|« Prev||Chapter XVII. Decays in spiritual affections,…||Next »|
Decays in spiritual affections, with the causes and danger of them — Advice unto them who are sensible of the evil of spiritual decays.
2. IT must be acknowledged that there is yet that which is worse than what we have yet insisted on, and more opposite unto the growth of affections in conformity unto heavenly things, which is the proper character of those that are spiritually renewed; and this is their spiritual decay, manifesting itself in sensible and visible effects.
Some there are, yea many, who, upon the beginning of a profession of their conversion unto God, have made a great appearance of vigorous, active, spiritual affections; yea, it is so with most, it may be all, who are really so converted. God takes notice of the love of the youth in his people, of the love of their espousals.
In some, this vigour of spiritual affections is from the real power of grace, exerting its efficacy on their hearts and in their minds. In others, it is from other causes; as, for instance, relief from conviction, by spiritual illumination, will produce this effect. And this falls out unto the advantage of such persons, that generally a change is wrought in their younger days; for then their affections in their natural powers are active, and bear great sway in the whole soul. Wherefore, the change that is made is most eminent in them, be it what it will. But as men increase in age, and thereon grow up in carnal wisdom and a great valuation of earthly things, with their care about them and converse in them, they abate and decay in their spiritual affections every day; they will abide in their profession, but have lost their first love.
It is a shame and folly unutterable that it should be so with any who make profession of that religion, wherein there are so many incomparable excellencies to endear and engage them to it more and more. But why should we hide what experience makes manifest in the sight of the sun, and what multitudes proclaim concerning themselves? Wherefore, I look upon it as a great evidence, if not absolutely of the sincerity of grace, yet of the life and growth of it, when men as they grow up in age do grow in an undervaluation of present things, in contempt of the world, in duties of charity and bounty, and decay not in any of them. But I say it is usual that the entrances of men’s profession of religion and conversion unto God are attended with vigorous, active affections towards spiritual things. Of them who really and sincerely believed, it is said that on their believing “they rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory;” and of those who only had a work of conviction on them, improved 457by temporary faith, that “they received the word with joy, and did many things gladly.”
In this state do many abide and thrive, until their affections be wholly transformed into the image and likeness of things above. But with many of all sorts it is not so. They fall into woful decays as unto their affections about spiritual things, and consequently, in their whole profession and conversation, their moisture becomes as the drought in summer. They have no experience of the life and actings of them in themselves, nor any comfort or refreshment from them; they honour not the gospel with any fruits of love, zeal, or delight, nor are useful any way unto others by their example. Some of them have had seeming recoveries, and are yet again taken into a lifeless frame. Warnings, afflictions, sicknesses, the word, have awakened them, but they are fallen again into a dead sleep, so as that they seem to be “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.”
Some things must be spoken unto this woful condition in general, as that which is directly opposite unto the grace and duty of being spiritually minded, and contrary unto and obstructive of the growth of spiritual affections in an assimilation unto heavenly things. And what shall be spoken may be applied unto all the degrees of these decays, though all of them are not alike dangerous or perilous.
(1.) There may be a time of temptation, wherein a soul may apprehend in itself not only a decay in, but an utter loss of, all spiritual affections, when yet it is not so. As believers may apprehend and judge that the Lord hath forsaken and forgotten them when he hath not done so, Isa. xlix. 14, 15; so they may, under their temptations, apprehend that they have forsaken God, when they have not done so; as a man in the night may apprehend he hath lost his way, and be in great distress, when he is in his proper road: for temptation brings darkness and amazement, and leads into mistakes and a false judgment in all things. They find not, it may be, grace working in love, joy, and delight, as formerly, nor that activity of heart and mind in holy duties which spiritual affections gave unto them; but yet, it may be, the same grace works in godly sorrow, by mourning, humiliation, and self-abasement, no less effectually, nor less acceptably unto God. Such as these I separate from the present consideration.
