Spiritual refining: or A treatise of grace and assurance Wherein are handled, the doctrine of assurance. The use of signs in self-examination. How true graces may be distinguished from counterfeit. Several true signs of grace, and many false ones. The nature of grace under divers Scripture notions or titles, as regeneration, the new-creature, the heart of flesh, vocation, sanctification, &c. Many chief questions (occasionally) controverted between the orthodox and the Arminians. As also many cases of conscience. Tending to comfort and confirm saints. Undeceive and convert sinners. Being CXX sermons preached and now published by Anthony Burgess sometime fellow of Emanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and now pastor of the church of Sutton-Coldfield in Warwickshire.
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.
Page  632


That most of those that are called, come short of what is absolutely necessary; And who they be.

MAT. 22. 14.
For many are called, but few are chosen.

THe persons called by God, who yet are not chosen, are of two sorts, as you heard:

First, Those, who, though so graciously invited, do yet obstinately and peremptorily refuse, and these are actively onely called on Gods part.

The second sort is of those who do give consent, and yeild to their call, but because they do not rise up fully to all that is required, therefore they are cast away. In this rank is the man, who being invited, made no opposition or ex∣cuse, but went in, and sate down at the feast, was as confident as the other guests, seemeth to be conscious to himself of no fault, but having no wedding garment, the master is so wroth and displeased with him, that he is adjudged to everlasting torments; and from this instance our Saviour gathers this con∣clusion in the Text; so that the meaning is, Of those many that are called, and give a general acceptance of it, yet few are chosen to eternal glory: Those enjoy the feast of the Ordinances here, who are to be tormented for ever here∣after; those are admitted to eat in Gods presence here, who shall be command∣ed to depart from him hereafter, he knoweth them not: Many are admitted into the Temple, that may not enter into the holiest of holies.

That many of those who are called, and in many things obey, do yet come short*in that which is absolutely necessary.

He that comes to the feast, was not guilty of such rebellion, as they that opposed, and inhumanely handled the Messengers; yet because he did not pre∣pare the Wedding-Garment, which is a conversation and life sutable to the outward profession of Christ, therefore he is cast away: This is a necessary truth; for though we have many Christians, yet we have indeed but few: Though all in the Land come and sit down at the feast, yet we may say to many, Friends, how came ye in here? How came you to profess Christ? how came you to say you are Christians? What? such a sinner, such an ungodly person, and yet say, You believe in Christ, you love Christ? What is the re∣proach of the Christian profession this day, but the ungodly, ignorant, and pro∣phane lives of those who are baptized into Christs name? Monsters they are, and not Christians, who in one part bear the image of Christ, and in another the image of the Devil; in one part seem to be men, in another beasts: So that al∣though the Christian Religion may boast in the multitude of her followers, yet it may blush at the lives of them: This was a point our Saviour did much Page  633 treat upon, That men did receive the truth, as to some particulars, and some degrees, butnot wholly and throughly. The Parables of the several sorts of ground, of the unwise builder, especially that of the foolish Virgins, who were Virgins, had their lamps, went out to meet the Bridegroom, onely they wanted oyl, and this was not perceived till it was too late; all these tend to this purpose: You see then beloved, that we may have our lamps lighted, we may have the external profession and acknowledgement of Christ, but want oyl in time of need. Certainly, while we are preaching of this subject, we may say almost to every man, Nunc tua res agitur, rouse up thy self and attend, for this matter belongs to thee: Thou receivest Christ and his ways but in parcels, though thou hast Baptism, the title of a Christian, sittest down at the Ordi∣nances; yet where is the Wedding-garment! where is the conversation that doth agree, and belong to so holy a matter?

To open this Doctrine, let us consider,

First, Wherein lieth this outward obedience to Gods call, which yet is in∣effectual; * for can any thing more concern you, then that you should not be Christians in vain? that all thy praying, and frequenting of holy duties, may not be in vain? that God may not take thee from this feast, as Haman was from his, in which he so much boasted, to be put into confusion, and everlasting fear?

