Life eternall or, A treatise of the knowledge of the divine essence and attributes Delivered in XVIII. sermons. By the late faithfull and worthy minister of Iesus Christ, Iohn Preston, D. in Divinity, chaplaine in ordinary to his Majestie, master of Emmanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and sometimes preacher of Lincolns Inne.
Preston, John, 1587-1628., Ball, Thomas, 1589 or 90-1659., Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.
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THE TENTH SERMON.


EXODVS 3.13, 14.

And Moses said unto God, Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent mee unto you, and shall say unto me, what is his name; what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM, THAT I AM: And he said; thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

WEE come now to the next Attribute; and that is the Simplicity of God:* he is with∣out all composition, with∣out any parts, not having soule and body, as we have, not being compounded of substance and accident, as we are, but hee is Page  2 simple, without all composition. Which I ga∣ther out of these words; I AM, WHAT I AM: that is, whatsoever is in mee, it is my selfe. I am a pure act, all being, a whole, entire, simple, and uniforme being, without parts, not like to the creature: for the best of them is compoun∣ded of actions, and qualities, but whatsoever is in me, it is my selfe.

Now in this simplicity, and immixture of God, wee will first fall upon that which the Scripture sets downe in plaine words, Iohn 4.24.*God is a Spirit:* that is, he is not mixt, he is not compounded of body and soule, as men are, but he is a Spirit. The word Spirit, both in the Hebrew, Greeke, and Latine tongue, doth sig∣nifie, breath. A breath is indeede a body, but because it is the finest body, the most subtile, and most invisible, therefore immateriall sub∣stances, which we are not able to conceive, are represented to us under the name of a spirit, or breath.

*Besides, this is to be added; though God bee said to be a spirit, yet he is not properly a spirit as Angells are; for an Angell is a creature, and though it want a body, and be a spirit, yet it is a created substance: but yet because that is nee∣rest to the pure, and incomprehensible nature of God, therefore he calls himselfe a spirit, as An∣gells are, and our soules are.

*To shew you what a spirit is, these foure things are to be considered.

[ 1] 1 It is proper to a Spirit to be invisible, im∣palpable, Page  3 not to bee discerned by any sense. Therfore Christ bids his Disciples to feele him: Behold my hands, and my feete (saith he) that it is I my selfe, handle, and see;*for a Spirit hath not flesh and bones as I have. A Spirit is that which is drawn from the sight of any corporeall sense whatsoever, and in this sense God is called a Spirit, because he is invisible: and therefore Moses is said to see him that is invisible, not by any bodily eye, but by the eye of faith.

[ 2] 2, Every Spirit moves it selfe, and other things also: The body is but an earthy piece, that is not able to stirre it selfe at all, as you see it is when the soule is gone out of it, it is the spirit, that both moves it selfe, and carries the body up and downe where it listeth, and it moves it selfe with all speed, and agility, be∣cause it finds no resistance. Bodies, beside their elementarie motion vpward and downeward, have no voluntarie motion, they cannot move themselves whither they will, as spirits doe; And this I gather out of Ioh 3.8. the Holy Ghost is compared to the wind,* that blowes where it listeth.

[ 3] 3. It is the propertie of every Spirit to move with exceeding great force and strength, and with much vehemency, so that it farre exceeds the strength of any body. Therefore in Isa: 31.3. speaking of the strength of the Aegyptians,* he saith, that they are flesh, and not spirit: as if hee should say; all flesh is weake, but the spirit is strong. Therefore you see, the Divells, that Page  4 are spirits, what strength they have; and the man in the Gospell, that was possessed, it is said that he could breake the strongest bonds, and you see it commonly in those that are possessed, and you read, how he threw downe the house over Iobs children. This is the strength of the spirit ex∣ceeding the strength of any body.

4 It insinuates it selfe, and enters into any bodily substance, without all penetration of di∣mension; that is, it is not held out of any place, by reason of a body, that is in it; it may be in it, though the place be otherwise full: as, you see, the soule is in the body, you shall find no where an emptie place, the body is every where whole; yet the Spirit insinuates it selfe in every part, and no body can keepe it out. And so is God; he is invisible, not seene by any eye, hee moves himselfe, and all things in the world, as he lists; and he doth what he doth with excee∣ding great strength; and then, hee fills every place, both heaven and earth; what bodies so∣ever be there, yet he may be there notwithstan∣ding. And thus you see in what sense this is to be understood, God is a Spirit

Now we will come to apply this.

