Thy people shall be willing in the Day of thy Power, in the Beauties of Holinesse from the wombe of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
THe Prophet before shewed the Raigne of Christ over his ene∣mies; hee now speaketh of his Raigne over his people, and de∣scribeth what manner of sub∣jects or souldiers Christ should have. I will not trouble you with varietie of expositions (oc∣casioned by the many Meta∣phors, and different translations) but give in a few words those which I conceive to be most literall and pertinent to the place.
Thy people] that is, those whom thou dost receive from thy Father, and, by setting up the standard and En∣signe of thy Gospell, gather to thy selfe. Shall be willing] the word is willingnesses, that is, a people of great Wil∣lingnesse and Devotion, or (as the originall word is else∣where used, Psal. 119.108.) shall bee free will offeringsPage 292 unto thee. The Abstract being put for the Concrete, and the plurall for the singular,* notes how exceeding forward and free they should be; as the Lord to signifie that his people were most rebellious, saith, that they were Rebellion it selfe, Ezek. 2.8. So then the mea∣ning is, Thy people shall, with most readie and for∣ward cheerefulnesse, devote, consecrate, and render up themselves to thy governement as a reasonable sa∣crifice, shall bee of a most liberall, free, noble, and unconstrained spirit in thy service, they shall bee Vo∣luntaries in the warres of thy Kingdome. In the Day of Thy Power, or Of thine Armies] by these words wee may understand two things, both of them aiming at the same generall sense: First, so as that [Armies] shall bee the same with [Thy people] be∣fore; In the Day when thou shalt assemble thy Soul∣diers together, when thou shalt set up thine Ensignes for them to seeke unto, that is, when thou shalt cause the preaching of thy Gospell to sound like a Trum∣pet, that men may prepare themselves in armies to fight thy battels, then shall all thy people with great devotion and willingnesse gather themselves together under thy Colours, and freely devote themselves to thy militarie service. Secondly, so, as that by Power or Armies may bee meant the Meanes whereby this free and willing Devotion in Christs people is wrought: that is, when thou shalt send foorth the Rod of thy strength, when thou shalt command thy Apostles and Ministers to goe forth and fight against the kingdomes of Sinne and Satan, when thou shalt in the dispensation of thine Ordinances reveale thy Power and spirituall strength unto their Consciences, then shall they most willingly relinquish their former service, and wholly devote themselves unto thee, to fight under thy banners, and to take thy part against all thine enemies.
Page 293In the Beauties of Holinesse] This likewise wee may severally understand. Either, in thy Holy Church. Which may well so bee called with allusion to the Temple at Ierusalem, which is called The Beauty of Holinesse, Psal. 29.2. and a Holy and Beautifull house, Esai. 64.11. and a glorious high throne, Ier. 17.12. And hither did the tribes resort in troopes, as it were in armies,* to present their free will offerings, and celebrate the other services of the Lord. Or else wee may understand it Causally, thus; In the Day of thy Power, that is, when thou shalt reveale thy strength and Spirit, and in the Beauties of Holinesse, that is, when thou shalt reveale how exceeding beau∣tifull, and full of lovelinesse thy Holy wayes and servi∣ces are, then shall thy people bee perswaded with all free and willing devotion of heart to undertake them. Or lastly, thus; as the Priests who offered sacrifices to the Lord were cloathed with Holy and Beautifull garments; Exod. 28.2.40. or as those who in admiration of some noble Prince voluntarily follow the service of his warres, doe set themselves forth in the most complete furniture and richest attire as is fit to give notice of the noblenesse of their mindes: (for * beautifull armor was want to bee esteemed the honor of an armie.) So they who willingly devote themselves unto Christ, to bee Souldiers and Sa∣crifices unto him, are not onely armed with strength, but adorned with such inward graces, as make them Beau∣tifull as Tirza, comely as Ierusalem, faire as the Moone, cle•re as the Sunne, and terrible as an armie with banners. All which three Explications meete in one generall, which is principally intended, that Holinesse hath all beauties in it, and is that onely which maketh a man lovely in the Eyes of Christ.
From the wombe of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.] There is a middle point after those words, [The Wombe of the Morning,] which may seeme to dis∣joine the clauses, & make those words referre wholly to Page 294 the preceding. In which relation, there might bee a dou∣ble sense conceived in them. Either thus, In the Beauties of Holinesse, or in Holinesse very beautifull more than the Aurora or wombe of the morning, when shee is ready to bring forth the Sunne. And then it is a notable meta∣phor to expresse the glorious beautie of Gods wayes. Or thus, thy people shall bee a willing people from the very wombe of the morning; that is, from the very first forming of Christ in them, and shining forth upon them, they shall rise out of their former nakednesse and secu∣rity, and shall adorne themselves with the beautifull graces of Christs Spirit, as with cloathing of wrought gold, and rayment of needle-worke, and shall with glad∣nesse and rejoycing, with much devotion and willing∣nesse of heart bee brought unto the King, and present themselves before him as Voluntaries in his service.* But because the learned conceive that the middle point is onely a distinction for convenient reading, not a disjun∣ction of the sense, I shall therefore rest in a more recei∣ved exposition. Thy Children shall bee borne in great abundance unto thee, by the seed of thy word, in the wombe of the Church, as soone as the morning, or sunne of righteousnesse shall shine forth upon it. As the dew is borne out of the coole morning aire as out of a wombe, distilling down in innumerable drops upon the earth; so thine elect shall bee borne unto thee, by the preaching of thy word and first approach of thy heavenly light, in innumerable armies. And this explication is very suteable to the harmonie of Holy Scripture, which useth the same metaphors to the same purpose in other places.* The Remnant of Iacob, saith the Prophet, shall bee in the mid∣dest of many people as a dew from the Lord. And Christ is called the Bright-morning-starre, and the Day-spring, and the Sunne of Righteousnesse, and time of the Gospell is called the time of Day, or the approach of Day. So that, from the wombe of the morning, is from the heavenly Page 295 light of the Gospell, which is the wing or beame wherby the Sunne of Righteousnesse revealeth himselfe, and breaketh out upon the world, as the rising Sunne, which rejoyceth like a Giant to runne his race, shall the succes∣sion increase, and armies of the Church of God bee con∣tinually supplied.
The words thus unfolded doe containe in them a lively Character of the subjects in Christs spirituall King∣dome. Described first by their Relation to him, and his propriety to them, Thy People. Secondly, by their pre∣sent condition, intimated in the word, Willing, or Volun∣taries, and (if wee take [Thy People] and [Armies] for Synonymous termes. The one notifying the order and quality of the other) expressed in the Text, and that is, to bee military men. Thirdly, by their through and uni∣versall resignation, subjection, and devotednesse unto him. For when he conquereth by his word, his conquest is wrought upon the wills and affections of men. Victor∣que volentes Per populos dat jura. Thy people shall bee wil∣ling. The ground of which willingnesse is further added, (for so chiefly I understand those words) The Day of thy Power. So that the willingnesse of Christs subjects is effected by the power of his grace and Spirit in the reve∣lation of the Gospell. Fourthly, By their honorable at∣tire, and military robes, in which they appeare before him, and attend upon him, In Beauties of Holinesse, or in the various and manifold graces of Christ as in a gar∣ment of diverse colours. Fiftly and lastly, by their age, multitudes, and manner of their birth; They are the Dew of the morning, as many as the small drops of dew, and they are borne to him out of the wombe of the morning, as dew is generated, not on the earth, but in the aire, by a Heavenly calling, and by the shining of the morning-starre, and day-spring upon their consciences. Yee are all the Children of light, saith the Apostle, and the Children of the day; wee are not of the night, nor of darknesse, 1 Thess. 5.5.
Page 296I said before, that I approve not the mincing and crum∣bling of Holy Scriptures. Yet in these parts of them, which are written for models and summaries of Chri∣stian Doctrine, I suppose there may bee weight in every word, as in a rich Iewell there is worth in every sparkle. Here then first wee may take notice of Christs Propriety to his people. [Thy people] All the Elect and Belee∣vers doe a belong unto Christ. They are His People. They are his Owne sheepe. There is a mutuall and reciprocall propriety between him and them. I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine. His desire is towards mee. His, I say, not as hee is God onely, by a right of inseparable domi∣nion as wee are his creatures. For all things were bcrea∣ted by him and for him. And hee is over all, God blessed for ever. Nor his onely as hee is the c first-borne and the heire of all things. In which respect hee is Lord of the Angels, and God hath set him over all the workes of his hands. But as he is the mediator and head in his Church. In which respect the faithfull are his by a more peculiar propriety. dWee are thine, thou never barest rule over them, they were not called by thy name. The Devils are his Vassals. The wicked of the world his prisoners. The faithfull onely are his subjects and followers. His Iewels, his Friends, his Brethren, his Sonnes, his Members, his Spouse. His, by all the relations of intimatenesse that can bee named.
Now this Propriety Christ hath unto us upon severall grounds. First, by Constitution and Donation from his Father.* God hath made him Lord and Christ. Hee hath put all things under his feete, and hath given him to bee Head over all things to the Church. Aske of mee and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Behold, I and the Children whom thou hast given mee. Thine they were, and thou gavest them to mee. For as in regard of Gods Iustice we were bought by Christ in our redemp∣tion,Page 297 so in regard of his love wee were given unto Christ in our election, that hee might redeeme us.
Secondly, by a right of purchase, treaty, and covenant betweene Christ and his Father. For wee, having sold away our selves, and being now in the enemies posses∣sion, could not bee restored unto our primitive estate without some intervening price to redeeme us. There∣fore saith the Apostle, hee was made under the Law,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that hee might Buy out those that were under the Law. And againe, yee are Bought with a price. Hee was our surety, and stood in our stead, and was set forth to declare the righteousnesse of God. God dealt in grace with us, but in justice with him.
Thirdly, by a right of conquest and deliverance. Hee hath plucked us out of our enemies hands, hee hath dis∣possessed and spoiled those that ruled over us before, he hath delivered us from the power of Satan, and transla∣ted us into his owne Kingdome; wee are his free men,* hee onely hath made us free from the Law of sinne and death, and hath rescued us as spoiles out of the hands of our enemies, and therefore wee are become his servants, and owe obedience unto him as our Patron and deli∣verer. As the Gibeonites when they were delivered from the sword of the children of Israel, were thereupon made hewers of wood, and drawers of water for the congregation: So wee being rescued out of the hands of those tyrannous Lords which ruled over us, doe now owe service and subjection unto him that hath so merci∣fully delivered us.*Being made free from sinne (saith the Apostle) ye become the Servants of Righteousnesse. And, wee are delivered from the Law, that being dead wherin we were held, that wee should serve in newnesse of Spirit. And againe,*Hee died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose againe.
Fourthly, by covenant and stipulation. I entred into Page 298 covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine. Therefore in our Baptisme we are said to bee Baptized into Christ, and to put on Christ,* and to bee Baptized into his name, that is, wholy to consecrate and devote our selves to him as the servants of his family. Therefore they which were Baptized in the ancient a Church were wont to put on white rayment, as it were the Liverie and Badge of Christ, a Testimony of that purity and service which therein they vowed unto him. And therefore it is that wee still retaine the ancient forme of vow, promise, or pro∣fession in Baptisme, which b was to renounce the Devill, and all his works, the world, with the pompe, luxury and pleasures thereof. And this is done in a most solemne and deliberate manner by way of answere to the que∣stion and demand of Christ. For which purpose S. Pe∣ter calleth Baptisme c〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. The An∣swere, or the interrogative triall of a good conscience to∣wards God. Hee that conformeth himselfe to the fa∣shions, and setteth his heart upon the favors, preferment, empty applause, and admiration of the world, that liveth d〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to the rules and courses and sinfull maximes of worldly men, in such indifferency, com∣pliancie and connivence as may flatter others and delude himselfe; he that is freely and customarily over-rul'd by the temptations of Satan, that yeeldeth to loosnesse of heart, to vanity of thoughts, lusts of eye, pride of life, luxury, intemperance, impurity of minde or body, or any other earthly and inordinate affection, is little better in the sight of God than a perjured, & a runnagate person, flinging off from that service unto which hee had bound himselfe by a solemne vow, and robbing Christ of that interest in him which by a mutuall stipulation was a∣greed upon.
Lastly, by the vertue of our communion with him, and participation of his grace and fulnesse. All that wee are in regard of Spirit and life is from him, eWee are nothing Page 299 of our selves. And wee fcan doe nothing of our selves. All that wee are is from the grace of Christ. gBy the grace of God I am what I am. And all that wee doe is from the grace of Christ,hI am able to doe all things through Christ that strengthneth mee. As when we doe evill, i it is not wee our selves, but sinne that dwelleth in us: So when wee doe good, it is k not wee, but Christ that liveth in us. So that in all respects wee are not our owne, but his that died for us.
Now this being a point of so great consequence, need∣full it is that wee labor therein to try & secure our selves that wee belong unto Christ.* For which purpose wee must note that a man may belong unto Christ two man∣ner of wayes: First, by a meere Externall profession. So all in the visible Church that call themselves Christians, are his, and his word and oracles theirs. In which respect they have many priviledges, (as the Apostle sheweth of the Iewes.) Yet notwithstanding such men continuing unreformed in their inner man, are neerer unto cursing than others, and subject unto a sorer condemnation, for despising Christ in his word, and Spirit, with whom in their Baptisme they made so solemne a covenant. For God will not suffer his Gospell to be cast away,* but will cause it to prosper unto some end or other, either to save those that beleeve; or to cumulate the damnation of those that disobey it. Hee will be more carefull to cleanse his garner, and to purge his floore,* than of other empty and barren places. A weed in the garden is in more dan∣ger of rooting out than in the open field. Such belong unto Christ, no otherwise than Ivy to the tree unto which it externally adheres. Secondly, a man may belong unto Christ by Implantation into his Body: Which is done by faith. But here wee are to note that as some branches in a tree have a more faint and unprofitable fellowship with the roote than others; as having no fur∣ther strength than to furnish themselves with leaves, but Page 300 not with fruit: so, according unto the severall vertues or kindes of faith, may the degrees of mens in grafture into Christ bee judged of.* There is a dead, unoperative faith, which like Adam after his fall hath the nakednesse thereof covered onely with leaves, with meere formall & hypocriticall conformities. And there is an unfained, lively,* and effectuall faith; which is availeable to those purposes for which faith was appointed, namely to ju∣stifie the person, to purifie the heart, to quench tempta∣tions, to carry a man with wisedome and an unblame∣able conversation through this present world, to worke by love, to grow and make a man abound in the service of the Lord. And this distinction our Savior giveth us, That there are some branches in him which beare not fruit, and those he taketh away:*And others which beare fruit, and those hee purgeth that they may bring forth more. Those onely are the branches, which hee desires to owne.
And thus to belong unto Christ is that onely which maketh us 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. A purchased, a peculiar people unto him. And there are severall wayes of evidencing it. I will onely name two or three, and most in the Text. First, wee must know that Christ is a Morning-starre, a Sunne of Righteousnesse, and so ever comes to the soule with selfe-evidencing properties. Vnto him belongeth that royall prerogative, to write Teste Meipso in the hearts of men, to bee himselfe the witnesse to his owne Acts, purchases, and covenants. Therefore his Spirit came in tongues of fire, and in a mighty winde, all which have severall wayes of manifesting themselves, and stand not in need of any borrowed or forraigne con∣firmations. If Christ then bee in the heart hee will dis∣cover himselfe. His Spirit is the Originall of Grace and strength, as concupiscence is of sinne. It is a seed in the heart which will spring up and shew it selfe. And therefore as lust doth take the first advantage of the Page 301 faint and imperfect stirrings of the reasonable soule in little infants, to evidence it selfe in pride, folly, stubbor∣nesse, and other childish sinnes: So the Spirit of grace in the heart cannot lie dead, but will worke, and move, and as a Spirit of burning by the light, heate, purging, com∣forting, inflaming, combating vertue which is in it, make the soule which was barren, and settled on the lees, and unacquainted with any such motions before▪ stand ama∣zed at its owne alteration, and say with Rebekah, If it bee so, why am I thus? Externals may bee imitated by art; but no man can paint the soule or the life, or the sense and motion of creature. Now Christ and his Spirit are the internall formes, and active principles in a Christian man, Christ liveth in us, when Christ who is our Life shall appeare, &c. Therefore impossible it is that any hy∣pocrite should counterfeite, and by consequence obscure those intimate and vitall workings of his grace in the soule, whereby hee evidenceth himselfe thereunto. It is true, a man that feareth the Lord may walke in dark∣nesse, and be in such discomforts as he shall see no light; and yet even in that condition Christ doth not want properties to evidence himselfe, in tendernesse of con∣science, feare of sinne, striving of Spirit with God, close∣nesse of heart and constant recourse to him in his word, and the like; onely the soule is shut up and overclowded that it cannot discerne him.* The Spirit of Christ is a Seale, a witnesse, an earnest, an hansell, a first fruit of that fulnesse which is promised hereafter. It is Christs owne Spirit, and therefore fashioneth the hearts of those in whom it is unto his heavenly image, to long for more comprehension of him, for more conformity unto him, for more intimacie and communion with him, for more grace, wisedome, and strength from him; it turneth the bent and course of the soule from that earthly and sen∣suall end unto which it wrought before, as a good branch having been ingrafted into a wild stock con∣verteth Page 304 the sappe of a Crab into pleasant fruit.
Againe, if a man be one of Christs people, then there hath a day of power passed over him, the sword of the Spirit hath entred into him, hee hath beene conquered by the rod of Christs strength, he hath felt Iohns axe laid to the root of his conscience, and hath beene perswaded by the terrour of the Lord; for the comming of Christ is with shaking: the conscience hath felt a mightie ope∣ration in the Word, though to other men it hath passed over like emptie breath; for the Word worketh effectu∣ally in those that beleeve, and bringeth about the purpo∣ses for which it was sent. To those that are called it is the power of God, 1 Cor. 1.22.
Againe, where Christ comes, he comes with beautie and holinesse,* those who lay in their bloud and pollutions before bare & naked, are made exceeding beautifull, and renowned for their beauty, perfect through the comelines which he puts upon them.* He comes unto the soule with beauty and pretious oile, and garments of praise, that is, with comfort, joy, peace, healing, to present the Church a Holy Church without spot or wrinckle to his Father.
