A Guide to Eternal Glory!
Brief Directions How to Attain a True and Saving Interest in Christ
Thomas Wilcox, 1622-1687
Christian Reader, I find in this latter day, the love of God shining in some measure with its pleasant beams in my heart, warming my affections, inflaming my soul, not only to give a spiritual echo in soul-duty, to so great a lover as my Savior is, whose transcendent love surpasses knowledge, Ephesians 3.19. But also the loving and wishing well to all Zion's heaven-born Children; for I find in this day, many poor souls tossed to and fro ready to be carried away with every wind of doctrine by the slights of men and cunning craftiness, whereby the lie in wait to deceive, Ephesians 4.14. And that there are so many foundations to build upon that are false, upon which much labor is spent in vain; that we are not speaking the truth in love, neither are they growing up into him in all things which is the head Christ, Ephesians 4.15. and if there be a disjunction, there cannot be a growing In Christ; and without our union in him, all that we do as cursed.
You will find therefore, Courteous Reader, this ensuing little Treatise, if the Lord be pleased to bless the reading of it unto you, as a shall voice behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, that you turn neither to the right hand nor to the left. For the way into that pleasant path of soul-justification before God, is in and through the Righteousness of Jesus Christ; for all our Self-righteousness is as filthy rags: for surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength; in the Lord shall all the Seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory, Isaiah 45.24, 25. It is only the Dying of that just One for us unjust ones, must bring us to God; He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we that were nothing but sin might be made the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5.21.
Christian Reader, let all that is of old Adam in you fall down at the foot of Christ, He alone must have preeminence; All the vessels of this new spiritual new Covenant Temple, from the Cups to the Flaggons, must be all hung upon Christ; He is to bear the Glory, for He is only worthy, for He is to build the Temple of the Lord and to bear the Glory. He by his Father's appointment is Foundation-stone, Corner-stone, and is to be Top-stone; He is the Fathers fullness of Grace and Glory. Whatever your wants be, you may come to Him, there is balsam enough in him fit for soul-cure.
Reader, may the good Lord help you to experience this ensuing word of advice, that it may be made by God unto you, like honey, sweet to your Soul, and health to your bones; and my Soul shall rejoice with you.
Your Brother in the Faith and Fellowship of the Gospel,
A word of advice to my own heart and yours. You are a professor, and partake of all ordinances; You do well, they are glorious ordinances: but if you have not the blood of Christ at the root of your profession, it will wither and prove but painted pageantry to go to Hell in. If you retain Guilt or Self-righteousness under it, those Vipers will eat out all the vitals of it at length. Try and Examine with greatest strictness every day, what Bottom your Profession and Hope of Glory is built upon, whether it was laid by the hand of Christ? If not, it will never be able to endure the storm that must come again it, Satan will throw it all down, and great shall be the fall thereof.
Glorious Professor! You shall be winnowed, every vein of your Profession will be tried to purpose: it is terrible to have it all come tumbling down, and find you have no secure foundation.
Soaring Professor! See to your waxed Wings early, which will melt with the heat of Temptations. What a misery is it to trade much, and break at length, having no stock, no foundation laid for Eternity in your Soul.
Gifted Professor! Look that there be not a worm at the root that will spoil all your fine gourd, and make it die about you in a day of scorching.
Look over your Soul and ask, Where is the blood of Christ to be seen upon my Soul? What righteousness is it that I stand upon to be saved by? Have I cast off all my Self-righteousness? Many Eminent Professors have come at length to Cry out in the sight of the ruin of their Duties: Undone, undone to all Eternity! The greatest Sins may be hidden under the greatest Duties, and the greatest Terrors. See that the wound that sin has made in your Soul is perfectly cured by the Blood of Christ, not skinned over with Duties, Humblings, Enlargements, etc.