Now this external submission, lieth in these things:

First, A consent to be Baptized, and entred into the number of those that own*Christ: They will not abide in the number of Jews, Turks or Pagans, but they are willing to inoll their names in Christs Catalogue: Thus in the Apostles times, yea, while Christ preached, you read, John 2. of many who believed in him, yet Christ would not commit himself to them, because he knew what was in their hearts. To come to Christ, is not the work of the tongue, or of the head, but mainly and principally of the heart: With the mouth man is said to make confession, but with the heart he is also said to believe, Rom. 10. Now if you observe the general deportment of those who are thus called, can you see any more in them, then a meer bare and general consent to be accounted as a Christian? Do they matter any more? Do they ever think, What? is this all Christ would have me to do? No, but they sit down with this general acknow∣ledgement: Thus Simon Magus, he came to the feast without a Wedding gar∣ment; though the Text saith, He believed, and was baptized, yet he was in the state of gall and bitterness, Acts 8. 17. it is true, he did not feel this bitterness, he thought all was well, but it was so much the more dangerous: Thus it is here, thou believest, thou art baptized, thou prayest, thou professest Christ with the mouth, and yet thy soul may be in gall and wormwood, a great gulf may be between thee and salvation, and thou all this while lie down in peace and security of spirit.

Secondly, Upon this entering themselves into the number of Christs flock, they may be fully, but foolishly perswaded, that now they have done all: That this will * interest them into heavenly glory: Oh what a bewitching is this! and are not most men surprized by this? they think this believing in God and Christ, this external and visible profession, will instate them in all happiness. The Jews of old did desperately miscarry upon this point, The Temple of the Lord, the Tem∣ple of the Lord, Jer. 7. this made them bold and confident; and in the New Testa∣ment, see how industrious James is, to shew the vanity of that faith, Iames 3. which is titularly faith, and not effectual in godliness. They that cryed, Lord, Lord, and had prophesied, and wrought miracles in Christs name, are command∣ed to depart into eternal fire, because they were workers of iniquity. Many times the Apostle bids them not be deceived, Neither fornicators or extortioners, &c. should inherit the Kingdom of heaven, 1 Cor. 6. 9. Be not deceived, saith he: We are very apt to think, that a profession, or bare duties, will carry us to hea∣ven, Page  634 without this power of godliness: And if the Apostle speaketh but of the tongue onely, Iames 1. 26. If any man seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that mans Religion is in vain: How much rather, if he do not morti∣fie his sin, and refrain from all other gross impieties? when will people drown∣ed in sin, recover out of it? Awake thou that sleepest in this stupidity: What is Baptism? what is Christianity? what is Protestantism, but a meer empty sha∣dow and title, if thy life be polluted with impieties: As the Heathens called their Idols gods, when yet they had no Deity in them, being images of wood, Having eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not; feet, and walk not: Thus are such Idol Christians, Idol Believers. There are (saith the Apostle) many called gods in the world, but we know that an Idol is nothing: Thus it is here, there are many called Christians, many called Believers, but we know this is nothing, where the life and power of godliness is wanting: Trust not then to thy good faith, to these glorious titles, they will deceive thee.

Thirdly, If in the primitive times, among those many that gave up their names*to Christ, few were chosen, how much a less number must there be now of chosen ones: This I would have diligently considered, If so be in those primitive times of those many thousands that believed in Christ, few were chosen, how little a remnant or handful may we expect to be among our called persons! For there were three Reasons, why all that were then called should be cho∣sen: For

First, To accept of the Faith and Doctrine of Christ, was then a meer free and spontaneous thing; there was no compulsion by outward power, it was not a Religion they were educated and brought up in, their Parents did not teach them faith in Christ: Now who could not think certainly, they are right indeed, they must needs have the power of grace in them, who did thus rea∣dily and willingly receive a Doctrine that was wholly new to them, their parents did not instruct them in, no earthly power did force them to, but out of meer voluntary choice they imbraced it: Yet in that company there was more chaff then wheat, in that garden there were more weeds then flowers: What then may we judge, when as the contrary Reasons are with us? for the Christian faith we imbrace, is that we have by education, by Custom: Who is there that makes use of his own understanding, of his own will to imbrace the truths of Christ? who is there, that upon searching the Scriptures, and trying all things, doth thus adhere to the truth? Are not men bruitish in believing, as well as in living? Malunt homines credere, quam judicare, They take up that Reli∣gion their parents taught them, and its a meer hap, wholly accidental to them, that its the truth: Thus, like beasts, they follow one another, they go qua itur, non qua eundum est; certainly, this is far from having the spirit of God o∣pening our hearts, and inlightning our mindes: This is not by understanding and judging, and proving all things, to hold fast that which is good; This is not for a man to live by his faith, but by his Fathers, or Grand-fathers faith; in∣deed, to be brought up in the true Doctrine of Christ, is a wonderful mercy, its an excellent seasoning of the vessel betimes; but yet if a man have no more from the Christian Doctrine, then his education, he hath no more to say for the truth, then the Jews and Turks have for their gross false∣hoods.

