Flavel, Fountain of Life, File 43. ( ...continued from File 42) Consider, First, God has more obliged them to live pure and strict lives. I know the command obliges all men to it, even those that cast away the cords of the commands, and break Christ's bonds asunder, are yet bound by them; and cannot plead a dispensation to live as they do. Yea, and it is not unusual for them to feel the obligations of the command upon their consciences, even when their impetuous lusts hurry them on to the violation of them; but there are special ties upon your souls, that oblige you to holiness more than others. Many special and peculiar engagements you are under. First, from God. Secondly, from yourselves. Thirdly, from your brethren. Fourthly, from your enemies. First, God has peculiarly obliged you to purity and strictness of life. Yea, every Person in the blessed Trinity has cast his cord over your souls, to bind up your hearts and lives to the most strict and precise obedience of his commands. The Father has obliged you, and that not only by the common tie of creation, which is yet of great efficacy in itself; for, is it reasonable that God should create and form so excellent a piece, and that it should be employed against him? That he should plant the tree, and another eat the fruit of it? But, besides this common engagement, he has obliged you to holiness of life. First, By his wise and merciful designs and counsels for your recovery and salvation by Jesus Christ. It was he that laid the corner-stone of your salvation with his own hands. The first motion sprang out of his breast. If God had not designed the Redeemer for you, the world had never seen him; he had never left that sweet Bosom for you. It was the act of the Father to give you to the Son to be redeemed, and then to give the Son to be a Redeemer to you. Both of them stupendous and astonishing acts of grace. And in both God acted as a most free Agent. When he gave you to Christ before the beginning of time, there was nothing out of himself that could in the least move him to it. When the Father, Son, and Spirit sat (as I may say) at the council-table, contriving and laying the design for the salvation of a few out of many of Adam's degenerate offspring, there was none came before him to speak one word for thee; but such was the divine Pleasure to insert thy name in that catalogue of the saved. Oh how much owest thou to the Lord for this. And what an engagement does it leave upon thy soul, to obey, please, and glorify him? Secondly, By his bountiful remunerations of your obedience, which have been wonderful. What service didst thou ever perform for him, for which he has not paid thee a thousand times more than it is worth. Didst thou ever seek him diligently, and not find him a bountiful rewarder? none seek him in vain, unless such only as seek him vainly, Heb. 11: 6. Didst thou ever give a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, and not receive a disciple's reward? Matt. 10: 42. Hast thou not found inward peace and comfort flowing into thy soul, upon every piece of sincere obedience! Oh what a good Master do saints serve? You that are remiss and inconstant in your obedience, you that are heartless and cold in duties; hear how your God expostulates with you, Jer. 2: 31. "Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of darkness?" q. d. Have I been a hard Master to you? Have you any reason to complain of me? To whomsoever I have been strait handed, surely I have not been so to you. Are fruits of sin like fruits of obedience? Do you know where to find a better Master? Why then are you so shuffling and inconstant, so sluggish and remiss in my work? Surely God is not behind-hand with any of you. May you not say with David, Psal. 119: 56. "This I had, because I kept thy precepts." There are fruits in holiness, even present fruit. It is a high favour to be employed for God. Reward enough that he will accept any thing thou dost. But to return every duty thou representest to him with such comforts, such quickening, such inward and outward blessings into thy bosom, so that thou mayest open the treasury of thine own experiences, view the variety of encouragements and tokens of his love, at several times received in duties; and say, this I had, and that I had, by waiting on God, and serving him. Oh what an engagement is this upon thee to be ever abounding in the work of the Lord! Though thou must not work for wages; yet God will not let thy work go unrewarded. For he is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love. Thirdly, Your Father has further obliged you to holiness and purity of life, by signifying to you (as he has frequently done) thee great delight and pleasure he hath therein. He hath told you, "that such as are upright in the way are his delight," Prov. 11: 20. That he would not have you forget to do good, and to communicate, for with such sacrifices he is well pleased," Heb. 13: 16. You know you cannot "walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, [excepts ye be fruitful in every good word and work," Col. 1: 10. And oh what a bond is this upon you to live holy lives! Can you please yourselves in displeasing your Father? If you have the hearts of children in you, sure you cannot. O you cannot grieve his Spirit by loose and careless walking, but you must grieve your own spirits too. How many times has God pleased you, gratified and contented you, and will you not please and content him? This mercy you have asked of him, and he gave it, that mercy and you were not denied; in many things the Lord has wonderfully condescended to please you, and now there is but one thing that he desires of you, and that most reasonable, yea, beneficial for you, as well as pleasing to him, Phil. 1: 27. "Only let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Jesus Christ." This is the one thing, the great and main thing he expects from you in this world, and will not you do it? Can you expect he should gratify your desires, when you make no more of grieving and displeasing him? Well, if you know what will please God, and yet resolve not to do it, but will rather please your flesh, and gratify the devil than him; pray pull off your wizards, fall into your own rank among hypocrites, and appear as indeed you are. Fourthly, The Father hath further obliged you to strictness and purity of conversation, by his gracious promises made to such as so walk. He has promised to do great things for you, if you will but do this one thing for him. If you will "order your conversation aright," Psal. 50 ult. He will be your sun and shield, if you walk before him and be upright, Gen. 15: 1. "He will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from him that walketh uprightly," Psal. 84: 11. And he promises no more to you, than he has made good to others, that have thus walked, and stands ready to perform to you also. If you look to enjoy the good of the promise, you are obliged by all your expectations and hopes to order your lives purely and uprightly. This hope will set you on work to purge your lives, as well as your hearts, from all pollutions, 2 Cor. 7: 1. "Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Fifthly, Yea, He hath yet more obliged you to strict and holy lives, by his confidence in you, that you will thus walk and please him. He expresseth himself in scripture, as one that dares trust you with his glory, knowing that you will be tender of it, and dare do no otherwise. But if a man repose confidence in you, and trust you with his concerns, it greatly obliges you to be faithful. What an engagement was that upon Abraham to walk uprightly, when God said of him, Gen. 18: 19. "I know him, that he will commend his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord," q. d. as for this wicked generation, whom I will speedily consume in my wrath, I know they regard not my laws, they will trample my commands under their feet, they care not how they provoke me, but I expect other things from Abraham, and I am confident he will not fail me. I know him, he is a man of another spirit, and what I promise myself from him, he will make good. And to the like purpose is that in Isa. 63: 7. "I will mention the loving-kindness of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord; according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel, which he has bestowed on them, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie, (or fail me:) so he was their Saviour." Here you have an ample account of the endearing mercies of God to that people, ver. 7. and the Lord's confident expectations of suitable returns from them, ver. 8. I said, i.e. (speaking after the manner of men in like cases) I made a full account, that after all these endearments and favours bestowed upon them, they would not offer to be disloyal and false to me. I have made them sure enough to myself, by so many bonds of love. Like to which is that expression, Zeph. 3: 7. "I said, surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction." Oh! how great are the expectations of God from such as you! I know Abraham, there is no doubt of him! And again, they are children that will not lie, i.e. they will not fallere fidem datam, break their covenant with me. Or they are my people that will not shrink, as Mr. Coverdale well translates, filii non negantes, such as will be true to me, and answer their covenant-engagements. And again, surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction. And shall not all this engage you to God? What! Neither the ancient and bountiful love of God, in contriving your redemption from eternity, nor the bounty of God, in rewarding all and every piece of service you have done for him? Nor yet the pleasure he takes in your obedience and upright walking? nor the encouraging promises he has made thereto, nor yet his confident expectations of such a life from you, whom he has so many ways obliged and endeared to himself? Will you forget your ancient friend, condemn his rewards, take no delight or care to please him? Slight his promises, and deceive and fail his expectations? "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this! and be horribly afraid." Consider how God the Father has fastened this fivefold cord upon your souls, and show yourselves Christians; yea, to use the prophet's words, Isa. 46: 8. "Remember this, and show yourselves men." Secondly, You are further engaged to this precise and holy life, by what the Son has done for you; is not this pure and holy life the very aim, and next end of his death? Did he not shed his blood to "redeem you from your vain conversations?" 