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 FIFTEENTH SERMON.


EXOD. 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, &c.

AS wee are to judge of other things by the mutability of them: so learne to judge of thy selfe, of thine owne spirit, by that constancy that thou findest in well-doing, or that muta∣bility and unconstancy that thou art subject to. If a man would make a censure of himselfe, let Page  112 him consider, that the nearer hee comes to un∣changeablenesse in well-doing, the better he is, and the stronger he is: againe, the more muta∣ble, the weaker. Thou art to judge of thy selfe, as we use to esteeme of one another. Now let a man be unconstant, one that we can have no holde of, that is as fickle as the weather, that will resolve upon such a thing to day, and change his minde to morrow: what ever lear∣ning or excellency, or what kindnesse soever there is in this man, we regard him not, because he is an unconstant man. Now learne thou to doe so with thy selfe, to aske thy selfe that que∣stion: Hast thou not had many resolutions, that never came to any endeavours? Hast thou not begun many good workes, and never finished them? Hast thou not found that property of fol∣ly in thee, To begin stil to live? Stultitia semper incipit vivere? If this be thy case, learne to ab∣horre thy selfe for it, and to be ashamed: for all is nothing, till we come to a constant and unchangeble resolution: So that we come to set it downe with our selves as an inviolable law: this is a duty, and I will doe it, whatsoever it cost me; this is a sinne, and I will avoid it, whatsoever come of it. This is a resolution that Daniel takes up, Dan. 1.8. He determined in his heart, that he would not be defiled with the Kings meate: and such a resolution they were exhor∣ted to in Acts 11.23. With full purpose of heart, to cleave unto God. It is translated, full purpose: but the words are, with a decree and full reso∣lution Page  113 of heart; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: That is, when a man doth not lightly put himselfe upon an holy course; but takes up a strong resolution to goe through with it; such a resolution as Pauls was, Acts 20.22. he knew what bands did waite for him, as for theeves it was no matter, he was bound in the spirit, All is nothng: I care not, sayes he, so that I may fulfill the Ministery committed to me. Such a resolution we should have. And accor∣ding as thou findest thy selfe able to doe this, so thou shouldest judge of thy selfe. A man that is on and off in his wayes, Salomon com∣pares him to a City whose walls are broken downe, that is, if a temptation come, and set upon him, it hath free entrance, and the temp∣tation comes in, because his soule was without guard and ward. But on the other side, a man that doth not stand trifling with the Lord, to say, I wish I could, and I am sorry that I can∣not, but he will goe through a good course, such a man is like to a City which hath walls round about it; that if a temptation come, there is something to keepe it out. I say, as thou art to judge of other things by the mutability of them: so of thy selfe. There is nothing bet∣ter than to have a peremptory resolution in well-doing, to be constant therein, and there is nothing worse than to bee peremptory in e∣vill. [Vse 6]

If God be immutable, then thou knowest whi∣ther to goe to get this constancy,* to make thy Page  114 selfe unchangeable, and immutable and constant in well-doing. For, for what end hath he revea∣led to us that he is unchangeable? is it not for our use? Sure it is, even to teach us, that when we finde our selves subject to mutability, wee should goe to God, and beseech him to establish our hearts. No creature is able to doe it. E∣very creature is mutable, onely so farre un∣changeable, as he maketh it to be so; he onely is originally unchangeable; all friends and all o∣ther things in the world are no further un∣changeable than he communicates it to them, (as was said before:) and the same is true of thine owne heart, and of thy purposes. Therefore thou must thinke with thy selfe, and make this use of the unchangeablenesse of God, that hee onely can make thee unchangeable. Therefore when a man wants direction, hee must goe to GOD: Iam. 1.5. he is onely wise, and can shew a man what to doe, when he is in a strait. And upon the same ground when thou seest that thou art un∣constant, goe to him that is unchangeable, that can make thee constant; and desire him to fixe thy quicke-silver, to ballance thy lightnesse, and that he would settle and fill that vaine and empty heart of thine with something that may stay and establish it. There is no other way: all the meanes that can be used, all the motives that can be put upon a man, all the reasons that can be brought, are not able to make us constant, till GOD worke it in us, and for us. Therefore the onely way is to give GOD the glory of his Page  115immutability, to goe to him in a sense of thine owne unconstancy, and say so; Lord, thou hast revealed thy selfe to be unchangeable, that wee may seeke it of thee, and finde it in thee, thou alone art originally and essentially so: no crea∣ture is any further than thou doest communi∣cate it to it. Therefore doe thou, LORD, make mee stable and constant in well-doing. Grace it selfe of it selfe is not immutable, for it is subject to ebbing and flowing: and the rea∣son why we doe not quite lose it, is not from the nature of grace, as if it were immutable, but because it comes from and stickes close to Christ. Therefore goe to him; he is the roote that communicates sappe and life to thee, be∣cause thou abidest ingrafted in him.