Apply what you will besides the blood of Christ, it will poison the whole sore! You will find that sin was never mortified truly, that you have not seen Christ bearing your sin upon the Cross. Nothing can kill sin but the beholding of Christ's Righteousness. Nature can afford no Balsam fit for Soul-cure. Healing from Duty and not from Christ, is the most desperate Disease! Poor ragged Nature, with its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough (without spt) large enough (without patches) to cover the Soul's nakedness. Nothing can fit the soul for that use, but Christ's perfect Righteousness. Whatever is of Natures spinning, must be all unraveled before the Righteousness of Christ can be put on. Whatever is of Nature's putting on, Satan will come and plunder it every rag away, and leave the soul naked and open to the wrath of God. All that Nature can do will never make up the least grain of Grace that can mortify sin or look Christ in the face on the judgment day.
You are a Professor, go to Hearing, Praying, Receiving—yet miserable may you be; look about you: did you ever yet see Christ to this day, in distinction from all other Excellencies and Righteousness in the world, and all them falling before the Majesty of his Love and Grace? If you have seen Christ truly, you have seen pure grace, pure righteousness in Him, every way infinite, far exceeding all Sin and Misery! If you have truly seen Christ, you can trample upon all the righteousness of Men and Angels, so as to bring you into acceptance with God. If you have truly seen Christ, you would not do a Duty without Him for ten thousand worlds! If ever you did see Christ truly, you saw Him to be a Rock, higher than Self-righteousness, Satan, Sin! Psalm 61.2. And the Rock will follow you, 1 Corinthians 10.4 and there will be continual droppings of honey and grace out of that Rock to satisfy you, Psalm 81.16.
Examine if ever you beheld Christ as the only begotten of the Father; full of Grace and Truth, John 1.14. Be sure that you have come to Christ, that you stand upon the Rock of Ages; that you have answered his Call to your Soul have closed with him for Justification.
Men talk bravely of Believing, while whole and sound; few know it truly. Christ is the Mystery of the Scripture, and Grace is the Mystery of Christ. Believing is the most wonderful thing in the world; add anything of your own to it, and you spoil it! Christ will not so much as look at it. When you Believe and come Christ, you must leave behind you your own Righteousness, and bring nothing but your Sin! O that is hard! Leave behind all your Holiness, Sanctification, Duties, Humblings, etc.—and bring nothing but your Wants and Miseries, else Christ is not fit for you, nor you for Christ. Either Christ will be the only Redeemer and Mediator, or you and Christ will never agree. It's the hardest thing in the world to take Christ alone for Righteousness; that's to acknowledge Him as CHRIST. If you join anything to Him of your own, and you Un-Christ him! Whatever comes in when you go to God for acceptance, besides Christ, call it Antichrist! Bid it be gone, make only Christ's Righteousness triumphant! All besides that must fall, if Christ stands; and you shall rejoice in the day of the fall thereof.
Christ alone did tread the Wine-press, and there was none with him, Isaiah 63:3. If you join to anything but Christ, He will trample upon it in fury and anger, and stain his clothing with the blood thereof.
You think it is easy to believe, was ever your Faith tried with an hour of Temptation, and a true sight of Sin? Was it ever put to grapple with Satan, and the wrath of God lying upon your Conscience? When you were in the mouth of Hell and the Grave, then did God show you Christ as a Ransom, a Righteousness etc.? Then could you say, Oh, I see Grace enough in Christ.
You may easily say that which is the biggest word in the world, that you Believe. But untried Faith is uncertain Faith. To truly Believe, there must go a clear Conviction of sin, and of the Merits of the Blood of Christ, and of Christ's willingness to save upon this consideration merely—that you are a Sinner. These are things all harder than to make a world. All the power in Nature can't get up so high in a storm of Sin and Guilt, as really to believe there is any Grace, any willingness in Christ to save.
When Satan charges sin upon the Conscience, then for the Soul to charge it upon Christ—that is Gospel-like, that is to make Him Christ; He serves for that use. To accept Christ's Righteousness alone, His Blood alone for Salvation—that's the sum of the Gospel. When the Soul in all duties and distresses can say, Nothing but Christ! Christ alone, for Righteousness, Justification, Sanctification, and Redemption, 1 Corinthians 1.30, 31; not Humblings, not Duties, not Graces, etc.—that Soul has got above the reach of the billows of divine wrath.