(2.) There may be a decay in affections themselves as unto their actings towards any objects whatever, at least as unto the outward symptoms and effects of them; and on this ground their operations toward spiritual things may be less sensible. So men in their younger days may be more ready to express their sorrow by tears, and their joy by sensible exultation and motion of their spirits, than in riper 458years. And this may be so when there is no decay of grace in the affections as renewed. But, —
[1.] When it is so, it is a burden unto them in whom it is. They cannot but mourn and have a godly jealousy over themselves, lest the decays they find should not be in the outward but the inward, not in the natural but the spiritual man; and they will labour that in all duties, and at all times, it may be with them as in days of old, although they cannot attain that strength in them, that vigour of spirit, that life, joy, peace, and comfort, which many have had experience of.
[2.] There will be in such persons no decays in holiness of life, or as unto diligence in all religious duties. If the decay be really of grace in the affections, it will be accompanied with a proportionable decay in all other things wherein the life of God is concerned; but if it be only as unto the sensible actings of natural affections, no such decay will ensue.
[3.] Grace will in this case more vigorously act itself in the other faculties and powers of the soul, as the judgment and the will, in their approbation of and firm adherence unto spiritual things. But, — When men find, or may find, their affections yet quick, active, and intent on other things, as the lawful enjoyments and comforts of this life, it is in vain for them to relieve themselves that the decays they find are in their affections as natural, and not, as they ought to be, gracious. If we see a man in his old age grow more in love with the things of this world, and less in love with the things of God, it is not through the weakness of nature, but through the strength of sin.
On these, and, it may be, some other the like occasions, there may be an apprehension of a decay in spiritual affections when it may not be so, at least not unto the degree that is apprehended. But when it is so really, as it is evidently with many, I had almost said with the most in these days, it is a woful frame of heart, and never enough to be lamented. It is that which lies in direct contradiction unto that spiritual mindedness which is life and peace. It is a consumption of the soul, which threatens it with death every day.
It belongs not unto my design to treat of it in particular, yet I cannot let it pass without some remarks upon it, it being an evil almost epidemical among professors, and prevalent in some unto such a degree as that they seem to be utterly forsaken of all powers of spiritual life.
Now, besides all that folly and sin which we before discovered as the causes of the want of the growth of our affections in spirituality and heavenliness, which in this case of their decay are more abominable, there is a multiplication of evils wherewith this state of heart and mind is accompanied; for, —
459(1.) It is that which, of all things, the Lord Christ is most displeased with in churches or professors. He pities them in their temptations, he suffers with them in their persecutions, he intercedes for them on their surprisal, but threatens them under their spiritual decays, Rev. ii. 4, 5, iii. 1–3. This he cannot bear with, as that which both reflects dishonour upon himself, and which he knows to be ruinous unto those in whom it is, He will longer bear with them who are utterly dead than with those who abide under these decays, Rev. iii. 15, 16. This is the only case wherein he threatens to reject and cast off a professing church, to take away his candlestick from it, unless it be that of false worship and idolatry. He that spake thus unto the churches of old speaks now the same unto us; for he lives forever, and is always the same, and his word is living and unchangeable. There is not one of us who are under this frame, but the Lord Christ by his word and Spirit testifieth his displeasure against us; and if he be against us, who shall plead for us? Consider what he says in this ease, Rev. ii. 5, iii. 3. Oh! who can stand before these dreadful intimations of his displeasure? The Lord help us to mind it, lest he in whom we profess to place our only trust be in our trim found our greatest enemy! Take heed of such sins as Christ himself, our only advocate, hath put a mark upon as those which he will not save us in.
(2.) It is that wherewith, above all things, the Holy Spirit is grieved. His work it is to give grace an increase and progress in our souls; he begins it, and he carries it on. And there can be no greater grief unto a wise and gracious worker than to have his work decay and go backward under his hand. This is the occasion of those complaints of God which we find in the Scripture, of the unprofitableness and backsliding of men after the use of means and remedies for their fruitfulness and cure. “What,” saith he, “could I have done more for my vineyard than I have done? Why, then, when I looked for grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?” Can any thing be apprehended to be such a just matter of grief and complaint unto the Holy Spirit, as to see and find those whom he had once raised up unto holy and heavenly affections, so as that their delights were in, and their thoughts much upon, the things that are above, become earthly or sensual, to have no sensible actings of any of his graces in them? which is the state of them who are under the power of spiritual decays, And this is the only case wherein God speaks unto men in the way of complaint and expostulation, and useth all sorts of arguments to convince them of their folly herein.
