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  103

SECT. III. A Discovery of many false or unsufficient Signs of Grace, which carnall men support themselves with.

SERMON XIX.

Church-priviledges no Sign of Grace.


ROM. 2. 28, 29.
For he is not a Jew that is one outwardly, &c.

THe Apostle his scope is in this latter part of the Chapter to convince the Jews that they are equally in a sinfull and wretched condition with the Gentiles, and therefore need Christ and Justification by his grace, as well as they. And that he may the better awaken them herein, who were apt to dote upon empty and vain priviledges, he takes this me∣thod to cure them.

First, By way of concession, he reckons up the priviled∣ges they enjoyed, which are divers.

1. Thou art called a Jew; Whereas the people of Israel formerly were called Is∣raelites, after the captivity into Babylon they were called Jews, and in this they gloried, as among us some do in the name Christian.

2. He is said to rest in the Law, viz. as given by God to that Nation, which he had not done unto any other people, and he useth an emphaticall word; They made the Law that to them which Christ should have been, a rest to their wearied souls.

3. Thou makest thy boast in God: The Prophet speaks of glorying in God as a duty: but here it is a sinne, for they boasted of him in a carnall, factious way, as their God; Even as the Heathen boasted of their God, (or as the Turks of Maho∣met,) or as the Apostle of some Corinthians, who when others were for Paul, o∣thers for Apollo, these were for Christ, that is, they set up Christ in a way of party and faction against others.

4. The Jew did know Gods will, for to him it was revealed.

5. He discerned the things that were excellent, or profitable, or differentt, or Page  104 convenient, for all this the word will bear, if he was instructed out of the Law, as it were catechized.

6. He was confident of being a guide to the blinde, a light, an instructer, a tea∣cher, and that he had a form of the truth and knowledge of the law. The Apostle doth not take 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in an ill sense, as in Timothy; for the Jew was not confident that he had but a form only, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is here as much as 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in another place, a method and way to inform others about the truth. Thus far is the conces∣sion of their Priviledges.

In the second place is the aggravation of their sinne from these very preroga∣tives, partly because they sinne against knowledge and conviction, partly because their circumcision and the like visible signs of Gods favour did not at all profit without holinesse, yea, an Heathen and a Jew without this became both a∣like.

Hence in the third place he amplifieth this assertion by a distinction of a Jew, and of circumcision, for it was the hardest Paradox and most offensive to a Jewish ear, that could be, to say, circumcision did not profit: for they so glo〈…〉 in it, that they were wont to say, it was equall to all the Commandements, and that heaven and earth could not stand if there were not circumcision. The Apostles di∣stinction is like an Axe laid to the root of the tree, it takes away the foundation of all their glory. There is (saith he) a Iew outwardly, that hath only circumcision of the flesh, and this is not really and properly a Jew, he is not a Jew, nor is this circumcision saith the Apostle. 2. There is a Jew inwardly, a circumcision in the heart, in the spirit, and this is a Jew, this is a circumcision, and his praise is of God, not of man; God regards such only. Now this is also very applicable to the times of the Gospel, he is not a Christian, that is one outwardly, nor is that Baptism which is of the flesh but that which is inwardly and of the spirit. No visible signs or du∣ties in Christianity profit, if a man walk not according to Gods Word.

Although men are very prone to rest upon Church-priviledges, and visible signs or*duties therein, yet they are no testimonies or signs of the truth of grace.

This point deserveth a lively discovery, because it's the only prop and evidence of most Christians for heaven; And whereas in other things they would judge a title without reality to be a miserable comfort, to be titularly rich, and really poor. To have the name of health, and to be indeed diseased and pained, herein they would judge it mockery; yet in religion they are strongly contented to have the name and repute of Christians, baptized persons, professors of Christs doctrine, and yet know not the power of thse things, being like dead corpse with sweet flowers strewed upon them. Therefore to explicate this necessary point consider some things by way of foundation.

As first, We finde it such a sinne that generally the people of Israel were guilty of.* Insomuch that the great contestation between the Prophets in the Old Testament and the Israelites living then, between Christ and his Apostles and the Jews living then, to have been upon this very particular. No Minister, no Sermon, could take them of from this, that because they had the externall priviledges, therefore they did belong to God, and were the children of Abraham, Jer. 9. 25, 26. see how the Prophet reckons the Jews because uncircumcised in heart, among the Moabites and Aegyptians uncircumcised in flesh, and God would punish them both alike: Now compare this with Ier. 7. 4. see how Paradoxall this was to the Jews, they cryed, The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord are these. They thought such visible symbols of Gods presence would preserve them, though their lives were unreformed. Thus Isa. 1. The Prophets whole scope is to let them know, that all their sacrifices and religious worship were but so much detestable abomination unto God. Thus it was also in the New Testament, how excellently doth our Savi∣our discover this point twice, Mat. 3. 9. Joh. 8 33. where the Pharisees whole support was in their carnall priviledge, and our Saviour sheweth notwithstanding all this, they were of their Father the devil. Thus Gal. 5. Circumcision and uncircum∣cision,Page  105 that is, the Jewish dispensation, and the Gospel dispensation of Ordinances is made nothing, but a new creature; and certainly if Christ himself be no more to be born after the flesh, much lesse may any visible Ordinances which are not e∣quall to Christ. Thus you see it was the Jews sin.

But secondly, If you look over all Chrstianity, you shall finde this the Catholick and*universall sin: whereby Christ and regeneration with powerfull godlinesse is whol∣ly neglected, and a fleshly carnall confidence in the titles and Ordinances of Chri∣stianity established; so that all those expostulations which the Prophets and Apo∣stles had in those daies may be justly revived again, seeing those sinnes are revived: What circumcision, and sacrifices, and the Temple were to the Jews; the same are baptism, the Lords Supper, and frequenting our religious Assemblies: and as the Jews in the midst of all their duties, had wholly laid aside Christ and sanctification, o have generally Christians now. Thus as the Apostle argued severely, you that rest in circumcision, that rest in the Law, you are fallen from Christ, you are igno∣rant of the spirit, the same may be said to formall protestants, you have turned all Gospel-dispensations into externals meerly; and so are Christians of the flesh and not of the spirit: Ye are of Agar and not of Sarah, ye are not children of the Promise; Your being is not by the meer word and power of God, all power in nature, being in this respect but a dead womb, but only by carnall and externall badges, Rom. 9. 6, 7. see how admirably the Apostle discourseth of this in the Jews case, and applies it to Christians. Oh therefore take heed of this epidemicall di∣sease, be not dammed or troden down in this crowd.

3. To demonstrate the connaturality of this sinne, observe how ingenious the fleshly*mindes of men have been by arguments and opinions to encourage a carnall confidence in these externals: for what other practicall use can be made of those Popish do∣ctrines that the Sacraments do conferre grace ex opre operato, from the very work done and application of them to the soul; and this made Melancthon wish the very Word Sacrament were removed out of the Church, because as people then were informed, they thought in the elements of a Sacrament, some inward supernaturall force lay couched to save them, and therefore they took these Sacraments as men would medicinall potions, that by an inward physicall power produce their effects: by this means all visible Ordinances were turned into meer idols. They attributed that to baptism which belonged only to Christs bloud, they would give that glory to a Sacrament which belonged only to Christ, and made as much of the linnen wherein Christs body lay, as the body it self.

