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

SERMON CII.

Contains some choice Properties or Effects that accompany Effectuall Vocation, whereby men may examine and try themselves whether they be so called or no.


ROM. 8. 10.
Whom he hath predestinated, those he hath called.

I Shall conclude this Text with an instance of some choice properties or effects that do accompany this calling. For seeing to such only belong Predestina∣tion, Justification and Glorification, Our life and eternal happiness lieth in this, to he found in the number of these called ones. Our Saviour told the Disciples, That they should not rejoyce in that they wrought miracles, that the devils were subject to them, but rather that their names were written in the book of life, Luk. 10. 20. Much lesse then may men rejoyce in being rich, honoured and bles∣sed in this world, if they be not also called to grace and glory. The former are good things of this life only, the later of the life to come.

First then, Wouldst thou know whether thou art inwardly called, as well as out∣wardly,*then examine thy self in thy real answer and obedience to it; For to be cal∣led according to Gods purpose, is to have the event accompanying it. God no sooner cals but they hear. What God bids them do they do, what God bids them forsake they forsake. Oh but to how many do the Prophets stretch out their arms in vain! To what deaf men do we call? In what a Babel and confusi∣on hath sinne cast men, they are commanded to live holily, but oh the pro∣phanenesse! God cals them to purity, but oh the uncleanness! Thus in stead of answering, there is the contrary disobedience, God looks for grapes, and behold wilde grapes. Think not then it can be well with thee, that there are Page  597 any hopes of thy Justification o Glorification, as long as thou stoppest the ear against Gods call: if effectually ••lled, thou wouldst cry out, Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth; when God gave Abraham a call and command to sacr fice his only Sonne, he riseth early in the morning, and can lay his kinfe to the very throat of his only childe; Even thus when God commands thee to mortifie such a sinne, to crucifie such a lust, spare it not, kill it, else it will kill thee, it will damn thee; now the effectually called person, he gets up betimes, he layeth his knife to the throat of his dearest lusts, and now he hates this Tamar more then ever he loved her: Oh, he crieth out, I must either part with God or sinne, I must either leave Christ or this lust, I cannot keep them both together, and then with much zeal and detestation, he casts away his beloved transgressions, God then careth not for thy formalities, thy complements, thy duties, but is thy obedience ready? God cals thee to love him, to hate sinne; Is this com∣mand obeyed? Obedience is better then Sacrifice: Didst thou obey God in giving over thy swearing, thy drunkenness, thy lusts; This would be more acceptable then ten thousand Sacrifices, or outward duties of Religion. Even the very in∣animate creatures have obeyed when called upon, as when the Prophet cried, O Altar, Altar, hear the word of the Lord, and it rent in pieces; but thou con∣tinuest obstinate.

Secondly, The effectually called, they do carefully observe and watch against all those contrary cals, that would turn them out of the way: For you must know as * God hath his voice calling; so sin and the devil they have their sweet Syrenian Songs; They have their cals also, one cals one way, the other a contrary way. Solo∣mon tels us of wisdom, that is, Godlinesse uttering her voice in the streets, crying aloud, Pro. 1. 7. To the simple and unwise that they get understanding: and then again he tels us of the whorish woman, as diligent to call in the simple man that passeth by, to defile himself. Our Saviour bids us Be wise as Serpents, Mat. 11. 16. Now as he stoppeth his ear that he may not hear the charmers, though char∣ming never so wisely, because it's for his destruction; so much rather ought we to close up the ear against all those sweet allurements of sinne, and temptations thereunto: Ulysses his companions were all turned into beasts, (as they feign∣ed) because they would drink of those inticing cups, and hearken to the Syrenian Songs. And therefore men are degenerated into all lusts and beastlinesse, be∣cause they hearken to sense, to lusts, they attend to their call and cry. As Eve giving ear to the Serpent, and not refusing him at first, was immediately de∣stroyed; now then the truly called ones, they stop the ear against the world, against carnal wisdom, and hearken only what God saith, what the Scripture saith. It is many times the profession of a Christian; Oh if I could but know when God cals to me! If I could but understand his will what he would have me to do, then I would run after him; now there is no such way to finde out God calling of thee, as to bid all carnal reasonings, all fleshly consultations stand aloof off. If a man would see the true representation of his face in a glasse; he must wipe off all the dust and filth, and so if thou wouldst discern Gods cal∣ling of thee from all other false cals, be sure that earthly considerations be not laid in the scale: Thus Paul refused that consulration which flesh and bloud profered him, Gal. 1. 16. and so Christ bid Peter, Depart for he was a Satan to him, Mat, 8. 33. an adversary to him.