For all Temptations, Satan's advantages, and our complainings, are laid in Self-righteousness, and Self-Excellence. God pursues these by setting Satan upon you (as Laban did Jacob for his Images which Rachel hid, Genesis 31. These must be torn from you, as dear as they are to you, for these hinder Christ from coming in; and until Christ comes in Guilt will not go out. Where Guilt is, there is hardness of heart; and therefore much Guilt argues little (if anything) of Christ. When Guilt is raised up, take heed of getting it allayed any way but by Christ's Blood. Make Christ your Peace with God—not your Duties, your Tears, etc. Christ is your Righteousness, not your Graces etc. You may destroy Christ by resting in Duties, as well as by Sins. Look at Christ, and then do as much as you will. Stand with all your weight upon Christ Righteousness! Take heed of having one foot on your own Righteousness, and the other on Christ's Righteousness. Until Christ comes and sits on high upon the Throne of Grace in the Conscience—there is nothing but Guilt, Terrors, Secret suspicions; as the Soul is hanging between hope and fear, which is an Ungospel-like state.
He who fears to see the utmost Hell his own heart—he has not truly trusted the Merits of Christ. Be you ever so great a sinner, trust Christ, make Him your Advocate—and you shall find Him Jesus Christ the Righteous.
In all doubtings, fears, and storms of Conscience—look at Christ continually. Don't argue with Satan, for that is what he desires; bid him go to Christ, and He will answer him; it is His Office, as He is our Advocate, 1 John 2.1. His Office to answer the Law as our Surety, Hebrews 7.22. His Office to answer Justice as our Mediator, Galatians 3.20. 1 Timothy 2.5. And He is Sworn to that Office, Hebrews 7.20. Put Christ upon it! If you will do anything yourself for satisfaction for sin, you renounce Christ the Righteous, who was made sin for you, 2 Corinthians 5.21.
Satan may corrupt Scripture, but he can't answer Scripture. It is Christ's word of mighty Authority. Christ foiled Satan with it, Matthew 4. In all the Scripture there is not a bad word against a poor sinner stripped of Self-Righteousness; nay it plainly points out this man to be the subject of the Grace of the Gospel, and none else. Believe but Christ's willingness, and that will make you willing. If you find that you cannot believe, remember its Christ's work to grant faith to you. Put Him upon it, He works to will and to do of his own good pleasure, Philippians 2.12. Mourn for your Unbelief, which is setting up of Guilt in the Conscience above Christ, an undervaluing the Merits of Christ, accounting His Blood an Unholy thing, a Common, an Unsatisfying thing.
You complain much of yourself, does your sin make you look more at Christ, and less at Self? If so, then complaining is but Hypocrisy. To be looking at Duties, Graces, Enlargements, when you should be looking at Christ, that's lamentable. Looking at them will but make you Proud; but looking at Christ's Grace will make you Humble. By Grace you are saved, Ephesians 2.8.
In all your temptations be not discouraged, James 1.2. Those temptations are not to break you, but to heave you off yourself, and onto the rock Christ! You may be brought low, even to the brink of Hell, ready to tumble in; you can not be brought lower then the belly of Hell, (many Saints have been there) yet there may you Cry; there may you look toward the Holy Temple, Jonah 2.2,4. Into that Temple none might enter but purified ones, and with an offering too, Acts 2.26. But now CHRIST is our Temple, Sacrifice, Altar, High-Priest, to whom none may come but Sinners, and that without any offering but that of his own Blood, once offered, Hebrews 7.
Remember the patterns of Grace who are in Heaven. You think, O what a Monument of Grace would I be! There are many thousands as rich Monuments as you can be. The greatest sinner did never stifle the Grace of Christ; so do not despair; hope still. When the Cloud is at the blackest, even then look towards Christ, the standing Pillar of the Father's Love and Grace, set up in Heaven, for all Sinners to gaze upon continually. Whatever Satan or Conscience say, do not conclude against yourself; Christ shall have the last word, He is Judge of the Living and the Dead, and must pronounce the final sentence. His Blood speaks:
Reconciliation, Colossians 1.20.
Cleansing, 1 John 1.7.
Purchase, Acts 20.28.
Redemption, 1 Peter 1.19.
Purging, Hebrews 9.13.
Remission of sin, Hebrews 9.22.
