The Mystery of Faith, Sermon 4Andrew Gray (1634-1656) - A Powerful Preacher Who Died at a Young Age
Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.
THERE are two great and excellent gifts, which God, in the depth of his boundless love, hath bestowed on his own.
First, there is that infinite gift, and royal donation, his own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, which is called The Gift of God, John 4:10. And
Secondly, There is that excellent gift of the grace of faith, which God hath bestowed on his own, which is also called The Gift of God, Eph. 2:8. Faith is the Gift of God. And is it not certain, that these two gracious gifts ought to engage our souls and hearts much unto him? Infinite Majesty could give no gift greater than his Son, and infinite poverty could receive no other gift so suitable as Christ; it was the most noble gift that heaven could give, and it is the greatest advantage for earth to receive it. And we could wish that the most part of the study and practice of men (that is spent in pursuit of these low and transient vanities) might be once taken up in that precious pursuit after Christ: we could wish that all the questions and debates of the time were turned over into that soul-concerning question, What shall we do to be saved? And that all the questions, controversies, and contentions of the time, were turned over into that divine contention and heavenly debate, Who should be most for Christ, who should be most for exalting of the noble and excellent plant of renown, and that all your judgings and searchings of other men’s practices and estates, might be turned over into that useful search, To prove and examine ourselves whether we be in the faith or not. And I would ask you this question – what are your thoughts concerning precious Christ, seeing he is that noble object of faith? We would only have you taking along these things by which Christ may be much commended to your hearts:
First, There was never any that with the eyes of faith did behold the matchless beauty and transcendent worth of that crucified Saviour, that returned his enemy. There is soul-conquering virtue in the face of Christ, and there is a heart-captivating and ovecoming power in the beauty of Jesus Christ. This first sight that ever persecuting Saul got of Christ brought him to an endless captivity of love.
Secondly, There is this that we would say of precious Christ, which may engage our souls unto him, that for all the wrongs believers do to Christ, yet hath he never an evil word of them to his Father, but commends them: which is clear from that of John 17:6, where Christ doth commend the disciples to the Father for the grace of obedience, They have kept thy word: and for the grace of faith, verse 8, They have believed that thou didst send me. And yet were not the disciples most defective in obedience both in this, that they did not take up their cross and follow Christ? and also in that they did not adhere to him in the day that he was brought to Caiaphas’ hall? And were they not most defective in the grace of faith ? As is clear from Matth, xvii, 17, and likewise from John 14:1. He is pressing them to believe in him, and yet he doth commend them to the Father as most perfect in these things.
There is this that we would lastly say of him who is that noble Object of faith, look to the eminent depths of Christ’s condescendency, and then ye will be provoked to love him. Was it not infinite love that made Christ to lie three days in the grave, that we might be through all the ages of eternity with him ? Was it not infinite condescendency that made his precious head wear a crown of thorns, that we might eternally wear a crown of glory? Was it not infinite conclescendency that made Christ wear a purple robe, that so we might wear that precious robe of the righteousness of the saints ? And was it not matchless condescendency, that Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, and like unto us, that so we might become like unto him, and be made the righteousness of God in him?
But to come to that which we intend mainly to speak unto at this time, which is that second thing we proposed to speak of’ from these words; and that is, concerning the excellency of this grace of faith, which we cleared, was holden out in that, that faith was called his commandment, which is so called by way of eminency and excellency. There are manythings in Scripture, which may sweetly point out the precious excellency of this grace of faith, and we shall only speak to these things.
I. The First thing that speaketh out the excellency of faith is this, – it exerciseth itself upon a most noble object, to wit, Jesus Christ; faith and love being the two arms of the immortal soul, by which we do embrace a crucified Saviour, which is so often pointed at in Scripture ; and we shall point at these three principal acts of faith, which it exerciseth on Jesus Christ as the object of’ it.
1. The First is, to make up an union betwixt Christ and the believer. (Faith being indeed a uniting grace, and that which knitteth the members to the head), and to make this more fully appear, we would point out a little, what sweet harmony and correspondency there is betwixt these two sister graces, to wit, faith and love. Faith is that nail, which fasteneth the soul to Christ, and love is that grace that driveth the nail to the head ; – faith at first taketh up a tender grip of Christ, and then love cometh in and maketh the soul take a more sure grip of him.
2. Secondly, Ye may see that harmony in this; faith is that grace which taketh hold, as it were, of the garments of Christ, and of his word ; but love (that ambitious grace) taketh hold of’ the heart of Christ, and, as it were, his heart doth melt in the hand of love.
