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SERMON XXXVII.3939   Preached Feb. 25, 1693-4.

James ii. 23.

And the scripture was fulfilled, &c.

I TOLD you the last time, that I intended to put a period to the long discourse on this subject at this time. And herein, byway of summary, I have these two great things contained in the text, seriously to recommend unto you,—faith in God, and friendship with him. I cannot suppose that, foreknowing the subject, so many should come together 471without a design, that if any thing should be said applicable to so great and high purposes, they will lay it up in order to future use and benefit. It would be a hard supposition, and have too much of uncharitableness in it, for me to give any place in my thoughts that you should be generally come together without any such design; I hope there are none come with so vain and wanton a mind, as only to throw away an hour here that they know not what else to do with; or to gaze at one another, or to criticise, or spend their judgment upon what they hear, without any more ado, and to go as they came.

If any two things should be pitched upon in any of our thoughts, of greater importance than other, what can you think of greater than these two which you find comprehended together in this text—faith In God, and friendship with him. It cannot be, if we have any design for eternity and another world, that we can look upon these things with neglect. Nothing can be of greater concernment; even to the judgment of your own consciences, they must appear so as they really and truly are: and, methinks, we should be all within ourselves about it. Do we think it can go well hereafter with unbelievers, or with God’s enemies? In reference to each of these, somewhat in the conclusion of this discourse is to be said, by way of direction and exhortation.—

1. As to the former, faith in God. You are not to understand this (though it be believing in God that the text speaks of) exclusive of Christ, but as including him; that is, implying and supposing him to be the mediate object of your faith, while God is pointed at as the final and ultimate object: according to the apostle, 1 Pet. i. 21, “Who through him (meaning Christ) do believe in God.” Those that are believers in a gospel sense, who through Christ do believe in God, their faith being carried through Christ as the mediator and the mediate object, unto God as the terminative and ultimate object. It was this believing in God through Christ the promised seed, that Abraham the great father of believers is characterized by in this text, and in divers other places of scripture. And such a faith as his was you are to endeavour that you may find alive and in exercise in each of your souls. For it is not a dead faith that will pass for faith in the divine estimate, as this chapter more expressly and largely discourses. With what contempt doth it speak of a dead faith, making it but a carcase. “As the body without the spirit is dead,” so is that faith that is not working, 472that is not energetical, that hath no energy, no life with it. So, you know, the chapter closes.

With some, I told you, it is but a notion. I fear with many besides (it may be many more) it may be less than that. Men call themselves believers when they have not such a notion in their minds of the things that they pretend to believe. With some a notional faith serves their turn; with others what is less, a mere nominal faith. It will do us no good to have that in us which we call faith, unless God calls it so too. And know, therefore, that those who have not that faith which in the evangelical sense, and by that test, will go for such, they must go among the unbelievers, let them call themselves, or let other men call them, what they will. And then for excitation in this matter, let me but offer these two awakening things to be considered.

1. That considering a man to be found an unbeliever under the gospel, which claims and challenges his faith, that is, which claims to be believed by a correspondent faith unto what it contains and carries in it; he hath the guilt of all his other sins still continuing, and bound down close upon him. An unbelieving person is an unjustified person. So such must understand the state of the case. I have all the weight of that guilt upon me, which I have been contracting all my days. “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.” Righteousness is not imputed upon other terms. Will any man think to make for himself a new gospel, to confront that gospel which our Lord hath sent among us? An unbeliever, and unjustified. So represent the case to yourselves. And what doth that signify? It signifies, that the holy jealous God holds me guilty of all that I have been doing against him all my days. I have lived long as “without God in the world,” and he holds me guilty. I have lived to myself, and not to him, and he holds me guilty. Neglected him, disobeyed him, and lived in affront to him, and he holds me guilty. Every thing that I have used and enjoyed in this world, it hath been by usurpation; it hath been without right, as to him, without allowance. I ought to have eaten and drank, and looked up, acknowledging and adoring him whose fulness filleth all in all; but God was not in all my thoughts: and for all this he holds me guilty. I have lived a prayerless life, an ungodly life, alienated from the life of God; this hath been my way and course, and he holds me guilty. What an amazing thing is this! As long as an unbeliever, still under guilt. You have no righteousness to shelter you, 473to protect you, to keep off wrath and vengeance from you. But,