Liberty, Hebrews 10.19
Justification, Romans 5.9.
Nearness to God, Ephesians 2.13.
Not a drop of His Blood shall be lost!
Stand and hearken what God will say, for He will speak peace to His people, that they return no more to folly, Psalm 85.8. He speaks Grace, Mercy and Peace, 2 Timothy 1.2. That's the language of the Father and of Christ.
Wait for Christ's appearing, as the morning Star, Revelation 22.16. He shall come as certainly as the morning, as refreshingly as the rain, Hosea 6.3.
The Sun may as well be hindered from rising, as Christ the Sun of Righteousness upon the mourning soul. Look not a moment off of Christ. Look not upon sin, but look upon Christ first. When you mourn for sin, if you do not see Christ, then away with it, Zechariah 12.10.
In every Duty look at Christ—before Duty to pardon it, in Duty to assist it, after Duty to accept it; without this, tis but carnal, careless Duty. Do not legalize the Gospel, as if part did remain for you to do and suffer, and Christ where but a half Mediator, and you must bear part of your own sin, and make part of its payment. Let sin break your heart, but not your hope in the Gospel. Look more at Justification, than Sanctification. In the highest commands, consider Christ not as an exacter to require, but a debtor, an undertaker to work in you and for you.
If you have looked at your workings, duties, qualifications, etc. more than at the Merits of Christ, it will cost you dearly—no wonder you go complaining. Graces may be evidences, but the Merits of Christ only must be the Foundation of your hope to bottom on. Christ alone can be the hope of Glory, Colossians 1.27.
When we come to God, we must bring nothing but Christ with us, any ingredients of our own qualifications will poison and corrupt Faith. He who builds upon his Duties, Graces, etc. knows nothing of the merits of Christ. This makes Believing so hard, so far above Nature's ability. If you Believe, you must every day renounce (as dung and dross, Philippians 3.7) your Privileges, your Obedience, your Sanctification, your Duties, your Tears, your Meltings, your Graces—and nothing but Christ must be held up! Every day your workings, your Self-sufficiency must be destroyed. You must take all out of Gods hand; Christ is the gift of God, John 4.10. Pardon is God's free gift, Romans 5.16. Ah how Nature storms, frets, rages at this—that all is of Gift, and it can purchase nothing with its actings, tears and duties; that all its Tears are excluded, and of no value in Heaven!
If Nature had been to contrive the way of Salvation, it would rather have put it into the hands of Saints or Angels to acquire it, than of Christ who gives freely. Nature would have set up a way to purchase Salvation by doing; therefore it abominates the Merits of Christ, as a destructive thing to it, would do anything to be saved, rather than go to Christ, or close with Him. The Soul would force somewhat of its own upon Christ; here is the great controversy between them.
Consider, did you ever yet see the Merits of Christ, and the infinite satisfaction made by his death? Did you see this in a time when the burden of sin and the wrath of God lay heavy upon your Conscience? That's Grace! The greatness of Christ's Merits is not known but to a poor Soul at the greatest loss. Slight Convictions will have but slight, low-prizings of Christ's Blood and Merits!
Despairing Sinner, you are looking on your right hand and on your left, saying, Who will show us any good? You are tumbling over all your Duties and Professions, to patch up a Righteousness to save you. Those are all miserable comforters to you.
Look at Christ now, look at Christ now! Look to Him and be saved, all the ends of the Earth, Isaiah 45.21,22. He is the Savior, and there is none besides Him. Look any where else, and you are undone! God will look at nothing but Christ, and you must look at nothing else. Christ is lifted up on high (as the Brazen Serpent in the wilderness) that the ends of the Earth, sinners at the greatest distance may see him, and look towards him. The least sight of Him will be Saving; the least touch of Him will be Healing to you. God intends you should look on him, for He has set Him upon the high Throne of Glory in the open view of all poor sinners.