[Object.] But the Lord doth this by meanes: it is not enough to pray, and to seeke to him, to make me unchangeable, (so much as humane infirmi∣ty can reach) but I must use the meanes also.

[Answ.] It is true, he doth it by meanes: and if you say, what are those meanes? I will shew it you briefly.

You shall finde that there two causes of un∣constancy,* or mutability, or ficklenesse: and if you finde out what the causes are, you will easily see the way to helpe it.

[ 1] First, Strength of lust: that causeth men to be unconstant. Iames 4.8.**Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purge your heart you wavering-minded: what is the reason, that the Apostle bids them to purge their hearts, that were wavering-minded,Page  116 but because that corruption, and those unruly affections that are within, cause us to be uncon∣stant, to waver, even as an arrow shot with a strong hand, that the winde makes to fly uncon∣stantly: so a man that resolves upon a good course, and takes to himselfe good purposes and desires, he having some lust in him, these thrust in, and make him unstable; therefore purge your hearts you wavering-minded. As if he should say, the reason why you are not stable, is, because you are not cleansed from these corruptions, which are the cause of this unconstancy. So Psal. 5.9. There is no faith∣fulnesse in their mouth, their inward part is very fil∣thinesse, &c. The reason why there is no con∣stancie in their speech, life, and actions is, be∣cause within they are very corruption: that is, the sinne that is within, is the cause of all the wavering that is in the life of man; were it not for it, there would be no such unevennesse in our lives. Therefore if this be the cause of it, there is no way to helpe it, but to get this cor∣ruption mortified, to be cleansed from all pol∣lution of flesh and spirit, as much as may be.

Take a man that sayes hee will amend his course, that intends to be diligent in his calling, and thinkes not to turne to such evill courses, but to serve God with a perfect heart: observe now what is the reason that this man breakes his purposes, and falls off againe; it is, because there is some strong lust, that comes like a gust of a contrary winde, and breakes him off from Page  117 his course. Therefore the first way is, to cleanse thy heart, if thou wilt be constant.

[ 2] The second cause of unconstancy, is weake∣nesse; * if a man were free from that inward cor∣ruption, yet weakenesse would make a man to bee unconstant: so much weakenesse, so much unconstancy; and so much strength as a man hath, so much constancy he hath. For what is the reason that man is so fickle? Because the banks of his resolution are so weak to hold out against temptations when they assault him, & he giues over because he is not able to resist them. And this ground I take out of 1 Sam. 15.29. The strength of Israel will not repent, for he is not as man that hee should repent. By repenting is meant a change: now you see the reason given why the Lord is not subject to change, he is the strength of Israell. For you shall allwayes finde in the Scripture, that such attributes are given to GOD, according to the nature of the worke that he hath in hand: Now the reason why the Lord will not repent is, because he is strong.

To make this appeare to you,* you must know, that three things must concurre to make a resolution strong.

[ 1] First, there must bee some reason that must move him.

[ 2] Secondly, there must bee an inclination of the will to it.

[ 3] Thirdly, It must be often renewed. First, I say, there must be some reason that must move him: but if that were all, he would not resolue, Page  118 therefore hee must have an inclination of the will to it; both these, when they concurre, they make the resolution up: when the understand∣ing is convinced, and the will inclined, the un∣derstanding saith there is reason for it, and the will saith, it is good, then this makes up the re∣solution. As first, when a man hath any reason to move him to any action, and it is a strong reason, so that hee answers all objections that hee meets with, now the resolution continues firme: but if his reasons be not sufficient, but he meete with objections that are stronger, then the first principle being taken away, the reso∣lution growes flaggy and weake. And so is it in the other also, when a man hath a desire to any thing, if it be so strong, that nothing is stronger then it, that can overtop, and over∣rule it, then he goes on without any impedi∣ment: but if it bee weake, so that a stronger desire can come, and overballance it, then the second principle is demolished, and there is an end of this resolution. So that let the reason on which wee fixe it bee strong, and let the in∣clination (which must concurre,) be fix't and strong, and then the resolution will be accor∣didg.

