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that we may
us bog, and drive heavily, and run long upon little ground. Oh, my beloved, how shallow and narrow are our thoughts of God! Most even of those who are truly godly, yet, are led on by a kind of instinct, and carried they scarcely know how, to give some attendance on God's worship, and to the avoidance of gross sin, and go 'on in a blameless" course. It is better thus, than to run to excess of riot and open wickedness, with the ungodly world. But, alas! this is but a dull, heavy, and languid motion, where the heart is not enlarged by the daily growing love of God. Few, few are acquainted with that delightful contemplation of God, which ventilates and raises this flame of love. Petty things bind and contract our spirits, so that they feel little joy in God, little ardent, active desire to do Him service, to crucify sin, to break and undo self-love within us, to root up our own wills to make room for His, that His alone
have no will of our own, that our daily work may be to grow more like Him in the beauty of holiness. You think it a hard saying, to part with your carnal lusts and delights, and the common ways of the world, and to be tied to a strict, exact conversation all your days. But Oh! the reason of this is, because the heart is yet straitened and inthralled by the base love of these mean things, and that arises from the ignorance of things higher and better. One glance of God, a touch of His love, will free and enlarge the heart, so that it can deny all, and part with all, and make an entire renouncing of all, to follow Him. It sees enough in Him, and in Him alone, and therefore, can neither quietly rest on, nor earnestly desire any thing beside Him.
Oh! that you would apply your hearts to consider the ex« cellency of this way of God's commandments! Our wretched hearts are prejudiced; they think it melancholy and sad. Oh! there is no way truly joyous but this. They shall sing in the ways of the Lord, says the Psalmist. Psal. cxxxvü. 5. Do not men, when their eyes are opened, see a beauty in meekness, and temperance, and humility, a present delightfulness and quietness in them? Whereas in pride and passion, and inVOL. III.
temperance, there is nothing but vexation and disquiet. And then, consider the end of this way, and of this race in it, rest and peace for ever. It is the way of peace, both in its own nature, and in respect of its end, Did you believe that joy and glory which are set before you in this way, you would not any of you defer a day longer, but forthwith you would break from all that holds you back, and enter into this way, and run on cheerfully in it. The persuasion of those great things above, would enlarge and greaten the heart, and make the greatest things here very little in your eyes. .
But would you attain to this enlarged heart for this race, as you ought to apply your thoughts to these Divine things, and stretch them on the promises made in the world, so, above all, take David's course, seek this enlargement of heart from God's own hand. For it is here propounded and laid. before God by way of request : See what is my desire, I would gladly serve Thee better, and advance more in the way of Thy commandments ; now, this I cannot do till my heart be more enlarged, and that cannot be but by Thy hand. When Thou shalt enlarge my heart, Present this suit often: it is in His power to do it for thee, He can stretch and expand thy straitened heart, can hoist and spread the sails within thee, and then carry thee on swiftly; filling them, not with the vain air of man's applause, which readily rans a soul upon rocks and splits it, but with the sweet breathings and soft gales of His own Spirit, which carry it straight to the desired haven.
Findest thou sin cleaving to thee and clogging thee? Cry to Him:–Help, Lord ! set me free from my narrow heart. I strive but in vain without Thee; still it continues so.--I know little of Thee; my affections are dead and cold towards Thee, -Lord, I desire to love Thee, here is my heart ; and lest it fly out, lay hold on it, and take Thinę own way with it : though it should be in a painful way, yet, draw it forth, yea, draw it that it may run after Thee. All is His own working, and all His motive is His own free grace. Let who will fancy themselves masters of their own hearts, and think to enlarge them by the strength of their own stretches of speculations they alone, they alone are in the sure and happy way of attaining it, who humbly sue and wait for this enlargement of heart from His hand who made it.
ROMANS viii. 33, 34.