[Vse 1] If God be a Spirit, first then this we may ga∣ther from it:

1 That his eye is cheifely vpon the spirits of men.* There are many things in the world, which his hand hath made: but that which he chiefely lookes to, is the minde, and spirit of man. Whereas a man consists of two parts, a Page  5 body and a spirit, it is the spirit that is like to God: and in regard of the spirituall substance of the soule, it is said to be made after his Image, and therefore in Heb: 12, God is called, the Fa∣ther of Spirits: Why? He is the Father of the body also, he made that, but the meaning is, that he is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Father over them, because he guides and nurtures them, being most like to himselfe: as the sonne is like the father, so they are like to him, and therefore hee most regards the spirits of men. As you may see when Sa∣muel went to anoint David King, and all the sonnes of Iesse came before him, those that were much more proper than David, God tells him, that he did not looke upon the persons of men, nor upon their outward appearance, hee heedes them not; what doth he then? he sees the soule and spirit of man; the Lord looketh upon the heart, and according to that hee judgeth of them, 1 Sam. 16.7.*

Now, if his eye be chiefly upon the spirit, thou shouldest labour to let thine eye be chiefly still upon thy spirit, and so thou shalt most please him. Let thy eye be upon thy soule, to keepe it cleane, that it may be fit for communi∣on with him, who is a spirit. This should teach you to looke to the fashion of your soules with∣in, because they are likest to him, and carry his image in them; he is a father of them in a speci∣all manner, and they are that whereby you may have communion with him, in that which is most proper unto him, in spirituall exercises and performances.

Page  6 [Object.] But, you will say, what is it that you would have us to doe to our spirits,* to have them fit for the Lord, that he may regard them, and that they may be like to him?

[Answ. 1] 1 Thou must scoure and cleanse them from all filthinesse. 2 Cor. 7.1.*Having therefore these pro∣mises, (dearely beloved, let us cleanse our selves from all filthinisse of the flesh, and spirit, perfecting holinesse in the feare of God. There is a pollution, which the Apostle speakes of, which pollution he divides into two kindes, of the flesh, of the spirit: both of these, thou must labour to bee cleansed from, but specially that of the spirit, if t••n wouldst have it fit to have the Lord to delight in: for he being a Spirit, doth most re∣gard those actions which are done by the Spi∣rit, and therefore that is the thing that mainely thou shouldst looke to.

[Object.] But what is that pollution of spirit, or what is that which doth defile it?

[Answ.] Every thing in the world defiles the spirit, when it is lusted after.* 2 Pet. 1.4.*Having escap∣ed the corruption that is in the world through lust: that is, the world, and all things in the world, and all the parts of it, they doe then corrupt the spirit, defile, and soile it, when the soule of man hath a lust after them. You might medle with all things in the world, and not be defiled by them, if you had pure affections, but when you have a lust after any thing, then it defiles your spirit; therefore in Titus 1.15. the Apostle speakes of a conscience defiled*. And in Matt. 15.*Page  7 19. saith our Saviour: out of the heart proceede e∣vill thoughts, murthers, adulterers, fornications, thefts, false witnesse, blasphemies; these are the th••gs wh••h defile a man. He doth not speake onely of actuall adulterie, or murther, but even of the si••ull dispositions of the soule: even these are things that defile the spirit in Gods sight, who lookes upon them as you doe upon outward filthinesse with the eyes of your body: So that every inordinate lusting of the soule, doth de∣file the soule.

[Object.] But is not this rule too strait? We are com∣manded not to murther, nor to commit adulte∣ry: this is the commandement: and why should you say, that every disordered affection doth defile the soule, and that it is more regarded by God then the outward actions?

[Answ.] You must know that the tenth commande∣ment doth strike against these abominations: Thou shalt not lust, and so it is translated: Rom. 7: so that these lustings of the spirit,* are those that defile the soule. You see that God hath spent a whole commandement against them. And indeede, all the actuall sinnes committed by us simply considered in themselves, as committed by the body, are not so hated of God, as the pol∣lution of the spirit is.* Nay, I dare be bol•• to say, that the act of adultery, and murther, is not so abominable in Gods eyes, as the filthinesse of the spirit; this is more abominable in the sight of God, who is a spirit, than the act of the bo∣dy; for it is the spirit that he mainly lookes to. Page  8 Indeed the act contracts the guilt; because the lust is then growne up to an height, so that it is come to an absolute will and execution. Therefore, if these lustings doe presse into the soule, wee should put them out againe, and re∣ject them with shame and griefe: for GOD is a Spirit, and beholdes the continuall behaviour of thy spirit.