In the next place, while we give this explication, you must by way of caution * take heed of two other extreams, And that is,

1. To cry down the very being and use of these externall Ordinances, as being but forms, and the spirituall frame of the heart is made all in all. Thus there are blasphemous Hereticks that cry down the Sacraments, the Ministry, yea, the Scri∣pture it self, yea Christ himself, as being but formes, and we ought to have com∣munion with God immediatly. But it is elsewhere to be shewed, that Christ hath appointed an externall form of communion in his Church, which consisteth in read∣ing, and preaching of the Word, Administration and receiving of Sacraments, Praier, and Church-government, and Censures, with a Ministry from him, all which are of a perpetuall institution for the substantials of them, and to cry down these forms, which God hath appointed as means to beget and encrease grace, which are in the gracious use of them a solemn acknowledging and owning of God, is a Beelzebub errour as I may so say, and a false doctrine in the first magnitude: we are therefore to sail between these extreams neither resting upon Externals in re∣ligion, as enough without Christ, and regeneration, or on the contrary abolishing and neglecting the use of them.

2. We are also deficient when although we doe not cry down formes wholly, yet we*give too little to these institutions of Christ. As we may give too much to baptism and the Lords Supper, o also we may give too little; in former times of supersti∣tion Page  106 the first sin was common: In these latter times, I fear the latter doth over-flow. The Remonstrants, they say, that the doctrine which the Protestants deliver about the Sacraments is valdè suspecta greatly suspected by them of falshood. And the Socinians they make them only commemorative of some former mercy: they deny any reall exhibition or encrease in grace thereby. Hence it is their expression, As, say they, when the Israelites in eating of the Paschall lamb, made thereby a commemoration of their deliverance out of Aegypt God did then bestow no new mercy on them, only there was a remembrance of the old; so in the Lords Sup∣per there is no new conveyance of any grace, but a remembrance of an old former mercy, but this cometh too short: for those Scripture-expressions 1 Cor. 10. The bread that we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ &c. and in the very words of the institution, Take, eat, this is my body, do evidently prove more then 〈◊〉 meer commemoration. The Scripture when men are apt to rest upon Sacraments, speaks contemptibly of them; Your Fathers ate Manna and died, Circumcision pro∣fiteth nothing, he that eateth unworthily eateth damnation to himself: but when it re∣gards the institution and proper use of them, and not the subject receiving them, then it speaks gloriously. These things are premised by way of explication and caution.

In the third place let us consider why people are so apt to rest upon these as comfortable testimonies, and there are severall reasons. *

1. Because they being duties commanded, when performed, that gives some ease and comfort to a naturall conscience. To be circumcised was Gods command, To be ba∣ptized, to hear his Word, to receive Sacraments are duties injoyned by God, so that the very neglect of them is threatned with condemnation; now then when we are diligent to discharge all these, a mans conscience hath not so much to ac∣cuse him and condemn him, and we are apt to take any partiall ease and comfort of conscience for a generall acquittance.

2. We are apt to rest in these things because they are easie to be done: Whereas the way of mortification is troublesome and tedious to flesh and bloud: Hence it's cal∣led *crucifying the flesh and cutting off the right hand, and pulling out the right eye. The Jews would bring multitude of sacrifices, They would kill many bullocks and rams rather then any lusts. They would not sacrifice themselves or their lusts, yea, they proffered their first-born, when yet they would not leave their sins. Oh beloved, the duty of mortification and powerfull godlinesse is an hell to flesh and bloud: Christianus est perpetua naturae violentia, and therefore few, set on that; whereas to come to Church, to hear, to pray, these are done without much trouble. Every naturall man had rather perform a thousand religious duties, then crucifie one pleasant or profitable sinne: Oh then see upon what sandy foundations you build all your hope, whose lives are not sanctified, ho are strangers to the power of god∣linesse, yet stay your souls with externall religious duties.

3. Therefore men rest upon these because they are ignorant of the work and necessi∣ty of regeneration: You see Nicodemus an old man, much versed in the religious * worship of God, yet though a master in Israel, knew not this thing. Oh it's to be feared there are many great Scholars, there are many ancient, noble, rich Christi∣ans, that yet are strangers to the whole inward work of Gods Spirit by way of change upon them. The Apostle cals circumcision of the heart, circumcision made without hands; and so baptism and the Sacraments in the heart, which are not visi∣ble in the eies of the world, make us esteemed before God. Be not then idol Chri∣stians that have eyes and see no, hearts and understand not the inward vertue and spirituall efficacy of Christ in his Ordinances. It was Chrysostomes complaint in his aies, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉&c. Alas, how are all the grave and holy Or∣dinances in the Church of God turned into meer outsides and formalities! Thus in Popery when reall holinesse began to be persecuted, then they set up a deal of su∣perstitious holinesse, holy Images, holy Altars, holy Temples, holy vestments, and in the mean while, true, reall holinesse was scorned: and here is too much Page  107 of this Pope in the belly of many formall Protestants.

4. They put confidence in them because they are ignorant of the righteousnesse by*faith in Christ. There is no man but the godly that looks for any justification, but by the works he doth, and so they turn the Gospel into the Law, and make the duties and administrations under the Gospel, what the Jews did the legall admini∣strations in the Law: You cannot have a clearer instance of this then in Paul, Phil. 3. he giveth in a catalogue of many priviledges, and he saith, he thought them great gain to him once, but after he came to the knowledge of the righteousnesse by faith in Christ, he counted them dung and drosse, and desired to be found in Christ only. The Apostle useth an excellent expression, Heb. 4. 18. speaking of the godly and their consolation in the Covenant of grace, he saith, they have fled for a refuge to lay hold on this hope. Every godly man is in as much fear of his sinne, whose guilt by vertue of the Law pursueth him, as among the Jews the man was that had slain another: Now with what haste, trembling and desire he fled to the City of refuge, the same doth a godly man use in laying hold on Christs righteousnesse: Alas, his duties, his religious worship, it is not a City of refuge: If therefore thou knewest the necessity of Christ, and what righteousnesse by faith means, thou couldst not rest in these externall duties.

5. Therefore men rest on them because they look on these duties as satisfactory and*compensatory to God. We think by these ordinances we have made amends to God. It is Bellarmines doctrine, that praier as it is laboriosa and poenalis, undergone as a laborious penance, is compensatory to God. Now though the doctrine of Popery be renounced, yet unregenerate persons abound in the practice of it.

Lastly, Therefore do carnall people rely on these, because they mistake the nature of*them. They look upon them as those things which will of themselves make them acceptable to God, notwithstanding any preparation or spirituall managing of them: whereas setting aside the Word of God that works the first grace in us, all other duties they are but as cloaths or garments to the body, which cannot warm or heat a dead body; but if there be life in the body to heat them first, then they will encrease the heat. And thus it is here, if there be spirituall life in thee, and thou put it forth in these duties, then these duties will corroborate and strengthen it more.

We come to the second generall part of the Doctrine, to shew, That the ha∣ving*and enjoying such seals is not sign sure enough for our being in the state of grace.

And first That they are not, may appear, in that the Scripture makes it not only possible for such to be damned, but doth foretell even actuall damnation; and that to*the greater part of such persons. Thus Mat. 7. some condemned at that great day are brought in thus pleading, Have we not eat in thy presence? The Jews will say so in respect of their sacrifices, the Christians in regard of the Lords Supper, so that it is a wonder to them that they are cast out of Gods presence, and howsoever in the parable of the great Feast the Master of the Feast spieth out but one that came in without a Wedding garment, for which he is apprehended and cast into utter darknesse, yet that doth not imply few only will be without a Wedding garment, though at the Feast; for in that one is represented an universall or multitude; Therefore our Saviour makes this inference, for many are called but few are chosen, which would be a conclusion wholly repugnant to the premise, had not a gene∣rality been intended in that one; so our Saviour in another place, The children of the Kingdom shall be cast out; who are those children of the Kingdom, but such that were partakers of all the Ordinances of the Church called the kingdom of heaven? Oh then it is in vain to pleade that, which many damned in hell have been partakers of. And whereas if true grace be in any man, though in the least de∣gree, he can never be excluded; none can say, Lord did we not truly fear thy Name, reform our lives, walk spiritually? and yet God bid them Depart, he knoweth Page  108 them not. And that this sad portion will be to the greatest part of those that have enjoyed those pridiledges, appears by that fore-mentioned, Many are called, but few are chosen, which are not so much words, as thunder and lightning. Oh then think not these an Ark sure enough to keep thee in the deluge of many waters.