Lastly, where Christ commeth, he commeth with a wombe of the morning,* with much light to acquaint the soule with his truth and promises; and with much fruit∣fulnesse, making the heart, which was barren before, to flow with rivers of living water,* to bring forth fruit more and more, and to abound in the workes of the Lord.* These are the particular evidences of our belong∣ing to Christ in the Text, and by these we must examine our selves.* Doe I finde in my soule the new name of the Lord Iesus written, that I am not onely in title, but in truth a Christian? Doe I finde the secret nature and fi∣gure of Christ fashioned in mee, swaying mine heart to the love and obedience of his holy wayes? Doe I heare the voice, and feele the hand and judicature of his bles∣sed Spirit within me, leading me in a new course, orde∣ring Page 305 mine inner man, sentencing and crucifying mine earthly members? Am I a serious and earnest enemie to my originall lusts, and closest corruptions? Doe I feele the workings and kindlings of them in mine heart with much paine and mourning, with much humiliation for them, and deprecation against them? Is Christ my cen∣ter? Doe I finde in mine heart a willingnesse to be with him, as well here in his word, wayes, promises, directi∣ons, comforts, yea, in his reproches and persecutions, as hereafter in his glory? Is it the greatest businesse of my life to make my selfe more like him, to walke as he also walked, to be as he was in this world, to purifie my selfe even as he is pure? Hath the terrour of his wrath per∣swaded me, and shaken my conscience out of its carnall securitie, and made me looke about for a refuge from the wrath to come, and esteeme more beautifull than the morning brightnesse the feet of those who bring glad tidings of deliverance and peace? Hath his Gospell an effectual seminall vertue within me to new forme my na∣ture and life daily unto his heavenly Image? Is it an in∣grafted word which mingleth with my conscience, and hideth it selfe in my heart, actuating, determining, mo∣derating, and over-ruling it to its owne way? Am I cleansed from my filthinesse, carefull to keepe my selfe chaste, comely, beautifull, a fit spouse for the fairest of ten thousand? Doe I rejoyce in his light, walking as a childe of light, living as an heire of light, going on like the Sunne unto the perfect day labouring to abound al∣wayes in the work of the Lord? Then I may have good assurance that I belong unto Christ. And if so, that will be a seminary of much comfort to my soule.
For first, if we are Christs, then he careth for us, for propriety is the ground of care. Hee that is an hireling,* saith our Saviour, and not the shepherd, whose owne the sheepe are not, seeth the wolfe comming, and leaveth the sheepe, &c. Because hee is an hireling he careth not for the Page 306 sheepe. But I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheepe, and am knowne of mine,*because they are mine, therefore I am carefull of them. He watcheth over us, he searcheth and seeketh us out in our stragglings, and feedeth us. This is the principall argument we have to beleeve, that God will looke upon us for good, notwithstanding our manifold provocations, because he is pleased to owne us, and to take us as his owne peculiar people. Though the Church be full of ruines,* yet because it is his own house, he will repaire it;* though it be blacke aswell as comely, yet because it is his owne Spouse, he will pitie and che∣rish it;* though it bring forth wilde grapes, and bee in∣deed meet for no worke, yet because it is his owne vine, planted by his owne right hand,* and made strong for himselfe, he will therefore be carefull to fence and prune it. This is the onely argument we have to prevaile with God in prayer, that in Christ we call him Father, wee present our selves before him,* as his owne, we make men∣tion of no other Lord or name over us, and therefore he cannot deny us the things which are good for us.*
Secondly, if wee are Christs, then hee will certainely purge us, and make the members suteable to the head. I sware unto thee, and entred into covenant with thee, saith the Lord,* and thou becamest mine, and immediately it followes, then washed I thee with water, yea, I through∣ly washed away thy bloud from thee.* Every branch in •e that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.* He purifieth to himselfe a peculiar peo∣ple: If wee be his peculiar people, and set apart for him∣selfe (as the Prophet David speakes) he will undoubted∣ly purifie us;* that we may be honourable vessels, sancti∣fied and meet for the M•sters use, and prepared unto every good worke. He will furnish us with all such sup∣plies of the spirit of grace,* as the condition of that place in his body requires, in the which he hath set us. Grace and glory will he give, and no good thing will he with∣hold Page 307 from those who walke uprightly, our proprietie to Christ giveth us right unto all good things: All is yours, and you are Christs.
Thirdly, if we are Christs, then he will spare us. This was the argument which the Priest was to use betweene the Porch and the Altar, Spare thy people, O Lord,* and give not thine heritage to reproch. Then will the Lord be jealous for his Land, and pitie his people.* They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day that I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his owne sonne that serveth him. Of my servant, to whom I give wages for the merit of his worke, not out of love or grace, I expect a service proportionable to the pay hee receives: But in my childe I reward not the dignity of the worke, but onely the willingnesse, the loving and obedient disposition of the heart; and therefore I passe over those failings and weaknesses which discover them∣selves for want of skill or strength, and not of love, prai∣sing the endevours, and pardoning the miscarriages. Thus doth the Lord deale with his children.
Fourthly, if we be Christs he will pray for us, I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me,*for they are thine; and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, &c. so that wee shall be sure to have helpe in all times of need,* because we know that tho Father heareth his Sonne alwayes; and those things which in much feare, weaknesse, and ignorance we aske for our selves, if it bee according to Gods will, and by the dictate and mouth of the Spirit in our heart, Christ himselfe in his intercession demandeth for us the same things. And this is the ground of that confidence which we have in him,*that if wee aske any thing according to his will hee heareth us, and we have the petitions that we desire of him: For as the world hateth us, because it hateth him first; so the Fa∣ther loveth and heareth us, because he loveth and hea∣reth him first.
Page 308Fifthly, if wee be Christs, then hee will teach us, and commune with us, and reveale himselfe unto us, and lead us with his voice. He calleth his owne sheepe by name, and leadeth them,*and putteth them forth, and goeth be∣fore them. Because Israel was his owne people, there∣fore he shewed them his words.*The Law was theirs, and the Oracles theirs, when hee entreth into covenant with a people, that they become his, then he writeth his Law in their hearts, and teacheth them. This is the Pro∣phet Davids argument,*I am thy servant, give me under∣standing: Because I am thine in a speciall relation, there∣fore acquaint me with thee in an especiall manner. The earth is full of thy mercy,* there is much of thy goodnesse revealed to all the nations of the world, even to those that are not called by thy name: but as for mee whom thou hast made thine owne by a neerer relation, let mee have experience of a greater mercy, Teach mee thy Statutes.
*Sixthly, if we be his, he will chastise us in mercy, and not in fury, though he leave us not altogether unpuni∣shed, yet he will punish us lesse than our iniquities de∣serve; he will not deale with us as with others: Though I make a full end of all nations whither I have driven thee,*yet I will not make a full end of thee,*but I will correct thee in measure. I will correct thee to cure, but not to ruine thee.
The second thing considered in the words, was the Present condition of the people of Christ, which was to be military men, to joyne with the armies of Christ against all his enemies. As he was, so must we be in this world; no sooner was Christ consecrated by his solemne Bap∣tisme unto the worke of a Mediatour, but presently hee was assaulted by the Tempter: And no sooner doth any man give up his name to Christ, and breake loose from that hellish power under which hee was held, but pre∣sently Pharaoh and his hoasts, Satan and his confede∣rates Page 309 pursue him with deadly fury, and powre out flouds of malice and rage against him. Hell and death are at truce with wicked men,* there is a covenant and agreement betwixt them, Satan holdeth his possession in peace:* but when a stronger than he commeth upon, and overcom∣meth him, there is from that time implacable venom• and hostility against such a soule; the malice, power, policie, stratagems, and machianations of Satan; the lusts and vanities, the pleasures, honours, profits, perse∣cutions, frownes, flatteries, snares of the wicked world: the affections, desires, inclinations, deceits of our owne fleshly hearts, will ever plie the soule of a Christian, and force it to perpetuall combates.
There is in Satan an everlasting enmitie against the glory, mercy, and truth of God, against the power and mystery of the Gospel of Christ. This malice of his exer∣ciseth it selfe against all those that have given themselves to Christ, whose Kingdome he mightily laboureth to de∣molish: by his power persecuting it, by his craftinesse and wily insinuations undermining it; by his vast know∣ledge and experience in palliating, altering, mixing, pro∣portioning, and measuring his temptations and spirituall wickednesse in such manner, as that he may subvert the Church of Christ, either in the purity thereof, by corrup∣ting the doctrine of Christ with heresie, and his worship with idolatrie and superstition; or in the unity thereof, by pestering it with schisme and distraction; or in the liberty thereof, by bondage of conscience, or in the pro∣gresse and inlargement thereof, endevouring to blast and make fruitlesse the ministery of the Gospell. And this malice of Satan is wonderfully set on and encouraged both by the corruption of our nature, those armies of lusts and affections which swarme within us, entertaining, joyning force, and co-operating with all his suggestions; disheartning, reclaiming, and pulling backe the soule when it offers to make any opposition; and also by the Page 310men, and materials of this evill world. By the examples, the threats, the interests, the power, the intimacie, the wit, the tongues, the hands, the exprobrations, the per∣secutions, the insinuations and seductions of wicked men. By the profits, the pleasures, the preferments, the accep∣tation, credit and applause of the world.
By all which meanes Satan most importunately pur∣sueth one of these two ends, either to subvert the godly by drawing them away from Christ to apostacie, formali∣tie, hypocrisie, spirituall pride, and the like, or else to Discomfort them with diffidence, doubts, sight of sinne, opposition of the times, vexation of spirit, and the like afflictions. And these oppositions of Satan meet with a Christian in every respect or consideration, under which he may be conceiv'd: consider him in his spirituall estate, in his severall parts, in his temporall relations, in his Acti∣ons or imployments; and in all these Satan is busie to over∣turne the Kingdome of Christ in him. In his spirituall estate, if he be a weake Christian, he assaulteth him with perpetuall doubts and feares touching his election, con∣version, adoption, perseverance, christian liberty, strength against corruptions, companies, temptations, persecuti∣ons, &c. if he be a strong Christian, he laboureth to draw him unto selfe-confidence, spirituall pride, contempt of the weake, neglect of further proficiencie, and the like. There is no naturall part or facultie which is not aimed at likewise by the malice of Satan, for Christ when hee comes, takes possession of the whole man, and therefore Satan sets himselfe against the whole man. Corporeall and sensitive faculties tempted either to sinfull represen∣tations, letting in and transmitting the provisions of lust unto the heart, by gazing and glutting themselves on the objects of the world: or to sinfull executions, finishing and letting out those lusts which have beene conceived in the heart. The phantasie tempted by Satanicall inje∣ctions and immutations to be the forge of loose, vaine, Page 311 unprofitable, and uncleane thoughts. The understanding to earthly wisdome, vanity, infidelity, prejudices, mis∣perswasions, fleshly reasonings, vaine speculations and curiosities, &c. The will to stiffenesse, resistance, dislike of holy things, and pursuite of the world. The consci∣ence to deadnesse, immobilitie, and a stupid benummed∣nesse, to slavish terrours and evidences of hell, to super∣stitious bondage, to carnall securitie, to desperate con∣clusions. The affections to independence, distraction, excesse, precipitancie, &c. In temporall conditions, there is no estate of health, wealth, peace, honor, estimation, or the contraries unto these: no relation of husband, father, magistrate, subject, &c. unto which Satan hath not such suteable suggestions, as by the advantage of fleshly cor∣ruptions may take from them occasion to draw a man from God. Lastly, in regard of our actions and imploy∣ments, whether they be Divine, such as respect God, as acts of pietie, in reading, hearing, meditating, and study∣ing his Word, in calling upon his name, and the like, or such as respect our selves, as acts of temperance and so∣briety, personall examinations, and more particular ac∣quaintance with our owne hearts: or such as respect o∣thers, as acts of righteousnesse, charity, and edificati∣on. Or whether they be actions naturall, such as are re∣quisite to the preservation of our being, as sleepe and diet: or actions civill, in our callings or recreations, in all these Satan laboureth either to pervert us in the perfor∣mance of them, or to divert us from it. There is then no condition, facultie, relation, or action of a Christian man, the which is not alwayes under the eye and envy of a most raging, wise, and industrious enemie. And therefore, great reason there is, that Christians should be Military men, well instructed in the whole armour of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devill, and to quench all his firy darts. It is our calling to wrestle against principalities and powers, and Page 312 spirituall wickednesses in high places, to resist the devill, to strive against sinne, to mortifie earthly members, to destroy the body of sinne, to denie our selves, to contra∣dict the reasonings of the flesh, to checke and controule the stirrings of concupiscence, to resist and subdue the de∣sires of our evill hearts, to withstand and answere the as∣saults of Satan, to out-face the scornes, and despise the flatteries of the present world, in all things to endure hardnesse as the souldiers of Iesus Christ. Our cause is righteous, our captaine is wise and puissant, our service honourable, our victory certaine, our reward massie and eternall, so that in all respects great encouragements we have to be voluntaries in such warre, the issue whereof is our enemies perdition, our Masters honour, and our owne Salvation.
The third thing observed was the through and uni∣versall Resignation and devotednesse of Christs people unto him. Thy people shall be willing, or a people of great devotion in the day of thy Power. From whence I shall gather two observations: First, They that belong unto Christ as his people are most throughly and wil∣lingly subject unto his government, doe consecrate, resigne, and yeeld up their whole soules and bodies to serve in his warres against all his enemies. For the distinct un∣derstanding of which point we are to observe first, that by nature wee are utterly unwilling to be subject unto Christ.* The carnall minde is enmitie against God, it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can bee. For if Christ be over us, the body of sinne must dye; it once crucified him, and he will be reveng'd upon it. By nature wee are willingly subject unto no Law, but the Law of our members,* nor to no will, but the will of the flesh; full of contumacie, rebellion, and stoutnesse of spirit against the truth and beauty of the word or wayes of God. The Love of corrupted nature is whol∣ly a set upon our owne wayes, as an b untamed heifer, Page 313 or a wilde asse; men c wander, and d goe about, and e wearie themselves in their full compasse and swinge of lust, and will not be turned. And therefore it is that they bid God f depart from them, and desire not the know∣ledge of his wayes, that they leave the paths of upright∣nesse, that having g crooked hearts of their owne, they labour likewise to pervert and h make crooked the Go∣spell of Christ, that they may from thence steale coun∣tenance to their sinnes, contrary to that holy affection of iDavid, Make my way strait before me, that they k snuffe and rage, and l pull away the shoulder, and m fall back∣ward, and n thrust away God from them. And hence it is that men are so apt to cavill, and foolishly to charge the wayes of God; first, as grievous wayes; too full of au∣sterity, narrownesse and restraint. oI knew that thou wert an austere man; and this is an phard saying, who can beare it?qThe land is not able to beare all his words.rThere is a Lion in the way, a certaine damage and unavoidable mischiefe will follow me if I keepe in it. Thus as s Israel when they heard of Giants and sonnes of Anak, had no heart to Canaan, but cried, and whined, and rebelled, and mutined, and in their heart turned back into Egypt, that is, had more will to their owne bondage, than to Gods Promise: so when a naturall man heares of wal∣king in a narrow way with much exactnesse and circum∣spection, that come what baite of preferment, pleasure, profit or advantage will, yet hee must not turne to the right hand or to the left, nor commit the least evill for the greatest good: that as the people in the wildernesse were to goe onely where the cloud and pillar of Gods presence led them, though hee carried them through gi∣ants, terrours, and temptations: so a Christian must re∣solve to follow the Lambe whither soever he goeth; He t then turneth backe to his iniquities, and refuseth to heare the words of the Lord. Secondly, as unprofitable wayes:ufor who will shew us any good, is the onely lan∣guage Page 314 of carnall men: xWhat can the Almighty doe for us, say the wicked in Iob?yIt is in vaine to serve God, what profit have we that we have kept his ordinances, &c? If we must take our conscience along in all the businesses of our life, there will be no living in the world; notwith∣standing z the Lord saith, that his words doe good to those that walke uprightly, that godlinesse hath the Promises even of this life; that God will honour those that honor him. Thirdly, as *unequall, and unreasonable wayes, as a astrange, a mad, and a foolish strictnesse, rather the me∣teor of a speculative braine, than a thing of any reall ex∣istence, rather votum than veritas, a wish or figment, than a solid truth. And from such prejudices as these men grow to wrestle with the Spirit of Christ, to with∣stand his motions, to quench his suggestions, and to dis∣pute against him. bThis people are as they that strive with the priest, such a bitter and unreconcileable enmity there is betweene the two seeds.
Secondly, we may observe, that notwithstanding this naturall aversenesse, yet many by the Power of the Word are wrought violently and compulsorily to tender some unwilling services to Christ, by the spirit of bondage, by the feare of wrath, by the evidences of the curse due to sinne, and by the wakefulnesse of the conscience. c They have turned their backe unto me, and not their face, saith the Lord; that notes the disposition of their will. But in the time of their trouble, they will say, Arise and save us, that notes their compulsorie and unnaturall devotion. They shall goe with their flockes and their heards, that is, with their pretended sacrifices, and externall ceremonies to seeke the Lord; but they shall not finde him; hee hath withdrawne himselfe. As when the Lord sent Lions amongst the Samaritanes, then they sent to enquire after the manner of his worship, fearing him, but yet still ser∣ving their owne Gods. But this compulsory obedience doth not proceed from d a feare of sinne but a feare of Page 315 hell. And that plainely appeares e in the readinesse of such men to apprehend all advantages for enlarging themselves, and in making pretences to flinch away and steale from the Word of Grace, in consulting with car∣nall reason to silence the doubts, to untie the knots, and to breake the bonds of the conscience asunder, and to turne into every diverticle which a corrupted heart can shape, in taking every occasion and pretext to put God off, and delay the payment of their service unto him. Thus Felixf when he was frighted with the discourse of Saint Paul put it off with pretence of some further con∣venient season; and the g unwilling Jewes in the time of reedifying the temple at Jerusalem, This people say the time is not come, the time that the Lords house should bee built; in slighting the warnings and distinguishing the words of Scripture out of their spirituall and genuine puritie, and so hbelying the Lord, and saying, It is not he. The word of the Lord, saith the Prophet, is to them a re∣proach, they have no delight in it, that is, they esteeme me when I preach thy words unto them rather as a slande∣rer than as a Prophet: Wouldest thou then know the nature of thy devotion? Abstract all conceits of dan∣ger, all workings of the spirit of bondage, the feare of wrath, the preoccupations of hell, the estuations and sweatings of a troubled conscience, and if all these be∣ing secluded, thou i canst still afford to dedicate thy selfe to Christ, and be greedily ambitious of his image, that is an evident assurance of an upright heart.
