2. When the soul hath shot the great gulf, and got into a state of peace and life by closing with Christ, yet this mannerly pride Satan makes use of in the Christian’s daily course of duty and obedience, to disturb him and hinder his peace and comfort. O how uncheerfully, yea, joylessly do many precious souls pass their days! If you inquire what is the cause, you shall find [that] all their joy runs out at their crannies of their imperfect duties and weak graces. They cannot pray as they would, and walk as they desire, with evenness and constancy; they see how far short they fall of the holy rule in the Word, and the pattern which others more eminent in grace do set before them; and this, though it doth not make them throw the promises away, and quite renounce all hope in Christ, yet it begets many sad fears and suspicions, yea, makes them sit at the feast Christ hath provided, and not know whether they may eat or not. In a word, as it robs them of their joy, so [it robs] Christ of that glory he should receive from their rejoicing in him. I do not say, Christian, thou oughtest not to mourn for those defects thou findest in thy graces and duties, nay, thou couldst not approve thyself to be sincere if thou didst not. A gracious heart—seeing how far short his renewed state, for the present, falls of man’s primitive holiness by creation—cannot but weep and mourn—as the Jews [did] to behold the second temple; yet, Christian, even while the tears are in thy eyes for thy imperfect graces—for a soul riseth with his grave-clothes on—thou shouldst rejoice, yea, triumph over all these thy defects by faith in Christ, in whom thou art complete, Col. 2:10, while imperfect in thyself. Christ’s presence in the second temple—which the first had not—made it, though comparatively mean, more glorious than the first, Hag. 2:9. How much more doth his presence in this spiritual temple of a gracious heart, imputing his righteousness to cover all uncomeliness, make the soul glorious above man at first? This is a garment for which—as Christ saith of the lily—we neither spin nor toil; yet Adam in all his created royalty was not so clad, as the weakest believer is with this on his soul. Now, Christian, consider well what thou doest, while thou sittest languishing under the sense of thy own weaknesses, and refusest to rejoice in Christ, and live comfortably on the sweet privileges thou art interested in by thy marriage to him. Dost thou not bewray some of this spiritual pride working in thee? O, if thou couldst pray without wandering, walk without limping, believe without wavering, then thou couldst rejoice and walk cheerfully. It seems, soul, thou stayest to bring the ground of thy comfort with thee, and not to receive it purely from Christ. O how much better were it if thou wouldst say with David, ‘Although my house’ —my heart—‘be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure; and this is all my desire, all my confidence. Christ I oppose to all my sins, Christ to all my wants; he is my all in all, and all above all.’ Indeed, all those complaints of our wants and weaknesses, so far as they withdraw our hearts from relying cheerfully on Christ, they are but the language of pride hankering after the covenant of works. O it is hard to forget our mother-tongue, which is so natural to us; labour therefore to be sensible of it, [of] how grievous it is to the Spirit of Christ. What would a husband say, if his wife, instead of expressing her love to him, and delight in him, should day and night do nothing but weep and cry to think of her former husband that is dead? The law, as a covenant, and Christ, are compared to two husbands: ‘Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead,’ Rom. 7:4. Now thy sorrow for the defect of thy own righteousness, when it hinders thy rejoicing in Christ, is but a whining after thy other husband, and this Christ cannot take but unkindly—that thou art not well pleased to lie in the bosom of Christ, and have thy happiness from him as with your old husband the law.
Second. [There is] a self-applauding pride; when the heart is secretly lift up, so as to promise itself acceptation at God’s hands, for any duty or act of obedience it performs, and doth not, when most assisted, go out of his own actings, to lay the weight of his expectation entirely upon Christ. Every such glance of the soul’s eye is adulterous, yea, idolatrous. If thy heart, Christian, at any time be secretly enticed—as Job saith of another kind of idolatry—or thy mouth doth kiss thy hand, that is, dote so far on thy own duties and righteousness, as to give them this inward worship of thy confidence and trust, this is a great iniquity indeed; for in this thou deniest the God that is above, who hath determined thy faith to another object. Thou comest to open heaven’s gate with the old key, when God hath set on a new lock. Dost thou not acknowledge that thy first entrance into thy justified state was of pure mercy? thou wert ‘justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,’ Rom. 3:24. And whom art thou beholden to, now thou art reconciled, for thy further acceptance or duty or holy action? to thy duty, thy obedience, thyself, or Christ? The same apostle will tell you, ‘By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,’ Rom. 5:2. If Christ should not lead thee in and all thou doest, thou art sure to find the door shut upon thee. There is no more place for desert now thou art gracious, than when thou wert graceless. ‘The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith,’ for ‘the just shall live by faith,’ Rom. 1:17. We are not only made alive by Christ, but we live by Christ; faith sucks in continual pardoning, assisting, comforting mercy from him, as the lungs suck in the air. Heaven’s way is paved with grace and mercy to the end.