Secondly, That all were not chosen, who were then called, we may won∣der, because of the great and wonderful miracles that they enjoyed, which might greatly confirm their faith; for who could be but perswaded that Christ was the Messiah, when he saw the dead raised from the grave, the blinde made to see, the deaf to hear, and the glorious things of God, shewing themselves thereby? and to these great miracles, we may adde the zeal and remarkable godliness of those who lived in the former times; Alas! no comparison may be made of the grace and godliness that now is, with what hath been formerly: Page  635 Now then, if those that were called in those days, had all those great incite∣ments to the power and life of godliness, and yet were defective; What may we look for, when those are not enjoyed?

Thirdly, This may make us wonder that few onely were chosen, of those ma∣ny * called in former times, because there was little or no outward incourage∣ment unto the way of Christ: There could be little satisfaction given to car∣nal expectations. How often doth our Saviour call upon them for self denyal? foretel of the trouble and hatred they shall meet with in the world? and when men have proffered their obedience to him, he tells them of the little worldly incouragements they must look for. Now it may be a wonder, that men, who had not the deep impression of godliness upon their hearts, should ever ven∣ture upon such profession, where there were no earthly baits. We use to say, That adversity tryeth a friend; yet here it did not hold: Well then, if many men called in those days, did so miscarry, when yet we would think nothing but pure love did set them on work? what little faithfulness may be thought to be in the inward parts of those, who have temporal advantages by Christ; yea, they would be subject to the Magistrates punishment, if they should renounce the faith of Christ: Thus you see, how considerable a matter it is, that even in our Saviours time, and primitive beginnings of the Church, there should be many called, and few chosen: Oh, if ever, then we should have thought the Church would have been constituted of those that were truly godly; if ever, then it would have been altogether fair, and no spots in it, but we see the con∣trary: ts therefore sadly to be lamented, that even the greater part of those, who yet give an external submission to Christ, should yet not have their names written in the book of life.

Fourthly, These come upon the invitation, and yet are without the Wedding-garment, *That are diligent in the discharge of the external duties God requireth, but never look to the internal frame and change of the heart: That was the uni∣versal disease among the Jews, for burnt-offerings and sacrifices they were con∣stant and diligent in; they did even weary God with the abundance of them: but God rejected them all comparatively, Burnt offering and sacrifice God would not have, but a broken spirit, and the Law of God written in their hearts. Our Saviour al∣so is very earnest in this point, in acquainting people with this, That the meer outward performance of any Religious duty, without any inward change and work of the spirit, is but a shell, is but the skin; therefore he tells them, The heart is the good or bad treasury, Mat. 1. 35. the heart is the fountain from whence all streams flow; and John 4. God is a spirit, and he seeketh for such who worship him in spirit and truth: No wonder then, if you see many people sub∣mit to the external duties of praying and hearing, for these are but a bodily la∣bor: Here is no inward working upon their soul, they pray not, they hear not with a powerful change upon the inward man: Speak to them of a broken spi∣rit, a contrite heart, which is of so great repute with God, you speak a meer riddle to them. Observe then, if the greatest sort of persons do any more then the meer external duty; and if so, these have but an outward call, they have none of that spiritual glory within.

Fifthly, Those are outwardly called, and not chosen, who regard some particu∣lars*in Christianity, to do them, but not all; when its the same Christ that com∣mands both, and the same hell and damnation is threatned to the violation of one, as well as another: Its strange to see, how many things those that are called, dare not but do; yet there are again, as plain and as necessary duties, that they wilfully omit: Now the Apostle James in a pregnant manner doth confute this. He that breaketh one of the Commandments, is guilty of all; and he proveth it, because there is the same authority offended, He that said, Thou shalt not kill, also said, Thou shalt not commit adultry, James 2. 11. Now then consider, Why doest thou retain any parcels of Christianity, and not all: Page  636 Thou believest a God, thou believest Jesus Christ was God: Why? because the word of God saith so: Doth not the same word say, Swear not at all? doth not then the same word say, Be not drunk with wine? doth not the same word say, Whoremongers and Adulterers God will judge? This man that was called in the parable, by the same reason that he purposed to go to the feast, he should also have provided a sutable garment; he could not but think what a neglect and contempt it would be accounted to do otherwise: Oh then, that all who hear this truth, would deeply consider of it, by what reason I obey the call of God in any thing, I should do it in all things; by what ground I will go to pray and hear, I should also leave such lusts, and forbear such sins, either all or none, for all duties have the same Divine stamp upon them.

