Spiritual refining: or A treatise of grace and assurance Wherein are handled, the doctrine of assurance. The use of signs in self-examination. How true graces may be distinguished from counterfeit. Several true signs of grace, and many false ones. The nature of grace under divers Scripture notions or titles, as regeneration, the new-creature, the heart of flesh, vocation, sanctification, &c. Many chief questions (occasionally) controverted between the orthodox and the Arminians. As also many cases of conscience. Tending to comfort and confirm saints. Undeceive and convert sinners. Being CXX sermons preached and now published by Anthony Burgess sometime fellow of Emanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and now pastor of the church of Sutton-Coldfield in Warwickshire.
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.

SERMON XCII.

That true Principles of Grace within must needs Demonstrate themselves by an Outward Godly Life.


EZEK. 36. 27.
I will put my Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in my Sta∣tutes, &c.

WE desire not to lose one jot or tittle in this gracious promise, a drop of this cordiall is of great prize. The Order and Method which God useth both in promising and working, hath afforded us one Obser∣vation already; but its so fruitful as to bear a second Crop. VVe may in the second place observe a Practical Doctrine; which is,

That wheresoever God works the principles of Grace within, there they cannot but*shew themselves in the outward life and conversation.

For thus God promiseth, he will first put his Spirit within them, and then cause them to walk in his Statutes. There is a necessary Connexion between these two, God hath put them together, and so neither man or Devil must put them asunder. Thus our Saviour sheweth, that the heart within is either the good Treasury, or the bad, out of which flow either good thoughts and actions, or bad, Mat. 12. Page  544 34, 35. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, the mind thinketh, the hand worketh.

To open this Doctrine; consider *

First, That there are many in the world, who flatter and blesse themselves with the goodnesse of their heart, when yet their lives are full of noisome lusts. You would wonder men should be so bewitched; and yet how often is it? Take the prophane man, and the most ungodly wretch that is, yet he will say, He hath as good an heart as the best of men; not considering how impossible it is to devide a good heart, and a good life one from another. As men doe not gather Grapes of Thorns, nor Figs of Thistles: so neither can Thorns be gathered from Grapes, or Thistles from Figs. As we cannot expect a clean thing from an unclean; so neither an unclean thing from a clean: so that the lives and constant wicked actions of most men, doe declare it to their faces, that there is no new heart or spirit within them: and as there are such kind of Self-Deceivers: so there are another sort of Persons, called Nicodemites, such who thought they might lawfully communicate in any raise or Idolatricall Worship, or might deny the outward profession of the truth of Christ, if so be that they kept their Conscience clear to God. This grievous error did much prevail when the outward profession of Christ and his Truth was accompanyed with great and imminent dangers: they thought they might give up their bodies to any outward pollution: so that they kept their souls for God; but God will be glorified in soul and in body also, 1 Cor. 6. 20. And as we must with the heart believe, so we must with the mouth make Confession to salvation. Rom. 10. 10.

Secondly, Even in the godly, the heart many times may be desirous of that good*which yet through the power of corruption they are not alwayes able to perform. So that although a new heart be within them, yet much corruption, and many rail∣ties may be in their life Rom. 7. Paul exceedingly groaned under this miserie, That the good he would do, he could not do; and although out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, yet the mouth cannot speak all the abundance of the heart: There is more strength of Grace in the heart then possibly can be ex∣pressed outwardly. As no child can expresse how much it loveth its father; so nei∣ther can any soul manifest how much it loveth God. Howsoever therefore a new heart is in the godly, yet because it is not perfectly and absolutely new, it faileth in many outward performances; some outward or inward temptations make it come short of the grace it desireth. Thus the Apostle, The Spirit and the flesh lu∣steth one against another, so that ye cannot doe the things ye would, Gal. 5. 17. A god∣ly man then must judge wisely concerning himself; they are ready to think, Oh if Grace were in my heart, if the spirit of God did dwell in me, how could I be over∣taken with passions, with dulnesse and sluggishnesse; they must remember, that though the spirit be willing the flesh is often weak; yea many times both spirit and flesh also may be weak: But why doe we speak of this as a strange thing? That where the Principles of Grace are men may fail in outward duties; for sometimes we see where they have been, yet foul and grosse sins have been committed, yea and for some season continued in. David had the Spirit of God within; yet in his Murder and Adultery he did not walk in the Lords Statutes; and so of divers others! So that we must not absolutely condemn those as hypocrites, and without any true principles of grace, who living after a godly manner, yet sometimes fall in the mire, and tumble in bloud: for although such a condition is very terrible, and greatly scandalous; yet the seeds and inward principles of grace are not quite extinct; and therefore when we say, A godly heart, and a godly life are necessarily conjoy∣ned together, that is to be understood for the most part, and according to the na∣ture of things, though accidentally, through suddain temptations, the clean con∣trary may appear.