3. Thirdly, It may be seen in this faith is that grace which draweth the first draught of the likeness and image of’ Christ upon a soul, but that accomplishing grace of’ love doth complete these first draughts, and these imperfect lineaments of’ Christ’s image, which were first drawn on the soul.
4. Fourthly, By faith and love, the heart of Christ and of the believer are so united, that they are no more two, but one spirit.
2. There is this second act that faith exerciseth on Christ, and it is in discovering the matchless excellencies and transcendent properties of Jesus Christ. O what large and precious commentaries doth faith make upon Christ ? It is indeed that faithful spy which doth always bring up a good report of him : – hence it is, that faith is called understanding, Col. 2:2, because it is that grace which revealeth much of the precious truth of that noble object.
3. And there is this third noble act of faith exercising itself upon Christ, viz. – it maketh Christ precious to the soul, according to that word, 1 Pet. 2:17, Unto you that believe, he is precious ; and if there were no other thing to speak forth its worth but that, it is more than sufficient; for no doubt this is the exercise of the higher house, to be dwelling on the contemplation of Christ’s beauty, and to have their souls transported with love towards him, and with joy in him. Reason and amazement are seldom companions, but here they do sweetly join together.
First, A Christian loveth Christ because of Christ’s actings ; and then he loveth all these actings because they come from Christ.
II. Now, Secondly, This pointeth out the precious excellency of the grace of faith, – it is that grace which is most mysterious and sublime in its actings – it hath a more divine and sublime way of acting than any other grace hence it is called, the mystery of faith, which speaketh this, that the actings of faith are mysteries to the most part of the world, and I shall only point at these things which may speak out the mysterious actings of the grace of faith.
1. Faith can believe, and fix itself upon a word of promise, although sense, reason, and probability seem to contradict the accomplishment of that promise ; – faith walketh not by the low dictates of sense and reason, but by a higher rule, to wit, the sure word of prophecy, which is clear from Rom. 4:19, where Abraham believed the promise, notwithstanding that sense and reason seemed to contradict it He considered not the deadness of his own body, neither the barrenness of Sarah’s womb, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; as is clear from Heb. 11:29, 30, where faith believed their passing through the Red Sea, as through dry ground, which was most contrary to sense and reason. Faith believed the falling down of the walls of Jericho, by the blowing of horns, which things are most impossible for sense and reason; for sense will oftentimes cry out, All men are liars; and reason will say, How can such a thing be? And yet that heroic grace of faith crieth out, Hath he spoken it ? he will also do it. Hath he said it? then it shall come to pass.
2. Faith can believe a word of promise, notwithstanding that the dispensations of God seem to contradict it; as was clear in Job, who professed, He would trust in God, thouqh He should kill him. And no doubt but this was the practice of believing Jacob, – he trusted that promise should be accomplished, that the elder should serve the younger, though all the dispensations of God, (which he did meet with) seemed to say that the promise should not be accomplished.
3. Faith can believe a word of promise, even when the commands of God seem to contradict the accomplishment of that promise. This is clear in that singular instance of Abraham’s faith, that notwithstanding he was commanded to kill his promised seed (upon whom did depend the accomplishment of the promises), yet he believed that the promises should be performed. And though there were indeed extraordinary and strange trials of his faith, as he had natural affections to wrestle with; yet over the belly of all these, believing Abraham giveth faith to the promise, and bringeth his Isaac to the altar, (though he did receive him back again); this is clear from Heb. 11:17, 18, 19.
4. Faith can exercise itself upon the promise, notwithstanding that challenges and convictions of unworthiness and guilt do wait on the Christian; that is clear, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, That although his house was not so with God as did become, yet he believed the promise, as likewise is clear from Psalm lxv. 3, Iniquities do prevail against me; and yet that doth not interrupt his faith, As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. And certainly, it was a noble and precious act of faith to believe, notwithstanding of unanswerable challenges of guilt. The best way both to crucify our idols, and to answer these challenges, is believing, and hoping against hope, and closing with Christ: this is most clear from Isa. lxiv. 6, 7, compared with verse 8th, where, after strange challenges, the prophet hath a strange word, – But now, O Lord, thou art our Father. There is an emphasis in the word now for all this, yet thou art (now) our Father.
