« 이전계속 »
ness and infancy of the new nature, and the great remains of corruption, together with the circumstances we are in, in this world, where we are encompassed all round with what tends to pollute us, exposes to this. And indeed it is not to be supposed that Christians ever have any experiences in this world that are wholly pure, entirely spiritual, without any mixture of what is natural and carnal : The beam of light, as it comes from the fountain of light upon our hearts, is pure, but as it is reflected thence, it is mixed : The seed as sent from heaven and planted in the heart, is pure, but as it springs up out of the heart, is impure ; yea, there is commonly a much greater mixture, than persons for the most part seem to have any imagination of; I have often thought that the experiences of true Christians are very frequently as it is with some sorts of fruits, that are enveloped in several coverings of thick sbells or pods, that are thrown away by him that gathers the fruit, and but a very small part of the whole bulk is the pure kernel, that is good to eat.
The things, of all which there is frequently some mixture with gracious experiences, yea, with very great and high experiences, are these three, human, or natural affection and passion; impressions on the imagination ; and a degree of selfrighteousness or spiritual pride. There is very often with that which is spiritual a great mixture of that affection or passion which arises from natural principles ; so that nature has a very great hand in those vehenent motions and flights of the passions that appear. Hence the same degrees of divine communications from heaven, shall have vastly different effects, in what outwardly appears, in persons of different natural tempers. The great mixture of that which is natural with that which is spiritual, is very manifest in the peculiar effects that divine influences have in some certain families, or persons of such a blood, in a distinguishing manner of the operating of the passions and affections, and the manner of the outward expressions of them. I know some remarkable instances of this. The same is also evident by the different effects of divine communications on the same person at different times, and in different circumstances : The novelty of things, or the
sudden transition from an opposite extreme, and many other things that might be mentioned, greatly contribute to the raising of the passions. And sometimes there is not only a mix. tune of that which is common and natural with gracious experience, but even that which is animal, that which is in a great measure from the body, and is properly the result of the ani. mal frame. In what true Christians fcel of affections towards God, all is not always purely holy and divine ; every thing that is felt in the affections does not arise from spiritual prin. ciples, but common and natural principles have a very great hand; an improper selflove may have a great share in the ef. fect: God is not loved for his own sake, or for the excellency and beauty of his own perfections as he ought to be ; nor have these things in any wise, that proportion in the effect that they ought to have. So in that love that true Christians have one to another, very often there is a great mixture of what arises from common and natural principles, with grace ; and selflove has a great hand : The children of God are not loved purely for Christ's sake, but there may be a great mixture of that natural love that many sects of heretics have boasted of, who have been greatly united one to another, because they were of their company, on their side, against the rest of the world ; yea, there may be a mixture of natural love to the opposite sex, with Christian and divine love. So there may be a great mixture in that sorrow for sin that the godly have ; and also in their joys ; natural principles may greatly contribute to what is felt, a great many ways, as might easily be shown, would it not make my discourse too lengthy. There is nothing that belongs to Christian experience that is more liable to a corrupt mixture than zeal; though it be an excellent virtue, a heavenly flame, when it is pure : But as it is exercised in those who are so little sanctified, and so little humbled, as we are in the present state, it is very apt to be mixed with human passion, yea, with corrupt hateful affections, pride and uncharitable bitterness, and other things that are not from heaven but from hell.
Another thing that is often mixed with what is spiritual in the experiences of Christians, is, impressions on the imagination ; whereby godly persons, together with a spiritual understanding of divine things, and conviction of their reality and certainty, and a strong and deep sense of their excellency or great importance upon their hearts, have strongly impressed on their minds external ideas or images of things. A degree of imagination in such a case, as I have observed elsewhere, is unavoidable, and necessarily arises from human nature, as constituted in the present state ; and a degree of imagination is really useful, and often is of great benefit ; but when it is in too great a degree it becomes an impure mixture that is prejudicial. This mixture very often arises from the constitution of the body. It commonly greatly contributes to the other kind of mixture mentioned before, viz, of natural affections and passions ; it helps to raise them to a great height.
