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Satan’s Stratagems to Disarm the Christian of his Breastplate Defeated 3/4

 

  1. The Christian has more true pleasure from the creature than the wicked,as it comes more re­fined to him than to the other.  The unholy wretch sucks dregs and all—dregs of sin and dregs of wrath —whereas the Christian’s cup is not thus spiced.  (1.) He sucks dregs of sin.The more he hath of the crea­ture’s delights given him, the more he sins with them. Oh, it is sad to think what work they make in his naughty heart!  They are but fuel for his lusts to kin­dle upon.  Away they run with their enjoyments, as the prodigal with his bags, or like hogs in shaking time; no sight is to be had of them, or thought of their return, as long as they can get anything abroad, among the delights of the world.  None so prodigi­ously wicked as those that are fed high with carnal pleasures.  They are to the ungodly as the dung and ordure is to the swine, which grows fat by lying in it. Their hearts grow gross and fat, their consciences more stupid and senseless in sin by them; whereas the comforts and delights that God gives in to a holy soul by the creature, turn to the spiritual nourishment of his graces, and draw these forth into exercise, as they do the others’ lust.  (2.) The unholy man sucks dregs of wrath.  The Israelites had little pleasure from their dainties when the wrath of God fell upon them before they could get them down their throats, Ps. 78:30.  The sinner’s feast is no sooner served in, but divine justice is preparing to send up a reckoning after it; and the fearful expectation of this cannot but spoil the taste of the other.  But the gracious soul is entertained upon free-cost.  No amazing thoughts need discompose his spirit, so as to break his draught, or make him spill any of the comfort of his present enjoyment from the fear of an approaching danger. All is well.  The coast is clear.  He may say with David, ‘I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety,’ Ps. 4:8.  God will not—all beside cannot—break his rest. As the unicorn heals the waters by dipping his horn in them, that all the beasts may drink without danger, so Christ hath healed creature-enjoyments, that there is no death now in the saints’ cup.

           Answer Third.  I answer by way of affirmation. The power of holiness is so far from depriving a man of the joy and pleasure of his life, that there are in­comparable delights and pleasures peculiar to the ho­ly life, which the gracious soul finds in the ways of righteousness, enjoys by itself, and no stranger inter­meddles with.  They lie inward indeed, and therefore the world speaks so wildly and ignorantly concerning them.  They will not believe they have such pleasures till they see them, and they shall never see them till they believe them.  The Roman soldiers, when they entered the temple, and went into the holy of holies, seeing there no image, as they used to have in their own idolatrous temples, gave out in a jeer that the Jews worshipped the clouds.  Truly thus, because the pleasures of righteousness and holiness are not so gross as to come under the cognizance of the world’s carnal senses, as their brutish ones do, therefore they laugh at the saints, as if their joys were but the child of fancy, and that they do but embrace a cloud, in­stead of Juno herself—a fantastic pleasure for the true.  But let such know that they carry in their own bosom what will help them to think the pleasures of a holy life more real than thus.  The horror, I mean, which the guilt of their unholy and unrighteous lives does sometimes fill their amazed consciences with, though there be no whip on their back, and pain in their flesh, tells them, the peace which results from a good conscience, may as well fill the soul with sweet joy, when no carnal delights contribute to the same, as at any other time.  There are three things consid­ered in the nature of a holy righteous life, that are enough to demonstrate it to be the only pleasant life. It is a life from God; it is a life with God; it is the very life of God.