Thirdly, we may observe, that by the Power of the Word there may yet be further wrought in naturall men a certaine Velleit•e, a languide and incomplete will, k bounded with secret reservations, exceptions, and con∣ditions of its owne, which maketh it upon every new occasion mutable and inconstant. When l the hypocriti∣call Iewes came with such a solemne protestation unto the Prophet Ieremie, The Lord bee a true and faithfull Page 316 witnesse betweene us, if we doe not according to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send thee unto us, &c. I suppose they then meant as they spake, and yet this ap∣peares in the end to have beene but a velleitie and incom∣plete resolution, a zealous pang of that secret hypocrisie which in the end discover'd it selfe, and brake forth into manifest contradiction: when mHazael answered the Prophet, Is thy servant a dog that hee should doe thus and thus? he then meant no otherwise than hee spake, upon the first representation of those bloudie facts, he abhor∣red them as belluine and prodigious villanies; and yet this was but a velleitie and fit of good nature for the time which did easily weare out with the alteration of occa∣sions. When Iudas asked Christ,nMaster is it I that shall betray thee? (though a man can conceive no hypocrisie too blacke to come out of the hell of Iudas his heart) yet possible, and peradventure probable it may be, that hea∣ring at that time and beleeving that wofull judgement pronounced by Christ against his betrayer, It had beene good for that man if he had never beene borne, he might then upon the pang and surprizall of so fearefull a doome secretly and suddenly relent, and resolve to forsake his purpose of treason; which yet when that storme was over, and his covetous heart was tempted with a bribe, did fearefully returne and gather strength againe. When the people returned and inquired early, and remembred God their Maker, they were in good earnest for the time, and yet that was a velleity, and ungrounded devotion, their heart was not right towards him, neither were they sted∣fast in his Covenant. When oSaul out of the force of naturall ingenuity, did upon the evidence of Davids integritie, who slew him not when the Lord had deli∣vered him into his hands, relent for the time, and weepe, and acknowledge his righteousnesse above his owne, he spake all this in earnest as he thought; and yet wee finde that hee afterwards return'd to pursue him againe, and Page 317 was once more by the experience of Davids innocencie reduc'd unto the same acknowledgement. The people in one place would have made Christ a King, so much did they seeme to honour him, and yet at another time when their over-pliable and unresolved affections were wrought upon by the subtile Pharises, they cried against him, as against a slave, Crucifie him, crucifie him; so may it be in the generall services of God, men may have wishings and wouldings, and good liking of the truth, and some faint and floating resolutions to pursue it▪ which yet having no firme roote, nor proceeding from the whole bent of the heart, from a through mortificati∣on of sinne and evidence of Grace, but from such weake and wavering principles, as may bee perturbed by every new temptation, like letters written in sand, they vanish away like a morning dew, and leave the heart as hard and scorched as it was before. The young man whom for his ingenuity and forwardnesse Christ loved came in a sad and serious manner to learne of Christ the way to heaven: and yet wee finde there were secret reservations which he had not discerned in himselfe, up∣on discoverie whereof by Christ he was discouraged and made repent of his resolution, Mark• 10.21, 22. The Apostle speaketh of a Repentance not to be repented of, 2 Cor. 7.10. which hath firme, solid, and permanent rea∣sons to support it, therein secretly intimating that there is likewise a Repentance, which rising out of an incom∣plete will, and admitting certaine secret and undiscerned reservations, doth upon the appearance of them, flag and fall away, and leave the unfaithfull heart to repent of its repentance. Saint Iames tels us that a double-minded man is unstable in all his wayes, Iam. 1.8. never uniforme nor constant to any rules. Now this division of the minde stands thus; The heart on the one side is taken up with the pleasures of sinne for the present; and on the other with the desires of salvation for the future; and now ac∣cording Page 318 as the workings and representations of the one or other are at the time more fresh and predominant, in like maner is sinne for that time either cherished or sup∣pressed. Many men at a good Sermon, when the matter is fresh and newly presented, while they are looking on their face in the glasse; or in any extremitie of sicknesse, when the provisions of lust doe not relish for the present, when they have none but thoughts of salvation to de∣pend upon, are very resolute to make promises, vowes, and professions of better living; but when the pleasures of sin grow strong to present themselves again, they returne like a man recover'd of an ague with more stomacke and greedinesse to their lusts againe. As water which hath been stop'd for a while rusheth with the more violence, when its passages are opened. A double heart is like the boles of a Scale, according as more weight is put into one or other, so are they indifferently over-rul'd unto either motion, up or downe. When I see a vapour ascend out of the earth into the aire, why should I not thinke that it will never leave rising till it get up to heaven? and yet be∣cause the motion is not naturall, but caused either by ex∣pulsion from a heat within, or by attraction from a heat without, when the cause of that ascent is abated, and the matter gathers together into a thicker consistence, it growes heavie and fals downe againe. Even such is the affection of those faint & unresolved desires of men who like Agrippa are but halfe-perswaded to believe in Christ.
But now lastly wee must observe, that in the day of Christs power, when he by his word and Spirit worketh effectually in the hearts of men, they are then made free-will offerings, Totally willing to obey and serve him in all conditions. The heart of every one stirreth him up, and his Spirit maketh him willing for the worke and ser∣vice of the Lord, Exod. 35.21. They yeeld themselves unto the Lord, and their members as weapons of righ∣teousnesse unto him, 2 Chron. 30.8. Rom. 6.19. They Page 319offer and present themselves to God as a living Sacrifice; and therefore they are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an oblation sancti∣fied by the Holy Ghost, Rom. 12.1. Rom. 15.16. There∣fore they are said to come unto Christ, by the vertue of his Fathers teaching, Ioh. 6.45. To runne unto him, Esai. 55.5. To gather themselves together under him as a common head, and to flow or flock together with much mutuall encouragement unto the mountaine of the Lord, Hos. 1.11. Esai. 2.2, 3. To waite upon him in his Law, Esai. 42.4. To enter into a sure covenant, and to write and seale it, Nehem. 9.38. In one word, To serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing minde, 1 Chron. 28.9. when the heart is perfect, undivided, and goeth all together, the minde will bee willing to serve the Lord.
This willingnesse of Christs people sheweth it selfe in two things: First, in begetting most cordiall and con∣stant Enmitie against all the enemies of Christ, never holding any league or intelligence with them, but being alwayes ready to answere the Lord as David did Saul, Thy servant will goe and fight with this Philistime. Hee that is a voluntary in Christs armies is not disheartned with the potencie, policie, malice, subtlety, or prevailing faction of any of his adversaries. Hee is contented to deny himselfe, to renounce the friendship of the world, to bid defiance to the allurements of Satan, to smile upon the face of danger, to hate father, and mother, and land, and life, to be cruel to himselfe, and regardlesse of others for his masters service. Through honor and dishonor, through evill report and good report, through a Sea and a wildernesse, through the hottest services, and strongest oppositions will hee follow the Lambe whither soever he goeth: though he receive the word in much affliction, yet hee will receive it with joy too. Secondly, in begetting most loving, constant, and deare affections to the mercy, grace, glory, and wayes of God, an universall conformity Page 320 unto Christ our head, who was contented to take upon him the forme of a servant, to have his eare bored, and his will subjected unto the will of his Father. I delight to doe thy will ô my God, yea, thy Law is within my heart, Psal. 40.8. And as hee was, so are all his in this world, of the same minde, judgement, Spirit, conversation, and therefore of the same will too.
Now this deare and melting affection of the heart to∣ward Christ and his wayes, whereby the soule longeth after him, and hasteth unto him, is wrought by severall principles: First, by the Conviction of our naturall Estate, and a through humiliation for the same. Pride is ever the principle of disobedience. They were the proud men who said unto Ieremie, thou speakest falsly, the Lord hath not sent thee, Ier. 43.2. And they were the proud men who hardned their necks, and withdrew the shoul∣der, and would not heare, and refused to obey, Nehem. 9.16, 17, 29. A man must bee first brought to denie him∣selfe before hee will bee willing to follow Christ, and to lug a crosse after him. A man must first humble himselfe before he will walke with God, Mic. 6.8. The poore onely receive the Gospell. The hungrie onely finde sweetnesse in bitter things. Extremities will make any man not onely willing but thankfull to take any course wherin hee may recover himselfe and subsist againe; when the soule findes it selfe in darknesse, and hath no light, and begins to consider whither darknesse leads it; that it is even now in the mouth of Hell, under the paw of the roaring lion, under the guilt of sinne, the curse of the Law, and the hatred and wrath of God, it cannot chuse but most willingly pursue any probability, and with most inlarged affections meete any tender of delive∣rance: Suppose wee that a Prince should cause some bloudy malefactor to bee brought forth, should set be∣fore his eyes all the racks and tortures which the wit of man can invent to punish prodigions offenders withall, Page 321 and should cause him to tast some of those extremities: and then in the middest of his howling and anguish, should not onely reach out a hand of mercy to deliver him, but should further promise him upon his submis∣sion to advance him like Ioseph from the iron which en∣ters into his soule, unto publike honor and service in the state, would not the heart of such a man bee melted into thankfulnesse, and with all submission resigne it selfe unto the mercy and service of so gracious a Prince? Now the Lord doth not onely deale thus with sinners; doth not onely cause them by the report of his word, and by the experience of their own guilty hearts, to feel the weight, fruitlesnesse, and shame of sinne, and the first fruits of that eternall vengeance which is thereunto due: not onely set forth Christ before them as a rock of redemp∣tion, reaching out a hand to save, and offering great and pretious promises of an exceeding, eternall, abundant weight of glory: but besides all this doth inwardly touch the heart by the finger of his Spirit, framing it to a spiri∣tuall and divine conformity unto Christ. How can the soule of such a man in these present extremities of horror, which yet are but the pledges of infinite more which must ensue; and in the evidence of so wonderfull and sweete promises, the seales of the eternall favor and fel∣lowship of God, choose but with much importunity of affection to lay hold on so great a hope which is set be∣fore it, and with all readinesse and ambition of so high a service, yeild up it selfe into the hands of so gracious a Lord, to bee by him ordered and over-ruled unto any obedience?
Secondly, this willingnesse of Christs People is wrought by a spirituall illumination of minde. And therefore the Conversion of sinners is called a Conviction, because it is ever wrought in us Secundum modum judicii as wee are reasonable and intelligent creatures. I take it (under favor and submission to better judgements) for a Page 322 firme truth; that if the minde of a man were once throughly and in a spirituall manner (as it becommeth such objects as are altogether spirituall) possessed of the adequate goodnesse and truth which is in grace and glo∣ry, the heart could not utterly reject them; for humane liberty is not a brutish, but a reasonable thing, it consi∣steth not in contumacie or headstrongnesse, but in such a manner of working, as is apt to bee regulated, varied, or suspended by the dictates of right reason. The onely cause why men are not willing to submit unto Christ is be∣cause they are not throughly and in a manner suteable to the spirituall excellency of the things, illightned in their minde. The Apostle often maketh mention of afulfilling and making full proofe of our ministery, and of preaching the Gospell fully, namely with the evidence of the Spirit and of power, and with such a manifestation of the truth as doth commend it selfe unto the conscience of a man. ThebWord of God, saith the Apostle, is not yea and nay, that is, a thing which may bee admitted or denied at pleasure, but such a word as hath no inevidence in it selfe, nor leaveth any uncertainty or hesitancie in a minde sitted to receive it. And as wee may thus distinguish of preaching, that there is an imperfect and a full preaching: so may wee distinguish of understanding the things preached, in some it is full, and in others but superficiall; for there is a Twofold illumination of the minde, the one Theoreticall and meerly Notionall consisting in know∣ledge; the other Practicall, Experimentall, and spirituall; consisting in the irradiation of the soule by the light of Gods countenance, in such an apprehension of the truth as maketh the heart to burne therby,*when we know things as wee ought to know them, that is, when the manner and life of our knowledge is answerable to the nature and excellencie of the things knowne, when the eye is spiri∣tually opened to beleeve, and seriously conclude that the things spoken are of most pretious and everlasting conse∣quence Page 323 to the soule, as things that concerne our peace with God. This is the Learning of Christ, the teaching of the Father, the knowing of things which passe knowledge, the setting to the seale of our owne hearts that God is true, the evidence of spirituall things not to the braine but to the conscience. In one word this is that which the A∣postle calleth, a spirituall Demonstration. And surely in this case the heart is never over-ruled contrary to the full, spirituall, and infallible evidence of divine truths unto a practicall judgement. Therefore the Apostle saith that Eve being Deceived was in the transgression,* and there is frequent mention made of the deceitfulnesse of sinne, to note that sinne got into the world, by error •nd seduction. For certainly the will is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Ra∣tionall Appetite, and therefore (as I conceive) doth not stirre from such a good as is fully and spiritually repre∣sented thereunto, as the most universall, adequate, and unquestionable object of the desires and capacities of a humane soule; for the freedome, and willing consent of the heart is not lawlesse, or without rules to moderate it, but it is therefore said to bee free because whether out of a true judgement it move one way, or out of a false, another, yet in both it moveth naturally, secundum mo∣dum sibi competentem, in a manner suteable to its owne condition.
If it bee objected that the heart being unregenerate is utterly averse unto any good, and therefore is not likely to bee made willing by the illumination of the minde. To this I answere, that it is true, the will must not onely bee mov•d, but also renewed and changed,* before it can yeeld to Christ. But withall, that God doth never so fully and spiritually convince the judgement, in that manner, of which I have spoken, without a speciall worke of grace thereupon, opening the eye, and removing all naturall ignorance, prejudice, hesitancie, inadvertency, misperswasion, or any other distemper of the minde Page 324 which might hinder the evidence of spirituall truth. By which meanes hee also frameth and fashioneth the will to accept, embrace, and love those good things, of which the minde is thus prepossessed.
Thirdly, this willingnesse of Christs people is wrought by the Communion and adspiration of the spirit of Grace, which is a free spirit, a spirit of love, and a spirit of liberty, a spirit which is in every faculty of man as the soule and principle of its Christianity or heavenly being and wor∣king.* And therefore it makes every faculty secundum modum sibi proprium to worke unto spirituall ends and objects. As the soule in the eye causeth that to see, and in the eare to heare, and in the tongue to speake: so the spirit of Grace in the minde causeth it rightly to under∣stand, and in the will causeth it freely to desire heavenly things; and in every facultie causeth it to move towards Christ in such a way and maner of working as is sute∣able to its nature.
Fourthly, this willingnesse of Christs people ariseth from the apprehension of Gods deare love, bowels of mer∣cy and riches of most unsearchable grace, revealed in the face of Iesus Christ to every broken and penitent spirit. Love is naturally, when it is once apprehended, an At∣tractive of love. And therefore it is that the Apostle saith, Faith worketh by love, that is, By faith first the heart is perswaded and affected with Gods Love unto us in Christ. I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himselfe for me, Gal. 2.20. Eph. 3.17, 18. Being thus perswaded of his love to us, the heart is framed to love him againe: for who can be perswaded of so great a benefit as the remission of sinnes, and not be most deep∣ly inflamed with the love of him by whom they are re∣mitted? 1 Ioh. 4.19. Luk. 7.47. and lastly, by this reci∣procall love of the heart to Christ, faith becommeth effe∣ctuall to worke obedience and conformitie to his will. Love is the fulfilling of the Law, he that loves God would Page 325 with all joyfulnesse fulfill every jot of Gods Law if it were possible; This is the love of God, saith the Apostle, that we keepe his Commandements, and his Commande∣ments are not grievous. True love overcomes all difficul∣ties, is not apt to pretend occasions for neglecting any service of God, nor to conceive any prejudices against it, but puts an edge and alacritie upon the spirit of a man, he can no more be said to love Christ, who doth not wil∣lingly undergoe his yoke, than that woman to love her husband who is ever griev'd at his presence, and deligh∣teth more in the societie of strangers.
Fifthly, this willingnesse of Christs people ariseth from the beauty and pretiousnesse of those ample Promises, which by the love of Christ are made unto us. It is said of Moses that he did chuse (and that is the greatest act of willingnesse) rather to suffer affliction with the peo∣ple of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sinne for a season: and the ground of this willingnesse was, he had a respect unto the recompence of the reward, Heb. 11.25, 26. so Christ endured the Crosse, and despised the shame, that is, the shame (which would much have stagger'd and dis∣heartened an unresolved man) was no prejudice or dis∣couragement unto him, to abate any of his most willing obedience, and the motive was, for the joy that was set before him, Heb. 12.2. And Saint Paul professeth of himselfe that he pressed forward, hee was not onely willing, but importunate and contentious to put forth all his spirits, and like riders in a race to rouse up himselfe in a holy fervour and emulation, and all this was for the Price of the high calling of God in Christ Iesus, which was, as it were, before his face in the Promises thereof. Phil. 3.14. so the Apostle assureth us, That a Christians Hope to be like unto Christ hereafter, will cause him to purifie himselfe even as hee is pure, 1 Ioh. 3.3. when a man shall sit downe and recount with David, what God hath done for him already. Page 326Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And what God hath further promised to doe for him more. Thou hast also spoken of thy servants house for a great while to come. Of a childe of wrath thou hast called mee to an inheritance of the Saints in light, and into the fellowship of more glory than can be shadowed forth by all the lights of heaven, though every Star were turned into a Sunne; I say, when the soule shall thus recount the goodnesse of God, how can it but bee wonderfully enlarged with thoughts of thankfulnesse, and grieved at the slow and narrow abili∣ties of the other parts to answer the urgent and wide desires of a willing soule?
