ANd he said] That is, and God made answer to the words spoken in the verse before, And he said unto him If they hear not Moses, &c. As if he had said, Moses was a man of great Renown, a man of worthy note, a man that talked with God face to face, as a man speaketh to his Friend: The words that Moses spake, were such as I com∣manded him to speak: Let who will question them, I will own them, credit them, bless them that close in with them, and curse those that reject them.
I my self sent the Prophets, they did not run of their own heads; I gave them Commission; I thrust them our, and told them what they should say. In a word, They have told the World what my mind is to do, both to Sinners and to Saints. They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. Therefore, he that shall reject and turn his back either upon the Threatnings, Counsels, Ad∣monitions, Invita ions, Promises, or whatsoever else I have commanded them to speak, as to Sal∣vation and Life, and to Directions therein, shall be sure to have a share in the many Curses, that they have spoken, and the Destruction that is pro∣nounced Page 171 by them. Again, If they hear not Mo∣ses, and the Prophets, &c. As if he had said, Thou would'st have me send one from the Dead unto them, what needs that? They have my Mind al∣ready, I have declared unto them what I intend to stand to, both for saving them that believe, and damning them that do not. That therefore which I have said, I will make good, whether they hear, or forbear. And as for this desire of yours, you had as good desire me to make a new Bible, and so to revoke my first Sayings, by the Mouth of my Pro∣phets. But I am God, and not Man, and my Word is immutable, unchangable, and shall stand as fast as my Decre•s can make it; Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but one jot or tittle of my Word shall not pass. If thou hadst Ten Thousand Brethren, and every one in danger of losing his Soul, if they did not close in with what is contained and recorded in the Scriptures of Truth, they must even every one of them perish, and be for ever damned in Hell; for the Scriptures cannot be broken. I did not send them so unadvisedly, to recall it again by another consideration. No, For I speak in Righte∣ousness and Judgment, Isa. 63. 1, 2, 3. and in much Wisdom and Counsel. It being therefore gone out of my Mouth in this manner, It shall not return in vain, untill it hath accomplished the thing whereto I have sent it.
Page 172But again, Thou supposest that Miracles and Wonders will work more on them, which makes thee say, Send one from the Dead. But herein thou art mistaken, for I have proved them with that once and again, by more than one, or two, or three of my Servants. How many Miracles did my Ser∣vant Moses work by Commandment from me in the Land of Egypt, at the Red-Sea, and in the Wilderness; yet they of that Generation were ne∣ver the sooner converted for that, but notwith∣standing rebelled and lusted, and in their hearts turned back into Egypt, Act. 7. How many Mira∣cles did Samuel, David, Elias, Elisha, Daniel, and the Prophets, together with my Son, who raised the Dead, cast out Devils, made them to see that were born blind, gave and restored Limbs, yet for all this (as I said before) they hated him, they crucified him. I raised him again from the Dead, and he appeared to his Disciples who were call'd, and chosen, and faithful, and he gave them Com∣mandment and Commission, to go and testifie the Truth of this to the World; and to confirm the same, he inabled them to speak with divers Tongues, and to w••k M••acles most plentifully; yet there was great persecution raised against them, insomuch that but a few of them died in their beds. And therefore, though thou thinkest that a Miracle will do so much with the World, yet I say, No: For if they will not believe Moses Page 173and the Prophets, neither will they be perswaded, though one should rise from the Dead.
From these words therefore take notice of this Truth; namely, that those who reject, and believe not Moses and the Prophets, are a very hard∣hearted people, that will not be perswaded, though one rise from the Dead.
They that regard not the Holy Scriptures, to turn to God, finding them to restifie of his good∣ness and mercy, there is but little hopes of their Salvation; For they will not, mark, they will not be perswaded, though one should rise from the Dead. This Truth is confirmed by Jesus Christ himself: If you read Joh. 5. where the Lord is speaking of himself, that he is the very Christ; he brings in four or five Witnesses to back what he said. First, John Baptist. 2. The Works that his Father gave him to do. 3. His Father speaking from Heaven. 4. The Testimony of the Scriptures; when all this was done, seeing yet they would not believe, he layes the fault upon one of these two Things.