Againe, the injury which you offer to others, though in it selfe it be a great sinne, yet that inward brooding of it in thy heart, plotting mischiefe, that boiles within thee, while it hatches rancour and revenge, this is that which he hates, though thou shouldest never commit any actuall sinne this way. Iam. 4.5. you have this phrase used,*The lust of the spirit to envie: that is, the bent of the spirit, and inclination of the minde, which lookes upon the gifts of o∣thers, whereby it overshines them, so that they lust to have that light put out, that their candle might appeare above it; though they act no∣thing, yet this is abominable to him.

*And that I might not deliver this without ground, consider:

[ 1] There is nothing so pleasing to God as a bro∣ken heart, Isa. 57.* Now the breaking of the heart is nothing else, but the severing betweene the heart and sin. As when you see an artificers worke, wherein many parts are glued toge∣ther; if it should fall downe, or the glue be dis∣solved, then they all breake to pieces: and when the lusts that are in our soules are thus severed, Page  9 this pleaseth the Lord; not that the affliction of a mans spirit is pleasing to the Lord, but the separation of sinne from his soule, when the so∣der that joynes a sinfull action and the heart to∣gether, when this is dissolved, this doth please the Lord. And by the rule of contraries, if this be true, then it is true, on the other side, that when the spirit is glued by any lust to any inor∣dinate thing, it is most hatefull to God: for the stronger the lust is, the stronger is the glue; and therefore a man the more he is tyed to this world, and hath such strong lusts, the more hee hath this uncleannesse and pollution of spirit. And therefore as a broken heart is most accep∣table to God: so a spirit that is knit to any inor∣dinate object, by the thing, that it cleaves to, it becomes most hatefull and abominable to him.

Consider, that although a lust left at liberty, when God hath taken off the chaine, and suf∣fers it to doe what it will, doth contract more guilt, and doth indeede more hurt to mankind; yet he that hath a heart as full of lust, and filthi∣nesse, is no lesse abominable, and odious in Gods sight. Take a wolfe, that runnes up and downe, and kills the sheepe, that wolfe is abominable, and every one cries out against him; but a wise man that sees a wolfe tyed up in a chaine, hates that as much as he did the other: for he knowes that he hath the same nature, and would doe as much hurt if he were let loose: So we may say of men, whose hearts are full of lusts, God it may be, hath tyed them up, so that they breake not Page  10 forth; yet these lusts are abominable and hate∣full in his sight, though they doe not so much hurt, nor breake so many commandements. Therfore let them consider this, that live under good families, good Tutours, or in good com∣pany, cōmonly they are as wolves tied up, they cannot break forth so into outward acts, it may be, they are restrained by reason of some bo∣dies favour that they would not lose, or the like, but yet they give way to the spirit within, that rangeth and lusteth up and downe; and this is therefore defiled in Gods sight.

[ 3] Consider that these lusts of the Spirit, are full of the spawne, and egges of sinne; that is, they are the mother sinne: it is pregnant with actuall sinne. Iam. 4.1.*From whence come warres and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that warre in your members? Concu∣piscence is but as the lust of the Spirit, which concupiscence is full of actuall sinnes, and brings them forth when occasion is given; Iam. 1.15.* And therfore it is more hated than an act is, which is but one, which hath not so much spawne in it: and therefore you ought to cleanse your spirit from this pollution.

[Quest.] But how shall we doe this? to get our spirits thus cleansed?