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that
justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
OTHER men may fancy and boast as they please, but there are none in the world but the godly alone, that are furnished with sufficiently strong supports and comforts against all possible hazards. And of these doth the Apostle treat most freely, sweetly, and plentifully, in this chapter. He secures believers in their Christ, touching these two great evils, aftercondemnation, and present affliction, that the one cannot befal them, and the other cannot hurt them.
For their immunity from the former, they have the clear word of the Gospel, and the seal of the Spirit; and that for. mer privilege made sure, as the far greater, doth secure the other as the less.
They are freed from condemnation, and not only so, but entitled and ensured to a kingdom.. And what hurt then can affliction do? Yea, it doth good; yea, not only it cannot rob them of their crown, but it carries them on towards it, is their high-way to it: If we suffer with Him, we shall also be gloria fied together. Yea, all things to the children of God do prove advantageous: severally taken in their present sense, they may seem evil, but taken jointly in their after issue, their working together is all for good. In their simple nature, possibly they are poison, yet, contempered and prepared, they shall prove medicinal. All these things are against me, said old Jacob, and yet he lived to see even all these were for him. The children of God are indeed so happy, that the harshest things in their way change their nature, and become sweet and profitable. This much is effected by their prayers, which have a divine incantation in them. They breathe forth the expressions of their love to God, by which they are characterized, ver. 28, them that love God; and that is put on their hearts, the impression of His love to them, to which they are here led by the Apostle, as to the spring-head of all. All their comforts and privileges flow thence, yea, all their love and their faith, appropriating those comforts, and privileges. Yea, the very treasury of all together, Jesus Christ himself, is the free gift of this free love. He, as the greatest, ascertains all things besides as unspeakably less.
These two are such mighty arguments, that no difficulty nor grief can stand before them. The love of God, He is with us; who then can be against us ? All the world it may be, but that all is nothing. Once it was nothing : it was that God who is our God, who loves us and is for us, who made it something; and if He will, it may again be nothing. And as it is at its best, it is nothing, being compared with another gift which he hath bestowed on us; and having bestowed that, surely, if there be any thing in this world can do us any good, we shall not want it. He that spared not his own Son, but gave Him to the death for us, will he not with him give us all things ?
And to close all, He makes these two great immunities good to us in Christ. He fixes there. There we are freed from all fear of condemnation, or of being hurt by affliction. No accusation nor guiltiness can annul the righteousness of Christ, and that is made ours. No distress nor suffering can cut us off from the love of God; and if it cannot do that, we need not fear it: all other hazards are no hazard, that being sure.
And in confidence of this, the Apostle gives the defiance, casts a challenge to angels, to men, to all the world, upon these two points, Who shall accuse?--Who shall separate ? Accuse to God, or separate from Him? Whatsoever times may come, the hardest that any can apprehend or foretel, if these two be not sufficient furniture against them, I know not what is.
Men are commonly busied about other events concerning them and theirs, what shall become of this or the other, and what if this or that fall out. But the conscience once raised to this inquiry, the soul being awake to discern the hazard of eternal death, all other fears and questions are drowned and lost in this great question, Am I condemned or not? Is my sin pardoned or not?
And then, a satisfying answer received concerning this, all is quiet ; the soul reposes sweetly on God, and puts all its other concernments into His hands. Let Him make me poor and despised, let Him smite and chastise me, He hath forgiven my sin; all is well. That burden taken off, the soul can go-light, yea, can leap and dance under all other burdens. Oh, how it feels itself nimble, as a man eased of a load that he was even fainting under! Oh! blessed the man whose sin is taken off, lifted from his shoulders, (that is the word, Psal. xxxii. 1.) laid over upon Christ, who could bear the whole load, and take it away, take it out of sight, which we could never have done; no, they would have sunk us for ever. That one word, aige John'i. 29, signifies both, and answers to the two, Isa. liii. 4.; He hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows ; lifted them away. Oh, how sweet a burden, instead of this, is that engagement of obedience and love to him as our Redeemer, and which is all he lays on us ! If we follow him, and bear his cross, he is our strength, and bears both it and us. So then, this is the great point, the