1. Their regarding an esteem among Men.
2. Their not believing of the Prophets Wri∣tings, even Moses and the rest. For had ye believed Moses (saith he) ye would have believed me? For he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his Writings how can ye believe my Words. Now, I say, he that shall slight the Scriptures, and the Testimony of the Prophets in them concerning Jesus Christ, must Page 174 needs be in great danger of losing his Soul, if he abide in this condition; because he that slights the Testimony, doth also slight the Thing testified of, let him say the contrary never so often. For as Jesus Christ hath here laid down the Reason of Mens not receiving him; so the Apostle, in ano∣ther place, lays down the Reason again with an high and mighty aggravation. 1 Joh. 5. 10. saying, He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a Liar; because he believeth not the Record, Mark, the Record that God gave of his S•n. The Record, you will say, what is that? Why, even the Testi∣mony that God gave of him by the Mouth of all the Holy Prophets since the World began, Act. 3. 20. That is, God sending his Holy Spirit into the hearts of his Servants the Prophets and Apo∣stles, He, by his Spirit in them, did bear Witness or Record, to the Truth of Salvation by his Sonne Jesus, both before, and after his coming. And thus is that place also to be understood, which saith; There are three that bear Record in Earth, the Spirit and the Water, and the Bloud. That is, the Spirit in the Apostle•, which preached him to the World, as is clear, if you read seriously, 1 Thes. 4. 8. The Apostle speaking of Jesus Christ, and obedience to God through him, saith thus: Now he that de∣spiseth, despiseth not us, but God: But it is you that speak. True, but it is by and through the Spirit, Page 175He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not Man, but God, who also hath given us of his Holy Spirit. This is therefore a mighty confirmation of this Truth, that he that slights the Record or Testimony that God by his Spirit, in his Prophets and Apostles, hath testified unto us, slights the Testimony of the Spirit, who moved them to speak these Things; and if so, then I would fain know, how any man can be saved by Jesus Christ, that slights the Te∣stimony concerning Christ; yea, the Testimony of his own Spirit, concerning his own Self. 'Tis true, men may pretend to have the Testimony of the Spirit, and from that Conceit, set a low Esteem on the Holy Scriptures: But that Spirit that dwel∣leth in them, and reacheth them so to do, it is no better than the Spirit of Satan, though it calls it self by the Name of the Spirit of Christ. To the Law therefore, and to the Testimony Try them by that: If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them.
The Apostle Peter, when he speaks of the glori∣ous Voice that he had from the Excellent Majesty, saying of Christ, This is my beloved Son, hear him, saith thus to him whom he wrote unto; You have also a more sure Word of Prophecie, (or of the Pro∣phets, for so you may read it) unto which you do well that you take heed. That is, Though we tell you that we had his excellent Testimony from his own Mouth, evidently, yet you have the Prophets: Page 176 We tell you this, and you need not doubt of the Truth of it; but if you should, yet you may not, must not, ought not, to question them: Search therefore unto them, until the Day dawn, and the Day-star arise in your hearts. That is, until by the same Spirit that gave forth the Scripture, you find the Truth confirmed to your Souls, which you have recorded in the Scriptures. That this Word of Prophecy, or of the Prophets, is the Scriptures, read on. For (saith he) knowing this first, that no Prophecy of the Scriptures, is of any private interpre∣tation, &c. 2 Pet. 1. 18, 19, 20. But you will say, What needs all this ado, and why is all this time and pains spent in speaking to this, that is surely believed already? This is a Thing received by all, that they believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, that sure Word of Prophecy, and therefore you need not spend your time in pro∣ving these Things, and the Truth of them, seeing we grant and confess the Truth of it, before you begin to speak your judgment of them.
Answ. The Truths of God cannot be born wit∣ness unto too often; you may as well say, You need not preach Jesus Christ so much, seeing he hath been, and is received for the True Messias already.
2. Though many may suppose, that they do be∣lieve the Scriptures, yet if they were but well exa∣mined, you would find them either by word of Page 177 mouth, or else by conversation, to deny, reject, and slight the Holy Scriptures. 'Tis true, there is a no∣tional, and historical Assent in the Head, I say, In the Head of many, or most, to the Truth contain'd in Scripture: But try them, I say, and you shall find but a little, if any, of the Faith of the operati∣on of God in the hearts of poor men, to believe the Scriptures, and Things contained in them. Many, yea most men believe the Scriptures, as they believe a Fable, a Story, a Tale, of which there is no certainty; but alas! there are but few do in Deed, and in Truth, believe the Scriptures to be the very Word of God.
