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The best way to discern grace in oneself—is to love grace in others: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). What is religion—but a knitting together of hearts? Faith knits us to God—and love knits us one to another. There is a twofold love to others:  

A civil love. A godly man has a love of civility to all: “Abraham stood up, and bowed to the children of Heth” (Gen. 23:7). Though they were extraneous and not within the pale of the covenant—yet Abraham was affable to them. Grace sweetens and refines nature. “Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Pet. 3:8). We are to have a love of civility to all:

(1) Because they are of the same clay, of the same lump and mold with ourselves and are a piece of God’s intricate needlework.

(2) Because our sweet deportment towards them may be a means to win them over and put them in love with the ways of God. Morose, crude behavior, often alienates the hearts of others and hardens them most against holiness, whereas loving behavior is very obliging and may be like a loadstone to draw them to true religion.  

A pious and a holy love. This, a godly man has chiefly for those who are “of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). The first was a love of courtesy, this of delight. Our love to the saints (says Augustine) should be more than to our natural relations, because the bond of the Spirit is closer than that of blood. This love to the saints which shows a man to be godly must have seven ingredients in it:  

(1) Love to the saints must be SINCERE. “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue—but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). The honey that drops from the comb is pure; so love must be pure, without deceit. Many are like Naphtali: “He gives goodly words” (Gen. 49:21). Pretended love is like a painted fire, which has no heat in it. Some hide malice under a false veil of love. I have read of Antoninus the Emperor that where he made a show of friendship, he intended the most mischief.  

(2) Love to the saints must be SPIRITUAL. We must love them because they are saints, not out of self-respect because they are affable or have been kind to us.

But we must love them from spiritual considerations, because of the good that is in them. We are to reverence their holiness, else it is a carnal love.  

(3) Love to the saints must be EXTENSIVE. We must love all who bear God’s image:

(a) We must love the saints, though they have many infirmities. A Christian in this life is like a good face full of freckles. You who cannot love another because of his imperfections, have never yet seen your own face in the mirror. Your brother’s infirmities may make you pity him; his graces must make you love him.

(b) We must love the saints, though in some things they do not agree with us. Another Christian may differ from me in lesser matters, either because he has more light than I, or because he has less light. If he differs from me because he has more light, then I have no reason to censure him. If he differs from me because he has less light, then I ought to bear with him as the weaker vessel. In things of an indifferent nature, there ought to be Christian forbearance.

(c) We must love the saints, though their graces outvie and surpass ours. We ought to bless God for the eminence of another’s grace, because hereby religion is honored. Pride is not quite slain in a believer. Saints themselves are apt to grudge and repine at each other’s excellences. Is it not strange that the same person should hate one man for his sin and envy another for his virtue? Christians need to look to their hearts. Love is right and genuine, when we can rejoice in the graces of others though they seem to eclipse ours.  

(4) Love to the saints must be APPRECIATING.  We must esteem them above others: “He honors those who fear the Lord” (Psalm 15:4). We are to look upon the wicked as chaff—but upon the saints as jewels. These must be had in high veneration.  

(5) Love to the saints must be SOCIAL. We should delight in their company: “I am a companion of all those who fear you” (Psalm 119:63). It is a kind of hell to be in the company of the wicked, where we cannot choose but hear God’s name dishonored. It was a capital crime to carry the image of Tiberius, engraved on a ring or coin, into any sordid place. Those who have the image of God engraved on them should not go into any sinful, sordid company. I have only ever read of two living people who desired to keep company with the dead, and they were possessed by the devil (Matt. 8:28). What comfort can a living Christian have from conversing with the dead (Jude 12)? But the society of saints is desirable. This is not to walk “among the tombs”—but “among beds of spices.” Believers are Christ’s garden; their graces are the flowers; their savory discourse is the fragrant scent of these flowers.  

(6) Love to the saints must be DEMONSTRATIVE. We should be ready to do all offices of love to them, vindicate their names, contribute to their necessities and, like the good Samaritan, pour oil and wine into their wounds (Luke 10:34,35). Love cannot be concealed—but is active in its sphere and will lay itself out for the good of others.  

(7) Love to the saints must be CONSTANT. “He who dwells in love” (1 John 4:16). Our love must not only lodge for a night—but we must dwell in love: “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1). As love must be sincere, without hypocrisy; so it must be constant, without deficiency. Love must be like the pulse, always beating, not like those Galatians who at one time were ready to pluck out their eyes for Paul (Gal. 4:15) and afterwards were ready to pluck out his eyes. Love should expire only with our life. And surely if our love to the saints is thus divinely qualified, we may hopefully conclude that we are enrolled among the godly. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples—if you have love one to another” (John 13:35).

What induces a godly man to love the saints is the fact that he is closely related to them. There ought to be love among relations; there is a spiritual kinship among believers. They all have one head, therefore should all have one heart. They are stones of the same building (1 Pet. 2:5), and shall not these stones be cemented together with love?  

Use 1: If it is the distinguishing mark of a godly man to be a lover of the saints, then how sad it is to see this grace of love in eclipse! This characteristic of godliness is almost blotted out among Christians. England was once a fair garden where the flower of love grew—but surely now this flower is either plucked, or withered. Where is that amity and unity which there should be among Christians? I appeal to you—would there be that censuring and despising, that reproaching and undermining one another—if there were love? Instead of bitter tears, there are bitter spirits. It is a sign that iniquity abounds when the love of many grows cold. There is that distance among some professing Christians as if they had not received the same Spirit, or as if they did not hope for the same heaven. In primitive times there was so much love among the godly—that it set the heathen wondering; and now there is so little love—that it may set Christians blushing.  

Use 2: As we would be written down for saints in God’s calendar, let us love the brotherhood (1 Pet. 2:17). Those who shall one day live together, should love together. What is it that makes a disciple, but love (John 13:35)? The devil has knowledge—but that which makes him a devil is that he lacks love. To persuade Christians to love, consider:

  (1) The saints have that in them which may make us love them. They are the intricate embroidery and workmanship of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:10). They have those rare lineaments of grace that none but a pencil from heaven could draw. Their eyes sparkle forth beauty, “their breasts are like clusters of grapes” (Song 7:7). This makes Christ himself delight in his spouse: “The king is held in the galleries” (Song 7:5). The church is the daughter of a prince (Song 7:1). She is waited on by angels (Heb 1:14). She has a palace of glory reserved for her (John 14:2), and may not all this draw forth our love?

(2) Consider how evil it is for saints not to love:

(a) It is UNNATURAL. The saints are Christ’s lambs (John 21:15). For a dog to worry a lamb is usual—but for one  lamb to worry another is unnatural. The saints are brethren (1 Peter 3:8). How barbarous it is for brethren not to love!

  (b) Not to love is a FOOLISH thing. Have not God’s people enemies enough, that they should fly in the faces of one another? The wicked confederate against the godly: “They have taken crafty counsel against your people” (Psalm 83:3). Though there may be a private grudge between such as are wicked—yet they will all agree and unite against the saints. If two greyhounds are snarling at a bone and you put a hare between them, they will leave the bone and chase the hare. So if wicked men have private differences among themselves, and the godly are near them, they will leave snarling at one another and chase the godly. Now, when God’s people have so many enemies abroad, who watch for their halting and are glad when they can do them a mischief, shall the saints fall out and divide into parties among themselves?  

(3) Not to love is very UNSEASONABLE. God’s people are in a common calamity. They all suffer in the cause of the gospel, and for them to disagree is altogether unseasonable. Why does the Lord bring his people together in affliction, except to bring them together in affection? Metals will unite in a furnace. If ever Christians unite, it should be in the furnace of affliction. Chrysostom compares affliction to a shepherd’s dog, which makes all the sheep run together. God’s rod has this loud voice in it: “Love one another.” How unworthy it is when Christians are suffering together, to be then striving  together.

(4) Not to love is very SINFUL.

(a) For saints not to love, is to live in contradiction to Scripture. The apostle is continually plucking this string of love, as if it made the sweetest music in religion: “This commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). (See also Romans 13:8; Col. 3:14; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11). Not to love is to walk contrary to the Word. Can he who goes against the rules of medicine, be a good physician? Can he who goes against the rules of piety, be a good Christian?

(b) Lack of love among Christians greatly silences the spirit of prayer. Hot passions make cold prayers. Where animosities and contentions prevail, instead of praying for one another, Christians will be ready to pray against one another, like the disciples who prayed for fire from heaven on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54). And will God, do you think, hear such prayers as come from a wrathful heart? Will he eat our leavened  bread? Will he accept those duties which are soured with bitterness of spirit? Shall that prayer which is offered with the strange fire of our sinful passions, ever go up as incense?

(c) These heart-burnings hinder the progress of piety in our own souls. The flower of grace will not grow in a wrathful heart. The body may as soon thrive, while it has the plague—as a soul can thrive, which is infected with malice. While Christians are debating, grace is abating. As the spleen grows, health decays. As hatred increases, holiness declines.

  (5) Not to love is very FATAL. The differences among God’s people portend ruin. All mischiefs come in at this gap of division (Matt. 12:25). Animosities among saints may make God leave his temple: “the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood upon the threshold” (Ezek. 10:4). Does not God seem to stand upon the threshold of his house, as if he were taking wings to fly? And woe to us if God departs from us (Hos. 9:12)! If the master leaves the ship, it is nearly sinking indeed. If God leaves a land, it must of necessity sink in ruin.

Question: How shall we attain this excellent grace of love?

Answer 1: Beware of the devil’s couriers—I mean such as run on his errand, and make it their work to blow the coals of contention among Christians, and render one party odious to another.

Answer 2: Keep up friendly meetings. Christians should not be shy of one another, as if they had the plague.

Answer 3: Let us plead that promise: “I will give them one heart, and one way” (Jer. 32:39). Let us pray that there may be no contests among Christians, except as to who shall love most. Let us pray that God will divide Babylon—and unite Zion.

  Use 3: Is it a mark of a godly man to love the saints? Then those who hate the saints must stand indicted as ungodly. The wicked have an implacable malice against God’s people, and how can antipathies be reconciled? To hate the holy children of God, is a brand of the reprobate. Those who malign the godly, are the curse of creation. If all the scalding drops from God’s vial will make them miserable—they shall be so! Never did any who were the haters and persecutors of saints thrive at that trade. What became of Julian, Diocletian, Maximinus, Valerian, Cardinal Crescentius and others? They are standing monuments of God’s vengeance! “Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. ” (Psalm 34:21).