5. And Lastly, This pointeth out the mysterious acting of the grace of faith, that exerciseth itself upon an invisible object, even upon Christ not yet seen, according to that word, 1 Pet. 5:8, Whom having not seen, yet ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, &c.; I pose the greater part of you who are here, whether or not those be two of the greatest paradoxes and mysteries unto you? For is not this a mystery to love him whom ye never saw? Whom having not seen, yet ye love. To love an absent and unseen Christ, is a mystery to the most part of the world: and is not this a mystery to believe on him whom we never saw? In whom though ye see him not, yet believing. And I shall add this, that faith can hold fast its interest with God, notwithstanding the most precious Christian should call us hypocrites, and not acknowledge us. This is clear in the practice of Job; and most clear from that word, Isa. lxiii. 16, Doubtless, thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not.
III. Thirdly, This pointeth out the excellency of the grace of faith, – that faith, when it is in exercise, is that grace by which a Christian doth attain unto most sensible enjoyments. There is a great question that is much debated among Christians, – what is the way to win this happy length, to be always under the sweet and refreshing influence of heaven, and to have this dew always coming down upon our branches? I can give no answer to it, but this – be much in the exercise of faith: this is clear upon that notion and name out upon faith, Isa. xlv. 22. It is called, a look to Christ, which is a most sensible act. If ye would know a description of faith, it is this: the divine contemplation of the immortal soul, upon that divine, excellent, and precious object, Jesus Christ. For God never made faith a liar, and therefore its eye is never off him that is the noble object of faith, Jesus Christ, manifested in the gospel, as it is clear, Eph. 1:13, After ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which preacheth out the excellent enjoyments these had after their closing with Christ, who is invisible. Our faith is called a seeing, which speaketh out this, that faith’s sight of God is as certain as if we did behold him with our eyes, as is clear, Heb. 11:27, Moses saw him by faith, who is invisible. And we conceive that the ground which maketh the most part of us have such complaints, How long wilt thou forget us, for ever is this – the want of the spiritual exercise of faith; and are there not some here that may cry out, It is more than thirty days since I did behold the king? Yea, there are some who may go a greater length, and cry out, I have lived these two years at Jerusalem, and yet I have not seen the king’s face. Yea, there are some here whose complaint may go a little higher, and cry forth, These three years and six months it hath not rained on me, but the clouds have been restrained and bound up, and the heavens have become brass. And would ye know the rise of these complaints ? – It is this: Ye are not much in the spiritual exercise of faith.
And to you I would only say these two words,
First, It is easier to persuade a reprobate that he is defective in the fear of God, and in his love to God, than to persuade some such that they are wanting to God in their faith; for they hold fast that piece of desperate iniquity till they die.
Secondly, We would say to those of you who have the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and have tasted of the sweetness of Christ, some of you will be less convinced, for the neglect of the duty of faith, than for the neglect of the duty of prayer, or of the duty of keeping the Sabbath day. But I am persuaded of this, that if the noble worth of that transcendent object were known, we would have a holy impatience, until once we did believe.
IV. Fourthly, This pointeth out the excellency of the grace of faith : – It is that grace by which a Christian is advanced to the highest and most inconceivable pitch of dignity, and that is, to be the child of the living God; as is clear, John 1:12, To as many as received (or believed in him), he gave power, or prerogative, to become the sons of God. And certainly that noble prerogative of adoption is much undervalued by many: and I will tell you two grounds whereon the most part of men undervalue the excellent gift of adoption.
First, They do not take up the infinite goodness of God (and what a one he is), otherwise they would cry out with David, seemeth it a small thing in your eyes to be a son to the King of kings?
Secondly, We do not take up nor understand these matchless privileges which are given to them who are once in this estate. I am persuaded, if this were believed, that he who is a servant, doth not abide in the house for ever, (though he that is a son doth,) it would stir us up to more divine zeal in our pursuit after faith.
V. Fifthly, This likewise pointeth out this excellency of the grace of faith : – It is that grace by which all other actions are pleasant to God, and are taken off our hand; as is clear, Heb. 11:4, By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, which must be understood even of all other duties. And that word, verse 6th, Without faith it is impossible to please God, speaketh this also, That by faith we do exceedingly please him. And this is a most sad and lamentable reproof unto many who are here, that their actions do not please God, because they are not in faith. Would you know a description of your prayers? ye who are hypocrites and destitute of the knowledge of God : – It is this: your prayers are the breach of the third command, In taking the name of the Lord in vain, for which he will not hold you guiltless. And would ye know what is your hearing of’ sermons? It is an abomination to the Lord, according to that word in Titus 1:15, To the unbelieeing and impure, nothing is clean. And as Solomon doth speak, The ploughing of the wicked is sin: so that all your actions that you go about, are but an offence to the majesty of the Lord.