2. The Scripture reckons the condition of a man with these priviledges, and one with∣out*them in the same condition if there be not holinesse. Thus as you heard the Pro∣phet Jeremiah makes the uncircumcised in heart, though circumcised in flesh, all one with the worst of Heathens, the Moabites and the Ammonites. And to this pur∣pose also the Apostle in the verses before, Shall not thy circumcision be accounted uncircumcision, if thou keep not the Law. So that as long as wickednesse is in thy life, thy Baptism doth no more advantage thee then the Heathens no-Baptism. It shall not avail thee, thou hast called upon Christ, thou hast so many times received the Sacrament. Hence it is, that the Prophet cals the wicked Princes and Gover∣nours, though of Israel, yet Princes of Sodom and Gomorrah, and so may the Mi∣nisters of the Gospel call prophane and wicked men, ye men of Scythia or Ame∣rica, for this badge and mark of Christianity is not regarded by God, if not ac∣companied with true godliness; so the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 11. This is not to eat the Lords Supper, it was as if they had not received at all.

3. The Scripture goeth higher, and doth not only make them equal with Pa∣gans,* but God professeth his abomination of all their religious service, and thy wic∣kednesse is more noisome then all thy Religion is well-pleasing; See Isa. 1. how God expresseth himself concerning the Sacrifices and new Moons of the sinfull Israelites, He hated them, they were an abomination to him, it was like cutting off a dogs head; Oh how contrary are Gods thoughts, and thy thoughts about the same religious duties! The Prophet Haggai also Hag. 2. doth by an excellent instance shew, That if a man be unclean and sinful, his holy services do not take off from his uncleannesse, but his uncleannesse defiles them. Oh therefore consider, that thou hast many dead flies fallen into this box of ointment, and therefore cannot be savoury unto God! Thy swearing tongue doth more offend God then thy praying tongue doth please him; Thy sins will cry louder then thy prayers, yea God will answer thee according unto the abomination of thy Idols; he will answer thee not according to the duties thou art doing, but thy sins thou hast committed; he doth not look upon thee as one praying or hearing now, but as one unclean, dumb or vicious in some week-day. Oh why do your consciences lie in such a deep sleep in your bosoms! Why doth not that Serpent in thy breast begin to hisse and sting thee at the hearing of these things?

Lastly, These are so farre from being signs without grace, that they will be aggrava∣tions*of thy condemnation. As in some Countreys when their malefactors were to be burnt at the fire, they poured oil and pitch to encrease their torment the more, so will every Sacrament, every prayer, every Church-priviledge, make hell the hotter for thee. Woe be to thee Corazin and Bethsaida, Tyre and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah, Heathenish persons, and that in the highest way of wickednesse shall have lesser torment then they; and so mark the Apostle here speaking of the Jew, he saith, that by the letter and circumcision he did transgresse the Law, How was that? Even by those Priviledges and Ordinances he was made the greater trans∣gressour.

Now the Reason why these are not sure signs, is, Because no promise of Justification or Salvation is made meerly to the use of them. Our Saviour saith not, He that is*baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth and is baptized. Thus as God com∣manded the Jews to circumcise their foreskin; So God promiseth as the mercy of all mercies, he would circumcise their hearts to love him. Look then over the Scri∣pture, thou canst not finde any one promise of pardon, or eternal glory to thee, because baptized only, because a Christian only, because receiving a Sacrament only, unlesse there be also renovation in thy life and conversation. I grant that Page  109 because of the very external profession of Christ, and his wayes, though there be no internal change, many Church-priviledges belong to them, and Ministers are bound to dispense them to them, if they be without scandal: I grant also, as may be fully proved out of this Text, that there is an external and internal Co∣venant, a man may have a Church-holinesse, a visible sanctity, whereby he and his children are intituled to Ordinances, although all this while there be no true grace in that man. But now we are speaking of the promises of Justi∣fication and salvation, and these are made to none but to the truly godly. Therefore till this be, thou art only in the outward Temple, not in the Holy of Holies. Oh therefore that these things were more considered by you: Suppose you hear God speaking from Heaven to you; Why are you weeds in my garden? Why are you Tares in my Wheat? Why are ye Chaffe in my Floor? Yea, think thou seest an hand-writing on every wall of thy House, and post of thy doors, like that of Belshazzars: Thou art numbred and weigh∣ed, and found too light: All thy religious profession, Ordinances, are found too light.

Use of Exhortation, Let this truth be to you what the Jealousie-water * was to the suspected person, let it not be said to you as to that Church, Thou hast a name that thou art alive but art dead, or as to another Church of some that said they were Jews but were not. Thou saist thou art a Chri∣stian, thou art baptized, thou hast Ordinances, but whose works are those which thou dost? who is the Father of that wickednesse, barrennesse, neg∣lect and contempt of true holinesse? Can the same Fountain send forth bit∣ter streams and sweet? Shall that tongue that hath here prayed to God af∣terwards blaspheme? and consider the Apostles Argument in this Chapter; The Jews wicked carriage caused the name of God to be blasphemed among the Gentiles; Pagans, Papists, Hereticks blaspheme the truth, because of your evil deeds. How necessary is it that where we are orthodox we should 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 also? Salvian a zealous Father against the wickednesse of Christians, attributing all the grievous Judgements of God then upon the Church to their impious manners, he brings in the Heathen also blaspheming Christ, and laying all the fault here, that Christians were no better: Si Christus sancta docuisset, Christiani sanctè vixissent; If Christ (say they) had taught holy and godly things, then certainly the Christians would have lived holy lives. Take heed, for the condition of all Heathens and Pagans will be more tolerable at the day of judgement then yours.

Page  110

SERMON XX.

Gifts and Parts in matters of Religion, no sign of Grace.


MAT. 7. 22.
Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, &c.

OUr Saviour in this verse, and that going before, removeth two foundations that believers are apt to build their hopes upon,

The First is a bare name, and profession of Christianity, without the real power of it, whose insufficiencie we have already discovered. Nomen sine actu & officio, nihil est, said Salvian, speaking to this purpose, Christianity in a prophane life, is ornamentum in luto, a jewes in a dunghil.

The Second weak and rotten foundation is in my Text, and that is, Gifts, and e∣minent abilities bestowed upon Christians: and these seem to be a very strong Pillar, and Prop. But our Saviours assertion about the unsoundness of it, is very terrible, and yet very necessary to these times: wherein men are like trees that spread out into many branches, but have little or no root.

1. In the words you have the description of their confidence, in that phrase, Lord, Lord: which argueth not onely vehemency, but boldness, and as if accustomed fa∣miliarly to call on God as their God.

2. There is the ground of their confidence, Have not we Prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out Divels, and in thy name done many wonderful works? Those Expositors that think they lyed in saying thus, as if no wicked men were made par∣takers of such wonderful gifts of the Holy Ghost as here are specified, attend not to other places of Scripture: neither is that dispute necessary, whether they were true miracles that they wrought? or did indeed cast out Divels? For seeing these Gifts were given for the good of the Church, and not of those that enjoyed them, there is no ground to deny the truth of their miracles. Only observe how they lay much upon this, That all they did was in Gods name, which they thrice repeat: That is, at the command of God, having authority from him, and by his power administred unto them.

3. This is aggravated by the number of those who shall be in this frustrated con∣dition: Many, not One or Two, but Many shall say. Lastly, Here is the time when the weakness of these foundations will be discovered, In that day, viz. at the great day of judgement, when all hidden things shall be discovered: Implying, that they li∣ved and died with great confidence that God was theirs, but never were convin∣ced of their deceit therein till it was too late. In the next place you have Gods an∣swer to them beyond all their expectation, illustrated by the free and open decla∣ration of it.