You have infinite reason to look on him; no reason at all to look away from him, for He is meek and lowly in Heart, Matthew 11.29. He will do that Himself, which He requires of His Creatures. He will bear with their Infirmities, Romans 15.1. He will restore with the spirit of meekness, Galatians 6.1. He will bear your burdens, verse 2. He will forgive, not only Seven time—but Seventy times seven, Matthew 18.21, 22. Because we find it hard to forgive, we think Christ finds it hard. We see sin great, so we think Christ does so. We measure infinite love with our line. We think that our sins are too great to forgive, which is the greatest pride and blasphemy, Psalm 103.11, Isaiah 40.15.
Hear what God says, I have found a ransom! Job 33.24. In Him I am well pleased, Matthew 3.17. God will have nothing else; and nothing else will do you good, or satisfy Conscience, but Christ, who satisfied the Father. God does all upon the account of Christ. Your deserts are Hell, Wrath, and eternal Rejection. Christ's deserts are Life, Pardon, and Acceptance. He will only show you your deserts , and give you His deserts!
It's Christ's own glory and happiness to pardon great sinners. Consider, while Christ was upon the Earth, He was more among Publicans and Sinners—than the Scribes and Pharisees, His professed adversaries, for they were self-righteous ones. It is not so as you imagine, that his state in Glory makes him neglectful and scornful to poor sinners. No, He has the same heart now in Heaven! He is God and changes not. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, John 1.29.
He has gone through all your Temptations, Dejections, Sorrows, Desertions, Rejections; and has drank all the bitterness of the wrathful Cup, and left you the sweet. Christ drank up the Father's Wrath at one draught, and nothing but Salvation is left for you! You are fitter for Christ, if you have nothing but Sin and Misery to bring to Him.
You say that you cannot believe, and that you cannot repent. Go to Christ as a poor, lost, undone wretch—hopeless and helpless. Go as a filthy, loathsome, polluted creature, to the cleansing fountain of grace! Go to Him weary and heavy-laden, with all your Impenitency, and Unbelief, to get Faith and Repentance from Him who is Glorious. Tell Him: "Lord, I have brought no Righteousness, no Grace of my own to be accepted in, or justified by. I am come for Your Righteousness and must have it. O be please to bestow it on me!"
We would be bringing our Righteousness to Christ, and that must not be—not a penny of Natures highest improvement will pass in Heaven. Grace will not stand with Works, Titus 3.5. Romans 11.6. Thiss a terrible point to Nature, which cannot think of being stripped of All, not having a rag of Duty or Righteousness to look at left to trust in. Self-righteousness and Self-sufficiency are the darlings of Nature, which she preserves as her life—that makes Christ's Righteousness such a strange thing to Nature, she cannot desire Him. He is directly opposite to all Nature's glorious attainments.
Let Nature but make Gospel, and it would be quite contrary to Christ's. It would bestow Salvation to the Just, the Innocent, the Holy, the Righteous in their own eyes.
But Christ has made the Gospel for you, that is to Needy Sinners, the ungodly, the unrighteous, the undone, the unjust, the Accursed. Nature cannot endure to think the Gospel is only for Sinners, it will rather chose to despair than to go to Christ upon such terrible terms.
When Nature is put to it, and is disturbed by Guilt of sin or Wrath of God, it will flee to its old haunts of Self-righteousness, Self-goodness, etc. Nothing but infinite power can cast down those Strongholds; none but the Self-Righteous person stands excluded out of the Gospel.
Christ will look at the most abominable wretched sinner before him, if he approaches Him with a humble, broken and relenting heart.
But to the self-conceited Pharisee, to such a one Christ cannot be made Justification, because he imagines that he is no sinner. To say in a Complement, I am a sinner, is easy. But to pray with the Publican indeed, Lord be merciful to me a sinner, is the hardest prayer in the world! It is easy to say, I believe in Christ, but to see Christ full of Grace and Truth, of whose fullness you may receive grace upon grace—that is very hard. It is easy to profess Christ with the mouth, but to confess Him with the heart to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Mediator—that is above flesh and blood. Many call Christ Savior, few know him so.
To see Grace and Salvation in Christ, is the greatest sight in the world. None can do that, but at the same time, they shall see Christ's Grace and Salvation to be their own. The sin-atoning Blood of Christ is the main thing of the Gospel.