Thirdly, There may be inward principles of Grace, and yet no outward fruits of*Page  545righteousnesse: When either the subjects are not capable of actions, or they have not time and opportunity to produce them; No doubt but in Infants that are ele∣cted, the inward principles of grace are infused, and therefore they are made Members of Christ: yet as they have a soul, but that soul cannot put forth any actions of reason; so they have the principles of grace, but they bud not forth into fruit. The Thief also that was Converted at the last hour, there was a new spirit in him, yet he had not time to bring forth the fruits of righteousnesse: so that it is one thing not to bring forth the fruits of righteousnesse, because there is no inward root within; and another thing, because there wants an opportunity, or the objects about which such graces are exercised are not present. Paul speaking of the Saints care and love to him, excuseth them, because though they were ready to doe good to him, yet they wanted an opportunity, Phil, 4. 10. A godly man is indeed a tree that is planted by the waters side, and brings forth its fruit, but it is in due season. Though Christ cursed the Fig-tree, that had no fruit on it, although it was not the season; yet hereby (haply) he would admonish the Iewes, of how much sorer curse they have cause to be afraid, who had the season of grace, but neglected it.

A Godly man therefore ought not to be dejected, if he doe not abound in such plentiful exercises of graces as others doe, if his minde be willing: Onely he hath not such opportunities, nor such Instruments, whereby to make his light shine before others, as many of the Children of God have.

Lastly, consider this, Although a constant practice of ungodlinesse be a sure demon∣stration*of a graceless heart, yet a constant abstinence from grosse sins, is not presently a sure evidence of a good heart. Understand this, that thou do not deceive thy soul; for many think, if they indeed should wallow in the Mire and Filth of sinne, it were sure they were beastly Swine; but because they keep themselves clean from the grosse Transgressions of the wicked, therefore they conclude this new heart is within them: but you have heard that men may be restrained from sin, by the providence of God and otherwayes, who yet have not this spi∣rituall life infused in them. For this Spirit of God doth not onely cause a man to forbear from sinne, but in such a manner also, and upon such grounds, that the most painted Sepulcher, the most exact Formalist can never reach unto. These things laid as a foundation, it is good to consider, why a man cannot carry this coal of fire, this principle of grace in his bosome, but it will break out into a flame. And,