When a wise, tender, and careful parent, [who] hath been diligent in the use of all means for the education of his child, and he for some time hath given good hopes of himself, finds him to slacken in his 460diligence, to be careless in his calling, to delight in evil company, — how solicitous is his heart about him! how much is he grieved and affected with his miscarriage! The heart of the Spirit of God is infinitely more tender towards us than that of the most affectionate parent can be towards an only child; and when he with cost and care hath nourished and brought us up unto some growth and progress in spiritual affections, wherein all his concerns in us do lie, for us to grow cold, dull, earthly minded, to cleave unto the pleasures or lusts of this world, — how is he grieved! how is he provoked! It may be this consideration of grieving the Holy Spirit is of no great weight with some; they should have little concernment herein if they could well free themselves in other respects: but let such persons know it is impossible for them to give a greater evidence of a profligate hardness in sin.
(3.) This is that which in an especial manner provoketh the judgments of God against any church, as was intimated before. When, in the order of profession and worship, any church hath a name to live, but as to the power of grace acting in the affections is dead; when it is not so cold as to forsake the external institutions of worship, nor so hot as to enliven their duties with spiritual affections, — the Lord Christ will not long bear with them; yea, judgment will suddenly break out towards such a house of God.
(4.) It is absolutely inconsistent with all comfortable assurance of the love of God. Whatever persons under the power of such a frame pretend unto of that kind, it is sinful security, not gracious assurance or peace. And constantly as professors grow cold and decay in their spiritual affections, stupidity of conscience and security of mind do grow also upon them. It is so, I say, unless they are sometimes surprised or overtaken with some greater sin, which reflects severely on their consciences, and casts them for a time under troubles and distresses. But that peace with God and a comfortable assurance of salvation should be consistent with an habitual decay in grace, especially in those graces which should act themselves in our affections, is contrary to the whole tenor and testimony of the Scripture; and the supposition of it would be the bane and poison of religion. I do not say that our assurance and peace with God do arise wholly from the actings of grace in us; there are other causes of them, where-into they are principally resolved; — but this I say, under an habitual declension or decay of grace in the spirituality of our affections, no man can keep or maintain a gracious sense of the love of God, or of peace with him. And therefore there is no duty more severely to be pressed on all at this day than a diligent examination and trial of the grounds of their peace, lest it should be with any of them as it was with Laodicea, who was satisfied in her good state and condition, 461when it was most miserable and almost desperate. Yea, I must say that it is impossible that many professors whom we see and converse withal should have any solid peace with God. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” it is a fruit that will not grow on a vain, earthly, selfish frame of mind and conversation. And therefore such persons, whatever they pretend, are either asleep in a sinful security, or live on most uncertain hopes, which probably may deceive them. Nothing can be so ruinous unto our profession as once to suppose it is an easy matter, a thing of course, to maintain our peace with God. God forbid but that our utmost diligence and continued endeavours to thrive in every grace should be required hereunto! The whole beauty and glory of our religion depends hereon. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
(5.) Such a decay as that described is a dangerous symptom of an evil state and condition, and that those in whom it is will at last be found to be but hypocrites. I know such persons will or may have pretended evidences unto the contrary, and that they are well enough satisfied of and with their own sincerity in many things, so as that it is impossible to fix upon them the sense and conviction of being but hypocrites. But this apprehension ariseth from a false notion of hypocrisy. No man, they suppose, is a hypocrite, but he that generally or universally pretends himself in religion to be what he is not, and what he knows himself not to be, or at least might easily do so; and it is true that this is the broadest notion of pharisaical hypocrisy: but take a hypocrite for him who, under light, profession, gifts, duties, doth habitually and willingly fail in any point of sincerity, he is no less a perishing hypocrite than the former, and it may alter the case with them. I do not say that every one in whom there is this prevalent decay in spiritual affections is a hypocrite; God forbid! I only say that when it continues without remedy, it is such a symptom of hypocrisy as that he who is wise and hath a care of his soul will not rest until he hath searched it unto the bottom. For it seems as if it were thus with such persons: They have had a false or imperfect work in that conversion unto God which they have professed. Conviction of sin, communication of spiritual light and gifts, alteration upon the affections, change of society and conversation, have made it up. Now, it is the nature of such a work greatly to flourish for a season, in all the principal parts and duties of profession; but it is in its nature also gradually to decay, until it be quite withered away. In some it is lost by the power of some vigorous temptations, and particular lusts indulged unto, ending in worldliness and sensuality; but in the most it decays gradually, until it hath lost all its savour and sap. See John xv. 5. Wherefore, whilst men find this decay in themselves, unless they are fallen under the 462power of a destructive security, unless they are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, they cannot but think it their duty to examine how things stand with them, whether they ever effectually closed with Christ, and had the faith of God’s elect, which works by love, seeing it is with them as though they had only a work of another nature: for a saving work, in its own nature and in the diligent use of means, thrives and groweth, as the whole Scripture testifieth; but it is this false and imperfect working that hath no root, and is thus subject to withering.