Thirdly, He that is effectually called, is carefull to walk in a worthy and beseem∣ing*manner of it. I beseech you, saith Paul, that you walk worthy of your calling, Ephes. 4. 1. Every man in any condition or estate, is to look to the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉quod decet, what is fitting and becoming him. Those actions are beseeming a childe which are not an old man; men of better breeding have a sutable deportment: And thus it is in Christianity, Thy holy and heavenly calling should raise up thy spirits, ennoble thy conversation. As Nehemiah argued from the office and trust that was committed to him, Shall such a man as I flee? Thou shouldst then Page  598 consider, Shall such an one as I tumble and wallow in the mire? Shall I that have such an holy and heavenly calling, live like a beast? I here is nothing should so confound and a shame a man for all sinful and ungodly wayes, as that they are not sutable unto, nor worthy of his calling. Michal did in a sinful way despise David in her heart, when she saw him dancing before the Ark, Thou hast made thy self (saith she, 2 Sam. 6.) like one of the vile fellows this day; like one of the base ones of the world. She did this maliciously; but thou mayest truly say to thy soul, when overcome with unruly passions, inordinate affections; Thou hast made thy self like the vilest of men to day. Do then things that are beseeming your calling, that are a grace to it, that may bring an honor and a glory to it in the eyes of the world. Shall the Sunne send forth no more light then the dung-hill? Shall a Rose smell no sweeter then a noisome weed? Dead Flies are not fit to fall in a box of ointment. As Jacob said of his two sons, when they had com∣mitted such outragious wickednesse on the Sichemites, You have made me to stink before the inhabitants of the Land. Thus also mayest thou say to all unmortified affections, uncrucified lusts, You have made me to stink, to be loathsome and abo∣minable before God. Therefore above all things look to this, that your con∣versation be as becometh this heavenly calling, you may not live as you list, walk as you please, make your lusts and your pleasures a rule to walk by; but consider what you are called to.

Fourthly, He that is effectually called, doth alwayes desire to go after Gods calling of him: For as in Philosophy, we are nourished by those things we at first con∣sist * of, Thus it is here. By what means at first we come to be holy, to be godly, viz by Gods calling of us, we did not hearken to other cals. So it is still in our pro∣gress. God still calleth us by his Word to every duty, to avoid every sin, and herein we follow God. Oh it is admirable wisdom in all things to consider what call we have! Those servants are blamed for their rashness, and not commended for their forwardnes, who come or go before they are called, before they have their errand. Ps. 25. 9. The upright he will teach and guide in his way, Ps. 32. 8. And so David, Thou wilt guide me with thy eye: As a father by his eye doth signifie what he would have his sonne to do; so it is here, God doth by his Word either particularly or generally give him a call to every action or condition. And he that was at first wrought upon by Gods calling, doth still look after this Starre to guide him. He that undertaketh any thing, doth any thing without Gods calling, doth as the devil tempted our Saviour, Set himself upon a pinacle, and throw himself headlong. For this is the onely support and encouragement under any assaults, that all is done in obedience to Gods calling us. Thus Moses, Isaiah, David, Jeremiah and Paul, with many others, could never have conflicted with all the difficulties they did, had not this calling of God supported them; so then as at the first our spiritual life came by a divine calling, thus the progresse also is by Gods calling; we do not iutrude our selves, we go not before we have a com∣mand, we hearken to what God will say; and hence it is that the devil doth so industriously imitate the voice of God; Even as the beast Hyena imitates the voice of the Shepherd to destroy the sheep; he pretends revelations from God, he brings forcible interpretations of Scripture; so great a matter is it especially in doubtful things, and where the Scripture hath onely general rules, and not particular determinations, to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of Sa∣tan, or our own desires. How many are apt to take the dictates and desires of their own spirits for the voice of God! As the old Prophet counterfeited a voice and call of God contrary to what the other Prophet had received, and thereby seduced him: It is then a sure and good sign of a called person, in all matters, specially of great concernment, to regard Gods calling, whether it be to do or to suffer: whereas wicked men they never attend to Gods directing of them, Gods guiding of them, never pray about this, or study and meditate about this, but as their lusts and profits carry them, so they run headlong.

Page  599 Fifthly, He that is effectually called is greatly thankefull even to astonishment*and ravishment, for this high mercy vouchsafed to him. The grace of the Gospel wheresoever it doth powerfully work, doth so soften and melt the heart, that praise and thankfulness is the great duty he studies; Oh how shall I be thank∣ful! and the Lord inlarge my heart to praise him! What am I that God should call me! Oh, Why is my Soul so barren, so streightned! Why doe I not runne all over? Why doth not my heart boil within me? Thus a man partaker of this heavenly calling is affected; See the Apostles aggravation of Gods mercy here∣in, 2 Tim. 1. 9. Who hath called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according 〈◊〉 his own purpose and grace. The Apostle melts himself into ravish∣ing thoughts about this, The God that needed me not, yea the God that was so greatly offended, and provoked by me, he out of his free grace cals me from sinne and danger, from all that eternal wrath I was obnoxious unto; and there∣fore Blesse the Lord, O my Soul, and let all within thee blesse his holy name. You may observe the Apostle Pauls disposition, when he hath occasion to speak of Gods converting and calling us out of the former lusts of sinne he lived in, he is so transported that he never satisfieth himself with a thankful remembrance thereof; Wherein men are affected, and what they account extraordinary mer∣cies, there they will alwayes be speaking; Their Meditations are sweet and bur∣ning about it. So that it is a sure sign thou wast never yet effectually called, if thy soul many times break not out with joy and thanksgiving herein. Shall out∣ward mercies, safety, wealth, honours, so work upon thee, as we see they did on Haman, and shall it not much more prevail with thee to be called to be Gods friend, and Gods favourite? How should all the afflictions and discou∣ragements in the world be easily subdued, when this consideration prevaileth with thee!