First, The reason is evident from the nature of Grace, or this new heart within * men, its of an operative, and spirituall vigor, it will not let a man alone, he can have no rest, or quiet within himself, if he should not outwardly practise that god∣linesse, the root whereof is in his heart. Hence the principles of grace are com∣pared to active and vigorous things, to seed sowen, which though little in quantity, yet is great in efficacie: Thus John saith, A man born of God, doth not, nor can∣not sin, because immortall seed abideth in him, 1 John 3. 9. And so the Word of God received by faith in the heart, is compared to seed sowen, that brings forth much fruit. Thus Ieremy and David, when they were withheld sometimes from good, they felt a fire kindled in their breasts that burnt and scorched them, and could not but speak: So the Apostle, We believe, therefore we speak, 2 Cor. 4. 13. And grace is compared to a Fountain of living waters, always springing out of the belly of the Godly, John 7. 38. The love of Christ constraineth us, saith the Apo∣stle. This is the new Wine that the Spirit of God puts into the Converted, where∣by they are heartned, and cheered within. O then be afraid of thy negligence, carelesnesse, and neglect of an holy life! If grace were like seed, like fire within, it would set thy whole conversation on a flame. Now grace in the heart must needs be a sharp Arrow to wound sinne, seeing that it is in the hand of Christ, and the spirit of God; so that it cannot but conquer sin in the life, seeing Christ and his Page  546 spirit dwels in those that are his. Greater is he that is with you, then he that is against you, saith the Apostle, 1 Ioh. 4. 4. And though Satan be the strong man, that keeps all things in quiet, before conversion, yet Christ is stronger. No wonder then, if grace in the heart rest not, till it reformeth the life, and subdueth the most strong corrup∣tions in a man; for Christ and his Spirit sets these on working: and therefore the Apostle saith, If they be led by the Spirit, they shall not fulfill the deeds of the flesh, Gal. 5. And sin shall not have dominion over them, because they are under grace, Rom. 6. 14. So that as the house of Saul did wax daily weaker and weaker, and the house of David stronger and stronger, because God had forsaken the one, and was with the other; Thus it must needs be, that a new heart will make a new life, because the new heart hath God on its side, Christ and his spirit is with it. We may see the Combate of sin and grace excellently represented in the Israelites fighting with the Canaanites, how wonderfully did they subdue all their enemies! no adversa∣ries, though they were of the most terrible Gyants, were able to stand before them: so its here in Conversion: No sinne, though never so pleasant, so sweet, so powerfull, is able to stand before the spirit of God, Crucifying the deeds of the flesh; and therefore let none excuse themselves, saying: Such a sinne, or such distempers I cannot overcome, I am not able to master such infirmities: Why saist thou so? for grace inlivened by Gods Spirit, is able to de∣stroy all thy stoutest corruptions; Though they be too strong for thee, yet not for him.

Secondly, A new heart within, must needs have an outward godly life, because that is the end and the perfection of it. In Morall Philosophy, acts are accounted the per∣fection * and end of their Habits; and they use to say, That power is in vain, which is never reduced into act: and thus it holds in Religion: God gives us the princi∣ples and inward abilities of grace; that they may be in action and exercise. Hence God requires actions principally, and the inward principles by consequence. Thus God requires the act of Faith, and the act of Love: Thou shalt love the Lord, viz. actually: So that all inward principles of grace being for this end, to be in outward action and exercise, it cannot be that they should be frust rated of this; yea in the Scripture to have a Talent, and actually to improve it, is all one; and they are said to receive the grace of God in vain, who do not put it forth in exercise; so that eve∣ry godly man, who is not diligent in the daily exercise of grace should consider, Why God hath given him the principles of grace, why a power to believe, a power to be heavenly-minded, when this is not demonstrated in his life: and all those who live in gross: impieties, yet boast of a good heart, may conclude they have a good heart in vain; for a good heart is to have a good life, especially the people of God, who have indeed the principles of grace, yet walk dully and negligently they should startle at this saying, Have I received all my grace in vain? hath God wrought all these great works in me in vain? How severe was that servants Master to him, who took his Talent, and hid it in a Napkin! Even as they buried their dead, tying them in Napkins, Cast that unprofitable Servant (saith he) into utter darknesse, Mat. 25. 30. Not profuse, deceitfull, thievish, but unprofitable servant. Maist thou not fear this doom, thou who happily host enjoyed the principles of grace within thee, but thy outward life is like a barren wildernesse. Stir up thy self therefore and say, All principles of Grace are to act with, are to be daily exercised and im∣proved.

Thirdly, therefore principles of Grace within will demonstrate themselves in a godly life, Because God at the day of judgement will make our actions and works the measure of his judgment. The judiciall processe will not be according to what is * within, but what is without. Thus Paul, We must all appear before the judgment∣seat of Christ, to receive according to what we have done in the flesh, 2 Cor. 5. 10. whether good or evill, Why then hast thou any hope, who livest in all manner of un∣godlinesse? Think not the cry of thy prayers, nor the groans of thy heart will be Page  547 above thy crying sins: At that great day God will not onely enquire what thy thoughts, or thy desires have been, but what thy actions have been. If therefore any grain of wisdome be in thee, thou wilt be sure to look to that against which the Judge will most surely manifest himself, and that is thy actions. It will be then no plea to say, Lord I had a good heart, a good meaning, I desired to doe other∣wile; if thou hast not indeed done otherwise.