2. That is not all, you have a superadded (and that the greatest) load of guilt imaginable, by not believing. “He that believeth not, is condemned already,” &c. That is, he to whom there is a sufficient proposal made; the object is not concealed, nor wrapt up in darkness, but set in clear and open light before your eyes, and yet you believe not. Upon how fearful terms doth such an one perish. When his case comes to be stated at the last, in the judgment of the great day, Why is such an one cast? Why is he held guilty? Why is he abandoned to perish? Why is it said to him, “Depart, accursed?” It is because he would not believe in God. He had many other sins upon him, but they would all have been forgiven him if he would have believed, if he would have taken God and his Son; then would have been a perfect peace between God and him. If his sins had been never so great, they had been all done away. But this man perisheth, because he would not believe him against sensual imaginations—against carnal inclinations. God told him it was best for him to abandon his sins, and put himself under his government, and live by his rules and holy laws; but he would not believe this, but thought it better to obey the lusts of his own heart, and walk according to his own imagination. He perisheth, because he would not believe God; because he made him a liar in that plain testimony and record he had given, concerning the way of salvation unto sinners by his Son. Against whom did “he swear in his wrath, that they should not enter into his rest, but them that believed not? So w r e see they could not enter in, because of unbelief.” This was the great provoking wickedness of that people all along. How long will ye provoke me? How long will ye not believe me, notwithstanding the mighty noble works that have been done in the midst of you. God was manifesting himself in several and many great and remarkable instances; but yet they would not believe. They despised the pleasant land;—they believed not his word. All their wickedness was rooted in infidelity—they could not take the word of God. How fearful a case is this? When a reasonable creature, one that hath an intelligent mind and spirit about him, part of the offspring of the great Father of spirits, he would riot be governed by the divine dictates, but opposed the inclination and imagination of his flesh, unto the express word of the Father of spirits. He tells me, I must 474live so and so, that I may do well—that I may die happy, and live eternally. But I will not believe it. I will believe the lusts of my own heart; rather run the hazard—venture it—try what will come of it. Oh! to perish on these terms is dreadful perishing, because I give the lie to Him that gave me breath.

But then I must say somewhat too, by way of direction in this important matter. Is it so fearful a thing not to believe? Will not any thing that may carry with it the shadow of believing, serve the turn? But it must be faith indeed, and such as will answer the intendment of the gospel; that I must have, or I perish as an unbeliever, whatsoever character I have gone under, or have thought myself to have. Why, how shall I do or know? Pray direct me in this, what kind of faith I must aim at, and not satisfy myself short of, or to be without? Why it must be,

1. Such (and pray, therefore, aim at such) a faith as shall admit the gospel revelation into your hearts. This is not so obscure a thing as many, upon the first hearing, may account it. Do not you know the difference between receiving a report by your ears only, and taking it into the heart? Suppose it were of some very great good news which you hear of in any uncertain way, so as that you apprehend no reason to believe it true? It enters your ears, but goes no farther. But if it be a great thing, and it comes with certainty, so as that no room of rational doubt remains concerning the truth of the matter; then it goes into your heart, and fills that with joy and pleasure and complacency. You sensibly find it exciting and raising an affection in you suitable to the import of the thing, if the gospel be received, so that reception makes its own distinction visibly in it. “I tell you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” When the gospel comes among you, and tells you that the great Majesty of heaven, whom you have offended, is willing to be reconciled to you, and hath sent his Son into the world on purpose to be the reconciler, and he died upon the cross a reconciling sacrifice; it is discernible (if you will inspect and look into yourselves,) whether that which you call faith in you, of the gospel and the gospel revelation, make any such impressions upon your heart as is correspondent of so great a thing. It is “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” That is the great business of enquiry. What kind of faith will serve me unto righteousness, that I may be justified—that I may be counted righteous thereupon? 475Why it is “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Rom. x. 10. And saith the apostle, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Tim. i. 15.

Have you received the gospel revelation so, as “a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation?” Is it accept r able, do you judge it worthy of your acceptation, of all acceptation? Then your heart and soul embraceth it, and closeth with it. Thus the apostle speaks in that great summary of the gospel, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (even the chief of them;) of whom I am chief.”