But I adde the third, that there must be a re∣newing of this: for though the resolution bee well built, yet to make it constant, it must still be renewed. For there are some workes, which must have a third and fourth hand to goe over them, or else they will fall, and moulder away: Page  119 And this is the nature of our resolution also, it is not the resolution of a day or two, that will serue the turne, for the nature of man is subject to such weakenesse, that except our resolutions bee gone over and over againe, they shrinke and come to nothing. Therefore the thing that ca∣seth unconstancy, is one of these three: either weakenesse of reason that sets thee on worke, or weakenesse of the inclination and desire, or else, not renewing of this. Now when you have found out the causes of weaknesse, you may ea∣sily finde out the meanes to make you resolute in well doing. As

[ 1] First, Labour to get strong reasons for what you resolve on. The want of this was the cause of the mutability of the second ground. It wan∣ted depth of earth: that is, the seed was good, and the earth was good, but it was not deepe en∣ough, and the strength of the Sunne caused it to wither away. So when we shall have good purposes and resolutions, and they have not root inough, that is, when he hath not well ex∣amined the thing, so as to bee fully convinced of the thing that he undertakes, he is apt to be inconstant in it. And this was the reason of Eves inconstancy, because shee considered not the bottome that she was built upon. On the o∣ther side, the Woman of Canaan when she had fixed her faith upon a good ground, she would not be beaten off: though she could not answer the objection, yet she would not bee plucked off. Thou art the Messias, and therefore thou Page  120 wilt shew mercy: and then she had neede of mercy, for her daughter was sicke, and weake, and therefore she would not be driven off, shee would take no deniall. So is it with all our re∣solutions when they have this depth of earth. Therefore the best way is, to consider, and forecast the worst. So our Saviour counselleth to suspect the worst: How canst thou that hast but two hundred, goe against him that hath a thou∣sand, so is it in this case. When you shall un∣dertake a good course, and you goe out but with weake reasons: if Sathan or a lust come and object stronger reasons, this will make thee give out. Therefore the best way is to forecast the worst, and to outbid the Devill in every temptation. Therefore when hee shall come and say, that thou shalt have favour with men, say to him that the favour of GOD is bet∣ter; if he shall tell thee of riches, and wealth, say that thou shalt have a treasure in heaven: if hee say to thee that thou shalt have rest and plea∣sure in sinne, say to him, that the peace of con∣science, and joy in the Holy Ghost, is farre be∣yond that rest, and pleasure, whatsoever it be: So in all the temptations one the other hand, it is good to ponder them well, that wee may bee able to outbid him therein. Whatsoe∣ver he doth object, it is one of these two: ei∣ther some good that thou shalt have, or some e∣vill. Now consider, that as the love and fa∣vour of GOD, is a greater good then all the world can give thee: So his wrath is a grea∣ter Page  121 evill, than any the world can doe to thee.

[ 2] Secondly, If thou wouldest have thy reso∣lution strong, to breake through all impedi∣ments, labour to get vehement desires to over∣toppe all other: that whatsoever comes, yet this may overballance them.

[Quest.] But how shall I come to get such a desire?

