SECT. XI. Handling Grace under the Notion of Gods putting his Spirit within us, and causing us to walk in his Statutes.
Of Gods giving his Spirit to a Man, and what that Promise implyes. Also of the Operations and Effects of the Spirit of God where it so comes.
EZEK. 36. 27.
WE have a further Description in this Verse of the Grace here promised; for although it be the same thing, yet the diffe∣rent expressions represent different notions about it. That which in the Verse before is called an heart of Flesh, is here called, My Spirit: And in the Verse before, A new Spirit. For the opening of the words, let us consider, the mercy vouchsafed; and secondly, the subject receptive of it. The mercy God calls, My Spirit. The Subject is, Within you. Of which in its due order.
At this time let us take notice of the mercy, My Spirit. It will be very imper∣tinent to give you a Theological, and Biblical use of the word Spirit, which is of a great latitude in its signification. In this place a three-fold sense may claim to be understood, which also may easily be composed and united, not opposed: For,
First, By Gods Spirit, may be meant the third Person in the Trinity: so that they are promised here to be made partakers of it. Its a very grave and solid dispute in Divinity, whether the godly, besides the graces and fruit of the Spirit, are also made partakers of the Spirit it self: some affirm it, others deny it. But no doubt severall places of Scripture doe evidently demonstrate that we do receive Page 528 not onely the graces of the Spirit, but the Spirit it self; and therefore the Spirit is said to dwell in us, and we are the temples of the Holy Ghost: But yet this is in such a supernaturall and mysticall way, that though the plain Texts compell us to believe it, yet the manner how is very difficult to expresse: but this is not my work to doe at this time.
A second sense may be by spirit, to understand the soul, or spirit of a man, as re∣newed and qualified by the graces of the Spirit; and therefore its called in the verse before, A new Spirit, which is the same with a new heart. So that Spirit is here put for the soul of a man, enlivened and quickned by the graces of Gods Spi∣rit: and this sense we conceive to be the most genuine and proper. Hence Ezek. 18. verse 31. where you have that commanded as a duty, which is here promised as a gift: Make ye a new heart, and a new spirit; which cannot be primarily un∣derstood of the Person of the Spirit, but the graces of the Spirit. The last ense that may here come in, is to take spirit, for heavenly activity, vigor, and holy impulses, and motions from God, which are as the winde to the sails, to carry it to its expe∣cted Haven. Now the first and this latter sense cannot wholly be excluded, yet the second is that, which I will pitch upon as most proper, bringing in the other by consequence.
Doct. That Conversion is the enlivening, or qualifying of a man with the graces of Gods Spirit.*
Thus Iohn 3. That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Hence the Godly are said to have the Spirit in them, and guided by it, led by it, and are said to walk af∣ter it. I need not multiply places for this. As Christs body was by an extraordi∣nary supernatural manner, the Holy Ghost over-shadowing the Virgin Mary; In such a miraculous way as to humane power and strength, is this new, holy, and spiri∣tual Creature bogotten. The Spirit of God moving upon the waters of the Ordi∣nances, produceth this spiritual man: As at first God made the Fowls of the aire out of water, which soar up to the heavens.
To improve this necessary point, let us consider, what is implyed in this promise, I will put my spirit into you: And,
First, It supposeth every man naturally a meer dead lump, without life or motion*of himself to any thing that is holy. For as God at first breathed into Adam the breath of life, and he became a living soul; So God doth still infuse into us his graces, that make us live the life of the Spirit. Hence some Expositors make this promise to be Parabolically represented in the next Chapter, by the resurrection of dry bones, whereas the winde is called upon to come and breath upon the Bones and sinews and all parts to be united together, that they may live: So doth God in the Conversion of men. But that Parable is to represent the recovery of Israel out of their Captivity, and miserable estate; which as to the eye of sense, had no more possibility ever to return again then those dry bones to live. Yet by way of similitude, it may also represent their restitution unto a spiritual life of Grace, unto which they had more impossibility than to return unto their own Land. Oh then this very phrase, I will put my Spirit into you, should fall like thunder and lightning upon all those Doctrines and Opinions that maintain Free-will, or the power of nature in Conversion. Can man co-operate to the infusion of Gods Spirit? The order of nature, and the order of Grace, differ as much as heaven and earth, and one cannot prepare for the other; so that this expression doth inform that we all are animall or sensual, destitute of the spirit. And as bruit beasts cannot perform the Offices or acts of Reason; so neither can men naturally doe the actions of grace; he cannot pray or hear spiritually, he cannot love God, or repent of a sin in a spiri∣tuall manner.
Secondly, This doth suppose an elevating or lifting up the heart of a man to those affections and actions, which otherwise are far above his power. For as the Spirit of * God, when it came upon men in other extraordinary wayes of assistance, they did those things they were never able to doe before. Thus Sampson, the Spirit came Page 529 upon him, and gave him such mighty strength; so Paul had another Spirit, in respect of Government: those gifts of Gods Spirit in the Church that made them work miracles, speak with tongues, lifted them above humane power; so this Spirit of God sanctifying, doth also raise a man to such holy, spiritual, and sublime dutie, that in former times he was not acquainted with: neither did he understand. Hence to be a man, to walk as a man, 1 Cor. 3. 2. in the Scripture Phrase is a di∣minution, and a carnal imperfection, because we are to have the Spirit of God who inables us to spirituall actions in a divine manner. Thus to believe in God, to love God, to be heavenly minded, to be patient, even every exercise of grace, are acts transcendent the power of a man, and God must put his Spirit into us to in∣able us thereunto. And this is that which makes the world so mistake about god∣linesse, that makes them grossely erre about serving of God, and repenting of sin; They doe these things as men, by custome, by the principles they were born in; so that till this Text be made good in you, I will put my spirit in you, our Congregati∣ons are but so many Golgothaes, places of dead mens skuls.
Thirdly, To have the Spirit of God put into us, denoteth, That we doe all our duties upon those motives which are by Divine Revelation in the Word man•fested to*us, For the Spirit of God works in his people two wayes.
1. Effectually, By inlivening, and enabling of them to holy duties.
2. Directively. By his Word guiding and leading of them. Now in the Word of God we are directed to such Motives in our actions, which humane light would never discern, as to doe duties. First, Meerly because God commands, out of obe∣dience to his Soveraignty, because it is the Law of such a Law-giver. Where is the man that doth not by custome, or because of the talk, and report of men, good things, rather then out of obedience to God? Therefore observe the order of the promise, I will put my spirit in you, and then I will cause you to walk in my Com∣mandments, and do them. Thou then that prayest, hearest, abstainest from grosse sins; why is it? Is it because thou hast respect to Gods Commandment: God saith it, and therefore I do it. This is to have the spirit in us. But secondly, not meerly because of Gods command, but from an inward principle of love, and delight in God also, therefore we perform our duties: If ye love me keep my Command∣ments, John 14. 15. Love to God, that presently makes us do or suffer any thing for him. Now love, that is reckoned in the front of the fruits of the Spirit, Ga•. 5. and the Spirit of God descended in tongues of fire. Of fire, to represent the Nature of the Spirit of God: Hence we are commanded not to quench the Spi∣rit, 1 Thes. 5. 19. which is like burning fire in our hearts. Oh this performance of duties from love, is that which crowns them, is like the perfume and Frankin∣cense at the Sacrifice. Thirdly, we are to perform holy duties, not onely out of love, but for holinesse sake, because God is holy, and the duty is holy. Hate evill, and cleave to that which is good, be gl•wed to it, and made one with it. Be ye holy, for I am holy, saith God, Lev. 11. 44, 45. Now as God loveth holinesse for holinesse sake, wills good for goods sake, (or rather good is good, because he wills it.) Thus ought we, to imitate him, there may be earthly motives, and humane advantages, which may incite the heart to what is good: but goodnesse for the beauty and glo∣ry of it should make thee in love with it: Say then as Abraham to the King of So∣dome, I will not take so much as a Shooe latchet from thee, lest thou shouldst say, Thou hast made Abraham rich: so do thou; I will not so much as entertain, or consult with shy earthly advantage, lest that should say, I have made thee pray, I have made thee professe the Name of Christ. Wicked men are carried out to evill for evills sake: but there is more fulnesse, goodnesse and excellency in God, then there can be appearance of these in sin: Therefore it is unsufferable, if when Draff shall move for the sweetnesse it hath to a distempered swinish appetite, that honey it self shall not affect a sound appetite. But I have somewhere else spoken of the nature of this spiritual life: I shall therefore in two things more onely instance the pro∣perty Page 530 of Gods Spirit dwelling in the godly, and then speak of the concomitant effects of Gods Spirit in us.
Fourthly, To have the Spirit of God put into us, as in duties to be done it lif∣teth * us up above humane strength, or motives, So in matters of sufferings, herein the Spirit of God doth wonderfully demonstrate it self in the Converted. For hereby they are more then men: God is plainly in them, that they can deny their dearest comforts, endure the most exquisite torment, and that with joyfulnesse and alacri∣tie. Look upon Paul and the Disciples of Christ in the New Testament, What re∣proaches, persecutions, spoiling of their goods, taking away their lives, were fre∣quently executed upon them? and yet with what gladnesse of heart, with what pa∣tience, faith, courage did they endure all, rejoycing that they were accounted worthy to suffer any thing for the Name of Christ, Acts 5. 41. The History of the Martyrs doth abundantly declare the Spirit of God put into Believers; and there∣fore this should support the godly, they are afraid that in times of temptation and of great troubles they should never be faithful to God, they find their hearts so weak and feeble that they shall never be able to persevere. Why dost thou not con∣sider, that the same Spirit of God which lifteth thee above nature for active obe∣dience, will also for passive? To love God, to believe in God, to do any reli∣gious duty spiritually, flesh and bloud can no more doe it then Iron of it self can swim: but the spirit of God takes thee, and fixeth thy heart upon heavenly things. So flesh and bloud cannot be persecuted, imprisoned, cannot dye for the glory of Christ, but the spirit of God can and doth inable hereunto. Sampson could not doe those extraordinary actions of strength as a man, but as having the Spirit of God mighty upon him so he did: neither canst thou do or suffer in a gracious manner as a man, without any more power than thy own; but as spirituall, as having Gods Spirit in thee so thou canst. VVhat mans power can do in the hour of temptation, Peters presumptuous expression will teach us, Though all men forsake thee, yet I will not; and yet he forsook Christ more desperately then any else. Oh therefore do nothing that may grieve, or chase away the Spirit of God; for who knoweth what Conflicts, what trials God may reserve thee unto? and then without the mighty work of this Spirit of God, thou wilt prove an Apostate, and so a very Iudas or Cain at last: for first a man is forsaken by the Spirit of God, as sanctify∣ing, and then as comforting: Not that the Holy Ghost is totally and finally ever driven away from him that once had him graciously; but there are many looked upon as godly and forward in profession, who are judged so by others, and they themselves make account also they are godly; yet in the day of triall make a wo∣full Shipwrack of their Faith, and a good Conscience. Lastly, because the Spirit of God is thus put into them, they are therefore said to be the Temples of the holy Ghost, 1 Cor. 3. and if their bodies be, much more their souls are. O what a strong Obligation is this to all godlinesse, You are the Temples of the Spirit of God, No unclean thing might enter into the Temple! How did God complain, when they made his Temple a Den of thieves. How angry then must he needs be, if thou make this Temple a stye of Swine, or an hell of Devils? This evidently proclaims that most men never had this grace in the Text vouchsafed unto them: For what is there no unclean, no bruitish and polluted thing that enters in thy soul? Is thy heart as the Temple, an house of prayer, an heart of prayer, thy soul a soul of prayer? Dost thou not defile this Temple every day by prophane and filthy lusts? VVhat hopes canst thou ever have that this is made good to thee? Do not hear these things, as if they did not at all belong to theee. Doth not thy own heart tell thee, that if the Spirit of God did dwell and work in thee, thou couldst not doe as thou dost, nor commit such sinnes as thou daily committest? It was the Devill that was in the Swine, and hurried them violently into the Sea; but the Spi∣rit of God appeared in a Dove: With what holinesse then, and all godlinesse should you walk, who have this benefit vouchsafed to you? what manner of Page 531 persons should ye be who are the Temple of the Lord, whose souls are made an heaven? Is it for you to be vain, earthly and immoderately affected unto a∣ny Creature? Have you not that within which may be in stead of all com∣forts to you? Thy frail body is a Cabinet wherein excellent Jewels are.
Now that we may the better know whether the Spirit of God be in us, * causing us to walk in his Commandments, consider whether the other effects attributed to the Spirit in the Scripture be also in thee: for as the Sun vouch∣safeth heat as well as light, and is not with either of these alone: so the Spirit of God comes not alone, but hath divers and noble operations with it. Hence some expound that place from the seven spirits in the Revelations, Revel. 1. 4. of the holy Spirit in its manifold operations. As,
First, Its called the good Spirit, Psalm 143. Let thy good Spirit lead ••e, in * opposition to the evill spirit. So that as the evill spirit or the Devil in wicked men is continually inclining and moving of them to all evill thoughts, affe∣ctions and desires: They think evill, they conceive evill, they act evill: as the Spider doth onely vent poison, so the good Spirit of God in good men doth incline and move them to good thoughts, good affections, good actions: Hence they are said to have a good Treasure in their hearts. And of what conse∣quence it is to have this Spirit of God, appeareth, in that its named for all good things: For whereas one Evangelist saith; If ye being evill, know how to give good things, how much more will your heavenly Father bestow good gifts? Mat. 7. 11. Another saith, How much more will he bestow the Spirit? Luke 11. 13. So that the Spirit is in stead of all good things. If then it cannot lie hid, it will be quickly discerned, whether this good spirit, or that evill wicked spirit abides and dwels in thee. The fruit will discover the tree: Its strange that people should no more consider what the Fountain is from whence all flows, whether it be bit∣ter or sweet.
Secondly, Its a Spirit of Prayer, and Supplication, joyned with a tender * mourning heart, Zachary 12. and Rom. 8. Groans unutterable are said to come from the spirit; yea in that place is excellently described the help, guide and support, which is afforded to the Godly in Prayer, by the Spirit: VVe know not what to pray, or how to pray: so that if thou hast this mercie in the Text, thou findest it mightily working in the duty of Prayer, enlightning thy minde, heating thy affections, softning thy heart, supporting thee against unbe∣lief, fears and distrust. Indeed the spirit of God giveth a Gift of prayer, which many unregenerate and hypocrites have; yea they may be admirable in it: but there is the Grace of prayer, when the soul is powred out in a gracious manner, and this is only in the godly. A naturall man cannot pray acceptably, and they trust in a broken Reed who put confidence in their good prayers, which yet they have by Rote or Custome, not through Gods Spirit. Do not then scornfully passe over this touchstone.
Thirdly, Its called The Spirit of Wisedome, and Revelation, Isaiah 11. 2. * which was first communicated to Christ the Head, without measure, and then like Aarons Oyl descends to the Members of Christ. This Spirit of Revelation, is to see and behold the Glory of those things Revealed in the Gospel, and the discerning of things in a spirituall manner, which the na∣turall man cannot doe; and the spirit of Wisdome is to make a man under∣stand the matters of Religion in a Godly and practicall manner, so to believe and know, as to referre all to Godlinesse. Now how destitute many are of the Spirit in this sense, the ignorance and dulnesse about holy things doth evidently Demonstrate; they know and understand nothing in the principles of Religion, so as to have their lives Transformed by the power of it.
Furthly, and lastly, Its called the Spirit of Adoption, Romans 8. 15. * which puts a Filiall boldnesse into us, and makes us call God, Abba Father:Page 532 Those slavish fears and suspicious doubts in thee, they come not from Gods Spirit. These drive thee farther off from God, they fill thee with hard and discontented thoughts against God: No, its the Spirit of Adoption; and as of Adoption, so its a Comforter, and an Advocate, John 14. 16. As Christ is an intercessor in heaven for us; so the spirit is in our hearts pleading Gods love, his readinesse to forgive, his willingnesse to receive: as the godly are to pray for the Spirit of Sanctification, so also for the Spirit of Adoption; you are to pray for the Comforts of the Spirit, as well as the Graces; for these are wings to the soul.
Use of Instruction: How necessary this Grace is to all our Congregati∣ons. Oh that God would breath this spirituall breath into your souls. Oh that * you knew experimentally what it is to have the Holy Ghost descend upon you. We speak not of an extraordinary Miraculous way, much lesse of fan∣tasticall Delusions and pretended Revelations by the Spirit of Darknesse; but the gracious operations of the Spirit in a Sanctifying way. Oh where will you Blasphemers and wretched Mockers appear, who scoff at the Spi∣rit, and make a jeer about it? This is not onely to grieve the Spirit of God, which is a grievous sinne, but to doe despite to it. Now if the Spirit of God be vouchsafed to you, it will come with this two-fold benefit.
First, Its a Spirit of Truth, its called so, and its promised to lead the Godly into all Truth. Therefore let men never so much talk, or boast of the Spirit; if they be Errors and Heresies which they broach, the good and holy Spirit is not in them; or if they be Opinions that carry to loosenesse and liber∣ty; For its an holy Spirit.
The second benefit is to doe duties no more in the oldnesse of the Letter, but the newnesse of the Spirit; this the Apostle calls for. Now to do a Du∣ty in the oldnesse of the Letter, is customarily and formally to perform a∣ny thing without Christ, and his Spirit inabling of us: This is a dead Religion, a dead Faith, and yet few, even very few, goe any further.
That the work of Grace is a deep, powerfull, and inward affecting of the whole man. And how far Grace may be tendred or received, and yet not be put effectually into our Inwards. Also what this inward, deep work of Grace is, with the signs and effects of it.
EZEK. 36. 27.