           1. It is a life from God, and therefore must needs be pleasant and joyous.  Whatever God makes is good and pleasant in its kind.  Now life is one of the choicest of God’s works, insomuch that the poor­est, silliest gnat, or fly, in this respect, exceeds the sun in its meridian glory.  To every life God hath appoint­ed a pleasure suitable to its kind.  The beasts have a pleasure suitable to the life of beasts, and man much more to his.  Now, every creature we know, enjoys the pleasure of its life best when it is in its right temper. If a beast be sick, it droops and groans; and so does man also.  No dainties, sports, or music please a man that is ill in his health.  Now holiness is the due tem­per of the soul, as health is of the body, and therefore a holy life must needs be a pleasant life.  Adam, I hope, in paradise, before sin spoiled his temper, lived a pleasant life.  When the creature is made holy, then he begins to return to his primitive temper, and with it to his primitive joy and pleasure.  O sirs! men fall out with their outward conditions, and are discon­tented with their rank and place in the world, but the fault lies more inward—the shoe is straight and good enough, but the foot is crooked that wears it.  All would do well if thou wert well, and thou wilt never be well till thou art righteous and holy.

Satan’s Stratagems to Disarm the Christian of his Breastplate Defeated 2/4

        

   (2.) They are sinful when not rightly timed.  Fruit ate out of its season is nought.  We read of ‘a time to embrace and a time to refrain,’ Ecc. 3:5.  There are some seasons that the power of holiness calls off, and will not allow what is lawful at another time.  As,

(a) On the Lord’s-day.  Then all carnal, creature-pleasures are out of season.  God calls us them to higher delights, and he expects we should lay the other aside, and not put our palates out of taste with those lower pleasures, that we may the better relish his heavenly dainties.  ‘If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord,’ Isa. 58:13, 14.  Mark! we can neither taste the sweetness of communion with God, nor pay the honour due to God in sanctifying his day, except we deny ourselves in our carnal delights.  If a king should at some certain times of the year invite some of his poor subjects to sit and feast with him at his own royal table, they should exceedingly dis­honour their prince, and wrong themselves, to bring their ordinary mean fare with them to court.  Do glor­ified saints in heaven call for any of their carnal de­lights, or miss them, while they are taken up in heav­en praising God, and feeding on the joys that flow from the full-eyed vision of God?  And doth not God make account he gives you to enjoy heaven in a figure, when he admits you the service of his holy day?  (b) In days of solemn fasting and prayer.  We are on such occasions to afflict our souls, and creature-pleasures will fit that work no better than a silver lace would do a mourning suit.  (c) In times of public calamity in the church abroad, especially at home.  And this a gracious heart cannot but count reasonable, that he should deny himself, or at least tie up himself to a very short allowance in his creature-delights, when Christ in his church lies a‑bleeding. Sympathy is a debt we owe to our fellow‑saints —Christ mystical.  And truly the cords of others’ af­flictions will be little felt through our soft downy beds, if we indulge ourselves, I mean, to a full enjoyment of our ease and carnal delights.  What child that is mer­ry and pleasant in his own house, and hath a father or mother lying at the same time in great misery at the point of death, but unknown to him, will not, when the doleful news at last comes to him, change his note, yea, mourn that he did not know it sooner, and had not rather have been weeping for and with his dear relations in the house of mourning, than passing away his time pleasantly at home?  Hitherto I have answered by concession, confessing what pleasures a holy and righteous life denies and forbids, and I hope they appear to be no other than such as may, without any loss to the believer’s joy, be fairly dismissed.

           Answer Second.  Now, in the second place, I come to answer by way of negation; viz. that though a holy righteous life denies the Christian the pleas­ures forementioned, yet it doth not deprive him of any true pleasure the creature affords; yea, so far from this, that none doth or can enjoy the sweetness of the creature, like the gracious soul that walks in the power of holiness, as will appear in these two particulars.

  1. The gracious person hath a more curious pal­ate,that fits him to taste a further sweetness in, and so draw more pleasure from, any creature-enjoyment, than an unholy person can do.  The fly finds no honey in the same flower from whence the bee goes laden away.  Nor can an unholy heart taste the sweetness which the saint doth in a creature.  He hath indeed a natural fleshly palate, whereby he relisheth the gross carnal pleasure the flesh affords, and that he makes his whole meal on; but a gracious heart tastes something more.  ‘All’ Israel drank of the rock, ‘and that rock was Christ,’ I Cor. 10:4.  But did all that tas­ted the water’s natural sweetness, taste Christ in it? No, alas! they were but a few holy souls that had a spiritual palate to do this.  Samson’s father and mother ate of the honey out of the lion’s carcass, as well as Samson, and may be liked the taste of it for honey as well as Samson; yet he took more pleasure sure than they.  He tasted the sweetness of God’s providence in it, that had delivered him from that very lion that now affords him this honey, Judges 14.