2. Labour for such a faith as may inwardly unite your souls to Christ, revealed in this gospel, and with God in him. Your faith is to take hold of him, and of God in him, so as thereby to come into an united state, a state of union with him, that you may thereupon be in him. It must be such a faith as whereby Christ may dwell in your hearts. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” Eph. iii. 17. That is not spoken exclusively of God, for it is presently subjoined, “that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God.” All which fulness is in him. Do not satisfy yourselves without such a faith as that by which you may say you have now the Son of God. God in him, in you, and with you. He hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true. That understanding, to know him that is true, is faith, as it resides in the mind. But though it hath its first seat there, it doth not terminate there, for this immediately ensues, and we are in him. In whom? In Jesus Christ the Son, who is the true God, and eternal life. We pass into union by this intuition, even into union with the true God, who carries eternal life in his very name. Such a faith as leaves you still at a distance from God and from Christ, do you think that can avail you? All that is in Christ is yours, as you come to be in him. “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Cor. i. 30. In Him once, and all is yours; whatsoever you need, whatsoever is suitable to the exigency of your state. Are you foolish creatures, He is wisdom to you. Are you guilty creatures, he is righteousness to you. Are you impure creatures, He is sanctification to you. Are you enslaved lost creatures, He is redemption, to you, if you be in him; but nothing at all if you be not in him.

3. Labour tor such a faith as may be transforming to 476your whole souls. Consider that the whole economy of the gospel aims at this, the bringing of all, upon whom it shall have its effect, into the unity of the faith, so that all come to unite in one faith. Eph. iv. 13. And what is to be consequent thereupon, the apostle tells you in what follows there, supposing this once to be done, and that you are brought with the rest of sincere believers into the oneness of faith, the unity of the faith which is common to serious and sincere Christians. As such then, I testify to you, that you are not to walk like other Gentiles, as if this faith, in which all sincere Christians were to unite and be one, should leave you, but just like other men in your habitual frame. “I say it, and I testify to you in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” Eph. iv. 17. You had an heart alienated from that life. Will you keep that heart still, and call yourself a believer, and pretend to be come to unity of the faith? Still to live with an habitual disinclination in your heart towards God? This can never be. But if you have learned “the truth as it is in Jesus,” I tell you (saith the Apostle) what that must be: it must come to this, the “putting off of the old man, which is corrupt by deceivable lusts,” and “being renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Ephes. iv. 22, 23. You are never come into the unity of that faith which belongs to all that shall be saved, till there be thereupon a divestiture and total investiture. A divestiture and “putting off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceivable lusts;” you must cease to be the man that you were before, and (as that which is intervening and central in the case) there must be a renovation even in the spirit of your minds, a new heart and a right spirit being created and renewed in yon, being renewed in the spirit of your minds, the inward seat of vital governing principles. If the spirit of the mind be renewed, that spreads influence through the man, then there is a new man put on. Not some slight, superficial change in this or that particular respect, but an entire new man. As he that is in Christ is said to be a new creature. There is a new creation introduced, the man is new. This must be, if your faith be to any purpose. The apostle blesses God for the Thessalonians, in that he could look upon them, as those that were chosen to salvation by the remarkable and observable effects. The way that God had taken with them was, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; such a believing of the truth as had been accompanied with the sanctification of the Spirit. Agreeably 477to that of our Lord himself, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John xvii. 17.

4. See that it be such a faith as doth and shall govern your lives, so that you live by it, and thereupon cannot only say, I did believe seven or ten or twenty years ago, but I continually live by my believing. A man is not said to live by that which rarely happens to him, or once or twice in a lifetime. We are to live by breathing, but we cannot do so if it be not continual. So we are to live by believing; “the just shall live by his faith.” That he is continually to live by all his days. Can it be thought that such an one shall be said to live now, because he drew breath twenty years ago? But that belief which is true, real, vital, will be continually repeating its acts and exercises. “The life that I live in the flesh (says the Apostle,) I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. ii. 20. That is, if your faith be a right vital principle, and such as the gospel means and signifies by the name of faith, it is such a thing as carries up the soul into a continual course, into an invisible scene of things. There you have an invisible God, and an invisible Christ, and an in visible glory, still in view. There are some that talk of such a thing as a double sight, or a second sight, so as that they who have it have a visible world and an invisible world in view at once. I know no second sight like that of faith. That, indeed, will present an invisible world, and keep it in view before you, so that by it you will be more conversant in the world of spirits, with the Father of spirits, and with spiritual and invisible things; more conversant in your hearts, more with delight, more with savour and relish, than in this shadowy scene of things which you have within the view and under the notice of your sense. You will look upon this world “as that the fashion thereof passeth away;” but by your faith (which is to you “the substance of things hoped for,” &c.) you will live above, you will live with God, you will live with Christ, you will live as on the brink and borders of eternity, ready to enter in, only waiting for a dismission hence—a call and translation thither. This is living by faith.