Now we would speak to these two things before we proceed to the evidences of faith, to wit:
First, That there is a difference betwixt the direct act of faith, and the reflecting act of faith: for there may be a direct act of faith in a Christian, when he is not persuaded that he doth believe; but the reflecting acts of faith are those that a Christian hath, when he is persuaded in his conscience that he doth believe.
And we would, secondly, say, that there are many that go down to their grave under that soul-destroying delusion, that they are in the faith, and yet never did know what faith is. I am persuaded, that there are many whom all the preachings in the world did never persuade, that they did never believe, their faith being born with them, and it will die with them, without any fruit. But faith being such an excellent grace, and so advantageous (whereof we have spoken a few things), we shall speak a little further of it.
1. In pointing out some evidences, by which a Christian may know whether or not he be indeed in the faith.
2. I shall give you some helps whereby faith may be kept in exercise.
I. Now there is this first evidence of faith, that a Christian who doth believe, accounteth absence and want of fellowship with Christ, and communion with him, one of the greatest and most lamentable crosses that ever he had, as is clear, Psalm 13:3, Lighten mine eyes, said David, that is, Let me behold and be satisfied with thy face; and the motive that he backeth it with, is Lest I sleep the sleep of death. David thought himself a dead man if Christ did withdraw his presence from him. Also it is clear, Cant 3:1, (compared with the following verses,) where absence from Christ, and want of communion with him, was the greatest cross that the spouse had: and it is clear from John 20:11, 12, 13, where Mary had a holy disdain of all things in respect and comparison of Christ. But I will tell you what a hypocrite doth most lament, and that is the want of reputation among the saints: that is the great god and idol among hypocrites, and that which (when not enjoyed) hypocrites and atheists lament most, the world, and the lusts of their eyes; when they want these, then they cry out, They have taken away my gods, and what have I more? They think heaven can never make up the loss of earth. And certainly if many of us would examine ourselves by this, we would find ourselves most defective. I would pose all of you who are here, who have taken on a name to be followers of Christ, whether or not ye have been content to walk thirty days in absence from Christ, and yet never lament it? Hath not Christ been thirty days and more in heaven, without a visit from you? And yet for all this ye have not clothed yourselves in sackcloth? I will not say that this is an undeniable evidence of the total want of the grace of faith, but it doth evidently prove this, that the person who hath come this length, hath lost much of his primitive love and much of that high esteem which he ought to have of matchless Christ: what can you find in this world that maketh you converse so little with heaven? I think that is the noble encouragement of a Christian, when he is going down to his grave, that he hath this wherewith to comfort himself, I am to change my place, but not my company; death to the believing Christian being a blessed transition and transportation to a more immediate and constant uninterrupted enjoyment of God. But I believe, that if all who have the name of believers in this generation, should go to heaven, they might have this to say, I am now not only to change my place, but also my company; for these seventy years I have been conversant with my idols, but now I am to converse with more blessed, divine, and excellent company. O that ye would be persuaded to pursue much after an absent Christ. Were it not a sweet period of our life to breathe out our last breath in his arms, and to be living in the faith of being eternally with him, which might be founded upon his word.
II. There is this second evidence of one that is in the faith : they do endeavour to advance that necessary work of the mortification of their idols, according to that word, 1 John 3:3. Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure. Acts 15:9. Faith purifieth the heart. And concerning this evidence (lest any should mistake it,) I would say these things to you,
First, The mortification of a Christian, as long as he is here below, doth more consist in resolutions than attainments of a Christian, in the mortification of his idols, but his resolutions go far above his performances.
Secondly, We will say this, that those Christians who never came this length in Christianity, to make that an universal conclusion and full resolution, What have I to do any more with idols? may suspect themselves, that they are not in the faith; for a Christian that is in Christ, is universal in resolutions, though he be not so in practice, but defective in performances; a Christian may have big resolutions with weak performances: for resolutions will be at the gate of heaven, before practice come from the borders of hell; there being a long distance between resolution and practice; and the one much swifter than the other.