Satan’s Stratagems to Disarm the Christian of his Breastplate Defeated 1/4

First. Satan attempts to make the Christian throw away his breastplate of righteousness, by pre­senting it as that which hinders the pleasure of his life.

           Second. He endeavours to make the Christian throw away his breastplate, as being prejudicial to his worldly profits.

           Third. He endeavours to make the Christian throw away his breastplate, by scaring him with the contradiction, opposition, and feud which it brings from the world.

Satan’s first stratagem defeated; that, viz. in which he represents the Christian’s breastplate as hindering the pleasure of life

           First Stratagem. Satan attempts to make the Christian throw away his breastplate, by presenting it as that which hinders the pleasure of his life.

           He labours to picture a holy righteous life with such an austere sour face, that the creature may be out of love with it.  ‘O,’ saith he, ‘if you mean to be thus precise and holy, then bid adieu to all joy.  You at once deprive yourselves of all those pleasures which others pass their days so merrily in the em­braces of, that are not so strait-laced in their con­sciences.’  How true a charge this is, that Satan lays upon the ways of holiness we shall now see.  And tru­ly he that desires to see the true face of holiness in its native hue and colour, should do well not to trust Satan, or his own carnal heart, to draw its picture.  I shall deal with this objection first, by way of con­cession, then by way of negation, and lastly by way of affirmation.

           Answer First. I answer by way of concession, viz. that there are some pleasures which, if they may be so called, are inconsistent with the power of holiness.  Whoever will take up a purpose to ‘live righteously’ must shake hands with them.  They are of two sorts.

  1. Sort.  All such pleasures as are in themselves sinful.  Godliness will allow no such in thy embraces. And art thou not shrewdly hurt, dost thou think, to be denied that which would be thy bane to drink?  Would any think the father cruel that should charge his child not to dare so much as taste of any rat’s-bane?  Truly, I hope, you that have passed under the new work of the Spirit, can call sin by another name than pleasure.  I am sure saints in former times have not counted themselves tied up, but saved, from such pleasures.  The bondage lies in serving them, and the liberty in being saved from them.  The apostle be­moans the time when himself, and other saints, were ‘foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures,’ Titus 3:3; and he reckons it among the prime benefits they received by the grace of the gos­pel, to be delivered from that vassalage, ‘but accord­ing to his mercy he saved us’—how?—not by pardon­ing only, but—‘by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,’ ver. 5.  However the devil makes poor creatures expect pleasure in sin, and promiseth them great matters of this kind; yet he goes against his conscience, and his own present sense also.  He doth not find sin so pleasant a morsel to his own taste that he should need to commend it upon this account to others.  Sin’s pleasure is like the pleasure which a place in the West Indies affords those that dwell in it.  There grows in it most rare luscious fruit, but these dainties are so sauced by with the intolerably scorching heat of the sun by day, and the multitude of a sort of creatures stinging them by night, that they can neither well eat by day nor sleep by night to digest their sweet-meats.  This made the Spaniards call the place ‘comfits in hell;’ and truly what are the pleasures of sin but such comfits in hell? There is some carnal pleasure they have which de­lights a rank sensual palate, but they are served in with the fiery wrath of God, and the stinging of a guilty, restless conscience; and the fears of the one, and the anguish of the other, are able sure to melt and waste away that little joy and pleasure they bring to the sense.
  2. Sort.  There are pleasures which are not in their own nature sinful.  Such are creature comforts and delights.  The sin lies, as to these, not in the us­ing, but in the abusing of them.  This is done in two ways.