THe grace promised in this Text hath been dispatched, viz. The putting of Gods Spirit in the converted. The next thing considerable is, The subject recipient; The subject wherein this grace is put, and that is briefly but very emphatically expressed, Within you. And indeed the English doth not rise up to the efficacy of the Hebrew, which is, in the midst, or the inward deep parts of you. Hence it's translated in intimo vestri: So that there is a great deal of weight li∣eth upon this Hebrew phrase, for it supposeth the work of grace to go deep into a man. Its an hearty rooted work, it excludeth all superficiall, formall or noti∣onall, and meer brain-work in godlinesse: And its good to observe, how in pa∣rallel places this promise doth still relate to that intimate deep working of grace upon the heart, Ezek. 11. 19. there is the same promise repeated, with this Em∣phasis; so that you may see the excellency of this promise for conversion to God, in the repetition of it, as if the Prophet delighted to mention nothing but this. The Prophet Jeremiah also doth twice or thrice declare this grace here pro∣mised in the Text; and Chap. 31. 33. with this Emphaticall description, I will put my law in their inward parts. Oh this is the main thing; All outward pro∣fession, all parts, all notions, all inlargements, if these be not accompanied with grace in the inward parts of a man, they are but a blaze: they are a tinkling cymball. Such mens Religion is like Davids great men in the world, compa∣red to grasse upon the house top, with which the mower filleth not his hand.
That the work of grace is a deep, powerfull and inward affecting of the whole*man.
The Spirit of God is put into their inwards; the law of God is written in their inwards; and therefore the spirit of man as sanctified and renewed, is called of∣ten the inward man, Rom. 7. 22. 2 Cor. 4. 16. Alas, we may say of many, It's the outward man of their godlinesse, not the inward; because it consists only in the tongue, and in expressions, and transient affections at farthest, but as for the deep, constant and solid working of grace, that is a mystery they understand not. Now that the work of grace is such an inward deep changing of a man; is also plain, in that its called so often, life. Now we know life is not the external motion, or speaking, or eating, or working; but the inward fountain of these. Life is the Page 534actus primus, the first act, or fountain, or rise of all other motions. The Painter he can give external lineaments, and outward representations; but he cannot give this actus primus, this life. And the hypocrite or unsound man, he can give ma∣ny outward colours, and glorious representations of grace, so that he may be ad∣mirable in the eies of others, and confident in his own goodnesse, but yet not at all acquainted with this grace in the inward parts. This point deserveth a pow∣erfull opening, to go to the inwards of it, as well as that must go to our inwards. And first, Let us shew how farre this grace may be either tendered or received, * and yet not put into our inwards.
And first, it's easily granted by all, That as long as the word of God sounds only in the ear, and it pierceth no further, here is no descending of it into the bowels: and yet are not the greatest part of our auditors no further wrought upon, then as to the ear! They come and hear, they sit and hear, it may be; but still here is no work of the Spirit upon the heart. Our Saviour in his parable compareth such to the high-way ground; the seed fell upon it, and presently the devil, like the birds of the air, fetcheth it away. Oh that men should judge it a great sin if they did not come and hear, and not also think it a greater sin to hear, and not inwardly to receive the power of the word. For the end of hearing is to let the word fall down into the very bottom of thy soul. Physick in the mouth, not received into the stomack, cannot do any good. R•in upon the surface of the ground, and not soaking to the root, will never make the plant grow; and thus it is here, Though thou hearest a thousand sermons, thou that neglectest not any Sabbath day; yet if thou hearest and hearest, and only hearest; the word doth not like Aarons oil go from thy ear, thy head, but to thy heart, thy inferiour deep parts of thy soul; thou goest home as ignorant, as prophane, as obstinate as thou camest hither. Know then that the perfection and fulnesse of every action lieth in accomplishing its end, without which it is in vain. Eating without digesti∣on doth not nourish, but breed diseases; so the end of hearing, is to have a po∣tent and divine operation upon the very bowels of thy soul. As Saul when he was among the Prophets, the spirit came on him, and he also prophesied. Thus while the word of God, the instrument of the spirit, is displayed before thee, what a mighty change and deep alteration should come upon thee! Thou shouldst go home praying as others, repenting as others, fearing God as others: Do not then give the ear only, but the heart also; otherwise Christ only stands at the door and knocks, thou doest not let him in.
Secondly. A second outward and insufficient work is, When the word is re∣ceived with understanding, and the grace of God doth indeed open his eyes so far, that*his minde is inlightned, that he doth both know and believe the truths of Religion, but it goeth no further. Although this work be inward, being upon the minde of man; yet I call it outward, as in respect of the inward parts, mentioned in the Text, for that speaks of more then a minde to know, or an understanding to understand the things of Religion. Although inlightning be sometimes put for the whole conversion, and light for grace, yet at other times it's made a di∣stinct work from it, and such even as reprobates have, and apostates, as Heb. 6. where inlightning, though it be a good, yea and a great gift of God; yet the Apostle hopes for better things of them, and things that accompany salvation: So that knowledge, parts, understanding in Religion doth not necessarily ac∣company salvation; and we hope better things of men, then to be able to repeat or remember Sermons, or with some understanding to give an account of the principles of Religion; and many times knowing of Gods will, and doing it, are put as two separable things; how far then are they from the fruit of this promise, who remain in grosse ignorance, who have blinde eies, know nothing about their corruption and misery by sin, or about Christ, and faith in him! To whom all our Sermons have been as a book sealed up; unto whom, though in English, yet we have preached unknown matter: A people likely to dye, and to Page 535 be damned in ignorance; for it understanding, knowing men, who receive the word with attention and knowledge; yet if they finde it not changing their inward man, come short of grace, where must the ignorant man appear? *
Thirdly, The retaining of the word of God in the memory, that is not this grace in the inward parts: That indeed is very laudable; and a forgetful hearer is blamed by the Scripture, James 1. 25. Davids resolution is, To hide the word in his heart: And this is a great cause to make it work so deeply; for a man can∣not carry coals of fire long in his bosom, but they will set all on a flame; yet the meer retaining it there, doth not attain to the inward parts in the Text.
Fourthly, The transient and suddain working upon the affections and heart, are not*also the putting of his spirit within us, or the writing of the Law in their inward parts: This comes nearest, but they want root and continuance, and so at last wither. Iohns hearers did for a season rejoye in his light; the temporary Be∣liever doth receive the word with joy, and yet he hath no root: This is a two edged sword, this truth makes divisions between the secret and hidden things of the heart: Oh how nice a point is that, wherein the temporary and the true convert differ! both pray with sorrow, both hear with joy, both per∣form duties with some inlargements and sweetness: Simili fere sensu afficiuntur, said Calvin: Yet as two high hills may seem very near together at the top, when their bottoms are far distant one from another; so these inlargements, affecti∣ons, may seem very near, when the bottom and root do much differ. Oh the Minister of God should never be upon this point, but even horror should take hold on the hearer, and he be like one that looketh down an high pinacle, & trem∣bleth to see how easily, and yet dangerously he may fall; and yet looking upon the battlements he holds upon, the grace of God, and the promise of God, which his soul hath had experience of, have hope; so put faith and trembling together!
Lastly, The meer external cleansing of a mans life, from former lusts and gross*impieties, is not this putting the spirit within us? As the Angels, when they took humane bodies, they did but seem to eat, and seem to do vital actions of life; they could not indeed, because they were not personally united to the assumed body: so all men who have their lives cleansed, and they set up a form of Re∣ligion, they do not these things as vital actions of grace; they move, as the wheel of the mill is moved, by the force of the water, not by an inward principle of life: These are compared to Swine washed in the water, but re∣turning afterwards to the mire: Though the Swine be made as white as the sheep, yet because not inwardly made a sheep, therefore she turneth at last to her former impurity; but I hint onely these things, because treated on be∣fore.
Let us in the next place come to consider positively, what this inward deep work * of grace is, wherein it doth consist: And
First, It is then fulfilled in us, when the things of Christ, his Glory, Will and Command lie closest, and nearest to the heart: For that is indeed within a man, and intimate, which is next to his heart, as we say; and this our Saviour re∣quireth in every Disciple, He that loveth father or mother more then me, is not worthy of me, Mat. 18. 37. We know the love of father and mother is a most na∣tural thing, it comes not by teaching, by custom, its inbred in us as soon as we are born; and yet the love of Christ, his Glory, and his Commandments should be more intimate then this. Hence the Apostle, to express this innate and inward life, saith, I no longer live, but Christ in me, the life that I live is by faith in Christ, Gal. 2. 20. What an emphatical expression is this, I do not live, but Christ; I live not the life of sense, I eat not, I drink not, I breathe not bodily breath; that is, comparatively to the life of faith: So that you see our very natural life, which is the most inward and deep thing in a man that is, is said not to be lived, in respect of this life of grace, which is more in∣ward Page 536 then these: Oh then examine, how close and dearly heavenly things lie to thy heart: Is there any thing more prized then God, then Grace, then Godliness? then know, God hath not put his spirit in thee, but the Devil, or the world, and sin have put their lusts in thee: Now this is a sure discovery of the woful and sinful estate of most people, God is not in all their thoughts, Christ is not in their affections, they chuse other things rather then him. Further∣more, as God and Christ is the beloved of their heart; so that which is most hated and abhorred from the heart, is sin and all evil; its more loathed then any other thing, more feared, more avoided; so that they chuse affliction and all misery rather then sin, their heart is most sensible and apprehensive of this: Oh what then can they think of themselves, who harbor and nourish sin? they no longer live, but sin in them; this is their meat and drink, to do the works of the Devil: Oh then that at last men secure and bold in sin, would be awaken∣ed: How cometh that to be imbraced in thy bosom, and practised in thy life, which thou should 〈◊〉 avoid as hell it self?
Secondly, This inward work of grace is seen, when the work of humiliation is*laid low enough: We read of the Parable of him that built an house, and when the tempests and storms arose, all fell to the ground immediately; and why? because this was not diged deep enough: Now our repentance and humiliation is then deep enough, when its for sin as sin, when its for sin because its an offence to God, and displeases him; when they loath themselves, and count them∣selves abominable in this respect. To be humbled for sin, as Ahab and the Israelites were often times, because of the temporal judgements following sin, was not to go deep enough: Oh! herein people come too short, they cry out of their sins, in the fear of death, in the extremity of pain: Alas, this is not to go to the bottom; there is a worse thing in sin, then all the temporal calamities it brings with it; and that is, to offend God, to separate between his favor and thy soul: Its therefore very meet, that thy humiliation should be for that which is the worst evil in sin. Again, in humiliation men go deep enough, when they do not onely stay upon actual sins, but go to the very original and fountain of all: Thus David, Psal. 51. he went deep, when beyond his actual sins of Murther and Adultery he also bewailed the native corruption of his soul: Oh! the grace of God must indeed have a close and inward work in that man, who discovers the root of sin, as well as the branches; the fountain, as well as the stream. God in the universal destruction of the world, did not onely look to the actual impieties then committed, but to the imagination of the thoughts of a mans heart, which were onely evil, and that continually, Gen. 6. and thus he that will make a sure and good issue of his humiliation, must still dig deeper and deeper; and see more and more abominations, till he go to the foul and bitter root of all.
Thirdly, Then the word of God is put in our inward parts, when we do truly, sin∣cerely and unfeignedly, perform all the duties God requireth: This is to do it with * the whole heart; and if we had any thing better then our hearts, they should be offered up to God: Thus David, Psal. 51. Thou delightest in the truth in the inward parts: Oh this a man should have in all the service he doth for God! So that all those, who by Religion accomplish their self-interests; all those who seek themselves, have carnal movtives in the profession of Religion; these are but pictures, not living creatures in the way of grace: Great is the number of hypocrites, even among those that profess the name of Christ: Its damna∣ble blasphemy to charge it upon all, as wicked men do; this is to condemn the generation of the godly, to blaspheme Christ and the Gospel; yet it cannot be but that through the hypocrisies of many, grievous offences and scandals will fall out: None of those who follow Christ because of the loaves, or who tread out the corn meerly because they may feed on it, set up in seeming manner the ways of Christ, that they may get outward advantages, can by experience Page 537 witness this promise made good to them: They pray, they hear, they perform holy duties, but still they want something within, still the soul of all is want∣ing; but its not the appearance of Good, not the name or profession of it, will bring thee any true or sound comfort: The time is coming, when all things without will fail thee, and leave thee; it must be something within that may support thee. *
In the next place let us observe, What are the signs, or the effects of this in∣ward deep work of grace in a man; and they are excellent:
First, He doth not rest in the external outward performance of any holy duty; if all within him be not moved and excited thereunto: He hath no comfort, no content, in praying, hearing, or any Religious duty, if all the inwards of his soul, and the depths of his heart, have not also been moved therein: Thus Da∣vid, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all within thee praise his holy name. Psal. 104. 1. All within thee, observe that: Thus the godly, as the Cock stirreth up himself before he crows, do prepare and stir up themselves to every duty: Hear the word of God, O my soul, and let all within thee give ear thereunto; so that the dull, sleepy, and formal performances of holy duties, discover a man void of grace, as well as gross impieties: Not onely prophaneness and ungodliness abroad, but dull, lazie, and formal duties, and that in a constant manner, dis∣cover a man devoid of this work of Grace: Oh if this were in the depth of thee, in the• midst of thee, it would break out more vigorously then it doth.
Secondly, Where this deep work of grace is, there a mans inward thoughts and meditations are often about holy things: The tree that is deeply rooted, hath se∣veral * strings, as it were, whereby its fastned to the earth; as the yong infant in the womb is to the mother: So that thou art to observe, what thy inward thoughts, thy inward meditations do most run about: If grace be deep with∣in, thy soul will be like an heaven, such holy thoughts, holy meditations, ho∣ly affections do lodge in thee: Thus the godly is described, By meditating in the Law of God day and night, Psal. 1. 2. As the Psalmist describes the wicked man, by his thoughts, God is not in his thoughts; and his inward thought is to leave himself a greet name. Thoughts are the first born of the soul, they most discover what a man is, they come nearest to the fountain. As the liquor tastes and smells of the vessel, so thoughts have either filthiness or godliness in them, as they come immediately from the heart; Oh then consider, what thy in∣ward thoughts for the most part are, for such art thou as they are.
Lastly, A man that hath this deep grace, he is will rooted and established; he is upon the rock Christ, and so he can abide all temptations: If there come * the temptations of persecution, he can shew his patience; if of error and heresies, his godly wisdom and soundness of minde: When men want a bot∣tom, or are not built upon a rock, they are like children tossed up and down with every wind of Doctrine.
Use of Examination: This Doctrine should even amaze you, and put you in∣to * a godly fear; for do not most men content themselves with the externals in Religion? is not all the whole worship and godliness of many in the meer form? others place it in disputes, in opinions; but to have grace in the inward man is rare: Oh consider that place, Every mans way is good in his own eyes, but God pondereth the heart, Prov. 21. 22. And God is often described by this, He tryeth and searcheth the hearts of men: Not that these outward duties of Religi∣on and Worship are to be neglected; but we are not to judge of godliness in our selves by these; the soul and excellency of them lieth in the inward man: Oh remember, that if there be not a good treasure within, thou wilt roar and tremble one day, when all things else will fail. Hezekiah comforted himself in this, That he had walked in truth and uprightness of heart: Then something with∣in, will be a joy to thy soul, even then, when all outward things will leave thee.
Of the Order and Method that God takes in our Conversion; First, Working in us inward Prin∣ciples, and then causing us to walk in his Sta∣tutes, opposite to the Doctrine of Pelagians, Pa∣pists, Arminians, and Moral Philosophy; Also signes to discover whether our outward Duties proceed from Grace within, or from Hu∣mane respects.
EZEK. 36. 27.
THe precious and great mercy of conversion promised in this Text under se∣veral Titles and Notions, hath been fully considered of and improved. There remain several other particulars, which are not without their great weight and moment. As in the first place, The Order and Method of the promise is to be taken notice of; for he worketh in the same method as he promiseth: the Method is this: First, He promiseth to give the inward root, then the fruit; first the foun∣tain, then the streams: He first promiseth the inward principles, and habit of grace, a new heart, a new spirit, and then he will cause them to walk in his command∣ments. God is both the Author of Nature, and the Author of grace; now as the Author of Nature, he first worketh the principles of life, he giveth the principles of Motions, and all vital Actions, and afterwards the exercise. So it is here, God doth in the way of grace bestow a supernatural principle upon men, and then be∣ing * First made good Trees, then they bring forth good fruit. The Obser∣vation.
That God doth first work the foundations and principles of holinesse, and from them men walk and live holily. Thus the Apostle saith, We are his workmanship, created to every good work, Eph 2. 10. We do not first do good works, and so become Gods workmanship; but we are first his workmanship, and then we exercise our selves in good and holy works.
This Doctrine hath its great use, both in matter of information, and exhortation; and there is more consequence in it, then an ordinary apprehension will at first con∣ceive. Therefore to clear this, we will first illustrate this Truth, by the opposite of it, or contrary opinions.
And first, Grace doth not come at first into the heart, as sin came into the world; for Adam was not made a bad tree, and so brought forth bad fruit; his person was not made wicked, and his nature, and then that infected his Actions; but God made Page 539 him after his own image, in righteousnesse and true holinesse: So that his soul be∣ing furnished with all graces, as the heavens are adorned with several stars, he might have continued in all holy actions sutable to his original perfection. Adams sinful disobedience, did not as outs, flow from a polluted unclean nature, but from the meer liberty of his will: and when he had thus actually transgressed, then that act∣uall sin infected, and poisoned his whole nature. Thus you see the actions of sinne were before the habits, and principles of sin: there was a branch before a root; there was a sweet fountain, and yet a bitter stream• but God in converting and changing of us, doth take the contrary course; he first sanctifieth our Natures, all the faculties of the soul; layeth a spiritual life as a foundation, and then being thus inwardly enlivened and established, we are carried out to all holy actions: So that all the glorious outward actions of religion, that are visible to the eyes of the world; if they be built without this inward foundation they will prove but a Babel: They are but like Sodoms apples, glorious for shew, but indeed dust and Ashes. It is good to observe, How that God in the Creation of the world, both in vegetative, and sensitive creatures, still created the principles first, and that in perfection, Semina∣tive, able to beget and propagate others; and thus it is also in conversion, he work∣eth these holy and excellent principles, which afterwards are operative and vigo∣rous.