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Praise and thanksgiving is the work of heaven; and he begins that work here which he will always be doing in heaven. The Hebrew word for “praise” comes from a root that signifies “to shoot up.” The godly man sends up his praises like a volley of shots towards heaven. David was modeled after God’s heart and how melodiously he warbled out God’s praises! Therefore he was called “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam. 23:1). Take a Christian at his worst—yet he is thankful. The prophet Jonah was a man of waspish spirit. The sea was not so stirred with the tempest, as Jonah’s heart was stirred with passion (Jonah 1:13). Yet through this cloud you might see grace appear. He had a thankful heart: “I will sacrifice unto you with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed” (Jonah 2:9). To illustrate this more clearly, I shall lay down these four particulars:
Praise and thanksgiving is a saint-like work
We find in Scripture that the godly are still called upon to praise God: “Praise the Lord; you who fear him, praise the Lord” (Psalm 135:20). “Let the saints be joyful in glory: let the high praises of God be in their mouth” (Psalm 149:5,6). Praise is a work proper to a saint:
 (1) None but the godly can praise God aright.  As all do not have the skill to play the lute, so not everyone can sound forth the harmonious praises of God. Wicked men are bound to praise God—but they are not fit to praise him. None but a living Christian can tune God’s praise. Wicked men are dead in sin; how can they who are dead, lift up God’s praises? “The grave cannot praise you” (Isaiah 38:18). A wicked man stains and eclipses God’s praise. If a filthy hand works in satin, it will slur its beauty. God will say to the sinner, “What have you to do, to take my covenant in your mouth?” (Psalm 50:16).
 (2) Praise is not lovely, for any but the godly: “praise is lovely for the upright” (Psalm 33:1). A profane man with God’s praises is like a dunghill with flowers. Praise in the mouth of a sinner, is like a proverb in the mouth of a fool. How unfitting it is for anyone to praise God—if his whole life dishonors God! It is as indecent for a wicked man to praise God, as it is for a thief to talk of living by faith, or for the devil to quote Scripture. The godly alone are fit to be choristers in God’s praises. It is called “the garment of praise” (Isaiah 61:3). This garment fits handsomely only on a saint’s back.
Thanksgiving is a more noble part of God’s worship
Our needs may send us to prayer, but it takes a truly honest heart to praise God. The raven cries; the lark sings. In petition we act like men; in thanksgiving we act like angels.
Thanksgiving is a God-exalting work
“Whoever offers praise glorifies me” (Psalm 50:23). Though nothing can add the least mite to God’s essential glory—yet praise exalts him in the eyes of others. Praise is a setting forth of God’s honor, a lifting up of his name, a displaying of the trophy of his goodness, a proclaiming of his excellence, a spreading of his renown, a breaking open of the box of ointment, whereby the sweet fragrance of God’s name is sent abroad into the world.
Praise is a more distinguishing work
By this a Christian excels all the infernal spirits. Do you talk of God? So can the devil; he brought Scripture to Christ. Do you profess religion? So can the devil; he transforms himself into an angel of light. Do you fast? He never eats. Do you believe? The devils have a faith of assent; they believe, and tremble (Jas. 2:19). But as Moses worked such a miracle as none of the magicians could reproduce, so here is a work Christians may be doing, which none of the devils can do—and that is the work of thanksgiving. The devils blaspheme—but do not bless. Satan has his fiery darts but not his harp and violin. 
Use 1: See here the true genius and characteristic of a godly man. He is much in doxologies and praises. It is a saying of Lactantius that he who is unthankful to his God cannot be a godly man. A godly man is a God-exalter. The saints are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16). Where should God’s praises be sounded—but in his temples? A good heart is never weary of praising God: “his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). Some will be thankful while the memory of the mercy is fresh—but afterwards leave off. The Carthaginians at first to send the tenth of their yearly revenue to Hercules—but by degrees they grew weary and stopped sending. David, as long as he drew his breath, would chirp forth God’s praise: “I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being” (Psalm146:2). David would not now and then give God a snatch of music, and then hang up the instrument—but he would continually be celebrating God’s praise.
A godly man will express his thankfulness in every  duty. He mingles thanksgiving with prayer: “in everything by prayer with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). Thanksgiving is the more divine part of prayer. In our petitions we express our own necessities; in our thanksgivings we declare God’s excellences. Prayer goes up as incense, when it is perfumed with thanksgiving.
And as a godly man expresses thankfulness in every duty, he does so in every condition. He will be thankful in adversity as well as prosperity: “In everything give thanks” (1 Thes. 5:18). A gracious soul is thankful and rejoices that he is drawn nearer to God, though it be by the cords of affliction. When it goes well with him, he praises God’s mercy; when it goes badly with him, he magnifies God’s justice. When God has a rod in his hand, a godly man will have a psalm  in his mouth. The devil’s smiting of Job was like striking a musical instrument; he sounded forth praise: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). When God’s spiritual plants are cut and bleed, they drop thankfulness; the saints’ tears cannot drown their praises.
If this is the sign of a godly man, then the number of the godly appears to be very small. Few are in the work of praise. Sinners cut God short of his thank offering: “Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17). Of ten lepers healed there was but one who returned to give praise. Most of the world are sepulchers to bury God’s praise. You will hear some swearing and cursing—but few who bless God. Praise is the rent which men owe to God—but most are behindhand with their rent. God gave King Hezekiah a marvelous deliverance, “but Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him” (2 Chron. 32:25). That “but” was a blot on his escutcheon.
Some, instead of being thankful to God, “render evil for good.” They are the worse for mercy: “Do you thus requite the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?” (Deut. 32:6). This is like the toad which turns the most wholesome herb to poison. Where shall we find a grateful Christian? We read of the saints “having harps in their hands” (Rev 5:8)—the emblem of praise. Many have tears in their eyes and complaints in their mouths—but few have harps in their hand and are blessing and praising the name of God. 
Use 2: Let us scrutinize ourselves and examine by this characteristic whether we are godly: Are we thankful for mercy? It is a hard thing to be thankful.
Question: How may we know whether we are rightly thankful? 
Answer 1: We are rightly thankful—when we are careful to register God’s mercies: “David appointed certain of the Levites to record, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel” (1 Chron. 16:4). Physicians say that the memory is the first thing which decays. It is true in spiritual matters: “They soon forgot his works” (Psalm 106:13). A godly man enters his mercies, as a physician does his remedies, in a book, so that they may not be lost. Mercies are jewels that should be locked up. A child of God keeps two books always by him: one to write his sins in—so that he may be humble; the other to write his mercies in—so that he may be thankful. 
Answer 2: We are rightly thankful—when our  hearts are the chief instrument in the music of praise: “I will praise the Lord with my whole heart” (Psalm 111:1). David would tune not only his violin—but also his heart. If the heart does not join with the tongue, there can be no true praise. Where the heart is not engaged, the parrot is as good a chorister as the Christian. 
Answer 3: We are rightly thankful—when the favors which we receive, endear our love to God the more. David’s miraculous preservation from death drew forth his love to God: “I love the Lord” (Psalm 116:1). It is one thing to love our mercies; it is another thing to love the Lord. Many love their deliverance, but not their  deliverer. God is to be loved more than his mercies. 
Answer 4: We are rightly thankful when, in giving our praise to God, we see no worthiness from ourselves: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies you have showed unto your servant” (Gen. 32:10). As if Jacob had said, “Lord, the worst bit you carve for me, is better than I deserve.” Mephibosheth bowed himself and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Sam. 9:8). So when a thankful Christian makes a survey of his blessings and sees how much he enjoys, that others better than he lack, he says, “Lord, what am I, a dead dog, that free grace should look upon me, and that you should crown me with such loving kindness!” 
Answer 5: We are rightly thankful—when we put God’s mercy to good use. We repay God’s blessings—with service. The Lord gives us health—and we spend and are spent for Christ (2 Cor. 12:15). He gives us an estate—and we honor the Lord with our substance (Proverbs 3:9). He gives us children—and we dedicate them to God and educate them for God. We do not bury our talents—but use them for God’s glory. This is to put our mercies to good use. A gracious heart is like a piece of good ground that, having received the seed of mercy, produces a crop of obedience. 