[Answ.] There is no way in the world but this: La∣bour to be humbled for thy sinnes, to get a broken heart for them: for then a man comes to prize grace exceeding much, and worldly things as nothing. For this is a sure rule, When thou feelest thy sinnes to lie heavie upon thee, then all the things in the world will appeare light: there∣fore labour to know the bitternesse of sinne; it is that which sets an edge upon all our spirituall desires: without this a man doth but cheapen the kingdome of heaven, he doth as the people did with Rehoboam, they expostulated with him about their serving him: so wee doe capitulate with the Lord, as it were, and stand upon termes with him, untill we are humbled; and then we are ready to take heaven upon any condition. Till a man be thus humbled, his desires are re∣misse, and weake, and flaggy desires; they raise up great buildings upon no foundation; the foundation is weake and crazie, and so the building comes downe. And hence is it, that men put their hand to the plough, and looke backe againe. A scholler will serve the Lord, if hee may have eminency in gifts, and outward ex∣cellency, or some honour in the flesh; but all Page  122 this while his desires are remisse: but when he is once humbled, then he will say with Saint Paul, Lord, what wilt thou have me to doe? and I will doe it, whatsoever it is, and whatsoever thou wouldest have me to suffer, I will suffer it. He will take the kingdome of heaven by violence: and then his resolutions continue constant that way. For what can Satan do to him? wil he take away his pleasure from him, his wealth, or his credit? they are things that hee hath despised before: he can take nothing from him, but what he cares not for. It is the bitternesse of sinne, that makes him now to prize Gods love and fa∣vour above all thing.

[ 3] Thirdly, thou must renew thy resolution oft: it is not enough to set the heart in a good frame of grace for a day, or two, or for a moneth, but thou must have a constant course in doing of it, ever and anon: as the Dutch men use to doe with their bankes, that keepe them with little cost, because they looke narrowly to them; if there be but the least breach, they make it up pre∣sently, otherwise the water makes a breach up∣on them. So thou shouldest doe with thy heart: observe it from day to day, marke what obje∣ctions come, that thou canst not answer, what lusts and desires doe overballance thee, and learne still to renew thy reasons and resolutions against them: and this will make thee constant, and firme, and peremptory in well-doing.

Page  123NOw I come to the next Attribute, and that is, The Greatnesse of God, or his Infi∣nitenesse:* We follow in this rather the rule of the Scripture, than the tract of the Schoole∣men, and wee insist upon those that God doth especially take to him in Scripture.

Now that God takes this Attribute to him∣selfe, you shall see in 2 Chron. 2.5. For great is our God above all Gods. Psal. 135.5. For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all Gods. But the place that I would chiefly com∣mend to you is this: Psal. 145.3. Great is the Lord, and most worthy to be praised: and his great∣nesse is unsearchable. Where you see, that it is an infinite, and incomprehensible greatnesse that the Lord takes to himselfe. So Psal. 147.5. Great is our God, and of great power: and his understan∣ding is infinite.

In handling of this, I will shew you these two things.

[ 1] First, I will shew you how this greatnesse of God is gathered from the Scriptures.

[ 2] Secondly, I will shew you the reason of it, as I have done in the rest.

The greatnesse of God is declared to us in the Scripture by these sixe things.*

[ 1] First, By the workes of his creation.* The greatnesse of the workes doe shew the greatnesse the maker. Isay 40.12. Who hath measured the heavens in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heavens with a spanne, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the moun∣taines Page  124 in scales, and the hills in a ballance? that is, If you would looke upon any worke, you may judge of the workeman by it; if you see a great building, you conceive it to be made by a man of some power: now when you looke upon the great building of heaven and earth, you may thinke that he that handles the materialls, as an Architect doth handle the stones, and lay them in their place is great: now the Lord doth put the waters together, as if he held them in his hand; and hee measures out the heavens, as a workeman measures out the roofe: Againe, e∣very workeman must worke by plummet and by weight, now consider the great mountaines, saith he, he weighes them in scales, and the hills in a ballance: as this building doth goe beyond mans, so doth the greatnesse of God exceed the greatnesse of man: and by this you may take a glimpse of the greatnesse of the Lord.

[ 2] Secondly, by the ensignes of his greatnesse:* The greatnesse of Princes is set out by those out∣ward signes, which are the declaration of it. Now when the Lord would shew his greatnesse, you shall see how he expresseth it. Deut. 4.36. When he came out of the Mount, they heard a great voice, and on the earth there was a great fire: by that you may know the greatnesse of God. For why doth hee come out with those ensignes, clothed with them, as it were, but that by this you might have a crevice opened to shew you the greatnesse of God? So when he appeared to Elias, and in his apparitions to Moses, to the Page  125 Prophets, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. It is said also, that his voice was as the sound of many waters; and he was so terrible, that is was a vsuall saying a∣mong the Iewes; Who can see God and live? why so? Because when he appeared, when he shew∣ed any shadow of his greatnesse, weake flesh could not behold him, but was swallowed up as it were, with the greatnesse of his Majesty.