Sixthly, Those that are called, but not chosen, they are forward for the privi∣ledges*of thcalling, but not the duties of the calling: The Jews had many priviledges by their outward calling, they were thereby the people of God, Gods presence and power was among them. The Apostle Rom. 9. 4. reckons up many preroga∣tives every Jew had by being a member of that Church; and thus under the New Testament, every one externally called, though not inwardly sanctified, partaketh of many advantages; The promise is made to him and his seed, he is within the outward administration of the Covenant, he is accounted of the Church, and the body of Christ: Now these things people make a great mat∣ter of; Oh, to be reputed as a publican and an heathen, is an high reproach; should not they be thought Christians, their children to be baptized, they would judge it unsufferable wrong, not considering, that though they be thus forward for priviledges, they are negligent about duties: Thou wouldst have thy childe baptized, thou considerest not, how God would have thee to walk, and what thy duty is about the education of children: Thy wickedness, and thy ungodly ways do provoke God, more then all those priviledges will ad∣vantage thee.

Seventhly, Those that are called, but not chosen, they would indeed receive*Christ as a Saviour, and hope for pardon by him, but do not resign themselves up to him as a Lord, whose commands they will obey: Its true, none can really and truly believe in Christ for pardon, who do not also at the same time receive power from him, in some measure, for sanctification and justification; but yet many men have not faith, but a conceit or presumption of Christs satisfaction, without Scripture direction: Now he that is so, contents himself with this, that he trusts in Christ, and hopes in him for salvation, when they have not the spirit of Christ: No, the spirit of God convinceth of sin, as well as righteousness, and Christ he dyed not onely for comfort for his people, but for grace and holiness: Oh then, do no longer deceive thy self! thou takest Christ, thou hopest in him, all thy trust is in him; Oh but what feel you of the sanctify∣ing and mortifying power of the Lord Christ in thy soul and life.

Lastly, The persons called, but not chosen, do all the easie things in Christiani∣ty,*but not the difficult and exact things: The way to heaven is a straight way, there must be striving, as in an agony, to enter therein. Prayer is to be fervent, to have grones unutterable; the subduing of sin is mortifying and crucifying, which argue the pain and reluctancy of the flesh therein: But alas, the greater sort of Christians look not to, nor minde those things; they go in a formal road, they perform the outward duties sometimes, but as for this spiritual combating, striving and wrestling, they are not acquainted with it: How merry, how jolly, how unexercised are they with any temptations: Certainly, if the way of Heaven be a straight way, thou art not in it; if the Kingdom of Heaven be had onely by violent persons, thou art never likely to obtain it.

Use of Exhortation, to tremble under this truth: Though the Physitians call * a disease Tremor cordis, yet the Scripture calls a grace, The trembling of the heart: What if thou art in the number of one outwardly called meerly; nay, are Page  637 there not many too clear proofs of it? is there any more then a general con∣sent or submission? do you not leave out the main and necessary things, though other things you do? Is not thy life a large, loose life, and the duties of Reli∣gion a meer formality: Oh this is too true of too many; help Lord, and give men understanding to perceive these things: Think not that damnation is one∣ly for Jews, and Turks, and Pagans; Oh you see how near it may come your own houses, and then thy confusion will be greater: This man to be pulled a∣way from a feast, and to be severely punished, had the greater confusion and reproach. Oh glory not in names, in Titles, in outward priviledges! for if your lives be full of ungodliness, you are not those Apostolical, but Apostati∣cal Christians; even as we see God, by the Prophet, makes an excellent mutati∣on of the name Israel, that was given to all the Nation, and is as much as a Prince, or one that prevails with God: Now God calls it Iesreel, a place fa∣mous, for the terrible slaughters that were made there; and signifieth as much as the dispersion or scattering of God; as if he had said, Ye are no more Israelites, but Jesreelites: Thus will God handle all those, that though they have the name of Christians, and glory in an outward calling; yet wanting the power of it, shall be adjudged into eternal condemnation.