Secondly, God working thus a new Nature, and thereby enabling to new acti∣ons, *takes a far other course to make holy, then Moral Philosophy teacheth: For if we read all the Moral Philosophers, perswading us to be temperate, just, or prudent, if you ask them, How shall we come to have the habits of these things? They will tell you, by frequent actions, justa agendo sumus justi, by doing many righteous actions frequently, so we come to have habits. Thus they know no other way, and there is no better Divinity in most people; for they think by doing godly actions, they are made godly: and so they think by walking in Gods commandments, to get a new spirit, which is the clear inverted order to the Text; for God first giveth this New spirit, and then causeth to walk in his Law; we indeed are commanded to be diligent in the use of the means; we must attend to the Ordinances of grace; but till this spiritual life be infused, there is not one good action done by us in a good manner: All that thou dost till this new principle be put in thee, hath but the body of a good action, not the soul of it. Nothing thou dost is pleasing to God, Heb. 11. 6. God is angry with thee all the day long, All things are become polluted, and unclean to thee, Ti•. 1. 15. Oh were not men hardened in their sins, and led ca∣ptive by the D•vel according to his pleasure: they could never eat, or drink, or take any rest till they got out of that damnable estate, wherein all the day long they were treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. Belshazzar saw but one hand-writing in the wall against him, and he knew not what it was; yet it strook him with terror and trembling: But now thou hast many hand-writings, and Or∣dinances against thee, even the whole word of God; and thou canst not but know what they are, yet thou art not affected with fear. What was written of Belshaz∣zar, Thou art weighed, and found too light; The same Gods word saith of all thy Duties, performances, and seeming religion, It is weighed, and it is found too light: And the reason is, because all thy religious duties are like leaves fallen from the tree dried, and without s•p or moysture.
Thirdly, This work of grace is in a far other manner then Pelagians of old, or*Papists, and Arminians of late, do confidently aver, for they attend not to this Or∣der in the Text. But they say, that man by the power of Free-will, doth joyn with the grace of God, and co-operate with that; and so partly from free-will, part∣ly from Gods grace, comes this new spirit, this new grace. But this doth directly contradict many places of Scripture, which makes Regeneration and a New-birth necessarily to go before all holy actions; and if a man cannot make himself a man, much lesse like God, as grace doth: But say they, Ezek. 18. 31. there the Scripture saith, Make ye a new heart, a new spirit; Therefore we by our working Page 540 obtain a new heart; But this is answered thus, That the same thing may be both our Duty and Gods Gift: when the Scripture saith, Make ye•a new spi∣rit, there it declareth our Duty, what we ought to do: but when God saith, I will give it you, that shews our Impotency, we are not able to make new hearts; and therefore God graciously worketh it for us. Augustine did admi∣rably and orthodoxly defend this truth, That we were not made holy by doing holy Actions, through Grace and Free-will; but God first made us holy; as saith Augustine, The Wheel runs round, not to make it self round, but be∣cause it is round, therefore it runneth round. Indeed our Saviour saith, Make the Tree good (Matth. 12. 33.) and then the fruit will be good; but he doth not there describe our power, but that excellent order all should look unto in Religion; the Pharisees, like most people in our dayes, they looked to the outward Actions, did not dare to omit them, They washed the outside of the Cup; but saith our Saviour, not the outside but the inside must be first cleansed: The Tree must be first made good ere the fruit can. Oh there is no Doctrine more necessary then this. Who looketh to good insides! Many dare not neglect the outward Obedience unto Gods Commandments, but who mindes the new heart, the new spirit within; and hence they set most prepo∣sterously upon the work of Conversion; they think by good Deeds, by out∣ward Duties to obtain a new spirit from God, not considering this is to build the top of an House before a Foundation be laid, Non per opera venitur ad fidem, sed per fidem ad opera; We do not come to Faith by Works, but to Works by Faith; Oh then be affected with this excellent Order and Method that God takes in our Conversion, beginne where God beginneth. What the Apostle said about his Preaching, As a wise Builder (1 Cor. 3. 10.) I lay a good Foundation: So do thou as a wise Builder for Heaven lay a good Foun∣dation; Tempests and Stormes will arise; God will have his windes and waves to assault you, so that unlesse you be built on a Rock, you cannot continue im∣moveable.
These things premised, let us consider the Reasons why God takes this * order, first giving a new heart and spirit, then causing us to walk in his wayes, and
First, Otherwise our Duties would be dead Duties, there would be no Life in*them. If a Ball or Wheel move, this Motion is not a vital Action, because its not from a Principle within, it comes wholly from without; so all thy Obe∣dience to Gods Commandments is but a dead Obedience, a dead Work, if this new Heart be not first in thee. God in the Old Testament accepted of dead Sacrifices to be offered to him, but now we must give up our selves, as li∣ving Sacrifices, Rom. 12. 1. The Scripture delights to call the Work of Grace, a Life, and the Graces of Gods Spirit are compared to living Waters. And thus indeed it is, Every Prayer must be a living Prayer, thy Obedience living, or lively Obedience, but this cannot be till God beginne in the inward man first. As therefore thou canst not delight in a dead Wife, dead Children; so neither doth God in thy dead Religion. We Ministers while preaching of these things, may say our Hearts are inditing of good things, and our Mouths drop like the Honey-comb; for how glad shouldst thou be to hear of a way that may put life into all thy dead Duties. If those that lived in Christs time, did so exceedingly rejoyce to receive their Friends from the dead; what joy should it be to have all thy Duties arise as it were from the dead? How necessary is this for such who live in a meer formall customary way of Duties! We read of the Aegyptian Plague, that the first-born in every Family was dead; and thereupon in the Morning there were great out-cryes in every Family for a dead son. Oh how should this truth make many Families mourn for their dead Du∣ties, their dead Religion! There is no life in any thing thou dost, till God be∣gin within and so cure thee outwardly.
Page 541 Secondly, As there is no life in thy Duties, so there is no worth, no excellency, up*solidity in them, if first Gods Law be not written in our inward parts. We reade in the Canticles of large commendations that Christ gives the Church, viz. every godly soul, and how her graces are commended for the lovelinesse, sweetnesse and fragrancy in them; whereas if she had only paintings, a meer outside with∣out the inward substance of Grace, there might have been some glittering but no true worth. What worth is there in an Image of clay and dirt, though co∣vered over with gold? Godlinesse is aurea not deaurata; the Churches Glory was within: What worth is there in straws or flowers, when their juyce and moisture is dried up? The hypocrite is compared in his fastings to a Bulrush, and such a Bulrush is every mans Godlinesse without this inward foundation; its empty and light. Therefore weigh your Duties in the balance of the Sanctuary, do not judge that godlinesse and holinesse which the Scripture rejects as refuse. As the Prophet speaks of the Israelites, Reprobate Silver shall men call them, Jer. 6. 10. So reprobate Duties, a reprobate Godlinesse, shall both men and God call these. As God by the Prophet complains of his defective and deformed Sa∣crifices, Go and offer such to your Governours and Rulers; so we may say in this case, Go to men and serve them without an inward heart, without inward affections, and will they thank you or reward such service?
Thirdly, As there is no worth, so there is no sutablenesse in such Duties to God;* for God is a Spirit, and he searcheth and trieth the hearts of men, our Saviour from this consideration inferred, that those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth, John 4. Now then if God have not begun this foundation in thee of a new heart, a new spirit; here is no congruity between God and thy worship. Oh how remote are these things from the common understanding of most men, who know no further in Religion then a bodily praying, or a bodily hearing! Sursum corda, was the ancient acclamation at the administration of the Sacrament, to take them off from the Elements of Bread and Wine; and this should be a daily Memento, Lift up your hearts on high in every Duty you go about. But men that would be thus elevated in their hearts, and fasten upon God himself, must go out of all their low and bodily apprehensions. As God bad Abraham come out of his Tabernacle, and then to look up to Heaven to number the Stars if he could; thou must be drawn out of the Tabernacle of thy bodily affections, before thou canst set thy heart upon God himself. Oh then consider that as long as this new spirit is not in thee, there is no more proportion between God and thy soul for any holy Duty, which is nothing but a familiar communion with God, then is between Earth and Heaven.
Fourthly, Therefore God begins here before the outward man be sanctified, because*the greatest power and strength of corruption lieth in the inward parts. As the Law of God is in the inward parts of the godly; so the Law of sinne, as the Apostle calleth it, is reigning in the members of every wicked man; so that the godly have a good Law in their inward parts, and the wicked, the Law of sinne. If therefore God should only inable us to outward Obedience without this new spirit, his greatest work of Grace would be left undone; for its not the body so much as the soul that the Devil possesseth, and taketh for his own. The great∣est part of wickedness lieth there, where most men do neither perceive or feel it. Though sickness when it come to the heart be presently felt, yet sinne when it cometh to the heart, and lieth at the heart, is not felt as a burden till Gods Spirit convince a man; seeing therefore that this converting Grace is vouchsa∣fed as an healing, and a medicinal cure, it is necessary that the greatest operati∣on of it should be upon the vital parts within. So that as in unregenerate men, the imaginations of the thoughts of their hearts are only evil, and that conti∣nually; so the imagination of their thoughts should be godly and heavenly. As the wicked swallow down iniquity like water, so rivers of living water should flow out of their bowels. As in the wicked no man can bring the clean out of an Page 542 unclean, so it should be hard to bring an unclean from a clean. In these things lieth the marrow and quintessence of Religion, men are but in the porch, and never enter into the Holy of Holies till they be experimentally acquainted with these things: O that all our Congregations were understanding of these things. If Ministers preach against outward grosse impieties, such as the light of nature condemneth, with that you can go along; but concerning this new spirit and new heart, or the old heart and old man; which the Scripture so much speaks of, you know nothing of it.
In the next place let us consider, What are the Signs that may discover when we*perform holy Duties from this new Spirit within, and not rather as most do from Edu∣cation, Custom or carnal Respects to the good or ill will of man. For this is certain, All men perform holy Duties, either from inward principles of Grace, or out∣ward principles of humane respects; now how shall we know when a man doth them from this inward new Spirit?
First, He that doth them from an inward principle; is constant, and uniform, and immoveable in them, for this is made a divine Nature in him. Now as all na∣tural * principles in the creatures do carry them on in a constant setled way; The fire doth alwayes ascend upwards, the stone descend downwards; so the wicked man he is constant to his principles of sinne, you shall never finde him check∣ing or stopping himself, but by some extraordinary power; Thus the godly man, his heart and soul doth carry him on to the things of Godliness, and if he be at any time stopped in it, or hindered, it is, as they say the disease is to the body, Praeter Naturam, besides the nature and inclination of a godly man. Hence Paul makes such a miserable complaint of those lusts that did stirre, and move in him, as those that had led him away Captive against his will, Rom. 7. Look to this then you who are inconstant, and are for holy Duties in some fits, in some sad moods. So that it is accidental, and wholly inexpected, if thou set upon any religious Duty, we may by way of wonder cry out, is they did, Is Saul also among the Prophets? What makes thee pray, come to Church? What putteth thee in this fit? What good Disposition art thou in so sud∣denly?
Secondly, Men that perform outward Obedience from inward principles, they do*it with delight and joy. There is nothing so pleasing and connatural to them. All principles have a kinde of delight in their connatural actions and objects. Thus the voluptuous principle is for the pleasures of the flesh, the ambitious prin∣ciple for honours and earthly greatness, and the godly principle is for holinesse and godliness. David how often doth he profess his delights, and even ravish∣ments in the Ordinances of God, and the enjoying of him! Christ called it His meat and drink to do the will of his Father; and why? because the Law of God was written within his heart. Indeed the godly sometimes finde dulnesse, list∣lesness, and even a wearisomness upon them in the wayes of God. But yet their main and chief delight of soul is in God and the Ordinances that lead to him, ra∣ther then in any thing else; Thou hast put more gladnesse into my heart, then they have had, when their wine and oyl increaseth, Psal. 4.
Thirdly, Where inward Principles are, they will carry to the Obedience of Gods Commands, though there be no outward Encouragements to allure and draw on.* The Father and Mother love their Children, though they have no outward ad∣vantages by them, because it is a natural principle. You do not hire and intreat an hungry man to eat his meat, or a wearied man to take his rest. Natural appe∣tite cals for these things. Thus he that hath the new heart and spirit within him, he is godly, and liveth holily, though there be no favour, no encouragement, no honour to such men.
Yea fourthly, Where inward Principles of Grace are, They grow the more pow∣fuller and active, by how much the more they are opposed. Thus the water that is * stopt doth swell the higher. The colder the weather is, the hotter the fire burn∣neth Page 543 by an opposition; And so the people of God have been most holy in times of Troubles, and Oppositions: They have born the best fruit, and loo∣ked most green in the Winter time: whereas when men have not inward prin∣ciples of grace, then they presently wither as soon as the Sunne riseth; because they have no root. The godly are Stars, that shine most in the night, in dark times.
Use of Exhortation, Still and still to look from whence all thy externall Obedience comes. Whence is thy Hearing, thy Praying, thy Family Du∣ties? * Yea, what advantage is it to set up Dagon? he will fall down again and again; as long as he hath no inward life in him, and it will be no profit to thee, or Comfort at thy Death, or at the day of Judgement, to say, I have prayed, I have heard, I have been diligent to come to Church; if first this new Spirit have not been put in thee. But Oh! How long shall those things be dark Parables, and hidden Mysteries to most men? Who will give you un∣derstanding in these things? Remember your inwards of Nature decay every day, and your outward body; lay up then some enduring Treasure.
That true Principles of Grace within must needs Demonstrate themselves by an Outward Godly Life.
EZEK. 36. 27.
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.
Gods not onely infusing the inward Principles of Grace, but also vouchsafing his Quickning, Actu∣ating, Assisting Grace unto his people, inabling them to walk in his Statutes; maintained against Pelagians, Arminians and Papists; Also, the happy condition of those who have this lat∣ter grace, as well as the former.
EZEK. 36. 27.
THe method that the Spirit of God useth in promising these great mer∣cies, hath afforded us profitable observations.
In the next place you may remember, that in the general division of this Text, there was the grace of God vouchsafed in the root, and in the fruit; in the principles or habits, and in the actual exercise of grace. We have al∣ready dispatched grace in the root, in the principles, which is called A new heart, and, Gods spirit put into us: Let us now admire the goodness of God in the fruit; for the Text beareth both an holy root, and holy fruit; and this is expressed in this promise, I will cause them to walk in my statutes: This is a fur∣ther d••finct mercy of God; it is the first and principal mercy indeed, To put his Spirit in us; and its the second, and no less necessary mercy, when this is done, To Page 549 cause us to walk in his statutes: So that the former part of the promise, is for the principles of grace; this latter part, for the acts and exercise of grace. We read in Scripture, that David, Peter, and others, who had the inward princi∣ples of grace, yet for want of the actual exercise of them, did grievously wound their own souls, and sadly dishonor the name of God: So that here we have a special remarkable point afforded us, viz.
That God doth not onely at first infuse the principles of grace in his children, but*its necessary he should also inable them to act and improve those principles.
He doth not onely give us power to holy actions, but he works also the holy actions themselves: So that not onely the principles of Believing, Repentance, &c. are the gift of God, but the very acts also of these graces: Thus the Apostle saith, That God worketh in us, not onely to will, but to do, Phil. 2. 13. not onely the power, but the action it self. This point in the explication of it, will much manifest and exalt the grace of God as all in all; and then it will set forth the exact duty of Christianity, whose glory lieth in the daily exercise of grace, not in the principles or root of it: And
First, We will open the sense of the Dostrine, and then prove it by several Ar∣guments; * for Pelagians, Arminians, and several Papists, are against this ex∣cellent and glorious truth, attributing indeed the sufficiency and power of doing a good action, to Gods grace, but the actual efficacy of it to a mans will.
In the first place therefore, consider, that there is a twofold grace of God, as to * our matter in hand; There is grace Regenerating, or Converting; whereby of men dead in sin, and wholly senseless, we come to have a life of Grace, and a Di∣vine Nature we are made partakers of.
Secondly, There is after this a quicking, preventing or exciting grace; where∣by * that former principle of grace is stirred up, and provoked to action. I shall not strictly attend to the School distinctions of grace, Prevenient, Conco∣mitant, and Subsequent, of grace operant, and co-operant: I shall use the Scripture phrase, Quickning Grace; which is not onely at first of men dead in sin, and giving life unto them, in which sense Paul useth it, Ephes. 2. but also for the exciting and stirring up those principles of grace in us, both to act, and also to increase; as David, Psal. 119. prayeth many times, especially verse 88. Quicken me after thy loving kindeness, so shall I keep thy testimonies: This is a blessed temper, and happy are those who do not by negligence, or any other sin, provoke God to withdraw this exciting grace; for although a godly man loose not his principles of grace, yet if he loose this quickning, this acting of grace, he is for the present like a barren wilderness: So then you see, God hath a twofold grace, Initial and Converting, Exciting and Quickning, which we need every hour, every moment, and must pray for more earnestly, then we would for our daily bread.
Secondly, You must know, that there is a great difference in man, while he re∣ceiveth*the one, and while God enableth him to the other: These are not speculative notional points, that tend not to edification, but are exceeding profitable; for if we consider man as the subject of that first converting grace, so he is meer∣ly passive, he doth not at all co-operate or work with the grace of God; for you heard, he had A stony heart, and he is dead in sin; and grace converting, is compared to the Resurrection: So that as Lazarus, when he was raised to life, did not contribute any help thereunto of himself, but was wholly passive; so it is in every man that is at first converted to God, he doth not further this great work, he doth not desire, he doth not set it on; yea, he useth all the power and re∣sistance he can against it, till God conquer the heart by his Omnipotent power; but it is otherwise in this exciting and quickning grace, for there being the super∣natural principles of grace before, when he is stirred up, he is not meerly passive; but being first acted by the grace of God, we then act & move also; so that we are voluntary and free in those exercises of grace; though grace moves, yet we also Page 550 move: This is excellently expressed by the Church, Draw us, and we will run after thee, Cant. 1. 4. The Church was listless, unprepared; therefore she desireth the grace of God to draw her, and then she would run after him. Draw a dead man, and for all that he cannot run; but the Church had the life of grace in her, onely she wanted this quickning, exciting grace.
Thirdly, When we say, That God doth not onely work the principles, but also*the acts of grace, that is to be understood as an efficient, not as a subject: So that although we say, God worketh in us our Faith, our Repentance, yet we can∣not say God believeth, and God repenteth; for they came from him as an efficient meerly, but from us as subjects in a vital formal manner, Deus non potest supplere vicem formalis aut materialis causae: So that we are the formal causes, as well as the efficient. Even as God in the order of nature, worketh all natural actions for us, In him he we live and move, saith the Apostle; yet we cannot say, God liveth, or God moveth, or God eateth or God walketh; because he is the efficient cause of these onely, not the formal.
