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to them all, and yet deceived in this matter. I believe there can be none in the world. If a man be deeply and fully convinced, after justification, of inbred sin; if he then experience a gradual mortification of sin, and afterwards an entire renewal in the image of God: if to this change immensely greater than that wrought when he was justified, be added a clear, direct witness of the renewal: I judge it as impossible this man should be deceived herein, as that God should lie. And if one whom I knew to be a man of veracity, testify these things to me, I ought not, without some sufficient reason, to reject his testimony.

Q. Is this death to sin, and renewal in love, gradual or instantaneous?

A. A man may be dying for some time; yet he does not, properly speaking, die till the instant the soul is separated from the body and in that instant he lives the life of eternity. In like manner, he may be dying to sin for some time; yet he is not dead to sin, till sin is separated from his soul. And in that instant he lives the full life of love. And as the change undergone when the body dies, is of a different kind, and infinitely greater than any we had known before, yea, such as till then it is impossible to conceive; so the change wrought when he dies to sin, is of a different kind, and infinitely greater than any conceive till he experiences it. Yet he still grows in grace, in the knowledge of Christ, in the love and image of God: and will do so, not only till death, but to all eternity.

Q. How are we to wait for this change?

A. Not in careless indifference, or indolent inactivity; but in vigorous, universal obedience, in a zealous keeping of all the commandments, in watchfulness and painfulness, in denying ourselves, and taking up our cross daily; as well as in earnest prayer and fasting, and a close attendance on all the ordinances of God. And if any man dream of attaining it in any other way, (yea, or of keeping it when it is attained, when he has received it even in the largest measure,) he deceiveth his own soul. It is true we receive it by simple faith. But God does not, will not give that

faith, unless we seek it with all diligence, in the way which he hath ordained.

This consideration may satisfy those who inquire, Why so few have received this blessing? Inquire, how many are seeking it in this way? And you have a sufficient answer.

Prayer especially is wanting. Who continues instant therein? Who wrestles with God for this very thing? So ye have not because ye ask not; or because ye ask amiss, namely, "That you may be renewed before you die." Before you die! Will that content you? Nay, but ask that it may be done now! To-day! While it is called to-day! Do not call this, "setting God a time." Certainly to-day. is his time as well as to-morrow. Make haste, man, make haste! Let

Thy soul break out in strong desire
The perfect bliss to prove!
Thy longing heart be all on fire

To be dissolv'd in love!

Q. But may we continue in peace and joy, till we are perfected in love?

A. Certainly we may, for the kingdom of God is not divided against itself. Therefore let not believers be discouraged from " rejoicing in the Lord always." And yet we may be sensibly pained at the sinful nature that still remains in us. It is good for us to have a piercing sense of this, and a vehement desire to be delivered from it. But this should only incite us, the more zealously to fly every moment to our strong Helper, the more earnestly to "press forward to the mark, the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus." And when the sense of our sin most abounds, the sense of his love should much more abound.

Q. How should we treat those who think they have attained?

A. Examine them candidly, and exhort them to pray fervently, that God would shew them all that is in their hearts. The most earnest exhortations to abound in every grace, and the strongest cautions to avoid all evil, are given throughout the New Testament, to those who are in the

highest state of grace. But this should be done with the utmost tenderness, and without any harshness, sternness, or sourness. We should carefully avoid the very appearance of anger, unkindness, or contempt. Leave it to Satan thus to tempt, and to his children to cry out, "Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience." If they are faithful to the grace given, they are in no danger of perishing thereby : No, not if they remain in that mistake, till their spirit is returning to God.