  • First, Then will I proess unto them: The word hath several significations: here it denoteth a publick and solemn declaration.
  • Secondly, The matter declared, I never knew you. That is, approved of you, Page  111 and loved you: no, not all that while I gave you those abilities, and spirituall Gifts.
  • Thirdly, There is the effect of this declaration: Depart from me, with the cause, Ye workers of iniquity: because they wrought iniquity in the Divels name, as well as miracles in Christs name; therefore they must depart.

Doct. Although Christians are very apt to rest upon Parts, Gifts, and great abi∣lities in Religion, as a sign of their interest in Heaven, yet without a godly life they*will prove broken reeds.

At the day of judgement when the fiery trial shall be, all this painting will melt away. For the opening of this point, let some things be considered by way of Ex∣plication.

First, There are parts and abilities of two sorts: The one Humane and Natural,* the other Divine and Spiritual. Natural parts, are all those excellent abilities ac∣quired by industrie, and through the discipline of others, though even those Natu∣ral gifts come from God also. In this kind the Heathens have wonderfully excelled, and many of the Fathers converted to Christianity, were before their conversion, admirable in humane learning. Qui dedit Petrum Piscatorem, dedit & Cyprianum Rhetorem. He that called Peter an illiterate Fisherman, called Cyprian also a great Rhetorician. Thus Tertullian, Origen, Austin, Hierom, and others, came into Ca∣naan, the Church of God, loaded with Egyptian gold, I mean filled with humane learning: so that, that foolish assertion by some in these daies, that God never sanctifieth humane learning, expungeth at once all those glorious Lights out of the heavenly Firmament. It is true indeed, take these natural endowments in the heart, while carnal, they work a sinful pride, and tumour, against the simplicity of Gods waies. Hence Austin spake of himself, Dedignabar esse PARVULUS, I scorned to become like a little Child, and to admire the Scriptures. Thus also Bradwardine, called the profound Doctor, usque ad stuporem, even to amazement, professeth of himself, That when he heard Pauls Epistles read, he was much disspleased, because Paul had not Metaphysicum ingenium, a Metaphisical wit. And certainly when Na∣tural parts come like Hagar, to quarrel with Sarah, Gods Truth, then throw her out of dores; otherwise if subordinated, they are great helps. But secondly, there are spiritual Gifts, such as the Spirit of God doth more immediately work in his Church, of which the Apostle speaketh largely, 1 Cor. 12. Now the Spirit of God is the Author of two kind of gifts; the one Sanctificantia, Sanctifying and saving, such as Faith, Hope, Love, Repentance: The other Ministrantia, or Gifts of Ministration, because they are wholly for the service of the Church: The for∣mer are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the latter 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, though the Scripture doth not alwaies fully distinguish these two words: the Schoolmen by Division call the former Graces, Gratos nos facientes, making us acceptable to God; and the other Graces, Gratis datae, freely given. But this distinction is first absurd, because coincident; for those graces which (they say) make us acceptable to God, are also freely given: And se∣condly its false; for true Grace is called Grace, not because it maketh us gracious and acceptable to God, but because it floweth from the grace of God. Now these gifts of servcie in the Apostles time, were more immediately vouchsafed by the Spirit, and more universally, insomuch that its made a promise, Mark 16. 16. 17. Even to every believer, that great signs and wonders should follow him: Thus the Church of Corinth, 1 Cor. 14. by reason of her eminent and various Gifts, seemeth to be like the Queens daughter, all in gold and curious needle-work. In these latter daies God also doth bestow upon men, not immediately, but mediately in the way of study and use of means, many spiritual Gifts, such as the gift of Prayer, the gift of Preaching, great assistance in the exercise of these, with inlargement of af∣fections therein: and these are much admired as arguments of their holiness and piety: but the Apostle told the Corinthians, he had a more excellent way to shew them then that of Gifts, which was the way of Grace.

Secondly, The end of all these spirituall abilities, is to profit the Church with them.*Page  112 They are not for vain ostentation, disputes, and applause in the world, but merely to edifie others. 1 Cor. 12. 7. The gift is given to every one,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to profit with. So then these gifts must not be put under a bushel; these Talents must not be Hid in the earth, or wrapt up in a napkin, as if it were a dead thing. It is ingeniously observed by Theophylact, That when men were dead, they covered their faces with a napkin, and laid them in the grave: Thus they did to Christ, and to La∣zarus: and thus the unprofitable servant did to his Talent, as if it were a dead thing and buried, he would make no improvement of it at all. And well did Au∣stin call idleness, the burial of a man while alive: Paul, even then when he foretels his death shortly, That he must be a Sacrifice for the truth, he yet sends for his Parchments, imploying that little time he hath in study. Now when I say gifts must be improved, I mean the gifts of private men in a private way out of chari∣ty; of publick men, by office in a publick way out of Authority: for that gifts are not enough to entitle to a publick office, appeareth by the examples and commands in the Epistles, and in the Acts of the Apostles, where all that publickly imployed their gifts, besides their own qualification, had also authority, and office given them by Superiours, whereby they were sent to do their work: And as they are not to be negligent, so neither to use them for applause, or to get esteem, or make parties. It is a sad corruption in us that we affect gifts more then graces, as you see the Corinthians did, for which Paul reproveth them, because by their gifts they were more admired and applauded: Hereupon they also had many followers, and truely this City of London is become much like Corinth: as she gloried in light and knowledge, as she abounded in schisms, and parties, one for one, and ano∣ther for another: as her publick meetings were come to great confusions and dis∣orders, and as they minded disputes, but neglected the true power of Grace, thus is it with London at this day.

In the next place let us consider, Why Believers are so ready to lean upon these? To take Gifts for Graces, Enlargements and Assistances for San∣ctification.

First, Because these do exceed the common way, and ordinary course of Christians. Men so qualified and furnished, seem to be as much above ordinary Christians, as * the call Cedars above the low shrubs: The Pharisees, how scornfully did they speak, This people which know not the Law, are cursed. How apt is a man, be∣cause he can pray excellently, discourse upon many controversies in religion, to un∣dervalue those that cannot: Seeing therefore that these are in an higher form of Christs school, and to the name and Title in knowledge of Christianity, they have su∣peradded many other Talents, is it any wonder they are confident of their good estate? We may read that in Austines time, it was a general received opinion, That every Christian, though he lived wickedly, should at last be saved. This Doctrine was so universal, that Austin was forced to oppose it with a great deal of fear and modesty. They did not hold with Origen, That the very Divels themselves should be restored, nor with others mollifying Origens opinion, That all men whether Christians or Infidels; nor as a third, That all Christians, how damnably soever erring in matter of Faith, shall be saved; but thought it most reasonable, That all right be∣lieving Christians should find mercy whatsoever their wickedness was. Austin, En∣chir. ad Sanc. saith, those that hold so, Humanâ quadam benevolentiâ sibi falli videri. And if the name and profession of Christianity may sway so much, what then may these more excellent and unusual workings of Gods Spirit upon men? wonder not therefore if you see a man that hath better gifts then another, more knowledge then another, have also more confidence in God then another. Not that indeed he hath grounds, for its better to speak one word with Grace, then five hundred with meer Parts and abilities; but onely self-love doth blind our Eyes, and deceive our Hearts, so that we do not judge Scripture-judge∣ment.