1 Pet. 1: 18. Was not this the design of all his sufferings? "That being delivered out of the hands of your enemies, you might serve him in righteousness and holiness all the days of your life," Luke 1: 74, 75. And is not the apostle's inference, 2 Cor. 5: 14, 15. highly reasonable? "If one died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live to themselves, but to him that died for them." Did Christ only buy your persons, and not your services also? No, whoever has thy time, thy strength, or any part of either, I can assure thee, Christian, that Christ has paid for it, and thou givest away what is none of thine own to give. Every moment of thy time is his, every talent, whether of grace or nature, is his; and dost thou defraud him of his own? O how liberal are you of your precious words and hours, as if Christ had never made a purchase of them! O think of this, when thy life runs muddy and foul. When the fountain of corruption flows out at thy tongue, in idle frothy discourses; or at thy hand, in sinful unwarrantable actions? Does this become the redeemed of the Lord? Did Christ come from the bosom of his Father for this? Did he groan, sweat, bleed, endure the cross, and lay down his life for this? Was he so well pleased with all his sorrows and sufferings, his pangs and agonies, upon the account of that satisfaction he should have in seeing the travail of his soul? Isa. 53: 11. as if he had said, "Welcome death, welcome agonies, welcome the bitter cup and heavy burden; I cheerfully submit to all this. These are travailing pangs indeed, but I shall see the beautiful birth at last. These throws and agonies shall bring forth many lovely children to God; I shall have joy in them, and glory from them, to all eternity. This blood of mine, these sufferings of mine, shall purchase to me the persons, duties, services, and obedience of many thousands that will love me, and honour me, serve me, and obey me, with their souls and bodies which are mine." And does not this engage you to look to your lives, and keep them pure? Is not every one of Christ's wounds a mouth open to plead for more holiness, more service, and more fruit from you? Oh! what will engage you if this will not? But, Thirdly, This is not all; as a man when he weigheth a thing, casteth in weight after weight, till the scales are counterpoised; so does God cast in engagement after engagement, and argument upon argument, till thy heart, Christian, be weighed up and won to this heavenly light. And therefore, as Elihu said to Job, chap. 36: 22. "Suffer me a little, and I will show thee what I have yet to speak on God's behalf." Some arguments have already been urged on the behalf of the Father and Son, for purity and cleanness of life; and next I have something to plead on the behalf of the Spirit. I plead now on his behalf, who has so many times helped you to plead for yourselves with God. He that has so often refreshed, quickened, and comforted you, he will be quenched, grieved, and displeased by an impure, loose, and careless conversation; and what will you do then? Who shall comfort you when the Comforter is departed from you? When he that should relieve your souls is far off? O grieve not the holy Spirit of God by which you are sealed, to the day of redemption, Eph. 4: 30. There is nothing grieves him more than impure practices, for he is a holy Spirit. And look, as water damps and quenches the fire, so does sin quench the Spirit, 1 Thess. 5: 19. Will you quench the warm affections and burning desires which he has kindled in your bosoms? If you do, it is a question whether ever you may recover them again to your dying day. The Spirit has a delicate sense. It is the most tender thing in the whole world. He feels the least touch of sin, and is grieved when thy corruptions within are stirred by temptations, and break out to the defiling of thy life; then is the holy Spirit of God, as it were, made sad and heavy within thee. As that word "me lukeite", Eph. 4: 30. may be rendered. For thereby thou resistest his motions, whereby in the way of a loving constraint he would lead and guide thee in the way of thy duty; yea, thou not only resistest his motions, but crossest his grand design, which is to purge and sanctify thee wholly, and build thee up more and more to the