Another thing that is often mixed with the experiences of true Christians, which is the worst mixture of all, is a degree of selfrighteousness or spiritual pride. This is often mixed with the joys of Christians; the joy that they have is not purely the joy of faith, or a rejoicing in Christ Jesus, but is partly a rejoicing in themselves; there is oftentimes in their clevations a looking upon themselves, and a viewing their own high attainments; they rejoice partly because they are taken with their own experiences and great discoveries, which makes them in their own apprehensions so to excel ; and this heightens all their passions, and especially those effects that are more external.
There is a much greater mixture of these things in the experiences of some Christians than others; in some the mixture is so great, as very much to obscure and hide the beauty of grace in them, like a thick smoke that hinders all the shining of the fire.
These things we ought to be well aware of, that we may not take all for gold that glistens, and that we may know what to countenance and encourage, and what to discourage ; otherwise Satan will have a vast advantage against us, for he works in the corrupt mixture. Sometimes for want of persons' distinguishing the ore from the pure metal, those experiences are most admired by the persons themselves that are the subjects of them, and by others that are not the most ex. cellent. The great external effects, and vehemence of the passions, and violent agitations of the animal spirits, is sometimes much owing to the corrupt mixture ; (as is very apparent in some instances) though it be not always so.
I have observed a great difference among those that are under high affections, and seem disposed to be earnestly talking to those that are about them ; some insist much more, in their talk, on what they behold in God and Christ, the glory of the divine perfections, Christ's beauty and excellency and wonderful condescension and grace, and their own unworthiness, and the great and infinite obligations that they themselves and others are under to love and serve God; some insist almost wholly on their own high privileges, their assurance, and of God's love and favor, and the weakness and wickedness of opposers, and how much they are above their reach. The latter may have much of the presence of God, but their experiences do not appear to be so solid and unmixed as the former. And there is a great deal of difference in persons' earnestness in their talk and behavior ; in some it seems to come indeed from the fullness of their hearts, and from the great sense they have of truth, a deep sense of the certainty and infinite greatness, excellency, and importance of divine and eternal things, a „ded with all appearances of great humility; in others their earnestness seems to arise from a great mixture of human passion, and an undue and intemperate agitation of the spirits, which appears by their earnestness and vehemence not being proportioned to the nature of the subject they insist on, but they are violent in every thing they say, as much when they are talking of things of smaller importance, as when speaking of things of greater weight. I have seen it thus in an instance or two, in which this vehemence at length issued in distraction. And there have been some few instances of a more extraordinary nature still, even of persons finding themselves disposed earnestly to talk and cry out, from an unaccountable kind of bodily pressure, without any extraordinary view of any thing in their minds, or sense of any thing up
on their hearts, wherein probably there was the immediato band of the devil.
II. Another thing by which the devil has great advantage, is, the unheeded defects there sometimes are in the experiences of true Christians, and those high affections wherein there is much that is truly good.
What I now have respect to, is something diverse from that defect, or imperfection of degree, which is in every holy disposition and cxercise in this life, in the best of the saints. What I aim at is experiences being especially defective in some particular thing, that ought to be in them'; which, though it is not an essential defect, or such a defect as is in the experiences of hypocrites, which renders them utterly vain, monstrous, and altogether abominable to God, yer is such a defect as maims and deforms the experience ; the essence of truly Christian esperiences is not wanting, but yet that is wanting that is very needful in order to the proper beauty of the image of Christ in such a person's experiences; but things are very much out of a due proportion : There is indeed much of some things, but at the same time there is so little of some other things that should bear a proportion, that the defect very
much deforms the Christian, and is truly odious in the sight of God.
What I observed before was something that deformed the Christian, as it was too much, something mixed, that is not belonging to the Christian as such ; what I speak of now is something that deforms the Christian the other way, viz. By their not being enough, something wanting, that does belong to the Christian as such : The one deforms the Christian as a monstrous excrescence, the other as thereby the new creature is maimed, and some member in a great measure wanting, or so small and withering as to be very much out of due propor. tion. This is another spiritual calamity that the saints are Jiable to, through the great imperfection of grace in this life; like the chicken in the egg, in the beginning of its formation, in which, though there are indeed the rudiments or lincaments of all the parts, yet some few parts are plain to be seen, when others are hid, so that without a microscope it appears very monstrous.