(6.) Persons in such an estate are apt to deceive themselves with false hopes and notions, whereby the deceitfulness of sin doth put forth its power to harden them unto their ruin. Two ways there are whereby this pernicious effect is produced; — the one by the prevalency of a particular lust or sin; the other by a neglect of spiritual duties, and a vain conversation in the world, under which the soul pines away and consumes.
As unto the first of these, there are three false notions whereby the deceitfulness of sin deludes the souls of men:—
[1.] The first is, that it is that one sin alone wherein they would be indulged. Let them be spared in this one thing, and in all others they will be exact enough. This is the composition that Naaman would have made in the matters of religion, 2 Kings v. 18, and it is that which many trust unto. Hence it hath, by the event, been made to appear that some persons have lived long in the practice of some gross sin, and yet all the while used a semblance of great diligence in other duties of religion. This is a false notion, whereby poor sinners delude their own souls; for suppose it possible that a man should give himself up unto any lust, or be under the power of it, and yet be observant of all other duties, yet this would give him no relief as unto the eternal condition of his soul. The rule is peremptory unto this purpose, James ii. 10, 11. One sin willingly lived in is as able to destroy a man’s soul as a thousand. Besides, it is practically false. There is no man that lives in any one known sin but he really lives in more, though that only bears the chiefest sway. With some such persons these sins appear unto others, who observe their frame and spirit, though they appear not to themselves; in some they are manifest in themselves, although they are hidden from others, 1 Tim. v. 24. But let no man relieve himself with thoughts that it is but one sin, whilst that one sin keeps him in a constant neglect of God. Hence, —
[2.] They deceive themselves hereby; for they judge that although they cannot as yet shake off their sin, yet they will continue still to love God and abound in the duties of his worship. They will not become haters of God and his ways and persecutors 463for all the world; and therefore hope that, notwithstanding this one Zoar, this lesser sin, which their constitution and their circumstances engage them in, it may be well with them at the last. This also is a false notion, a mere instrument in the hand of sin to act its deceit by; for no man that willingly liveth in any sin can love God at all, as is evident in that rule, 1 John ii. 15. It is but a false pretence of love to God that any man hath who liveth in any known sin. Where God is not loved above all, he is not loved at all; and he is not so where men will not part with one cursed lust for his sake. Let not your light deceive you, nor your gifts, nor your duties, nor your profession; if you live in sin, you love not God.
[3.] They determine that at such or such a season or time, after such satisfaction given unto their lusts or pleasures, they will utterly give over, so as that iniquity shall not be their ruin. But this is a false notion also, an effectual instrument of the deceitfulness of sin. He that will not now give over, who will not immediately upon the discovery of the prevalency of any sin and warning about it endeavour sincerely and constantly its relinquishment, say what he will and pretend what he will, never intends to give over, nor is it probable, in an ordinary way, that ever he will do so. When men’s decays are from the prevalency of particular sins, by these and the like false notions do they harden themselves unto ruin.