For, the apostle having told us, Heb. x. 38, that “the just shall live by faith,” (repeating the ancient maxim out of the Old Testament, to signify to us that that is not the way of living for the saints at one time or age of the church of God only; but it is from age to age, through all the successions of time, this must be the way of believing.) 478then he tells us in the beg-inning of the next chapter, what that faith is by which such a man must live; to wit, “The substance of thing? hoped for,” and “the evidence of things not seen.” Such a faith as represents God and Christ, and heaven, and the invisible things, all as great and most substantial realities; clothed with a clear light, and so set and continued in view before your eyes. This is, that we are to live, not to have such representations now and then, but to have them statedly before us, and so to live and direct our course accordingly. But,

2. I am also to recommend to you this other great thing, friendship with God. And in reference to that, I would also say somewhat both by way of excitation and direction. I can speak but briefly to many things. For excitation consider,

1. Is it not your great privilege to live here in this world in a state of friendship with God? for what more exalted privilege is there to poor creatures living in mortal flesh? Here I live in flesh, dwell in flesh; but it is in friendship with God. In low circumstances, amidst a great many troubles and difficulties, but in friendship with God. Who would not choose this way of living, when it is represented to our option, when it is propounded to ns as matter of choice?

2. Consider there is no middle state (for you to whom this overture is made) between these two, a state of friendship with God, and a state of enmity to him; you must: be either his friends or his enemies. There can be no neutrality in this case; and will it not make a man’s heart sink within him to think of this? I must either live God’s friend or God’s enemy. Dare I venture when the matter is laid before me as a matter of deliberation, to say, I will live the latter, I will live his enemy? You that were alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works; you see how the case is stated: you must still be enemies in your minds, through wicked works, till you are reconciled and become friends. There is no neutral state, you must go from day to day, up and down in this world, either as God’s friends, or his enemies.

3. Consider that this friendship with God which we recommend to you, and into which the gospel continually calls you, is no impossible, no impracticable thing, for it is prescribed to us as matter of duty: “Every man as he is called, let him therein abide with God.” 1 Cor. vii. 24. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” John iv. 20. 479which speaks this living in the love of God to be therefore more difficult, because we see him not. But the strength of the argument goes upon that supposition, that it is a thing which cannot be dispensed with, notwithstanding the difficulty: and be it as difficult as it will, it must therefore be supposed not to be impossible to live in the love of God, and in a state of friendship with him, though he be invisible. “How shall he love God?” implying that it is a thing, the thought whereof is to be abhorred, that a man should think of living in this world, and not to live in actual commerce and intercourse, to be kept up, and continued, with God in love. How shall he do it? It implies, that he must do it, and therefore the thing is by no means to be looked upon as impossible. And to pretend that it is impossible, is to pretend that we have gone below our own kind, that we have lost human nature, which, if it remain with us still, though we have flesh about us, yet our nobler part is spirit. And, what is it an impossible thing for a mind, a spirit, to converse with the great Father of spirits? Is flesh more akin to us than spirit, that supreme Spirit, that universal Spirit, that Spirit that diffuses influences every where throughout the world? Are we more akin to flesh, and fleshly things, than we are to this Spirit, whose offspring we are, and who is our Father? Therefore, it is not to be thought or looked on as an impossible or impracticable thing to come into and continue in this state of friendship with God. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for his mercy in Christ Jesus, unto life eternal.” Jude 21 What is matter of express precept, is not to be looked upon simply and absolutely impossible by a natural impossibility. It is only so by a moral impotency, against which the aids of grace are to be expected and sought. And,