Obj. But you will say, This seems strange to me.
Answ. And it seems as true to me; and I doubt not but to make it manifest, that there are but few, yea very few, that do effectually (for that I aim at) believe the Scriptures, and the Truths contained in, and spoken of by them. But to make this appear, and that to purpose (if God will) I shall lay you down the several Operations that the Scriptures have on them, who do effectually believe the Things contained in them.
1. He that doth effectually believe the Scrip∣tures, hath in the first place been kill'd, I say kill'd by the Authority of the Holy Scriptures; struck stark dead▪ in a Spiritual sense, by the Holy Scrip∣ture, being set home by that Spirit, which gave them forth upon the Soul. The Letter killeth; the Page 178Letter strikes men dead, 2 Cor. 3. 6. and this Paul witnessed, and found, before he could say, I be∣lieve all that the Prophets have spoken. Where he saith, I was alive without the Law once; That is, in my natural state, before the Law was set on my heart with power: But when the Commandement came, sinne revived and I died, Rom. 7. 9. And that Law that was ordained to life, I found to be unto death: For sinne taking occasion by the Command∣ment deceived me, and thereby slew me, ver. 10. Now that which is called the Letter in Cor. is called the Law in Rom. 7. which by its power and operation, as it is wielded by the Spirit of God, doth in the first place kill and slay all those that are inabled to believe the Scriptures. I kill, saith God; That is, with my Law. I pierce, I wound, I prick men into the very heart, by shewing them their sins against my Law, Deut. 32. 39. Act. 2. 36, 37. And he that is ignorant of this, is also ignorant of, and doth not really and effectually believe the Scripture.
But you will say, How doth the Law kill and strike dead the poor Creature?
Answ. First, The Letter or Law, do kill thus: It is set home upon the Soul, and discovers to the Soul its Transgressions against the Law; and shews the Soul also, that it cannot compleatly satisfie the Justice of GOD, for the breach of his Law, therefore it is condemned, Joh. 3. 19. Mark, He that believes not is condemned already; To wit, by Page 179 the Law, that is, the Law doth condemn him; yea, it hath condemned him already for his sins against it, as it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the Book of the Law to do them, Gal. 3. 10. Now all men, as they come into the World, are in this condition, that is, condemned by the Law. Yet not believing their Condemnation by the Law really, they do not also believe really and effectu∣ally the Law that doth condemn them. For as men have but a notion of the one, that is, their con∣demnation, because of sins against the Law; so they have but a notion of the condemning, kil∣ling, and destroying power of the Law; for as the one is, so in these Things, always is the other: There is no man that doth really believe the Law or Gospel further, than they do feel the power and authority of them in their hearts: Ye erre, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. Now this Letter, or Law, is not to be taken in the lar∣gest sense, but is strictly to be tyed to the Ten Commandments, whose proper Work is onely by shewing the Soul its sins against this Law, to kill, and there leaves him stark dead, not giving him the least life, or support, or comfort, but leaves the Soul in an helpless and hopeless condition, as from it self, or any other mee• Creature.
Page 180'Tis true, the Law hath laid all men for dead, as they come into the World; but all men do not see themselves dead, until they see that Law that struck them dead, sticking in their Souls, and ha∣ving struck them that fatal blow: As a man that is fast asleep in an house, and that on fire about his Ears, and he not knowing of it, because he is a∣sleep; even so, because poor Souls are asleep in sinne, though the Wrath of God, the Curse of his Law, and the flames of Hell, have beset them round about, yet they do not believe it, because they are asleep in sin. Now, as he that is awake∣ned, and sees this, sees, that through this he is a dead man: Even so they that do see their state by nature, being such a sad condition, do also see themselves by that Law to be dead men natural∣ly.
But now, when didst thou feel the power of this first part of the Scripture, the Law, so mighty as to strike thee dead? If not, thou dost not so much as verily believe that part of Scripture that doth contain the Law in it, to be the truth of God. Yet if thou shouldest have felt something, I say something of the killing power of the Law of God in thine heart, this is not an Argument to prove, that thou believest all the Things contain∣ed in Scripture; for there is Gospel as well as Law, and therefore I shall speak to that also; thatPage 181 is, whether thou hast felt the power of the Go∣spel, as well as something of the power of the Law.