Answer 6: We are rightly thankful—when we can have our hearts more enlarged for spiritual mercies—than for temporal mercies: “Blessed be God, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3). A godly man blesses God more for a fruitful heart—than a full crop. He is more thankful for Christ—than for a kingdom. Socrates was accustomed to say that he loved the king’s smile—more than his gold. A pious heart is more thankful for a smile of God’s face—than he would be for all the gold of the Indies. 
Answer 7: We are rightly thankful—when mercy is a spur to duty. It causes a spirit of activity for God. Mercy is not like the sun to the fire, to dull it—but like oil to the wheel, to make it run faster. David wisely argues from mercy to duty: “You have delivered my soul from death. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:8,9). It was a saying of Bernard, “Lord, I have two mites, a soul and a body, and I give them both to you.” 
Answer 8: We are rightly thankful—when we motivate others to this angelic work of praise. David does not only wish to bless God himself—but calls upon others to do so: “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.” (Psalm 117:1). The sweetest music is that which is in unison. When many saints join together in unison, then they make heaven ring with their praises. As one drunkard will be calling upon another—so in a holy sense, one Christian must be stirring up another to the work of thankfulness. 
Answer 9: We are rightly thankful—when we not only speak God’s praise—but live his praise. It is called an expression of gratitude. We give thanks when we live thanks. Such as are mirrors of mercy should be patterns of piety. “Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness” (Obad. 17). To give God oral praise and dishonor him in our lives, is to commit a barbarism in religion, and is to be like those Jews who bowed the knee to Christ and then spit on him (Mark 15:19). 
Answer 10: We are rightly thankful—when we propagate God’s praises to posterity. We tell our children what God has done for us: in such a need he supplied us; from such a sickness he raised us up; in such a temptation he helped us. “O God, our fathers have told us, what work you did in their days, in the times of old” (Psalm 44:1). By transmitting our experiences to our children, God’s name is eternalized, and his mercies will bring forth a plentiful crop of praise when we are gone. Heman puts the question, “shall the dead praise you?” (Psalm 88:10). Yes, in the sense that when we are dead, we praise God because, having left the chronicle of God’s mercies with our children, we start them on thankfulness and so make God’s praises live when we are dead. 
Use 3: Let us prove our godliness by gratefulness: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name” (Psalm 29:2). 
It is a good thing to be thankful. “It is good to sing praises unto our God” (Psalm 147:1). It is bad when the tongue (that organ of praise) is out of tune and jars by murmuring and discontent. But it is a good thing to be thankful. It is good, because this is all the creature can do to lift up God’s name; and it is good because it tends to make us good. The more thankful we are, the more holy. While we pay this tribute of praise, our stock of grace increases. In other debts, the more we pay, the less we have; but the more we pay this debt of thankfulness, the more grace we have.
Thankfulness is the rent we owe to God. “Kings of the earth, and all people; let them praise the name of the Lord” (Psalm 148:11,13), Praise is the tribute or custom to be paid into the King of heaven’s treasury. Surely while God renews our lease, we must renew our rent.
The great cause we have to be thankful. It is a principle grafted in nature—to be thankful for mercies received. Even the heathen praised Jupiter for their victories.
What full clusters of mercies hang on us when we go to enumerate God’s mercies! We must, with David, confess ourselves to be bewildered: “Many, O Lord my God, are your wonderful works which you have done, they cannot be reckoned up in order” (Psalm 40:5). And as God’s mercies are past numbering, so they are past measuring. David takes the longest measuring line he could get. He measures from earth to the clouds, no, above the clouds—yet this measure would not reach the heights of God’s mercies: “Your mercy is great above the heavens” (Psalm 108:4). Oh, how God has enriched us with his silver showers! A whole constellation of mercies has shone in our hemisphere.
(1) What temporal favors we have received! Every day we see a new tide of mercy coming in. The wings of mercy have covered us; the breast of mercy has fed us: “the God who fed me all my life long unto this day” (Gen. 48:15). What snares laid for us have been broken! What fears have blown over! The Lord has made our bed, while he has made others’ graves. He has taken such care of us, as if he had no one else to take care of. Never was the cloud of providence so black—but we might see a rainbow of love in the cloud. We have been made to swim in a sea of mercy! Does not all this call for thankfulness?
(2) That which may put another string into the instrument of our praise and make it sound louder—is to consider what spiritual  blessings God has conferred on us. He has given us water from the upper springs; he has opened the wardrobe of heaven and fetched us out a better garment than any of the angels wear! He has given us the best robe, and put on us the ring of faith, by which we are married to him. These are mercies of the first magnitude, which deserve to have an asterisk put on them. More—God keeps the best wine until last! Here on earth, he gives us mercies only in small quantities; the greatest things are laid up in heaven! Here on earth, there are some honey drops and  foretastes of God’s love; the rivers of pleasure are reserved for paradise! Well may we take the harp and violin and triumph in God’s praise. Who can tread on these hot coals of God’s love—and his heart not burn in thankfulness! 
Thankfulness is the best policy. There is nothing lost by it. To be thankful for one mercy is the way to have more. It is like pouring water into a pump which fetches out more. Musicians love to sound their trumpets where there is the best echo, and God loves to bestow his mercies where there is the best echo of thankfulness.
Thankfulness is a frame of heart that God delights in. If repentance is the joy of heaven, praise is the music. Bernard calls thankfulness, “the sweet balm that drops from a Christian.”
Four sacrifices God is very pleased with: the sacrifice of Christ’s blood; the sacrifice of a broken heart; the sacrifice of alms; and the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Praise and thanksgiving (says Greenham) is the most excellent part of God’s worship, for this shall continue in the heavenly choir when all other exercises of religion have ceased. 
What a horrid thing ingratitude is! It gives a dye and tincture to every other sin and makes it crimson. Ingratitude is the spirit of baseness: “Your trusted friends will set traps for you” (Obad. 7). Ingratitude is worse than brutish (Isaiah 1:3). It is reported of Julius Caesar that he would never forgive an ungrateful person. Though God is a sin-pardoning God, he scarcely knows how to pardon for this. “How shall I pardon you for this? your children have forsaken me, when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery” (Jer. 5:7). Draco (whose laws were written in blood) published an edict that if any man had received a benefit from another, and it could be proved against him that he had not been grateful for it, he should be put to death. An unthankful person is a monster in nature—and a paradox in Christianity. He is the scorn of heaven and the plague of earth. An ungrateful man never does well, except in one thing—that is, when he dies. Then he becomes a monument of God’s justice.
Not being thankful is the cause of all the judgments which have lain on us. Our unthankfulness for health has been the cause of so much mortality. Our gospel unthankfulness and sermon-surfeiting has been the reason why God has put so many lights under a bushel. Who will spend money on a piece of ground that produces nothing but briars? Unthankfulness stops up the golden vial of God’s bounty, so that it will not drop.
Question: What shall we do to be thankful? 
Answer 1: If you wish to be thankful, get a heart deeply humbled with the sense of your own vileness. A broken heart is the best pipe to sound forth God’s praise. He who studies his sins wonders that he has anything and that God should shine on such a dunghill: “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, but I was shown mercy” (1 Tim. 1:13). How thankful Paul was! How he trumpeted forth free grace! A proud man will never be thankful. He looks on all his mercies as either of his own procuring or deserving. If he has an estate, this he has got by his wits and industry, not considering that scripture, “Always remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you power to become rich” (Deut. 8:18). Pride stops the current of gratitude. O Christian, think of your unworthiness; see yourself as the least of saints, and the chief of sinners—and then you will be thankful. 
Answer 2: Strive for sound evidences of God’s love to you. Read God’s love in the impress of holiness upon your hearts. God’s love poured in will make the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness: “Unto him that loved us, be glory and dominion forever!” (Rev. 1:5,6). The deepest springs yield the sweetest water. Hearts deeply aware of God’s love yield the sweetest praises