Secondly, A second reason of carnal confidence herein, is, because it is, very diffi∣cult Page  113 to know when our duties are performed by assistance meerly, and when by Sanctifi∣cation also. In prayer it is hard to discern when its the Gift of prayer onely, and when its the Grace of prayer also; for these things are judged by the Spiritual man onely; he is said to judge all things. But now an unregenerate man, though a∣bounding in these gifts of Gods Spirit, yet because he is altogether carnal, he can∣not make any spiritual discerning of these things: but as sensual bruitish men, they argue God loveth them, and that they are in the favor of God because he blesseth them with wealth, and outward prosperity. Thus men of parts and abili∣ties in religious things argue; if God did not love them, if he intended to damn them, he would never give them such knowledge, he would never give such assist∣ance, but this is a meer delusion. Oh there is as vast a difference between thy Du∣ties performed through assistance meerly, and through Sanctification, as is between sweet Grapes and wilde Grapes.

Thirdly, Therefore we do take these for sure signs, because hereby is demonstrated Gods power in us, and we are ready to take his presence by power, for his presence of Grace.* When we perceive in our selves a greater strength then our own, we argue that God is with us, not onely providentially, but graciously, whereas these two are separable one from another: God was with Saul by way of assistance & power, when he gave him another spirit, but not by way of gracious inhabitation. There is no question but Christs power was with Judas in his miracles, as well as with the other Apostles; but with Judas was onely a presence of power, with the other Apostles, a presence of power and gracious Sanctification: so then, God may be much seen by his as∣sistance in thy Duties, in thy Prayers, in thy Preaching: but his presence in morti∣fication of sin, and vivification to righteousness is far more admirable. It is true, the times of the Gospel, and of its Truth is in Scripture, proved by this argument, because many wonders and signs were done amongst them; for so it was promised, That Miracles should abound in the time of the Messiah: but these are no sure de∣monstrations of the Spirit dwelling graciously among us. So then diligently consi∣der thus, Thou findest God much with thee: thou feelest thou couldst not do such things as thou dost; but here is no solid ground of comfort, unless thou discover∣est a further powerful work of his Spirit, which is in giving thee an holy, humble, believing, and self-denying spirit. Oh its far more comfortable to find Gods power melting thy heart for sin, quickening thee up to holiness, then to finde ten thousand enlargements in holy performances: It is better to see and feel God in thy conversation in the waies of mortification, then in any solemn Religious duty.

Fourthly, Therefore we rest on these, because we distinguish not between that*which is Spiritual in the object, or matter we do, and that which is Spiritual in the manner how we do it. As for Example, The Pharisees, many things they did were Spiritual for the object matter: Thus their prayers, their reading and expounding the Scriptures, were spiritual imploiments, but take them for the manner how they did it, which was to be seen of men, to advantage worldly interests; and no Publi∣cans, or Harlots were more carnal then they, so that the proper stream and chan∣nel, wherein all their spiritual defilement did empty it self, was in their religious duties, so that they were most carnal, when they seemed most Spiritual. Jehu also is a clear instance, if you respect the outward matter; his reformation from I dola∣try, his establishing the worship of God, all this was wonderful Spiritual; but withall consider, that his aims were meer State-Policy in all he did, and so he was very carnal: consider therefore of this more then thou hast done: it may be thou wast never more sinful; corruption did never more discover it self then in thy Spi∣ritual abilities and imployments. Paul saith of some, That they preached Christ out of envy, and others may do it out of worldly ends: now because the Duties are Spiritual, shall we say these men are Spiritual men: No, they are sensual, corrupt, and worldly: and this is certain, when the Divel cannot perswade men to corrup∣tions in vicious and prophane courses, then he becomes like an Angel of light, Page  114 and seduceth them to carnal distempers in spiritual duties.

Fiftly, Therefore are we prone to rely on these, because they breed esteem in the hearts*of others. Many times Disciples that are followers, they set up a Doctor or Tea∣cher as if he were an Angel: they place him among the Cherubims and Seraphims: they say by his gifts and abilities, their souls have got a world of good: they have cause to bless God that ever they saw him, or heard him: Now these solemn ac∣clamations from others, do work great confidence in such a mans heart. I make no question but a man of abilities may do good by them, although he himself be naught; otherwise the Apostle would not have rejoyced that some preached Christ out of envy: neither would Christ have remitted his Disciples to the Scribes and Pharisees Ministry as he did, when he bid them hear them as long as they sate in Mo∣ses his chair, deliver true Doctrine from the Scriptures. Now this being so, it is hard to perswade our selves that when we have been a means to bring in some Elect ones, we our selves should be as Reprobates: hence it is that the Apostle, Gal. 4. presseth men so to walk, That they may have approbation from God and their own consciences, rather then from others, when it is said, That those who convert others to righteousness, shall shine like the stars in heaven, that is to be understood taking in other places of Scripture, viz. If they be Godly, and walk in all the waies of God themselves, as well as teach others so to do.

Thus you see the reasons why people are apt to take all their evidences for Heaven from these uncertain grounds; now let us demonstrate the insuffi∣ciency of these to give any sollid support: and this will appear severall waies.

1. In that all these glorious abilities are, and may be consistent in the same sub∣ject at the same time, with prophane and ungodly waies of iniquity. Now can you call that light which agreeth with darkness? Can that be righteousness, which may consist with unrighteousness? You heard, He that is born of God sinneth not, be∣cause of that seed in him. Then certainly this is not that Spiritual seed, if we have, or may have at the same time an habitual inclination to evil. It is true indeed, sancti∣fying grace is in the same subject with the reliques of co rruption; and a Godly man hath darkness in him as well as light: and we know in Philosophy, that Con∣traria possunt simulesse in gradu remisso, ac dum sunt in pugna, contraries may be together in a remiss degree, and while they are in conflict: But in these spirituall abilities and gifts, sin may be in its dominion and prevalencie with full quietness and case. Hence our Saviour calls these Prophets, these wonder-workers, Work∣ers of iniquity. They were so at that very time while they did all these: alas, it was no advantage to cast the Divel out of other mens bodies, while he had full possession in their own hearts. Know then if these abilities were Grace, they would expel at least in some degree, all those lusts and exorbitances that are in thy life. Experience telleth us, that it is no new thing for men to pray zealously, to perform duties admirably, and yet to go from these duties to the committing of sin against the light of nature, as well as of the Scriptures. Did not Judas practise secret the every and injustice, notwithstanding his publick ministry? It is true, ma∣ny times God in a just judgement, when men live prophanely, doth at last take away their Talents: they cannot pray, they cannot preach as they have done; but they become very sots: even as in the black Coal-mine there sometimes arise such damp vapours that put out all the light, yea, and the breath of those men that are in it; but for a great while they may keep their Talent, and it not be taken a∣way.

2. These cannot be a sure testimony for our comfort, because they are not proper and immediate effects of election, which is the first round in that ladder of all spiritual mercies. If I have justifying faith, I may have sure confidence, because this is a fruit of our ordination and appointment to eternal life. But we cannot say thus of these parts and abilities; for the Text saith, Many shall say, have not we prophesied in thy name, yet Christ shall reply, I never know you: but there shall not one godly man Page  115 say at the day of judgement, Lord, was not I elected? was not I converted? Did not I repent, believe, mortifie sin, &c? And Christ say again, Depart, I know you not. If therefore our calling and election might be made sure by these gifts and a∣bilities, there might be some hope, but that cannot be; therefore how fully doth our Saviour speak to this purpose, when the Disciples came rejoycing to Christ, telling him, That the Divels were subject to them, and they could work all kinde of wonders, he replyeth, Rejoyce not in this, but that your names are written in heaven: where you see how prone we are to rejoyce in that which affords no good ground of comfort, and withall, That if we had the parts and abilities of men and Angels, yet if we had not our names written in heaven, we were in a miserable condition. Oh then say, This is but the fruit of the Common Love of God: the sons of the Concubine may have this, as well as the sons of the true wife: Abraham gave Ish∣mael some gifts, but they were not such as Isaak had; therefore pray that God would give thee tokens of such a love which is vouchsafed unto his own people in a peculiar manner.