[ 3] Thirdly, By the workes of his providence. *Ezek. 36.23. And I will sanctifie my great Name which was prophaned among the heathen, which yee have prophaned in the middest of them, and the hea∣then shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. As if hee should say; They make no ac∣count of me now, but when they shall see me to bring downe great Babel, then they shall know and beleeve, that I am a great GOD. So else where in Ezechiel hee compareth Ashur, and Tire, to a Lyon and Eagle, and a Cedar: and hee saith, that hee will put a hooke into the Lyon, and deplume the Eagle, and overtop the Cedar: that is, hee will shew forth his greatnesse, at that time, when he shall bring downe those great nations. So the greatnesse of GOD is seene in his provi∣dence over every thing: when he shall over∣throw a whole kingdome, and a great battell by a litle accident, as great ships are turned about by a litle rudder, then his might appeares. So in his ruling the winds and seaes, and weather, all this shewes the greatnesse of his excellency. Therefore look vpon his judgements, and like∣wise Page  126 upon his mercyes, when you see, how he raiseth men out of the dust &c. All this shewes the greatnesse of God.

[ 4] Fourthly, It is set out comparatively. To compare him, with the greatest of men,* Kings, what are they unto him, who is the King of Kings? Nay, take Nations which are greater, nay take all Nations, you shall see what they are to him. Isa. 40.15. Behold the Nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the ballance: Behold he taketh up the Iles as a very little thing, & Lebanon is not sufficient to burn for a burnt offering. All Nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him lesse then nothing and vanity. The very scope of this place is, to shw the greatnesse of God by comparison. A bucket of water is but a small thing, but the dropps that fall from it, they are of no use: Againe, the dust of the earth is but a small thing, but the dust of the scales, that will not so much as turne them, that must needes be exceeding little: but all the world is not so much to him, as a litle dust. An∣other comparison you shall finde in Isa 55. My thoughts are above your thoughts, as the heaven is a∣bove the earth. Beyond al things are the thoughts of man; for though Nations bee great, yet a mans thoughts goe beyond them: notwithstan∣ding the Lord is as much beyond the scant∣ling, and modell that we draw of him in our thoughts, as the heavens are above the earth: When you have thought upon mee as much as you can thinke; when you have thought Page  127 me mercifull, (for that is the thing which hee speakes of) yet I am as much more mercifull, then you can thinke of me, as the heavens are a∣bove the earth.

[ 5] Fifthly, The Immensenesse or extent of his being.*Ier. 23.24. Doe not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord? When we consider, that the heaven of heavens cannot containe him, that large∣nesse presented to our mindes, will shew his greatnesse to us.

[ 6] Sixthly, His holinesse shewes his greatnesse. Looke as men keepe a greater distance from o∣thers,* (as Princes doe) so wee esteeme them greater: Now his holinesse is nothing else, but his separation and distance from every creature. Every thing is holy, because it is separated; it is common, because it is not sequestred from o∣ther uses: now GOD is separated, none may come neere him; as the Cherubims cover their faces before him; and when he was in the Mount, none might approach neare to him; if they did, they were to be thrust through with a dart: He dwells in light inaccessible; and therefore the great holinesse of GOD shewes the greatnesse of Majesty.

[ 2] The reasons of this Infinitenesse are these.

[ 1] First, from this very place,*I AM hath sent me unto you; I AM, shewes that he hath a being from himselfe, if so, then he had no cause. Now from hence, as in that he had no efficient nor finall cause, he is eternall: so in that he hath nei∣ther matter nor forme, hee is infinite and incom∣prehensible. Page  128 And that is the reason that hee hath an unlimited essence, because all limitation proceedes either from the matter or from the forme: the forme is contracted by the matter: againe, the matter would be indefinite, but it is contracted and bounded by the forme. Now GOD hath neither matter nor forme, nor no∣thing like it: therefore hee is infinite. All the creatures they have their severall kindes: the Angels they have no matter, yet they have something in them answerable to matter and forme, wherein they agree, and disagree with other creatures: and therefore they are one kinde of creatures, and man another; which shewes that they have formes to bound and limit them, and that the essence of the Angels goes so farre, and no farther; and so the essence of man, &c. But in GOD there is no similitude of any such thing, there is no Esse receptum, there is no limits in him, nothing to binde his essence: whereas they are Entia in a certaine kinde, he is simpliciter Ens, and therefore without all limi∣tation, and so must be immense.