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“You have heard of the patience of Job” (Jas. 5:11). Patience is a star which shines in a dark night. There is a twofold patience:
Patience in waiting
If a godly man does not obtain his desire immediately, he will wait until the mercy is ripe: “My soul waits for the Lord” (Psalm 130:6). There is good reason why God should have the timing of our mercies: “I, the Lord, will bring it all to pass at the right time” (Isaiah 60:22). Deliverance may delay beyond our time—but it will not delay beyond God’s time.
Why should we not wait patiently for God? We are servants; it becomes servants to be in a waiting posture. We wait for everything else; we wait for the seed until it grows (Jas. 5:7). Why can we not wait for God? God has waited for us (Isaiah 30:18). Did he not wait for our repentance? How often did he come, year after year, before he found fruit? Did God wait for us, and can we not wait for him? A godly man is content to await God’s leisure; though the vision is delayed, he will wait for it (Hab. 2:3).

Patience in bearing trials
This patience is twofold:
(a) Patience in regard to man—when we bear injuries without revenging.
(b) Patience in regard to God—when we bear his hand without repining. A good man will not only do God’s will—but bear his will: “I will bear the indignation of the Lord” (Mic. 7:9). This patient bearing of God’s will is not:
(1) A stoical apathy; patience is not  insensitivity under God’s hand; we ought to be sensitive.
(2) Enforced patience, to bear a thing because we cannot help it, which (as Erasmus said) is rather necessity than patience. But patience is a cheerful submission of our will to God. “May the will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14). A godly man acquiesces in what God does, as being not only good, but best for himself. The great quarrel between God and us is, “Whose will shall stand?” Now the regenerate will falls in with the will of God. There are four things which are opposite to this patient frame of soul:   
(a) Disquiet of spirit, when the soul is discomposed and pulled off the hinges, insomuch that it is unfit for holy duties. When the strings of a lute are snarled up, the lute is not fit to make music. So when a Christian’s spirit is perplexed and disturbed, he cannot make melody in his heart to the Lord.  
(b) Discontent, which is a sullen, dogged mood. When a man is not angry at his sins—but at his condition, this is different from patience. Discontent is the daughter of pride.  
(c) Defection, which is a dislike of God and his ways, and a falling off from religion. Sinners have hard thoughts of God, and if he just touches them on a sore spot, they will at once go away from him and throw off his livery. 
(d) Self-vindication, when instead of being humbled under God’s hand, a man justifies himself, as if he had not deserved what he suffers. A proud sinner stands upon his own defense, and is ready to accuse God of unrighteousness, which is as if we should accuse the sun with darkness. This is far from patience. A godly man subscribes to God’s wisdom, and submits to his will. He says not only, “Good is the word of the Lord” (Isaiah 39:8)—but “Good is the rod of the Lord!”  
Use: As we would demonstrate ourselves to be godly, let us be eminent in this grace of patience: “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Eccles. 7:8). There are some graces which we shall have no need of in heaven. We shall have no need of faith when we have full vision, nor patience when we have perfect joy—but in a dark sorrowful night there is need of these stars to shine (Heb. 10: 36). Let us show our patience in bearing God’s will. Patience in bearing God’s will is twofold:
When God removes any comfort from us.
When God imposes any trouble on us.
We must be patient when God removes any comfort from us. If God takes away any of our relations—”I take away the desire of your eyes with a stroke” (Ezek. 24:16)—it is still our duty patiently to acquiesce in the will of God. The loss of a dear relation is like pulling away a limb from the body. “A man dies every time he loses his own kith and kin.” But grace will make our hearts calm and quiet, and produce holy patience in us under such a severe dispensation. I shall lay down eight considerations which may act like spiritual medicine to kill the worm of impatience under the loss of relations:  
(1) The Lord never takes away any comfort from his people, without giving them something better. The disciples parted with Christ’s physical presence, and he sent them the Holy Spirit. God eclipses one joy, and augments another. He simply makes an exchange; he takes away a flower, and gives a diamond.  
(2) When godly friends die, they are in a better condition. They are taken away “from the evil to come” (Isaiah 57:1). They are out of the storm, and have gone to the haven! “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13). The godly have a portion promised them upon their marriage to Christ—but the portion is not paid until the day of their death. The saints are promoted at death to communion with God; they have what they so long hoped for, and prayed for. Why, then, should we be impatient at our friends’ promotion?  
(3) You who are a saint, have a friend in heaven whom you cannot lose. The Jews have a saying at their funerals, “Let your consolation be in heaven.” Are you mourning somebody close to you? Look up to heaven and draw comfort from there; your best kindred are above. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (Psalm 27:10). God will be with you in the hour of death: “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). Other friends, you cannot keep. God is a friend you cannot lose. He will be your guide in life; your hope in death; your reward after death!  
(4) Perhaps God is correcting you for a fault, and if so, it befits you to be patient. It may be your friend had more of your love than God did, and therefore God took away such a relation, so that the stream of your love might run back to him again. A gracious woman had been deprived, first of her children, then of her husband. She said, “Lord, you intend to have all my love.” God does not like to have any creature set upon the throne of our affections; he will take away that comfort, and then he shall lie nearest our heart. If a husband bestows a jewel on his wife, and she so falls in love with that jewel as to forget her husband, he will take away the jewel so that her love may return to him again. A dear relation is this jewel. If we begin to idolize it, God will take away the jewel, so that our love may return to him again.  
(5) A godly relation is parted with—but not  lost. That is lost, which we have no hope ever of seeing again. Pious friends have only gone a little ahead of us. A time will shortly come when there shall be a meeting without parting (1 Thes. 5:10). How glad one is to see a long-absent friend! Oh, what glorious joy there will be, when old relations meet together in heaven, and are in each other’s embraces! When a great prince lands at the shore, the guns go off in token of joy; when godly friends have all landed at the heavenly shore and congratulate one another on their happiness, what stupendous joy there will be! What music in the choir of angels! How heaven will ring with their praises! And that which is the crown of all, those who were joined in the flesh here on earth, shall be joined nearer than ever in the mystic body, and shall lie together in Christ’s bosom, that bed of perfume (1 Thes. 4:17).  
(6) We have deserved worse at God’s hand. Has he taken away a child, a wife, a parent? He might have taken away his Spirit. Has he deprived us of a relation? He might have deprived us of salvation. Does he put wormwood in the cup? We have deserved poison. “You have punished us less than our iniquities deserve” (Ezra 9:13). We have a sea of sin—but only a drop of suffering.  
(7) The patient soul enjoys itself most sweetly. An impatient man is like a troubled sea which cannot rest (Isaiah 57:20). He tortures himself upon the rack of his own griefs and passions. Whereas patience calms the heart, as Christ did the sea, when it was rough. Now there is a sabbath in the heart, yes, a heaven. “In your patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). By faith a man possesses God, and by  patience he possesses himself.  
(8) How patient many of the saints have been, when the Lord has broken the very staff of their comfort in bereaving them of relations. The Lord took away Job’s children and he was so far from murmuring that he fell to blessing: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken  away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21). God foretold the death of Eli’s sons: “in one day both of them shall die,” (1 Sam. 2:34). But how patiently he took this sad news: “It is the Lord’s will. Let him do what he thinks best.” (1 Sam. 3:18). See the difference between Eli and Pharaoh! Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord?” (Exod. 5:2). Eli said, “It is the Lord.” When God struck two of Aaron’s sons dead, “Aaron held his peace” (Lev. 10:2,3). Patience opens the ear—but shuts the mouth! It opens the ear to hear the rod—but shuts the mouth so that it has not a word to say against God. See here the patterns of patience; and shall we not copy them? These are heart-quietening considerations when God sets a death’s-head upon our comforts and removes dear relations from us.  
We must be patient when God inflicts any TROUBLE on us. “Patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12).  
(1) God sometimes lays heavy affliction on his people: “Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me.” (Psalm 38:2). The Hebrew word for “afflicted” signifies “to be melted.” God seems to melt his people in a furnace.  
(2) God sometimes lays various afflictions on the saints: “he multiplies my wounds” (Job 9:17). As we have various ways of sinning, so the Lord has various ways of afflicting. Some he deprives of their estates; others he chains to a sick bed; others he confines to a prison. God has various arrows in his quiver, which he shoots.  
(3) Sometimes God lets the affliction lie for a long time: “None of us knows how long this will last” (Psalm 74:9). As it is with diseases—some are chronic and linger and hang about the body several years—so it is with afflictions. The Lord is pleased to exercise many of his precious ones with chronic afflictions, which they suffer for a long time. Now in all these cases, it befits the saints to rest patiently in the will of God. The Greek word for “patient” is a metaphor and alludes to one who stands invincibly under a heavy burden. This is the right notion of patience, when we bear affliction invincibly without fainting or fretting.
The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should always maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or acting with intemperate passion when the hand of God lies upon him. Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: “You brought us into the net” (Psalm 66:11). Some have escaped the devil’s net—yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be “as a wild bull in a net” (Isaiah 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker—but lie patiently until God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape. I shall propound four potent arguments to encourage patience under those troubles which God inflicts on us:  
(a) Afflictions are for our profit, for our benefit: “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” (Heb. 12:10). We pray that God would take such a course with us as may do our souls good. When God is afflicting us, he is hearing our prayers; he does it “for our good.” Not that afflictions in themselves profit us—but as God’s Spirit works with them. For as the waters of Bethesda could not give health of themselves, unless the angel descended and stirred them (John 5:4), so the waters of affliction are not in themselves healing until God’s Spirit co-operates and sanctifies them to us. Afflictions are profitable in many ways:  
(1) They make men sober and wise. Physicians have mental patients bound in chains and put on a frugal diet to bring them to the use of reason. Many run stark mad in prosperity; they know neither God nor themselves. The Lord therefore binds them with cords of affliction, so that he may bring them to their right minds. “If they are held in cords of affliction, then he shows them their transgressions. He opens also their ear to discipline” (Job 36:8-10).
(2) Afflictions are a friend to grace:
(A) They beget grace. Beza acknowledged that God laid the foundation of his conversion, during a violent sickness in Paris.
(B) They augment grace. The people of God are indebted to their troubles; they would never have had so much grace, if they had not met with such severe trials. Now the waters run, and the spices flow forth. The saints thrive by affliction as the Lacedemonians grew rich by war. God makes grace flourish most in the fall of the leaf.  
(3) Afflictions quicken our pace on the way to heaven. It is with us as with children sent on an errand. If they meet with apples or flowers by the way, they linger and are in no great hurry to get home—but if anything frightens them, then they run with all the speed they can, to their father’s house. So in prosperity, we gather the apples and flowers and do not give much thought to heaven—but if troubles begin to arise and the times grow frightful, then we make more haste to heaven and with David “run the way of God’s commandments” (Psalm 119:32).  
(b) God intermixes mercy with affliction. He steeps his sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it. There is no condition so dismal but we may see a pillar of fire to give us light. If the body is in pain, and conscience is at peace—there is mercy. Affliction is for the prevention of sin; there is mercy. In the ark there was “a rod and a pot of manna”, the emblem of a Christian’s condition: “mercy interlined with judgment” (Psalm 101:1). Here is the rod and manna.  
(c) Patience proves that there is much of God in the heart. Patience is one of God’s titles: “the God of patience” (Romans 15:5). If you have your heart cast in this blessed mold, it is a sign that God has imparted much of his own nature to you; you shine with some of his beams.
Impatience proves that there is much unsoundness of heart. If the body is of such a type that every little scratch of a pin makes the flesh fester, you say, “Surely this man’s flesh is very unsound.” So impatience with every petty annoyance, and quarreling with providence—is the sign of a disturbed Christian. If there is any grace in such a heart, they who can see it must have good eyes. But he who is of a patient spirit is a graduate in religion, and participates in much of the divine nature.  
(d) The end of affliction is glorious. The Jews were captive in Babylon, but what was the end? They departed from Babylon with vessels of silver, gold and precious things (Ezra 1:6). So, what is the end of affliction? It ends in endless glory (Acts 14:22; 2 Cor. 4:17). How this may rock our impatient hearts quiet! Who would not willingly travel along a little dirty path—at the end of which is a priceless inheritance!
Question: How shall I get my heart tuned to a patient mood?
Answer: Get faith; all our impatience proceeds from unbelief. Faith is the breeder of patience. When a storm of passion begins to arise, faith says to the heart, as Christ did to the sea, “Peace, be still”, and there is at once a calm.
Question: How does faith work patience?
Answer: Faith argues the soul into patience. Faith is like that town clerk in Ephesus who allayed the contention of the multitude and argued them soberly into peace (Acts 19:35,36). So when impatience begins to clamor and make a hubbub in the soul, faith appeases the tumult and argues the soul into holy patience. Faith says, “Why are you disquieted, O my soul?” (Psalm 42:5). Are you afflicted? Is it not your  Father who has done it? He is carving and polishing you, and making you fit for glory. He smites that he may save. What is your trial? Is it sickness? God shakes the tree of your body so that some fruit may fall, even “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11). Are you driven from your home? God has prepared a city for you (Heb. 11:16). Do you suffer reproach for Christ’s sake? “The spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet. 4:14). Thus faith argues and disputes the soul into patience.  
Pray to God for patience. Patience is a flower of God’s planting. Pray that it may grow in your heart, and send forth its sweet perfume. Prayer is a holy charm, to charm down the evil spirit of impatience. Prayer composes the heart and puts it in tune, when impatience has broken the strings and put everything into confusion. Oh, go to God. Prayer delights God’s ear; it melts his heart; it opens his hand. God cannot deny a praying soul. Seek him with importunity and either he will remove the affliction—or, which is better, he will remove your impatience!