Thirdly, These cannot demonstrate certainly The faith of the Elect Paul calls it, our good estate, because God in the bestowing of these gifts, doth not at all look to the good of him that hath them, but to the good of the Church. There is this difference between saving Gifts, and Gifts of service: saving Gifts, such as Faith, Repentance, &c. are intentionally given to the good of him that hath them; and although a man by these may edifie others, yet that is not looked at primarily; but now in these gifts of service, ability to pray, preach, and confer or dispute, these are given not primarily for the good of him that hath them, but of the Church in general. As a nurse to a great mans child liveth upon dainty fare, not for her own sake, but the childs sake: Now then thou shouldest thus argue, Is God much in assisting of thee in praier, in any duties with others? say, Surely the Lord did thus assist me, not out of any respect to me, but he had some child of his there to be refreshed, to be enflamed, or quickened by me: Hence for want of a godly life, many that have helped others to Heaven, they themselves are thrown into Hell; they are Torches, which while they give light to others, they themselves are con∣sumed.

Fourthly, That cannot be the true and proper good which may be turned into evil. Bonum est, quo nemo male uti potest, Grace and godliness cannot be used to an e∣vil end, because its part of Godlinesse to rectifie the end, the shew of Godli∣nesse indeed may. But now all these abilities are so indifferent in their nature, that they may be used well or ill: As Austin said of riches, That God doth some∣times bestow them upon wicked men, to shew they are not good in their own nature; a∣gain sometimes on good men, to declare they are not bad in their nature. Thus it is of all parts and abilities, they sometimes are bestowed upon good men, sometimes upon bad men, to teach us, That as the subjects are in whom these be, so may they be imployed: But we cannot say so of Grace: no wicked man hath any true saving Grace in him: Why then do you encourage your selves with that which a Judas may have? one roaring in hell may have? And certainly these abilities and Gifts are in more persons made a snare to evil, then an occasion to good. Satan is more busie to Tempt such: when the Divel first assaulted Eve, it was by the Serpent, as an instrument that was more subtile then all the beasts of the field: Thus afterwards he worked, when Satan seduced others by Ter∣tullian, and Origen, he was a Divel in the Serpent. When thy Liquor boyleth, then look to take off the Scumme: and so when thy Abilities and Enlargements are efficacious and fervent, then take heed of froth and vanity. Ornari abs te Diabolus quaerit, said Austin to a great scholar yet unconverted to Christ. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 13. and 14. speaks of other carnal effects of spiritual abilities, as to puffe up and inflate, to make divisions and severall parties in Gods Church, to bring all into confusion and disorder, therefore these cannot be grace.

Lastly, The Apostle maketh a man that hath all these abilities, yet if without Page  116 grace, to be no more then a tinkling Cymball, that may make a pleasant noise for the while to the ear, but presently passeth away, 1 Cor. 13. 1. And thus are all men of parts and gifts, they may be like a pleasant Song to others, but they them∣selves have no benefit: Men may preach well, expound Scriptures, write excel∣lent Comments, yet for all this, be but like Harps or Viols, that give a melodi∣ous sound to others, but perceive none of it themselves; Whereas true grace is pro∣fitable to him that hath it, it watereth his heart in whom it is, and makes it fruitfull: It beginneth an heaven in this life, yea, strangers and others, are not able to enter into his joy.

Use of Exhortation, Not any longer to look upon these gifts and abilities, as the most excellent things, but be perswaded there is a better way, and desire that. This assistance is like the rain that God vouchsafeth to the bad, as well as to the good: Only thy condemnation will be the more terrible, by how much thou wert the moresecure of heaven, and yet didst miss it: those men urged they had prophesied and wrought miracles in Christs name: but alas, the prophane and ungodly man, what will he say? We have been drunk in thy Name, unclean in thy Name: how absurd and blaspheming would this be? Therefore minde the things of mortifi∣cation more then of parts and assistance; say now, I know God will and doth love me indeed, when he makes me fruitfull in all holinesse.

SERMON XXI.

Fully clearing that there may be affections and sweet motions of Heart in holy things, which yet evidence not Grace, nor accompany Salva∣tion.


HEB. 6. 9.
But (beloved) we hope better things of you, and things that accompany Sal∣vation.

THe Text hath an adversative respect to the verses precedent, as the first word (But) plainly denoteth: For it is put in by way of mollifying and softening, after those severe and terrible expressions the Apostle had used before. At the 4. verse there is an Hypothetical Proposition, containing Beneficium Dei, The goodness and mercy of God: and Maleficium hominis, The ingratitude of man, with the sentence or judgement upon him. I shall not now speak to that con∣troversal matter, which is usually debated by the learned upon these words: you may briefly observe the mercies of God bestowed upon this supposed Apostate re∣duced to two heads

First, That which concerneth his intellectuals, in that expression, Enligh∣tened.

Secondly, Those that relate to his Affectionate part: and herein are most par∣ticulars, viz. tasting of the heavenly Gift, partakers of the Holy Ghost, tasting of Page  117 the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come. These things (God willing) shall be more distinctly handled when we shall discourse of the Grace of Conversion, and the counterfeit of it, (and then we shall vindicate the Orthodox interpretation from all corrupt oppositions) In the Second place, you have the Ingratitude, or wickedness of the man abusing these mercies, and that is, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which may be proved of an universal Apostacy, not a fall in some particular gross sin, Toti, in totum, de toto, as Junius: which mistake made the Novatians deny any Church-reconciliation to lapsed sinners, and which made the Roman Church delay the receiving of this Epistle into the number of Canonical. In the Third place, there is the heavie doom of such, It is impossible to renew them again,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the word is in the Active sense, and signifieth there are no Tea∣chers, no Doctors, no Ministry, no Sermons can ever instrumentaly reduce them to godliness: and the Apostle saith, it is impossible, not absolutely to God, nor in that sense, as it is impossible for every man by nature of himself to recover out of his sins, seeing that it is common to every natural man: but here he speaketh of a special impossibility. Therefore its impossible from a special decree of God, where∣by he doth threaten to such abusers, and contemners of his Grace and mercy, a to∣tal substraction of all his favours, and goodness from them: even as a branch once grafted in, and afterwards disjointed is hardly capable of a second coalition. Now this the Apostle

1. Aggravateth from the cause, because they crucifie the Sonne of God afresh, viz. as much as lyeth in them: if they be restored, there must be a new Christ, or a new oblation of Christ, Those that fall in Adam Christ repair∣eth, but if a man fall off from Christ, and reject him, there is no further reme∣dy appointed by God, but such are in as hopelesse a condition as the Apostate Angels.

2. He illustrateth by the earth, drinking in rain, yet bringing forth thistles, which is near to cursing. Now having thus wounded them, and powred salt in their wounds, at last he powreth oyl to supple them, telling them that he doth not think they are these Apostates, partly because his judgement is they have bet∣ter things then these, partly because God is just and faithfull, and will therefore perfect the good work begun in them: My Text is the first mollifying expression, wherein you have,

1. The Apostle his charitable judgement expressed by 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which accord∣ing to the subject matter is sometimes to be understood of such a divine faith and hope that cannot be deceived, sometimes of such a certainty as we have by charitable construction and morall prudence, and in this sense it is taken here.

2. There is the object of this charitable judgement, better things, that is, better things then those fore-mentioned benefits (though seemingly very glorious) which hypocrites may have, and at last fall away; better then to be meerly inlightned, better then to have a taste only, and some sweet affections in holy things, and for better explication sake, he addeth, and things that accompany salvation,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, harentia saluti, saith Austin, that cleave to salvation, that cannot be disjoyned from it: such things as whosoever hath, cannot but be saved; implying that those * benefits though they were good things and gifts of Gods Spirit, yet were not neces∣sarily accompanying salvation.