Sixthly, this willingnesse of Christs people ariseth from the experience of that peace, comfort▪ life, liberty, triumph and securitie which accompanieth the Spirit and the ser∣vice of Christ. Nothing makes a man more fearefull of warres than the dangers and hazards which are inci∣dent thereunto. But if a man can serve under such a Prince, whose imployments are not onely honourable, but safe; if he, who is able and faithfull to make good his words, promise us that none either of the stratagems or forces of the enemie shall doe us hurt, but that they shall flie before us, while wee resist them: who would not be a Voluntary in such services as are not liable to the casualties and vicissitudes which usually attend other warres, wherein he might fight with safetie, and come off with honour? David had experience of Gods power in delivering him from the Lion and the Beare, and was well assured that that God who was carefull of sheepe, would be more pitiful to his people Israel, and that made him with much willingnesse ready to encounter Goliah, whose assurance was onely in himselfe and not in God. When a man shall consider what God might have done with him, he might have sent him from the wombe to hell, depriv'd him of the meanes of grace, left him to the Page 327 rebellion and hardnesse of his evill heart, and to the rage of Satan, burnt his bones, and dried up his bowels with the view of that wrath which is due to sinne, and what he hath done with him; he hath called him to the know∣ledge of his will, refreshed him with the light of his countenance, heard his prayers, given an issue to his temptations, and a reviving out of bondage, fastned him as a naile in his holy place, given him his favour which is better than light, and spoken of his servant for a long time to come; O how readily will the spirit of such a man conclude, Lord, according to thine owne heart hast thou done all this unto me, and I have found so much sweetnesse in thy service above all mine owne thoughts or expectations, that now, O Lord, my heart is prepared, my heart is prepared, I will sing and rejoyce in thy service.
Lastly, this willingnesse of Christs people ariseth from that excellent beauty and attractive vertue which is in holinesse. Thy Law is pure, therefore thy servant loveth it. And therefore we finde Christ and his Church doe kin∣dle the coales of love, and stirre up those flames of mu∣tuall dearenesse towards one another, doe cherish those longing, languishing, and ravished affections, and sus∣spirings of hearts, by the frequenting contemplations of each others beautie. Behold, thou art faire my love, be∣hold, thou art faire, thou hast doves eyes. Behold, thou art faire my beloved, yea pleasant, &c. Cant. 1.15, 16. These are the principles of that great devotion and willingnesse which is in the people of Christ unto his service.
And hereby we may make triall of the truth of that profession, subjection, and obedience which we all pre∣tend unto the Gospell of Christ.* It is then onely sound when it proceeds from a willing and devoted heart, from purpose, fervour and earnestnesse of Spirit;* for as God in mercy accounts the will for the deed;* because where there is a willing minde there will certainly be all answe∣rable Page 328 endevours to execute that will, and reduce it into act, so he esteemes the deed nothing without the * will: Cain and Abel did both sacrifice, it was the heart which made the difference betweene them: let the outward conversation be what it will, yet if a man regard iniqui∣tie in his heart, God will not heare him. Gravius est di∣ligere peccatum quam facere: It is a worse token (saith Gregory) of an evill man to love sinne, than to commit it, for it may be committed out of temptation and infir∣mitie, and so may be either in part the sin of another that tempteth us, or at least not the sinne of our whole selves, but of those remainders of corruption which dwel with∣in us. But our love is all our owne, Satan can but offer a temptation, the heart it selfe must love it: and love is strong as death, it worketh by the strength of the whole man, and therefore ever such as the will is (which is the seat of love) such is the service too. And the rea∣son is: First, because the will is the first mover, and the master-wheele in spirituall workes, that which regula∣teth all the rest, and keepeth them right and constant▪ that which holdeth together all the faculties of the soule and bodie in the execution of Gods will. In which sense, amongst others I understand that of the Apostle, That love is the bond of perfection, because when love resideth in the heart, it will put together every facultie to doe that worke of God perfectly which it goes about. And therefore by a like expression it is called The fulfilling of the Law, because love aimes still at the highest, and at the best in that thing which it loves, it is ever an enemie to defects. He that loves learning will never stop, and say I have enough, in this likewise love is as death. And he that loves grace, will be still Ambitious to abound in the worke of the Lord, and to presse forward unto perfe∣ction, to make up that which is wanting to his faith, to Page 329 be sanctified throughout, to bring forth more fruit, to walke in all pleasing, to be holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable, without spot or wrinkle. It is an absurd thing in religion to dote upon mediocrities of grace; in eo non potest esse nimium, quod esse maximum debet; Hee that with all the exactnesse and rigour of his heart, can never gather together all grace, can surely never have too much. In false religions no man so much magnified as he that is strictest: that Papist which is most cruel to his flesh, most assiduous at his beads, most canonicall in his houres, most macerated with superstitious penance, most frequently prostrated before his idols, is of all other most admired for the greatest Saint. O why should not an holy strictnesse be as much honoured as a superstiti∣ous? why should not exactnesse, purity, and a conten∣ding unto perfection, be as much pursued in a true as in a false religion? Why should not every man strive to be filled with grace, since he can never have enough till hee have it all, till he is brimme-full? Hee that truely loves wealth, would be the richest; and he that loves honour, would be the highest of any other: certainly grace is in it selfe more lovely than any of these things. Why then should not every man strive to be most unlike the evill world, and to be more excellent than his neighbour, to be holy as God is holy, to be as Christ himselfe was in this world, to grow up in unity of faith, and in the know∣ledge of him, unto a perfect man? Certainely, if a man once set his will and his heart upon grace, he will never rest in mediocrities; he will labour to abound more and more, he will never think himselfe to have apprehended, but forgetting the things which are behinde, hee will reach forth to those things which are before him, for all the desires of the heart are strong, and will over-rule any other naturall desire. The griefe of Davids heart made him forget to eat his bread. The desire of Christs heart to convert the Samaritan woman, made him carelesse of Page 330 his owne hunger. It is my meate to doe the will of him that sent me, and to finish his worke. A true heart will goe on to finish the worke which it hath begunne. The wicked s•eepe not, saith Salomon, except they have done mischiefe; And the enemies of Saint Paul provided to to stop the clamors and demands of an empty stomack with a solemne vow that they would neither eate nor drinke till they had slaine Paul. Lust never gives over till it finish sin, and therefore the Love of Christ should never give over till it finish Grace.
*Secondly, because God is more honoured in the obedi∣ence of the will than of the outward man. Humane re∣straints may rule this, but nothing but Grace can rule the other; for herein we acknowledge God to bee the searcher of hearts, the discerner of secret thoughts, the Iudge and Lord over our consciences. Whatsoever ye doe (saith the Apostle) doe it heartily as to the Lord, and not to men. Noting unto us that a man doth never respect the Lord in any service which commeth not willingly, and from the inner man. Now he worketh in vaine, and loseth all that he hath wrought, who doth not worke for him who is master of the businesse he goes about, and who onely doth reward it. Therefore saith the Apo∣stle, Doe it heartily as to the Lord, knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the Reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ. He onely is the pay-master of such kinde of worke, and therefore doe it onely as to him, so that he may approve and reward it.
Before I leave this point touching the willingnesse of Christs people, here is a great case, and of frequent oc∣currence to be resolved, Whether those who are truely of Christs people may not have feares, torments, uncom∣fortablenesse, wearinesse, unwillingnesse in the wayes of God? Saint Iohn in generall states the case, There is no feare in love, but perfect love casteth out feare: Because feare hath torment, 1 Ioh. 4.18. so that it seemes where Page 331 there is torment, and wearinesse, there is no love: for the cleering of this case, I shall set downe some few posi∣tions.
First, in generall, where there is true obedience there is ever a willing and a free spirit, in this degree at the least, a most deepe desire of the heart, and serious endevour of the spirit of a man to walke in all well-pleasing to∣wards God: a longing for such fulnesse of Grace, and enlargement of soule as may make a man fit to runne the way of Gods Commandements.
Secondly, where there is this will, yet there may up∣on other reasons be such a feare as hath paine and tor∣ment in it, and that in two respects: First, there may be a feare of Gods wrath, the soule of a righteous man may be surpriz'd with some glimpses and apprehensions of his most heavie displeasure, he may conceive himselfe set up as Gods mark to shoot at, Iob 7.20. that the poisoned ar∣rowes and terrors of the wrath of God doe sticke fast upon him, Iob 6.4. that his transgressions are sealed up and re∣serv'd against him, Iob 14.17. The hot displeasure of the Lord may even vexe his bones, and make his soule sore within him, Psal. 6.1, 2, 3. Hee may conceive himselfe forgotten and cast out by God, surprized with feareful∣nesse, trembling, and the horrour of death, Psal. 13.1. Psal. 55.4, 5. Christ may withdraw himselfe and bee gone, in regard of any comfortable and sensible fruition of his fellowship, and in that case the soule may faile and seeke him but not finde him, and call upon him but receive no answere, Cant. 5.6. A man may feare the Lord, and yet be in darkenesse, and have no light, Esai. 50.10. Secondly, there may bee a great feare even of performing spirituall duties. A broken and dejected man may tremble in Gods service, and upon a deepe appre∣hension of his owne unworthinesse, and erroneous ap∣plying of that sad expostulation of God with wicked men, What hast thou to doe to t•ke my Covenant in thy Page 332 mouth? Psalm. 50.16. And, what hath my beloved to doe in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdnesse with ma∣ny? Ier. 11.15. he may be startled, and not dare adven∣ture upon such holy and sacred things without much re∣luctancie, and shame of spirit. O my God, saith Ezra, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee my God: for our iniquities are increased over our heads, Ezra 9.6. Thus it is said of the poore woman who upon the touch of Christs garment had beene healed of her bloudy is∣sue, That shee came fearing and trembling, and fell downe before Christ, and told him the truth, Mark. 5.33. But yet great difference there is betweene this feare of the Saints, and of the wicked. The feare of the wicked ari∣seth out of the evidences of the guilt of sinne, but the feare of the Saints from a tender apprehension of the ma∣jestie of God, and his most pure eyes which cannot en∣dure to behold uncleannesse (which made Moses him∣selfe to tremble, Act. 7.32.) and out of a deepe sense of their owne unworthinesse to meddle with holy things. And such a feare as this may bring much uncomfortablenesse and distraction of spirit; but, never at all any dislike or hatred of God, or any stomacke-full disobedience a∣gainst him: for as the feare of the soule deterres, so the necessity of the precept drives him to an endeavour of obedience and well-pleasing; slavish feare forceth a man to doe the dutie some way or other, without any eye or respect unto the manner of doing it. But this other which is indeed a filiall, but yet withall an un∣comfortable feare, rather disswades from the dutie it selfe, the heart being so vile; and unfit to performe so pretious a duty in so holy a manner as becomes it.
Thirdly, as the Saints may have feare and uncomforta∣blenesse (which are contrary to a free spirit) so they may have a wearinesse and some kinde of unwillingnesse in Gods service. Their spirits like the hands of Moses in the mount may faint and hang downe, may bee damp'd Page 333 with carnall affections, or tired with the difficulty of the worke, or pluck'd back by the importunitie of temp∣tations, so that though they beginne in the spirit, yet they may be bewitched and transported from a through-obedience to the truth, Gal. 3.1, 3. A deadnesse, heavi∣nesse, insensibilitie, unactivenesse, confusednesse of heart, unpreparednesse of affections, insinuation of worldly lusts and earthly cares may distract the hearts, and abate the cheerefulnesse of the best of us. And hence come those frequent exhortations to stirre up our selves, to pre∣pare our hearts to seeke the Lord, to whet the Law upon our children, to exhort one another lest the deceitful∣nesse of sinne harden us, to bee strong in the Grace of Christ, not to faint or be weary of well-doing, and the like. All which, and sundry like, intimate a sluggishnesse of disposition, and naturall bearing backe of the will from Gods service.
Fourthly, the Proportion of this discomfort and wea∣rinesse ariseth from these grounds: First, from the strength of these corruptions which remaine within us: for ever so much fleshlinesse as the heart retaines, so much bias a man hath to turne him from God and his wayes, so much clog and encumbrance in holy duties. And this remain∣der of flesh is in the will as wel as in any other facultie to indispose it unto spirituall actions, as it is in our members that we cannot doe the things which wee would, Gal. 5.17. so in proportion it is in our wills, that wee cannot with all our strength desire the things which wee should, and therefore David praiseth God for this especiall Grace, Who am I, and what is my people that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine owne have we given thee, 1 Chro. 29.14.
Secondly, from the dulnesse or sleepinesse of Grace in the heart, which without daily reviving, husbanding, and handling will bee apt to contract a rust, and to bee Page 334 over-growne with that bitter roote of corruption with∣in. As a bowle will not move without many rubs and stops in a place overgrowne with grasse, so the will can∣not move with readinesse towards God, when the Gra∣ces which should actuate it are growne dull and heavie. A rustie key will not easily open the locke unto which it was first fitted; nor a neglected Grace easily open or enlarge the heart.
Thirdly, from the violent importunity and immodesty of some strong temptation, and unexpellible suggestions, which frequently presenting themselves to the spirit doe there beget jealousies to disquiet the peace of the heart: for Satans first end is to rob us of grace, for which pur∣pose he hearteneth our lusts against us: but his second is to rob us of Comfort, and to tosse us up and downe be∣tweene our owne feares and suspicions: for unwearied and violent contradictions are apt to beget wearinesse in the best. Consider him that endured such contradicti∣on of sinners against himselfe, saith the Apostle, lest ye be wearied and faint in your mindes, Heb. 12.3.
Fourthly, from the present weight of some heavie fresh sinne, which will utterly indispose the heart unto any good. As we see how long securitie did surprize David after his murther and adulterie. Thus as Ionah after his flight from God, fell asleepe in the ship: so stupiditie and unaptnesse to worke is ever the child of any notable and revolting sinne: When the conscience lieth bleeding un∣der any fresh sinne it hath first a hard taske to goe through in a more bitter renewing the teares of re∣pentance. And hard works have for the most part some feares and reluctancies in the performing of them. Se∣condly, it hath not such boldnesse and assurance to bee welcome to God. It comes with shame, horror, blushing and want of peace, and so cannot but finde the greater conflict in it selfe. Thirdly, sinne diswonts a man from God, carries him to thickets and bushes. The soule loves Page 335 not to be deprehended by God in the company of Sa∣tan or any sinfull lust. That childe cannot but feele some strugglings of shame and unwillingnesse to come unto his father, who is sure when he comes to be upbraided with the companions which he more delights in.
Fifthly, from the proportions of the desertions of the spi∣rit: for the Spirit of God bloweth where and how he listeth; and it is hee that worketh our wils unto obedi∣ence. If he be grieved and made retire, (for he is of a delicate and jealous disposition) if hee turne his wind from our sailes, alas, how slow and sluggish will our motion be? How poore our progresse? Vpon these and severall other the like grounds, may the best of us bee possessed with feares, discomforts, and unwillingnesse in Gods service. But yet
Fifthly, none of all this takes off the will a Toto, though it doe a Tanto, but that the faithfull in their greatest hea∣vinesse and unfitnesse of spirit, have yet a stronger by as towards God than any wicked man when he is at best, for it is true of them in their lowest condition, that they Desire to feare Gods name, Nehem. 1.11. That the de∣sire of their soule is towards the remembrance of him, Esay 26.8. that they are seriously displeased with the distempers and uncomfortablenesse of their spirit, Psal. 42.5. that they long to be enlarged, that they may run the way of Gods Commandements, Psal. 119.32. That they set their affection unto God and his service, 1 Chron. 29.3. That they prepare their heart to seeke the Lord God, 2 Chron. 30.19. That they strive, grone, wrestle, and are unquiet in their dumpes and dulnesse, earnestly contending for joy and freedome of Spirit, Psal. 188.8.131.52. In one word, that they dare not omit those duties, which yet they have no readinesse and disposednesse of heart to performe; but when they cannot doe them in alacrity, yet they doe them in obedience, and serve the Lord when he hideth his face from them. I said, I am Page 336 cast out of thy sight, yet I will looke againe towards thy ho∣ly Temple, Ionah 2.4. He that feareth the Lord will obey his voice, though he walke in darknesse, and have no light, Esay 50.10. So then the faithfull have still thus much ground of comfort, that God hath their wils alwaies de∣voted and resign'd unto him, though thus much likewise they have to humble them too, the daily experience of a back-sliding and tired spirit in his service; and should therefore be exhorted to stirre up the spirit of grace in themselves, to keepe fresh and frequent their communi∣on with Christ. The more acquaintance and experience the heart hath of him, the more abundantly it will de∣light in him, and make haste unto him, that it may with Saint Paul apprehend him in fruition, by whom it is al∣ready apprehended, and carried up unto heavenly pla∣ces in assurance and representation. As long as wee are here there will be something lacking to our faith, some mixture of unbeleefe and distrust with it, 1 Thess. 3.10. Marke 9.24. corruptions, temptations, afflictions, tri∣als, will be apt to beget some feares, discomforts, weari∣nesse, and indisposednesse towards Gods service. The sense whereof should make us long after our home, with the Apostle grone, and wait for the adoption, even the redemption of our bodies, for the manifestation of the sons of God, (for though we are now sonnes, yet it doth not appeare what we shall be, 1 Ioh. 3.2.) should make us pray for the accomplishment of his promises, for the hastening of his Kingdome, where we shall be changed into an universall spiritualnesse, or purity of nature, where those relickes of corruption, those strugglings of the law of the members against the law of the minde shall be ended, those languishings, decayes, ebbes and ble∣mishes of grace shall be removed, where all deficiencies of grace shall be made up, and that measure and first fruits of the Spirit which we here receive, shall be crow∣ned with fulnesse, and everlasting perfection. Here we Page 337 are like the stones and other materials of Salomons Tem∣ple, but in the act of fitting and preparation, no marvell if we be here crooked, knottie, uneven, and therefore subject to the hammer, under blowes and buffets. But when we shall be carried to the heavenly building which is above, and there laid in, there shall be nothing but smoothnesse and glory upon us, no noise of hammers, or axes, no dispensation of Word or Sacraments, no appli∣cation of censures and severity; but every man shall bee filled with the fulnesse of God, Faith turned into sight, Hope turned into fruition, and Love everlastingly ra∣vished with the presence of God, with the face of Iesus Christ, with the fulnesse of the holy Spirit, and with the communion and societie of all the Saints. And so much for the first observation out of the third particular, con∣cerning the willingnesse of Christs people.