*Secondly, He is omnipotent and almighty, he can doe whatsoever he will: Whence I rea∣son. If he have an infinite power, it must needs proceede from an infinite cause; for as a thing is in working, so it is in being: therefore when his power is infinite, that must needes be infinite in which it is rooted, and from whence it pro∣ceedes.

*Thirdly, That which is beyond all that wee Page  129 can conceive is infinite: but GOD is so, for if any thing could be imagined more perfect than he is, that should be GOD and not he: and therefore in Scripture, whatsoever we can con∣ceive of him, yet he is beyond it. Rom. 11. His wayes are past finding out; and it is said, that hee dwells in light inaccessible.

Fourthly, Consider it from his workes: you see that hee hath made the world of nothing.* Whence I reason: If you would heate the aire, it is more easily heated than water, because the passive power is neerer the active; and if you would heate water, you may more easily heate it than the earth: Now according to the resi∣stance, according to the passive power, such is the active: if the passive power lie open, the active power is lesse, that workes upon it: now when the passive power is infinitely low, then the active power must be infinitely high, and an∣swerable to it. Therefore when GOD comes to make something of nothing, the active po∣wer must bee exceeding high, because the passive power is so low: and therefore re¦quires an infinite active power to make some∣thing of nothing, and consequently, hee must be infinite, in whom this power is seated.

[Vse 1] If he be so great a GOD, he that is our God, the GOD,* who is our Father, if he be thus great and incomprehensible, learne you to know what you are then: that you have an infinite God to maintaine, defend and uphold you, in all all that you have to doe, or suffer for his will. Page  130 This will cause you to take great mindes to your selves to have a holy magnanimity in you: And the consideration of this Attribute is of great vse, to make Christians come to have great mindes. For what is it that makes the minde great? It is the greatnesse of the object: whence it is, that Kings have great mindes, be∣cause of their great Kingdomes; and great men have great thoughts, because of the great objects that they have to looke vpon. Now therefore, if thou wouldest looke vpon the great God, if thou wouldest consider that he is thy Father, and that all that hee hath is thine, this would likewise make thy minde exceeding great: it would take from us that pusillanimity and nar∣rownesse of mind, which we are subject to; and it is of great moment it should doe so. A litle mind though it be good, yet because it is a litle vessell, it can bee and receive but a litle good; whereas when the minde is great it is capable of great grace, great actions, and great indeavours: therefore we should get our minds to be inlarg∣ed, by considering the greatnesse of GOD, and our interest in it. For want of this it is, that Christians are so apt to bee led aside into by∣wayes by the power of great men; because they thinke that they are greatly graced when they are look't after by great men; when as if they did know their owne greatnesse, that they are Sonnes of GOD, and heires of heaven, this goes beyond it. Hence likewise it is, that men are so easily wrought vpon by pleasure, profit, Page  131 and the like, that they are ready to transgresse: why is it? It is, because they doe not know what they are borne to, that the great GOD of heaven is theirs.

So what is the reason, that the praise, and credit of men, doe so much affect you? but be∣cause we have so litle mindes? whereas, if God were knowne in his greatnesse, what would the praise of great men be to the praise of the great GOD? This would give us much strength a∣gainst these temptations. And hence it is that young students that are provided for, have their mindes lift vp to vanities: whereas if their minds were great, they would despise them, and labour to serve the great GOD with their strength and parts.

And so men that are growne vp, if they have estate inough, they leave the high and honorable calling of the Ministery; the reason is, because they overvalue these outward things: whereas, if a man had, a great mind, nothing would bee great to him.

Hence also it is, that men are so stirred with variety of conditions; when prosperity comes, it shakes them one way; when crosses and ad∣versity comes, it troubles them on the other∣side: and what is the reason, but because they seeme great to them: which appeares from hence, because they stirre vp great affections. Therefore the way, to walke even in both con∣ditions, is, to get this greatnesse of mind: for it is the weakenesse of minde, which causeth a Page  132 man to be over affected with these things, to re∣joyce too much in the one, and to bee too much affected with the other. Even as, wee see, a weake eye, as the eyes of Owles and Bats, can∣not indure a great light; and a weake braine cannot beare strong drinke: but a strong eye, as the eye of an Eagle, can indure the greatest light; so a strong minde, it will indure great grace and disgrace, with the same temper, it will beare all well enough, it knowes how to want and how to abound; because he hath a great and a strong minde: whereas others have their eyes dazeled, and their braines made giddy as it were with the favour or losse of great men.