[Answ. 1] You must search out the pollution of the spi∣rit.* For the spirit of a man is a deepe thing, and hidden, full of corners and cranne, a lust and pollution will easily hide it selfe in 〈◊〉; therefore thou must finde it out and confesse it. Doe as Page  11David••d, goe to God, and say, Lord search, and try me, see if there be any wickednesse in me▪ as if he should say, if I could, I would search my owne heart, but I cannot doe it enough, therefore doe thou come and doe it; I will open the doores, as a man useth to say to the officers that come to looke for a traytour, Doe you come in, and search if there be any here, I will set open my doores; so faith David here. So, when a man would cleanse his heart from the pollutions of his spirit, let him doe on that manner; remem∣ber, that to hide a traytour is to be a traytour himselfe; therefore labour to finde it; and, when it is found, confesse it to the Lord, and lay a just weight upon it. What though it never breakes forth into outward actions? say to the Lord, O Lord, I know that thou lookest to the spirit, and art conversant about it: to have a pol∣luted spirit, is an abomination to thee. This is a thing that we would doe, and wee are often∣times to blame in this, in our prayers: for we confesse our actuall sinnes, and doe not confesse the pollution of our spirits to the Lord.

[Quest.] But you will say, We would faine have some directions to finde out this uncleanesse of our spirits.

[Answ.] Consider, what ariseth in thy spirit, when it is stirred at any time, and there thou shalt finde what the pollution of the spirit is. Set a pot on the fire, and put flesh into it; while it is colde, there is nothing but water and meat: but set it a boyling, and then the scumme ariseth. It is a Page  12 similitude used in Ezek. 24.11, 12.* I say, observe what ariseth in thy spirit, at any time, whē there is some commotion, when thy spirit is stirred more than ordinary, now every temptation is, as it were, a fire to make the pot boyle, any in∣jurie that is offered to us, this makes the scumme to arise, now see what ariseth out there, and when any object comes to allure thee to sinne, see what thoughts arise in thy heart, as the thoughts of profit or preferment, so that when such an opportunity comes, it stirres the spirit, and sets it on boyling; consider what then ari∣seth in thy heart, and thou shalt see what thy spirit is. And that which thou art to doe, when thou findest it, is to confesse it to the Lord, and suffer it not to come into outward act; cast it out, suffer it not to boyle in: Ezek. 24.13.*

[ 2] When thou hast done this, thou must not stay here: but thou must labour to loathe and hate that pollution of spirit. There are two things to be hated by us; the sinne, that we looke upon as a pleasant thing; but there is be∣sides, thy inclination to that thing, and that is the pollution of thy spirit, and that thou must hate and loathe; thou must not onely hate the object that is offered to thee, but thy selfe also, and the uncleanesse of thy spirit. Thus it is with every one, whose heart is right, Ezek. 36.21. that is,* when a man begins to looke upon his sinne, and see the pollution of the spirit in it, he begins to grow to an indignation against it, (as that is the fruite of godly sorrow, 2 Cor.*Page  13 7.) he findes his heart so disposed, that he be∣gins to quarrell with his heart, and to fall out with it; and to say; What? have I such a heart that will carry me to sinne? that will not onely carry me to sinne, but to hell? Hee begins to loathe himselfe, hee would not owne his owne selfe, if hee could; hee would goe out of himselfe, he is weary of his owne heart: such a hatred and loathing thou must have of this pollution of spirit that is in thee. And this thou shalt doe, if thou wilt but consider, what evill this pollution doth bring thee, and what hurt filthinesse hath done to thee: a man can hate the disease of the body, and cry out of it; and why should not men doe so of the soule? It is our sinne that is the cause of all evill; it is not poverty, or disgrace, or sicknesse, but it is sinne in thy poverty, sinne in thy disgrace, sinne in thy sicknesse: so that if a man could looke upon sinne as the greatest evill, and that doth him the greatest mischiefe, he would hate that above all things. And here remember not one∣ly to doe it in generall, but to pitch thy hatred chiefly upon thy beloved sinne. Be ready to say in this case, as Haman of Mordecai; what availeth it me, if Mordecai yet live? If we could do so with our beloved lusts, and come to such a hatred of them as Haman had of Mordecai, to hate that beloved pollution, which cleaves so fast to thy spirit, this were a blessed thing.