Thus you have the sense of the Doctrine; let us observe the grounds: And *
First, Its clear, that God doth not onely give a new heart, but cause us also to walk in the ways of holiness, because these are two distinct mercies, and are very se∣parable one from the other: It may be, and experience tells us, it doth too often fall out, that where the former mercy is of Gods spirit, and a new heart in his people, yet the latter may not be. David you heard, even while he committed those foul and gross sins, yet had not the principle and seeds of Grace quite dead within him; no more then the tree in winter, that is stript of all its ornaments, is dead at the root; yet he was far from this latter mercy in the Text, To walk in the statutes of God: And so at any time, when the children of God fall into sins of lusts, or carelesness and negligence, they are not fallen from the Root Christ; but yet this exciting and quicking grace they have lost for the present. Seeing therefore, that this latter is separate from the former, and you may see even one of Christs sheep for the time, wallowing like the Swine in filthy mire, it is necessary that God should not onely do the one, but the other also for us: Therefore the people of God are to consider this: please not your selves that you have had the experience of conversion upon your souls; you can tell, that God hath made a wonderful change in you; for how doth God accompany you with this exciting, acting grace? Are ye not all over rusty, as it were, are you not very often unfit for holy duties, unprepared to hear, to pray? Are not your hearts like a barren mountain, yea, like a noisom dunghill sometimes? Do you not refuse to open the door, that Christ may come in, who hath stood all night knocking at the door, while his locks are full of dew? Is it not thus, and far worse with you many times, who yet hope of your conversion to God? And whence is all this? you have not this acting, this exciting grace, and so thou art like one in a deep sleep.
Secondly, The people of God have earnestly begged for this acting grace, as not thinking the principles of grace enough: Thus David often, Quicken my heart, in∣cline*my heart (saith he) to keep thy testimonies: That man prayed, That Christ would increase his faith; yea, all the prayers that you read any godly men have made for the acts of grace, that they might repent, believe, walk holily, all these do plainly convince, that God doth not onely give the life of grace, but the constant motions of that life afterward: So that if God did not work these exercises of grace for us also, it would be a vain thing to importune God in prayer for them.
Thirdly, God doth this latter, as well as the former, Because he encourageth the godly to set upon the exercise of grace, because he will inable them, and assist*them therein: Thus the Apostle, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling: Why? because its God that worketh in you to will and to do: This argument may seem very strange, Work, because God worketh in you; but its the greatest rea∣son *Page 551 and comfort that can be: Do thou set thy self upon the works of Faith, Re∣pentance, Mortification of the dearest and strongest corruption, though thou art apt to be discouraged, and savest, It cannot be, yet God is ready to help with his hand. Paul speaking of those high expressions of grace, To know how to abound, and how to want, he addeth, I can do all things, through Christ that strengthens me, Phil. 4. 13. A godly man hath a kinde of Omnipotency; he can do what God can do, because he hath the help of God inabling him thereunto: A Christian then should not dishearten himself with such thoughts as these, What shall I do when death comes? What if such suddain calamities should overwhelm me? for he must remember, that God useth to put forth his hand at that time; and then Peter is imboldned to go upon the waters to Christ.
Fourthly, There must be such acting and inlivening grace, as well as the principles, Because otherwise God would lose great part of his glory, in bringing a*man to heaven: For not onely Justification, but Salvation is attributed unto Grace; and Rom. 9. Its not of him that willeth, or runneth, but of him that calleth and electeth: Now grace could not have the glory of all from the beginning to the end, if God should not constantly inable and help in the progress of god∣liness, as well as at the beginning: So that if God did onely give principles of grace, and not daily assist and inable; we might indeed be thankful unto him for what once he did for us, but we might thank our own power, and sacrifice to our own will for what is done afterwards: But what hast thou, saith the Scri∣ture, that thou hast not received? 1 Cor. 4. 7. Its a general assertion, Every good and perfect gift comes from the father of lights, James 1. and we cannot think a good thought, much less have any good affections or desires, though already con∣verted, of our selves, if grace were not always ready at hand: So that this truth should put the soul into daily and constant thankfulness, because it hath daily and constant supply from the throne of grace.
Fifthly, If so be that in natural things, where God hath given natural princi∣ples of actions, yet they cannot act, without daily concourse of God, how much more*must this hold in supernaturals: Take the fire, that is a natural Agent, and so determined to one action; viz. To burn, yet if God doth suspend his influence, his actual motion, as in the example of the three Worthies, then it cannot burn; and this is much more seen in natural creatures: In him we live, and move, and have our being, saith the Apostle; we do not onely live by him, but we are not able to move or stir without him. Now if it be not enough for a man to have God give him life once, but he must daily inable him to move and stir, will not this follow much more in supernatural things? Cannot we stir the hand or the foot without him? and can we stir the heart or affections to God without him? So that as God, though he did rest from the works of Creation, yet he doth not from them of Conservation: But hitherto, saith Christ, I and my father work: So neither in the spiritural new creature doth God cease from daily conservation, and constant help in all its actions.
Sixthly, The Dominicans arguing against the Jesuits in this point, reason thus, *Every thing that is potential, must be reduced into act, by some thing that is it self in act: Now, say they, God he is Actus primus, & purus, he is the first and pure act. The principles and habits of grace are potential, and therefore they must be determinated and actuated by God, who is always in act: This Argument hath much strength in it, but it is too metaphysical: I come to a more popular one; And
Seventhly, God doth not onely bestow principles of grace, but also excites * and quickens, as is plainly evidenced, In that two godly men, living under the same means of grace, yet one doth not profit, but groweth colder and colder; the other groweth and thriveth more and more: How comes this difference to be? but that one hath the grace of God assisting and inabling of him, the other hath not; not Page 552 that he who falls into sin may blame God; for his slothfulness, negligence and carelesness, makes God to withdraw his helping hand in that need: So that al∣though the cause of one mans fall, is his own sin: Yet the cause of the other mans standing, is Gods grace vouchsafed unto him, yea, the same godly man: as David, findes a great change in his own heart: sometimes he is able to trust in God, to overcome temptations; at other times he is cast down, and hath no strength within him; Whence is all this? but from the ebbings and flowings of exciting grace: And this is a clear experimental demonstration of this truth, At sometimes the least temptation, the least snare, is ready to make a godly man fall; at another time, though strong winds and tempests blow upon him, yet he is able to stand like Mount Sion, that cannot be removed. Now this diffe∣rence comes not from within a man, but from without, as this assisting and ex∣citing grace is ready, or afar off.
In the next place, let us consider, how blessed and happy a thing it is, to have * not onely the principles of grace, but the actings and causations of it: And
First, Hereby the soul will be kept from negligence, dulness, and all abatements or falls in our love to God: All the while grace is thus causing thee to walk, cau∣sing thee to be always doing, no dulness or stupidity will enter upon thee; all the while a man is in exercise and motion, he doth not take cold; all the while the streams run, they cannot grow muddy: Now a godly man is said To have Rivers of living water flowing from his belly; he is not a fountain sealed up, they are daily flowing, and then they cannot grow noisom; the iron that lieth still groweth rusty, and is not fit for use: Now what a comfortable condition is this to the godly, to have thy heart never lie still, but always hungring, thirst∣ing, or moving after God and good things one way or other! As the heart it self, you see, never lieth still, but is always in motion; so grace in the heart, when stirred up by God, it is always working, putting on, drawing out the soul: What makes the godly so grieved, so dejected many times? its the decay, the fall they finde within themselves, but this causing grace makes all things flourish.
Secondly, This causing grace, as it preserveth from decays in the degree of grace, so much more from gross and foul sins: Oh David and Peter wanted this * help in the midst of their temptations, and therefore they were so dangerously overcome: This is the onely Preservative and Antidote against sin; not the principles of grace, but the actings of grace: This is called by the Apostle, Grace to help in time of need, Heb. 4. 16. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Oh this is admirable, when grace comes in the very need thou wert in! thou wert even falling into such a sin, thou wert even drowning, and this comes and lifts up thy head.
Thirdly, This actuating grace will make a man in a prepared frame for every du∣ty; and to resist every kinde of temptation; And what can be more desired then * this? Ask this of God, and you beg the whole Kingdom of grace: He that is prepared to do every duty, and to resist every temptation, though he should drink any deadly thing of sin, though a Viper of lust should fasten on him, yet it would not hurt him: Thus the Scripture speaks often of being prepared, and ready for every good work: When God commands Faith, Patience, Zeal, to say, My heart is prepared or fixed, I come to do thy will, O God: The heart of it self is no ways fitted for any good action; and though the principles of grace be within, yet a man may be very indisposed to what is holy: Now this causing grace is the file to take off the rust, its the whetting of the edge, its the stirring up or blowing of the coals into a flame; and the excellncy of this grace, is no less seen in the confirming and corroborating of the heart against temptations: We are taught to pray constantly, That God would not lead us into temptations. Temptations have discovered the rottenness, guile and falshood of mens hearts: It was a temptation discovered the second kinde of ground to have no root; who knoweth his heart in temptations? Peter in a temptation, differed much from himself when without it. Now there is nothing doth so fortifie and Page 553 make the heart in flexible, as this grace, to help in time of need.
Fourthly, This actuating grace will make a man fruitful and profitable in his*place: This is the trading and merchandizing grace, this makes a man redeem the time, take the present seasons of grace, observe all opportunities, that he may serve God in his generation; so that no good thing will be wanting to that man, who hath this daily influence; whereas men lie like lumps of earth, or stand like dead and dry trees in the garden of God, if this grace doth not always water them.
Fifthly, This causing, exciting grace, puts a man in a comfortable posture; inso∣much, * that whensoever our Lord and Master shall come, he will be pronounced faithful and blessed: Thus our Saviour, Blessed is he, whom his master when he cometh, shall finde so doing, Luke 12. 43. He must be doing, he must be in his masters work: This will make a man have oyl enough; Oh therefore that the people of God would hunger and thirst more after this working, living and quickning grace: How many opportunities doest thou neglect? how many prises are put into thy hand, and thou like a fool doest neglect them? how often is thy heart sluggish, dead, and very much indisposed, if Christ should come at this or that hour? All is from want of this grace, which puts thy heart in tune, but this would wind up thy soul, so that thou wouldst be ready for the work of the Lord.
Use of Conviction, unto the greatest part in our Congregations, that they are * such who never felt the power of this Text upon their souls: Where God re∣news, there he causeth men to walk in his statutes, he will overpower their hearts, he will subdue their contumacy, he will remove their unwillingness: But alas, wo, and again wo for thee! thou findest the Devil, that unclean Spi∣rit ruling in thy heart, he causeth thee to walk in all the lusts of sin, be moves thee to serve this corruption, and thou doest it; that sin, and thou doest not refuse it; what is more plain and evident, then that yet this mercy is not vouchsafed to thee? and yet how confident, how secure art thou? what, art thou not afraid of Gods word? doest thou not believe? doest thou think to mock God, and to finde his word false? Oh miserable and wretched men! the more to be pitied, because they pity not themselves, neither consider how near they are to eternal wo.
Use 2. Of Admonition to the children of God: you have the principles of * grace, know, that is not enough, but the sweetness and comfort of these, lieth in the exercise of them. In all good things of this life, thou doest judge the use and improvement of them all in all; why not then in the principles of grace? Be always ready to say, My heart is prepared, O Lord, I can do and suffer thy will; especially take heed of all those sins that may drive or chase a∣way this exciting grace; take heed thou doest not provoke God to withdraw this assistance and strength from thee, for that is easily done; and know, nothing doth sooner bereave you of this assisting grace, then neglect of the Ordinances, or the careless and sluggish performance of them; for in and by the use of these, God doth discover his power: He bids us wait for this strength, and expect it in these.
Shewing that true Converts make Godlinesse their ordinary Practice; And what to walk in Gods Statutes implies.
EZEK. •6. 27.
THis latter part of the promise contained (as you have heard) grace in the fruit, and the exercise of it, I will cause you to walk, in my Statutes. To sub∣divide this Promise of actuating grace, consider the action promised, and the object about which it is conversant. The action promised, is, To walk. The ob∣ject, My statutes. I shall speak onely of the action vouchsafed, To walk. Its so known a thing, that I need not spend time, to enumerate places, that to walk doth denote the constant course, endeavour, and practice of a mans life, and that whether in good or evill. Many examples of Scripture might be produced, to evidence this, even as the word Way also in Scripture doth signifie that Form of Doctrine, Worship, or manners a man accustometh himself to. And this expression of Wal∣king is excellently transferred from the body to the soul; for by faith, love, and o∣ther graces, the soul walketh as well as the body, by fe•t, and doth signifie not sud∣den fits, and transitory a•ffections about Godlinesse, but a daily setled, stedfast, and unmoveable way in godlinesse: so that the Doctrine is:
That a Man Converted makes Godlinesse his constant, ordinary practice.
Its a walking, yea the Scripture cals it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Ephes. 2. 10. To walk round * and round in the whole circle of good works. All Christians are of the Peri∣patetick Sect in this sense, Gal. ul•. The word to walk is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, (who walk after this Rule) and that denoteth an exact methodical walking, as in a word a man doth carefully put one letter after another to make sense; but the opening of particulars will give life to this matter: Let us therefore, first consider, what is implyed in this expression or Metaphor, to walk in Gods Statutes. And,
First, It signifieth, that we make Religion and Godlinesse our businesse, our 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, our main work, our Joseph, our Benjamin; whatsoever is neglected that is not: * Thus our Saviour, Seek ye first the Kingdome of Heaven, and other things shall be added, Matth. 6 33. Grace is the principall; things of this life are but ac∣cessory. Hence 1 Cor. 7. We must buy as if we bought not, we must marry as if we married not, and do all earthly things, as if we did them not; that so we may serve the Lord without distraction: Christ gave us a good example in doing Gods will, when he did so attend on it, that sometimes he refused natural refreshments, to promote Gods glory, giving this remarkable assertion, Its my meat and drink to do my Fathers will, John 4. 34. And David describeth the godly man by medita∣ting Page 555 in the Law of God day and night. That phrase doth not imply, we should give over our Callings, and read norhing else but the Bible, it onely sheweth that we make it our chief businesse and imployment to attend to that rule. Therefore, the Rabbin took it too litterally, when being asked, whether a man may read Greek Authors, or any humane books but the Bible? He swered, If there were any time, that was not part of day, or night; he might an take that time and spend it in reading such Books: but this was too strict; it commands us to give the Principality, to give the fat, as it were, to the matters of God. Oh, but who then is converted, if this be so? Where is the man that makes Godlinesse his main work and businesse? VVho riseth up early, and goeth to bed late to get this bread of life? Look into Persons, into Families, are not the matters of the world prefer∣red before the matters of godlinesse? Doe not earthly things make you pray, as if you prayed not, serve the Lord, as if you served him not? You that are godly think of this truth, and mourn; it is a two-edged sword: Doth not thy own heart tell thee often, that thou dost not make godlinesse thy main businesse; The cares, the snares, and the temptations of the world makes thee many times seek the things of the earth in the first place.
Secondly, It implyeth voluntarinesse, delight, and pleasure in the wayes of Godli∣nesse.* Its not onely our imploiment, and labour, (for we may be haled to that) but it is our delight, our joy, our greatest pleasure we have in this life. To walk is a voluntary action, and frequently used for the expression of a mans delight. He is gone to walk, or He walketh in his Garden. Thus God to expresse his protection, and delight he hath in us, he promiseth to walk with us, or amongst us, & set his Ta∣bernacle amongst us, 2 Cor. 6. 16. So that those who are converted, finde it more than honey, riches, or all advantages, to be doing the will of their Father. Hence Psal. 110. they are called a willing people, or willingnesses. David doth many times expresse that great delight and pleasure he takes in the Commandments of God: And Paul, Rom. 7. I delight in the Law of God, in the inward man. If there∣fore Grace and Godlinesse be thy walk, how great will the joy and gladnesse of thy heart be in all approaches near to him? Everie dutie will be like the Mount of Transfiguration, of which thou wilt say, Its good to be here. As our Savi∣our said, He that drinks of the old Wine, would not care for the new. And thus the godly man that hath tasted of the goodnesse of God, and the sweetnesse of grace, will forget his earthly pleasures. This Manna will make a man despise Egyp∣tian Garlick: This fatted Calf will make a man regard no more any Husks: So that you who look upon all godly duties constantly as a wearisomnesse, a burden, how can you say God hath wrought this new heart in you? Indeed the dulnesse, sluggishnesse, and partial wearisomnesse that surprizeth even the godly many times, doth argue Conversion is but in part, and imperfect: and therefore they should be in an holy manner grieved, and shamed in soul to hear and think of these things, saying. These holy truths have too much luster and dazeling in them, more then my weak infirm eyes are able to behold. Oh then hunger and thirst more after this sweetnesse and pleasure, which is to be had in holinesse. This will be On to the wheels; yea like the spirit in Ezekiels wheels to make the soul move swiftly.
Thirdly, To walk denoteth diligence, frequency and Customariness. There is a great * difference between setting a mans foot accidentally or occasionally in a path, and walking in it: Ahab occasionally humbled himself, but it was not his way. Ba∣laam desired to dye the death of the righteous; but did he ever doe so before? He did not walk in the way of righteousnesse. To walk is a constant, frequent, custo∣mary exercise of a man, and doth not signifie what a man in some fits, or some oc∣casions may doe, but what he is accustomed to: Even as the godly man, he some∣times turns aside out of the path of righteousnesse into wayes of wickednesse: Da∣vid and Peter did so: yet we doe not say, they did walk in wickednesse; wicked∣ness was not their constant customary practice: so it is with the wicked man, they Page 556 sometimes, especially under calamities and fears, step into the wayes of Godliness, they doe some godly and righteous things: but this is not their way, its not their custome: So that its not the bare doing holy and righteous actions: but are these thy way? dost thou walk in these? Is it not by meer accident, some suddain occa∣sion; as a contrary wind sometimes driveth in the passenger to another Port then he expected or desired.
