Directions For Helping On This Spiritual Shoe 3/3

 

  1. Consider that he doth not, indeed cannot, bid thee deny so much for him as he hath done for thee.Is reproach for Christ so intolerable, that thy proud spirit cannot brook it?  Why, who art thou? what great house comest thou from?  See One that had more honour to lay at stake than I hope thou darest pretend to—Jesus Christ—who ‘thought it not rob­bery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation,’ Php. 2:6, 7.  Is it pain and torment thou art afraid of?  O look up to the cross where the Lord of life hung for thy sins! and thou wilt take up thy own cross more willingly, and thank God too, that he hath made thine so light and easy, when he provided one so heavy and tormenting for his beloved Son.
  2. Consider, whatever God calls thee to deny for his truth, it is not more than he can recompense.Moses saw this, and that made him leap out of his honours and riches into the reproach of Christ, ‘for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward,’ Heb. 11:26.  It is much that a man will deny himself in for something his heart strongly desires in this life.  If a man be greedy of gain, he will deny himself half of a night’s sleep to plot in his bed, or rise early from it to be at his work; he will eat homely fare, go in vile raiment, dwell in a smoky hole, as we see in London, for the conveniency of a shop.  How men of quality will crowd themselves up into a little corner, though to the prejudice of their healths, and hazard sometimes of their lives! yet, hope of gain recompenseth all.  And now, put their gains into the scale with thine Christian, that are sure to come in by denying thyself for Christ, which theirs are not, and ask thy soul whether it blush not to see them so freely deny themselves of the comfort of their lives for an imaginary, uncertain, at best a short advantage, while thou hucklest so with Christ for a few outward enjoyments, which shall be paid thee over a hundred-fold here, and beyond what thou canst now conceive when thou comest to heaven’s glory!

           Sixth Direction. Labour to carry on the work of mortification every day to further degrees than other. It is the sap in the wood that makes it hard to burn, and corruption unmortified that makes the Christian loath to suffer.  Dried wood will not kindle sooner, than a heart dried and mortified to the lusts of the world will endure anything for Christ.  The apostle speaks of some that were ‘tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrec­tion,’ Heb. 11:35.  They did not like the world so well, as being so far on their journey to heaven—though in hard way —to be willing to come back to live in it any longer.  Take heed, Christian, of leaving any worldly lust unmortified in thy soul.  This will never consent thou shouldest endure much for Christ.  Few ships sink at sea; they are the rocks and shelves that split them.  Couldst thou get off the rocks of pride and unbelief, and escape knocking on the sands of fear of man, love of the world, thou wouldst do well enough in the greatest storm that can overtake thee in the sea of this world.  ‘If a man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for his Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work,’ II Tim. 2:21.  O that we knew the heaven that is in a mortified soul! one that is crucified to the world and lusts of it.  He hath the advantage of any other in doing or suffering for Christ, and enjoying Christ in both.  A mortified soul lives out of all noise and disturbance from those carnal passions, which put all out of quiet where they come.  When the mortified soul goes to duty there are not those rude and unmannerly intrusions of impertinent, carnal, yea sinful thoughts, between him and his God.  Is he to go to prison?  Here is not such weeping and taking on; no lust to hang about his legs, and break his heart with its insinuations; no self-love to entreat him that he would pity himself.  His heart is free, got out of the acquaintance of these troublers of his peace; and a prison to him, if he may go upon so honourable an errand as testifying to the truth, O how welcome to him!  Whereas a unmortified heart is wedged in with so great acquaintance and kindred, as I may so say, which his heart hath in the world, that it is impossible to get out of their embraces into any willingness to suffer.  A man that comes into an inn in a strange place, he may rise at what time he pleaseth, and be gone as early as he pleaseth in the morning.  There are none {to} entreat him to stay.  But it is hard to get out of a friend’s house; these, like the Levite’s father‑in‑law, will be desiring him to stay one day, and then one more, and another after that.  The mortified soul is the stranger.  He meets with no dis­turbance—I mean comparatively—in his journey to heaven; while the unmortified one is linked in fast enough for getting on his journey in haste, especially so long as the flesh hath so fair an excuse as the foul­ness of the way or weather, any hardship likely to be endured for his profession.  I have read of one of the Catos, that, in his old age, he withdrew himself from Rome to his country-house, that he might spend his elder years free from care and trouble.  And all the Romans, as they ride by his house, used to say, iste solus scit vivere—this man alone knows how to live.  I know not what art Cato had to dis­burden himself, by his retiring, of the world’s cares.  I am sure, a man may go into the country and yet not leave the city be­hind him.  His mind may be in a crowd while his body is in the solitude of a wilderness.  Alas! poor man, he was a stranger to the gospel.  Had he been but acquainted with this, it could have shown him a way out of the world’s crowd in the midst of Rome itself, and that is, by mortifying his heart to the world, both in the pleasures and troubles of it; and then that high commendation might have been given him with­out any hyperbole.  For, to speak truth, he only knows aright how to live in the world that hath learned to die to the world.  And so much for the first point; which, we may remind you, was, that the Chris­tian is to stand ready for all trials and troubles that may befall him.  The second follows.

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