For those who are pining away under hectical consumption, a general decay of the vital spirits of religion, they have also false notions whereby they deceive themselves; as, —
[1.] That although they have some cause to mistrust themselves, yet indeed their condition is not so bad as some may apprehend it, or as they are warned it is. And this ariseth from hence, that they have not as yet been overtaken with any enormous sin which hath filled their consciences with terror and disquietment. But this is a false notion also; for every decay is dangerous, especially such as the mind is ready to plead for and to countenance itself in.
[2.] They are prone to suppose that this decay doth not arise from themselves and the evil of their own hearts, but from their circumstances, businesses, present occasions, and state of life; which when they are freed from, they will at least return unto their former love and delight in spiritual things. But this is a false notion also, by virtue of that rule, Heb. iii. 12. Let men’s circumstances and occasions of life be what they will, all their departures from God are from “an evil heart of unbelief.”
[3.] They judge it no hard matter to retrieve themselves out of this state, but that which they can easily do when there is an absolute necessity for it. But this is a false notion also. Recovery from backsliding 464is the hardest task in Christian religion, and which few make either comfortable or honourable work of.
In this state, I say, men are apt by such false reasonings to deceive themselves unto their eternal ruin; which makes the consideration of it the more necessary.
Wherefore, I say, lastly, upon the whole, that whoso find themselves under the power of this wretched frame, whoso are sensible in themselves, or at least make it evident unto others, that they are under a decay in their spiritual condition, if they rest in that state, without groaning, labouring, endeavouring for deliverance from it, they can have no well-grounded hopes in themselves of life and immortality; yea, they are in those “paths which go down unto the chambers of death.”
I cannot let this pass without something of advice unto them who find themselves under such decays, are sensible of them, and would be delivered from them, and I shall give it in a few words:—
First, Remember former things; call to mind how it was with you in the spring and vigour of your affections, and compare your present state, enjoyment, peace, and quiet, with what they were then. This will be a great principle of return unto God, Hos. ii. 7. And to put a little weight upon it, we may consider, —
First, God himself makes it on his part a ground and reason of his return unto us in a way of mercy, and of the continuance of his love, Jer. ii. 2. Even when a people are under manifold decays, whilst yet they are within the bounds of God’s covenant and mercy, he will remember their first love, with the fruits and actings of it in trials and temptations; which moves his compassion towards them. And the way to have God thus remember it, is for us to remember it with delight, and longing of soul that it were with us as in those days of old, when we had the love of espousals for God in Christ, Jer. xxxi. 18–20.
Secondly, It is the way whereby the saints of old have refreshed and encouraged themselves under their greatest despondencies. So doth the psalmist in many places; as, for instance, Ps. xlii. 6, “O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” David in the time of his persecution by Saul, when he wandered up and down in deserts, wildernesses, and solitudes, had, under his fears, distresses, and exercises, great, holy, spiritual communion with God; as many of his psalms composed on such occasions do testify. And the greater his distresses were, the more fervent were his affections in all his addresses unto God; and he was never in greater than when he escaped out of the cave at Adullam, and went thence unto Mizpeh of Moab, to get shelter for his 465parents, 1 Sam. xxii. 3. Then was he in the land of the Hermonites, the hill Hermon being the boundary eastward of the Israelites’ possession next to Moab, Deut. iii. 8, 9. There, no doubt, David had a blessed exercise of his faith and of all his affections towards God, wherein his soul found great refreshment. Being now in great distress and disconsolation of spirit, among other things under a sense that God had forgotten him, Ps. xlii. 9, he calls to mind the blessed experience he had of communion with God, in the land of the Hermonites, wherein he now found support and refreshment. So at other times he called to remembrance “the days of old,” and in them his “songs in the night,” or the sweet refreshment he had in spiritual converse with God in former times. I have known one in the depth of distress and darkness of mind, who, going through temptation to destroy himself, was relieved and delivered in the instant of ruin by a sudden remembrance that at such a time, and in such a place, he had prayed fervently with the engagement of all his affections unto God.