2. Then, thou hast found the power of the Gospel, and so believed it; thou hast found it thus with thy soul.
1. Thou hast been shewed by the word or truth of the Gospel, in the light of the Spirit of Christ, that by nature thou were without the true faith of the Son of God in thy soul: For when He, the Spirit is come, he shall shew men that they believe not in me, saith Christ. Joh. 16. 9. Mark, though thou hast, as I said before, felt somewhat of the power of the Law, Letter, or ten Com∣mandments, yet if thou hast not been brought to this, to see by the spirit in the Gospel, that thou art without faith by nature, thou hast not yet tast∣ed, much less believed any part of the Gospel. For the Gospel and the Law are two distinct Co∣venants. And they that are under the Law, may be convinced by it, and so believe the Law or first Covenant, and yet in the mean time, to be a stranger to the Covenant of promise; that is, the Gospel, and so have no hope in them, (Ephes. 2. 12.) There is not any promise that can be sa∣vingly believed, until the soul be by the Gospel converted to Jesus Christ. For though men do think never so much that they believe the things, or the word of the Gospel of our salvation, yet▪ Page 182 unless they have the work of grace in their souls, they do no• cannot rightly believe the things contained in the Scriptures.
Again, as the Law killeth those that believe it, even so the promises contained in the Gospel, do, through faith, administer comfort to those that believe i• a•ig•t. My words (saith Christ) my words, they are spirit, and they are life. Joh. 6. 63. As if he had said, the words contained in the law as a Covenant of works, they wound, they kill, they strike dead those that are under them. But as for me, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. That is, whosoever doth receive them believingly, shall find them full of operation to comfort, quicken, and revive their soul. For as I did not come into the world to de∣stroy mens lives, so the words that I speak, (as I am sent to preach the Gospel) they have no such tendency unto those that believe them. The pro∣mises that are in the Gospel, Oh, how do they comfort them? such a promise, and such a pro∣mise, O how sweet is it? how comfortable to those that believe them? Alas, there are many poor souls that think they believe the Scriptures, to be the word of God, and yet they never en∣joyed any thing of the life and promises; they come in upon the heart to quicken, to revive thee, to raise th•e from the sentence of death that is passed 〈◊〉 thee by the Law. And through the faith that is Page 183 wrought in thy soul, by the operation of Gods holy Spirit (though once killed by the Law or Letter) thou art made alive in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is presented to thy soul in the pro∣mises.
3. Dost thou indeed and in truth▪ believe the Scriptures to be the word of God▪ then •he things contained in them, especially the things of the Gospel are very excellent to thy soul, as the birth of Christ, the death, resurrection, intercession, and second coming, O! how precious and excellent are they to thy soul, insomuch, that thou regardest nothing in comparison of them! O! it is Christs birth, death, blood, resurrection, &c. according to the Scriptures, that thou dost rejoyce in ex∣ceedingly, and abundantly desire after! whom having not seen, ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing the mercy with joy un∣speakable, and full of glory. 1 Cor. 15. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. compare with Phil. 3. 6, 7, 8. 1 Pet. 1. 8.
4. Dost thou believe the Scriptures to be the word of God? Then thou standest in aw•of, and dost much reverence them. Why, they are the word of God, the true sayings of God; they are the counsel of God; they are his promises, and his threatnings. Poor souls are apt to think, If I could hear God speak to me from Heaven with an audible voice, then sure, I should be serious, and believe it. But truly, if God should speak to Page 184 thee from Heaven, except thou wert converted, thou wouldest not regard, not really believe him. But if thou dost believe the Scriptures, thou seest that they are the truth, as really believe him. But if thou dost believe the Scriptures, thou seest that they are the truth, as really as if God should speak to thee from Heaven through the Clouds, and therefore never flatter thy self, foolishly thinking, that if it were so, and so, then thou couldest believe. I tell thee, saith Christ, If they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead. But▪
5. Doest thou believe the Scripture to be the word of God? Then through faith in Christ, thou endeavourest to have thy life squared accor∣ding to the Scriptures, both in word and practice. Nay, this I say, thou mayst have, though thou do not believe them all. My meaning is, that if thou believe none but the ten Commandements, thy life may be according to them, a legal holy life; and if thou do believe the Gospel too, then thy life will be the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, either thou wilt live in the blessed and holy enjoyment of what is testified in the Scripture concerning the glorious things of the Lord Jesus Christ, or else, thou wilt be exceedingly panting after them. For the Scriptures carry such a blessed beauty in them to that soul that hath faith in the things contained in them, that they do take the Page 185 heart, and captivate the soul of him that believeth them, into the love and liking of them, believing all things that are written in the Law, and the Prophets, and have hope towards God, that there shall be a Resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; and herein do I exercise my self, to have always a Conscience void of offence, both towards God, and towards man. Acts 24. 14, 15, 16.