           (1.) When a due measure is not kept in the use of them.  He cannot live holily and righteously in this present world that lives not soberly also.  Godliness will allow thee to taste of these pleasures as sauce, but not to feed on them as meat.  The rich men’s charge runs thus, ‘ye have lived in pleasure on the earth,’ James 5:5.  They lived in pleasures as if they had lived for them, and could not live without them.  When once this wine of creature contents fumes up to the brain, intoxicates the man’s judgment, that he begins to dote of them, and cannot think of parting with them to enjoy better, but cries, loath to depart—as those Jews in Babylon, who, beginning to thrive in that soil, were very willing to stay and lay their bones here for all Jerusalem, which they were called to re­turn unto—then truly they are pernicious to the pow­er of holiness.  Though a master doth not grudge his servant his meat and drink, yet he will not like it if, when he is to go abroad, his servant be laid up drunk and disabled from waiting on him by his intemper­ance.  And a drunken man is as fit to attend on his master, and do his business for him, as a Christian, overcharged with the pleasures of the creature, is to serve his God in any duty of godliness.

Ten Directions to Guide Those Who Desire to Maintain the Power of Holiness 7/7

Ninth Direction.  Be sure to improve the covenant of grace for thy assistance in thy holy course.  Moses himself had his holiness not from the law, but gospel.  Those heroic acts, for which he is recorded as one so eminently holy, they all are attrib­uted to his faith, Heb. 11:24, 25.  ‘By faith’ Moses did this, and ‘by faith’ that, to show from whence he had his strength.  Now the better to improve the covenant of grace, for this purpose, consider these three particulars.

First. That God in the covenant of grace hath promised to furnish and enable his children for a holy life, ‘I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes,’ Eze. 36:27.  This is the way God hath by himself.  The mother can take her child by the hand to lead it, but cannot put strength into its feeble joints to make him go.  The prince can give his captains a commission to fight, but not courage to fight.  There is a power goes with the promises; hence it is they are called ‘exceeding great and precious promises,’ because given for this very end—that by them we ‘might partake of the divine nature,’ II Peter 1:4; and therefore we are not only pressed to holiness from the command, but especially from the promise, ‘Having therefore these prom­ises,’ (he means to help and encourage us), ‘let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,’ II Cor. 7:1.  O it is good travelling in his company that promiseth to pay our charges all the way—it is good working for him that promiseth to work all our work for us, Php. 2:12, 13.

Second. That God hath laid up in Christ a rich and full treasure of grace to supply thy wants contin­ually, ‘It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,’ Col. 1:19.  Fulness! all fulness! all ful­ness dwelling! not the fulness of a land-flood, up and down; not the fulness of a vessel, to serve his own turn only; but of a fountain that lends its streams to others without straitening or lessening its own store. Indeed, it is a fulness purposely ministerial, as the sun hath not its light for itself, but for the lower world, called therefore :/: (shemesh),because it is the great minister and servant to hold forth light to the world.  Thus Christ is the Sun of righteousness, diffusing his grace into the bosoms of his people. ‘Grace’ is said to be ‘poured into his lips,’ to let us know he hath it, not to keep to himself, but to impart, ‘that of his fulness we may receive, and grace for grace.’  And,

Third. That every child of God hath not only a right to this fulness in Christ, but an inward principle —which is faith—whereby he is, by the instinct of the new creature, taught to suck and draw grace from Christ, as the child doth nourishment in the womb by the navel-string from the mother.  Therefore, poor soul, if thou wouldst be more holy, believe more, suck more from Christ.  Holy David, affected with the thoughts of God’s gracious providence in delivering him out of his deeper distress, takes up, as the best messenger he could send his thanks to heaven by, a strong resolution for a holy life, ‘I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living,’ Ps. 116:9, he would spend his days now in God’s service; but lest we should think he was rash and self-confident, he adds, ‘I believed, therefore have I spoken,’ ver. 10. First, he acted his faith on God for strength, and then he promiseth what he will do.  Indeed, the Christian is a very beggarly creature considered in himself.  He is not ashamed to confess it.  What he promiseth to ex­pend in any holy duty, is upon the credit of his Sav­iour’s purse, who, he humbly believes, will bear him out in it with assisting grace.