Thou must yet goe a step further, that is, to get it mortified, to get it utterly cast out, slaine and killed, not to suffer it to live with thee: thou Page  14 must doe with such a pollution of thy spirit, as thou doest with thine utter enemy, whom thou followest to death, and wilt have the law up∣on him, and wilt be content with nothing but his life: So when thou hast found out thy sinne, then goe this step further, to have it out before the Lord, and cry against it, and say, that it is his enemy, & thy enemy, & an ene∣my to his grace; it hath sought thy life, and thou wilt have the life of it before thou hast done: this thou shouldest doe, to get it utterly cast out, to get an utter separation betwixt thy soule and it; so that if there should come a temptation to hee againe, if there should be pleasure on the one hand, and threatnings on the other, then thou shouldest say, rather any thing than this sinne, than this lust, it is my greatest enemy, that hath done me thus much mischiefe; so that thy soule doth not onely loath it, but thou wilt not suffer it to live in thee; this is that which wee ought to doe, if wee would cleanse our spirits.

[ 4] When a man hath done all this, thou must goe to God, and beseech him that hee would melt that soder, as it were, that he would make a dissolution, that he would sever thy soule, and the lust that cleaves so fast to it. That which made the soule, and the object to cleave so fast together is lust, that is the soder: which like unto soder must be melted with fire: Isay 4.4.*When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and shall have purged the blood Page  15 of Ierusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of wisedome, and by the spirit of burning: that is, the holy Ghost, who is as fire, that melts the soder, and loosens it; & also the word, Ier. 23.24. & so also in Mal. 3.**Christ there is compared to fire, and to Fullers sope, and all to expresse the divers wayes that the Lord hath to cleanse our spirits from sinne. Sinne cleaves to the soule as drosse to the gold: now the spirit of burning cleanseth and pu∣rifies it; yea it doth it violently; and therefore it is said to be a hammer also in Ieremy. Againe, sinne sinkes in as a deepe staine, therefore Christ is as sope to cleanse it. And therefore goe, and say to God, Rather than I should not be clean∣sed, Lord cleanse me with the fire of affliction, as it is also called, Zach. 13.9.*And I will bring the third part, saith the Lord, through the fire, and will refine thē, as silver is refined, & will try them as gold is tryed. It were best (my beloved) if you would yeeld to the Spirit, & the Word, that they may cleanse you before his sight: For if that will not doe, he will come with the fire of affliction, and it is better that you should be dealt so with, than that your soules, being still uncleane, should perish for ever.