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Grace turns a saint into a seraph—it makes him burn in holy zeal. Zeal is a mixed affection, a compound of love and anger. It carries forth our love to God, and anger against sin—in the most intense manner. Zeal is the flame of the affections; a godly man has a double baptism—of water and fire. He is baptized with a spirit of zeal; he is zealous for God’s honor, truth, worship: “My zeal has consumed me” (Psalm 119:139). It was a crown set on Phineas’ head that he was zealous for his God (Numb. 25:13). Moses is touched with a coal from God’s altar and in his zeal he breaks the tablets (Exod. 32:19). Our blessed Savior in his zeal whips the buyers and sellers out of the temple: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17).
But there is a false heat—something looking like zeal, which it is not. A comet looks like a star. I shall therefore show some differences between a true and a false zeal:
A false zeal is a BLIND zeal
“They have a zeal of God—but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). This is not the fire of the spirit—but wildfire. The  Athenians were very devout and zealous—but they did not know for all that. “I found an altar with this inscription, To the unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Thus the Papists are zealous in their way—but they have taken away the key of knowledge.
A false zeal is a SELF-SEEKING zeal
Jehu cries, “Come, see my zeal for the Lord!” (2 Kings 16). But it was not zeal—but ambition; he was fishing for a crown. Demetrius pleads for the goddess Diana—but it was not her temple—but her silver  shrines, that he was zealous for (Acts 19:25-27). Such zealots Ignatius complains of in his time, that they made a trade of Christ and religion, by which to enrich themselves. It is probable that many in King Henry VIII’s time were eager to pull down the abbeys, not out of any zeal against popery—but that they might build their own houses upon the ruins of those abbeys, like vultures which fly aloft but their eyes are down upon their prey. If blind zeal is punished sevenfold, hypocritical zeal shall be punished seventy-sevenfold.
A false zeal is a MISGUIDED zeal
It occurs most in things which are not commanded. It is the sign of a hypocrite to be zealous for traditions and useless of institutions. The Pharisees were more zealous about washing their cups, than their hearts.
A false zeal is fired with ANGER
James and John, when they wished to call down for fire from heaven, were rebuked by our Savior: “You know not what manner of spirit you are of” (Luke 9:55). It was not zeal—but anger. Many have espoused the cause of religion, rather out of faction and fancy, than out of zeal for the truth.
But the zeal of a godly man is a true and holy zeal which evidences itself in its effects:
True zeal cannot bear an injury done to God
Zeal makes the blood rise when God’s honor is impeached. “I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you cannot tolerate those who are evil” (Rev. 2:2). He who zealously loves his friend, cannot hear him spoken against and be silent.
True zeal will encounter the greatest difficulties
When the world holds out of danger to discourage us, zeal casts out fear. Zeal is quickened by opposition. Zeal does not say, “There is a lion in the way!” Zeal will charge through an army of dangers, it will march in the face of death. Let news be brought to Paul that he was waylaid; “in every city bonds and afflictions” awaited him. This set a keener edge upon his zeal: “I am ready not to be bound only—but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus!” (Acts 21:13). As sharp frosts by force of contrast make the fire burn hotter, so sharp oppositions only inflame zeal the more.
As true zeal has knowledge to go before it, so it has sanctity to follow after it
Wisdom leads the van of zeal, and holiness brings up the rear. A hypocrite seems to be zealous—but he is wicked. The godly man is white and ruddy; white in purity, as well as ruddy in zeal. Christ’s zeal was hotter than the fire, and his holiness purer than the sun.
Zeal that is genuine loves truth when it is despised and opposed
“They have made void your law. Therefore I love your commandments above gold” (Psalm 119:126,127). The more others deride  holiness, the more we love it. What is religion the worse, for others disgracing it? Does a diamond sparkle the less because a blind man disparages it? The more outrageous the wicked are against the truth, the more courageous the godly are for it. When Michal scoffed at David’s pious dancing before the ark, he said, “If this is to be vile, I will yet be more vile” (2 Sam. 6:22).
True zeal causes fervency in duty
“Fervent in spirit” (Romans 12:1). Zeal makes us—hear with reverence, pray with affection, love with ardency. God kindled Moses’ sacrifice from heaven: “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering” (Lev. 9:24). When we are zealous in devotion, and our heart waxes hot within us—here is a fire from heaven kindling our sacrifice. How odious it is for a man to be all fire when he is sinning, and all ice when he is praying! A pious heart, like water seething hot, boils over in holy affections!
True zeal is persevering
Though it is violent, it is perpetual. No waters can quench the flame of zeal, it is torrid in the frigid zone. The heat of zeal is like the natural heat coming from the heart, which lasts as long as life. That zeal which is not constant, was never true.  
Use 1: How opposite to godliness are those who cry down zeal, and count it a religious frenzy! They are for the light of knowledge—but not for the heat of zeal. When Basil was earnest in preaching against the Arian heresy, it was interpreted as folly. Religion is a matter requiring zeal; the kingdom of heaven will not be taken, except by violence (Matt. 11:12).
Objection: But why so much fervor in religion? What becomes of prudence then?
Answer: Though prudence is to direct zeal—yet it is not to destroy it. Because sight is requisite, must the body therefore have no heat? If prudence is the eye in religion, zeal is the heart.
Question: But where is moderation?
Answer: Though moderation in things of indifference is commendable, and doubtless it would greatly tend to settling the peace of the church—yet in the main articles of faith, wherein God’s glory and our salvation lie at stake, here moderation is nothing but sinful neutrality.
Objection: But the apostle urges moderation: “Let your moderation be known to all” (Phil. 4:5).
The apostle is speaking there of moderating our passion. The Greek word for “moderation” signifies candor and meekness—the opposite of rash anger. And so the word is rendered in another place “patient” (1 Tim. 3:3). By moderation, then, is meant meekness of spirit. That is made clear by the subsequent words, “The Lord is at hand”—as if the apostle had said, “Avenge not yourselves, for the Lord is at hand.” He is ready to avenge your personal wrongs—but this in no way hinders a Christian from being zealous in matters of religion.
What strangers they are to godliness, who have no zeal for the glory of God! They can see his ordinances despised, his worship adulterated—yet their spirits are not at all stirred in them. How many are of a dull, lukewarm temper, zealous for their own secular interest—but with no zeal for the things of heaven! Hot in their own cause—but cool in God’s cause. The Lord most abominates lukewarm nominal Christians. I almost said that he is sick of them. “I wish you were either one or the other!” (anything but lukewarm); “because you are neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15,16). A lukewarm Christian is only half-baked, just like Ephraim: “Ephraim is a cake not turned” (Hos. 7:8).
I would ask these tepid, neutral professing Christians this question, “If religion is not a good cause, why did they undertake it at first? If it is, why do they go about it so faintly? Why have they no more holy ardor of soul?” These people would gladly go to heaven on a soft bed—but are loath to be carried there in a fiery chariot of zeal. Remember, God will be zealous against those who are not zealous; he provides the fire of hell for those who lack the fire of zeal!  
Use 2: As you would be found in the catalogue of the godly, strive for zeal. It is better to be of no religion—than not to be zealous in religion. Beware of carnal policy. This is one of those three things which Luther feared would be the death of religion. Some men have been too wise to be saved. Their discretion has quenched their zeal. Beware of sloth, which is an enemy to zeal: “be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19). Christians, what do you reserve your zeal for? Is it for your gold which perishes; or for your sinful passions which will make you perish? Can you bestow your zeal better than upon God?
How zealous men have been in a false religion! “They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance” (Isaiah 46:6). The Jews did not spare any cost in their idolatrous worship. No, they “cause their sons and daughters to pass through the fire to Molech” (Jer. 32:35). They were so zealous in their idol worship that they would sacrifice their sons and daughters to their false gods. How far the blind heathen went in their false zeal! When the tribunes of Rome complained that they needed gold in their treasuries to offer to Apollo, the Roman matrons plucked off their chains of gold, and rings, and bracelets—and gave them to the priests to offer up sacrifice. Were these so zealous in their sinful worship, and will you not be zealous in the worship of the true God?
Do you lose anything by your zeal? Shall it not be superabundantly recompensed? What is heaven worth? What is a sight of God worth? Was not Jesus Christ zealous for you? He sweat drops of blood, he conflicted with his Father’s wrath. How zealous he was for your redemption, and have you no zeal for him? Is there anything you yourselves hate more than dullness and slothfulness in your servants? You are weary of such servants. Do you dislike a dull spirit in others, and not in yourselves? What are all your duties without zeal but mere fancies and nonentities?
Do you know what a glorious thing zeal is? It is the luster that sparkles from grace; it is the flame of love; it resembles the Holy Spirit: “There appeared cloven tongues like fire, which sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3,4).  Tongues of fire were an emblem to represent that fire of zeal  which the Spirit poured upon them.
Zeal makes all our pious performances prevail with God. When the iron is red hot it enters best; and when our services are red hot with zeal, they pierce heaven soonest!



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Heaven is in him—before he is in heaven! The Greek word for saint, hagios, signifies a man taken away from the earth. A person may live in one place—yet belong to another. He may live in Spain yet be a citizen of England. So a godly man is a while in the world—but he belongs to the Jerusalem above. That is the place to which he aspires. Every day is Ascension Day with a believer. The saints are called “stars” for their sublimity; they have gone above into the upper region: “The way of life is above, to the wise” (Proverbs 15:24). A godly man is heavenly in six ways:
In his election.
In his disposition.
In his communication.
In his actions.
In his expectation.
In his conduct.

A godly man is heavenly in his CHOICES
He chooses heavenly objects. David chose to be a resident in God’s house (Psalm 84:10). A godly person chooses Christ and grace, before the most illustrious things of this world. What a man chooses—that is what he is. This choosing of God is best seen in a critical hour. When Christ and the world come into competition, and we part with the world to keep Christ and a good conscience, that is a sign we have chosen “the better part” (Luke 10:42). Moses “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Hebrews 11:25

A godly man is heavenly in his DISPOSITION
He sets his affections on things above (Col. 3:2). He sends his heart to heaven before he gets there. He looks upon the world as but a beautiful prison and he cannot be much in love with his fetters, though they are made of gold. A holy person contemplates glory and eternity; his desires have gotten wings and have fled to heaven. Grace is in the heart like fire, which makes it sparkle upwards in divine desires and prayers.

A godly man is heavenly in his SPEECH
His words are sprinkled with salt to season others (Col. 4:6). As soon as Christ had risen from the grave, he was “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). No sooner has a man risen from the grave of unregeneracy than he is speaking of heaven. “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” (Eccles. 4:12). He speaks in such a heavenly manner, as if he were already in heaven. The love he has for God, will not allow him to be silent. The spouse being sick with love, her tongue was like the pen of a ready writer: “My beloved is white and ruddy, his head is as the most fine gold . . . ” (Song 5:10,11). Where there is a principle of godliness in the heart—it will vent itself at the lips!
(1) How can they be termed godly—who are possessed with a dumb devil? They never have any good discourse. They are fluent and discursive enough in secular things: they can speak of their wares and shops, they can tell what a good crop they have—but in matters of religion they are as if their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth! There are many people in whose company you cannot tell what to make of them—whether they are Turks or atheists, for they never speak a word of Christ!
(2) How can they be termed godly—whose tongues are set on fire by hell? Their lips do not drop honey—but poison, to the defiling of others! Plutarch says that speech ought to be like gold, which is of most value when it has least dross in it. Oh, the unclean, malicious words that some people utter! What an unsavory stench comes from these dunghills! Those lips that gallop so fast in sin, need David’s muzzle. “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth,” (Psalm 39:1). Can the body be healthy—when the tongue is black? Can the heart be holy—when the devil is in the lips? A godly man speaks “the language of Canaan.” “Those who feared the Lord spoke often one to another” (Mal. 3:16).

A godly man is heavenly in his ACTIONS
The motions of the planets are celestial. A godly man is sublime and sacred in his motions; he works out salvation; he puts forth all his strength, as they did in the Greek Olympics, so that he may obtain the garland made of the flowers of paradise. He prays, fasts, watches, and takes heaven by storm. He is divinely actuated, he carries on God’s interest in the world, he does angels’ work, he is seraphic in his actions.