A Christless, Formal profession is the blackest sight next to Hell, that can be. You may have many Good Things, and yet let One thing be lacking—that will make you go away sorrowful from Christ. You have never sold all you have, never parted with all your own righteousness, etc. You may be high in duty, and yet be a total Enemy and Adversary to Christ.
In every Prayer, in every Ordinance, labor after Sanctification to the utmost, but make not a Christ of it to save you; if so, it must come down one way of other. Christ's infinite Satisfaction, not your own holiness, must be your Justification before God. When the Lord shall appear terrible out of holy places, fire shall consume all your holy works as hay and stubble.
This will be found true Religion only—which is all founded upon the Everlasting Mountains of God's Love and Grace in Christ; to live continually in the sight of Christ's infinite Righteousness and Merits (they are sanctifying, and without them the heart is carnal); and in those sights to see the full vileness of sin, and to see all pardoned by Christ. You will see your polluted self, all your weak performances accepted continually through the mediation of the holy Jesus! You will trample upon all your Self-glories, Righteousnesses and Privileges, as abominable; and be found continually looking to the Righteousness of Christ alone; rejoicing in the ruins of all your own Righteousness, the spoiling of all your own Excellencies—that Christ alone as Mediator, may be exalted in his Throne! You will be mourning over all your Duties, (however glorious) that you have not performed them in the sight and sense of Christ love. Without the blood of Christ sprinkled on the Conscience, all is dead service. Hebrews 9.14
Christ is every way too Magnificent a person for poor Nature to close with, or apprehend. Christ is so infinitely holy, that Nature dared never look at Him. He is so infinitely good, that Nature can never believe him to be such, when it lies under full sights of sin. Christ is too high and glorious for Nature so much as to touch.
There must be a Divine Nature first put into the Soul to make it lay hold on Him, as He lies so infinitely beyond the sight or reach of Nature. That Christ that natural Free-will can apprehend, is but an imagined Christ of a man's own making, not the Father's Christ, not Jesus the Son of the living God, to whom none can come without the Fathers drawing, John 6.44.
Finally, Search the Scriptures daily as a Mine of Gold, wherein the heart of Christ is laid up.
Watch against Constitution sins, see them in their vileness, and they shall never break out into act.
Keep always a humble, empty, broken frame of heart, sensible of any spiritual miscarriage, observant of all inward workings, fit for the highest communications with a precious Jesus.
Keep no guilt in the Conscience, but apply the Blood of Christ immediately. God charges sin and guilt upon you—to make you look to Christ, the brazen Serpent.
Judge not Christ's love by His Providence, but by His Promises.
Bless God for shaking you off of your False Foundations—for any way whereby He keeps the Soul awakened and looking after Christ. Better Sicknesses and Temptations, than Security and Slightness; for a Slight spirit, will turn a Profane spirit. Slightness is the bane of Profession. If it is not rooted out of the heart by constant and serious dealings with Christ, and beholdings of Christ in Duties—it will grow more strong, and more deadly by being under Church-ordinances.
Measure not your Graces by the attainments of others, but by Scripture standards. Be serious, exact in duty, having the weight of it upon the heart; but be as much afraid of taking comfort from your Duties as from your Sins! Comfort from any hand but Christ's, is Deadly.
Be much in prayer, or you will never keep up much communion with God. What you are in secret-prayer, so you are. Reckon not duties by lofty expressions, but by humble frames in which they are performed.
Treasure up manifestations, and the beholdings of Christ. They make the heart low for Christ, too high for sin. Slight not the lowest evidence of Grace; God may put you to make use of the lowest, as you think, even that may be worth a thousand worlds to you. Be true to Truth, but not turbulent and scornful. Restore such as are fallen, help them up again with all the affections of Christ. Set the broken disjointed bones with the Grace of the Gospel.
Do not despise not weak Saints; you may come to wish to be in the condition of the meanest of them. Be helpful to others infirmities, but sensible of your own. Visit sick beds and deserted Souls much; they are excellent schools of experience.
Abide in your Calling. Be dutiful to all who are pious.
Be content with little of the World; little will serve. Think every little of Earth much, because it is unworthy of the least. Think much of Heaven, because Christ is so rich and free. Think everyone better than your self, and be humble, as one fit to be trampled upon by all the Saints.