Tenth Direction.  Be sure to fortify thyself against those discouragements, by which Satan, if pos­sible, will divert thee from thy purpose, and make thee lay aside this breastplate of righteousness and holiness, as cumbersome, yea prejudicial, to thy car­nal interests.  Now the better to arm thee against his assaults of this kind, I shall instance two or three great objections, whereby he scares many from this holy walking, and also lend a little help to wrest these weapons out of thine enemy’s hand, by preparing an answer to them.

Ten Directions to Guide Those Who Desire to Maintain the Power of Holiness 6/7

 

Seventh Direction.  Be sure to get some Christian friend whom thou mayest trust above others to be thy faithful monitor.  O that man hath a great help for the maintaining the power of godliness, that hath an open-hearted friend that dare speak his heart to him!  A stander-by sees more sometimes, by a man, than the actor can do by himself, and is more fit to judge of his actions than he is of his own.  Sometimes self-love blinds us in our own cause, that we see not ourselves so bad as we are; and sometimes we are over-suspicious of the worst by ourselves, which makes us appear to ourselves worse than we are.  Now that thou mayest not deprive thyself of so great help from thy friend, be sure to keep thy heart ready with meekness to receive, yea, with thankfulness to em­brace, a reproof from his mouth.  Those that cannot bear plain dealing hurt themselves most; for by this they seldom hear the truth.  He that hath not love enough to give a reproof seasonably to his brother, nor humility enough to bear a reproof from him, is not worthy to be called a Christian.  

By the first he shows himself a ‘hater of his brother,’ Lev. 19:17; by the second he proves himself ‘a scorner,’ Prov. 9:8. Holy David professed he would take it as ‘a kindness’ for the ‘righteous to smite him,’ yea, as kindly as he broke a box of precious oil upon his head, which was amongst the Jews a high expression of love, Ps. 141:5. And he made his word good.  He did not, as the Pa­pists do by their holy water, commend it highly, but turn away his face, when it comes to sprinkled on him.  No, Abigail and Nathan who reproved him —one for his bloody intentions against Nabal and his family—the other for his bloody fact upon Uriah; —they both sped well in their errand.  The first pre­vented the fact intended by her seasonable reproof; the second recovered him out of that dismal sin of murder, wherein he had lain some months without coming so far to himself as to repent of it, for aught that we read.  And it is observable that they did not only prevail in the business, but endeared themselves so unto him, by their faithfulness to his soul, that he takes Abigail to be his wife, and Nathan to be his most privy counsellor to hi dying day, I Kings 1:27, 32. Truly it is one great reason why the falls of professors are so frequent in our days, and their recoveries so rare of late, because few in these unloving times are to be found so faithful as to do this Christian office of reproof to their brethren.  They will sooner go and tattle of it to others to their disgrace, than speak of it to themselves for their recovery.  Indeed, by telling others, we obstruct our way from telling the person himself with any hope of doing him good.  It will be hard to make him believe thou comest to heal his soul when thou hast already wounded his name.

Eighth Direction.  Be often seriously think­ing how holily and righteously you will, in a dying hour, wish you had lived.  They who now think it matters not much what language drivels from them, what company they walk in, what they busy their time about, how they comport with God in his worship, and with man in their dealings, but live at large, and care not much which end goes foremost, yea wonder at the niceness and zeal of others, as if there were no pace would carry them to heaven but the gallop; when once death comes so near as to be known by its own grim face, and not to report of others, when these poor creatures see they must in earnest into another world, without any delay, and their naked souls must return to ‘God who gave them,’ to hear what interpre­tation he will put upon the course and tenor of their walking, and accordingly to pass an irrevo­cable sen­tence of life or death upon them, now their thoughts will begin to change, and take up other notions of a righteous and holy life than ever they had before.  It is observed among the Papists that many cardinals, and other great ones, who would think that their cowl and religious habit ill become them in their health,, yet are very ambitious to die and to be buried in them, as commonly they are.  