6. He that believes the Scriptures to be the word of God, if he do but suppose that any one place of Scripture doth exclude him, and shut him out of, and from a share in the promises con∣tained in them: O it will trouble him, grieve him, perplex him, yea he will not be satisfied un∣till he be resolved, and the contrary sealed to his soul, for he knows that the Scriptures are the word of God, all truth; and therefore he knows, that if any one sentence doth exclude, or bar out him, for want of this, or the other qualification; he knows also, that not the word alone shuts him out, but he that speaks it, even God himself; and ••herefore he cannot, will not, dare not be con∣ented until he find his soul and Scripture toge∣ther (with the things contained therein) to em∣brace each other, and a sweet correspondency and agreement between them. For you must know, that to him that believes the Scriptures aright, the promises, or threatnings, are of more power to Page 186 comfort or cast down, then all the promises or threatnings of all the men in the world. And this was the cause why the Marryrs of Jesus, did so slight both the promises of their adversaries, when they would have overcome them with pr•fering the great things of this world unto them, and also their 〈…〉 them they would rack them, ha•g them 〈…〉Acts 20. 24. No•• of these things c••l• pr•vail upon them or a∣gainst them; because they did most really believe the Scriptures, and the things contained in them; as is clearly found and to be seen in Heb. 11. and also in Mr. Fox's Records of their Brethren.
7. He that believeth the Scriptures to be the word of God▪ believeth that men must be born a∣gain, and also be partakers of that faith which is of the operation of God (according as he hath read and believes) he must and shall be damned. And he that believeth this aright, will not be content∣ed until (according as it is written) he do partake of, and enjoy the n•w birth, and until he do find through grace, that faith that is wrought by the operation of God in his soul. For this is the cause why men do satisf•• themselves with so slender a conceited hope that their state is good (when it is nothing so) namely, because they do not credit the Scripture; for did they, they would look into their own hearts, and examine seriously, whether that faith, that hope, that grace, which they think Page 187 they have, be of that nature, and wrought by that spirit and power, that the Scripture speaketh of. I speak this of an effectual believing, without which all other is nothing unto salvation. Now then, because I would not be too tedious, I shall at this time lay down no more discoveries of such an one as doth savingly believe the Scriptures, and the things contained in them, but shall speak a few words of examination containing the things already mentioned. As,
1. Thou sayest thou dost indeed and in truth effectually believe the Scriptures: I ask therefore, wast thou ever killed stark dead by the Law of works contained in the Scriptures? killed by the Law or letter, and made to see thy sins against it, and left in an helpless condition by that Law▪ For as I said, the proper work of the Law is to slay the Soul, and to leave it dead in a helpless state. For it doth neither give the Soul any comfort it self when it comes, nor doth it shew the soul where comfort is to be had; and therefore it is called the ministration of condemnation, as in 2 Cor. 3. 9. the ministration of death, 2 Cor. 3. 7. For though men may have a notion of the blessed Word of God as the children had, yet before they be converted, it may truly be said of to them, Ye erre, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God, Mark 12. 24.
2. You say you do believe the Scriptures to be Page 188 the Word of God. I say again, examine, wast thou ever quickened from a dead state by the power of the Spirit of Christ through the other part of the Scripture; That is to say, by the power of God in his Son Jesus Christ, through the Co∣venant of Promise. I tell thee from the Lord, If thou hast, thou hast f•lt such a quickning power in the words of Christ, (Joh. 6.) that thou hast been lifted out of that dead condition that thou before wast in, and that when thou wast under the guilt of sin, the curse of the Law, and the power of the devil, and the justice of the great God, thou hast been inabled by the power of God in Christ re∣vealed to thee by the Spirit, through, and by the Scripture, to look sin, death, hell, the devil, and the Law, and all things that are a• enmi•y with thee, with boldness and comfort in the face, through the bloud, death, righteousness, resurre∣ction, and intercession of Christ, made mention of in the Scriptures.