See the vanity of the world, and the vanity that is upon all things—and love nothing but Christ. Mourn to see so little of Christ in the world, so few needing Him; trifles please them better. To a worldly Soul, Christ is but a Fable, and the Scriptures but a Story. Mourn to think how many under high professions, that are not under Grace; looking much after Duty, and little after Christ, and little versed in Grace.
Prepare for the Cross, welcome it, bear it triumphantly like Christ's Cross, whether Scoffs, Mockings, Jeers, Contempts, Imprisonments, etc. Only see that it is Christ's Cross, not one of your own making.
Sins will hinder you from glorying in the Cross of Christ. Omitting little truths against light, may breed Hell in the Consciences, as well as committing greater sins against light. If you have been taken out of the belly of Hell and into Christ's bosom, and made to sit among Princes in the household of God—O how should you live as a pattern of Mercy! Redeemed, restored Soul, what infinite sums do you owe Christ! With what singular humility must you walk and do every Duty? Sabbaths, what praising-days, singing of Hallelujahs, should they be to you! Ordinances, what a Heaven, a being with Christ, and Angels and Saints! Baptism, what a drowning the Soul in Eternal Love, as a burial with Christ, dying to all things beside Him.
Every time you think of Christ, be astonished and wonder. And when you see Sin, look at Christ's Grace which pardoned it. And when you are Proud look at Christ's Grace—that shall humble and strike you down in the dust. Remember Christ's time of love, when you were naked and cast out to die, Ezekiel 16.8—then He chose you. Can you ever have a proud thought?
Remember whose arms supported you from sinking, and delivered you from the lowest Hell, Psalm 86.15. And sing forever Praise, Grace, Grace! Repent daily and believe, and pray, and walk in the sense of Grace, as one that has the Anointings of Grace upon you. Remember . . .
your Sins—and Christ's Pardonings,
your Deserts—and Christ's Merits,
your Weakness—and Christ's Strength,
your Pride—and Christ's Humility,
your Infirmities—and Christ's Restorings,
your Guilt—and Christ's application of His Blood,
your Fallings—and Christ's Upraisings,
your Slightingness—and Christ's Sufferings,
your Wants—and Christ's Fullness,
your Temptations—and Christ's Tenderness,
your Vileness—and Christ's Righteousness!
Blessed Soul! whom Christ shall find not having on his own Righteousness, Philippians 3.9—but having his robes washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb! Rev. 7.14.
Woeful, miserable professor, that has not the Gospel within; rest not in Church-trial, you may pass that, and be Cast away in Christ's day of trial. You may come to Baptism, and never come to Jesus, and the blood of Sprinkling, Hebrews 12.24. Whatever workings or attainments come not up to clear, distinct apprehensions of Christ's Blood, Merits, Righteousness, (the main Object of the Gospel)—falls short of the Gospel, and leaves the Soul in a condition of Doubtings and Questionings; and Doubtings (if not looked to early) will turn to a Slightiness of Spirit, one of the most dangerous frames.
Trifle not with Ordinances; be much in Meditation and Prayer. Wait diligently upon all gospel-hearing opportunities. We have need of Doctrine, Reproof, Exhortation, Consolation, as the tender herbs and grass have of the Rain, the Dew, the Small rain, and the Showers.
Do all you do as Soul-work, as unto Christ—as immediately dealing with Christ Jesus, as if He were looking on you, and you on Him, and fetch all your Strength from Him.
Observe what holy motions you find in your Soul to Duties; the least motion that is from a sight of Christ, the least good thought you have of Christ, the least good word you speak of Him from the heart—is rich mercy, O bless God for it. Observe every day, that you have the day-spring from an high (with his morning dews of mourning for sin) constantly visiting you. The bright morning Star (with fresh influences of Grace and Peace) constantly arising in your heart. And Christ sweetly greeting the Soul in all duties. Whatever Duties make you not more Spiritual, will make more Carnal. Whatever does not Quicken and Humble, will Deaden and Harden. Judas may have the Sop, the outward Privilege of Baptism, Supper, Church-fellowship, etc. but John leaned on Christ's bosom!