Though this be a fop­pery in itself, yet it helps us to a notion considerable.  They who live wickedly and loosely, yet like a reli­gious habit very well when to go into another world. As that young gallant said to his swaggering compan­ion—after they had visited Ambrose lying on his dy­ing bed, and saw how comfortably he lay, triumphing over death now approaching—‘O that I might live with thee, and die with Ambrose.’  Vain wish! wouldst thou, O man, not reap what thou sowest, and find what thou layest up with thy own hands?  Dost thou sow cockle and wouldst reap wheat?  Dost thou fill thy chest with dirt, and expect to find gold when thou openest it?  Cheat and gull thyself thou mayest, but thou canst not mock God, who will pay thee in the same coin at thy death which thou treasurest up in thy life.  There are few so horribly wicked, but the thoughts of death awes them.  They dare not fall up­on their wicked practices till they have got some distance from the thoughts of this.  Christian, walk in the company of it every day by serious meditation, and tell me at the week’s end whether it doth not keep worse  company from thee.

Ten Directions to Guide Those Who Desire to Maintain the Power of Holiness 5/7

Fifth Direction.  Be sure to walk dependingly on God.  The vine is fruitful so long as it hath a pole or wall to run upon, but without such a help it would soon be trodden under foot, and come to nothing.  ‘It is not in man to direct his own way.’  ‘There are many good things that God doth in man, which man has no hand in; but there is no good and holy action that man does but God enables him to do it.’ As was said of that Grecian captain, ‘Parmenio did many ex­ploits without Alexander, but Alexander nothing with­out Parmenio.’  If thou wilt therefore maintain holi­ness in its power ‘acknowledge God in all thy ways,’ and ‘lean not unto thine own understanding,’ Prov. 3:5, 6.  He is ready to help them that engage him, but counts himself charged with the care of none but such as depend on him.  The Christian’s way to heaven is something like that in our nation called ‘the washes,’ where the sands, by reason of the sea’s daily overflow­ing, do so alter, that the traveller who passed them safely a month ago, cannot without great danger ven­ture again, except he hath his guide with him.  Where then he found firm land, possibly a little after, coming, he may meet with a devouring quicksand. Truly thus, the Christian who gets over a duty at one time with some facility, his way smooth and plain before him, at another time may find a temptation in the same duty enough to set him, if he had not help from heaven to carry him safe out of the danger.  O Christian, it is not safe for thee to venture one step without thy stay, thy hand of faith leaning on thy Beloved’s arm.  Trust to thy own legs, and thou fall­est; use thy legs, but trust to his arm, and thou art safe.

Sixth Direction.  Be sure to look to thy com­pany—who they are thou consortest with.  Flee un­holy company, as baneful to the power of godliness. Be but as careful for thy soul as thou wouldst for thy body.  Durst thou drink in the same cup , or sit in the same chair, with one that hath an infectious disease? And is not sin as catching a disease as the plague itself?  Darest thou come where such ill scents are to be taken as may soon infect thy soul?  Of all trades it would not do well to have the collier and fuller live together.  What one cleanseth the other will crock and smutch.  Thou canst not be long among unholy ones, but thou wilt hazard the defiling of thy soul, which the Holy Spirit hath made pure.  He did not wash thee clean to run where thou shouldest be made foul; and certainly thou shalt have no help from them to advance thy holiness.  Truly we should not choose that society where we may not hope to make them, or be made ourselves, better by them. 

 It is observable what the Spirit of God notes concerning Abraham, ‘he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise,’ Heb. 11:9.  He is not said to dwell with the natives of that land, but ‘with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.’  Abraham did not seek acquaintance with the heathen; no, he was willing to continue a stranger to them; but he lived with those that were of his own family, and God’s family also.  Christians are a com­pany of themselves, ‘being let go, they went to their own company,’ Acts 4:23.  Who should believers join themselves to but believers?  As Paul said, ‘Have you not a wise man among you, but you must go to law before unbelievers?’ so may I say to thee, Christian —Is there never a saint in all the town that thou canst be acquainted with, sit and discourse with, but you must join with the profane and ungodly amongst whom you live?  No wonder thy holiness thrives no better, when thou breathest in wicked company; it is like the east wind, under which nothing grows and prospers.