perfection of holiness. And when thou thus forsakes his conduct, and crossest his design in thy soul, then does he usually withdraw as a man that is grieved by the unkindness of his friend. He draws in the beams of his evidencing and quickening grace, withholds all his divine cordials, and saith, as it were, to the unkind and disingenuous soul, "Hast thou thus requited me, for all the favours and kindnesses thou hast received from me? Have Iquickened thee, when thou was dead in transgressions? Did I descend upon thee in the preaching of the gospel, and communicate careless life, even the life of God, to thee; leaving others in the state of the dead? Have I shed forth such rich influences of grace and comfort upon thee? Comforting thee in all thy troubles, helping thee in all thy duties; satisfying thee in all thy doubts and perplexities of soul; saving thee, and pulling thee back from so many destructive temptations and dangers? What had been thy condition, if I had not come unto thee? Could the world have converted thee without me? Could ministers, could angels, have done that for thee which I did? And when I had quickened thee, and made thee a living soul, what couldst thou have done, without my exciting and assisting grace? Couldst thou go on in the way of duty, if I had not led thee? How wouldst thou have waded through the deeps of spiritual troubles, if I had not borne thee up? Whither had the temptations of Satan and thine own corruptions carried thee before this day, if I had not stood thy Friend, and come in for thy rescue in the time of need? Did I ever fail thee in thy extremities? Did I ever leave thee in thy dangers? Have I not been tender over thee, and faithful to thee? And now, for which of all these kindnesses, dost thou thus wrong and abuse me? Why hast thou wounded me thus by thy unkindness? Ah! thou hast ill requited my love! And now thou shalt eat the fruit of thy doings. Let thy light now be darkness; thy songs turned into cowlings; the joy of thine heart, the light of thine eyes, the health of thy countenance, even the face of thy God, and the joy of salvation, be hid from thee." This is the fruit of careless and loose walking. To this sad issue it will bring thee at last, and when it is come to this, thou shalt go to ordinances, and duties, and find no good in them; no life-quickening comfort there. When thy heart which was wont to be enlarged, and flowing, shall be clung up and dry; when thou shalt kneel down before the Lord, and cry, as Elisha, when with the mantle of Elijah, he smote the water, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" So thou, where is the God of prayer? Where is the God of duties? But there is no answer: when like Samson, thou shalt go forth and shake thyself, as at other times; but thy strength is gone; then tell me, what thou hast done in resisting, quenching, and grieving the Holy Spirit of God by impure and offensive practices? And thus you see what engagements lie upon you from the Spirit also to walk uprightly, and keep the issues of life pure. I could willingly have enlarged myself upon this last branch, but that a judicious hand has lately improved this argument, to which I shall refer the reader. Thus God has obliged you to circumspect and holy lives. Secondly, You are under great engagements to keep your lives pure; even from yourselves, as well as from your God. As God has bound you to purity of conversation, so you have bound yourselves. And there are several things in you, and done by you, which wonderfully increase, and strengthen your obligations to practical holiness. First, Your clearer illumination is a strong bond upon your souls, Eph. 5: 8. "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light." You cannot pretend, or plead ignorance of your duty. You stand convinced in your own consciences before God, that this is your unquestionable duty. Christians, will you not all yield to this? I know you readily yield. We live, indeed, in a contentious, disputing age. In other things, our opinions are different. One Christian is of this judgement, another of that: but does he deserve the name of a Christian that dare once question this truth? In this we all meet and close in oneness of mind and judgement, that it is our indisputable duty to live pure, strict, and clean lives. "The grace of God, which has appeared to you, has taught you this truth clearly, and convincingly," Tit. 2: 11, 12. "You have received how you ought to walk, and to please God," 1 Thess. 