Hence also it is that wee are so busie about worldly things, dignity, and riches, &c. It is true we should seeke after these things, but why doe we doe it tanto conatu? It was Paules great∣nesse of mind, that made him ambitious to preach the Gospell; to serve tables, and such like, were small matters, hee would not looke after them: So if wee had great minds, wee should seeke for grace, and how to increase in it, how to live an usefull, and painefull and profi∣table life. Worldly things are too litle for the mind to bestow it selfe upon; which would be so to us, if we could see GOD in his greatnesse, and our interest in it. Men of little mindes and pusillanimous, doe as the Bramble, which reckon∣ed it as a great matter to reigne over the trees: whereas the Vine and the Figgetree esteemed it not so, but chose rather to serve GOD and man with their sweetnesse and fatnesse.

Page  133Hence it is that men are so much affected with the injuries of men on the one side, and the feares of men on the other side: all this ari∣seth from the littlenesse of the minde. Saint Paul, Gal. 5.12. the Galathians had done him great injury, yet saith he, Brethren, be as I am, for I am as you are: you have done me great injury, but I esteeme it not, you have not hurt mee at all. For, a man inlarged to a holy greatnesse of mind, all the injuries put upon him by men, seeme small to him: when men are full of complaints, and say, they cannot beare such disgrace and slander, and reproach; this doth not proceede from the greatnesse, but from the weaknesse of their mindes. Men thinke it indeede greatnesse of minde, not to passe over these things, not to put up an injury: but surely it is a note of a great minde, to overlooke them all. So it is true on the other side, not to regard the praise of men: The Philosopher could say, that the magnani∣mous man did not regard the praise of common men, because he was above them; and he is but a weake man, that would regard the praise of children, because they are not able to judge: so hee hath but a weake minde, that regards the praise of worldly men; for they are too little for him to regard, if hee did see GOD in his greatnesse. This made Paul to say, that hee did not care for mans day, let them say what they will by me, better or worse, I regard it not. (There is indeede a meete regard to be had of of them; but if they come into competition Page  134 with God, then they must beare no weight at all:) and thus because disgrace and disparage∣ment, &c. seemed but little to him, he despised them all.

So from this weaknesse of minde ariseth that cowardlinesse which wee see often in men. Whence is it that men are so fearefull to holde out the light of a holy profession? is it not from hence, that they are pusillanimous, that they doe too much esteeme the face of men? A Lion, be∣cause he knowes himselfe to be a Lion, if the dogges barke, hee walkes in the street and re∣gards them not; he turneth not his head aside for them: So a magnanimous man, that knowes himselfe in GODS favour, will passe by the obloquies of mn. You shall see David did so: hee went on in his course like a Lion, when Shi∣mei railed against him, so that the two sonnes of Zerviah would have cut off his head; No, let him alone, saith he, the Lord then raised him up to a great mind. So was it with Paul, he passed through evill report, & good report, & never turned aside for any. So Moses, & Ieremy, They shall smite thee with the tongue of men, &c. sayes GOD, but I am with thee. And so, if wee could see GOD in his greatnesse, all these outward things would seeme nothing to us. As a hundred torches appeare to be nothing, when wee looke upon the Sunne▪ so, if we could consider aright of the greatnesse of God, all the faire speeches of men would be as nothing. Now the way to get this magnanimity, is to beleeve this great∣nesse Page  135 of God, and to consider that wee are the sonnes of God, and heires of heaven: the cause of this pusillanimity is the want of faith. If wee did beleeve that we were the sonnes of God, and did beleeve that GOD would be with us, that he was so great a GOD, and that hee did stand by, and second us, we should not be so feare∣full as we are. Therefore strengthen your faith, that you may have your mindes inlarged, that so you may walke without impediments, and be perfect with him; as it is said of Abraham, that hee was perfect with God in all his wayes.

FINIS.