There was further therein observed the Principle of this Willingnesse, [In the day of thy power, or, of thine armies] that is, when thou shalt send abroad Apostles, and Prophets, and Evangelists, and Doctours and Tea∣chers for evidencing the Word and Spirit unto the con∣sciences of men. Whence we may secondly observe, that the [Heart of Christs people is made willing to obey him by an act of Power,] or by the strength of the Word and Spirit. It is not barely enticed, but it is conquered by the Gospell of Christ, 2 Cor. 10.4, 5. And yet this is not a compulsory conquest (which is utterly contrary to the na∣ture of a reasonable will, which would cease to be it selfe, if it could be compell'd) but it is an effectuall con∣quest. The will (as all other faculties) is dead naturally in trespasses and sins: And a dead man is not raised to life againe by any enticements, nor yet compell'd unto a condition of such exact complacencie and suteablenesse to nature by any act of violence. So then a man is made willingly subject unto Christ, neither by meere morall perswasions, nor by any violent impulsions; but by a Page 338power, in it selfe supernaturall, spirituall, or Divine, and in its manner of working sweetly tempered to the disposi∣tion of the will, which is never by grace destroyed, but perfected. Therefore the Apostle saith, that it is God who worketh in us to will and to doe, Phil. 2.13. first, he fra∣meth our will according to his owne (as David was said to be a man after Gods owne heart,) and secondly, by that will, and the imperate acts thereof, thus sanctified and still assisted by the Spirit of grace, he setteth the o∣ther powers of nature on worke in further obedience un∣to his will. And therefore the Prophet David praised God that had enabled him and his people to offer wil∣lingly unto the service of Gods house, and prayeth him that he would ever keepe that willing disposition in the imaginations and thoughts of the hearts of his people, 1 Chron. 29.14.18. Therefore, the Apostle saith, that Our faith standeth not in the wisdome of men, but in the power of God, 1 Cor. 4.5. Therefore likewise it is called, The faith of the operation of God who raised Christ from the dead, Col. 2.12.
For the more distinct opening and evidencing this point, how Christs people are made Willing by his power, I will onely lay together some briefe positions which I conceive to be thereunto pertinent, and proceed to that which is more plaine and profitable. First, let us con∣sider the nature of the will, which is, to be a Free agent or mover, to have ex se, and within it selfe an indifferencie and undeterminatnesse unto severall things; so that when it moves or not moves, when it moves one way or other, in none of these it suffers violence, but workes according to the condition of its owne nature.
Secondly, we may note that this indifferencie is two∣fold, either habituall, belonging to the constitution of the will, which is nothing else, but an originall aptitude, or intrinsecall non-repugnancie in the will, to move unto contrary extremes, to worke, or to suspend its owne Page 339 working; or else actuall, which is in the exercise of the former, as objects present themselves, and this is two∣fold, either a freedome to good, or evill, or a freedome to will, or not to will.
Thirdly, notwithstanding the will be in this manner free, yet it may have its freedome in both regards so de∣termin'd, as that in such or such a condition, it cannot doe what it should, or forbeare what it should, or can∣not doe what it should not, nor forbeare what it should not. Man fallen, without the grace of God, is free only unto evill, and Christ in the time of his obedience was free wholly unto good. Man free to evill, but yet so, as that he onely doth it voluntarily, he cannot voluntarily leave it undone. Christ free onely to good, yet so, as that he doth it most freely, but could not freely omit the do∣ing of it.
Fourthly, the will worketh not in this condition of things unto morall objects without some other concur∣rent principles which sway and determine it severall wayes; so that the will is principium quod, the facultie which moves, and the other principium quo, the quali∣tie or vertue by which it moves. And these qualities are in naturall men the flesh or the originall concupiscence of our nature, which maketh the motions of the will to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the will of the flesh; and in the regene∣rate, the Grace and Spirit of Christ, so farre forth as they are regenerate.
Fifthly, as the will is ever carried either by the flesh or the spirit to its objects, so neither to the one or the o∣ther, without the preceding conduct and direction of the practicall judgement, whether by grace illightned to judge aright, or by corrupt affections bribed and blin∣ded to misguide the will; for the will being a rationall appetite, never moveth bu•per modum judicii, upon ap∣prehension of some goodnesse and convenience in the thing whereunto it moves.
Page 340Sixthly, the judgement is never throughly illightned to understand spiritual things in that immediate and am∣ple beautie and goodnesse which is in them, but only by the Spirit of Christ, which maketh a man to have the selfe-same minde, judgement, opinion, and apprehension of heavenly things which he had; so that Christ and a Christian doe 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, thinke the same thing, as the A∣postle speakes, Phil. 2.5. By the which Spirit of grace, working first upon the judgement to rectifie that, and to convince it of the evidence and necessitie of that most universall and adequate good which it presenteth, the whole nature is proportionably renewed, and Christ for∣med aswell in the will and affections, as in the understan∣ding: as the body in the wombe is not shaped by peece∣meale, one part after another, but all together by pro∣portionable degrees and progresses of perfection: So that at the same time when the Spirit of grace by an act of heavenly illumination is present with the judgement of reason to evidence, not the truth onely, but the excel∣lencie of the knowledge of Christ thereunto, it is like∣wise present by an act of heavenly perswasion, and most intimate allurement unto the will and affections, sweetly accommodating its working unto the exigence and con∣dition of the faculties, that they likewise may with such libertie and complacencie as becomes both their owne nature, and the qualitie of the obedience required, apply themselves to the desire and prosecution of those excel∣lent things which are with so spirituall an evidence set forth unto them in the ministery of the Word. As by the same soule the eye seeth, and the eare heareth, and the hand worketh: so when Christ by his Spirit is for∣med in us, (for the Spirit of Christ is the Actus primus, or soule of a Christian man, that which animateth him unto an heavenly being and working, Rom. 8.9, 10, 11. 1 Cor. 6.17.) every power of the soule and body is in some proportionable measure enabled to worke suo Page 341 modo, in such manner as is convenient and proper to the quality of its nature, to the right apprehension and vo∣luntary prosecution of spirituall things. The same Spi∣rit which by the word of grace doth fully convince the judgement, and let the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shine upon the minde; doth by the same word of grace proportionably excite, and assist the will to affect it, that as the understanding is elevated to the spirituall perception, so the will likewise is enabled to the spirituall love of heavenly things.
By all which wee may observe that this working of the Spirit of grace, whereby we become voluntaries in Christs service, and whereby he worketh in us both to will and to doe those things which of ourselves we were not obedient unto, neither indeed could be, is both a sweet and powerfull worke, as in the raising of a man from the dead (to which in the Scriptures the renewing of a sinner is frequently compared) there is a worke of great power, which yet, being admirably sutable to the integrity of the creature, must needs bring an exact com∣placencie and delight with it: we may frequently in ho∣ly Scriptures observe, that of the same effect severall things may be affirmed by reason of its connexion unto severall causes, and of the severall causalities or manners of concurrence with which those severall causes have contributed any influence unto it. As the obedience of Christ was of all other the most free and voluntary ser∣vice of his Father, if we consider it with respect unto his most holy, and therefore most undistracted, and unhin∣dered will: (for if it were not voluntary, it were no obe∣dience) and yet notwithstanding it was most certaine and infallible, if we consider it with respect to the san∣ctitie of his nature, to the unmeasurablenesse of his un∣ction, to the plenitude of his unseducible and unerring Spirit, to the mystery of his hypostaticall union, and the communication of properties between his natures, wher∣by Page 342 what-ever action was done by him, might justly be called the action of God, in which regard it was impos∣sible for him to sinne. In like manner, the passive obedi∣ence of Christ was most free and voluntary, as it respe∣cted his owne will, for he troubled himselfe, hee hum∣bled and emptied himselfe, he laid downe his owne life, he became obedient unto death, even the death of the Crosse; and yet, thus it was written, and thus it beho∣ved or was necessary for Christ to suffer, if we respect the predeterminate counsell and purpose of God, who had so ordained, Act. 4.28. God would not suffer a bone of Christs to be broken, and yet he did not disable the soul∣diers from doing it, for they had still as much strength and libertie to have broken his, as the others who were crucified with him, but that which in regard of the truth and prediction of holy Scriptures was most certainly to be fulfilled, in regard of the second causes by whom it was fulfilled, was most free and voluntary. Wee finde what a chaine of meere casualties and contingencies (if we looke onely upon second causes) did concurre, in the offence of V•s•ti, in the promotion of Esther, in the trea∣son of the two Chamberlaines, in the wakefulnesse of the King, in the opening of the Chronicles, in the accep∣tance of Esthers request, and in the favour of the King unto her, and all this ordered by the immutable and effi∣cacious providence of God (which moderates and guides causes and effects of all sorts to his owne fore-appointed ends) for the deliverance of his people from that inten∣ded slaughter determined against them, the execution whereof would evidently have voided that great pro∣mise of their returning out of captivitie after seventie yeares: with relation unto which promise their delive∣rance at this time was in regard of Gods truth and purpose necessary, though in regard of second causes brought about by a cumulation of contingencies. In like maner, when the hearts of men do voluntarily dedicate Page 343 and submit themselves to the kingdome of Christ, if we look upon it with relation unto the Spirit of grace, which is the principium quo, the formall vertue whereby it is wrought; so it is an effect of power, and as it were, an act of conquest; and yet looke upon it with relation un∣to the heart it selfe, which is Principium quod, the mate∣riall efficient cause thereof, and so it is a most free, sweet, connaturall action, exactly temper'd to the exigencie of the second cause, and proceeding there-from with most exact delight, answerably to the measure of the grace of illumination, or spirituall evidence in the minde, whereby our naturall blindnesse, prejudices, and misperswasions may be remov'd: and to the measure of the grace of ex∣citation, assistance, and co-operation in the heart, where∣by the naturall frowardnesse and reluctancy thereof may be subdued.
In one word, there are but three things requisite to make up a free and voluntary action. First, it must be cum judicio rationis, with a preceding judgment. Second∣ly, it must be cum indifferentia, there must be an internall indeterminatenesse and equall disposition of it selfe unto severall extremes. Thirdly, it must be cum dominio actus, the will must have the power of her owne worke. And all these three doe sweetly consist with the point of the Text, That the heart is made willing to obey Christ by an act of power.
For first, this power we speake of is onely the power of the Word and Spirit, both which doe alwayes worke in the ordinary course of Gods proceeding by them with men, secundum judicium, by a way of judgement and conviction, by a way of teaching and demonstration, which is suteable to a rationall facultie.
Secondly, which way soever the will is by the Spirit of grace directed and perswaded to move, it still retaines an habituall or internall habitude unto the extremes, so that if it should have moved towards them, that motion Page 344 would have beene as naturall and suteable to its condi∣tion, as this which it followeth; for the determination of the act is no extinguishment of the libertie thereunto.
Thirdly, when the Spirit by the power of the word of grace doth work the will in us, yet still the will hath the dominion of its owne act, that is, it is not servilely, or compulsorily thereunto overswayed, but worket•, ex motu proprio, by a selfe-motion, unto which it is quick∣ned and actuated by the sweetnesse of divine grace, as the seed of that action, according to that excellent knowne speech of Saint Augustine, Certum est nos vel∣le cum volumus, sed Deus facit ut velimus. Thus we see how the subjection of Christs people unto his kingdome is a voluntary act in regard of mans will, and an act of power in regard of Gods Spirit, inwardly •llightning the minde with the spirituall evidence, not only of the truth, but the excellencie and superlative goodnesse of the Go∣spell of Christ; and inwardly touching the heart, and fra∣ming it to a lovely conformitie and obedience therunto.
The ground of this point why there is an act of power required to conquer the wils of sinners unto Christ, is that notable enmitie, stoutnesse, reluctancie, rebellion, wearinesse, aversenesse; in one word, fleshlinesse which possesseth the wils of men by nature: such forwardnesse unto evill, so much frowardnesse against good, such a spring and byas from private ends, and worldly objects, such feares without, such fightings within, such allure∣ments on the right hand, such frownes and affrightments on the left; such depths of Satan, such hellish and un∣searchable plots of principalities and powers, to keepe fast and faithfull to themselves this chiefe mistris of the soule of man; such slie and soaking, such furious and firy temptations, to flatter or to fright it away from Christ; such strong prejudices, such deepe reasonings, such high im•ginations, such scornefull and meane con∣ceits of the purity and power of the wayes of Christ, such Page 345 deceitfulnesse of heart, such misperswasions and pre∣sumptious of our present peace, or at least of the easinesse of our future reformation, such strong surmises of car∣nall hopes which will be prevented, or worldly dangers incurred, or private ends disappointed; such lusts to be denied, such members to be hewed off, such friends to be forsaken, such passions to be subdued, such certaine persecutions from the world, such endlesse solicitations of Satan, such irreconcilable contentions with the flesh; in the midst of all these pull-backes, how can we thinke the will should escape and breake thorow, if God did not send his Spirit, as once the Angell unto Lot, Gen. 19.16. to lay hands upon it while it lingers and hankers after its wonted course, to use a mercifull conquest over it, and, as the Scriptures expresse it, * to lead it, to draw it, to take it by the arme, to carry it in his bosome, to beare it as an Eagle her young ones on her wings, nay, by the terrours of the Lord, and the power of his Word and wrath, to pull and snatch it as a brand out of the fire? Certainly, there is so much extreme perversenesse, so much hellishnesse, and devillish antipathy to God and his service in the heart by nature, that if it were left to its owne stubbornenesse to kicke, and rebell, and fall backe and harden it selfe, and were not set upon by the grace of Christ, no man living would turne unto him, or make use of his bloud; by the same reason that any one man perisheth, every man would too, because in all there is as fundamentall and originall enmity to the wayes of grace, as there is in any.
The consideration whereof may justly humble us in our reflexion upon our selves, whom neither the pro∣mises of heaven can allure, nor the bloud and passions of Christ perswade, nor the flames of hell affright from our sinnes, till the Lord by the sweet and gracious power of his holy ••irit subdue and conquer the soule unto himselfe. If a man should rise from the dead, and truly Page 346 relate unto the conscience the woefull and everlasting horrors of hell, if a mans naturall capacity were made as wide to apprehend the wrath, fury, and vengeance of a provoked God, the foulenesse, guilt, and venome of a soule fuller of sins than the heavens of stars, as the most intelligent divels of hell doe conceive them. If an Arch∣angell or Seraphim should be sent from heaven to reveale unto the soule of a naturall man the infinite glory of Gods presence, the full pleasures of his right hand, the admirable beauty of his wayes, the intimate conformity and resemblance between his divine nature in himselfe, & the Image of his holinesse in the creature, the unsearcha∣ble and bottomlesse love of Christ in his Incarnation and sufferings, the endlesse incomprehensible vertue & pre∣tiousnesse of his bloud and prayers; yet so desperately evill is the heart of man, that if after all this God should not afford the blessed operation and concurrence of his owne gratious Spirit, the revelation of his own arme and power upon the soule, to set on those instrumentall cau∣ses, it would be invincible by any evidence, which all the cries and flames of hell, which all the armies and hosts of heaven were able to beget. There is no might or power able to snatch a man out of the hands of his sin, but onely Gods Spirit. Notable are the expressions which the holy Ghost every where useth, to set forth this wretched con∣dition of the heart by nature: a wilfulnesse and selfe-wil∣lednesse, We will not hearken, we will not have this man to raigne over us; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, many wils in one.b Rebellion and stubbornenesse, c stoutnesse of heart, d contestation with God, and gain-saying his Word; e Impudence, stiffe∣nesse, and hard-heartednesse, f mischievous profoundnes and deepe reasonings against the Law of God; g pertina∣cie, resolvednesse, and abiding in mischiefe; they hold fast deceit; obstinacie and h selfe-obduration, They have hard∣ned their neckes that they might not heare; i Impotencie, immoveablenesse, and undocilenesse, their heart is uncir∣cumcised; Page 347 they cannot heare, there is none that understan∣deth or seeketh after God:k scorne and slighting of the messages of the Lord, where is his Word? Where is the promise of his comming?l Incredulity, and belying the Lord in his Word, saying it is not he: Who hath beleeved our report, and to whom is the arme of the Lord revealed?m Wrestling, resisting, and fighting with the Word, re∣jecting the counsell of God, vexing and striving with his holy Spirit, ye have alwayes resisted the holy Ghost.n Rage and fiercenesse of disordred affections, despising of good∣nesse, trayterous, heady, and high-minded thoughts. o Brutishnes of immoderate lust, the untamed madnesse of an enraged beast without any restraint of reason, or moderation. In one word, a p hell, and gulfe of unsearch∣able mischiefe, which is never satisfied. It is impossible that any reasonable man, duly considering all these dif∣ficulties, should conceive such an heart as this to be over∣come with meere morall perswasions, or by any thing lesse than the mightie power of Gods owne grace. To him therefore we should willingly acknowledge all our conversion and salvation; So extremely impotent are we, O Lord, unto any good, so utterly unprofitable, and unmeet for our Masters use, and yet so strongly hur∣ried by the impulsion of our owne lust towards hell, that no precipice, nor danger, no hope nor reward, no man or Angell is able to stop us, without thine owne immediate power, and therefore Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name onely be attributed the glory of our conversion.
Againe, by this consideration we should be provoked to stirre up and call together all our strength in the Lords service, to recover our mispent time, to use the more contention and violence for the kingdome of hea∣ven, when wee consider how abundant wee have beene in the workes of sinne, in the pursuing of vast de∣sires which had neither end nor hope in them. O how Page 348 happie a thing would it be, if men could serve God with the same proportion of vigour and willingnesse of mind, as they served Satan and themselves before? I was ne∣ver tired in that way, I went on indefatigably towards hell, like a swift Dromedary, or an untamed heifer, I pursued those evill desires which had vanity for their object, and misery for their end, no fruit but shame, and no wages but death. But in the service of Christ I have a price before mee, an abiding Citie, an enduring sub∣stance, an immarcescible crowne to fix the highest of my thoughts upon: I have the promises of Christ to strengthen me, his Angels to guard, his Spirit to lead, his Word to illighten me. In one word, I have a soule to save, and a God to honour. And why should not I ap∣ply my power, to serve him, who did reach forth his owne power to convert me? A long way I have to goe, and I must doe it in a spanne of time; so many temptati∣ons to overcome, so many corruptions to shake off, so many promises to beleeve, so many precepts to obey, so many mysteries to study, so many workes to finish, and so little time for all: my weaknesses on one side, my bu∣sinesses on another, mine enemies and my sinnes round about me take away so much, that I have scarce any left to give to God. And yet, alas, if I could serve God on earth, as he is served in heaven, if I had the strength of Angels, and glorified Saints, to doe his will, it would come infinitely short of that good will of God in my re∣demption, or of his power in my conversion. If God should have said to all the Angels in heaven, there is such a poore wretch posting with full strength towards hell, goe stand in his way and drive him back againe, all those glorious armies would have beene too few to blocke up the passage• betweene sin and he•, without the concur∣rence of Gods owne Spirit and power, they could have returned none other answer but this, we have done all we can to perswade and turne him, but he will not be turned. Page 349 If then the Lord did put to his owne power to save me, great reason there is that I should set my weake and im∣potent faculties to honour him, especially since hee hath beene pleased both to mingle with his service great joy, liberty, and tranquillity here, and also to set before it a full, a sure, and a great reward, for my further animati∣on and encouragement thereunto.