And thirdly, on this account, O how excellent are the Scriptures to thy soul! O how much ver∣tue dost thou •ee in such a Promise, in such an in∣vitation! they are so large, as to say Christ will in no wise cast me •ut▪ My crimson sins shall be white as Snow. I •ell thee friend, there are some Promises that the Lord hath helped me to lay hold of Jesus Christ th••ugh, and by, that I would not have out of the Bible, for as much Gold and Silver as canPage 189lye between York and London piled up to the stars; because through them, Christ is pleased by his Spirit, to convey comfort to my soul! I say, when the Law curses, when the devil tempes, when hell∣fire flames in my Conscience, my sins with the guilt of them tearing of me, then is Christ revea∣led so swe••ly to my poor soul through the Pro∣mises; that all is forced to fly and leave off to accuse my soul. So also, when the World frowns, when the Enemies rage and threa•en to kill me, then also the pretious, the exceeding great and preti∣ous Promises, do weight down all, and comfort the soul against all. This is the effect of believing the Scriptures savingly; for they that do so, have by, and through the Scriptures good comfort, and also ground of hope, Rom. 15. 4. believing those things to be its own which the Scriptures hold forth.
4. Examine, dost thou stand in awe of sinning against God, because he hath in the Scriptures commanded thee to abstain from it? Dost thou give diligence to make thy Calling and Election sure, because God commandeth it in Scripture? Dost thou examine thy self whether thou be in the Faith or no, having a command in Scripture so to do? Or dost thou (notwithstanding what thou readest in the Scripture, follow the world, de∣light in sin, neglect coming to Jesus Christ, speak evil of the Saints, slight and make a mock at the Page 190 Ordinances of God, delight in wicked company, and the like. Then know, that it is because thou dost not indeed and in truth believe the Scrip∣tures effectually. For, as I said before, if a man do believe them, and that savingly, then he stands in •w, he looks to his steps, he turns his feet from evil, and endeavors to follow that which is good, which God hath commanded in the Scriptures of truth; yet not from a legal or natural principle; that is to seek for life by doing that good thing, but knowing that Salvation is already obtained for him, by the bloud of that man Christ Jesus on the Cross, because he believes the Scriptures; there∣fore (mark I pray) therefore I say, he labours to walk with his God, in all well pleasing and god∣liness, because he sweet power of the loves of Christ which he feels in his soul by the Spirit, ac∣cording to the Scriptures, constrain him so to do, 2 Cor. 5. 14.
5. Examine again Dost thou labour after those qualifications that the Scriptures do describe a child of God by? that is saith, yea the right faith, the most holy faith, the faith of the operation of God. And also dost thou examine whether there is a real growth of Grace in thy soul, as love, zeal, self-denial, and a seeking by all means to attain (if possible) to the Resurrection of the dead; that is, not to satisfy thy self, until thou be dissol∣ved and rid of this body of death, and be trans∣formed Page 191 into that glory that the Saints shall be in after the Resurrection day; and in the mean time dost labour, and take all opportunities to walk as near as may be to the pitch, though thou know thou canst not attain it perfectly, yet I say, thou dost aim at it, seek after it, press towards it, and to hold on in thy race, thou •hunnest that which may any way hinder thee, and also close in with what may any way further the same; knowing, that that must be, or desiring that it should be thine eternal frame, and therefore out of love and liking to it, thou dost desire and long after it, as being the thing that doth most please thy soul.
Or how is it with thy soul? Art thou such an one as regards not these things? but rather busy thy thoughts about the things here below, follow∣ing those things that have no scent of divine glory upon them; If so, look to thy self, thou art an un∣believer, and so under the wrath of God, and wilt for certain fall into the same place of torment that thy fellows have fallen into before thee, to the grief of thy own soul, and thy everlasting destru∣ction.