Fourthly, To walk, implyeth progresse and increase in godlinesse. To walk is a pro∣gressive motion, and every step a man takes he gaineth more ground, and is nearer * to his journeys end; and thus it is in godlinesse. The Converted man he gaineth, he groweth, he is nearer the top of the hill than he was. Thus Paul you may see him not onely walking, but even running 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I presse hard after, I forget the things that are behinde. Oh this is a necessarie point: for who attends to growth in Grace? To get more of this treasure, though the Scripture doth so often presse it. The old rule is, Non progredi, est regredi; Not to go forward, is to go back∣ward. Yet how many are at a stand, yea decay and abate in former graces! Is this to walk in the wayes of God? like Hezekiah's Sun, thou art gone so many de∣grees backward. Into what a Consumption art thou fallen? who would take thee to be the same thou wert once? Every duty and grace is so withered, that as Da∣vid said of his body, Thy bones stand out through leannesse. It may be indeed e∣ven a Converted mans condition, not to walk on forward, but to fall backward, and be many degrees short of what others are, who set out at the same time with him, but then they recover again to their great advantage. As Children after a disease hath pulled them down, when they recover, they shoot out higher. As stom∣bling makes a man get more ground, so that even in their verie sins, though they be extra semitam, yet not extra viam; for the grace of God recovering them will make this very letting a whetting to them, and be more zealous and active, by how much they have been negligent. Howsoever therefore there may be accidental ob∣structions, and checks to grace in its walk: yet the Nature and inclination of Godli∣ness is to be always carrying us on to further perfection. This walking is still nearer and nearer to our journeys end: Faith is increased, Love and heavenly-mindedness are more promoted. Remember therefore, thou art a Traveller, thy godlinesse is a walking; sit not down, and say, Soul take thy ease, for thou hast grace enough, godlinesse enough: This is an Argument thou hast none at all. When Laodicea said, She was full, and rich, and wanted nothing, then she was poor and miserable, and wanted all things, Rev. 3. Apelles when he had drawn his line, would write faciebat, in the imperfect Tense, and not fecit; to shew that still he did intend to perfect, to complete it; still something is wanting; and this may be written upon all our graces, Credebat, not credidit, amabat, not amavit, There is some imperfe∣ction, yea many defects which are constantly to be amended. I earnestly desire this truth might be fastned upon the godly. They are not in growing postures: they come not and say, Lord this Talent of five hath gained ten; they say not, This mu∣stard-seed is grown up into a great tree; they speak as a child in grace, and not as perfect men.
Fiftly, As to walk implyeth Progresse, so it supposeth that in this life we can never attain to a period, to a full rest; all is walking here in this life, in heaven there is rest, * then we are set in our Thrones after victorie and conquest over our lusts, and the world. As God in the old Testament first had his Tabernacle, which was not fix∣ed, but ambulatorie, removed from place to place; and afterwards his Temple, a place of rest, where his people were to sit down and enjoy God: so it is with his Children in the New Testament, they are in a Tabernacle here, their Temple is in heaven: This should comfort the people of God, as the former might provoke and inflame them; they have not such masterie over their hearts as they desire, they are in continuall combate and conflict, they are exceeding short of those excellent graces propounded to them; let not this dismay them, they doe but walk as yet in the way of godlinesse, they are not come to their journeys end, they are Page 557 not yet to sit down. The godly would havean have an here upon earth, whereas God hath made this life, and that to come in two distinct dispensa∣tions.
Sixtly, This walking in the way of Godlinesse doth suppose a guide, a light to direct*and inform them, that they may not stumble and fall. There are Land marks and Sea-marks for Passengers; and so the Word of God that is the guide, that is the light to walk by. As many as walk according to this rule, saith the Apostle. There are many walk in a disorderly, loose, and lawlesse manner. They have no Law but their lusts, no guide but their blind passions, and affections: but the walking of the godly is in an exact, orderly and godly manner. Now onely the Word of God can direct and guide herein. Hence David doth so often commend it for a Lant∣horn to his feet, and a Lamp to his paths. No man can tell how to live, or how to believe, or how to worship God, without his Word: We cannot tell how to pray, how to hear, how to live godly, and righteously without this rule: so that thousands of people discover they have none of this mercy in the Text vouchsafed to them; for, do they not live like bruit beasts? Are not their lusts, their fancies the rule they live by? Give me the man that lives by the Scripture, that walks by the Scripture, that thinketh, that speaketh, that doeth by Scripture directions. There could not be such walking in darknesse, and stumbling therein, if men did attend to this light. Oh that this truth might enter into you; My life is a walk, and I must have some Rule to guide me; and what is that but Gods Word? How then can I lye, curse, blaspheme by that information? Where doth the word allow, or command me such things? Be no longer like the Horse and Mule that have no understanding, but re∣member you are men, and so must have a rule of reason and piety to live by, and that is Gods Word. Men are convinced that they must have no other faith or Religion then what the word commands: but they doe not consider this is as true also for their lives: They must live no other lives, do no other actions, then this word requireth.
Seventhly, As Gods Word is the rule they walk by, so God himself is the compa∣nion*that they ought to walk with. You are not alone in this walk, but God is with you. The Scripture hath a three-fold phrase: There is walking with God, walking before God, and walking, or following after God, and they all have their peculiar Emphasis. To walk with God; Thus Enoch is said to doe, Gen. 4. 22, and that im∣plyeth an heavenly, holy, and humble, yet familiar enjoyment of God in our way. Can two walk together except they be agreed? And therefore no wicked man can walk in these paths of godlinesse, because not agreed with God: God is an adver∣sarie and an enemy to them: but the godly in this their journey to heaven have sweet communion with, and enjoyment of God: As God spake to Moses as one friend to another, by way of apparition; so doth God in a spirituall way to the godly; God is graciously present with him, he supports him, comforts him: And if he said, Come• jucundus pro vehiculo est, A pleasant Companion is in stead of a Coach in the journey; How much more admirable is it to have God our Compa∣nion in the way. Then there is to walk before God, Gen. 17. 1. Thus Abraham is commanded, and that is so to walk in the wayes of Godlinesse, as to eye God, to have a respect to please him, to take heed of the most secret sinnes, knowing God hath an omniscient eye, and therefore that is the ground of sincerity, which the Scripture cals Perfection; Walk before me and be perfect. Lastly, the Scripture hath the expression of walking after God, in opposition to that phrase, of walking after their Idols, or other gods, or the imagination of their own hearts, Jer. 18. 12. And that is, when men follow the directions and guidance God vouchsafeth, especially in matter of worship: God goeth before us, as it were, with the light of his Word in his hand, and we are to follow after. This truth hath been too spirituall, even for all the ages of the Church almost, who have not followed God in their worship; but the Customes and superstitious Inventions of men. Now among other qualifica∣tions in walking that the Scripture may speak of, there are four observable.
Page 558 First, To walk uprightly. He that walketh uprightly, Prov. 10. 9. walketh bold∣ly. Contrary to this is halting in the way of Godlinesse. The Apostle, Heb. 12. 13. * exhorts them to make straight paths for their feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of ike way. Its not enough to be in the way of Godlinesse; All Hypocrites are so: but we must take heed we halt not between God and Baal, as the Scripture speaks. Judas was in Christs way, but he halted between Christ and the affections of the world. As the Heifers taken from their young ones, they went straight on with the Ark, but they bellowed and moaned for their young ones: so it may be thou art driven on in the external wayes of holinesse, but thou moanest, and thy heart runs after sin, or the world.
Secondly, To walk by faith, and not by sense; so the Apostle, We walk by faith, 2 Cor.〈◊〉. 7. And this is such a walking that the world doth not understand, * To walk by faith is to be above all principles of sense, carnall reasonings, wordly fears, or delights, eying the Promise, beholding Gods favour in Christ. This is a comfortable, peaceable, and secure walking.
Thirdly, To walk, requireth that our feet be sh•d with the preparation of the Go∣spel, Ephes. 6. 15. That was part of their Armour in former times, to have a de∣fence * or munition for their feet; & this the Apostle makes the preparation made by the Gospel of peace. We have many doubts, fears, and other discouragements in the way to heaven; Not sluggishnesse, but truth it self may say, There is a Lion, yea, many Lions, and such as go roaring to devour in the way: and the guilt of Sin may make every man a Cain to go up and down trembling. Now the Gospel makes a sure and good preparation against this.
Lastly, Its required that we should walk circumspectly. So the Apostle, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Not as fools, but as wise, Ephes. 5. 15. And were this the main intent of the Text, it * would have been profitable to shew the grounds of this circumspect walking; we may hint them to you. The way you walk in is a strait narrow way, its easie step∣ping out of it into the pit. Godlinesse is bounded with limits, but sin is a broad way. Now how difficult is it, so to order our steps as to step aright continually? Tertullian cals Christians, Funambuli, Rope-walkers, Those that step in the least manner awry are in danger of killing themselves. How apt are we to take that for faith, patience, and zeal, which is not so. Secondly, walk circumspectly, because we have a great journey to go, and a little time; our walk is a very long one, and night is suddenly coming on us; if he said, Ars longa, vita brevis, we may say, Pietas est longa, lata & prefunda. Thirdly, there are many enemies, thieves, and Robbers in the way, spiritual and invisible adversaries in heavenly places; and these watch to intercept thee in the journey: They do not lye in wait, as those spies to kil Paul, but damn the soul. Thy Grace is a precious treasure, and they strive to •ob thee of it.
Use of Examination, Try thy self by this Touchstone, what is thy walk, thy way, thy imployment. Is it not to make provision for the lusts of the flesh: The * Scripture saith, Some mens hearts walk after their own imaginations, others after covetousnesse; some mens tongues are said to walk through the earth. Oh do not think, if thou walk in such wayes, that heaven will be the journeys end. Neither maist thou take Sanctuary under thy Duties, thy Devotions on some solemn occa∣sions; for these are not thy walk, thy way; and so they will not be owned for the paths of godlinesse: we that walk and passe away as shadowes, how should we lay up for an enduring treasure?
Use of Exhortation to the godly: Make Godlinesse your chief imployment, your businesse, and your great delight. Oh take heed of every thing that shall steal * away thy heart. Though grace indeed be such a Treasure, that Thieves and, Rob∣bers cannot by violence steal it away, yet there are spirituall thieves, that are sweet and sugred enemies, either temptations within or without; and these may deprive thee of thy choice Jewels, if thou watch not. Oh say, I am not my self, I am not as I would be, all the while I am hindred or opposed in Page 559 the work of godliness. Is thy heart at any time overcharged, and even drunk with the comforts of this life? Reprove and chide thy self. Count every day and hour lost that doth not make for Heaven one way or other.
That Converted Persons are very Carefull and Tender of the Worship of God, observing that and only that which he hath commanded.
EZEK. 36. 27.
WE subdivided the Grace here promised in the later part of the Chapter, wherein was considerable, The Action, I will cause you to walk. 2. The Object of the Action, In my Statutes; and this we are to treat upon at this time.
Now although there are three words in the Scripture, which often are used for the same thing, Commandments, Statutes and Judgements, yet there is also in many places a difference between these.
Commandments being properly those perpetual rules of the moral Law, which * enjoyn the same Duties in all ages of the Church.
Judgements are strictly used for, those Duties of the Judaical Law, which con∣cern * Justice and equity one to another.
Statutes are all those Rites, and that manner of worship which God had com∣manded; * and howbeit we may in this Text make Statutes and Judgements. all one, yet its better to distinguish them, because the holy Ghost doth here seem as it were to branch out the whole practice and life of a converted person, which lieth in two things, His Duty to God, and that is, To walk in Gods Statutes; His Du∣ty to man, and that is, To walk in his Judgements to do them. And although in the New Testament, we have not the same Statutes of worship as they had, nor the same judicial Law for justice and equity between man and man, yet the mea∣ning is, that God will cause his people to walk in all that worship and equity which God at any time shall command: And it is very usual in the Old Testament to expresse the Worship of God, which shall be used in the times of the Gospel, under these names, which were proper to the legal Administration. This then is the sense, That when God hath put this new heart and new spirit into his children, he will make them diligent in all that worship which he hath commanded, they will be careful to worship him in that pure and holy manner, which is appointed: All their Worship will be Statute-worship, there is the Statute-Law of the Scri∣pture for it. They dare not take up any form or manner of workship con∣cerning of which God may say to them, Who hath required these things at your hands? From whence observe,
That converted Persons are very carefull and tender in the worship of God, obser∣ving*all that, and onely that which he hath commanded.
You may discover the work of Grace in a man, as much about h•s principles and Page 560 practice in the worship of God, as about moral principles and actions. Idola∣trical and superstitious worship grosly practised, is no more consistent with grace, then prophane and ungodly wayes. I grant indeed that even godly men may for want of light and better information live in some rel•ques of superstitious wor∣ship. As in some good Kings Reigos, the high-places were not taken away; and Johns Disciples, yea and Christs Disciples they were but old bottles, they were not able suddenly to receive such pure and spiritual worship, as Christ intended for them: Nay in the Infancy of the Church how much were Believers led aside with their love of, and doting upon the ceremonial Worship! they would be cir∣cumcised still, they would observe meats and dayes still, yea the worship of Angels was brought in under pretence of humility.
To open this point consider, *
First, That Divines make a two-fold Worship, Internal and External, Internal are all those spiritual graces of the soul, which are immediatly terminated upon God himself. Thus faith in God, and love of God, to give him the preheminency and chief room in the heart, is the worship of God: This is spiritual and inward, and this Worship is commanded in the first Commandment. But the external Wor∣ship of God consists in all those visible parts and means of worship which God hath appointed, as in the Old Testament praying, reading the Word, offering of Sacrifices, and many bodily adorations; and these are commanded in the second Commandment: for when God forbids the worshipping of him by Images, he doth thereby forbid the making to a mans self, without the Commandment of God, any part or means of Divine Worship. In the New Testament Gods ex∣ternal Worship lieth in prayer, reading and hearing the Word, administration of the Sacraments, sanctifying of his Sabbaths, and singing of Psalms; so then he who is truly godly, he will be carefull to perform all those Duties of Religious Worship, which are commanded in the New Testament. He doth not take up the vain customs of men, neither doth he follow the traditional worship of his Fathers, but he worshippeth as it is written, he knoweth God is most jealous of his Worship; God is very sensible of any abuse of his Worship, any corruption or mixture of it by humane presumption.
Secondly, Although God hath commanded this Statute-worship, yet that golden Rule of our Saviours must alwayes be remembred, John 4. where Christ taking off * the woman of Samaria from her old traditional worship, thinking that such a Mountain was better to worship God on, then other places, God (saith he) is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and truth, and my Father seeketh such: By this we are admirably instructed, that all external worship of God must yet be spiri∣tual: It is not the bowing of the body, nor the external humiliation that God looks after, God is a Spirit, and so doth chiefly require Spirit-worship: This Text would have been like the flaming fiery sword to have kept off that intollerable bur∣den of false worship which afterwards crept into the Paradise of God. It is a sin that we are very prone unto, to rest upon an external worship, not lifting up our hearts unto God, and that made the Apostle speak so contemptibly even of the ceremonial Worship, and all those Jewish Ordinances though appointed by God, calling them carnal and beggarly elements. The superstitious Jewes made them Elements, even the first principles and foundation of Religion, but he cals them beggarly, because they were without Christ; so that all thy outward service and worship of God is but an empty, beggarly Religion, unlesse it be spiritually per∣formed, and that is mainly by resting on Christ in those Ordinances. But I do not intend an exact treating upon the religious and divine Worship of God; I shall therefore in the next place instance in two or three of the New Testament Statutes which God hath commanded to be religiously observed, and then shew the grounds of this pious and religious disposition in converted persons.
And first one of Christs main Statute-worships is Prayer. Not in the Socinian sense who make Pryera new instituted worship by God, and that it was not a *Page 561 Duty commanded before; Not so, only Christ continueth and confirmeth this Du∣ty, revealing the manner of it more clearly. Thus you have many Precepts and Examples for prayer, yea and this is to be done fervently, humbly, incessantly; and it is recorded as a sign of Pauls Conversion, Behold he prayeth, Act 9. 11. and Zach. 12. The Spirit of Prayer and Supplication, with mourning and hearty grief is promised under the Gospel: Insomuch that you cannot have a surer signe of a graceless man then one who is not diligent in this Duty and worship of God, Pray∣er. For although our own manifold necessities of all sorts might provoke us to this Duty, God hath also so diligently enjoyned it, that there might be an oppor∣tunity to open the fountain of his mercy to us. Oh then how few are there that partake of this benefit? Where is he of whom we may say, Behold he prayeth, constantly, fervently, effectually? nay in stead of Prayer there is cursing, swear∣ing and blaspheming; if they do pray, they have some short prayers of rote, which they utter as Parrats understanding nothing of it, and so irreligiously dis∣charging of it: Now Prayer is three-fold, Private, personal Prayer, of which David speaks much, and Christ went many times apart to prayer. Tell me then, Dost thou take Christs command, Enter into thy closet, and shut thy door after thee, Matth. 5. Doth God see thy secret groans, thy secret tears, thy private debase∣ments? if grace be in thee, thou wilt be diligent in this course. Then there is pub∣lick prayer, of which the Prophet Jeremiah speaks, and Christ alledgeth it, That his house shall be called an house of Prayer; and our Saviour speaks of two or three, any company gathered together, Matth. 18. 20. to ask any thing of the Father in Christs Name. Now this publick Prayer is also much observed by the new heart, for therein is an united strength and force to lay hold upon God, and God is in the midst of his people so gathered together, to open his hand plentifully to bestow on them his mercies.
Lastly, There is Family-prayer, so Joshua, I and my house will serve the Lord, Josh. 24. 15. And God takes special notice of Abraham, He knew Abraham would make his Family to serve the Lord, Gen. 18. 19. Jeremiah prayeth, That God would pour his wrath upon those families that call not on his name, Jer. 10. 25. You may reade of the Churches in some Christians houses, because of the spiritual worship of God therein. If then God had ever wrought this new heart in thee, how dili∣gent wouldst thou be to walk in all the statutes of Prayer, Private, Publick, Fa∣mily-prayer; Thou darest not for a world so sinfully neglect this worship of God, as thou doest; Think not that any civil and honest conversation in the world is enough without this worship. Oh but what unclean dens, yea noisome hels are some mens families! Is prayer there? Is there constant religious calling upon God? No, in stead of these, dissolutenesse and prophanenesse; Oh the pillars of the house, and the wals thereof will one day witnesse against such.