The fourth thing observed in this Verse was the attire wherein Christs people should attend upon his service, In the Beauties of Holinesse] These words referre to those before, and that either to the word [People] or to the word [willing.] If to [People] then they are a further de∣scription of Christs Subjects or Souldiers, they shall be all like servants in Princes Courts, beautifully arraied, like the Priests of the Law that had garments of beauty and glory, and so Schindler expounds it, In societate sa∣cerdotum. If to the word [willing] then it notes the ground and inducement of their great devotion and sub∣jection unto Christs kingdome, that as the people came up in troopes to the Lords house, which was the Beauty of his Holinesse, or as men doe flocke together to the sight of some honorable and stately solemnity: so Christs people should by the beauty of his banners be allured to gather unto him, and flye in multitudes as Doves unto their windowes. Which way ever wee understand the words we may from them observe, First, That Holinesse is a glorious and a beautifull thing. The holy oile with which all the vessels of the Sanctuary were to be conse∣crated, was a type of that Spirit which sanctifieth us and maketh us Kings and Priests unto God,* and it was to be compounded of the purest and most delicate ingredi∣ents which the art of the Apothecary could put toge∣ther. Therefore our Saviour still calleth his Spouse the fairest of wom•n, to note, that no other beauty in the world is to be compared with Holinesse.* Therefore our Faith, and Holinesse is called a Wedding Garment,* at Page 350 which solemnitie men use above all other to adorne themselves with their costliest and most beautifull attire: Therefore we are said to aPut on the Lord Iesus, and to Put on bowels of mercie, and humblenesse of minde, and meekenesse, &c. and therefore likewise the Church is compared to a bBride decked in her choicest ornaments and jewels, broidred worke, silke, fine linnen, bracelets, chaines, jewels, crownes, gold, silver, perfect comelinesse, garments of salvation, and of praise, robes of righteous∣nesse, &c. And Christ the husband of this Spouse, the c chiefest and most amiable of ten thousand, even altoge∣ther lovely. The dDesire of all Nations, and the allure∣ment of all hearts that can looke upon him. And e Ierusa∣lem the palace of this glorious couple described by the most pretious and desireable things which can bee thought on. Iaspar the wall, gold the pavement, pearle the gates, pretious stones the foundation, and the Lord the light thereof. Of our selves by reason of sinne we are full of f filthinesse and deformity in flesh and spirit, g clo∣thed with filthy garments, and overspread from the head to the foot with blaines and putrefactions. It is only the holy Word of God which h maketh us cleane from our filthinesse and from all our pollutions. By the washing of water through the Word Christ sanctifieth us, that he may present unto himselfe 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle that it might be holy and without blemish, Ephes. 5.27. And therefore the Apostle Saint Peter exhorteth Christian women to adorne the inner man of the heart with the ornament of a meeke and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God (whose pure eye they ought rather to please than the wanton eye of man) of great price, 1 Pet. 3.3, 4. And the truth hereof may bee proved even from the practice of hypocrites themselves: for no man will counterfeite villanies, and make a shew of the vices, which indeed hee hath not, except he be desperately thereunto swayed by an humor Page 351 of pleasing his wicked companions. And therefore Saint Austin complaineth of it as of a prodigious corrupti∣on of his nature, that he did sometimes belie himselfe to his wicked associates, and boasted of the wickednesse which he durst not practise. No woman will paint her selfe with dung, or spread inke upon her face. It must be beautifull in it selfe which any man will ordinarily counterfeit: so that Holinesse hath the prerogative of an enemies suffrage, which is one of the strongest evidences, to testifie the beauty and excellency thereof.
This point will more distinctly appeare if we consider either the Author, Nature, properties, or Operations of this Holinesse. First, the Author is God himselfe by his spirit. The very God of peace sanctifie you wholly,* saith the Apostle, and the God of peace make you perfect in every good worke to doe his will. Therefore the spirit is called a spirit of Holinesse,* by the power whereof Christ ri∣sing from the dead was declared to bee the Sonne of God, to note the answerablenesse betweene raising from the dead or giving life where there was none before, and the sanctification of a sinner. Therefore the Apostle cal∣leth it the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and the forming of Christ in us, the quickning, and creating us to good workes.* By all which we may note that what Beautie the Creation brought upon that emptie and unshaped Chaos when it was distributed into this orderly frame which we now admire; or what beautie the reunion of a living soule unto a dead and gastly body doth restore unto it; the same beautie doth Holinesse bring unto the soule of a man which was filthy before. But yet fur∣ther we must note that God did not make man as other ordinarie Creatures, for some low and inferior use, (and yet Salomon saith, that they were made all beautifull in their time) but there was a pause, a consultation, a more than common wisedome, power, and mercie revealed in the workemanship of man: for God made man for Page 352 his owne more peculiar delight, company and commu∣nion, one whom hee would enter into a more intimate league and covenant withall.*The Lord hath set apart the man that is godly for himselfe. This people have I formed for my selfe, they shall shew forth my praise, I will magnifie the beautie of my glorious vertues in those whom I have sanctified for my selfe. Thus wee finde what perfect comelinesse the Lord bestowed upon his people, when he entred into Covenant with them, and made them his owne, one which was alwayes to leane on his bosome, and to stand in his owne presence, Ezek. 16.8, 14. The Church is the Lords aowne House, a bTemple in the which hee will dwell and walke; it is his cThrone, in which he sitteth as our Prince and Law-giver. And in this regard it must needs bee extraordinarie beautifull; for thedLord will beautifie the place of his Sanctuary, and will make the place of his feet glorious. Now then, if by Holinesse we are made eGods building, and that not as the rest of the world is for his Creatures to inhabite, but as a Temple for himselfe to dwell in, as a fgallerie for himselfe to walke and refresh himselfe in, certainely Ho∣linesse which is the Ornament and ingraving of this tem∣ple must needs be a glorious thing, for there is much glo∣ry and wisedome in all Gods workes.
Secondly, if we consider the Nature of Holinesse, it must needs be very Beautifull. In generall, it consists in a Relation of conformitie, as all Goodnesse, save that of God doth: for no Creature is so absolute as to have its being from it selfe, and therefore its Goodnesse cannot consist in any thing which hath its originall in it selfe. It is the Rule and End which denominateth the Goodnesse of any created thing, that therefore which ought not to worke for its owne end, ought not to worke by its owne Rule, for he who is Lord of an end, must needs be Lord of the meanes and directions which lead unto that end. And this is indeed the ground of all sinne, when men Page 353 make themselves their owne will, wit, reason, or resoluti∣ons, to bee the spring and fountaine of all their actions. Therefore sinne is called our owne wayes, and the lusts of our owne hearts and our owne counsels, because it is absolutely from our selves, and hath no constituted rule to moderate or direct it. Impossible it is for any Crea∣ture, as it comes out of Gods hands, to bee without a Law, or to be an originall law unto it selfe: for as hee who hath none over him cannot possibly be subject un∣to any Law, in as much as a Law is but the declaration of a Superiours will what he requires to bee done, and what he threatneth on default thereof to inflict: so hee that is under the wisedome and ends of another, must needs likewise bee subject to the Lawes which his will prescribes for advancing and compassing his owne ends, who if he bee in his owne nature and ends most holy, must needs be holy in the Lawes which he enacts. By all which we may observe that Holinesse consisteth in con∣formity, so that according to the excellencie of the pat∣terne whereunto it referres, so is the measure of its beau∣tie to be conjectured. And the patterne of our Holi∣nesse is God himselfe, Be you holy, as your father which is in heaven is Holy; Other Creatures have some prints and paths of God in them, and so are all beautifull in their time: but man had the image of God created in him, his will was set up in our heart as a Law of nature, most pure, right, holy, good, wise and perfect, and that Law did beare the same relation to mans life, as his soule doth unto his members, to animate, forme, and organize every motion of the heart, every word of the mouth, eve∣ry action of the soule and bodie according unto the will of God. When after this man threw away this Image, and God was pleased in mercy again to renue Holinesse in him, he did it againe by another patterne, or rather the same exhibited in another maner. He made him then con∣formable to the Image of his Son, the heavenly Adam,*Page 354 who is himselfe the Image of the invisible God, the ex∣presse Character of his Fathers brightnesse, a Sunne of righteousnesse, a morning starre, the light of the world, the fairest of ten thousand: so that compare Holinesse with the first originall draught thereof in Paradise, the nature of Adam as it came new out of Gods fashioning, or that with the Law of God written in his heart, or that with the Holinesse of God, of which it was a ray shi∣ning into the soule, or that Image of God with it selfe in Christ the second Adam, and every way Holinesse in its nature consists in a Conformity and Commensuration to the most beautifull things.
Thirdly, if we consider some of the chiefe Properties of Holinesse, wee shall finde it in that regard likewise very Beautifull. First, Rectitude and Vprightnesse, since∣ritie and simplicitie of heart, God made man upright, but they have found outamany inventions, that is, have sought up and downe through many turnings and by-wayes to satisfie crooked affections. It was bDavids Prayer, Make thy way strait before my face, and it is the Apostles instruction, cMake strait paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way. True Holinesse is a plaine, and an even thing, without falsehood, guile, perversenesse of Spirit, deceitfulnesse of heart, or star∣ting aside. It hath one end, one rule, one way, one heart, whereas hypocrites are in the Scripture called dDouble minded men, because they pretend to God, and follow the world. And ecrooked men, like the f swelling of a wall, whose parts are not perpendicular, nor levell to their foundation. Now rectitude, sincerity, and single∣nesse of heart is ever both in the eyes of God and man a beautifull thing.
Secondly, Harmonie and Vniformity within it selfe. The Philosopher saith of a Iust man that he is like a Dye, which is every way even and like it selfe, turne it how you will, it fals upon an equall bottome. And so Holi∣linesse Page 355 keepes the heart like its selfe in all conditions; as a watch though all together it may bee tossed up and downe with the agitation of him that carrieth it about him; yet that motion doth no way perturbe the frame, or disorder the workings of the spring and wheeles with∣in: so though the man may bee many wayes tempted, and disquieted, yet the frame of his heart, the order of his affections, the governement of the spirit within him is not thereby stopped, but holdeth on in the same te∣nour. We know in the body if any part doe exceed the due proportion, it destroies the beautie and acceptable∣nesse of the rest. Symmetrie and fitnesse of the parts unto one another is that which commends a body. Now Holinesse consisteth in this proportion, there is in it an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an exactnesse of obedience, an equall respect unto all Gods Commandements, an hatred of every false way, an universall worke upon the whole spirit, soule, and body, a supply made unto every joynt, a mea∣sure dispenced unto every part, not a grace due unto Christian integritie which is not in some proportion fa∣shioned in a man. Christ hath no Monsters begotten by his spirituall seed: for Monsters are ever caused either by an excesse, or by a defect of seed; in the one case nature being overcharged is forc'd to labour that which re∣maines, and will not be laid aside, into some superfluous members; and in the other for want of materials to leave her worke unfinished, and destitute of some ne∣cessary parts. But now first wee are to note that a man can have no superfluitie of Grace, we can never have too much of that, the fulnesse whereof we should labour to get, and for the other danger, wee know Christ hath a Residue of spirit to supply any defect, and to make up whatsoever is away for the fashioning of Christ in us: so then Holinesse fashioneth the whole man. Hee that leaves any one faculty of his soule neglected, or any one part of the Service or Law of God disobeyed (I Page 356 speake of a totall, and constant neglect) is undoubtedly an Hypocrite and disobeyes all, Iam. 2.10, 11. As Da∣vid with a little stone slew Goliah because his forehead was open; so can our enemie easily deale with us if he observe any faculty naked and neglected. The actuall and totall breach of any one Commandement, (Totall, I meane, when the whole heart doth it, though haply it execute not all the obliquitie which the compasse of the sinne admits) is an implicite, habituall, interpretative, and conditionall breach of all; His soule stands alike dis-affe∣cted to the holinesse of every Commandement, and hee would undoubtedly adventure on the breach of this, if such exigences and conditions as misguided him in the other should thereunto as strongly induce him. He that hath done any one of these abominations, hath done all these abominations in Gods account. Ezek. 18.10, 13. There being then in a Christian man a suteable life and vigour of holinesse in every part, and a mutuall conspi∣ring of them all in the same wayes and ends, there must needs likewise be therein an excellent beauty.
Thirdly, growth and further Progresse in these Propor∣tions: for it is not onely uprightnesse and Symmetrie of parts, which causeth perfect beauty and comelinesse, but stature likewise. Now Holinesse is a thriving and growing thing. The Spirit is seede, and the Word is raine, and the Father is an Husbandman, and therefore the life of Christ is an abounding life, Ioh. 10.10. The ri∣vers of the Spirit of Grace spring up unto Eternity, Ioh. 7.36. As Christ hath no Monsters, so neither hath hee any Dwarfes in his mysticall body; but all his grow up unto the pitch of perfection which it becommeth them to have in him, even unto the measure of the stature of the fulnesse of Christ, Ephes. 4.12, 13. The meaning of the Apostle is that Christ is not alwayes an infant in us as when he is first formed, but that he doth Grandescere in Sanctis, as Musculus well expresseth it, that he groweth Page 357 up still unto the stature of a man: for wheresoever there is faith and holinesse there is ever ingenerated an appetite for augmentation; Faith is of a growing and Charitie of an abounding Nature, 2 Thes. 1.3. By the Word of truth, as by incorruptible seed wee were begotten,* and by the same Word as by the sap and milke are we nou∣rished, and grow up thereby. This affection holinesse ever workes, as it did in the Disciples, Lord, increase our faith, and in David, Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.
Fourthly, besides the Rectitude, Harmonie, and Ma∣turitie which is in Holinesse, there is another propertie, which maketh the Beautie thereof surpasse all other Beautie, and that is Indeficiencie. The measure of Christ must be the Rule of our growth, but Christ never was overtaken by old age or times of declining, He never saw corruption: so wee must proceede from strength to strength, like the Sunne to the perfect day, but there is no sinking or setting of Holinesse in the heart. They that are planted in Gods House doe still bring forth fruit in their Old age,* and are even then fat and flouri∣shing. As our outward man decaieth, so our inward man groweth day by day. Our Holinesse is a branch of the life of Christ in us, which doth never of it selfe runne into death, and therefore is not apta nata of it selfe to decay: for that is nothing but an earnest, inchoation, and assurance of death. That which waxeth old, saith the Apostle, is ready to vanish away, Heb. 8.13.
Fourthly and lastly, if we consider the Operations of Holinesse, that likewise will evidence the Beautie there∣of, for it hath none but gratious and honourable effects. It filleth the Soule with Joy, Comfort, and Peace. All Joy, unspeakeable, and glorious joy, peace, quiet∣nesse, assurance, songs, and everlasting joy.* It maketh the blinde see, the deafe heare, the lame leape, the dumbe sing, the wildernesse and parched ground to be∣come Page 358 springs of water. It entertaineth the soule with feasts of fatted things,* and of refined wines, and carrieth it into the banquetting-house unto apples and flagons. It giveth the soule a deare communion with God in Christ, a sight of him, an accesse unto him, a boldnesse in his presence, an admission into most holy delights, and intimate conferences with him in his bed-chamber, and in his galleries of love. In one word, it gathers the ad∣miration of men, it secures the protection of Angels, and which is argument of more beautie than all the creatures in the world have besides, it attracteth the eye and heart, the longings and ravishments, the tender compassions and everlasting delights of the Lord Iesus.
I have insisted on those properties of holinesse, which denote inward beautie, because all the graces of the Spirit doe beautifie inherently. But the word proper∣ly signifying Decus or Ornatum, outward adorning by a metaphor of rich apparell, expressing the internall excellencie of the soule, notes unto us two things more.
First, that the people of Christ are not only sanctified within, but have interest in that unspotted holinesse of Christ, wherewith they are clothed as with an orna∣ment. So the Priests a of God are said to be clothed with righteousnesse, and we are said to bput on Christ: And the righteousnesse of Christ is frequently compared to clong white robes, fit to d cover our sins, to hide our na∣kednesse, and to protect our persons from the wrath of God: so that to the eye of his justice we appeare, as it were parts of Christ; as when Iacob wore Esau's gar∣ment, he was as Esau to his father, and in that relation obtained the blessing. God carrieth himselfe towards us in Christ, as if we our selves had fulfilled all righteous∣nesse, as if there were no ground of contestation with us, or exception against us. And this is indeed the beau∣tie of holinesse: The modell, prototype, and originall of all beautie.
Page 359Secondly, from the metaphoricall allusion (as it is usu∣ally understood) it notes unto us likewise, that all the people of Christ are Priests unto God, to e offer up sacri∣fices acceptable unto him by Iesus Christ. They have all the priviledges, and the duties of Priests. To approach unto God, f wee have libertie to enter into the holiest by the bloud of Iesus; to consult and have communion with him, to be his Remembrancer; for as his Spirit is his Re∣membrancer unto us, g hee shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you; so is he h our Remembrancer unto God, to put him in minde of his mercy and promises, to make mention of him, and to give him no rest. To know, and propagate his truth; this i was the office of the Priest, to be the keeper of the knowledge, and to teach it unto others: and this know∣ledge in the Gospell doth k overflow the earth, and make every l man, in a spirituall sense, a Priest, an in∣structer, and edifier of his brother. To offer to him such sacrifices as hee now delighteth in: the m sacrifices of thanksgiving, the n sacrifices of a broken and contrite spirit, the o sacrifices of praise, confession, good works, and mutuall communicating unto one another: in one word, the p sacrificing of a mans whole selfe, to be con∣secrated as a kinde of first fruit unto God, being sancti∣fied by the Holy Ghost. There is no man actually be∣longing unto the Kingdome of Christ, who hath not all these holy affections wrought in him, and maketh conscience of them, as of his calling, and the duties of his life.
