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contempt of him, and enrage your hearts some way or other against him. These, therefore, and all other senses, which are as inlets into the soul, you must have a great care of; keep them, as we say, under lock and key; if possible, let nothing come in at them, which may any ways disturb or discompose your inward man, and then it will be easy for you to keep your hearts aright.
Secondly; if notwithstanding all the care you take to avoid them, any sinful motions shall happen to arise, as they will sometimes, in your hearts, you must be sure to suppress them at the very first beginning of them; nip them in the bud, crush them at their first appearance, otherwise they will soon grow too strong and prevalent for you. Do not stand parleying with them, but so soon as ever you perceive your thoughts begin to be exorbitant, and to draw you into sin, give not the least consent unto them, but resist and quell them immediately. If you cannot bridle and manage your thoughts so as to keep them always in their proper order, yet you must be sure to keep so strict a hand over your wills and affections that they may not approve or embrace them, but rather throw them out again with an utter abhorrence and detestation. It is an excellent rule prescribed by St. Austin, That the soul accustom itself continually to examine and consider its own thoughts at the first rising: Et ad primum animi motum vel probare, vel reprobare quid cogitat, ut vel bonas cogitationes alat, vel statim extinguat malas. And he that doth not observe this, can never keep his own heart as he ought to do, but will be always liable to all manner of sins that either the Devil or his own corrupt nature can prompt him to.
Thirdly; But because this is a work too great for you to do by your own strength, you must look out for help, and implore God's assistance of you in the doing of it. Indeed, prayer is the surest guard that you can set about your hearts : for, as the Psalmist says, “ Except the Lord keepeth Ps. 127. 1. the city, the watchman waketh in vain.” So here, except the Lord keep your hearts, your watching of them will stand you in no stead; for the heart of man is so desperately wicked, that nothing but the grace and power of Almighty God can keep it within its bounds: but our comfort is, that
SERM. God is as ready to assist us, as we are to desire it of Him. CXXXVIII.
3.4. And therefore let it be not only our daily but constant pracMatt.26.41. tice to pray to God to keep our hearts.
Fourthly; Let your prayer to God for this purpose be John 15. 5. backed with faith in Jesus Christ, without Whom you can
do nothing, as Himself tells you; you cannot pray, nor hear, nor give an alms, nor do any thing else acceptably without Him, much less can you keep your hearts without Him; nor by Him, without faith in Him, which is the means
whereby we receive grace and power from Him to make and Acts 15. 9. keep our hearts pure. Indeed, a very historical faith, or
full assent to the truths asserted in Scripture, will conduce very much to the keeping our hearts in a holy awe of
God, and fear of sin, much more such a faith whereby we Phil. 4, 11, trust in the merits of Jesus Christ for the enabling of us to
Lastly; Having thus guarded your hearts with prayer and faith, possess them continually with the apprehensions
of God's omnipresence, that His eye always sees, His ear hears Prov. 21. 2. you, His hand registereth the very motions of your hearts,
as well as the outward actions of your life. And, therefore, whensoever you find any sinful motions begin to arise in your hearts, check them with this consideration, that the
Eternal God takes notice of them; He always observes the Ps. 139. 2. very imaginations of thy heart, and knows thy thoughts
afar off. And if the presence of a man, or often of a child, can deter thee from committing lewdness, how much more should the presence of Almighty God Himself do it! Let such thoughts therefore as these are, always dwell in your hearts, and then be sure no sin or lust can lodge there, but you will keep your hearts safe and sound against all assaults that can be made against them.