4: 1. Well then, this being yielded, the inference is plain and undeniable, that you cannot walk as others, in the vanity of their mind; but you must offer violence to your own light. You cannot suffer the corruptions of your hearts to break forth into practice, but you must slight, and put by the notices and rebukes of your own consciences, Jam. 4: 17. "He that knoweth to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin." Yea, sin with a witness. Aggravated sin. Sin of a deeper tincture than that of Heathens. Sin that sadly wastes and violates conscience. Certainly, whoever has, you have no cloak for your sin. Light and lust struggling together, great light and strong lusts: these make the soul a troubled sea that cannot rest. O but when masterless lusts overbear conscience, this impresses horror upon the soul. This brake David's heart, Psal. 51: 6. "Thou hast put knowledge in my inner part", q. d. Ah, Lord! I went against the rebukes of conscience, to the commission of this sin. I had a watchful light set up within me. I knew it was sin. My light endeavoured lovingly to restrain me, and I thrust it aside. Besides, what pleasure in sin can you have? Indeed, such as for want of light know not what they do, or such, whose consciences are seared, and past feeling; they may seek a little pleasure (such as it is) out of sin: but what content or pleasure can you have, so long as your light is ever breaking in upon you, and smiting you for what you do? This greatly increases your obligation to a precise, holy life. Again, Secondly, You are professors of holiness. You have given in your names to Christ, to be his disciples; and by this your engagements to a life of holiness, are yet further strengthened, 2 Tim. 2: 19. "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity." The name of Christ is called upon you, and it is a worthy name, Jam. 2: 7. It is called upon you, as the name of the husband is called upon his wife, Isa. 4: 1. "Let thy name be called upon us." Or, as the name of a Father is called upon his child, Gen. 48: 16. "Let my name be called on them, and the name of my fathers. Well then, you bear the name of Christ as his spouse or children; and will you not live suitably to your name? Every place and relation, every title of honour and dignity has its decorum and becomingness. O how will that worthy name of Christ be blasphemed through you, if you adorn it not with becoming deportment? Better you had never professed any thing, than to set yourselves by your profession in the eye and observation of the world; and then to pour contempt on Jesus Christ, by your scandalous conversations, before the eyes of the world, who will laugh at it. I remember it was a momento given to one of his name by Alexander, recordare nominis Alexandri. Remember (said he) thy name Alexander, and do nothing unworthy of that name. O, that is a heavy charge, Rom. 2: 24. "Through you is the name of God blasphemed among the Heathens." Unhappy man that ever thou shouldst be a reproach to Christ: The herd of wicked men are ignota capita, men of no note or observation. They may sin, and sin again; drink, swear, and tumble in all uncleanness; and it passes away silently; the world takes little notice of it. Their wicked actions make but little noise in the world; but the miscarriages of professors, are like a blazing comet, or an eclipsed sun, which all men gaze at, and make their observations upon; oh then, what manner of persons ought you to be, who bear the worthy name of Christ upon you! Thirdly, But more than this, You have obliged yourselves to this life of holiness by your own prayers. How many times have you lifted up your hands to heaven, and cried with David, Psal. 119: 5. "O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes. Order my steps in thy word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me," ver. 133. Were you in earnest with God, when you thus prayed? did you mean as you said? Or did you only compliment with God? If your hearts and tongues agreed in this request, doubtless it is as much your duty to endeavour, as to desire those mercies and, if not, yet do all these prayers stand on record before the Lord, and will be produced against you as witnesses to condemn you, for your hypocrisy and vanity. How often also have you in your prayers lamented, and bewailed your careless and uneven walkings? You have said with Ezra, chap. 9: 6. "O my God, I am ashamed, and even blush to look up unto thee." And do not your confessions oblige you to greater circumspection and care for time to come? Will you confess, and sin? And sin, and confess? Go to God and bewail your evils, and when you have bewailed them, return again to the commission of them? God forbid you should thus dissemble with God, play with sin, and dye your iniquities with a deeper tincture. Fourthly, and lastly, to add no more, You have often reproved or censured others for their miscarriages and falls, which adds to your own obligation, to walk accurately, and evenly. Have you not often reproved your erring brethren? or at least privately censured them, if not duty reproved them, (for to these left-handed blows of secret censurings, we are more apt, than to the fair and open strokes of just and due reproofs (and will you practice the same things you criminals and censure others for? "Thou that teachest another, saith the apostle) teachest thou not thyself?" Rom. 2: 21. So say I, thou that censures