace, in any soul, by other means. And in some instances he doth so : he causes those whom it pleaseth him to go on from strength to strength, even till they perfeEt holiness in his fear, with scarce any heaviness, at all: as having an absolute power over the heart of man, and moving all the springs of it at; his pleasure. But these cases are rare : God generally sees good to try acceptable men
in the furnace of affliction. So that manifold temptatioris and heaviness, more or less, are usually the portion of his dearest children.
4. We ought therefore, Jastly, to watch and pray and use our utmost endeavours to avoid falling into darkness. But we need not be solicitous how to avoid, so much as how to improve by heaviness. Our great care should be, so to behave ourselves under it, so to wait upon the Lord therein, that it may fully answer all the design of his love, in permitting it to come upon us : that it may be a means of increasing our faith, of confirming our hope, of perfecting us in all holiness. Whenever it comes, let us have an eye to these gracious ends, for which it is permitted, and use all diligence, that we may not make void the counsel of God against ourselves. Let us earnestly work together with him, by the grace which he is continually giving us, in purifying ourselves from all pollution both of flesh and spirit, and daily growing in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, till we are received into his everlasting kingdom!
And he said to them all, If any man will come after nie, let
tion here given, related chiefly, if not wholly to he apostles : at least to the Cliristians of the first ages, or those in a state of persecution. But this is a grievous mistake : for although our blessed Lord is here directing his discourse more immediately to his apostles, and ihose other disciples who attended him in the days of his flesh, yet in them he speaks to us, and to all mankind, without any exception or limitation. The very
reason of the thing puts it beyond dispute, that the duty which is here enjoined, is not peculiar to them, or to the Christians of the early ages. It no more regards any particular order of men, or particular time, than any particular country. No: it is of the most universal nature, respecting all times and all persons. Yea, and all things; not meats and drinks only, and things pertaining to the
The meaning is, If any man of whatever rank, station, circumstances, in any nation, in any age of the world, will effectually come after me, let him deny himself in all things : let himn take up his cross, of whatever kind, yea, and that daily, and follow me.
2. The denying ourselves and the taking up our cross, in the full extent of the expression, is not a thing of small concern: it is not expedient only, as are some of the circumstantials of religion ; but it is absolutely, indispensably necessary, either to our becoming, or continuing bis disciples. It is absolutely necessary, in the very nature of the thing, to our coming after him and following him. Insomuch that as far as we do not practise it, we are not his disciples. If we do not continually deny ourselves, we do not learn of him, but of other masters. If we do not take up our cross daily, we do not come after him: but after the world, or the prince of the world, or our own fleshly mind. If we are not walking in the way of the cross, we are not following him; we are not treading, in his steps, but going back from, or at least wide of him.
3. It is for this reason that so many ministers of Christ, in almost every age and nation, particularly since the reformation of the church from the innovations and corruptions gradually crept into it, have wrote and spoke so largely on this important duty, both in their public discourses and private exhortations. This induced them to disperse abroad many tracts upon the subject; and some in our own nation. They knew both from the oracles of God, and from the testimony of their own experience, how impossible it was not to deny our master, unless we will deny ourselves: and how vainly we attempt to follow him that was crucified, unless we take up our own cross daily. may not this very consideration make it rea
sonable to enquire; If so much has been said and wrote
In order to supply this defect in some degree, I shall endeavour to shew, first, What it is for a man to deny himself, and what to take up his cross; and, secondly, That if a man be not fully Christ's disciple, it is always owing to the want of this.
posl., 1. I shall, first,' endeavour to shew, What it is for a man, to deny himself, and take up his cross daily. This zis a point which is of all others most necessary to be considered, and thoroughly understood, even on this account, that it is of all others most opposed, by numerous and powerful enemies. All our nature must certainly rise up against this, even in its own defence : the world consequently, the men who take nature. not gracé, for their guide, abhor the very sound of it. And the great enemy of our souls, well knowing its importance, cannot but move every stone against it. But this is not all : even those who have in some measure shaken off the yoke of the devil, who have experienced, especially of late years, a real work of grace in their hearts, yet are no friends to this grand doctrine of Christianity, tho' it is so peculiarly insisted on by their Master. 'Some of them are as deeply and totally ignorant concerning it, cas: if there was not one word about it in the bible. Others are farther off still, having unawares imbibed strong prejudices against it. These they have received parity from outside Christians ; men of a fair speech and behariour, who want nothing of godliness, but the power ; notbing of religion, but the spirit: and partly from those who did once, if they do not now, laste of the poreers of the world to come But are there any of these who do not both practise self-denial themselves, and recommend it to others ? You are little acquainted with mankind, if you doubt of this.
doubt of this. There are whole bodies of men who do even declare war against it. To go nortarther than London. Look upon the whole body of Predesti varians, who by: the free mercy of God, have Jately been called out of the darkness of nature, into the light of faith. Are they patterns of self-denial? How few ofthem even profess to practise it at all! How few of them recommend it themselves, or are pleased with them that.do? Rather do they not continually represent