A godly man is heavenly in his HOPES
His hopes are above the world (Psalm 39:7). “In hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2). A godly man casts anchor within the veil. He hopes to have his fetters of sin filed off; he hopes for such things as eye has not seen; he hopes for a kingdom when he dies—a kingdom promised by the Father, purchased by the Son, assured by the Holy Spirit. As an heir lives in hope of the time when such a great estate shall fall to him, so a child of God, who is a co-heir with Christ, hopes for glory. This hope comforts him in all varieties of condition: “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).  
(1) This hope comforts a godly man in AFFLICTION. Hope lightens and sweetens the most severe dispensations. A child of God can rejoice when tears are in his eyes; the time is shortly coming when the cross shall be taken off his shoulders and a crown set on his head! A saint at present is miserable, with a thousand troubles; in an instant, he will be clothed with robes of immortality, and advanced above seraphim!  
(2) This hope comforts a godly man in DEATH.  “The righteous has hope in his death” (Proverbs 14:32). If one should ask a dying saint, when all his earthly comforts have gone, what he had left, he would say, “the helmet of hope.” I have read of a woman martyr who, when the persecutors commanded that her breasts should be cut off, said, “Tyrant, do your worst; I have two breasts which you can not touch, the one of faith and the other of hope.” A soul that has this blessed hope is above the desire of life or the fear of death. Would anyone be troubled at exchanging the lease of a poor hut—for an inheritance that will be for him and his heirs? Who would worry about parting with life, which is a lease that will soon run out, to be possessed of a glorious inheritance in light?

A godly man is heavenly in his CONDUCT
He casts such a luster of holiness as adorns his profession. He lives as if he had seen the Lord with his bodily eyes. What zeal, sanctity, humility, shines forth in his life! A godly person emulates not only the angels—but imitates Christ himself (1 John 2:6). The Macedonians celebrate the birthday of Alexander, on which day they wear his picture round their necks, set with pearl and rich jewels. So a godly man carries the lively picture of Christ about him, in the heavenliness of his deportment: “our conversation is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).  
Use 1: Those who are eaten up with the world will be rejected, as ungodly, at the bar of judgment. To be godly and earthly is a contradiction: “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears—many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19). We read that the earth swallowed up Korah alive (Numb. 16:32). This judgment is on many—the earth swallows up their time, thoughts and discourse. They are buried twice; their hearts are buried in the earth before their bodies. How sad it is that the soul, that princely thing, which is made for communion with God and angels, should be put to the mill to grind, and made a slave to the earth! How like the prodigal the soul has become, choosing rather to converse with swine and feed upon husks—than to aspire after communion with the blessed Deity! Thus does Satan befool men, and keep them from heaven by making them seek a heaven here on earth.  
Use 2: As we would prove ourselves to be “born of God”, let us be of a sublime, heavenly temper. We shall never go to heaven when we die—unless we are in heaven while we live. That we may be more noble and raised in our affections, let us seriously weigh these four considerations:  
God himself sounds a retreat to us to call us off the world. “Love not the world” (1 John 2:15). We may use it as a bouquet of flowers to smell—but it must not lie like a bundle of myrrh between our breasts. “Be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). Do not hunt after its honors and profits. God’s providences, like his precepts, are to beat us off the world. Why does he send war and epidemics? What does the heat of this great anger mean? Surely dying times are to make men die to the world.
Consider how much below a Christian it is to be earthly-minded. We sometimes laugh at children when we see them busying themselves with toys, kissing and hugging their dolls, etc., when we do the same! At death, what will all the world be, which we so hug and kiss—but like a rag doll? It will yield us no more comfort then. How far it is below a heaven-born soul to be taken up with these things! No, when such as profess to be ennobled with a principle of piety and to have their hopes above, have their hearts below, how they disparage their heavenly calling and spot their silver wings of grace, by besmirching them with earth!
Consider what a poor, contemptible thing the world is. It is not worth setting the affections on; it cannot fill the heart. If Satan should take a Christian up the mount of temptation and show him all the kingdoms and glory of the world, what could he show him but a deceitful dream? Nothing here can be proportionate to the immense soul of man. “In the fullness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits” (Job 20:22). Here is lack in plenty. The creature will no more fill the soul than a drop will fill the bucket. That little sweet which we suck from the creature, is intermixed with bitterness, like that cup which the Jews gave Christ. “They gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh” (Mark 15:23). And this imperfect sweet will not last long: “the world passes away” (1 John 2:17). The creature merely greets us, and is soon on the wing. The world constantly changes. It is never constant except in its disappointments. How quickly we may remove our lodgings and make our pillow in the dust! The world is but a great inn where we are to stay a night or two, and then be gone. What madness it is so to set our heart upon our inn—as to forget our eternal home!
Consider what a glorious place heaven is. We read of an angel coming down from heaven who “set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth” (Rev. 10:2). Had we only once been in heaven, and viewed its superlative glory, how we might in holy scorn trample with one foot on the earth and with the other foot on the sea! Heaven is called a better country: “But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16). Heaven is said to be a better country, in opposition to the country where we are now staying. What should we seek, but that better country?

Question: In what sense is heaven a better country?
Answer 1: In that country above there are better DELIGHTS. There is the tree of life, and the rivers of pleasure. There is amazing beauty, and unsearchable riches. There are the delights of angels. There is the flower of joy fully blown. There is more than we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20). There is glory in its full dimensions—and beyond all hyperbole.
Answer 2: In that country there is a better HOME.
(1) It is a house “not made with hands” (2 Cor. 5:1). To denote its excellence, there was never any house, but was made with hands. But the house above surpasses the art of man or angel; none besides God could lay a stone in that building.
(2) It is “eternal in the heavens.” It is not a guest house but a mansion house. It is a house that will never be out of repair. “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1), which can never moulder.  
Answer 3: In that country there are better PROVISIONS. In our Father’s house, there is bread enough. Heaven was typified by Canaan, which flowed with milk and honey. There is the royal feast, the spiced wine; there is angels’ food. There they serve up those rare foods and dainties, such as exceed not only our expressions—but our imaginations.  
Answer 4: In that country there is better SOCIETY. There is God blessed forever. How infinitely sweet and ravishing will a smile of his face be! The king’s presence makes the court. There are the glorious cherubim. In this terrestrial country where we now live, we are among wolves and serpents; in that country above, we shall be among angels! There are “the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:23). Here on earth, the people of God are clouded with infirmities; we see them with  spots on their faces; they are full of pride, passion, censoriousness. In that Jerusalem above, we shall see them in their royal attire, decked with unparalleled beauty, not having the least tincture or shadow of sin on them!  
Answer 5: In that country there is a better AIR to breathe in. We go into the country for air; the best air is only to be had in that better country:
(1) It is a more temperate air; the climate is calm and moderate; we shall neither freeze with the cold, nor faint with the heat.
(2) It is a brighter air; there is a better light shining there. The Sun of righteousness enlightens that horizon with his glorious beams: “the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23).
(3) It is a purer air. The marshes, which are full of foul vapors, we count a bad air and unwholesome to live in. This world is a place of bogs and marshes, where the noxious vapors of sin arise, which make it pestilential and unwholesome to live in. But in that country above, there are none of these vapors—but a sweet perfume of holiness. There is the smell of the orange-tree and the pomegranate. There is the myrrh and cassia coming from Christ, which send forth a most fragrant scent.  
Answer 6: In that country there is a better SOIL. The land or soil is better:
(1) For its altitude. The earth, lying low, is of a baser pedigree; the element which is nearest heaven is purer and more excellent, like the fire. That country above is the high country; it is seated far above all the visible orbs (Psalm 24:3).
(2) For its fertility; it bears a richer crop. The the country above yields noble commodities. There are celestial pearls; there is the spiritual vine; there is the honeycomb of God’s love dropping; there is the water of life, the hidden manna. There is which that does not rot, flowers which never fade. There is a crop which cannot be fully reaped; it will always be reaping time in heaven, and all this the land yields, without the labor of ploughing and sowing.
(3) For its inoffensiveness. There are no briars there. The world is a wilderness where there are wicked men, and the “best of them is a brier” (Micah 7:4). They tear the people of God in their spiritual liberties—but in the country above there is not one briar to be seen; all the briars are burned.
(4) For the rarity of the prospect; all that a man sees there is his own. I account that the best prospect, where a man can see furthest on his own ground.  
Answer 7: In that country there is better UNITY. All the inhabitants are knit together in love. The poisonous weed of  malice does not grow there. There is harmony without division, and charity without envy. In that country above, as in Solomon’s temple, no noise of hammer is heard. 
Answer 8: In that country there is better EMPLOYMENT.  While we are here, we are complaining of our needs, weeping over our sins—but there we shall be praising God. How the birds of paradise will chirp when they are in that celestial country! There the morning stars will sing together, and all the saints of God will shout for joy.
Oh, what should we aspire after but this country above? Such as have their eyes opened, will see that it infinitely excels! An ignorant man looks at a star and it appears to him like a little silver spot—but the astronomer, who has his instrument to judge the dimension of a star, knows it to be infinitely larger than the earth. So a natural man hears of the heavenly country that it is very glorious—but it is at a great distance. And because he has not a spirit of discernment, the world looks bigger in his eye. But such as are spiritual artists, who have the instrument of faith to judge heaven, will say it is by far the better country and they will hasten there with the sails of desire.



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“Behold an Israelite indeed, in whose spirit there is no deceit” (John 1:47). The word for sincere, haplous, signifies “without pleats and folds”. A godly man is plain-hearted, having no subtle subterfuges. Religion is the uniform a godly man wears, and this uniform is lined with sincerity.

Question: In what does the godly man’s sincerity appear?  

Answer 1: The godly man is what he seems to be.  He is a Jew inwardly (Romans 2:29). Grace runs through his heart, as silver through the veins of the earth. The hypocrite is not what he seems. A picture is like a man—but it lacks breath. The hypocrite is a picture; he does not breathe forth sanctity. A godly man answers to his profession as the transcript to the original.  

Answer 2: The godly man strives to approve himself to God in everything. “We labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (2 Cor. 5:9). It is better to have God approve, than the world applaud. Those who ran in the Olympic race strove to have the approval of the judge and umpire of the race. There is a time coming shortly, when a smile from God’s face will be infinitely better than all the applause of men. How sweet that word will be, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21). A godly man is ambitious of God’s  testimonial letters. The hypocrite desires the praise of men. Saul was for the approval of the people (1 Sam. 15:30) A godly man approves his heart to God, who is both the spectator and the judge.  

Answer 3: The godly man is sincere in laying open his sins. “I acknowledged my sin unto you, and my iniquity have I not hid” (Psalm 32:5). The hypocrite veils and cloaks his sin. He does not  cut off his sin but conceals it. Like a patient who has some loathsome disease in his body, he will rather die than reveal his disease. But a godly man’s sincerity is seen in this—he will confess and shame himself for sin: “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly” (2 Sam. 24:17). No, a child of God will confess sin in particular. An unsound Christian will confess sin wholesale, he will acknowledge he is a sinner in general. Whereas David does, as it were, point with his finger to the sore: “I have done this evil” (Psalm 51:4). He does not say, “I have done evil”—but “this evil”. He points at his blood-guiltiness.  