OF TAKING UPON US CHRIST'S YOKE,
Matt. xi. 29.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek
and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Although our blessed Saviour, in the foregoing verse, promiseth rest to“ those that labour, and are heavy laden," if they will but come to Him, yet we must not think that they that come to Him shall have nothing to do, or that they shall rest from doing good, as well as from suffering evil. It is true, what Christ hath done and suffered for us, of itself is sufficient to expiate our sins, and to reconcile us unto God. For it was “He that trod the winepress of His [Is. 63. 3.) Father's wrath alone,” no creature being in a capacity to assist Him. And therefore the pardon of our sins, and the acceptance of our persons before God, must be wholly ascribed to the merit of His death and passion; nothing that we can do signifying any thing at all without it. But, lowsoever, though Christ thus came to expiate, He did not come to patronise our sins; nor to die for them that we might still live in them. He hath freed us indeed from the curse of the Law, but not from our obedience to it. He hath taken off our obligations to the punishments, but not to our observance of it. For Himself hath told, that “ He came not Matt. 5. 17. to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfil and establish them." Hence the Apostle having proved that “ we Rom. 3. 28. SERM. are justified by faith without the deeds of the Law," he preCXXXIX.
sently adds, “ Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid : yea, we establish the Law.” Where we may observe, by the way, the great mistake and error of those who contend and assert, that wheresoever St. Paul speaks of “ the deeds” or “works of the Law," as having no hand in our justification, he is to be understood only of the Levitical or ceremonial law, not of the moral. But nothing can be clearer than that the Apostle in this place speaks only of the deeds of the moral law, saying, “ that we are justified by faith alone without them.” For it is plain that he here speaks of that law which faith doth not make void, but establish : whereas it is agreed on all hands, that the ceremonial law is utterly abolished by the coming of Christ, and that it is the moral law only that is established by faith in Him; and by consequence that they are the deeds of the moral, not of the ceremonial law, which the Apostle here excludes from our justification before God, although it bestill in force as much as ever, or rather more; we having now more and stronger obligations upon us to observe it, than they had before the coming of Christ: forasmuch as we have now clearer explications of it, both by the doctrine and example of our
blessed Saviour, and also greater encouragements, because 58. we may be now assured, that how much soever we“ abound
in the work of the Law, our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord;” yea, and we have a promise of greater assistance now by the Spirit of God Himself, Which Christ will give to them that come to Him; so that we have all the obligations imaginable upon us to love and obey God in whatsoever He commands.
When Christ, therefore, promiseth to give rest to them that come unto Him for it, we must still remember what kind of rest it is; not a rest in, but from, their sins: He will ease them from their former yokes and burdens which they laboured under, and were overladen with; but so that they must take His easy yoke upon them, and His light burden: “take My yoke,” saith He, “ upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
This, therefore, being that which our blessed Lord, from
Whom we expect both pardon and Salvation, requires of all those that come unto Him, and by consequence that expect any thing from Him, as I hope we all do, it must needs be a matter of very great moment and importance to us all rightly to understand His will and pleasure in these words, and what it is that He requireth of us; which that you may do, I shall endeavour to explain them to you clearly and distinctly as they lie in order.
I. First, saith He, " Take My yoke upon you.” For the opening of which words we must consider what yoke it is that He here speaks of, and how we must take it upon us. As for the first: we must know that there is a threefold yoke of Christ, which all are bound to take upon them that come to Him.
First, the yoke of His doctrine; what He hath taught we must know and believe, therefore because He hath taught it. It is true, there are many things which Christ hath now revealed, and discovered to us, which mankind before were either altogether ignorant of, or at the best very doubtful in, which they that come to Christ are bound to believe, upon His word or testimony, confirmed by many and real miracles, wrought on purpose for the confirmation of them. As for example, the doctrine of the Trinity, that there are Three Persons in one nature, every one of which is God, and yet all Three but one God: that the Father begat the Son, the Son was begotten of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from both; and yet one was not before another, nor one greater than another, but all Three of the self-same individual nature, glory, power, majesty; co-equal, co-essential, and co-eternal to one another. And the doctrine of the incarnation; that as in the Trinity there be Three Persons in one nature, so in Christ there are two natures in one person, the Divine and human nature, and both in their perfection; so that He was both perfectly God, of the self-same substance with the Father, and like unto Him in all things, His personal properties only excepted ; and perfectly man, of the self-same substance with us, and like unto us in all things, our sinful infirmities only excepted. To which we may add the doctrine of the resurrection, which He hath so frequently, and so clearly discovered,