The second Statute for religious duties, I shall only instance in, is of The Lords*day, and the strict holy Observation of that: Where godlinesse is, there they will call the Sabbaths a delight, Isa. 58. 13. and not speak their own words, or think their own thoughts; that is a promise to be fulfilled in the times of the Gospel. That the observation of a seventh day is not Jewish, is plain, because it was instituted for Adam in innocency; so that although Adam was made so pure and holy, that in all his works of his calling, viz. To till the garden, &c. he could not but have an heavenly heart, yet God would have him to have one day, which God blessed and sanctified, for the wholly applying of himself to the immediate worship of God; and for the continuation of a seventh day, though the Jewish day be alter∣ed, you have upon Christs Resurrection plain examples of the altering of it to the first day of the week, so that we reade of their Church-assemblies on that day; and John cals it, The Lords day, Rev. 1. All which conjoyned make it appear, That there is a moral and perpetual obligation lying upon us to the diligent obser∣ving of it. So then, Where God puts his new Spirit, there he makes a willingnesse, a tender conscience and delight to sanctifie it; Oh then take heed of those licenti∣ous Page 562 Doctrines that cry down the Lords-day, for by the holy sanctisying of it, thou wilt come to delight in the Lord more, thy graces will increase and flou∣rish; As some from corrupt principles neglect it, so others from vicious and prophane affections, or from worldly covetous desires. Thus they in the Pro∣phet asked, When will the Sabbaths be over, that they might buy and sell and get gain? Amos 8. 5. Thy tender conscience therefore about the holy sanctisying of the Sabbath, will much demonstrate the savoury work of grace upon thee. This may suffice for two examples of the Statute-worship of God in the New Testament.
Now let us see, why the godly are so careful and tender about Gods wor∣ship. *
And first it is, Because God himself is so tender about it. There is no sin about which Gods jealousie is so much said to he provoked, as in matter of false wor∣ship: Reade the Prophets, you shall see the great controversie God had with his people, was for the corrupting of his worship; This in every Chapter is almost complained of; therefore the common word the Scripture useth for Ido∣latry and false worship is Abomination: And Christ using that expression, What is highly esteemed amongst men is abomination unto God, speaketh it chiefly to that pharisaical instituted worship, wherein they did place all their righte∣ousnesse; now this, that was so highly advanced as the onely religion and ser∣ving of God, was abomination unto him: Seeing therefore that Gods worship is the apple of his eye; the main thing he is so jealous about, and his judge∣ments have been so terrible upon men, who have in any manner violated his order about religious things; as his punishing Nadab and Abihu for offering with strange fire, and striking Uzzah dead for not keeping meerly to order, makes a godly man very carefull about the worship of God, to see he giveth no∣thing but that and all that which God requireth.
Secondly, He therefore is diligent in this, because the word of God is the onely Rule of worship, and so every one must be able to give a reason from Scripture, be∣cause*of such and such religious Duties. Those that have a new heart are made light in the Lord; They take the Scripture for the way to walk in; and whatso∣ever is not Scripture-worship, what Religion is not Scripture-religion, they dare not own it. Tell a godly man of the Antiquity of such worship, of the universality of it, of the excellent fitnesse it hath to keep humble and devout, all these are but fig-leaves. Is it commanded worship? Is there the Statute Law of the Scripture for it? Alas, let thy Fathers and Grand-fathers, yea let all the world admire such and such worship; if it be not Gods command, it is a vain thing: How clear is our Saviour, In vain do they worship me, teaching for Doctrines the traditions of men. Our Saviour told the woman of Samaria, She worshipped she knew not what, because she had not the Scripture, Joh. 4. Oh then, how might this put to silence all the cavils and foolish pleas many people have, for superstitious false wayes of worship, bring thy Scripture for it, shew Gods word for it: Thy doting and raging for these things, where Gods word is no light to thee, is as great an argument of a carnal heart devoid of grace, as well as pro∣phanenesse, and they for the most part goe together; Those that are for such superstitious worship are commonly prophane, and ungodly in their lives.
Thirdly, Therefore the people of God are carefull of worship, and that only which God hath commanded, because they are a spiritual heavenly people, endowed with know∣ledge*and wisdom out of Gods word, and so able to discern of things that differ. The Apostle Col. 4. useth this argument against observation of superstitious worship, which he had spoken against in the Chapter before, If ye be risen again with Christ, seek those things that are above, and set your affections on things above; which Calvin doth solidly understand, not only of lusts and earthly things, but also of those humane Ordinances and will-worship he had immediately spoken Page 563 of before; so that he is of a brutis, blinde minde, an unclean beast that never cheweth the cud, who doth not consider and well advise about the worship of God, but takes every thing out of custom, and what is obtruded upon him; but a godly man is of a more noble rational spirit, he will search the Scripture whe∣ther such things are to be done or no.
Fourthly, Therefore the godly are diligent in the pure worship of God, because God*draweth nigh in those religious Duties; where every thing is done according to his will, there he delights to be present; How many glorious blessings did God promise to his pure worship in the Temple, till they defiled it by abominations; and then he destroyed both the Nation and the Temple. Where therefore the pure worship and ordinances of God are, there he walketh, there he poureth out his love. The Church is then in no strange habit, but the beautiful orna∣ments God hath decked her with; and when Gods worship is thus purely perfor∣med, he addeth to their graces; None seek Gods face in vain, his promisé and institution go along together; let a man a thousand times over use such Cere∣monies and worship God hath not commanded, he will never be the more holy. There cannot be any spirituall effect communicated unto him, because God will onely work where he hath promised, and his promise is only to his own in∣stitutions.
Fisthly, They are careful to observe his Statute-worship, because it is a Duty to God;* He is their Lord and God, their Soveraign from whom they have all, and outward worship is a paying of homage to him, as an humble and submissive acknow∣ledgement of God; Come (saith the Psalmist) let us fall down and worship before him, because he hath made us and not we our selves; All solemn religious Duties, they are not onely instituted means of grace, but solemn testifications and ac∣knowledgements of our humility, submission, dependance upon God, and ex∣altation of his great excellency; so that if the godly man should be negligent here, he should not give unto God that which is Gods: And hereby is greatly discovered the falshood and arrogancy of those spirits who think they are above Ordinances; for suppose (which is not in this life) that thou wert already so holy and perfect, that thou wert above any benefits by the Ordinances, that thou didst not need the benefit of the Word preached, and the Sacraments; yet thou canst not be above them, as they are testifications of thy duty towards God. Hence the Angels in Heaven they worship and serve God according to their * way; and wilt thou (O vain man!) set up thy self on so high a pinacle, as not to worship God? Remember Ordinances are not only means of grace, but so∣lemn testifications of our humility and dependancy on God.
Use of Examination, Try the work of grace in you by this particular, how * tender and carefull are you about the worship of God? Are you such who pray for the purity of Ordinances, to have every thing in Church-assemblies done ac∣cording to the patern in the Scripture? David cried out, How amiable are thy Taber∣nacles, O Lord of hosts? In what zeal was Christ, when he saw the Temple of God turned into a den of thieves? What holy invectives doth Paul in his Epistles make against superstitious worship? yet how few are the men that minde the pure instituted worship of God, that would have the fountains of Israel with∣out the mixture of any mud in them? Outward oppressions in Popery were no∣thing so heavy upon the godly, as the corrupt mixtures in Gods worship; but if you observe the general disposition of men, they are wholly carried out to some sensible superstitious wayes of worship. They love not the simplicity and purity of Gods worship. It is great proficiency in Christianity not to have our minds corrupted herein. As children delight in babies, so do men in some wor∣ships of their own that they have made. What is Popery but a meer stage-play in the worship of God? And if you ask of hundreds of Ceremonies they have, Whose Image and Superscription is upon them? you shall finde none of Gods im∣printed on them. There were the Statutes of the Heathens, Levit. 20. and these Page 564 the people must not go in, Ezek. 20. There are statutes of our fathers we must not walk in: Oh there is too much of this superstition still in men! Men by false worship, manifest they have not spiritual hearts.
Of Righteousness and Equity between man and man: And how tender and conscientious a true Convert is therein.
EZEK. 36. 27.
I Am now upon the latter general Branch, into which the whole work of Conversion divideth it self. Religion to God, and Righteousness to man, are the two pillars upon which this spiritual Temple is sustained: God hath put these two together, yet how often doth the Devil and mans corruption di∣vide them! some attend wholly to the Religious Worship of God, but are grosly neglective of righteous and just things; others glory much in their righteous∣ness to man, but shew no piety at all in their lives to God. Now where God giveth this new heart, there is a tender conscience of both: And the first hath been dispatched, under the notion of Statutes, which strictly taken, relateth to the purity of Gods instituted Worship.
We come to the second particular; viz. Righteousness and Equity to man, contained in these words, Keep my judgements, and do them: It cannot be de∣nied, but that the word Judgement in the Scripture, is of a vast and large sig∣nification, which I shall not enumerate at this time: Here I take it strictly and distinctly, as in other places, for obedience to those Laws of God, which contain righteousness and equity between man & man; in which sense the Prophets often call upon the Israelites, To do judgement, and justice, and to break off the ways of vio∣lence, oppression, wrong, and all unrighteousness. So that we may observe:
A Converted person is very conscientious and tender in all the duties of righteous∣ness and equity to others.*
He dareth not pray, hear, make a strict profession of Religion to God; and yet lye, cozen, deal falsely, wrong or defraud any man in his dealings; He hath a respect to all Gods Commandments, Psal. 119. he knoweth the same God who commanded the Precepts of the first Table, containing duty to, and worship of God; doth also equally and indispensably require duties of faithfulness and righteousness to men. This point is of singular use, for wherein doth Religion get greater wounds, the Gospel more dishonor, then when men in repute for godliness, are found guilty and blame-worthy in the ways of dishonesty? To have wicked men lye, swear and forswear, to defraud and injure others, the world expects no better, looks for no other; but for thee, a professor of Re∣ligion, it expects all truth, fidelity, righteousness, else thou art a dead flie in the box of ointment, a scandal and reproach to the ways of God; and thou hadst better never to have been born, then to prove such a stumbling block in the ways of piety. Indeed, there are passive scandals, when men will malici∣ously and falsly raise slanders and false reports of the professors of Religion, Page 565 laying to their charge things they never did, believing lyes, and misinterpreting their words and actions; and these will be, as long as wicked men are in the world: And hence it is, that all godly men are looked upon as Hypocrites, as such as will lye and do falsly, yea, do any thing for their advantages: But these are passive scandals, and these offences come from the venimous disposition of wicked men; and the godly may rejoce in their innocency, while such crimes are laid upon them. But then there are active scandals, when men of strict pro∣fession, do indeed walk in such unjust and unrighteous ways, that thereby the name of God is blasphemed among wicked men: Our Saviour saith, Wo be to that man, by whom such offences come, Matth. 16. 7. So that we desire this truth should sound aloud in the ears of all those, who take themselves for Converts; their faith and piety must be accompanied with all righteousness and honesty. Hence whereas converted persons have several Titles and Attributes, denoting several qualities in them; there is nothing more frequent and ordinary, then to call them Righteous, this is in every page; How then is a Lyer righteous in his words? how is a breaker of his word and promise, righteous in his fidelity? how is a cheater or an overreaching man righteous in his dealings?
To open this, consider, That there is a twofold original fountain of Righteousness*towards man: 1. There is the immediate command and word of God, and that is called Jus Divinum, Divine Righteousness. 2. There is the Law and Com∣mand of Nature, and that is Jus Humanum, An humane Righteousness, or Right: And this is either general, the first and immediate principles of nature, such as the Apostle speaketh of, Rom. 1. concerning the Gentiles, That they had a Law written in their hearts, verse 7. about just and unjust things, and their con∣sciences accusing or excusing, upon the omission or commission of such things, or else they are more remote and particular dictates, such as the good and whole∣somes Laws of all Law-givers, in respective Nations: So what is righteous and just between man and man, is to be determined by the Laws of that Land where they live: Indeed, if any Law-givers (as some Heathenish have) commanded or allowed any thing that is against the Law of God, or the universal dictates of right reason; such commands are not worthy the name of Laws, they are rather unjust decrees, and so do not binde: But otherwise, the Laws of a Land determine what is righteous and just between man and man: for although it be Gods command, That a man should not steal, yet they are humane Laws that give the bounds and proprieties of estates to men: So that we Christians, and the Jews, do something differ about the Rules of Righteousnes and Equity; for God was the immediate Law-giver unto that people: Moses as a messenger from God, received from Gods mouth the Judicial Law, which he delivered to them; so that the Judicial Law appointed by God himself, was the Statute-Law of that Realm: Their Laws were not Humane, as all the Laws of Kingdoms and States are since Christs coming, but they were Divine: Their Laws about a Theif, a Murtherer, the Buyer and the Seller, were all Divine Laws, because immediate∣ly commanded by God, though the matter was meerly humane: Now its great∣ly disputed, how far these Judicial Laws, commanding Judgement and Justice between man and man, do binde us Christians; and whether all Law-givers and States-men, are not bound to bring in those Judicial Laws? for who can de∣termine what is Righteousness and Equity better then God, a righteous and wise God? Its not pertinent to wade into this excellent Question at this time: Though some in this point are very rigid, to make all Obligatory, that are not expressly repealed by Christ; and some again are very remiss and lax; yet all conclude, That the Moral Equity and Reason that was in every Judicial Law, doth binde Christians as well as Jews; and with that we shall conclude this par∣ticular, whatsoever Law God made about Justice, Restitution or Punishment to the Jews, the Equity and reason of that Law, doth still binde us, though not the particular maner. As for the New Testament, Christs Kingdoms was not Page 566 temporal, or of this world; and therefore he onely commands Righteousness in the general, and commands that excellent Maxime, which an Heathen Em∣peror did so much admire, saying, He received it from Christians, What ye would have men do to you, do ye to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets, Mat. 7. 12. that is, All the duties commanded by the Law, or required by the Prophets, are comprized in this Maxim, Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: Oh the world would not be full of such wickedness, unrighteous∣ness as it is, if this were observed: And further mark, when our Saviour had pressed them to earnest prayer, and incouraged them therein, he addeth this as a necessary condition to their prayers: So that let men be never such Angels in duties and expressions, let them pretend never so much Piety and Religion, if they walk not by this rule, they follow not Christs directions: Christ therefore he hath onely given us general rules of Righteousness, and for the particulars, he doth command Christians to obey and submit to the wholesom Laws of that place where they are; as Rom. 13. Pay tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom: And this the Scripture doth often press, that none might think that the freedom they had by Christ, did take them off from Humane Obligations and Relations: This was a great temptation, they thought because they were * Christians, and made free by Christ, that this also did take them off from obe∣dience to Civil Magistrates, and from the Laws they lived under: No, the Scripture is diligent to teach this, That Christianity and the Gospel doth not a∣bolish Political and civil Government, but rather greatly advanceth it as an institution of God, pressing obedience thereunto for conscience sake.
Thus I have opened unto you the fountain and rise of all Righteousness and Equity between man and man.
Now let us consider, what are the grounds why converted persons are tender * to do what is just and righteous; yea, the Doctrine may be heightned, They are not onely tender about righteous things, but they are very conscionable to do them, though to their external loss. The Psalmist describing who shall as∣cend into the holy hill of Sion, a type of Heaven, giveth such Characters, most of which relate to duties of honesty and righteousness, Psal. 15. 2. 3, 4. Verity in words of assertion, and veracity in Promises and Oathes. Our Saviour is large Mat. 5. in convincing and heightning those duties against Mur∣ther, Adultery, Perjury, condemning all the subtil distinctions the Pharisees had invented to palliate their guilt. And you may read of Zacheus, when con∣verted, the first thing that works upon his conscience is, to restore fourfold where he had wronged any: He went above the command of God, that re∣quired not so much; but a godly man is so tender in matters of wrong and in∣justice, that he had rather do above then under his duty.
Well, Let us see what is the cause of tenderness herein: And
First, Because this new heart promised in the Text, is nothing but that which in*other places is called the image of God: Now the Apostle saith, The image of God, which is renewed in all converted persons, consists partly in righteousness, and partly in true holiness, Ephes. 4. 24. Holiness, that lieth properly in the things that belong to God. Righteousness, in the matters that belong to others: So that wheresoever the image of God is, there is Righteousness as well as Holi∣ness; so that as we are called upon To be holy, as God is holy; so to be righteous is our duty, as God is righteous. The Scripture doth much celebrate this at∣tribute of Gods righteousness, that his nature is righteous, his judgements, his word, his actions, yea all his ways: And now every converted man, la∣bors to write after this copy: If then you see a man unjust, unconscionable and false in his ways, say, How is the image of God in this man? how is God the father of such an unrighteous man? Oh its not thy prayers, thy parts, thy abilities, all thy spiritual inlargements, can witness thee to have Gods image on thy soul, unless this also be accompanying thy conversion.
Page 567 Secondly, A converted person cannot but keep the judgements of God, and do them,*because God doth expressly reject all his worship, though performed never so zealously and fervently, if we do not also the things of Justice and Equity: Shouldst thou walk in the Statutes of God, the Ordinances of his Worship, and not keep his Judgements, God will not own thee, Jer. 7. Will ye lie, and steal, and swear falsly, and come into my house, and say, The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord? See with what indignation God rejects such hypocrites, Will you come to my Worship, to my Temple, and yet live in those sins of fraud and injustice? Oh then think God speaks to thee, if such guile and falshood may be found in thy life: Wilt thou cozen, lye, deal falsly, overreach others? and yet pray, repeat ser∣mons, speak of God and Christ? Oh thou vain man, know, God is not mocked. The Jews who were more forward in outward Worship then others, they profered ten thousand Rams, and Rivers of Oyl, yea, the first born of the womb; But what saith the Prophet Micah, Cap. 6. 8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly? Oh notable place! worthy all your considerations that profess Religion in a strict manner: Its not parts, opinions; no, though thou hadst reve•ations, and the high admirable points of Religion, that will advance thee, unless thou do justly also; and verse 11. Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and the bags of deceitful weights: See, God accounts no such pure, or to have purity, that use any fraud or deceit in their dealings.
