Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Friday, December 25, 2015

May one be a hypocrite and not know it?

To which we may reply, no doubt of it; for many are playing the hypocrite, when they think they are very devout persons; their hearts are divided; not upright, but complex: and they have a complex portion; God and the creature make up a portion to them. The hypocrite gives God a part of his heart, and the creature a part of his heart; he gives heaven and duties a part of his heart and time; and he gives hell and idols another part of his heart and time. The worship of God that gratifies his conscience; the way of sin, that gratifies his affections; and between the two he is pleased. God alone doth not satisfy him; the creature alone doth not satisfy him: but he runs between the two. But the cloven foot is a mark of the devil; the heart is divided. But the pure, the upright man, is one who dares not regard iniquity in his heart, and who takes a God in Christ alone for all his portion and happiness; that satisfies all the vast desires of his soul; and “To whom shall I go? saith he, Thou halt the words of eternal life.” God is the centre of the soul’s rest: Return to Thy rest, O my soul,” (Ps. 116:7).
3. It is not a speculative, but an operative purity. Some have all their religion in their head, but nothing in their heart and life; all the knowledge they are master of hath no influence upon the sanctification of either. Many people are like rickety children, their heads are swelled, but their backs are narrow and contracted: so they have heads full of light, but they are empty of piety and purity; “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.” Indeed, if they had a true knowledge of God, it would lead to true sanctity; but they are the like the devil, who hath much knowledge, but no purity. People may be like the toad, who hath a precious stone in his head, but his belly is full of poison; they may have a head full of notional knowledge; but they have an heart full of unmortified enmity.
4. It is not a common, but a special purity. People may have common influences of the Spirit of God; not only may their understandings be much enlightened, like those, (Heb. 6:4): but their will may be renewed, toward many good purposes and resolutions, like Agrippa, almost persuaded to be saints: their affections may be several ways touched. There are common gifts and graces of the Spirit, that may both warm the affection, and smooth the conversation; while yet the heart is not washed from its filthiness, in the manner that I have described.
5. It is not a superstitious, but a scriptural and regular purity. Many worship God vainly, while they worship him superstitiously; in a manner not required in his word: such are all these forms of worship, and of divine service, in those churches that are over‑run with human inventions, and unscriptural ceremonies: “In vain do they worship me: teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” The word of God is the standard of true piety and purity: “As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them,” saith the apostle, “and upon the Israel of God.” “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this it is because there is no light in them.” No man can do anything in faith, unless he can say, “So it is written;” or hath a “Thus saith the Lord,” to warrant it; and whatsoever is not thus of faith, is sin. This purity is scriptural, both with respect to the law and the gospel: the law is. the rule of purity, and the gospel is the instrument, even the word of grace: “Now are ye clean, through the word that I have spoken unto you. Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.”
6. It is not a partial, but an extensive, universal purity. It is not a part of the man, that is washed from filthiness, but the whole man; the whole man is renewed after the image of God. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are past away; behold, all things are become new.” There is anew state, a new disposition: there is a new light in the understanding: the light of the knowledge of the glory of God: a new liberty in the will; be­ing made willing in the day of God’s power; a new order in the affections; they being set upon things above; a new peace in the conscience; a peace that passeth all natural understanding; a new luster in the whole conversation; it being a conversation becoming the gospel; a new trade of communion with God, and intercourse with heaven; a new war against the devil, the world, and the flesh; “All things are become new.” Think not you are holy enough, when free from the outward pollutions of the world. New desires and new delights must be inlaid and implanted in the soul: new faith, in opposition to the old dead faith; new hope, in opposition to the old natural hope; new repentance, in opposition to the old covenant repentance; a new obedience, in opposition to the old­ covenant obedience. And so,
7. It is not a legal, but an evangelical purity. Legal‑purity is built upon the ground of personal righteousness and inherent strength, like Adam’s in a state of innocency; but evangelical purity, is built upon the ground of Christ’s righteousness and strength, (Isa. 45:24). The man that is evangelically purified, with, “Surely in the Lord only have I righteousness and strength.” Gospel‑purity acts upon the divine strength of Christ, for being to itself, and for all its assistance; and it acts upon the divine righteousness of Christ, for acceptation to itself, and for all its acceptance.—Legal­ purity acts by compulsion and constraint, from fear of hell, and the like: but gospel purity acts freely, and from love. Legal‑purity levels at self, and the magnifying thereof: gospel‑purity levels at free‑grace, and the praise and glory thereof.—Legal‑purity is mer­cenary, expecting God will make out his part, because the pure creature thinks he has done his endeavor, to perform his condition on his part; and so imagines he has a right founded upon his purity and holiness; but gospel‑purity is humble, and takes all things freely; not in a conditional way, but in an absolute manner, with respect to him; and expecting all things promised in the covenant, only upon the condition performed by Christ, his obedience to the death.
8. It is not an evanishing, but a permanent purity. All the religion that many have is evanishing and superficial; it comes and goes like a flash of lightning. True purity is permanent and constant; it continues and grows; for, “He that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger.” The righteous holdeth on his way, like a vessel sailing towards such a port, though it meet with many blasts to drive it hither and thither, and sometimes very far back; yet it goes on again, and makes out the harbor designed: so, though the believer may meet with blasts of temptation and corruption, that may set him far back; yet he holds on his way. A God in Christ is the centre of rest, to which he moves; yea, he hath taken up his rest in him, and there he resolves to stay forever: he hath chosen a God in Christ for his portion, and he is determined to abide by his choice; “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none in all the earth that I desire beside thee,” (Ps. 73:25). As if he had said, I have been ranging and ransacking heaven, and looking to all the angels there; I have been traversing earth, and viewing all the children of men; but there is none worthy of my choice but thee alone; “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none in all the earth that I desire besides thee.” Here is a characteristic and distinguishing quality of a pure and upright man. A hypocrite can go to a preaching and prayer; but he can never say, Now, I could live and die in this work; no, no: the man must be back to the world again, back to his idols again: there is something in the earth that is more his portion than God; so his religion is vanishing. 


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