4. Consider that this friendship with God, as it is not an impossible or impracticable thing, so it is to be maintained in the easiest and most unexceptionable way. Consider, that to enter into this state is but to obey the divine call, the very meaning and import of the whole gospel of reconciliation. We have the greatest assurances in all the world, that God is not difficult or hard of acquaintance; for he invites. Will he refuse whom he invites? The gospel is sent to us to beseech us, in Christ’s name and stead, to be reconciled unto God. Will he refuse that which he seeks? decline that friendship into which he calls us? He is “in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, that sin might not be imputed,” or (which is the same thing) that righteousness 480might be imputed.” 2 Cor. v. 19. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” We are commissioned, and sent, and do in Christ’s stead beseech you to be reconciled unto God. You may conclude, with the greatest assurance imaginable, that God is willing, and not difficult, as to entering into this state of friendship with us. And then there is as little supposable difficulty of continuing in it; for do but consider to that purpose these two things, 1. That he is never far off: and 2. That he is easy to forgive.

1 That he is never far off, you will say; how shall I keep friendship with God? He is in heaven, I am upon earth. In heaven, yes, as to his more glorious manifestation of himself. But he is not far from any of us, for “in him we live, and move, and have our being.” And this is told us, that we may seek and find him out, insomuch as he is far from none of us. So that now you may be with him as soon as you can think a thought. How easy is the way to keep up this friendship: only to be now and then at the expense of a thought. Where is God my Maker? that will not cost you dear. You have no cause to say, What shall I do for my friend? Who shall go up to heaven to fetch him me down from thence, or who shall go to the utter most ends of the earth to fetch him me up from thence. No, he is with you; turn you but to him, and you will find him with you. Do but direct your mind, turn your thoughts inward, and you will find him with you. Indeed he often passes by, and we perceive him not. “Thou dost compass me behind and before, (saith the Psalmist) and art acquainted with all my ways.” O how unaccountable is it to keep off ourselves, unacquainted with him and his ways! And,

2. He is easy to forgive. Ay, but breaches may happen. I forget and neglect him too often, and am ashamed and confounded in my own sense; I am afraid to look towards him any more. That must not by any means be. You must return, though it be with weeping and humiliation. And if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to for give us our sins, if it be not done triflingly, if it be not done without sense, if it be not done with an inclination and resolution to persist and go on in sin still. “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Ps, xxxii, 5. The 481injustice of it. And then it is added, “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.” Ps. xxxii. 6. Who would decline such a friendship with him who is so easy to be reconciled at first, and still willing to forgive where there is not a wilful perseverance in obstinate rebellion against his rightful authority, and his abundant love and goodness? And consider,

5. It is the way to bring your minds to ease in reference to all your more private concernments. You have difficulties in the world, you have troubles and straits, and know not which way to turn yourselves. Oh what a great thing is it to have such a friend, who invites you to cast your care upon him, for he will care for you. And then the peace of God shall hereupon keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

6. It will keep you quiet in reference to public concernments. This is a very pitiable case, that when they see things run counter to their expectations, their aims, their designs and inclinations, they are full of anxiety, full of concern, full of dread and fear. They know not what will become of things. Oh what an heart-quieting thought is it, that all is in the hands of your friend, your great and wise friend, who doeth as pleaseth him in heaven above, and in the earth beneath. And he will never manage things so as that his true friends shall at last have any cause to complain. And then consider,

7. That all will be well for ever when you are caught up in the clouds to meet your Redeemer in the air, and to be for ever with the Lord. That being his declared pleasure, that he will have all his friends together eternally with him in one society, in one assembly, made up of an innumerable company of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. That they that have lived by the faith of Abraham, and been friends of God, as he was, may sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in his kingdom, and there reside for ever. In this scripture we are told that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”

But some may say, What is that to me, who live in the world so many ages after? Why the Scriptures, as if it were on purpose to obviate any such thoughts, tell us (particularly the Apostle, Rom. iv. latter end) where he had been speaking of the same thing, Abraham believing God, and its being imputed to him for righteousness, it was not for 482his sake that this was written, not for his sake alone, but for all that should believe with the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, i.e. as believing under the common notion of believers. Not as if our faith were to be produced, or to be maintained, by any influences from him. But he is called the father of believers upon the same account upon which any one great and eminent in a profession is said to be the father of such, to wit, a great example, as Jabal is said to be the father of them that dwell intents, and Jubal the father of them that handle the harp and organ. What was said concerning Abraham and his faith, and his friendship with God, thereupon, was not written for him alone, but for us too, that we are to live in the same faith and the same friendship with God as he did.

