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- • * . . A 2. t INTRODUCTION. 13CX
TO THE TREATISE ON THE AFFECTIONS.
THERE is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and that it more concerns every indiwidual fierson to be well resolved in, than this, What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and intitled to his eternal rewards : Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true religion ? And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God 2 But though it be of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one foint, wherein frofessing Christians do more differ one from another. It would be endless to reckon us, the variety of offinions in this foint, that divide the Christian world ; making manifest the truth of that of our Saviour, “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find it.” The consideration of these things has long engaged me to attend to this matter, with the utmost diligence and care, and eractness of search and inquiry, that I have been casiable of: It is a subject on which my mind has been fleculiarly intent, ever since I first entered on the study of divinity. But as to the success of my inquiries, it must be left to the judgment of the reader of the Jollowing treatise. I am sensible it is much more difficult to judge imfartially of that which is the subject of this discourse, in the midst of the dust and smoke of such a state of controversy, as this land is now in, about things of this nature : As it is more difficult to write imfartially, so it is more difficult to read imflartially. Many will firobably be hurt in their shirits, to find so much that afflertains to religious affection, here condemned : And fierhafts indignation and contempt will be excited in others by finding so much here justified and affiroved. And it may be, some will be ready to charge me with inconsistence with myself, in so much affiroving some things, and so much condemning others ; as I have found this has always been objected to by some, ever since the beginning
of our late controversies about religion. It is a hard thing to be a hearty zealous friend of what has been good and glorious, in the late extraordinary afflearances, and to rejoice much in it ; and at the same time to see the evil and fiernicious tendency of what has been bad, and earnestly to offiose that. But yet, I am humbly, but fully fiersuaded, we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go on in a way acceptable to God, and tending to the advancement of Christ's kingdom, till we do so. There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so much good and so much bad, should be mired together in the church of God : As it is a mysterious thing, and what has fuzzled and amazed many a good Christian, that there should be that which is so divine and firecious, as the saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature, dwelling in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and iniquity, in a farticular saint. Yet neither of these is more mysterious than real. And neither of them is a new or rare thing. It is no new thing, that much false religion should firevail, at a time of great reviving of true religion ; and that at such a time multitudes of hysiocrites should sfiring us among true saints. It was so in that great reformation, and revival of religion, that was in Josiah’s time ; as afflears by Jer. iii. 10, and iv. 3, 4, and also by the great afiostacy that there was in the land, so soon after his reign. So it was in that great outflouring of the Shirit usion the Jews, that was in the days of John the Bashtist ; as affears by the great afiostacy of that ficofile so soon after so general an awakening, and the temporary religious comforts and joys of mamy , John v. 35. “Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his tight.” So it was in those great commotions that were among the multitude, occasioned by the fireaching of Jesus Christ ; of the many that were then called, but frv were chosen ; of the multitude that were roused and affected by his fireaching, and at one time or other affleared mightily engaged, full of admiration of Christ, and elevated with joy, but few were true discifiles, that stood the shock of the great trials that came afterwards, and endured to the end : Many were like the stony ground, or thorny ground ; and but few, comfaratively like the good ground. Of the whole heaf, that was gathered great fart was chaff, that the wind afterwards drove away ; and the heaf of wheat that was 1eft, was comfaratively small ; as affears abundantly, by the history of the .Wew Testament. So it was in that great outflouring of the Shirit that was in the afostles' days ; as affears by Matth. xxiv. 10.... 