[ 5] To fit thy spirit for the Lord, that is a spirit, and the father of spirits, thou must goe yet one step further; thou must labour to beautifie it, to seeke to adorne it by a spirituall excellency. Now if thou wouldest beautifie it by any thing, seeke not for outward excellencies, as clothes, or fine apparell, or adorning in the sight of Page  16 men, but seeke such an excellency as is sutable to the spirit: seeke not other things; for they are such things that God regards not. So that, as every man seekes some excellency or other, that which thou art to seeke is, to get spirituall excellency, such as may beautifie thy heart, for that which is outward, God regardeth not. You shall see an excellent place for this, Isay 66.2.*All these things hath my hand made, saith the Lord, but to this man will I looke, even to him that is poore, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. When the Lord lookes upon all things here below, they are all at his command, (my hand hath made them, saith he, and I can dispose of them as I will) but what is it, of all them, that I doe esteeme? a spirit that is fashioned, and beautified with inward ornaments, so that it trembles at my word, that is the thing which I regard. So 1 Pet. 3.3. you have a comparison there of outward excellencies,* and of the spi∣rituall decking of the inward man, which the Apostle preferreth, because that is a thing that is esteemed of by God. Whose adorning, saith the Apostle, let it not be that outward adorning, of plaiting the haire, and of wearing golde, or of putting on of apparell: But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meeke and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. So it is said of wise∣dome, Prov. 3.22.*It shall be life to thy soule, and grace to thy necke: that is, wisedome adornes the soule in the sight of God, therefore that is the Page  17 excellency that is chiefly to be sought by us, even thus to adorne the soule. And there is good reason for it: for, if thou consider what thy body is, and what thy spirit is, thou shalt see, that all these things that doe adorne the outward man, are not the excellencies to bee sought after. Indeed there are divers kindes of those excellencies; they are of three sorts. First, excellency of clothes, and building, and such gaudy things, which children and vaine men and women are sensible of. Secondly, great titles, and honours, and great rewards, which a higher sort of men are capable of. Thirdly, the excellency of learning, and knowledge, and skill in arts and sciences; and this also is but an outward excellency: for though it be seated in the spi∣rit, yet it inables onely to outward things. These are not the excellencies that thou shoul∣dest seeke for: but it is an excellency of the spi∣rit, thou art to regard: looke to thy spirit what that is: for as the spirit is, such is the man. Spi∣ritus est perfectio hominis, this is the proper ex∣cellency: the body is but, as it were, the sheath for the soule; a man is said to be more excel∣lent, as his soule is excellent. Other excellency is but an outward excellency, this excellency is that which is intrinsecall to a man; the other are but adventitious, they are not proper, it is not that which makes the difference. The righ∣teous is more excellent than his neighbour: There is a difference of honour, but all these are but accidentall differences: the essential difference Page  18 is the spirit, and that is it which God regards and by this thou excellest thy neighbour. All other excellencies are but as when a mule or an asse having goodly trappings, should boast it selfe against the horse, which is a goodly crea∣ture, because it hath goodly trappings; or as if a mud-wall, that the Sunne shines upon, should boast it selfe against a wall of marble that stands in the shadow. Therefore consider of this, that so thou maist labour to beautifie thy spirit; if there were no other reason, but that he is a Spi∣rit, and that he beholdes the excellency of the spirit, this were sufficient. Take all other ex∣cellencies in the world, they make thee onely excellent in the sight of man; but this makes thee excellent before God, this is a solid thing, all the glory of the world is but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, empty glory; but that which makes thee ex∣cellent before God, is this. As it is, Iam: 2.5.*Hath not God chosen the poore of this world, rich in faith, and heires of the kingdome which he hath pro∣mised to them that love him? As if he should say, that which makes men glorious, is their faith and holines within, that is the thing that makes us excellent in Gods sight, and inables us to doe higher workes: all other things habilitate us but to the things of this life, but grace makes thee strong, and makes thee to serve the Lord with fear and reverence, Heb. 12.28.* And therfore this is to be sought of us. Phil. 4.8.* The world seekes other things after their owne fancie, but seeke you these things, this is the excellency Page  19 that we should seeke; for this adornes thy spi∣rit. And now if I should aske any man, whe∣ther is it not better to have Gods image renewed in him, and to be like to him, than to have the excellency of humane knowledge? every one would say, that to have Gods image renewed in them, were the best: but then why doest thou not busie thy selfe about it? why doest thou not labour for it? why doe you studie much, and pray so little? So if I should aske another, whether grace, or outward excellency were better? he would say, grace: but then why doe you not bestow some time about it, to get it? It is a great signe that the heart is right, when we can judge aright of the excellency, that is to be sought by us. 2 Cor. 5.* It is made a signe of a new creature, that he doth judge aright of spiri∣tuall things. Iam 1..10.* It is made a signe of a man converted to God, when he is brought low, that is, he is drawne from that high esteeme of out∣ward excellency, which before he had; when he sees that they are but fading flowers, things of no worth: and thus the soule gets strength to it selfe.