And Thirdly, We would likewise say, That ye who never did know what it was to endeavour (by prayer and the exercise of other duties,) the mortification of your lusts and idols; ye may be afraid that ye have not yet the hope of seeing him as he is. And I would say this to many, who are settled upon their lees, and who never did know what it was to spend one hour in secret prayer for mortifying of an idol, that they should beware lest that curse be past in heaven against them – I would have purged you, and ye would not be purged, therefore ye shall not be purged any more till ye die; that iniquity of refusing to commune with Christ in the work of secret mortification, I say that iniquity shall not be purged away.
And we would once seriously desire you, by that dreadful sentence which Christ shall pass against you, and by the love ye have towards your immortal souls, and by the pains of these everlasting torments of hell, that ye would seriously set about the work of spiritual mortification; that so ye may evidence that ye have believed; and that ye have the soul- comforting hope of eternal life. I would only speak this word to you, (and I desire you seriously to ponder it,) What, if within twelve hours hereafter a summons were given you (without continuation of days,) to appear before the solemn and dreadful tribunal of that impartial judge, Jesus Christ – what, suppose ye, would be your thoughts? Will ye examine your own conscience, what think ye would be your thoughts, if some summons were given unto you? I am persuaded of this, That your knees should smite one against another, and your face should gather paleness, seeing your conscience would condemn you, That ye had been weighed in the balance, and found light: O think ye that ye can both light and overcome in one day? Think ye your lusts and unmortified corruptions so weak and faint-hearted an enemy, that upon the first appearance of such imaginary champions (as most of us are in our own eyes) that your idols would lay down arms, and let you trample on them? Believe me mortification is not a work of one day, or one year, but it is a work will serve you all your time, begin as soon as you will; and, therefore, seeing you have spent your days in the works of the flesh, it is time that now ye would begin and pursue after him, whose work is with him, and whose reward shall come before him.
III. Now there is this third evidence by which a Christian may know whether he be in the faith or not, and it is, that Christ is matchless and incomparable unto such a one, according to that word, I Pet. 2:7, To you that believe Christ is precious; and that word that Luke hath in his 7th chapter, at the close, That she to whom much was forgiven, loved much. Now, lest this likewise should prove a discouragement to any, I would only have you take notice of this, that a Christian may be a believer, and yet want the sensible discoveries of this, that Christ is matchlessly precious to him; but this is certain, that they that are in the lively exercise of faith, it is impossible then for them not to esteem Christ matchless. And I would speak this likewise to many who are here; have you not been living these ten years in faith, and I would pose you with this, esteem you not your idols more matchless than Christ, and more of worth than he? It is impossible that there can be any lively exercise of faith, and not esteem Christ matchless. It is not to say with your mouth, and contradict it with your heart, will do the business. For if your heart could speak, it would say, I would sell Christ for thirty pieces of silver. But my idols would I sell at no rate. Are there not many of you who love the world and its pleasures better than the eternity of joy ? O know ye not that word (0 ye desperately ignorant of the truths of God,) That he who loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him: and yet notwithstanding of the light of the word, ye would sell your immortal souls (with Esau) br a mess of pottage: O but it is a poor bargain when ye have sold the eternity of joy for a passing world, and for its transitory delights? I would earnestly know what shall be your thoughts in that day, when ye shall be standing upon the utmost line betwixt time and eternity. O what will be your thoughts at that day? But you are to follow on to an endless pain, (by appearance) and then you are to leave your idols.
I shall only desire that ye may read that word, Isa. 10:3, What will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from afar? To whom will ye flee for help? And where will you leave your glory? Ye shall then preach mortification to the life, though all the time of mortification shall then be cut off. O but to hear a worldly-minded man, when eternity of pain is looking him in the face, preach out concerning the vanity of this world, might it not persuade you that the world is a fancy, and a dream that shall flee away, and shall leave you in the day of your greatest strait?
IV. And there is this fourth evidence of faith, that a Christian who doth truly believe, is that Christian who entertaineth a divine jealousy and a holy suspicion of himself, whether or no he doth believe. I love not that faith which is void of fear, this was clear in the practice of believing Noah, that though by faith he built the ark, yet he had fear mixed with his faith. I know that there are some who are ignorant concerning this, what it is to doubt concerning eternal peace; and more, it is not every one that doubteth that certainly shall get to heaven; for I think a hypocrite may doubt concerning his eternal salvation ; however I think the exercise of a hypocrite under his doubtings, it is more the exercise of his judgment than the exercise of his conscience. And I may say this, that if all the exercise of the law which is preached in these days, were narrowly searched, it would be more the exercise of light than the exercise of conscience. We speak these things as our doubt, which never were our exercise, and we make these things our public exercise, which were never our private chamber exercise. And I think, that if all that a Christian did speak to God in prayer, were his exercise, he would speak less and wonder more. We would be speechless when we go to God; for often if we did speak nothing but our exercise, we would have nothing to say. And certainly it is true that we often fall into that woeful sin of desperate lying against the Holy Ghost, by flattering God with our mouth, and lying unto him with our tongue.