or rebukes another, condemnest thou not thyself? Will your rebukes ever do good to others, whilst you allow in yourselves what you condemn in them? And as these reproofs and censures can do them no good, so they do you much evil, by reason of them you are "autokatakritoi", self-condemned persons; and out of your own mouths God will judge you. For you need no other witness than yourselves in this case. Your own tongues will fall upon you. Your censures and reproofs of others will leave you without plea or apology, if you look not to your lives with greater care. And yet will you be careless still? Fear you not the displeasure of God? Nor the wounding and disquieting your own consciences? Surely, these things are of no light value with you, if you be Christians indeed. Thirdly, You are yet further engaged to practical holiness upon the account of your brethren, who are not a little concerned and interested therein. For if, through the neglect of your hearts your lives be defiled and polluted, this will be thrown in their faces, and many innocent and upright ones both reproached and grieved upon your account. This mischievous effect holy David earnestly deprecated, Psal. 69: 5, 6. "O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from thee; let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake. Let not them that seek thee, be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel," q. d. Lord, thou knowest what a weak and foolish creature I am. And how apt to miscarry, if left to myself, and should I, through my foolishness, act unbecoming a saint; how would this shame the faces, and sadden the hearts of thy people! They will be as men confounded at the report of my fall. The fall of one Christian is matter of trouble and shame to all the rest; and, when they shall hear the sad and unwelcome news of your scandalous miscarriages, (which will certainly be the effect of a neglected heart and life) they will say as David concerning Saul and Jonathan, "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon," &c. Or as Tamar concerning Amnon, "And we, whither shall we cause our shame to go?" And for them, they shall be as fools in Israel. Thy loose and careless life will cause them to estrange themselves from thee, and look shy upon thee, as being ashamed to own thee, and canst thou bear that; will it not grieve and pierce your very hearts to see a cloud of strangeness and trouble over the countenances of your brethren? To see yourselves disowned and lightly esteemed by them? This very consideration struck a great favourite in the Persian court to the very heart. It was Ustazanes, who had been governor to Sapores in his minority. And this man for fear denied the Christian faith, and complied with the idolatrous worship of the king. And one Day (saith the historian) sitting at the court-gate, he saw Simon, the aged archbishop of Seleucia, drawn along to prison, for his constancy in the Christian faith; and, though he durst not openly own the Christian faith he had so basely denied, and confess himself a Christian, yet he could not chuse but rise, and express his reverence to this holy man, in a respective and honourable salutation; but the zealous good man frowned upon him, and turned away his face from him, as thinking such an apostate unworthy of the least respect from him This presently struck Ustazanes to the heart, and drew from him many tears and groans, and thus he reasoned with himself: Simon will not own me, and can I think but that God will disclaim me, when I appear before his tribunal? Simon will not speak unto me, will not so much as look upon me, and can I look for so much as a good word or look from Jesus Christ, whom I leave so shamefully betrayed and denied? Hereupon he threw off his rich courtly robes, and put on mourning, apparel, and professed himself a Christian, and died a martyr O it is a piercing thing to an honest heart, to be cast out of the favour of God's people. If you walk loosely, neither God nor his people look in kindly upon you. Fourthly, and lastly; Your very enemies engage you to this pure and holy life upon a double ground. You are obliged by them two ways, viz. as they are your bold censurers, and your watchful observers. They censure you as hypocrites, and will you give them ground and matter for such a charge? They say, only your tongues are more holy than other men's, and shall they prove it from your practice? They also observe you diligently; lie at catch, and are highly gratified by your miscarriages. If your lives be loose and defiled, you will not only be a shame to your friends, but the song of your enemies. You will make mirth in hell; and gratify all the enemies of God. This is that they watch for. They are curious observers of your goings And that which makes them triumph at your falls and miscarriages, is not only that deep rooted enmity betwixt the two seeds, but because all your miscarriages and evils are so many absolutions to their consciences, and