Thirdly, A godly man must needs walk righteously, because such outward acti∣ons between man and man, are objects that work upon the conscience, or are matters*wherein the conscience is concerned as well as in any thing else: Consider what Paul saith, Herein I exercise my self, to keep a good conscience both towards God, and to∣wards man, Acts 24. 16. He exerciseth himself, that sheweth his diligence, his industry, his setting of himself apart with all his might to keep a good consci∣ence, and then observe a good conscience towards God; for if I be never so just and righteous towards man, yet if I do not also perform all that Worship, and all those Duties that immediately belong to him, I have not a good con∣science: And then towards man: see conscience is exercised in things towards man as well as towards God. A man of conscience is seen as well in humane affairs, as in religious; he abhorreth that speech, Quicquid libet, licet, What is pleasing to a mans desire, that is also lawful: Conscience is not onely seen in mat∣ters of Religion and matters of worship, but also in civil and worldly matters; yea how many cases of conscience do learned men handle, about the righteousness and unrighteousness of civil actions: De Jure, & Justitia, what exact disputes are there? do not then think, that Christ hath purchased any such freedom, as that thou needest not make conscience about civil things; its no matter for them, if thou keep the Doctrine and Worship of Christ: This is a sinful de∣lusion; For the grace of God which bringeth salvation, hath appeared, teaching us to deny ungodly lusts, and to live righteously and soberly: So then, not onely the things of God are matter of conscience, but the things of man; yea, the things of man work more upon a natural conscience, because they are discerned by the natural principles of reason: Hence the sins of unrighteousness and injustice, do more trouble the conscience, if once awakened, then any other sins: The pardon of them, or the sense of the pardon, is difficultly obtained; and such sinners have much ado to get comforts, because they have sinned against the plain and clear light of Nature; and therefore for such sins that a natural con∣science would condemn, a catalogue whereof the Apostle giveth in Rom, 1. 29, 30. 31. men have had more terrible wounds of conscience then for other sins: It must needs then be, that a converted person abounds in all righteousness, be∣cause his conscience is tender, Its An heart of flesh.
Fourthly, Therefore they walk righteously, because there are so many promises*in Scripture made to righteousness: That must needs be a duty in an eminent Page 568 manner, to which so many great and glorious promises are annexed: Now you shall scarce finde any action so incouraged by God, nor any men so much as righteous men: If a righteous man have but a little estate, yet that little is better then many riches of the wicked, Psal. 37. 16. To have great estates, to have large revenues in this world, and not by righteous ways, by fraud, oppressi∣on, violence, either by thy self or Ancestors, is like Ionahs gourd, that gave him some ease and shelter for a season, but presently there arose a worm with∣in it that consumed it: So that a righteous man with his little Cottage, little morsel of bread, with his little cruise of drink, is better then rich Dives, that gets his wealth unjustly. The rich man may fare more deliciously every day; but the other fareth with more true joy. Lazarus may be glad of his crums, but Dives may be glad of the crums of his spiritual joy and contentation; yea, the righteous man hath that promise, which the greatest Potentate in the world * hath not, Verse 22. The righteous shall never be forsaken, nor his seedbeg bread▪ Thus you see righteousness hath Gods spiritual bonds for his outward happiness; and then for outward calamities, if they overtake a Nation, who is looked upon but a righteous man? Noah, a righteous man, and a preacher of righteousness, 2 Pet. 3. 5. God makes an Ark to save him: And from Lots example, see what a comfortable conclusion Peter maketh, The Lord knoweth how to deliver the righ∣tecus, 2 Pet. 2. 9. So that if thou art never so forward in any Religious parts and duties, if thou art not a righteous man, thou canst nor lay hold on any temporal mercies, neither mayest thou expect deliverance in time of publique calamities; yea, righteousness in evil times, is better then all policy, all wisdom: Men think if they take this side, or that side, then they are sure to do well; Oh! remember, righteousness is the surest wisdom, and the surest safety, Prov. 4. 18. The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; yea, righteous men are the Saviours of a Land, of a Nation: For as injustice and violence destroy it, so righteousness exalteth a Nation.
Use of Admonition, To all those who have a tender respect to Gods Worship; they long for a Reformation in the Church, they pray for godly order, they * observe the Sabbath, they are diligent in family duties; Oh take this along with you also, Remember righteousness, let thy words be righteous words, void of lying, guile, falshood, let thy actions be righteous actions, without fraud, op∣pression, or overreaching thy brother, else God will cast all thy duties and Religion as dung upon thy face: Oh let the world blush, and be for ever ashamed, to take up such reproaches, As that those who will not swear, will lye, will overreach, will deal unjustly; Oh let all men be ready to say, They regard thy word, more then other mens oaths.
Use of Instruction, How far most men are from this new frame of heart: May * we not with the Prophet, go and search for a righteous man, and finde none: What lyings, falshoods, what fraud, what unjust trading and overreaching of other men! Oh that many men can sleep in the houses they are in, can walk in the fields alone, for horror of soul, for their unconscionable dealings, for their unjust bargains, for their secret fraud they have used to get wealth? Doest thou not hear the very timber in the wall groan against thee? Doth not the rust of thy money witness against thee? The crys and sighs, and groans of those whom thou hast wronged, cry aloud for vengeance.
The Hammer of Arminianism: Demonstrating; That God in Converting and Changing a Sinner, works after an Omnipotent, Efficacious and Ir∣resistible Manner. Against the Patrons of Free-Will and Power of man to Supernaturall things.
EZEK. 36. 26.
ITs now time to draw nigh to a conclusion concerning this full and quintessenti∣all Text. There remain two particulars onely to be improved, that were taken notice of in the main division of the Text. For as we told you, here was obser∣vable, the precious mercie promised, described both positively, and oppositely. Here was also the efficient cause of this mercie, and the fruit thereof: So we told you there was a two-fold m•dus, or manner observable about this mercie: There was modus rei, and modus dicti; The manner of Gods working this grace in those whom he Converts; and that is, By his mighty omnipotent power, efficaciously, insuperably, irresistably: For consider with what authoritie God speaks it, I will take away the heart of stone, I will give an heart of flesh. God will doe it, and Mans will shall not hinder: Here is no conditionate, suspended operation, as if God would not convert, or turn our hearts to him, till we also by our Free-will began to turn to him: So that this Text is an Hammer to beat in pieces all those Doctrines of old, and which now of late multiply, concerning Free-will, and the power of man to super naturall things. May not this Text satisfie every man? Doth it not make eve∣rie mans heart by nature a stone, insensible and stupid about holy things? Doth not God here appropriate the whole work of Conversion to himself? I will give an heart of Flesh, I will take away the stony heart: Yea doth he not also declare the manner how he will doe this by his Soveraign, Omnipotent, and irresistable pow∣er, so that the heart cannot but bow and yield, and give it self up. Whereas now, if the Patrons of Nature and Free-will, who are enemies to Gods grace, did speak truth, then God should have said no more but this, I will give you an heart of flesh if you will; I cannot doe it alone, unlesse your Free-will goe along with it also; 〈◊〉 must suspend, or stay my work till I see what you will doe. This is the first manner observable. Then there is modus dicti, the second manner how God will vouchsafe this, and that is by way of Gift, by a free absolute Promise, I will do thus, and thus; he doth not suppose any previous, or antecedent Conditions on our part. I shall at Page 570 this time pitch onely upon the manner how God works this glorious mercie in us. And from thence observe,
That God in Converting and changing our hearts works after an omnipotent, effica∣cious,*and irresistible manner. When God speaks to the soul to believe, to repent, to reform, it cannot, it will not but repent, he makes of unwilling willing: Even as at the first Creation God said, Let there be light, and there was light: There was no power in the Creature to reject Gods Omnipotency: so it is, when God seeth a man wallowing in his bloud, or dead in his sin: if he say, Arise and walk, Come forth out of the grave of sinne, as he did to Lazarus, presently the soul obeyeth. This point both Doctrinally, and Practically, is very necessary. The Orthodox handling of it, makes much for the excellent praise of grace, and the utter over∣throw of those dangerous and proud errors that advance Free-will, giving it either all, or part, in the work of conversion. Contrarie to the whole scope of the Scripture, which continually debaseth man, discovering his impotencie and unworthines, but giving all to the power of God. Let us first explain this Doctrine, and then prove it. *
First therefore, we distinguish between a man in his first Conversion, and after∣wards in the progresse of it. In the first moment and instant of Conversion, which is the taking away the heart of stone, and giving an heart of flesh; there we say man * is meerly a subject passive, and receiving the work of God, he doth not any wayes co-operate, he hath no strength or power to joyn with God; but as Austin saith well, These things are wrought in nobis, sine nobis, in us, yet without us, God works this spirituall life, this tender heart in us, without our help or strength; E∣ven as when Christ raised up any dead men, he put natural life into them, this was done in them, yet without their help; Life was put into Lazarus, and Lazarus had no helping hand to effect this: I shall prove this in the grounds of the Doctrine, I onely now explain it. This then is the truth of God, and plainly grounded on Scripture, that man in the first instant of Conversion, hath no Free will, no power working with God, but is a meer passive subject, receiving the mighty work of God upon his soul: but if you consider man in the progresse of Sanctification, thus having received this heavenly supernatural life, he is not a meer patient, but being acted and moved by God, he also acts and moveth: Then in∣deed we need grace to quicken and inliven those principles of grace, as before was proved; but yet we doe not need a new life to be infused into us.
Secondly, Although this is the good truth of God, yet hereby we doe not take away*the nature of a man, and make him a beast, as the Adversaries calumniate. Oh say they, this is to turn man into a stock or stone, to deprive him of reason and liber∣tie of will. No, we deny the consequence; for although we say, That he is thus * passive for the initial working of Grace; yet we say he hath his understanding, his reason still, he hath a will still; onely, to discern, or will what is good, that he can∣not: So then we deny not but a man hath understanding, hath a natural libertie of his will, he cannot be a man if he have not these: but yet in respect of that which is holy, so his mind is blind, his will is obstinate, and rebellious against it. So that in man here are these three things; To be able to understand, to be able freely to will; this is of meer nature. To have a corrupt understanding, and a corrupt will, is of defiled nature. To understand and will what is good, is of sanctified nature: So then, what is the true state of the question, not whether there be an understan∣ding, and the natural faculty of Free-will in a man, or not. None denyeth that, every man hath Free-will in natural and civill actions; onely the question is about the object of these, whether he hath power to understand or will things that are meerly spirituall and supernatural; and this the Scripture doth expresly deny.
Thirdly, When we say, God doth work grace thus powerfully and irresistibly, the meaning also is not, as if the heart of a man in conversion did not resist and * reject the work of the Spirit, in some measure, and in some degrees; for there is no question but the heart of a man doth naturally refuse and oppose the Spirit of God. Stephen told the Jews, They had alwayes resisted the Spirit of God, Acts 7. Page 571 and the word of God is said to cast down those strong holds, and every high thing that exalteth it self against God, 2 Cor. 10. So that as there is a natural contrarietie, and active opposition between fire and water; thus there is a constant enmity and active resisting of Gods Spirit by our spirit; for if this combate and conflict remain still in a godly man, how much more in natural men that are altogether carnal? You must therefore distinguish between a prevalent, conquering resisting, and a graduall: God in Conversion so works, that he takes away the prevalent, but not the gradu∣all resisting. Though a man before he be converted, is froward and full of cavils and prejudices, is unwilling to be saved, cannot abide the truth, doth what he can to stifle all good motions; yet if he belong to Election, God will at last over-ma∣ster his heart, and make him of unwilling willing: his hard heart cannot refuse this Converting grace, because the first thing it doth, is to take away the hardnesse of heart.
Fourthly, Therefore its not every kind of grace that a man may acknowledge is e∣nough,* unlesse it be such a grace as is antecedently efficacious to our will, and omni∣potently bowing, and changing of it. Austin said, That the Pelagians did use the word Grace, ad frangendam invidiam, to decline the hatred that their opinion might get; so those that cry up Free-will: They will acknowledge grace, and God for∣bid they should speak against grace: But thou must know, there hath been in this point an horrible abuse of well-meaning men, by acknowledging grace, but not such a grace as we told you, that is efficacious of it self by its inward power, not depending upon mans will. Pelagius of old, when he saw his opinion was univer∣sally distasted, as if he disputed against grace; he then to avoid such an odium, be∣gan to use the word, and to acknowledge it: insomuch that he deceived an whole Counsel, by his ambiguities and generalities, who acquitted him: yea Austin him∣self who was so diligent an opposer of him, was almost deceived by him. If there∣fore any who dispute for Free-will, speak also of grace, & they say they are for grace; remember its not every kind of grace that is enough, but such as shall mightily change the heart; not that shall work with Free-will, but first make the will free, which was a Servant, and a Captive to lust: Tunc est liberum, quando liberatum, Then are ye free if the Son hath made you free, John 8. 32.
Fiftly, Although God thus omnipotently bow the heart, and grace be vorticordis, *as Austin called it, yet there is great use of the Ministrie; of exhortation, of reproof, of commands, of promises and threatnings; for presently men are apt to cavill and say, If God work all, why then is the Ministry? Why are we exhorted, when we have no power! why doth God command, when we have no ability? For exhortation and the Ministry is necessary, because its the instituted means, by which God will worke this, as Christ did not in vain say to Lazarus, Lazarus come forth, because it was a practical powerful word, and thus it is here; the Ministrie speaks not in vain, we exhort not in vain, because in and by this, God inflames the heart, and quickens it to Good. And so the commands to turn to God, to love him above all things, are not in vain, because they are not to demonstrate our power but our duty. The Creditor may lawfully demand of his prodigal Debtor the sum of money he oweth, though he be not able to pay, especially we being full of self-righteousnesse, carnal confidence, and earthly adherence, these commands are the more earnestly to be pressed, that we may be ashamed and confounded.
Sixtly, It cannot be denyed but that this Doctrine of Gods sole power, and efficacie of*Grace in Conversion, hath been and may be abused, and that two wayes, either to sluggishnesse and negligence, men thinking, that if God take away the stony heart, what need I care? I may sit down and take my ease: Or to Enthusiasm, such as will not pray, nor go to the Ordinances, they will onely stay at home, and expect the Spirits immediate working on them; and these were two reasons, saith Chem∣nitius, why Pelagius a Brittan, otherwise an ingenious man and famous, as also very innocent in his life, did fall into his error on the other side. But there is no truth of God can be preached, but carnal hearts will abuse it. Paul doth abundantly Page 572 testifie this, when he speaks of those corrupt inferences some made from his prea∣ching of grace: and the best truths corrupted prove most dangerous: as when they did not use the Manna according to Gods Institution, it degenerated into noisome worms.
Let us discover the grounds of this truth: And First, All those places of Scrip∣ture which doe describe the totall, and universall pollution of man, making him not * so much a sinner, as even sin it self; doth plainly argue, that Gods converting grace is all in all; that man is a meer patient, and cannot actively consent to the least good thing. Thus Gen. 6. The imagination of the thoughts of a mans heart are only evil, and that continually: What can be said more, Every imagination or thought that stirreth in a man, its evil, and only evill, and that continually! How then can this consent, or be active to God? so Ephes. 2. You hath he quickned that were dead in sins: What doth a dead man do to get life again? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. That is, no man, God only doth: Our Saviour saith, A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit; especially Rom. 8. A naturall man per∣ceiveth not the things of God, Neither can he; he doth not, and he cannot. See what pregnant places of Scripture here are; Mark them because that unsavorie error doth so much spread. If these Texts be true, all our thoughts and affections are onely evill; we are dead in sin, we do not, we cannot so much as perceive the things of God: how then dare any think of the power of nature, and her ability to what is holy?
Secondly, This is fully proved by those excellent and empharicall similitudes which are used to declare the work of Conversion; which the Spirit of God on purpose u∣seth * to declare Gods glorious power in us. As its called often A Creation, and Grace is A new Creature: we are said to be Created to good works. Now Creatio fit ex nihilo, Creation doth suppose nothing pre-exsistent, either physically or mo∣rally. Was the world when it was created any wayes co-operant to its Creati∣on? Neither is it here. Remember then i•s he that hath made us, and not we our selves: If we did not make our selves men, shal we make our selves new Creatures, better then men? so its expressed by the similitude of a new Birth. He hath begot∣ten us by his word. A godly man is said to be born of God. Now these are full ex∣pressions to shew that we are not born by our free-will, or consent, but by Gods sole power; as John 1. Lastly, its compared to the Resurrection; You that were dead hath he quickned. Now was there ever any man that could raise up himself out of the grave, and give life to himself? yea Eph•s. 1. Its compared to that glorious power of God in raising up Christ, the very self same power is •here said to work in those that believe. Now how can any man answer these comparisons the Scrip∣ture useth? for howsoever similtudes must not be stretched beyond the scope of him that useth them: yet the Holy Ghost doth for this end use such expressions, that we should attribute all to God, be debased in our selves, saying, Not unto us Lord, not to our free-will or our power, but to thy Name be all glorie.
Thirdly, All those places prove this, which take all ability of good from man, and attribute it wholly to God: So our Saviour likeneth every man out of * him to a Branch separated from the Vine John 15. The Branch out of the Vin• can bring forth no fruit; Thus every man out of Christ: Hence our Saviour concludes, Without me ye can do nothing. He doth not say, You cannot do any great thing, but nothing: And again, 2 Cor. 3. the Apostle saith, We are not sufficient of our selves to think one thought, viz. In reference to the good either of others, or of our selves. Thus you see how man is made utterly impotent. Well, then see those places that po∣sitively attribute all to God; Its God that works in us both to will and to do. You see all is given to him. And again, What hast thou that thou hast not received? But above all, how plain is this Rom. 9. Its not of him that willeth, or him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. This is a noble place, for who is likely to have it, but him that willeth, or that runneth? yet it is not of him, but of him that sheweth mercy; whereas if Free-will, or mans power had any co-partnership in this work, Page 573 we might as well say, Its not of him that sheweth mercy, but of him that willeth or run∣neth. So that this Doctrine robs God of all that honour and glory that is due to him both in the prayers and praises of his people. For how will the Patrons of Natures Free-will deport themselves in this Duty? Must they not in effect come to this? Lord, I pray thee mollifie and soften my heart, if I will. Again, Lord I praise thee, that thou gavest me an heart to repent, when I consented and was willing; And is not all this highly derogatory to Gods glory? This made pro∣found Bradwardine encourage himself to write against P•lagius, because he could heartily pray for the grace of God to help him in that work, whereas his adversaries could not do so.