Consider and regard these things, and lay them to thy heart before it be too late to recover thy self, by repen•ing of the one, and desiring to close in with the other. O I say, regard, regard, for hell is hot, Gods hand is up, the Law is resolved Page 192 to discharge against thy soul; the Judgment day is at hand; the graves are ready to fly open, the 〈◊〉 is nea•〈◊〉•ounding, the sentence will •re long be p•st, and then you and I cannot call •im• again.
But again, seeing they are so certain, so sure, so irre••••ble and firm; and seeing the saving faith of the thing• contained therein is to reform the soul, and bring i• over into the things of God, really conforming to the things contained there∣in, both to the point of Justification, and also an impractical walking, and giving up the soul and body to a conformity to all the commands, coun∣sels, instructions, and exhortations contained therein. This then will learn us how to judg of those who give up themselves to walk in the ima∣ginations of their own hearts, who slight and lay aside the Scriptures, counting them but empty and uncertain things, and will live every day in open contradiction to what is contained, commanded, and forbidden therein.
As first, this will shew us that all your Drun∣kards, Whoremasters, Lyars, Thieves, Swearers, Back-biters, Slanderers, Sc•ffers at goodness, &c. I say, we may see by this, that they tha• live in such things, have not the faith of these things con∣tained in their hearts; seeing they delight to pra∣ctise those things that are forbidden by, and in them. And so they continuing living and dying Page 193 in this state, we may conclude without fear, that these portions of holy Scripture belong unto them, and shall for certain be fulfilled upon them▪ He that believes not, shall be damned, Mark 16. 16. The unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdome of God, 1 Co•. 6. 9, 10. But the abominable, the unbelieving, the whoremongers, and all lyars shall have their part in the Lake that burneth with Fire and Brimstone, Rev. 21. 8. Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, pre∣pared for the Devil and his Angels, Matth. 25. 41. Depart, Depart from me, for I will not save you. Depart, for my bloud shall not at all wash you. Depart, for you shall not set one foot into the Kingdome of Heaven.
Depart ye cursed, ye are cursed of God, cursed of his Law, cursed of me, cursed by the Saints, and cursed by the Angels, cursed all over, nothing but cursed, and therefore depart from me; and whither? Into everlasting fire, fire that will scald, scorch, burn, and flame to purpose; fire that ne∣ver shall be quenched, Mark 9. fire that will last to all eternity. And must we be all alone? No, you shall have company, store of company with you. Namely, all the raging, roaring devils, together with an innumerable company of fellow damned sinners, men, women, and children. And if the Scriptures be true, (as they will one day wonder∣fully appear to be) then this must, and shall be thy portion, if thou live and dye in this state, and Page 194 of all them who continue in sinning against the truths com•ined in Scriptures.
As first, Dost thou delight to sin against plain commands? thou art gone.
Secondly, Dost thou slight and scorn the coun∣sels contained in Scriptures, and continue in so doing? then thou art gone.
Thirdly Dost thou continually neglect to come to Christ, and usest arguments in thine own heart to satisfy thy soul with so doing, then thou art gone. Luke 14. 17, 18. compared with verse 24. and Hebrews 2. 3. How shall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation? How shall we escape, 〈…〉 there is no way to escape.
First▪ because God hath said we shall not, Heb. 10. 25. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh, for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth (that was Moses), much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from Hea∣ven.
2. Because he hath not only said, they shall not, but also hath bound it with an oath, saying, So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest, Heb. 3. 11. To whom did he swear that they should not enter into his rest? Answer, To them that believed not, So we see, they could not enter in, because of unbelief, verse 18, 19.
Secondly, this will teach us what to think and conclude of such, who though they do not so open∣ly Page 195 discover their folly by open and gross sins against the Law, yet will give more heed to their own spirits, and the movings thereof, though they be neither commanded, nor commended for the same in Scripture; nay, though the Scripture command and commend the contrary, Isaiah 8. 20. then they will to the holy and revealed will of God. I say, such men are in as bad a state as the other to the full, being disobedient to Gods will revealed in his Word, as well as they, though in a different manner; the one openly transgres∣sing against the plain and well known truths re∣vealed in it; the other, though more close and hidden, yet secretly rejecting and slighting them, giving more heed to their own spirits, and the motion thereof, although not warranted by the Scriptures.
A few words more, and so I shall conclude.