That's the Gospel-ordinance posture in which we should Pray, and Hear, and perform all Duties. Nothing but lying in that bosom, will dissolve hardness of heart, and make you to mourn for sin, and cure slightness of spirit (that gangrene in profession) that will humble indeed, and make the Soul cordial to Christ, and sin vile to the Soul. Yes, this will transform the ugliest piece of Hell, into the glory of Christ.
Never think you are holy as you should be, a Christian of any glorious attainment, until you come to this: Always to see and feel your self lying in the bosom of Christ, who is in the bosom of the Father, John 1.18. Come and beg of the Father for sights of Christ—you can come with no request that pleases Him better. He gave him out of His own bosom for that very end, to be held up before the eyes of all sinners, as the Everlasting Monument of his Fathers love!
Looking at the Natural Sun, weakens the eye—but the more you look at Christ the sun of Righteousness, the stronger and clearer will the eye of Faith be! Look but at Christ, and you will love Him, and live on Him, and think on Him continually. Keep the eye constantly upon Christ's blood, or every blast of Temptation will shake you. If you will see sin's Sinfulness, to hate it, and mourn—don't stand looking upon sin, but look upon Christ first, as suffering and paying for your sin. If you would see your Graces, your Sanctification—don't stand gazing upon them, but look at Christ's Righteousness in the first place. If you see the Sun, you see all—then look at you Graces in the second place.
When you act Faith, what you first look at, that you expect settlement from, and make it the foundation of your hope. Go to Christ in sight of your sin and misery—not to your Grace and Holiness. Have nothing to do with your graces and sanctification (they will but veil Christ) until you have seen Christ's righteousness first. He who looks upon Christ through his graces, is like one that sees the Sun under water, which wavers and moves as the water does. Look upon Christ only as shining in the firmament of the Fathers love and grace. You cannot see him but in his own glory, which is unspeakable.
Pride and Unbelief will put you upon seeing something in your self first; but Faith will have to do with none but Christ, who is inexpressibly glorious, and must swallow up your holiness as well as your sins. For God made Him both for us, and we must make Him both, 1 Corinthians 1.30. 2 Corinthians 5.21. He who sets up his holiness to look at to comfort him, sets up the greatest Idol to strengthen his doubts and fears. Do but look off Christ, and presently (like Peter) you sink in doubts.
A Christian never lacks comfort, but by the breaking the order and method of the Gospel—by looking on his own holiness, and looking off Christ's perfect Righteousness, which is to choose rather to live by candle-light, than by the light of the Sun.
The honey that you suck from your own Righteousness, will turn into noxious gall; and the light you take from that to walk in, will turn into black night upon the Soul.
Satan is Tempting you, by putting you to look upon your own Graces, to get comfort from them. Then the Father comes, and points you to Christ's Righteousness (as rich and glorious, infinitely pleasing him) and bids you study Christ's Righteousness, (and his Biddings are Enablings). That is a blessed motion, a sweet whispering, checking your unbelief. Prize it as an invaluable Jewel, its a pledge of more to come again.
If you would pray and cannot and so you are discouraged, see Christ praying for you, using His interest with the Father for you. What more can you want? John 14.16. If you are troubled, see Christ your peace—leaving you peace, when He went up to Heaven, again and again charging you not to be troubled (no not in the least sinfully troubled) so as to obstruct your comfort, or your believing, John 14.1, 27.
He is now upon the Throne having spoiled upon his Cross (in the lowest state of his Humiliation) all that can hurt or annoy you. He has born all your Sins, Sorrows, Fears, Disgraces, Sicknesses, Troubles, Temptations—and has gone to prepare Mansions for you!
You who have seen Christ All, and your self absolutely Nothing, who make Christ all your life, and are dead to all Righteousness besides, you are the Christian, one highly beloved, and who has found favor with God. Blessed are you O sincere soul, who makes Jesus your all; and are dead to this poor world.
Favorite of Heaven, do Christ this one favor for all his Love to you, Love all His poor Saints and Children (the newest, the least, notwithstanding any difference in judgment) they are engraved on his heart, as the names of the children of Israel on Aaron's breast-plate. Let them be so on your heart.