justifications (as they think) of their ways and practices. For look, as your strictness and holiness does, as it were, cast and condemn them, as Noah, Heb. 11: 7. by his practice, condemned the world, their consciences fly in their faces, when they see your holy and pure conversations. It lays a damp upon them. It works upon their consciences, and causes many smart reflections. So when you fall, you, as it were, absolve their consciences, loose the bonds of conviction you had made fast upon them, and now there is matter of joy put before them. Oh, say they, whatever these men talk, we see they are no better than we. They can do as we do. They can cozen and cheat for adventure. They can comply with any thing for their own ends; it is not conscience, as we once thought, but mere stomach and humour, that made them so precise. And oh! what a sad thing is this! hereby you shed soul-blood. You fasten the bands of death upon their souls. you kill those convictions, which, for any thing you know, might have made way to their conversion. When you fall, you may rise again; but they may fall at your example, and never rise more. Never have a good opinion of the ways of God, or of his people any more. Upon this consideration, David begs of God, Psal. 5: 8. "Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness, because of mine enemies;" (or, as the Hebrew;) my observers, make thy way straight before my face. And thus you see how your very enemies oblige you to this holy and pure conversation also. Now put all this together, and see to what these particulars will amount. You have heard how God the Father has engaged you to this purity of conversations by his designment of your salvation; rewarded your obedience; his pleasure in it; his promises to it; and his great confidence in you, that you will thus walk before him. The Lord Jesus has also engaged you thereunto by his death and sufferings, whereby you were redeemed from your vain conversations. The Spirit has engaged you, by telling you plainly how much you will grieve and wrong him, resist and quench him, if you do not keep yourselves pure. Yea, you are obliged further, by yourselves; your clear illumination; your high profession; your many prayers and confessions; your many censures and reprehensions of others; do all strengthen your obligation to holiness. Yea, you are obliged further to this holy life by the shame, grief, and trouble your loose walking will bring upon your friends; and the mirth it will make for, and mischief it will do to your enemies; who, thereby, may be made utterly to fall, where, it may be, you only have stumbled: who are justified and absolved, (as before yell heard), by your miscarriages. And now, what think you of all this? Are you obliged or not, to this purity of life? Are all these bonds so tied, that you can set loose, and free yourselves at pleasure from them? If all these things are of no force with you, if none of these bonds can hold you, may it not be questioned, (notwithstanding your profession), whether any spiritual principle, any fear of God, o; love to Christ, be in your souls or no? O, you could not play fast and loose with God? if so, you could not, as Samson, snap these bonds asunder at your pleasure. Consid. 2. Secondly, As you are more obliged to keep the issues of life pure than others are, so God has given you greater assitances and advantages for it than others have. God has not been wanting to any in helps and means. Even the Heathen, who are without the gospel, will be yet speechless and inexcusable before God; but how much more will you be so? Who, besides the light of nature, and the general light of the gospel, have, First, Such a principle put within you. Secondly, Such patterns set before you. Thirdly, Such an assistant ready to help you. Fourthly, So many rods to quicken you and prevent your wandering: if notwithstanding all these helps, your life be still unholy. First, Shall men of such principles walk as others do? Shall we lament for you, as David once did for Saul, saying, "There the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away, the shield of Saul; as though he had not been anointed with oil." There the honour of a Christian was vilely cast away, as though he had not been anointed with the Spirit? "You have received an unction from the holy One, which teaches you all things", 1 John 2:20. Another Spirit, far above that which is in other men, 1 Cor. 2:12. And as this spirit which is in you, is fitted for this life of holiness "(for you are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works", Eph. 2:10.) so this holy spirit of principle, infused into your souls, has such a natural tendency to this holy life, that if you life not purely and strictly, you must offer violence to your own principles and new nature. A twofold help this principle affords you for a life of holiness. (continued in file 44...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flafn-43.txt .