That although affections and sweet motions of heart in holy things are much relyed upon as evidences of grace and salvation, yet they are not indeed any true signs or in∣fallible testimonies.

This Point needeth a powerfull and a wary discovery: Therefore for explica∣tion sake, let us consider what religious affections and motions the Scripture de∣clareth to be in some, who yet are not truly regenerated. The known and famous instance is Mat. 13. 20. where the third kinde of hearers is said to receive the word with joy. This is tasting the good Word of God, finding some sweetnesse Page  118 and power in the Ordinances, yet that this hearer was not hereby regenerate is plain, partly because he is said to have no root, partly because he is opposed to the good ground, that is, the good and honest heart (what is said by Arminians to these things, hereafter shall be discussed) so Joh. 5. 35. you have a plain instance of some that had light and heat in them, yet not godly. Ye did for a season rejoyce in Johns light and Ministery, so that men who shall at last be thrown in utter darknesse, may yet for a while rejoyce in the light of Gods word: Thus Herod put∣teth it also out of all question, Mar. 6. 20. for he heard John gladly, and the motive was religion, for it's said he feared or reverenced him, because he was a just man. I look upon this point as fundamentall in practice; and which if true, may strike like an arrow into our hearts, and therefore have brought undeniable places of Scri∣pture to assert this truth; Affections in holy administrations with delight and joy, may be in those who yet have no true grace: I will instance only in another affe∣ction, and that is sorrow and grief about sinne, even this may be in a man unsea∣soned with grace, Mat. 27. 3. it is expresly said of Judas, he repented himself and confessed I have sinned in betraying the innocent bloud, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the word is properly used of that sorow, grief and care, which is in the affectionate part of a man: Ahabs humiliation, 1 King. 21. is so great, that God taketh notice of it; Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself? The Israelites how often were they in their humiliations and mournings for sin? though these laud flouds were dried up again, insomuch that Gregory did well compare them to the grashoppers which make sudden leaps from the earth, as if they would fly to heaven, but presently fall down upon the ground again. Take one place for many, Psal. 78. 34. They sought him and they teturned, and they enquired early after God: Great ex∣pressions! Do you not think God like that Father in the Parable will presently kisse them, put robes upon them, prepare a fatted calf for them? No, vers. 36. marreth all. Neverthelesse their hearts were not stedfast within him. Now it's remarkable, as the Scripture cals these actions, repentance, humiliation, returning and seeking after God, giving the name of grace to them, because they have the outward lineaments of grace, so also the Scripture attributeth pardon of sin and forgivenesse unto them, vers. 38. he being full of compassion forgave their ini∣quities, Numb. 14. 20. God upon Moses his praier, saith he had pardoued their in∣iquity: now this cannot be a true and proper pardon of sin. for Heb. 3. it is plain, All these perished because of their unbelief. Therefore when the Scripture saith, that upon such humiliation and repentance God doth pardon sin, especially speak∣ing of an whole body of people, it's to be understood in a particular sense thus, for not punishing them at that time, but either quite taking away, or at least dif∣ferring the temporall affliction, but is still abiding them, for no unconverted man, truly and properly ever hath any sin pardoned him: so that as to a godly man re∣penting, God taketh away eternall punishment, but lets a temporall chastisement sometime abide, so to the unconverted repenting, God doth sometimes take away the temporall, but causeth the eternall punishment to continue. By all this you see the Scripture speaking of some, as rejoycing in that which is good, and mourning for that which is evill, whereupon their sins are said to be forgiven, that yet all this while are men whose hearts are not right within them: and this is no wonder, see∣ing they are said to beleeve, Mat. 12. they beleeve for a season, yea, Joh. 2. 23. un∣converted men are said 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to beleeve in the name (which some make the highest expression of beleeving) now according to the collustration of their understandings by faith, suteable are the motions of their affections in their heart. As they beleeve, so they rejoyce, mourn, desire, and delight in things be∣lieved.

2. These affections we may for distinction sake call temporary affections in holy*things. As our Saviour cals it a temporary faith, so may we a temporary joy, a temporary mourning, a temporary 〈…〉ht in good things; Not as it were of the essence of these affections to apostatize at ast. It is true, faith is called temporary, Page  119 because when hot persecutions arose it presently withered, but had no such storms or tempests come, an house that is built upon the sand only, will not fall. It is the opinion of a learned man, Conradus Bergius, praxis Cathol. pag. 105. that it is not likely that any one dyeth a meer temporary beleever, but that at least when he cometh to die, seeing he must part with worldly comforts, which he alwaies loved more then God, he then fretteth and murmureth against God, and so ex∣tinguisheth that temporary faith and affections to God; or else resigneth himself up unto God, and of a temporary faith there is suddenly by the grace of God a saving faith; let the Authour see to the making of this good: We call it not tem∣porary, as if it were necessary there should be Apostacy from these. Certainly the foolish Virgins were such Christians as did live and die with temporary faith and affections to God, that had a lamp and shining, and so some oil, else their lamp could not shine, but not such store as would hold out: so then, these affections and motions of thy heart, may be all the pillar thou leanest upon, when yet many damned in hell have gone as far.

3. Christians with these temporary affections do not constitute a third kinde of be∣leevers*between converted and unconverted, but are in the state of unregenerate per∣sons. And the work upon the godly and those temporaries differ not only gradual∣ly or in duration, but essentially and specifically. They are then foolish Virgins, They are those that build upon the sand; They are the thorny ground: notwith∣standing these great promising hopes: So we say, that we can neither call them re∣generate nor unregenerate, nor yet make them a third kinde, but that they are like the Embrio, proving abortive, which we cannot call either a man or a beast, nor yet make it a third kinde, for it's only an inchoate, imperfect being: but by the Scripture we may surely enough place them in the rank of those who are not members of Christ, and not being united to him cannot be said to partake of the divine nature, and therefore must be in a carnall, sinsull temper, and are not like a tree rooted that sprouteth and flourisheth, but like some branch of a tree put in∣to the ground, that may sprout for a season.

4. The affections and motions that such may have in holy duties, may be upon se∣verall*grounds;

As in the first place, The novelty and the strangenesse of the doctrine may much af∣fect and delight: And this may be the reason why they rejoyced in John Baptists Ministery: What went you out for to see (saith our Saviour) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: some strange, new sight; and thus while the doctrine of the Gospel is new, it hath ma∣ny admirers. Commonly in the work of the Ministery, a new Minister is much delighted in, while his parts, his abilities are new, men hear with joy: but through custome, their affections do abate: and such kinde of hearers I fear London hath many: We may say unto many, What go ye out to see rather then to hear. Therefore by the way take notice of what a frail ground many go upon; who say, since they left our Congregations, our Ministers; have gone into new waies of do∣ctrine, they say, they have found more comfort, more sweet affections then ever; What argument is this? All novell things will affect thus, and after use and cu∣stome in those waies they are in, and they go further into more new waies, upon new changes, they will finde new affections.

2, Men may be affected with the doctrine and truths of Christ, as it is comforta∣ble*or sad matter; without any respect to a spirituall operation. The Gospel is cal∣led 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, glad tidings, or good news, now a man may be affected in hearing this gracious counsell of God to save sinners discovered, as he would be about any State or Common-wealth good news wherein he is much concerned, and all this is but knowing Christ after the flesh; or else the sadnesse of the matter, the very History of Christ recorded by the Evangelists, may abundantly make a man mourn to see how the innocent and righteous one was put to death, meerly to satisfie the lusts of proud and carnall men; and thus as Austin saith of himself, when he read the story of Dido, he could weep over her dead, when he could not Page  120 weep for himself dead in sin; so thou maist be affected about Christs death, as it was a sad passion, and never be affected with those Scripture-Arguments that are propounded. In this sense, Christ forbad those women, weep not for me ye daugh∣ters of Jerusalem, but weep for your selves.