And I shall only say these two words, there are some who have this for their great design, viz., They would be at peace with their conscience, and also they would be at peace with their idols; they would gladly reconcile conscience and their idols together, that is their great design. And there are some whose design is a little more refined, they study rather to be reconciled with their conscience than to be reconciled with God; the great aim they shoot at, is this, To get their consciences quieted, though they know not what it is to have the soul-comforting peace of God to quiet them.
V. Now there is this last evidence of faith, that justifying faith is a faith which putteth the Christian to be much in the exercise of’ these duties, by which it may be maintained, for we must keep faith as the apple of our eye! and for that end, I would only give you these three things. by which faith must be kept in exercise, and a real Christian will be endeavouring in some measure to attain unto these.
1. It keepeth faith much in exercise, to be much in marking and taking notice of the divine exercise and proofs of the love of God, wherewith a Christian doth meet; as is clear from that word, Rom. 5:4, Experience worketh hope. I durst be bold to charge the most part that are indeed in Christ with this, that they are too little remarking and taking notice of the experience of his love. Ye should mark the place of your experience itself; as is clear from Scripture, that the very place where Christians did meet with experience, in such an enjoyment of God, they marked it, Ezek. 1:1, By the river of Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw time vision of God; and Gen. xxxii. 30, Jacob called the place Peniel!, the place of living, after seeing the face of God; it was so remarkable unto him. And we conceive, that ye would mark these two things mainly in your practice.
First, Ye would mark (if ye can possibly) the first day of your closing with Christ and of your coming out of Egypt, and may allude unto the command (if not more than allude unto it), Deut. 16:1, Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib, the Lord thy God brought thee out of the land of Egypt. And,
Secondly, We would have you much in marking those experiences which have increased your faith, and which have strengthened your love, and which have made you mortify your idols: these are experiences especially to be marked.
2. Faith is kept in exercise, and we win to the lively assurance of our interest in God, which we would press upon you, by being much in the exercise of secret prayer. O but many love much to pray when abroad, who never loved to pray when alone. And this is a desperate sign of hypocrisy, according to that Matth. 6:5, it is said of hypocrites, They love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they might be seen of men; but it is never said of these persons, that they love to pray alone, only they loved to pray in the synagogues; but it is secret and retired prayer by which faith must be kept in exercise. And there is this likewise that we would press upon you, that ye would be much in studying communion and fellowship with God, so that your faith may be kept in life. And O what a blessed life were it, each day to be taken up to the top of Mount Pisgah, and there to behold that promised land, to get a refreshing sight of the crown every morning, which might make us walk with joy all along that day? The heart of a Christian to be in heaven, his conversation ought to be there, – his eyes ought to be there. And I know not what of a Christian ought to be out of heaven, even before his going there, save his lumpish tabernacle of clay, which cannot inherit incorruption, till he be made incorruptible.
But I shall say no more but this, – many of us are readier to betray him with a kiss, and crucify him afresh, than to keep communion with him: But woe eternally be to him by whom the Son of Man is betrayed, and that doth crucify Christ afresh; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the depth of the sea. I remember an expression of a man, not two days ago, who (upon his death-bed) being asked of one what he was doing, did most stupidly, though most truly reply, that he was fighting with Christ; and I think that the most part of us (if he prevent us not) shall die fighting with Christ: but know, and be persuaded, that he is too sore a party for us to fight with – He will once tread upon you in the wine-press of his fury, and he shall return with dyed garments from treading such of you as would not embrace him; he shall destroy you with all his heart. Therefore, be instructed, lest his be disjoined from you (as that word in Jer. 6:8), And lest your souls be eternally separated from him: be, I say, instructed to close with him by faith. Now, to him who can make you do so, we desire to give praise.
In the two Sermons next following, you have the rest of these sweet purposes, which the worthy Author preached upon the same text.
Andrew Gray was an exceptionally gifted young preacher. This work is a set of 5 treatises to establish the heart of believers in Christ and give them assurance. Gray is one of the easiest Scottish puritans to read.