Answer 4: The godly man has blessed designs in all he does. He propounds this objective in every ordinance—that he may have more acquaintance with God, and bring more glory to God. As the herb heliotropium turns about according to the motion of the sun, so a godly man’s actions all move towards the glory of God. A godly man’s praying and worshiping, is so that he may honor God. Though he shoots short—yet he takes correct aim. The hypocrite thinks of nothing but self-interest; the sails of his mill move only when the wind of self promotion blows. He never dives into the waters of the sanctuary—except to fetch up a piece of gold from the bottom.  

Answer 5: The godly man abhors deception. His heart goes along with his tongue; he cannot both flatter and hate; both commend and censure (Psalm 28:3). Love must be sincere” (Romans 12:9). Insincere love is worse than hatred; counterfeiting of friendship is no better than a lie (Psalm 78:36), for there is a pretense of that which is not. Many are like Joab: “He took Amasa by the beard to kiss him—and smote him with his sword in the fifth rib, and he died” (2 Sam. 20:9,10). “Horrible poisons lie hidden under sweet honey.”

There is a river in Spain where the fish seem to be of a golden color—but take them out of the water and they are like other fish. All is not gold that glitters; there are some who pretend much kindness—but they are like great veins which have little blood. If you lean upon them, they are like a leg out of joint. For my part I seriously question a man’s sincerity with God—if he flatters and lies to his friend. “He who conceals his hatred has lying lips” (Proverbs 10:18). By all that has been said, we may test whether we have this mark of a godly man—being sincere.

Sincerity (as I conceive it) is not strictly a grace, but rather the ingredient in every grace. Sincerity is that which qualifies grace and without which grace is not true: “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity” (Eph. 6:24). Sincerity qualifies our love; sincerity is to grace what the blood and spirits are to the body. There can be no life without the blood, so there can be no grace without sincerity.  

Use: As we would be reputed godly, let us strive for this characteristic of sincerity.  

Sincerity renders us lovely in God’s eyes. God says of the sincere soul, as of Zion, “This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:14). A sincere heart is God’s paradise of delight. “Noah found grace in God’s eyes.” Why, what did God see in Noah? He was girt with the girdle of sincerity (Gen. 6:9). Noah was perfect in his generation. Truth resembles God, and when God sees a sincere heart, he sees his own image, and he cannot choose but fall in love with it: “He who is upright in his way, is God’s delight” (Proverbs 11:20).  

Sincerity makes our services find acceptance with God. The church of Philadelphia had only “a little strength”; her grace was weak, her services slender; yet of all the churches Christ wrote to, he found the least fault with her. What was the reason? Because she was most sincere: “You have kept fast my word, and have not denied my name” (Rev. 3:8). Though we cannot pay God all we owe—yet a little in current coin, is accepted. God takes sincerity for full payment. A little gold, though rusty, is better than tin, be it ever so bright. A little sincerity, though rusted over with many infirmities, is of more value with God than all the glorious flourishes of hypocrites.  

Sincerity is our safety. False hearts that will step out of God’s way and use carnal policy, when they think they are most safe, are least secure. “He who walks uprightly walks surely” (Proverbs 10:9). A sincere Christian will do nothing but what the Word warrants, and that is safe, as to the conscience. More, often the Lord takes care of the outward safety of those who are upright in their way: “I laid me down and slept” (Psalm 3:5). David was now beleaguered by enemies—yet God so encamped about him by his providence, that he could sleep as securely as in a garrison. “The Lord sustained me.” The only way to be safe is to be sincere.  

Sincerity is gospel perfection. “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man?” (Job 1:8). Though a Christian is full of infirmities and, like a young child, weak and feeble—God still looks on him as if he were completely righteous. Every true saint has the Thummim of perfection on his breastplate.  

Sincerity is what the devil attacks most. Satan’s spite was not so much at Job’s estate, as his integrity; he would have wrested the shield of sincerity from him—but Job held that fast (Job 27:6). A thief does not fight for an empty purse—but for money. The devil would have robbed Job of the jewel of a good conscience, and then he would have been poor Job indeed. Satan does not oppose mere profession—but sincerity. Let men go to church and make glorious pretenses of holiness. Satan does not oppose this; this does him no hurt—and them no good! But if men desire to be sincerely pious, then Satan musters up all his forces against them. Now what the devil most assaults—that we must strive most to maintain. Sincerity is our fort royal, where our chief treasure lies. This fort is most shot at, therefore let us be more careful to preserve it. While a man keeps his castle, his castle will keep him. While we keep sincerity, sincerity will keep us.  

Sincerity is the beauty of a Christian. Wherein does the beauty of a diamond lie—but in this, that it is a true diamond? If it is counterfeit, it is worth nothing. So wherein does the beauty of a Christian lie—but in this, that he has truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6)? Sincerity is a Christian’s ensign of glory; it is both his breastplate to defend him and his crown to adorn him.  

See the vileness of hypocrisy. The Lord would have no leaven offered up in sacrifice; leaven typified hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). The hypocrite does the devil double service; under the mask of piety, he can sin more and be less suspected: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers” (Matt. 23:14). Who would think that those who pray for so many hours on end, would be guilty of extortion? Who would suspect of false weights, the man who has the Bible so often in his hand? Who would think that the one who seems to fear an oath, would slander? Hypocrites are the worst sort of sinners; they reflect infinite dishonor upon religion. Hypocrisy for the most part ends in scandal, and that brings an evil report on the ways of God. One scandalous hypocrite makes the world suspect that all professing Christians are like him. The hypocrite was born to spite religion, and bring it into disrepute.

The hypocrite is a liar. He worships God with his knee—but the passions with his heart, like those who “feared the Lord, and served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33).

The hypocrite is an impudent sinner. He knows his heart is false—yet he goes on. Judas knew himself to be a hypocrite; he asks, “Master, is it I?” Christ replies, “You have said it” (Matt. 26:25). Yet so shameless was he as to persist in his falseness and betray Christ. All the plagues and curses written in the Book of God are the hypocrite’s portion! Hell is his place of rendezvous (Matt. 24:51). Hypocrites are the chief guests whom the devil expects, and he will make them as welcome as fire and brimstone can make them!  

If the heart is sincere, God will wink at many failings. “He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob” (Numb. 23:21). God’s love does not make him blind; he can see infirmities. But how does God look at a believer’s sins? Not with an eye of revenge—but of pity, as a physician sees a disease in his patient—so as to heal him. God does not see iniquity in Jacob—so as to destroy him—but to heal him! “He kept on in his willful ways. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him” (Isaiah 57:17,18). How much pride, vanity, passion, does the Lord pass by in his sincere ones! He sees the integrity—and pardons the infirmity. How much God overlooked in Asa! The “high places were not removed”—yet it is said, “The heart of Asa was perfect all his days” (2 Chron. 15:17). We esteem a picture, though it is not drawn full length. Just so, the graces of God’s people are not drawn to their full length! They have many scars and spots—yet having something of God in sincerity, they shall find mercy. God loves the sincere, and it is the nature of love to cover infirmity.  

Nothing but sincerity will give us comfort in an hour of trouble. King Hezekiah thought he was dying—yet this revived him, that his conscience drew up a certificate for him: “Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you in truth . . . ” (Isaiah 38:3). Sincerity was the best flower in his crown. What a golden shield this will be against Satan! When he roars at us by his temptations, and sets our sins before us on our death-bed, then we shall answer, “It is true, Satan; these have been our misdeeds—but we have bewailed them; if we have sinned, it was against the bent and purpose of our heart.” This will stop the devil’s mouth and make him retreat; therefore strive for this jewel of sincerity. “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21). If we are cleared at the petty sessions in our conscience, then we may be confident we shall be acquitted at the great assizes on the day of judgment.

“Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you—in the holiness and sincerity that are from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:12. “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart.” Hebrews 10:22.



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“Let everyone who is godly pray to You.” Psalm 32:6

As soon as grace is poured in—prayer is poured out! “But I give myself unto prayer” (Psalm 109:4). In the Hebrew it is, “but I prayer”. Prayer and I are all one. Prayer is the soul’s communion with heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit—and we go up to him by prayer. Caligula placed his idols—as whispering in Jupiter’s ear.  Prayer is a whispering in God’s ear! A godly man cannot live without prayer. A man cannot live unless he takes his breath, nor can the soul, unless it breathes forth its desires to God. As soon as the babe of grace is born, it cries. No sooner was Paul converted than “behold, he prays!” (Acts 9:11). No doubt he prayed before, being a Pharisee—but it was either  superficially or superstitiously. But when the work of grace had been done in his soul, behold, now he prays!

A godly man is on the mount of prayer every day. He begins the day with prayer. Before he opens his shop—he opens his  heart to God! We burn sweet incense in our houses; a godly man’s house is “a house of incense”; he airs it with the incense of prayer. He engages in no business without seeking God. A godly man consults God in everything; he asks God’s permission and his blessing. The Greeks asked counsel at their oracles; just so, a godly man enquires at the divine oracle (Gen. 24:12; 1 Sam. 23:3,4). A true saint continually shoots up his heart to heaven, by sacred prayers.

Question: Is prayer a sign of a godly man? May not a hypocrite pray eloquently and with seeming devotion?

Answer: He may: “they seek me daily” (Isaiah 58:2). But a hypocrite does not pray “in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18). A man may have  the gift of prayer, and not have the spirit of prayer.

Question: How shall we know that we have the spirit of prayer?

Answer: When the prayer which we make is spiritual.

Question: What is it to make a SPIRITUAL PRAYER?  

Answer 1: When we pray with KNOWLEDGE. Under the law, Aaron was to “light the lamps” when he burned the incense on the altar (Exod. 30:7). Incense typified prayer, and the lighting of the lamps typified knowledge. When the incense of prayer burns, the lamp of knowledge must be lit: “I will pray with the understanding” (1 Cor. 14:15). We must know the majesty and holiness of God, so that we may be deeply affected with reverence when we come before him. We must put up such petitions as are exactly adequate and agreeable to God’s will. “Be not rash with your mouth, to utter anything before God” (Eccles. 5:2). The Lord would not have the  blind offered to him (Mal. 1:8). How can we pray with affection when we do not pray with judgment? The Papists pray in an unknown tongue. Christ may reply to them as he did to the mother of Zebedee’s children, “You know not what you ask” (Matt. 20:22). He who prays he knows not how, shall be heard he knows not when.  

Answer 2: A spiritual prayer is when the HEART and spirit pray. There are not only words but desires. It is excellent when a man can say, “Lord, my heart prays.” Hannah “prayed in her heart” (1 Sam. 1:13). The sound of a trumpet comes from within—and the excellent music of prayer comes from within the heart. If the heart does not accompany duty—it is speaking, not praying.  