Wee see then that Holinesse is the badge of Christs subjects; they are called qThe people of his Holinesse:r Israel was holinesse unto the Lord, and the first fruits of his increase consecrated unto him and his service as a kinde of first fruits. The livery of Christs servants is a parcell of the same holy Spirit with which his owne hu∣mane nature was clothed. s All the vessels and ministe∣riall Page 360 instruments of the Tabernacle were anointed with the holy oyle; and the t house of the Lord was an house of holinesse, to signifie that every Christian should bee by the Spirit of God sanctified, because he is u a Tem∣ple, and every member, because it is x a vessell and in∣strument for the Masters use. The Spirit of holinesse is that which distinguisheth, and as it were, marketh the sheepe of Christ from the wicked of the world: yee are ysealed with the Holy Spirit of promise:z yee have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God. Holinesse asetteth us apart for Gods service, for his bpresence and fruition; c protecteth and priviledgeth us from the wrath to come, in the day when he shall se∣parate betweene the pretious and the vile, and make up his jewels: without this no man can either serve, or see, or escape God, either doe his will, enjoy his favour, or decline his fury. All our services without this are but dDung, and who would thanke that man for his ser∣vice, who with wonderfull officiousnesse should bring nothing but heapes of dung into his house? If a man could powre out of his veines rivers of bloud, and offer up every day as many prayers as thoughts unto God, if his eyes were melted into teares, and his knees hardned into horne with devotion; yet all this, if it be not the fruit of holinesse, but of will-worship, or superstition, or opinion of merit and righteousnesse, it is but as dung in Gods sight. Wherefore lyest thou upon thy face, there is an accursed thing in the campe? What-ever sinne thy conscience tels thee lyeth next thy heart, and warmes it, so that thou art unwilling to part from it, take heed of bringing it into Gods presence, or provoking him with thy services, for he will throw them backe like dung into thy face. What hath my beloved to doe in mine house, see∣ing shee hath wrought lewdnesse with many?* What hast thou to doe to take my Covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction? Who hath required this at your hands Page 361 to tread in my Courts? Bring no more vaine oblations, incense is an abomination unto mee, &c. Till a man put away the evill of his doings, and cleanse himselfe, all his worship of God is but mocking of him, and prophaning his ordinances. In vaine did the Marriners pray while Ionah was in the ship; in vaine did Ioshua intercede while the accursed thing was in the campe. A man shall lose all which he hath wrought in Gods worship, and have neither thankes nor reward for it, so long as he harbou∣reth any uncleane affection in his heart, and will not yeeld to part from it. Any sinne which wasteth the con∣science (as every great and presumptuous sinne doth in whomsoever it is) unqualifieth that person for the king∣dome of heaven. Grace maketh a beleever sure of sal∣vation, but it doth not make him wretchlesse or secure in living; though there be not an extinguishment, yet there is a suspension of his right upon any black and notorious fall, that man must not dare to lay claime to heaven, that hath dared in a presumptuous manner to provoke the Lord. Our holinesse is not the cause of our salvation, but yet it is the way thereunto; he which by any wasting and presumptuous sin putteth himselfe out of that way, must by repentance turne into it againe, before hee can hope to finde out heaven; for without holinesse no man shall see the Lord. He that is an hundred miles from his owne house, notwithstanding his proprietie thereunto, shall yet never actually enter therein, till he have travel∣led over the right way which leads unto it. There is an Order, à primo ad ultimum in the salvation of men, ma∣ny intermediate passages betweene their vocation and their glory: Justification, repentance, sanctification, as a scale or ladder betwixt earth and heaven, he that fals from his holinesse and purity of conscience, though hee be not quite downe the ladder, and hath the whole worke to begin againe, as much as ever, yet doubtlesse he shall never get to the top till he recover the step from which he fell.
Page 362And if in this case it be true that the righteous shall scarcely be saved; O then where shall that man appeare whom God at the last shall finde without this garment and seale upon him. When there was a tempest, he who slept, and least thought of it, was throwne into the sea; and when the day of wrath shall come, those that have neglected their estate most, shall doubtlesse be in the greatest danger. And therefore we should labour to goe to Gods throne with our garments and our marke upon us; for all other endowments, our learning, our honours, our parts, our preferments, our earthly hopes and de∣pendencies will none follow us, but wee shall live to see either them or the comforts of them depart. Achitophel had wisdome like an oracle of God, but he liv'd to see it bid him quite farewell, for hee died like a very foole or childe, who when he may not have his owne will, will be reveng'd upon himselfe. Haman had more honour than the ambition of a subject usually aspires unto, and yet he liv'd to see it bid him farewell, and died the basest death which himselfe could devise for his most hated and despised enemie. Iehoiakim, a King, liv'd to see his Crowne take its leave, and was buried with the buriall of an Asse, and drag'd like carrion out of the gates of the Citie. There will be nothing at last left for any man to cast his trust upon but God, or Angels, or our fellowes; and if then God be against us, though all which remains were on our side, alas what is an handfull of stubble to a world full of fire? but yet there will not be that advan∣tage, but the combate must be single betweene God and a sinner. The good Angels rejoyce to doe Gods will, and the wicked will rejoyce to doe man any mischiefe; these will be only readie to accuse, and those to gather the wicked together unto the wrath of him that sitteth on the Throne. O what would a man give then for that holinesse which hee now despiseth? what covenants would such a man be content to subscribe unto, if God Page 363 would then shew him mercy when the court of mercy is shut up? wouldst thou returne to the earth, and live there a thousand yeares under contempt and persecution for my service? O yes, not under thy service onely, but un∣der the rockes and mountaines of the earth, so I may be hid from the face of the Lambe. Wilt thou be content to goe to hell and serve me there a thousand yeeres in the midst of hellish torments, and the reviling of damned creatures? O yes, even in hell infinitely better would it be to be thy servant than thine enemie. Wilt thou re∣venge every oath with an yeare of prayers, every bribe or corruption with a treasury of almes, every vanity with an age of precisenesse? Yes Lord, the severest of thy commands to escape but the smallest of thy judge∣ments. O let us be wise for our selves, there shall be no such easie conditions then proposed when it will be im∣possible to observe them, and there are now farre easier proposed, when we are invited to observe them.
Lastly, from hence we learne that none will be Wil∣ling to come unto Christ till they see Beauty in his ser∣vice, which with a carnall eye they cannot doe, for na∣turally the heart is possessed with much prejudice a∣gainst it, that the way of religion in that exactnesse which the Word requires, is but the phantasme of more subli∣mated speculations, a meere notionall and airy thing, which hath no being at all, but in the wishes of a few men, who fancie unto themselves the shape of a Church, as Zenophon did of a Prince, or Plato of a Common∣wealth. And therefore though with their tongues they doe not, yet in their hearts men are apt to lay aside that rigour and exactnesse which the Scripture requires, namely, to pull out our right eyes, to cut off our right hands, to hate father and mother, and wife, and lands, and our owne life; to deny our selves, to crosse our own desires, to mortifie our earthly members, to follow the Lambe through evill report and good report, through Page 364 afflictions and persecutions, and manifold temptations whither soever hee goeth, to warre with principalities and powers, and spirituall wickednesses, to acquaint our selves with the whole counsell of God, and the like: and in stead thereof to resolve upon certaine more tolerable maximes of their owne to goe to heaven by, certaine me∣diocrities betweene piety and prophanenesse, wherein men hope to hold God fast enough, and yet not to lose either the world, or their sinfull lusts. This is a certaine and confessed truth, that the spirit which is in us by na∣ture, is contrary to the spirit of purity and power which is in the world: and therefore the universall and willing submission of the heart unto this, must needs finde both many antipathies within, and many discouragements and contempts without.* Christ was set up for a signe of contradiction to be spoken against, and that in the houses of Israel and of Iuda, and as it was then, so is it now, even in Abrahams family, in the houshold and visible Church of Christ,*They that are of the flesh persecute those that are after the spirit;* Christ had never greater e∣nemies than those which professed his name. This is one of the sorest engines Satan hath against his kingdome,* to make it appeare in the eyes of men, as a despicable, con∣temptuous, and unbeautifull thing. And therefore no man comes under Christs government till that prejudice by manifest evidence of the Spirit be removed. And for this reason the wayes of Christ are set forth as beautifull, even under crosses and afflictions. I am blacke with per∣secution, with the beating of the Sunne upon me, but yet I am comely, O yee daughters of Jerusalem. When the watch-men smote the Church,* and wounded her, and tooke away her veile, yet still she acknowledged Christ, for whose sake she suffered these persecutions, to be the white and ruddy,*the fairest of ten thousand: and the same opinion hath Christ of his Church, though she be affli∣cted and tossed with tempest, yet he esteemeth of her as Page 365 of a beautifull structure. How faire and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights?* And this is that we should all endevour, to shew forth in a shining and unblameable conversation, the Beauty of the Gospell, that the enemie may have no occasion from any indiscretions, affectati∣tions, unnecessary, reservednesse, and deformities, un∣grounded scrupulosities, over-worldly affections, or any other miscarriages of those who professe not the name onely, but the power of religion, to blaspheme or fling off from a way, against which they have such preju∣dices offered them; for all that which the faithfull have common with the world, shall yet be sure to be charg'd upon their profession by wicked men, who have not ei∣ther reason or charity enough to distinguish betweene Gods rule, and mans errour. Submit your selves, saith the Apostle, to every ordinance of man for the Lords sake, &c. for so is the will of God, that with well-doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: for this is cer∣taine, the ignorance of foolish men will not so much lay the blowes upon your persons, as upon that truth and religion which you professe, when you needlessely with∣stand any such ordinances as you might without sinne obey.
The last thing observed in this verse was the Multi∣tudes of Christs subjects, and the manner of their birth; From the wombe of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth. Thy children are borne in as great abundance un∣to thee, as the dew which falleth from the morning wombe.
From whence we may note; First, that Christ in the day of his power, in the morning of his Church, had multitudes of children borne unto him. This promise the Lord made to Abraham, and it is not to be limited to his children after the flesh, but to his children of promise,* that his seed should be as the Starres, and as the Dust for multitude. And the Prophet applies that Promise to Page 366 Israel by promise, when those after the flesh should be dissipated and become no people, yet saith the Prophet, the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea which cannot be measured nor numbred,* &c. meaning the Israel of God amongst the Gentiles. Thus the faithfull are said to flocke like Doves unto their win∣dowes,* and to swell into a sea of great waters, an hun∣dred and foure and forty thousand,* with an innumera∣ble company more, all sealed and standing before the Lambe.
Now this was in die copiarum, in the time when Christ first sent abroad his armies and the rod of his strength into the world.* Before this God suffered men to walke in their owne wayes, yea, in his owne life-time hee for∣bade his Disciples to enter into the Cities of the Sama∣ritans,* or the Gentiles. And he promised them that they should do greater works than he himselfe had done, be∣cause he went unto his Father:* for when he ascended up on high, he then led captivitie captive, that ignorance and thraldome under which the world was held he tri∣umphed over, and gave gifts of his Spirit unto men of all sorts in abundance; Visions to the young, Dreames to the aged, and his gracious Spirit unto all. Wee never reade of so many converted by Christs personall prea∣ching (which was indeed but the beginning of his prea∣ching, for it is the Lord which speaketh from heaven still) as by the ministery of his Apostles; he thereby provi∣ding to magnifie the excellencie of his spirituall presence, against all the carnall superstitions of those men who seeke for an invisible corporall presence of Christ on the earth, charmed downe out of heaven under the lying shapes of separated accidents. And who cannot be con∣tent with that All-sufficient Remembrancer, which him∣selfe hath promised to his Church, Ioh. 14.26. except they may have others, and those such as the holy Scrip∣tures every where disgraceth as teachers of lyes and va∣nity, Page 367 the Crucifixes and images of their owne erecting; therein infinitly derogating from that all-sufficient pro∣vision which the Lord in his word and Sacraments (the onely living and full images of Christ crucified, Gal. 3.1.) hath proposed unto men as alone able to make them wise unto salvation, being opened and represented unto the consciences of men, not by humane inventions, but by those holy ordinances and offices which himselfe hath appointed in his Church, the preaching of his word, and administration of his Sacraments. And surely they who by Moses and the Prophets, by that Mini∣sterie which Christ after his ascension did establish in his Church, doth not repent, would bee no whit the nee∣rer, no more than Iudas or the Pharises were, if they should see or heare Christ in the flesh. Therefore it is ob∣served after Christs ascension that the word of God grew mightily and prevailed;* and that there were men dayly added unto the Church. That the Savor of the Go∣spell was made manifest in every place. That the Children of the desolate were more than of the married wife. There∣fore the beleevers after Christs ascension are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. The multitude of them that beleeved, and multitudes of men and women were added to the Lord. Ten to one of that there was before; Ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, of the skirt of him that is a Iew, saying, We will goe with you; that is, shall take the Kingdome of heaven by violence, as Saul laid hold on the skirt of Samuels Ma•tle, that hee might not goe from him.
The Reason hereof is to magnifie the exaltation & spiri∣tuall presence and power of Christ in the Church; while he was upon the earth he confin'd his ordinary residence and personall preaching unto one people, because his bo∣dily presence was narrow, and could not bee communi∣cated to the whole world. For he tooke our nature with those conditions and limitations which belong there∣unto. Page 368 But his Spirit and power is over the whole Church, by them hee walketh in the middest of the Candlesticks. Christs bodily presence and preaching the Iewes with∣stood, and crucified the Lord of glory. But now to shew the greatnesse of his power by the Gospell, hee goes himselfe away, and leaves but a few poore and persecu∣ted men behinde him, assisted with the vertue of his Spi∣rit, and by them wrought workes which all the world could not withstand. Hee could have published the Gospell as hee did the Law by the ministery of Angels; hee could have anointed his Apostles with regall oyle, and made them not Preachers only but Princes, and De∣fenders of his faith in the world. But hee rather chose to have them to the end of the world poore and despised men, whom the world (without any shew of just reason which can bee by them alleaged) should overlooke, and account of as low and meane conditioned men, that his Spirit might in their ministerie bee the more glorified. God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,*and weake things of the world to confound things that are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, ye and things that are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence.* But that his own Spirit might have all the honor; therefore I was with you in weaknesse, saith the Apostle, and in feare, & in much trembling, &c. That your faith should not stand in the wisedome of men, but in the power of God.* And againe, Wee have this treasure in earthen vessells, that the excellency of the power may bee of God and not of us▪ not by might, nor by power, but by my Spi∣rit, saith the Lord. Thus we finde that when the Church was most persecuted it did then most grow, and in the worst times it brought forth the greatest fruit, to note the power of Christs Kingdome above all the attempts of men.*A great doore, and effectuall is opened unto mee, saith the Apostle, and there are many adversaries; intima∣ting Page 369 that the Gospell of Christ had great successe when it was most resisted. All persecutors (as S. Cyprian ob∣serves) are like Herod, they take their times,* and seeke to slay Christ and overthrow his Kingdome in its infancie, and therefore at that time doth hee most of all magnifie the power and protection of his Spirit over the same. Never were there so many men converted as in those in∣fant-times of the Church when the dragon stood before the woman ready to devoure her Childe, as soone as it should bee borne. The great Potentates of the world, which did persecute the name of Christ, were themselves at last thereunto subjected, Non a repugnantibus sed a morientibus Christianis, not by fighting but by dying Christians. As a tree shaken sheds the more fruit, and a perfume burnt diffuseth the sweetest Savor; so persecuted Christianity doth the more flourish by the power of that Holy Spirit, whose foolishnesse is wiser, and whose weaknesse is stronger than all the oppositions and con∣tradictions of men.
But if there bee such multitudes belonging unto Christs Kingdome, is not universality,* and a visible pompe a true note to discerne the Church of Christ by? To this I answer, that a true characteristicall note or difference ought to bee convertible with that of which it is made a note, and onely suteable thereunto; for that which is common unto many, can bee no evident note of this or that particular. Now universality is common to Anti∣christian, idolatrous, & malignant Churches. The Arrian heresie invaded the world, and by the Imperiall counte∣nance spread it selfe into all Churches. The whore was to sit upon many waters, which were peoples, and multi∣tudes, and nations, and tongues;*the Kings of the earth were to bee made drunk with the wine of her fornications, and all nations to drinke thereof. Therefore touching these multitudes in the Church, we are thus to state the point; Consider the Church in it selfe, and so it is a very vast bo∣dy,Page 370 but yet consider it comparatively with the other more prevailing & malignant part of the world, & so it is but a little flock, as many graines and measures of corne may lie hid under a greater heape of chaffe. Secondly, the Church now is many, comparatively with the old church of the Iewes, more are the Children of the desolate than of the married wife, Esai. 54.1. But not comparatively with the adversaries of the Church in generall. Wee see of thirtie parts of the world,* nineteene are either idolatrous or Mahumetan, and the other eleven serving Christ in so different a manner as if there were many Christs or many Gospels, or many wayes to the same end. Thirdly, though Christ alwayes have a numerous offspring, yet in severall ages there is observable a different purity and conspicuousnesse according to the different administra∣tions and breathings of the Spirit upon his garden. In some ages the Doctrine more uncorrupt, the profession and acceptation more universall than in others. In the Apostles times there were many borne unto Christ, by reason of the more abundant measure of Spirit which was shed abroad upon them,*Tit. 3.6. In the times of the Primitive persecutions there were many likewise born, because God would glorifie the foundations of his Church, and the power of his Spirit above the pride of men. In the first countenancing of it by Imperiall Laws and favors, it was very generall and conspicuous, because professed by the obedience, and introduced by the po∣wer of those great emperors whom the world followed. But after that long peace and great dignities had corrup∣ted the mindes of the chiefe in the Church, and made them looke more after the pompe than the purity thereof, the mystery of iniquity, like a weed, grew apace, and overspread the Corne, first abusing, and after that subjecting the power of princes, and bewitching the Kings of the earth with its fornications.
Hence likewise wee may learne to acknowledge Page 371 Gods mercy in the worst times; in those ages wherin the Church was most oppressed, yet many have yeelded themselves unto Christ. The woman was with Childe, and was delivered even when the Dragon did persecute her, Revel. 12.1.4.* and even then God found out in the wildernesse a place of refuge, defence, and feeding for his Church. As in those cruell times of Arrianisme when heresie had invaded the world, and in those blinde and miserable ages wherin Satan was loosed, God still stirred up some notable instruments by whom hee did defend his truth, and amongst whom hee did preserve his Church, though they were driven into solitary places, and forced to avoid the assemblies of Hereticall and An∣tichristian Teachers.
