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a confident persuasion that God had pardoned them, and was become their friend, and that they should be delivered from that wrath of which they now are in trembling expectation. If the devils go so far as you have heard, even in their circumstances, being totally- cast off, and given up to unrestrained wickedness, being without hope, knowing that God is, and ever will be their enemy, they suffering his wrath without mercy: How far may we reasonably suppose they might go, in imitation of grace and pious experience, if they had the same degree of knowledge, as clear views, and as strong conviction, under circumstances of hope, and offers of mercy; and being the subjects of common grace, restraining their corruptions, and assisting and exciting the natural principles of reason, conscience, &c. ? Such things, or any thing like them, in the heart of a sinner in this world; at the same time that he, from some strong impression on his imagination, has suddenly, after great terrors, imbibed a confidence, that now this great God is bis Friend and Father, has released him from all the misery he feared, and has promised him eternal happinesss : I say, such things would, doubtless, vastly heighten his ecstacy of joy, and raise the exercise of natural gratitude, (that principle from whence sinners love those that love them, and would occasion a great imitation of many graces in strong exercises. Is it any wonder then that multitudes under such a sort of affection are deceived ? Especially when they have devils to help forward the delusion, whose great subtilty has chiefly been exercised in deceiving mankind through all past generations.
INQ. Here possibly some may be ready to inquire, If there be so many things which men may experience from no higlier principles than are in the minds and hearts of devils; what are those exercises and affections that are of a higher nature, which I must find in my heart, and which I may justly look upon as sure signs of the saving grace of God's Spirit
Ans. I answer, those exercises and affections which are good evidences of grace, differ from all that the devils have, and all that can arise from such principles as are in their hearts, in two things, viz. their foundation and their tendency:
1. They differ in their foundation, or in that belonging to them which is the foundation of all the rest that pertains to them, viz. An apprehension or sense of the supreme holy beauty and comeliness of divine things, as they are in themselves, or in their own nature.
Of this the devils and damned in bell are, and for ever will be, entirely destitute. This the devils once had, while
they stood in their integrity; but they wholly lost it when
The wicked, at the day of judgment, will see every thing
affecting to them. They shall be made to know effectually, “ That he is the Lord.” They shall see what he is, and what he does; his nature and works shall appear in the strongest view: but his infinite beauty and amiableness, which is all in all, and without which every other property is nothing, and worse than nothing, they will not see.
Therefore in a sight or sense of this fundamentally consists the difference between the saving grace of God's Spirit, and the experiences of devils and damned souls. This is the foundation of every thing else that is distinguishing in true Christian experience. This is the foundation of the faith of God's elect. This gives the mind a saving belief of the truth of divine things. It is a view of the excellency of the gospel, or sense of the divine beauty and amiableness of the scheme of doctrine there exhibited, that savingly convinces the mind that it is indeed divine or of God. This account of the matter is plainly implied ; 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. " But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world hatb blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them.” And, verse 6, “ For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” It is very evident that a saving belief of the gospel, is here spoken of by the apostle as arising from a view of the divine glory or beauty of the things it exhibits. It is by this view that the soul of a true convert is enabled savingly to see the sufficiency of Christ for his salvation. He that has his eyes opened to behold the divine superlative beauty and loveliness of Jesus Christ, is convinced of his sufficiency to stand as a Mediator between him, a guilty hell-deserving wretch, and an infinitely holy God, in an exceeding different manner than ever he can be convinced by the arguments of authors or preachers, however excellent.