And first, take heed that you content not your self with a bare notion of the Scriptures in your heads, by which you may go far, even so far, as to be able to dispute for the truth, to Preach the Gospel, and labour to vindicate it in opposition to gain-sayers, and yet be found at the left hand of Christ at the Judgment-day, forasmuch as thou didst content thy self with a notion or a traditio∣nal knowledg of them.
2. Have a care, that thou own the whole Scrip∣ture, and not own one part, and neglect another, Page 196 or slight it, is th••: To own the Law, and slight the Gospel; or to think that thou must be saved by thy good doing and works, for that is all one, as if thou diddest thrust Christ away from thee, or else so to own the Gospel, as if by it thou wert ex∣empted from all obedience to the ten Command∣ments, and conformity to the Law in life and conversation; for in so doing, thou wilt for cer∣tain make sure of eternal vengeance.
Thirdly, have a care that thou put not wrong names on the things contained in the Scriptures, as to call the Law, Christ, and Christ, the Law. For some having done so (in my knowledg), have so darkned to themselves the glorious truths of the Gospel, that in a very little time they have been resolved to thwart and oppose them, and so have made room in their own souls for the devil to in∣habit, and obtained a place in hell for their own souls, to be tormented for ever and ever.
Against this danger therefore in reading and receiving the testimony of Scripture, learn to di∣stinguish between the Law and the Gospel, and to keep them clear asunder, as to the salvation of thy soul, and that thou mayest so do: In the first place, beg of God, that he would shew thee the nature of the Gospel, and set it home effectually with life and power upon thy soul by Faith. Which is this, That God would shew thee, that as thou being man, hast sinned against God; so Page 197 Christ being God Man, hath ••ought thee again, and with his most pretious bloud set thee free from the bondage thou wast fallen into by thy sins; and that not upon condition, that thou wilt do thus and thus, this and the other good work; but rather, that thou being first justified freely by meer grace, through the bloud of Jesus, shouldest also receive thy strength from him who hath bought thee, to walk before him in all well plea∣sing, being inabled thereto by vertue of his Spirit, which hath revealed to thy soul, that thou art de∣livered already from wrath to come, by the obe∣dience, not of thee, but of another man, (viz.) Je∣sus Christ.
Secondly, Then if the Law thou readest of, tell thee in thy Conscience, thou must do this and the other good work of the Law, if ever thou wilt be saved. Answer plainly, that for thy part thou art resolved now not to work for life, but to believe in the vertue of that bloud shed upon the Cross, upon Mount Calvary, for the remission of sins; and yet, because Christ hath justified thee freely by his Grace, thou wilt se•ve him in Holiness and Righteousness all the dayes of thy life, yet not in a legal Spirit, or in a Covenant of Works, but mine obedience (say thou) I will endeavour to have it free, and chearful, out of love to my Lord Jesus.
Page 198Thirdly, Have a care thou receive not this do∣ctrine in the notion only, lest thou bring a just damnation upon thy soul, by professing thy self to be freed by Christs bloud from the guilt of sin, while thou remainest still a servant to the filth of sin. For I must tell you, that unless you have the true and saving work of the Faith and Grace of the Gospel in your hearts, you will either go on in a legal Holiness, according to the tenour of the Law; or else through a notion of the Gospel (the Devil bewitching, and beguiling thy understan∣ding, will, and affections) thou wilt Ranter▪ like, turn the Grace of God into wantonness, and bring upon thy soul, double, if not treble damna∣tion, in that thou couldest not be contented to be damned for thy sins against the Law, but also to make ruine sure to thy soul; thou wouldest disho∣nour the Gospel, and turn the Grace of God held forth, and discovered to man by that, into licenti∣cusness.
But that thou mightest be sure to escape these dangerous looks on the right hand, and on the left, see that thy faith be such, as spoken of in S•••pture, and that thou be not satisfied without th•t▪ which is a faith wrought by the mighty ope∣ration of God, revealing Christ to, and in thee, as having wholly freed thee from thy sins by his most pretious bloud. Which Faith, if thou attain Page 199 unto, will so work in thy heart, th•• first thou wilt see the nature of the Law, and also the nature of the Gospel, and delight in the glory of it; and also thou wilt find an ingaging of thy heart and soul to Jesus Christ, even to the giving up of thy whole man unto him, to be ruled and governed by him to his glory, and thy comfort, by the Faith of the Lord Jesus.