Ten Directions to Guide Those Who Desire to Maintain the Power of Holiness 4/7

Fourth Direction.  Be sure to look often on the perfect pattern, which Christ, in his own example, hath given thee for a holy life.  Our hand will be as the copy is we write after.  If we set low examples be­fore us, it cannot be expected we should rise high ourselves; and indeed the holiest saint on earth is too low to be our pattern, because perfection in holiness must be aimed at by the weakest Christian, II Cor. 7:1, and that is not to be found in the best of saints in this lower world.  Moses, the meekest man on earth, at a time even his spirit is ruffled; and Peter, the foreman of the apostles, doth not always ÏD2`B@*,Ã< (foot it right), according to the gospel, Gal. 2:14, and he that would follow him in then, is sure to go out of his way. The good soldier follows his file-leader, not when he runs away, but when he marches after his captain or­derly.  ‘Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,’ I Cor. 11:1.  The comment must be followed no further than it agrees with the text.  The master doth not only rule the scholar’s book for him, but writes him a copy with his own hand.  Christ’s command is our rule, his life our copy.  If thou wilt walk holily, thou must not only endeavour to do what Christ com­mands, but as Christ himself did it; thou must labour to shape every letter in thy copy—action in thy life —in a holy imitation of Christ.  By holiness we are the very image of Christ,’ Rom. 8:29.  We represent Christ and hold him forth to all that see us.

Now two things go to make a thing the image of another.  First, likeness; secondly, derivation.  It must not only be like it, but this likeness must be deduced and derived from it.  Snow and milk are both alike white; yet we cannot say that they are the image one of another, because that likeness they have is not derived either from the other.  But the picture which is drawn every line by the face of a man, this may be called the image of that man after whose like­ness it is made.  Thus true holiness is that which is derived from Christ, when the soul sets Christ in his word and Christ in his example before him—as one would the person whose picture he intends to draw —and labours to draw every line in his life by these.  O this is a sweet way indeed to maintain the power of holiness.  When thou art tempted to any vanity, set Christ before thy eye in his holy walking; ask thy soul, ‘Am I in this speech, action, company I consort with, like Christ?  Did he, or would he, if again to live on earth, do as I do? would not he be more choice of his words than I am? did ever such a vain speech drop from his lips? would he delight in such company as I do? spend his time upon such trifles and impertin­ences as I do? would he bestow so much cost in pam­pering of his body, and swallow down his throat at one meal what would feed many poor creatures ready to starve for want? would he be in every fashion that comes up, though never so ridiculous and offensive? should cards and dice ever have been found in his hands to drive time away?  And shall I indulge myself in anything that would make me unlike Christ?  God forbid!  We think it enough if we can quote such a good man, or great professor, to countenance our practice, and so are led into temptation.  

But Chris­tian, if thy conscience tells thee Christ likes not such doings, away with them, though thou couldst produce the example of the most eminent saint in the country to favour them.  Thou knowest some, possibly, of great name for profession, that have cast off duties in their families.  But did not Christ show an especial care of the apostles, which lived under him, and were of his family?—often praying with them, repeating to them, and further opening to them what he preached in public; keeping also the passover with them as his household, according to the law of that ordinance, Ex. 12.  Thou seest some turn their back on the public as­semblies, under a pretence of sinful mixtures there that would defile them.  Did our Lord Jesus do thus? was not he in the temple and in the synagogues hold­ing communion with them in the service of God, which was for the substance there preserved, though not without some corruptions crept in among them?  O Christian, study Christ’s life more, and thou wilt soon learn to mend thy own!  Summa religionis est imitari, quem colis—it is the very sum and top of religion, to be as, like the God we worship as may be.