When be once comes to see Christ's divine loveliness, he wonders no more that he is thought worthy by God the Father to be accepted for the vilest sinner. Now it is not difficult for hiin to conceive how the blood of Christ should be esteemed by God so precious as to be worthy to be accepted as a compensation for the greatest sins. The soul now properly sees the preciousness of Christ, and so does properly see and understand the very ground and reason of his acceptableness to God, and the value God sets on his blood, obedience, and intercession. This satisfies the poor guilty soul, and gives it rest, when the finest and most elaborate discourses about the sufficiency of Christ and suitableness of the way of salpation, would not do it. When a man comes to see the
proper foundation of faith and affiance with his own eyes, then he believes savingly. . “ He that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, hath everlasting life;" John vi. 40. When Christ thus manifests God's name to men, then they believe that all things whatsoever God has given to Christ are of him, and believe that Christ was sent of God; John xvii. 6, 7, 8. And “they that thus know Christ's name will trust in him ;" Psalm ix. 10. In order to true faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God is revealed in men, Gal. i. 15, 16. And it is this sight of the divine beauty of Christ, that bows the wills, and draws the hearts of men. A sight of the greatness of God in his attributes, may overwhelm men, and be more than they can endure; but the enmity and opposition of the heart may remain in its full strength, and the will remain inflexible. Whereas one glimpse of the moral and spiritual glory of God, and the supreme amiableness of Jesus Christ shining into the heart, overcomes and abolishes this opposition, and inclines the soul to Christ, as it were, by an omnipotent power. So that now, not only the understanding, but the will and the whole soul receives and embraces the Saviour. This is most certainly the discovery, which is the first internal foundation of a saving faith in Christ in the soul of the true convert, and not any immediate outward or inward witness, that Christ loves him, or that he died for him in particular, and is his Saviour; so begetting confidence and joy, and a seeming love to Christ, because he loves him. By such faith and conversion, (demonstrably vain and counterfeit,) multitudes have been deluded. The sight of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, works true supreme love to God. This is a sight of the proper foundation of supreme love to God, viz. the supreme loveliness of his nature; and a love to him on this ground is truly above any thing that can come from a mere principle of selflove, which is in the hearts of devils as well as men. And this begets true spiritual and holy joy in the soul, which is indeed joy in God, and glorying in him, and not rejoicing in ourselves.
This sight of the beauty of divine things will excite true desires and longings of soul after those things; not like the longings of devils, but natural free desires; the desires of appetite, the thirstings of a new nature, as a new-born babe desires the mother's breast; and as a hungry man longs for some pleasant food he thinks of; or as the thirsty hart pants after the cool and clear stream.
This sense of divine beauty is the first thing in the actual change made in the soul in true conversion, and is the foundation of every thing else belonging to that change; as is evident by those words of the apostle, 2 Cor. iii. 18. “ But
we all with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2. Truly gracious affections and exercises of mind differ from such as are counterfeit, which arise from no higher principles than are in the hearts of devils, in their tendency; and that in these two respects.
(1.) They are of a tendency and influence very contrary to that which was especially the devil's sin, even pride. That pride was in a peculiar manner the devil's sin, is manifest from 1 Tim. iii. 6. “ Not a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, be fall into the condemnation of the devil.” False and delusive experiences evermore tend to this, though oftentimes under the disguise of great and extraordinary humility. Spiritual pride is the prevailing temper and general character of hypocrites, deluded with false discoveries and affections.They are in general of a disposition directly contrary to those two things belonging to the Christian temper, directed to by the apostle; the one in Rom. xii. 16. “ Be not wise in your own conceit;" and the other in Phil. ii. 3. “ Let each esteem others better than themselves.” False experience is conceited of itself, and affected with itself. Thus be that has false humility is much affected to think how he is abased before God. He that has false love is affected, when he thinks of the greatness of his love. The very food and nourishment of false experience is to view itself, and take much notice of itself; and its very breath and life is to be some way shewing itself.-- Whereas truly gracious views and affections are of a quite contrary tendency. They nourish no self-conceit; no exalting notion of the man's own righteousness, experience, or privileges; no high conceit of his humiliations. They incline to no ostentation, nor self-exaltation, under any disguise whatsoever. But that sense of the supreme, holy beauty and glory of God and Christ, which is the foundation of them, mortifies pride, and truly humbles the soul. It not only cuts off some of the outermost branches, but it strikes at the very root of pride; it alters the very nature and disposition of the heart. The light of Go:l's beauty, and that alone, truly shews the soul its own deformity, and effectually inclines it to exalt God and abase itselt.
(2.) These gracious exercises and affections differ from the other in their tendency to destroy Satan's interest; and that in two respects :
First, in the person himself. They cause the soul to hate every evil and false way, and to produce universal boliness of heart and life, disposing him to make the service of God, the promotion of his glory and the good of mankind, the very business of his life; whereas those false discoveries