Q. But what hurt can it do to deal harshly with them? A. Either they are mistaken or they are not. If they are, it may destroy their souls. This is nothing impossible, no, nor improbable. It may so enrage, or so discourage them, that they may sink and rise no more. If they are not mistaken, it may grieve those whom God has not grieved, and do much hurt unto our own souls. For undoubtedly, he that toucheth them, toucheth, as it were, the apple of God's eye. If they are indeed full of his Spirit, to behave unkindly or contemptuously to them, is doing no little despite to the Spirit of Grace. Hereby likewise we feed and increase in ourselves evil-surmising, and many wrong tempers. To instance only one. What self-sufficiency is this, to set ourselves up for inquisitors general, for peremptory judges in the deep things of God! Are we qualified for the office? Can we pronounce in all cases, How far infirmity reaches? What may and what may not be resolved into it. What may in all circumstances, and what may not consist with perfect love? Can we precisely determine, How it will influence the look, the gesture, the tone of voice? If we can, doubtless "we are the men, and wisdom shall die with us!"

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Q. But if they are displeased at our not believing them, is not this a full proof against them?

A. According as that displeasure is; if they are angry, it is a proof against them: if they are grieved, it is not. They ought to be grieved, if we disbelieve a real work of God, and thereby deprive ourselves of the advantage we might have received from it. And we may easily mistake

this grief for anger, as the outward expressions of both are much alike.

Q. But is it not well to find out those, who fancy they have attained, when they have not?

A. It is well to do it by mild, loving examination. But it is not well to triumph even over these. It is extremely wrong, if we find such an instance, to rejoice, as if we had found great spoils. Ought we not rather to grieve, to be deeply concerned, to let our eyes run down with tears? Here is one who seemed to be a living proof of God's power to save to the uttermost, but, alas! it is not as we hoped! He is weighed in the balance, and found wanting! And is this matter of joy? Ought we not to rejoice a thou sand times more, if we can find nothing but pure love?

"But he is deceived." What then? It is a harmless mistake, while he feels nothing but love in his heart. It is a mistake which generally argues great grace, and a high degree both of holiness and happiness. This should be a matter of real joy to all that are simple of heart: not the mistake itself, but the height of grace which, for a time, occasions it. I rejoice that that soul is always happy in Christ, always full of prayer and thanksgiving. I rejoice that he feels no unholy temper, but the pure love of God continually. And I will rejoice, if sin is suspended, till it is totally destroyed.

Q. Is there no danger then in a man's being thus deceived?

A. Not at the time that he feels no sin. There was danger before, and there will be again, when he comes into fresh trials. But so long as he feels nothing but love, animating all his thoughts, and words, and actions, he is in no danger: he is not only happy, but safe, under the shadow of the Almighty. And, for God's sake, let him continue in that love as long as he can mean time, you may do well to warn him of the danger that will be, if his love grow cold and sin revive, even the danger of casting away hope, and supposing, that because he hath not attained yet, therefore he never shall.

Q. But what if none have attained it yet? What if all who think so are deceived?

A. Convince me of this, and I will preach it no more. But understand me right: I do not build any doctrine on this or that person. This or any other man may be deceived, and I am not moved. But if there are none made perfect yet, God has not sent me to preach perfection.

Put a parallel case. For many years I have preached, "There is a peace of God which passeth all understanding." Convince me, that this word has fallen to the ground, that in all these years none have attained this peace, that there is no living witness of it at this day, and I will preach it no more.


“O, but several persons have died in that peace." Perhaps so: but I want living witnesses. I cannot indeed be infallibly certain, that this or that person is a witness. But if I were certain there were none such, I must have done with this doctrine.

"You misunderstand me. I believe some who died in his love, enjoyed it long before their death. But I was not certain, that their former testimony was true, till some hours before they died."

You had not an infallible certainty then. And a reasonable certainty you might have had before; such a certainty as might have quickened and comforted your own soul, and answered all other Christian purposes. Such a certainty as this any candid person may have, suppose there be any living witness, by talking one hour with that person in the love and fear of God.

Q. But what does it signify, whether any have attained it or not, seeing so many scriptures witness for it ?

A. If I were convinced, that none in England had attained what has been so clearly and strongly preached by such a number of Preachers, in so many places, and for so long a time; I should be clearly convinced, that we had all mistaken the meaning of those scriptures, and therefore, for the time to come, I too must teach, that "sin will remain till death."

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