13. Gal. iii. 1, and iv. 11, 15. Phil. ii. 21, and iii. 18, 19, and the two efistles to the Corinthians, and many other farts of the Wew Testament. And so it was in the great reformation from Pohery. It afficars flainly to have been in the visible church of God, in times of great reviving of religion, from time to time, as it is with the fruit trees in the shring ; there are a multitude of blossoms ; all which afflear fair and beautiful, and there is a fromising afflearance of young fruits ; but many of them are but of short continuance, they soon fall off, and never come to maturity. JVot that it is to be suffiosed that it will always be so; for though there never will, in this world, be an entire furity ; cither in farticular saints, in a fierfect freedom from mixtures of corruption ; or in the church of God, without any mixture of hypocrites with saints, and counterfeit religion, and false aft/earances of grace with true religion, and real holiness : Yet it is evident, that there will come a time of much greater furity in the church of God, than has been in ages fast ; it is filain by these texts of scripture, Isa. lii. Ezek. xliv. 6, 7, 9. Joel iii. 17. Zech. xiv. 21. Psal. lxix. 32, 35, 36. Isa. xxxv. 8, 10. chaft. iv. 3, 4. Ezek. xx. 38. Psal. xxxvii. 9, 10, 21, 29. And one great reason of it will be that at that time God will give much greater light to his fleofile, to distinguish between true religion and its counterfeits; Mal. iii. 3. “...And he shall sit as a refiner and furifier of silver : ...And he shall furify the sons of Levi, and fourge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” With ver. 18, which is a continuation of the firofthecy of the same hafifty times. “ Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.” It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ, all along hitherto. It is by this means, firincipally, that he has firevailed against all revivings of religion, that ever have been, since the first jounding of the Christian Church. By this, he hurt the cause of Christianity, in, and after the afiostolic age, much more than by all the fiersecutions of both Jews and Heathens : The afiostles, in all their efistles, shew themselves much more concerned at the Jormer mischief, than the latter. By this, Satan firevailed against the reformation, began by Luther, Zuinglius, &c. to flut a stoft to its frogress, and bring it into disgrace ; ten times more, than by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard offersecutions of the church of Rome. By this, firincipally has he firevailed against revivals of religion, that have been in our nation since the reformation. By this he firevailed against Wevengland, to quench the love and oftoil the joy of her es/lousale, about an hundred years ago. And I think, I have had offiortunity enough to see flainly that by this the devil has firevailed against the late, great revival of religion in Mezvengland, so hafısıy and fromising in its beginning : Here most evidently has been the main advantage Satan has had against us ; by this he has foiled us : It is by this means, that the daughter of Zion in this land, now lies on the ground, in such fiteous circumstances, as we now behold her ; with her garments rent, her face disfigured, her nakedness exflosed, her limbs broken, and weltering in the blood of her own wounds, and in no wise able to arise ; and this, so quickly after her late great joys and hofies : Lam. i. 17. “ Zion shreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her : The Lord hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries shall be round about him : Jerusa1em is as a menstruous woman among them.” I have seen the devil firevail the same way, against two great revivings of religion in this country. Satan goes on with mankind, as he began with them. He firevailed against our first flarents, and cast them out of faradise, and suddenly brought all their has finess and glory to an end, by afflearing to be a friend to their hafifty faradisaic state, and firetending to advance it to higher degrees. So the same cunning serfient, that beguiled Eve through his subtilty, by ferverting us from the simplicity that is in Christ, hath suddenly firevailed to defirive us of that fair firoshect, we had a little while ago, of a kind of faradisaic state of the church of God in Mezvengland. .After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies affear, feofile that are engaged to defend its cause, are commondy most exhosed, where they are least sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent usion the offiosition that affears oftenly before them, to make head against, that, and do neglect carefully to took all around them, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen ; and has offiortunity to give a more home stroke, and wound the deeper, because he strikes at his leisure, and according to his fleasure, being obstructed by no guard or resistgrace. ...And so it is likely ever to be in the church, whenever religion revives remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish between true and false religion, between saving affections and erfieriences, and those manifold fair shews, and glistening afflearances, by which they are counterfeited ; the consequences of which when they are not distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. JBy this means, the devil gratifies himself, by bringing it to fiass, that that should be offered to God, by multitudes, under a motion of a fleasing accefitable service to him, that is indeed above all things abominable to him. By this means he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls ; making them think they are something, when they are nothing ; and so eternally undoes them ; and not only so, but establishes many in a strong considence of thrir eminent holiness, who are in God's sight some of the vilest of hysiocrites. By this means, he many ways damfis