Wherefore, you that are sensible of these decays, or ought so to be, take the advice of our Saviour, “Remember whence you are fallen.” Call to mind the former days. Consider if it were not better with you [then] than now, when in your lying down and your rising up you had many thoughts of God and of the things of God, and they were sweet and precious unto your souls; when you rejoiced at the remembrance of his holiness; when you had zeal for his glory, delight in his worship, and were glad when they said, “Let us go to the house of God together;” when you poured forth your souls with freedom and enlarged affections before him, and were sensible of the visits and refreshments of his love. Remember what peace, what tranquility of mind, what joy you had whilst it was so with you; and consider what you have gotten since you have forsaken God, in any measure or degree. Dare to deal plainly with yourselves. Is not all wherein you have now to do with God either form, custom, and selfishness, or attended with trouble, disquietment, and fears? Do you truly know either how to live or how to diet Are you not sometimes a terror unto yourselves? It must be so, unless you are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. What have all your lovers done for you, that you have entertained in the room of God in Christ and spiritual things? Speak plainly; have they not defiled you, wounded you, weakened you, and brought you into that condition that you know not what you are nor to whom you do belong? What are your thoughts when you are most awake, when you are most yourselves? Do you not sometimes pant within yourselves, and say, “O that it were with us as in former days.”
And if you can be no way affected with the remembrance of former 466things, then one of these two great evils you are certainly under; for either, 1. You never had a true and real work on your souls, whatever you professed, and so never had true and real communion with God in any duties. You had only a temporary work, which excited your affections for a season; which, now it is worn off, leaves no sweet remembrance of itself upon your minds. Had your faith and love been sincere in what you did, it were impossible but that the remembrance of their actings, in some especial instances, should be sweet and refreshing unto you. Or else, 2. You are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and there is no way left to give a sense or impression of spiritual things upon your minds. You have truly nothing left in religion but the fear of hell and trouble of duties. I speak not to such at present.
As unto those unto whom this frame is a burden, there is no more effectual means to stir them up unto endeavours for deliverance than a continual remembrance of former things, and experiences they have had of holy intercourse and communion with God. This will revive, quicken, and strengthen the things that are ready to die, and beget a self-abhorrency in them in consideration of that woful frame and temper of mind which, by their sins and negligence, they have brought themselves into.
Secondly, Consider that as there are many things dreadfully pronounced in the Scripture against backsliding and backsliders in heart, as it is with you, yet also there are especial calls and promises given and proposed unto those in your condition; and know assuredly that upon your compliance or non-compliance with them depends your everlasting blessedness or woe.
Consider both call and promise in that word of God’s grace, Jer. iii. 12–14, “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” Add hereunto this blessed promise, Hos. xiv. 4, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.” If you design to live and not die, it must be by yielding obedience unto this call, and pleading this promise before God, mixing it with faith. Your return must be by the word, Isa. lvii. 18, 19. Here lies your great encouragement and direction, herein lieth your only relief. As you value your souls, defer not the duty 467you are called unto one moment. You know not how soon you may be without the reach of calls and promises; and he that can hear them without stirring up himself in sincerity to comply with them hath made already a great progress towards that length.
Thirdly, As unto those who on these and the like considerations do not only desire but will endeavour also to retrieve themselves from this condition, I shall give no advice at present but this, Be in good earnest. As the prophet speaks in another case, if you will return, “return and come,” make thorough work of it. You must do so at one time or another, or you will perish. Why not now? Why, is not this the best season? Who knows but it may be the only time you will have for it? It were easy to multiply all sorts of arguments unto this purpose. Trifling endeavours, occasional resolutions and attempts, like the early cloud and morning dew, shifting with warnings and convictions, by renewed duties, until their impressions are worn out, will ruin your souls. Unless there be universal diligence and permanency in your endeavours, you are undone. “Then shall ye know the Lord, if ye follow on to know him.”
But now to return. These things, I say, through our sloth, negligence, and sin, may befall us as unto our spiritually-renewed affections: Their progress in conformity unto spiritual and heavenly things may be slow, imperceptible, yea, totally obstructed for a season; and not only so, but they may fall under decays, and the soul therein be guilty of backsliding from God; but this is that which they are capacitated for by their renovation, this is that which the grace wherewith they are renewed doth lead unto, this is that which, in the diligent use of means, they will grow up unto, whereon our comfort and peace do depend, — namely, a holy assimilation unto those spiritual and heavenly things which they are set and fixed on, wherein they are renewed and made more spiritual and heavenly every day.
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