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What you find suiting with the scriptures, take, though it should not suit with authors; but that which you find against the scriptures, slight, though it should be confirmed by multitudes of them. Yea, further, where you find the scriptures and your authors agree, yet believe it for the sake of scripture's authority. I honor the godly as Christians, but I prefer the Bible before them; and having that still with me, I count myself far better furnished than if I had, without it, all the libraries of the two universities. Besides, I am for drinking water out of my own cistern: what God makes mine by the evidence of his word and Spirit, that I dare make bold with. Wherefore, seeing, though I am without their learned lines, yet well furnished with the words of God, I mean the Bible, I have contented myself with what I have there found; and having set it before your eyes,
pray read and take, sir, what you like best; And that which you like not, leave for the rest.
Read, and read again, and do not despair of help to understand something of the will and mind of God, though you think they are fast locked up from you. Neither trouble your heads though you have not commentaries and expositions; pray and read, and read and pray; for a little from God is better than a great deal from men: also what is from men is uncertain, and is often lost and tumbled over and over by men; but what is from God is fixed as a nail in a sure place. There is nothing that so abides with us, as what we receive from God; and the reason why Christians at this day are at such a loss as to some things, is because they are content with what comes from men's mouths, without searching and kneeling before God to know of him the truth of things. Things that we receive at God's hand come to us as things from the minting-house, though old in themselves, yet new to us. Old truths are always new to us, if they come to us with the smell of heaven upon them.
THE IMAGE OF GOD.
MAN is God's image, and to curse wickedly the image of God, is to curse God himself. Suppose that a man should say with his mouth, I wish that the king's picture were burned; would not this man's so saying render him as an enemy to the person of the king? Even so it is with them that by cursing wish evil to their neighbors or themselves; they contemn the image of God himself.
This world, as it dropped from the fingers of God, was far more glorious than it is now.
VALUE OF THE SOUL.
The soul is a thing, though of most worth, least minded by most. The souls of most lie waste, while all other things are inclosed.
Soul-concerns are concerns of the highest nature, and concerns that arise from thoughts most deep and ponderus. He never yet knew what belonged to great and deep thoughts, that is a stranger to soul-concerns.
The soul is capable of having to do with invisibles, with angels, good or bad, yea, with the highest and supreme Being, even the holy God of heaven. I told you before that God sought the soul of man to have it for his companion; and now I tell you that the soul is capable of communion with him, when the darkness that sin hath spread over its face is removed. The soul is an intelligent power, and it can be made to know and understand depths and heights and lengths and breadths, in those high, sublime, and spiritual mysteries that only God can reveal and teach; yea, it is capable of diving unutterably into them. And herein is God, the God of glory, much delighted—that he
hath made for himself a creature that is capable of hearing, of knowing and of understanding his mind, when opened and revealed to it.
The greatness of the soul is manifest by the greatness of the price that Christ paid for it to make it an heir of glory, and that was his precious blood. We do use to esteem things according to the price that is given for them, especially when we are convinced that the purchase has not been made by the estimation of a fool. Now the soul is purchased by a price, that the Son, the wisdom of God, thought fit to pay for the redemption thereof; what a thing then is the soul!
Suppose a prince, or some great man, should on a sudden descend from his throne or chair of state, to take up, that he might put in his bosom, something that he had espied lying trampled under the feet of those that stand by; would you think that he would do this for an old horseshoe, or for so trivial a thing as a pin or a point? Nay, would you not even of yourselves conclude that that thing for which the prince, so great a man, should make such a stoop, must needs be a thing of very great worth? Why, this is the case of Christ and the soul. Christ is the prince, his throne is in heaven, and as he sat there he espied the souls of sinners trampled under the foot of the law and death for sin. Now what doth he, but comes down from his throne, stoops down to the earth, and there, since he could not have the trodden-down souls without price, he lays down his life and blood for them.
In a word, Adam led mankind out of their paradise; that is one woe and put out their eyes, that is another; and left them to the leading of the devil. O sad! Canst thou hear this, and not have thy ears to tingle and burn on thy head? Canst thou read this and not feel it, and
not feel thy conscience begin to throb? If so, surely it is because thou art either possessed with the devil, or beside thyself.
O, this was the treasure that Adam left to his posterity, it was a broken covenant, insomuch that death reigned over all his children, and doth still to this day, as they come from him-both natural and eternal death. Rom. 5.
DEPRAVITY OF NATURE.
Let a man be as devout as is possible for the law and the holiness of the law. Yet if the principles from which he acts be but the habit of soul, the purity, as he feigns, of his own nature-principles of natural reason, or the dictates of human nature; all this is nothing else but the old gentleman in his holiday clothes: the old heart, the old spirit, the spirit of the man, not the spirit of Christ, is here.
LOVE OF SIN.
Sin has been delightfully admitted to an entertainment by all the powers of the soul. The soul hath chosen it rather than God; and also, at God's command, refuses to let it go.
If there be at any time, as indeed there is, a warrant issued out from the mouth of God to apprehend, to condemn and mortify sin, why then the souls of sinners do presently make these shifts for the saving of sin from things that by the word men are commanded to do unto it:
1. They will, if possible, hide it, and not suffer it to be discovered.
2. As the soul will hide it, so it will excuse it, and plead that this and that piece of wickedness is no such evil thing, men need not be so nice.
3. As the soul will do this, so to save sin it will cover it with names of virtue, either moral or civil.
4. If convictions and discovery of sin be so strong and
so plain that the soul cannot deny but that it is sin, and that God is offended therewith, then it will give flattering promises to God that it will indeed put it away; but yet it will prefix a time that shall be long first, saying, Yet a little sleep, yet a little slumber, yet a little folding of sin in my arms, till I am older, till I am richer, till I have had more of the sweetness and the delights of sin.
5. If God yet pursues, and will see whether this promise of putting sin out of doors shall be fulfilled by the soul, why then it will be partial in God's law; it will put away some, and keep some; put away the grossest, and keep the finest; put away those that can best be spared, and keep the most profitable for a help at a pinch.
6. Yea, if all sin must be abandoned, or the soul shall have no rest, why then the soul and sin will part-with such a parting as it is-even as Phaltiel parted with David's wife, with an ill-will and a sorrowful mind; or as Orpah left her mother, with a kiss. 2 Sam. 3:16; Ruth 1:14.
7. And if at any time they can or shall meet with each other again, and nobody never the wiser, O what courting will be between sin and the soul.
By all these, and many more things that might be instanced, it is manifest that sin has a friendly entertainment by the soul, and that therefore the soul is guilty of damnation; for what do all these things argue, but that God, his word, his ways and graces, are out of favor with the soul, and that sin and Satan are its only pleasant companions?
Sin so sets itself against the nature of God that, if possible, it would annihilate and turn him into nothing, it being in its nature point-blank against him.
What a thing is sin; what a devil and master of devils is it, that it should, where it takes hold, so hang that noth