I shall shut up all, by way of direction as to this, with only two words in general. You think it a very desirable thing (I doubt not but you do) to be in this state of friendship with God. Surely every one among us must say, if it be a desirable thing to live in a state of friendship with God, who would not live at this rate every day in a state of friendship with the great and glorious God of heaven and earth! I shall only say these two things by way of direction in reference hereto.

1. Give yourselves up entirely unto this friendship with God; and do it with solemnity: so great a thing as this, entering into friendship with God, the great and glorious Lord of heaven and earth, the matter speaks itself that it ought to be done with solemnity. Make a solemn business of it: apply yourselves purposely to him, and tell him, Lord I have heard thy mind, thy pleasure, thou wouldst have souls that have wandered from thee, and been alienated, come into thine acquaintance and friendship. The gospel under which I live hath told me so; I believe thy word; I come now to offer myself up unto thee, to be thy reconciled one, thy devoted one, thy servant, thy friend. “Thy servant, thy servant; O Lord, thou hast broken my bonds.” Ps. cxvi. 16. But our Saviour would have us know, that the notion of a servant is not to exclude that of a friend, as that of a friend is not to exclude the notion of a servant, but only to prevail and predominate in the state. The notion of friendship is in the Christian state to be predominate, and to be the principal thing. Tender yourself to God accordingly. We hear many discourses to this purpose: but with too many the matter comes all to nothing, because we never make a solemn business of it. The entrance into such 483a state, so sacred a state, if it were done with solemnity, there would stand a remark upon it, I have engaged myself in a state of friendship with God, I must live pursuantly hereunto. I hope you will think of this: such as come to learn how you might live in a state of friendship with God. Such as have any such design, I hope will think of this another time; i.e. that when this state of friendship with God is once entered into, we must give ourselves up to it. And then,

2. Mind, it is a continued course: otherwise, you trifled at first; never meant sincerely, never meant as you did pretend. Mind, I say, it is a continued course; and through your whole course. These are but generals; I have mentioned many particulars, at former times, to this purpose; that, if you recollect yourselves, would be of stated use to you. But all will come under this general; mind this often, that there is a friendship settled between God and me; I must in all things hereupon demean myself towards him as a friend: that is, I must consult him in all, resign all things to him, cross him in nothing; for friendship between him and us carries a peculiarity in it. If there were an equality between him and me, then it were something as between human friends, it may be. They may be equally wise, they may be equally great or equally mean; equally able to do for one another. But this is not the case here; this is not like common friends, as I formerly shewed at large; and, therefore, there must be a constant reference to him in all things. We are in all things to yield to him, to cross him in nothing. And so, when in all things we are to consult him, we are to take his counsel in all, and to stand in his counsel. Not to be self-willed, riot to say, we will walk in the way of our own hearts, whatsoever becomes of our friendship with him. You must always be true to him; you must always believe him true to you. You must never be strange to him; always be free, unreserved, open-hearted. You must willingly agree to it, that he be privy to all your affairs. He will be so, whether you will or no, but it is that to which your hearts should consent, and in which your hearts should rejoice, so as to be able to say, Lord! I know I can hide nothing from thee, and I would not if I could; I desire all things may lay open between me and thee, that there may be nothing hid, no] veil drawn between thee and my soul. Search me, try me, look into me. It is the pleasure and advantage of this friendship, to know that he can behold sincerity, and accept it, and reward it, and delight in it. And, therefore, you must resolve 484never to break off this friendship, but look upon him as your inseparable friend, and from whom you are never to depart. And say to yourself, this God shall be your God; i.e. your friend, your friendly ruler, for ever and ever, and shall be your guide even unto death. So that you can never any moment of your life suffer an elongation from him, that he should be far off, or keep long from you, but presently your hearts will miss him. And you will say, Oh! where is my friend? I will seek him, pursue after him, as the spouse in the Canticles is represented to pursue after him whom her soul loved. This is my friend, where is he? where is he? You will be presently upon enquiries, if he have hid himself, and seem to have withdrawn and retired from you; for this hath been the state of things between him and you in contracting this state of friendship, that this God shall be your God for ever and ever, and your guide even unto death.


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