Lastly, If so be that the will and power of man, did make grace effectual to * us, so that Gods grace should not take away our stoninesse, till we consented, Then the greatest glory of a mans Conversion would belong to him: For we may sup∣pose God offering grace equally to the same men; They both live in the same Family, both under the same Ministery. Now what is the cause why one recei∣veth the Word, and not the other? Shall we say, because he by his free-will entertained the grace of God, and not the other? What derogation would this be to Gods glory? Doth not the Apostle say, Who hath made thee to differ from another? 1 Cor. 4. 7. Why was Peter converted, and not Judas? They both enjoyed the same means, they both saw the same wonderful miracles: Shall any man say, Because Peter used his free-will well, and not Judas? This were to make Peter no more beholding to Christ then Judas was. Oh a gracious heart knoweth not how to digest such presumptuous opinions! God made me to differ from others, By the grace of God I am what I am. So then, have all these argu∣ments in your eyes, they are plain and easie; and then though error be never so subtilly painted, yet it will not make you inamoured with it, especially if to all these places of Scripture, thou canst set to thy own experience of Gods won∣derful change upon thee. Art not thou able to say, That though ten thousand teachers should come and preach free-will, yet thine own experience in thy Con∣version will make thee not believe it, for thou wert so farre from consenting or agreeing to the work of grace, that all thy shifts and care was how to put off the work of God? How often didst thou labour to blinde thy own eyes, to har∣den thy own heart, how unwilling to be convinced, how sorry to part with thy dear lusts, how often didst thou put off and defer; saying, Yet a little more and still a little more, that had not God by his mighty power opened thy heart, made thee of unwilling willing, to this very day thou hadst still been wallowing in thy bloud!
Use of Instruction. Concerning a three-fold duty: 1. Of deep debasement * and humiliation, How vain, weak and unprofitable are we become? Of rich to become pooor, of honourable to become debased, is nothing to this; of holy and altogether holy, to become altogether sinful: Oh why doth not this wound thee? Is there any room left for pride, carnal jollity; and confidence, while in this polluted estate?
2. Of daily thankfulnesse to God, who hath put forth his great power on thee; Oh call upon thy soul, and all within thee, to speak for the grace of God.
3. Here is encouragement to pray to God for the subduing of any strong cor∣ruptions or passions: He that did the greater, take away the heart of stone at first; cannot he do the lesse?
The Freenesse of Gods Grace in Conversion di∣splayed and maintained against Arminians and others.
EZEK. 36. 26, 27.
I Shall now make an end of this Text, whose matter like our Saviours loaves hath multiplied and increased in the breaking and distributing of it. The last thing observable is the manner of the conveyance and bestowing of it, which is by an absolute free promise, I will do thus unto you, here is nothing spoken of what they should do, but what God will do; here is no speech of their prepa∣ratory dispositions, but Gods gracious operation. Now although it be true, that immediately and directly this promise is made to the exiled Jews; therefore with the promise of Justification and Conversion, is joyned that of restitution into their own Land again, with all their former temporal mercies; yet the Apostle Paul makes it plain, that this is an evangelical promise, or the Covenant of Grace for all ages in the Church, Heb. 10. 16. So that this promise is not to be understood of those only in the Captivity, as the Remonstrants would evade, whom God should convert, but of all that in successive ages, shall be brought home unto God. So that as Isaac is said to be a childe of the promise, because he was not born by natural power, but by the meer promise and power of God, so all the godly are in this sense as well as in another, like Isaac, the children of the promise, being not born by the power of flesh and bloud, but by vertue of this promise. It is this Text that giveth spiritual life to all that receive it. It is because of this promise that the word of God hath any succesful effect at any time.
That the Promise of Conversion and Regeneration is an absolute free Pro∣mise.*
Thus you see the Text runneth without any Ifs; God will take away the heart of stone, nothing shall frustrate his intention. The Lord hath said it and it will come to passe. Iter ad gratiam is per gratiam, perque ipsam venitur ad ipsam. Grace makes way for it self. As by the light of the Sun, we come to see the Sun, God doth not on∣ly offer grace to the heart, but sanctifieth the heart to receive it. He doth not only give the oil but the cruise to receive it. He giveth the bread of life, and the stomack also to eat it.
To open this Doctrine, Consider
First, That a promise is a farre more comfortable thing then a meer prediction. God doth many times meerly fore-tell what he will do, but at other times he doth also promise what he will do: a prophecie of what will be, and a promise differ very much. This Text is not a meer prediction, or a meer prophecie, but it is a graci∣ous Page 575 promise: Now a Promise is only of that which is good, either temporal or spiritual, but a Prophecie or Prediction may be of that which is evil, as well as what is good: All the desolations and calamities that came upon Jerusalem, were prophesied of; but we cannot say they were promised, for Promises are to be im∣braced, as Paul excellently expresseth it, Heb. 11. 13. to shew how hearty, joy∣ful, glad and ready the heart should be, to receive them: Oh remember, thou that art exercised with diffidence and discouragement, a promise is to be imbraced, as thou wouldest the dearest, welcomest friend in the world! Again a Promise doth induce some tie and obligation in him that promiseth, but so doth not a meer Prediction; and because God promising cannot properly be said to be bound to us, or tied to us; Therefore he is by his Promise a debtor to his own fidelity; he cannot deny himself or his own word, Reddis debita nulli debens, so that the soul urging God with a promise, may say, O Lord, it was in thy choice whether thou wouldst do such a thing or no, but since thou hast promised it, and the word is gone out of thy mouth; Thy truth, thy constancy, thy fidelity must needs make good thy Promise.
Secondly, The Promises of God as for the matter of them they are two fold, some * are temporal, and some are spiritual; so for the manner they are either Absolute or Conditional; Absolute Promises are such as God hath made, and he will ful∣fill, though we believe not at all. Such Promises doe not depend upon any Grace in us fore-going, neither doe they suppose any good qualification in us; Thus that temporal promise, that God will not drown the world, is absolutely determined, though men do not believe it, yet God will make it good: So Isa. 9 The promise of sending a Christ, a Messias into the world, was an Absolute Promise. The calling of the Gentiles, and the calling of the Jewes again after the destruction of the Gentiles: These are absolutely promised. For as God hath some absolute Threatnings for a destruction of a people; and then though there were Noah, Job and Daniel, they were not able to deliver that Land; so he hath many absolute Promises, which all the wickednesse and unbelief of men shall not make void; and of these Absolute Promises it is that Paul saith, He is faithfull and cannot deny himself, 2 Tim. 2. 13. and that our unfaithfulnesse shall not make void the faith of God, Rom. 3. 3. For it is plain in many Promises, if we doe not be∣lieve God doth not fulfill them; as if we do not believe, we cannot be justified: but he speaks there of such absolute Promises, as God will certainly accomplish, ta∣king away all obstructions that hinder.
2. There are Conoitional Promises, but that must be understood in a right sens•, not as if there were any Conditions to be performed by our strength and power, as if these Conditions were causes and merits of the grace promised. No, they are onely Qualifications of the subject, without which he could not be partaker of the grace promised. Thus Justification is promised to Faith, pardon of sinne to Repentance, overcoming of temptations to him that persevereth, growth and increase of grace to him that improveth the grace he hath, and finally glorifica∣tion is promised to him only that is sanctified, Here you see are some Promises made onely to such as have grace already, Grace is the Condition for Grace, on∣ly there is no Condition or Qualification required, which is not the Absolute Gift of God at first; for although Justification be promised to him that believeth; If you ask, How a man comes to believe, here that we may not sunne in infini∣tum, we must say it is absolutely promised and wrought by God himself. I doe not here curiously dispute about a Qualification and a Condition, nor of the Na∣ture of Conditions; that is to be expected in the controversal part. Now this Promise in the Text, is of the former sort, an Absolute Promise, making way for its own self; As Kings use to carry their own Furniture for their en∣tertainment; So it is here, Grace doth qualifie and worke the very ini∣tiall preparations so, that all is from God in a Promise. Nothing is our Page 576 plea, but a Promise; all our spiritual riches and treasures are bound up in a Promise.
In the next place, let us consider what is comprehended in this, when * we say, Conversion is absolutely promised to the Converted, and that implieth:
First, The free grace of God bestowing this inestimable benefit, Where he pleaseth, and When he pleaseth. Who can give any reason, why God takes a∣way Jacobs stony heart, and doth not Esaus? Who can give a reason, why God softens Peters heart, and not Iudas, but onely the meer grace and good pleasure of God? See Paul Rom. 11. even ravished with the depth of Gods unsearchable wisdome in this matter; and Christ himself greatly affected herein, Matth. 11. I thank thee, O Father, that thou hast revealed these things to babes, and hidden them from the wise. And To you it is given to understand, Matth. 13. but not to others. So that God making this absolute Promise to some, and not to all, doth thereby make his free grace perspicuous, that every mouth may be stopped that would boast of it self.
Secondly, It supposeth, that we cannot so much as prepare, and fit our selves to*receive Grace. God findes an heart of stone in every man, and a stone is im∣penetrable. It was a Doctrine received a long while, Facienti quoá in se est, Deus dat Gratiam, though differently explained. Let a man doe what he can by naturall strength and power, and then God will vouchsafe Grace and su∣pernaturall Mercies to him; yea this is too much divulged at this very day; let a man use his Naturals well, and God will give Supernaturals; but first there is no such Promise in all the Scripture; you cannot in all the Scripture finde any Promise of Grace made to Nature, or the improvement of Nature; God no where saith, Doe as much as you can, what you are able by your own power, and then I will come and help you. There is no such Promise in Scripture, but either it is absolute, as you have heard, or else Conditional to some Grace wrought by God already in us.
Thirdly, This Promise is of a most excellent and precious Nature, it farre*exceeds all temporall Promises: Should God promise thee all the glory of the World, all that thy heart could in this life desire, yet it is nothing to this Pro∣mise of a new Heart. Hence Peter cals them Precious Promises, 1 Pet. 1. whereby we are made partakers of the Divine Nature. God to this people in Captivity, promiseth a new and a tender heart, as that which would qualifie or put a lustre upon all other Mercies; Their return from Captivity, Their enjoying of their former Houses and Mercies again would be nothing, if God gave not this Mercy also; Oh then that the hearts of men were made more spiri∣tual and wise, to look after and prize this Promise; Let thy Condition be never so miserable, thy state never so distressed, yet if under this Promise, thou art in an Ark, when others are tosted up and down in the uncertain waves of this world. Even the Virgin Mary that was called Blessed among Women, was more blessed that Christ was spiritually formed in her heart, then that the body of Christ was corporally fashioned in her Wombe: Oh then! How wretched is thy estate even in the midst of all earthly prosperity? when thou canst say, These new houses, these new honours are mine, but thou canst not say, This new heart is mine.
Fourthly, This Absolute Promise is sure and certain: For there is Truth in God, * and so he cannot lie; and there is Power in God, and so there cannot be any thing to hinder him, Heaven and Earth shall sooner passe away, then one Iowa or Tittle of this Promise fall to ground. How angry was God with Sarah, because through unbelief she laughed when God told her in her Old-age, she should conceive and bring forth a Childe? Do not thou think thy heart, thy lusts are too strong, too naught for God to conquer and subdue? Now the ground why this Promise is so sure, and cannot be frustrated, is, because it is the execution of Gods Election from Page 577 all Eternity; and the Election of God, that is Absolute, and that cannot be frustrated; Reade Rom. 11. where the Apostle in a grave and profitable way handling this sublime Mystery of Predestination; he argueth, That Gods Will and Purpose must take effect, Election hath obtained, and it will obtain; If then the Election of God be Absolute, and that must stand, then the Promise of Conversion, which is nothing but a gracious Manifestation of this Election, must also be Absolute. And this shall suffice for clearing the Nature of this Absolute Promise; but because this Doctrine is subject to carnall Ca∣vils, I shall Answer one or two Objections which a froward Heart not humbly submitting to the Authority of Scripture, is apt to raise. And
First, It may be said, If this Promise of Conversion be Absolute, God * will work it, and there is no Condition on our part, that we can by our Na∣ture performe: Then what need we come to hear the Word preached? What need we waite on the Ordinances? if God will take away the heart of stone, he will do it though we be eating and drinking, and making merry, as well as if we be praying and hearing the Word preached. But take heed of such destru∣ctive conclusions, for they do not follow from this truth. For
First, Though we say it be an Absolute Promise, yet the meaning is not, as if*it were accomplished without such means God hath appointed. Therefore the Pro∣mise may be said to be Absolute, either in opposition to Conditional, as if it required something as a Condition to be done on our part, and in this sense it is Absolute; or else it may be called Absolute, as it doth oppose that which is to be ordered by some means, and in this sense it is not Absolute. Paul had absolutely fore-told, That none in the Ship that were with him should die; yet he also said, That they must use the meanes, keep in the Ship. And thus God told David many times before he went to the Battel, That he should have the Victory, yet he was carefull to order his Army, and to prepare the Souldiery: So that Gods Promises though they are many times Absolute, yet they also include Meanes for that end. Now there are Meanes of two sorts, The one External having no immediate influence upon Grace, onely it is the necessary way that God hath commanded every one to walk in, and such are coming to the Ordinances; and hear∣ing of the Word. A man hath Free-will or Power of Nature to doe this, as any other civil Actions. Indeed to hear with Faith, to hear with godly Attention and brokennesse of Spirit, that he cannot; but simply to come to hear, and in a general manner to attend to what is delivered, that by Nature he can doe; Now even this very hearing, and this bodily presence God hath required, as a Meanes wherein he will dispense his Grace; So that whosoever doth wilfully neglect the use of these, cannot promise to himselfe any Conversion; yea he may certainely conclude God will not convert him; so that here is no place for thy prophane Cavil; What need I come and hear? what need I frequent preaching? Yes, every way; for though God hath absolutely promised this Mercy, yet it is in the use and exercise of these Meanes: Oh then that those who customarily and wilfully absent themselves from the preaching of the Word, would consider, that they turn their back upon God, and in effect say, They will not be con∣verted, We will not have this new Heart, this new Life. If a man shall wilful∣ly refuse to eat or drink, will he not be accounted a self-murderer? and if thou carelesly or obstinately refusest the Word of life, will not God judge thee for a self-damner?
But then in the next place, There are formall and internall Meanes that doe*immediately receive Christ in the soul, such as Faith, or hearing in Faith, and these a man hath no power of himself to performe, Faith being the Page 578 gift of God. So then although internal Meanes of obtaining Christ, cannot by natural strength be performed, yet there are external Meanes, which who∣soever shall refuse, he doth reject the counsel of God, and pronounceth himself unworthy of Salvation. Therefore harbour no more such thoughts, unless thou wilt violently throw thy self into the mouth of hell.
But secondly, It may be said, If Gods Promise of Conversion be Absolute, This is discouraging and may easily cast men into despair; for though I desire, and groan * after Conversion, yet if I be not in this Absolute Promise, I can never be parta∣ker of it.
But first consider, Though it be Absolute, yet it is also Indefinite, it doth not exclude any particular man; So that no man in the world living under * the meanes of Grace, can truely say, he is not intended in this Promise, as well as others. Seeing therefore God hath no where excluded thee by name, there is no clause that shuts thee out; it is a grievous sinne in thee to shut thy self out. So then, Know those dejecting and discouraging thoughts they arise from Hell; It is the Devil and thy own black heart, not this Do∣ctrine that discourageth. If there were a Malefactour among many others, and the Magistrate should make an indefinite promise that he would spare them and pardon them, and doth not by name exclude any man, would any be so injurious to himself, as to question, whether he be intended in the pardon or no? No lesse injurious art thou to thy self, in disputing against this promise.
Secondly, If thou livest under the means of Grace, and where the word of Life is tendered, then thou hast much more cause to hope that this Promise of Conversion*doth belong to thee. Indeed all those who sit in Heathenish darknesse, to whom the Gospel was never yet made known, they are a hopeless people, while so; there is no Promise without the Church of God: But to those who have the grace of God tendered to them, they may plead this Argument, Lord, thou hast given us the outward means, we have the Ministery, that sounds daily in our ears, Oh give us the inward Grace also!
Thirdly, If thou art one who groanest and desirest after Conversion, and art afraid lest God hath excluded thee, be of good comfort, for those sighs and pant∣ings*after Grace, are a sure sign that thou art included, yea that this work of a new heart, and a tender heart is already begunne in you. Where you hear a Sigh or a Groan in a man, it is a signe there is a naturall life; and so where there are inward Groans and Affections for this new heart, there are the beginnings, and the foundation is already said, God will not break the bruised Reed, nor quench the smoaking Flax. Even hunger and thirst hath a pro∣mise of being satisfied, Matth. 5. Therefore let this turn thy water into wine presently.
Fourthly, Although the Promise of Conversion be in a well explained sense Absolute, yet there is no man damned that would have been converted, onely he*wanted the Promise, God would not put his name in there, and that is the cause of his utter perishing. No, this is a firm truth, O Israel, thy destruction is of thy self; And As I live, saith God, I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should live. Turn ye, turn ye, Why will ye die? This is a sure truth, Every mans Damnation is of his own self; he doth wilfully and with delight go on in destructive wayes, he cannot say, Lord, I would have been converted, but the Absoluteness of thy Election, or thy Promise hindered, yea a mans own wilful lusts they destroy him: Insomuch that were it not for this Promise of God none at all would be converted: It is well we are not left to Free-will, for then not one would be converted: And the Adversaries to this Opinion cannot instance in one Heathen ever since the world was made, that did use his Naturals so well, that God vouchsafed Supernaturals; insomuch Page 579 that the Doctrine of Free-will may well cast a man into Despair; for if my Conversion cannot be wrought till I go along with God in it, I am for ever undone.
Lastly, Let it be granted that there are some Difficulties in this Doctrine, that humane reason cannot untie all the knots, yet this is no more then Paul acknowledged, Rom. 9. and reproveth man for such bold Disputing with God: Gods wayes are wise and just, even when they are hidden and se∣cret to us. There is no end when humane wisdom talketh against heavenly Dispensations.
Use. Is this Promise, though Absolute, yet ordered in the use of means to be accomplished? Then be diligent in hearing the Word: Oh pray that this new heart may at last be found in thee! Oh why is it that we should leave this Text before every Auditor finde the power of it upon his soul! Oh that the leaving of this Text might not leave one carnal stony heart! Oh that as we have done the Text, so God had done this work in you! But oh our barrenness, our bar∣renness! Oh the just anger and wrath of God against many persons, to whom God saith, Let them alone in their sins!