Fourthly, The Scripture doth expressely declare such to be Hypocrites, who ha∣ving a profession of Christ, and of faith and love of him, do yet rowl themselves * in all impieties: Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity, 2 Tim, 2. 19. And the wicked mans Sacrifice, the wicked mans prayer is an abo∣mination unto the Lord: the Apostle James doth at large vehemently presse this, That Faith without the good Fruits and works of Righteousnes is altogether dead, and he calls that man a vain man, who reasons otherwise. Thou then who are so apt to brand those who endeavour to walk strictly, and in an unsported manner from the world, with hypocrisie; see thy self the most notorious hypocrite of all; for thou sayest, Thou believest in Christ, thou sayest thou lovest God, and yet thy life is full of prophanenesse, and enmity to his holy will: Sincerity is the sweet ac∣cord and harmony of the heart, and actions together; and it is hypocrisie to pre∣tend heart and affections for God, when with thy works thou dost deny him. As the Prophets of old complained of such, who would come into Gods Temple, call up∣on his Name, yet curse, swear, steal, and commit Adultery, Ier. 7. With no lesse zeal may the Ministers of the Gospel complain, That men will be Chri∣stians, will come to Church, will hear, and yet their lives are full of such noi∣some sins.

Fiftly, Therefore Grace in the heart will break out into action, because the godly*are to endeavour the conversion of others. They are to be examples of holinesse, to win others thereunto: now this can never be without holiness in the life: For men cannot trie, or discern the hearts of men, they judge of the tree by the fruits; so that if ever we would be instruments to reclaim others from a wicked life, we our selves must be exemplarie in our own: Thus the believing wife is exhorted to walk in such an holy manner, that her unbelieving husband may be brought to the faith thereby, 1 Cor. 7. 16. Our Saviour exhorts his Disciples, That their light should so shine before men, that they beholding their good works, may glorifie God in the day of their visitation, Mar. 5. 16. Oh what a sad thing is it for thee by thy wicked and un∣godly life to harden others in impiety! They see that, a rich man, a great man, a wise man, scoffing and opposing the way of godlinesse, and this confirmeth them the more in their impieties.

Sixtly, Therefore the Spirit of God within, will cause us to walk in all holiness, *Because the daily exercise of Grace affords a great deal of sweetnesse, comfort, and a good assurance of our interest in Christ. Though good works and and a godly life are not a cause of our justification or sanctification, yet by these we come to have comfortable evidences of Gods love to us, and ours to him. As Leah said, Her hus∣band would love her, because she was fruitful in children; and thus it is here, Our Election is made sure to us, by adding one grace to another, one godly action to another: Barrennesse in the knowledge of God is reckoned a great curse by the A∣postle Peter, 2 Pet. 1. 8. and hence it is, that the more Gods own children fail in a daily and diligent practice of Godlinesse, the lesse comfort and assurance they have in their own Consciences.

Lastly, principles of grace, wil have the acts of grace, that so they may stop the mouths of all those who would reproach and blaspheme the holy profession of his Gospel. David* by his wicked action of murder, had opened the mouths of Gods enemies to blas∣pheme him: And the Apostle complaineth, Rom. 2. That by their ungodlinesse, the Name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles. Oh then, if nothing else, yet let this make thy heart and life accord in the power of Godlinesse, that the name of God may not be blasphemed, that his pure honour may not be wounded.

Page  548Use 1. Of Instruction: How vainly all those do comfort themselves, who plead duties or opinions, or any high thing in Religion, whose lives are not cleansed: Its a vain thing to plead the spirit of God in thee, if that cause thee not to walk in Gods statutes, and to do his judgments; yet this hath been, and is a great deceit; men think duties, and external acts of Religion are enough to save them, though their lives be full of noisome filthinesse.

Use 2. What a wonder it is, That that there should be any in Christian societies, that have their lives stained with any grosse sin; for who is there that doth not think and hope that he hath this new heart, the Spirit of God within him, when yet his life speaks nothing but open rebellion and enmity against God? Its not what thou art here in the Church, with the appearance of piety and devotion upon thee, but what thou art with thy Companions in the temptations of sin. Oh who would think that thou wouldst ever go from the Word preached, from Gods pre∣sence, to commit any lewdnesse more? yet nothing is more ordinary: Oh how wilt thou endure the triall at the day of judgement? thy works, thy wayes, what thou hast done, they will be examined.