Wee learne likewise not to censure persons, places or times; God had seven thousand in Israel, when Elias thought none but himselfe had been left, all are not alike venturous or confident of their strength. Nicodemus came to Christ by night, and yet even then Christ did not reject him. Therefore we must not presently censure our neighbours as cold or dead, if they discover not imme∣diatly the same measure of courage and publike stoutnesse in the profession of Christ with our selves; some men are by nature more retir'd, silent, unsociable, unactive men: some by the engagement of their places, persons, and cal∣lings wherein they are of more publike and necessary use in the Church, are put upon more abundant caution and circumspection in the moderate carriage of them∣selves than other men. Paul was of himselfe very zea∣lous and earnest in that great confusion, when Gaius and Aristarchus were haled into the theater, to have gone in unto the people in that their outrage and distemper: but the wisedome of the Disciples, and some of his chiefe friends is herin commended, that they sent unto him de∣siring him that hee would not adventure into the thea∣ter, and that they suffered him not, Act. 19.30, 31. It is a Page 372 grave observation which Gregorie Nazianzen makes of that great champian, and universall agent for composing the differences,* and distractions of the Church, S. Basil, that pro temporis ratione & Haereticorum principatu, by reason of the prevalencie of adversaries and condition of the times, hee did in the controversies concerning the Deitie of the Holy Ghost abstaine from some words which others of an inferior ranke did with liberty and boldnesse use; and that this hee did in much wisedome, and upon necessary reasons; because it was not fit for so eminent a person, and one who had such generall in∣fluence by the quality of his place and greatnesse of his parts in the welfare of the Church, by the envie of words or phrases to exasperate a countenanced enemie, and to draw upon himselfe, and in him upon the Church of God, any inevitable and unnecessary danger. And surely if the wisedome and moderation of that holy man were with the same pious affection generally observed, that men, when they doe earnestly contend for the truth once delivered, (which is the duty of every Christian) did not in heate of argument load the truth they main∣taine, with such hard and severe, though it may bee true expressions, as beget more obstinacie in the adversarie, and it may bee suspition in the weake or unresolved loo∣ker on, differences amongst men might bee more so∣berly composed, and the truth with more assurance en∣tertained.
Againe, wee have from hence an encouragement to goe on in the wayes of Christ, because wee goe in great and in good Company: many wee have to suffer with us, many wee have to comfort and to encourage us. As the people of Israel when they went solemnely up to meete the Lord in Sion went on from troope to troope, the further they went,* the more companie they were mixed withall, going to the same purpose: so when the Saints goe towards heaven to meete the Lord there, they doe Page 373 not onely goe unto an innumerable Company of Angells, and just men,* but they meete with troopes in their way▪ to encourage one another. All the discouragement that Elias had was, that hee was alone; but we have no such plea for our unwillingnesse to professe the truth and power of Religion now. Wee are not like a lambe in a wide place, without comfort or company; but wee are sure to have an excellent guard and convoy unto Christs Kingdome. And this use the Apostle makes of the multi∣tudes of beleevers, that wee should by so great a Cloud of witnesses, bee the more encouraged in our patient running of that race which is set before us, Heb. 12.1.
Lastly, It should teach us to love the multitudes, the assemblies and the Communion of the Saints, to speak of∣ten to one another, to encourage & strengthen one ano∣ther, not to forsake the assembling of our selves together as the manner of some is; to concurre in mutuall desires, to conspire in the same holy thoughts and affections; to bee of one heart, of one soule, of one judgement, to walke by one & the same rule, to besiege heaven with armies of united Prayers; to be mutually serviceable to the City of God, and to one another as fellow members. Therefore hath the Lord given unto men severall gifts, and to no one man all, that thereby wee might bee enabled to and induced to worke together unto one end, and by Love to unite our severall graces for the edification of the body of Christ, Ephes. 4.11, 13.
Now for the manner of producing or procuring these multitudes, it is set forth unto us in two Metaphors. A wombe, and Dew of the morning. Now the birth of Dew is first generatio caelestis. That which is exhal'd is an earthly vapor, but the heavenly operation changeth it into Dew; no art of man is able to doe it. It is also un∣discerned and secret, when it is fallen you may see it, but how it is made you cannot see. Lastly, it is a sudden Birth, in a night, or morning it is both begotten, concei∣ved, Page 374 and brought forth. Here then wee have foure notes.
First, that all Christs subjects are withall his Children. They are borne unto him.*Christianity is a Birth, except a man bee borne againe, hee cannot see the Kingdome of God. There is a Father. Christ our Father by genera∣tion; Behold, I and the Children whom thou hast given mee; as wee are his brethren by adoption. Hee is not asha∣med to call us brethren. There is a Mother, Ierusalem which is above is the Mother of us all. And there are sub∣ordinate instruments, both of one and other, the holy Apostles, Evangelists, Doctors, and Pastors, who there∣fore are sometimes called Fathers begetting us, in Christ Iesus I have begotten you through the Gospell; and some∣times Mothers bearing, and bringing forth; of whom I tra∣vell in birth againe untill Christ bee formed in you. There is a holy seed out of which these Children of Christ are formed; namely the Word of God, which liveth and abi∣deth for ever. For the heart of a man new borne unto Christ cometh from the word as a paper from the presse, or as a garment from a perfume, transformed into that quality of spiritualnesse and holinesse which is in the word. There is a Vis〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or formative vertue, which is the energie and concurrence of the Spirit of grace with the word,* for the truth is not obeyed but by the Spirit, except a man bee borne of water and the Spirit, water as the seed, and the Spirit as the formative vertue quick∣ning and actuating that seed, hee cannot enter into the Kingdome of God. There are Throwes and paines both in the Mother and in the Childe; much trouble and care in the ministery of the word, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 with whom I travell in paine againe. I ceased not to warne every one night and day with teares.* As a woman with Childe, by reason of the feare and danger of miscarriages, doth abridge her selfe of many liberties, in meates, physick, violent exercise, and the like; so those who travell in birth Page 357 with the Children of Christ are put to denie themselves many things, and to suffer many things for the successe of their service.*I will eate no flesh while the world standeth rather than make my brother to offend. I am appointed a Preacher, and an Apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles; for the which cause I also suffer these things. I endure all things for the elects sake that they may obtaine the salva∣tion which is in Christ Iesus. And there is paine in the Childe too; a sinner doth not leave the warmth and pleasure of his former condition without paine; Christ comes not without shaking unto the soule. There is a New being or nature; a corruption of our old man, and a formation of the new. Old things are done away,*behold all things are become new; the same holy nature, the same minde, judgement, will, affections, motions, desires, dis∣positions, spirit wrought in us which was in him. Hee that hath this hope purifieth himselfe, even as hee is pure; as hee is so are wee in this world; patient as hee is patient, Heb. 12.2. Holy as hee is holy, 1 Pet. 1.15. Humble as hee is humble, Ioh. 13.14. Compassionate as he is com∣passionate, Col.. 3.13. Loving as hee is loving; Ephes. 5.2. in all things labouring to shew Christ fashioned in our nature and in our affections. There is a new conversation answerable to our new nature; that as God is good in himselfe, and doth good in his workes, Psal. 119.68. so we both are as Christ was, 1 Ioh. 4.17. and walke as hee walketh, 1 Ioh. 2.6. There is new food, and appetites there∣unto sutable. A desire of the sincere, immediate,* untem∣pered, uncorrupted milke of the word as it comes with all the spirits and life in it, that wee may grow thereby. New Priviledges and Relations; the Sonnes of God, the brethren of Christ, the citizens of heaven, the houshold of the Saints. New Communion and society; the fellow∣ship of the Father and the Sonne by the Spirit; fellowship with the Holy Angels, we have their love, their ministery, their protection; followship with the spirits of just men Page 376 made perfect, by the seeds and beginnings of the same perfection, by the participation of the same Spirit of ho∣linesse, by expectance of the same glorie and finall re∣demption.
*In the meane time then wee should walke as Children of the light, or as it is here, as Children of the morning. The Day is given us to worke in, and therefore in the morning, as soone as wee have our Day before us, wee should endevour to walke honestly. Night-workes are commonly workes of uncleanesse, violence, dishonor, and therefore want a cover of darknesse to hide them. Theeves use to come in the night, 1 Thes. 5.2. The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twylight, saying, no eye sha•l see mee, and disguiseth himselfe, Iob 24.15. In the twylight, in the evening, in the black and darke night, hee goeth to the house of the strange woman, Prov. 7.9. The oppressor diggeth through houses in the darke. For the morning is, to them as the shaddow of death, Iob 24.16, 17. They that are drunken are drunken in the night, 1 Thes. 5.7. Sinnes are of the nature of some sullen weeds, which will grow no where but in the side of wells, and of darke places. But workes of Christianity are neither uncleane, nor dishonorable; they are beautifull and roiall workes, they are exemplary, and therefore publike workes, they are themselves light (let your light shine before men) and therefore they ought to bee done in the light.
*If wee bee Children wee should expresse the affe∣ctions of Children. The innocencie, humility, and Dove-like simplicity of little Children; as the Sonnes of God blamelesse, pure, and without rebuke. Children in malice, though men in understanding. The Appetite of little Chil∣dren, As new borne babes desire the sincere milke of the word that yee may grow thereby. In all impatiencie the breast will pacifie a little infant, in all other delights the breast will entice it and draw it away: ever so should the word and worship of God worke upon us in all our di∣stempers, Page 377 and in all our deviations; Christ was hungry and faint with fasting; it was about the sixth houre, and hee had sent his Disciples to buy meate, and yet having an occasion to doe his Father service, hee forgat his food, and refused to eate, Ioh. 184.108.40.206. The Love of Children hee that is begotten loveth him that did beget him. 1 Ioh. 5.1. with a Love of Thankfulnesse. We love him because He loved us, 1 Ioh. 4.19. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voyce, and my supplication, Psal. 116.1. With a love of obedience; faith worketh by love, Gal. 5, 6. Love is the fulfilling of the Law, Rom. 13.10. If a man love me hee will keepe my words, Ioh. 14.23. with a love of reverence, and awfull feare. A Sonne honoureth his Father, Mal. 1.6. If you call on the Father, &c. Passe the time of your so∣journing here in feare, 1 Pet. 1.17. The faith of Children. For whom should the Childe relie on for maintenance and supportance but the Father; Take no thought, saying, what shall wee eate, or what shall wee drinke, or wherewith shall wee bee cloathed; For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things? Matth. 6.31, 32. The hope, assurance, and expectation of Children; For as Children depend on their parents for present supply, so for portions and provisions for the fu∣ture; fathers lay up for their Children, and so doth God for his. There is an inheritance reserved for us, 1 Pet. 1.4. Lastly, the Prayers and requests of Children. Because ye are Sonnes, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Sonne into your hearts, crying, Abba Father, Gal. 4.6.
Note 2. The Birth of a Christian is a divine and hea∣venly work•. God is both Father & Mother of the Dew, by his power and wisedome, a Father; by his providence and indulgence, a mother. Progenitor, genitrixque, there∣fore hee is cald in Clem. Alex. Metripater, to note that those causalities which are in the second agents divided, are eminently and perfectly in him united, as all things are to bee resolved into a first unity. Hath the Raine a Page 378 Father, or who hath begotten the Drops of Dew? saith Iob. Out of whose wombe came the Ice? and the hoary frost of heaven who hath gendred it? None but God is the parent of the Dew, it doth not stay for nor expect any humane concurrence, or causality, Mich. 5.7. Esai. 55.10. such is the call and conversion of a man to Christ, A heavenly calling, Heb. 3.1. the operation of God in us, Col. 2.12. A birth not of bloud, nor of the will of the flesh, no• of the will of man, but of God, Ioh. 1.1•. 1 Ioh. 3.9. Paul may pla•t, and Apollo may water, but it is God that must blesse both; nay it is God who by them, as his instru∣ments, doth both; of his owne will begat he us, Iam. 1.18. The Mi•isters are a Savor of Christ, 2 Cor. 2.15. It is not the garment but the perfume in it which diffuseth a sweet sent: It is not the Labor of the Minister, but Christ whom hee preacheth, that worketh upon the soule. I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with mee, 1 Cor. 15.10.
It is not good therefore to have the faith of God in respect of persons; the seed of this spirituall generation cannot otherwise bee given us than in earthen vessels, by men of like passions and infirmities with others. There∣fore when pure and good seed is here and there sowed, to attribute any thing to persons, is to derogate from God; where gifts are fewer, parts meaner, probabilities lesse, God may and often doth give an increase above hope, as to Daniels Pulse, that the excellency of the po∣wer may bee of him, and not of man. Though it bee a lame or a leprous hand which soweth the seed, yet the successe is no way altered: good seed depends not in its growth on the hand that sowes it, but on the earth that covers, and on the heavens that cherish it: So the word borroweth not its efficacy from any humane vertue, but from the heart which ponders, and the Spirit which san∣ctifies it.
Page 379When then thou comest unto the word, come with affections suteable unto it. All earth will not beare all seed; some wheate, and some but pulse; there is first re∣quired a fitnesse, before there will bee a fruitfulnesse. Christ had many things to teach which his Disciples at the time could not carry away,* because the Comforter was not then sent, who was to lead them into all truth; they who by use have their senses exercised, are fit for strong meate. The truth of the Gospell is an heavenly truth, and therefore it requires a heavenly disposition of heart to prosper it. It is wisedome to those that are perfect,* though to others foolishnesse and offence. The onely reason why the word of truth doth not thrive is, because the heart is not fitted nor prepared unto it. The seed of it selfe is equall unto all grounds, but it prospers onely in the honest and good heart; the raine in it selfe alike unto all, but of no vertue to the rocks, as to other ground, by reason of their inward hardnesse, and incapacity. The Pharises had covetous hearts, and they mocked Christ; the Philosophers had proud hearts, and they scorned Paul. The Iewes had carnall hearts, and they were of∣fended at the Gospell; the people in the wildernesse had unbeleeving hearts, and the word preached did not pro∣fit them. But now a heavenly heart comes with the affe∣ctions of a Scholer to bee taught by God; with the affe∣ctions of a servant, to bee commanded by God, with the affections of a Sonne, to bee educated by God; with the affections of a sinner, to bee cur'd by God. It consi∣ders that it is the Lord from heaven, who speakes in the Ministery of the word to him who is but dust and ashes; and therefore hee puts his hand on his mouth, dares not reply against God, nor wrestle with the evidence of his holy Spirit, but falleth upon his face, and giveth glory unto God; beleeves when God promiseth, trembles when God threatneth, obeyes when God commandeth, learnes when God teacheth, bringeth alwayes meeknesse Page 380 and humility of Spirit, ready to open unto the word that it may incorporate.
Lastly, from hence we must learne to looke unto God in all his ordinances, to expect his arme and Spirit to bee there in revealed, to call on, and depend on him for the blessing of it. If a man could when hee enters into Gods house but powre out his heart in these two things; A Pro∣mise and a Prayer. Lord, I am now entring into thy pre∣sence,* to heare thee speake from heaven unto mee, to re∣ceive thy raine and spirituall Dew which never returneth in vaine, but ripeneth a harvest either of corne or weeds, of grace or judgement. My heart is prepared ô Lord, my heart is prepared, to learne and to love any of thy words. Thy Law is my Counsellor, I will bee ruled by it; it is my Physitian, I will bee patient under it; it is my Schoolemaster, I will bee obedient unto it. But who am I that I should promise any service unto thee? and who is thy Minister that hee should doe any good unto me without thy grace and heavenly call? bee thou therefore pleased to reveale thine owne Spirit unto mee, and to worke in mee that which thou requirest of mee; I say, if a man could come with such sweete preparations of heart unto the word, and could thus open his soule when this spirituall Manna fals down from heaven, he should finde the truth of that which the Apostle speaketh, Ye are not straitned in us, or in our ministerie, wee come unto you with abundance of grace, but yee are straitned onely in your owne bowels, in the hardnesse, unbeliefe, incapa∣city, and negligence of your owne hearts, which recei∣veth that in drops, which falleth downe in showres.
Note 3. As it is a divine, so it is a secret and undiscer∣ned Birth. As the winde bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but caust not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth: So, saith our Savior, is every one, that is borne of God, Ioh. 3 8. The voluntary breathings and accesses of the Spirit of God unto the Page 381 soule, whereby hee a cometh mightily, and as it were cloatheth a man with power and courage, are of a very secret nature, and notwithstanding the power thereof bee so great, yet there is nothing in apparance but b a voyce, (of all other one of the most empty and vani∣shing things.) As Dew fals in small and insensible drops, and as a Childe is borne by slow and undiscerned pro∣gresses (as the Prophet David saith, cFearefully and wonderfully am I made,) Such is the birth of a Christian unto Christ, by a secret, hidden, and inward call, Voca∣tione Altâ, as S. Austen calleth it, by a deepe and inti∣mate energie of the Spirit of grace is Christ formed, and the soule organized unto a spirituall being. A man heares a voyce, but it is d behinde him, hee seeth no man; hee feels a blow in that voyce, which others take no notice of, though externally they heare it too. Therefore it is observable that the men which were with Paul at his miraculous conversion are in one place said to heare a voyce, Act. 9.7. and in another place, not to have heard the voyce of him that spake unto Paul, Act. 22.9.* They heard onely a voyce, and so were but astonished, but Paul heard it distinctly as the voyce of Christ, and so was converted.
Note 4. As it is a Divine and secret, so is it likewise a sudden birth. In naturall generations the more vast the creature, the more slow the production, an Elephant ten years in the wombe. In humane actions magnarum re∣rum tarda molimina, great workes move like great en∣gines slowly & by leasure to their maturity: but in spiri∣tuall generations, Children are borne unto Christ like Dew, which is exhaled, conceived, formed, produced, and all in one night. Paul to day a Woolfe, to morrow a Sheepe, to day a Persecutor, to morrow a Disciple, and not long after an Apostle of Christ. The Nobleman of Samaria could see no possibility of turning a famine into a plentie within one night: neither can the heart of a Page 382 man who rightly understands the closenesse, and inti∣mate radication of sinne and guilt in the soule, conceive it possible to remove either in a sudden change; yet such is the birth of men unto Christ, Before shee travelled shee brought forth:*before her paine came, she was delivered of a man-Childe. The earth bringeth forth in one day, and a nation is borne at once; It is spoken of Ierusalem the mother of us all, Esai. 66.7, 8.