[ 6] When thou hast cleansed thy spirit, when thou hast adorned it with such spirituall beauty, so that God is delighted in thee: then thou must goe yet further: thou must let it have rule, and dominion; thou must let it have the upper hand of the body in all things. Let thy spirit be still advanced, that is, let it not bee drowned with the body, but be emergent still aboue it, kept Page  20 from all base affections, let it be cleare from all corporeall drosse, that is, from those bodily af∣fections of meate, drinke, uncleannesse, sports, pastime &c. wherewith the body is delighted: for this spirit is the most excellent thing in thee, therefore it is meete that it should have domi∣nion, that it should not be brought into subje∣ction, no not by any spirituall lust, that ariseth from the spirit, that the body is not capable of; much more then a shame is it to be brought in∣to subjection by any bodily lust, that wrongs the Father of spirits. 1 Cor. 6.12, 13.*All things are lawfull to me, saith the Apostle, but I will not be brought under the power of any thing. Meat is for the belly, and the belly for meat, but God shall de∣stroy both it and them. His meaning is this, I see that it is not convenient for me to eate flesh; I doe not deny but that I have a desire to eate flesh as well as others, but because it is not convenient, therefore I will bridle that appe∣tite: for, Meat is for the belly, and the belly for meat, but God shall destroy both it and them. If that appetite should prevaile, the body would rule over the soule: but that I will not suffer, that my spirit should be brought into subjection by any bodily appetite. And consider, what an unreasonable thing it is, that the spirit should be brought under the body. There are but two parts of a man, and they draw us two wayes: the spirit drawes us upward to the Father of spi∣rits, (as it is a spirit:) and the body drawes us downeward. Now consider which should have Page  21 the vpper hand, they will not goe both toge∣ther Now know this; that if the spirit bee under the body, it will breede confusion. It is so in other things; looke into the Common wealth, if you should see servants riding and Princes going on foot, looke into nature, if the fire and aire should bee below, and the water and earth aboue, what confusion would there bee? So is it in this case. The Apostle compares them to bruite beasts, 2. Pet. 2.12.* (and the wise man compares them to a citie, whose walls are broken downe, so that there is an vtter ruine.) Saith the Apostle Peter, in the place forenamed, that they as naturall bruite beasts made to bee taken and to be destroyed, who speake evill of the things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their owne corruption: that is, if a man will come to this, to suffer such a confusion as this, they shall even bee served as bruite beasts are: Nay be∣loved, if it were with us as it is with beast, we might giue libertie for these corporall appetites to rule over the soule: as, take a horse, if he hath no rider, then you blame him not, though he runne, and kicke up, and downe, for he is a beast, and hath no rider to sit him; but when he is under the bridle, then, if he doth not doe that which he should doe, then you blame him. But a man hath reason to guide him, and hee hath grace to guide reason: now to cast off both these is more than brutish. Consider, that all things, the more refined they are, the better they are; for they come neerer to the spirit: So Page  22 then doe thou looke vpon thy selfe; and say with thy selfe; the more that spirit within me is advanced, the more it is suffered to rule, without impediment, it is the better for me. To give you an instance or two, that you may see the practise of the Saints in this case: Iob he saith, I esteemed thy word as my appointed meales, &c. I will rather restraine my body in this, then I will suffer my soule to want that which belongs to it; as he saith for eating and drink∣ing, so saith David for sleepe; rather then my soule should not doe its duty, I will deprive my body of sleepe, saith he: So Iesus Christ: Ioh: 4.34.*Iesus saith unto them, my meate is to doe the will of my Father, and to finish his worke: that is, I will be content to neglect my body, to doe that which is the worke of my spirit, the worke of my Father. And such is his owne ad∣vice: seeke not the loaves, saith he, nourish not your bodies, labour not for the meate that perish∣eth: but looke that thy soule get the better in all things.

[Object.] But how shall I know this, whether my soule doth rule or no?

[Answ.] When the bodily appetite, and inclination shall arise so high, as to rule the sterne of the soule, and the actions of it, then the body gets rule over the soule: but when these shall bee subdued, and ruled, and guided by the soule, when they shall bee brought to that square, which the spirit within shall set downe, then the spirit rules over the body.

Page  23 [Object.] But my inclinations are strong, and I cannot rule them: what must I doe then?

[Answ.] Thou must doe in this case as Saint Paul did, who kept under his body by violence, as men use to tame horses; we should keepe it downe, wee must take heed of carnall lusts, they will keepe the body too high, as a Horse may be too lustie for his rider: yet so, as on the other side it must not be kept too low, for the body is the instru∣ment of the soule: but onely the soule must have dominion over it, it should alwayes bee subject to the principall agent, as it is said of a servant, that he should not be Supra negotium, nor infra negotium, but par negotio, not above, nor below, but fit for his businesse: so ought the body to be the soules servant. Beloved, consider this, doe but thinke what your soules are, that you should suffer them to be thus in subjection, Thinke what a shame it is, that these bodily affections should so overrule the spirit that is made like to God, the soule, that shall live for ever, the soule for which Christ dyed, that is better then all the world beside; thinke I say, with your selves, what a sencelesse and unrea∣sonable thing it is, that this soule should be kept under by the body, and that the body should rule over it? Are not men in this kinde, like to beasts, subject to sensualitie, that eate that they may play, and play that they may eate? and the soule is not considered all this while, how it is a spirit, that is like to God himselfe, who is a spirit. Alas, what is the body to it? It is in it as in a prison: such is the body to the soule, not Page  24 to be regarded in comparison of it. Therefore adde this to the other, that the soule may still be advanced, and that it suffer not bodily actions to bring it into subjection, lest you be as bruite beasts, subject to sensuality, made to be taken, and to be de∣stroyed.

FINIS.