Sixthly, He that is thus called according to Gods purpose, he is careful not to apo∣statize or to go back again into that course of sin and wickednesse, out of which he was*called. As a man called out of fetters, and a dark dungeon, by all means takes heed that he be not thrown in there again. The Israelites were called only bo∣dily out of Aegypt, not in their affections and heart, when they so desired to make themselves a Captain, and to return thither again; yea when they loath∣ed that admirable Manna, and desired their former Onyons again: Oh it is a sign thou wast never powerfully called! who for a time indeed hast given over thy beastly lusts, wilt commit them no more, but not long after dost return to the practice of them again; This makes it worse with thee then if thou hadst never begun to cleanse thy self. Our Saviour hath a notable Parable to this pur∣pose, of a man out of whom a devil was cast, but he returned again, and brought seven worse with him. Mat. 12. 45. Oh look to this then you who formerly have given some hopes of being called, you heard a voice within you, saying, Doe no more such abominable things. You begun to pray, to weep, to be greatly affected; oh the conflicts that your souls formerly felt, but now all streams are dried up, you are as barren, as prophane as ever! Know to thy terror and trem∣bling, thou hast cause to examine whether the mighty power of God hath not yet called thee. No man that putteth his hand to the plough and looketh back is sit for the kingdom of Heaven: Our Saviour did alwayes attend to this, to lay such principles in those that would be his Disciples, that they might never revolt: Therefore he told them of the worst afore hand, and daily instructed them about the danger of not persevering: He that is truly called doth stand immoveably like a rock, Like Mount Sion that cannot be removed; and indeed there is great reason for it, Can he be better then he is? Doth not God make up all things to him? Are his former lusts and the pleasures he took in them equal to God, and the enjoyment of him? Was there not bitterness and gall even in the sweet∣est honey of any of his sins? But at Gods right hand there are rivers of pleasure for evermore.

Page  600 Lastly, He that is thus called doth keep up his heat, and comfort himself with that hope of eternal life, and glory to which he is called. Hence Paul saith, He presseth forward for the mark of his high calling. As a man in a race attends not to any * directions, but fixeth his eye upon the crown that he runneth for. Thus Paul did, No earthly or worldly temptations do hinder him; but his heart, his thoughts, his affections are set upon that eternal glory: Therefore we are said to be called to this hope. A man never hath true hopes till he be thus called. Alas, What be∣comes of wicked mens hopes? they place their hopes in outward greatnesse, in outward power, in outward glory; now these perish like the grasse of the field: When Death comes, when Judgement comes, then all his hopes perish: but the righteous hath hope in his death; and it is a lively hope, death and the grave cannot quell it. We say, If it were not for hope the heart would break; but what hope hast thou who livest in thy sins, not forsaking of them? Will the world, will thy lusts, thy carnal friends be any longer a comfort to thee? Oh it is much that every wicked man doth not tear himself, and roar out with horrour, I have no hope! God is offended, Christ did not give himself for such as I am, living in, and loving of my sins. Till I come out of this estate, there is laid up no hope for me. Go then and conclude with thy self, I have no hope as yet but about worldly things: Oh miserable man that I am! There is but a step between me and death, between me and hell, and yet I look not out; but when thou art called, then thy hopes will surely be established.

Use of Exhortation. Are the called of God thus qualified? then what matter * of Lamentation is here, to see so few such among the number of those that are outwardly called? Where is the man of whom we may pronounce all these things, that he readily obeys, that he honours this calling. that he desireth to follow God in all things? Who is the man that doth this? Now the truth is, the tempations of sin and the world, they call so violently, so pleasingly the contrary way, that it is no wonder if so few follow God. But to perswade you to refuse these Dalilahs alwaies tempting of you,

Consider first, What sin and the world cals you to, s i not to those waies that end in death, in hell? You will see your folly, when you finde it too late, when the arrows of Gods anger have darted through your Liver and Heart, then you will howl and cry out; Oh how have our sins deceived us! Even as Jal called in Sisera to her house, Come in my Lord, Come in my Lord, but it was his death. Do then any lusts call to thee and invite thee? say, Whether will these lead me? Whether will they carry me?

2. Consider these pleasures of sin that invite thee, they are but for a moment, they are but a blaze, though they may tickle for a while, yet the smart and tor∣ment will endure for ever. O Atheists, if we believe not these things! And oh fools and mad men, if when we do believe them, we labour not to escape them! As Saul spake about David, Can the son of Jesse (saith he) make you great or ho∣noured. why then do you follow him? Oh remember, Can the devil, can the world make you for ever blessed? Can they put on robes of glory? Doth not God on∣ly these things for them that obey him calling?