Answer 3: A spiritual prayer is a FERVENT prayer.  “The effectual fervent prayer . . . avails much” (Jas. 5:16). The heart, like the mainspring, should carry the affections in a most zealous and rapid manner. Fervency is the wing of prayer by which it ascends to heaven. Prayer is expressed by sighs and groans (Romans 8:26). It is not so much the gifts of the Spirit—as the groans of the Spirit, which God likes. Prayer is called a “wrestling” (Gen. 32:24) and a “pouring out of the soul” (1 Sam. 1:15). Prayer is compared to incense (Psalm 141:2). Incense without fire makes no sweet smell. Prayer without fervency is like incense without fire. Christ prayed with “Strong crying and tears” (Heb. 5:7); crying prayer prevails. When the heart is inflamed in prayer, a Christian is carried as it were in a fiery chariot up to heaven.  

Answer 4: A spiritual prayer is such as comes from a BROKEN heart. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” (Psalm 51:17). The incense was to be beaten, to typify the breaking of the heart in prayer. It is not the eloquent tongue—but the melting heart—which God accepts.

Moses said to the Lord, “I am not eloquent.” “Oh,” says a Christian, “I cannot pray like others.” But can you weep and sigh? Does your soul melt out at your eyes? God accepts broken expressions, when they come from broken hearts. I have read of a plant which bears no fruit—but it weeps forth a kind of gum which is very costly. So, though you do not flourish with those gifts and expressions like others—yet if you can weep forth tears from a contrite heart, these are exceedingly precious to God, and he will put them in his bottle. Jacob wept in prayer and had “power over the angel” (Hos. 12:4).  

Answer 5: A spiritual prayer is a BELIEVING prayer. “Whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive” (Matt. 21:22). The reason why so many prayers suffer shipwreck, is because they split against the rock of unbelief. Praying without faith, is like shooting without bullets. When faith takes prayer by the hand, then we draw near to God. We should come to God in prayer like the leper: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (Matt. 8:2). It is a disparagement to deity to have such a whisper in the heart, that “God’s ear is heavy and cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). What is said of the people of Israel may be applied to prayer—”They could not enter in, because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19).  

Answer 6: A spiritual prayer is a HOLY prayer. “Lift up holy hands in prayer” (1 Tim. 2:8). Prayer must be offered on  the altar of a pure heart. Sin lived in—makes the heart hard, and God’s ear deaf. Sin stops the mouth of prayer. Sin does what the thief does to the traveler—puts a gag in his mouth so that he cannot speak. Sin poisons and infests prayer. A wicked man’s prayer carries the plague, and will God come near him? The loadstone loses its virtue when it is spread with garlic; so does prayer when it is polluted with sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). It is foolish to pray against sin and then to sin against prayer. A spiritual prayer, like the spirits of wine, must be refined and taken off the lees and dregs of sin: “that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:3). If the heart is holy—this altar will sanctify the gift.  

Answer 7: A spiritual prayer is a HUMBLE prayer. “Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble” (Psalm 10:17). Prayer is the asking of an alms, which requires humility. “The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven—but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). God’s incomprehensible glory may even amaze us and strike a holy consternation into us, when we approach near to him: “O my God, I blush to lift up my face to you” (Ezra 9:6). It is lovely to see a poor nothing lie prostrate at the feet of its Maker. “Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord—who am but dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). The lower the heart  descends—the higher the prayer ascends.  

Answer 8: A spiritual prayer is when we pray in the NAME OF CHRIST. To pray in the name of Christ is not only to name Christ in prayer—but to pray in the hope and confidence of Christ’s mediation. As a child claims his estate in the right of his father who purchased it, so we come for mercy in the name of Christ, who has purchased it for us in his blood. Unless we pray thus, we do not pray at all; no, we rather provoke God. As it was with Uzziah, when he wanted to offer incense without a priest, God was angry and struck him with leprosy (2 Chron. 26:16-19). So when we do not come in Christ’s name in prayer, we offer up incense without a priest, and what can we expect but to meet with wrath?  

Answer 9: A spiritual prayer is when we pray out of LOVE to prayer. A wicked man may pray—but he does not love  prayer. “Will he delight himself in the Almighty?” (Job 27:10). A godly man is carried on the wings of delight. He is never so well, as when he is praying. He is not forced with fear—but fired with love. “I will make them joyful in my house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7).  

Answer 10: A spiritual prayer is when we have SPIRITUAL GOALS in prayer. There is a vast difference between a spiritual prayer and a carnal desire. The goals of a hypocrite are selfish and carnal. He looks asquint in prayer. It is not the sense of his spiritual needs which moves him—but rather his lusts. “You ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts” (Jas. 4:3). The sinner prays more for food, than for  grace. This, God does not interpret as praying—but as howling: “They do not cry out to me from their hearts but howl upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me. ” (Hos. 7:14).

Prayers which lack a good aim—lack a good  answer. A godly man has spiritual goals in prayer. He sends out his prayer as a merchant sends out his ship, so that he may have large returns of spiritual blessings. His design in prayer is that his heart may be more holy and that he may have more communion with God. A godly man engages in the trade of prayer—so that he may increase the stock of grace.  

Answer 11: A spiritual prayer is accompanied with the use of MEANS. There must be works—as well as prayer. When Hezekiah was sick he did not only pray for recovery—but he “prepared a poultice of figs and applies it to the boil” (Isaiah 38:21). Thus it is in the case of the soul when we pray against sin and avoid temptations. When we pray for grace and use opportunities to the full, this is laying a fig on the boil which will make us recover. To pray for holiness and neglect the means—is like winding up the clock and taking off the weights.  

Answer 12: A spiritual prayer is that which leaves a SPIRITUAL MOOD behind upon the heart. A Christian is better after prayer. He has gained more strength over sin, as a man by exercise gets strength. The heart after prayer keeps a tincture of holiness, as the vessel favors and relishes of the wine which is put into it. Having been with God on the mount—Moses’ face shone. So, having been on the mount of prayer—our graces shine and our lives shine. This is the sign of a godly man—he prays in the Spirit. This is the right kind of praying. The gift of prayer is ordinary—like culinary fire. But spiritual prayer is more rare and excellent—like elemental fire which comes from heaven.  

Use 1: Is a godly man of a praying spirit? Then this excludes from being godly:  

Those who do not pray at all. Their houses are unhallowed houses. It is made the note of a reprobate that “he does not call upon God” (Psalm 14:4). Does that poor creature who never asks for alms, think that he will receive any? Do those who never seek mercy from God, think that they will receive it? Truly, then God should befriend them more than he did his own Son. “He offered up prayers and supplications with strong cries” (Heb. 5:7). None of God’s children are tongue-tied. “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). Creatures by the instinct of nature cry to God: “the young ravens which cry” (Psalm 147:9). “The lions seek their meat from God” (Psalm 104:21). Not to cry to God, is worse than brutish.  

Others pray—but it is seldom. Like that profane atheist of whom Heylin speaks, who told God that “he was no common beggar; he had never troubled him before and if he would hear him now, he would never trouble him again.”  

Others pray—but not “in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). They are more like parrots, than weeping doves. Their hearts do not melt in prayer: they exercise their tongues more than their hearts and affections.  

Use 2: As you would prove the new birth, cry “Abba, Father”; be men of prayer. Pray at least twice a day. In the temple there was the morning and evening sacrifice. Daniel prayed three times a day. No, he so loved prayer that he would not neglect prayer to save his life (Dan. 6:10). Luther spent three hours every day in prayer.

Objection: But what need is there of prayer, when God has made so many promises of blessings?

Answer: Prayer is the condition annexed to the promise. Promises turn upon the hinge of prayer: “I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel” (Ezek. 36:37). A king promises a pardon—but it must be sued for. David had a promise that God would build him a house—but he sues for the promise by prayer (2 Sam. 7:25). Christ himself had all the promises made sure to him—yet he prayed and spent whole nights in prayer.

Therefore if you would be counted godly, be given to prayer. Prayer sanctifies your mercies (1 Tim. 4:5). Prayer weeds out sin. Prayer waters grace.

That I may encourage Christians and hold up their heads in prayer, as Aaron and Hur held up Moses” hands (Exod. 17:12), let me propound these few considerations:  

Prayer is a seed sown in God’s ear. Other seed sown in the ground may be picked up by the birds—but this seed (especially if watered with tears) is too precious to lose.  

Consider the power of prayer. The apostle, having set out the whole armor of a Christian, brings in prayer as the chief part (Eph. 6:18). Without this (says Zanchius), all the rest are of little value. By prayer, Moses divided the Red Sea. . By prayer, Joshua stopped the course of the sun and made it stand still (Josh. 10: 13). More, prayer made the Sun of righteousness stand still: “and Jesus stood still” (Luke 18:40). Prayer is the entrance to all blessings, spiritual and temporal. Prayer has a power in it to destroy the insolent enemies of the church. We read that “the two witnesses” have a flame on their lips—fire proceeds out of their mouths which devours their enemies (Rev. 11:3,5). This fire is certainly to be interpreted of their prayers. David prayed, “Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness” (2 Sam. 15:31). This prayer made Ahithophel hang himself. Moses’ prayer against Amalek, did more than Joshua’s sword. Prayer has a kind of omnipotency in it; it has raised the dead, overcome angels, cast out devils. It has influence upon God himself (Exod. 32:10). Jacob’s prayer held God: “I will not let you go, except you bless me” (Gen. 32:26). Prayer finds God free—but leaves him bound.  

Jesus Christ prays our prayers over again. He takes the dross out, and presents nothing but pure gold to his Father. Christ mingles his sweet fragrances, with the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8). Think of the dignity of his person—he is God; and the sweetness of his relationship—he is a Son. Oh then, what encouragement there is here for us to pray! Our prayers are put in the hands of a Mediator. Though, as they come from us, they are weak and imperfect—yet as they come from Christ, they are mighty and powerful.  

The sweet promises which God has made to prayer. “He will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry” (Isaiah 30:19). “Then shall you go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:12,13); and “before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). These promises keep the head of prayer above water. God is bound with his own promises, as Samson was bound with his own hair.

Let us, then, close ranks and with our Savior pray yet more earnestly (Luke 22:44). Let us be importunate suitors, and resolve with Bernard that we will not come away from God without God. Prayer is a bomb which bursts heaven’s gates open.

Question: How shall we go about praying aright?

Answer: Implore the Spirit of God: “praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). The Holy Spirit both originates prayer and  inflames it. God understands no other language, but that of his Spirit. Pray for the Holy Spirit that you may pray in the Holy Spirit.

Living Out A Never Ending Love Story With My Master & Redeemer!

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