3. The hearers affections may be much moved, or stirred at the Ministers abilities,* because of his parts, cloquence, elocution, affectionàte utterance. These things may much delight you, and you think this is a sign of grace. The Prophet Ezekiel was like a pleasant and sweet tuned instrument unto his hearers, whereupon God saith, they come in Troops, and sate as his people, but yet were not reformed. Austin while a Manichee was wonderfully affected with Ambrose his preaching, because of his eloquence: and certainly Rhetoricall elocution, especially that which is about the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the affections of men may much prevail: Insomuch that one Countrey made Hercules who was so famous for strength, the god of elo∣quence, implying thereby how strong that is, to turn and change man; There∣fore examine your hearts in the ground of your affections; The learning of the man may please your intellectuals; The powerfull utterance may satisfie your af∣fections, but all this while you are no more wrought upon in a spirituall way, then the Roman auditors were, when they heard Tullies Orations, veritas Christiano-rum pulchrior est Helena Groecorum. The truth of Christianity is fairer then the Graecians Helena: we may love a choice truth, as a man may be enamoured with a fair face; fine head notions may produce some affectionate heart-motions: but what symptome of grace is in all this?

4. Even corrupt lusts in men, such as pride, ambition, self seeking, may produce * great affections in holy duties, especially in publike administrations, where others may admire and applaud; Thus the Pharisees in their publique Expositions of the Law, and teachings in the Synagogue, as also in their praiers, might be much af∣fected from those carnall motives provoking of them; many times the more ex∣cellent a Sermon is, the more carnall the heart of a Preacher may be: Thus a pri∣vate Christian in praiers with others, the stronger his invention may be, the weaker his grace may be, and those expressions which seem excellent to others come from a root very bitter to God; Even as in a Meadow full of grasse and pleasant flowers, if you digge to the bottom of them, there is nothing but noy∣some earth; so if you go to the Fountain from whence all these expressions, ve∣hement expostulations, that are used in praier, do flow, you may see it's a poi∣soned fountain. As on the other side, an heart contrite, and full of grace before God may not be so admirable in expressions: As they say, the ground full of mines of gold is very barren for grasse. Do not then go away rejoycing from a duty, be∣cause of thy affections meerly in an holy duty. Let not this comfort thee, that thy soul was heated within, but consider whether the ground upon which all these are built, be solid and enduring.

Lastly, A mans affections may be inflamed not only from such base and unwor∣thy considerations, but even from the goodnesse and excellency of spirituall things;* yet because not radicated, not throughly changed in the bottome of the soul, all these affections be insufficient: and this was the cause of that joy and delight in those we instanced in, viz. The sweetnesse and excellency of holy things; They tasted the good Word of God, not the good worldly aims and respects by the Word of God, yet all this is in a vanishing unsetled way. They are affected with the world as well as with God, and thereby it is they miscarry: so that all affe∣ctions in holy things, and that because of their excellency, is not presently a cer∣tain * note of one who shall ioherit glory unlesse deeply rooted.

The grounds why Christians are apt to rely upon these are,

First, Because hereby we seem to have attained the end of all knowledge and abi∣lities in religion. For seeing all supernaturall revelation of heavenly truths is for practice and operation: if we finde some love and joy and affection both to the re∣vealer who is God, and the matter revealed, we are prone to think we are now Page  121 arrived as farre as we ought to be. Indeed it will be easily granted, for a man to hear, pray, or beleeve the Word of God without some inward affections thereup∣on, that he may be judged a cloud without water, a tree without fruit: but when this oyl runneth from the head to the inferiour parts, then may we not say All is well. But Balaams consideration of the good estate of the righteous, wrought in him affections to have such an end as they have.

2. We are prone to make these all in all, because affections are sensible and we feel them moving of us: Now we are affected and confirmed most by things of * sense. The reason why a godly man findeth it so hard to live by faith, is because we have so much of sense in us, and it is no mean work not to judge according to what we feel. Therefore that man who is in a false way, whether of doctrine, worship, or life, and yet findes comfort and consolation therein, is in a very sad and dangerous condition. The devil transforming himself into an Angel of light, of joy and comfort, doth the most incurably destroy. It is no good Argument I have comfort in this way, therefore it is of God, but let it be first discovered to be of God, and this will breed sound comfort.

Lastly, Therefore are we apt to rely on this most, because this doth look most like grace; Of all false signs these do come nearest. Temporaries are affected al∣most with the same feeling as the truly godly are, insomuch that some have thought (though falsly) the difference is only in degrees: so that it is easier to convince men of the unsoundnesse and weaknesse of all signs rather then of this, although men have therefore the greater cause to fear herein, rather then any where else.

Therefore in the next place consider, Why these affections are not to be looked upon as such an Ark that will save, when the deluge shall overflow.

And first, These motions argue only Gods spirit, working in thee, not dwelling in thee. Now the godly they are the temples of the holy Ghost, and being members of Christ they are animated with the spirit of Christ not only assisting but informing. The Spirit of God in a temporary is like an Angel appearing in some outward shape or body; there was an eating, a drinking, but the Angel was only a form assisting not informing that body: therefore the bodies they assumed did not live, neither were they nourished, or could grow by all the food they took, but the Spirit of God is in a godly man like the soul in the body. I do not speak of a personall union, as if they made up one, as the soul and body do one man, but of a morall union, or a union mysticall by faith, with a constant inhabitation. A woman may have many expressions of love from a man, but yet not presently such as give a conjugall affection, Therefore thou canst draw comfort from those things only which argue the spirits inhabitation, not the Spirits motion or operation.

Secondly, A second ground is in the Text, There are better things in the way of Heaven then these. Now we can take comfort in nothing but that which is the best work for its kinde, of Christ in us. There are better things then praying, hearing, with some affections; and that is a renovation of the heart, a deep radi∣cation of grace in thy soul: Whereas now if we speak of the saving graces in the godly, it would be absurd to say we hope better things, then truly to be∣leeve in Christ, really to mortifie sinne. It is true, there may be a graduall bet∣tering of them, but not a specificall.

Lastly, (because more of this in another place) They are not things that ac∣company salvation: If a man had the highest degree of temporary faith, temporary joy, yet no promise of justification or salvation is made to such a person: There are great promises made to the beleever, to him that rejoyceth in the Word of God, but they are not to be understood of a temporary faith, or a temporary joy: he that goeth no further then these, hath no promise in all the Scripture to comfort himself by: whereas the least degree of true faith and sincere joy, may with all boldnesse apply the promise.

Page  122 Use 1. of Instruction, How remote they are from all hopes of salvation, who go on in a rode, or round of the duties of religion, without the least savoury, affection in them! You whose hearts never thought of sinne, and were troubled, of whom God cannot say at any time as he did of Ahab, Seest thou how this man hum∣bleth himself? You, who pray, hear, and finde no more rellish in these things then in the white of an Egge, as Job speaks, Oh what a gulf is there between mercy and you, that neither mercy can come to you, or you to mercy! We have removed our Idols out of our glasse windows, but there are still too many Christian Idols, in our Pews and Congregations, who have eyes and see not, hearts and understand not, nor rejoyce in any thing that is good. Oh how un∣excusable is it, that thy soul hath found a sweetnesse, a savourinesse in the world, in lusts, and none in God! what is it because God is a wildernesse, and the creature a pleasant fountain?

Use of Exhortation, To take more diligent heed to thy self th•• ever: It may be thou hast no better evidences for heaven, then what th third kinde of hearers, then what the foolish Virgins have had: Oh how terrible will it be, when God shall say to you, I looked for better things, then that joy, that sorrow, that faith. I know not how alate we are all become frozen and very barren; many inchoate and imperfect workings there are upon mens hearts, but few have a solid, and tho∣row change wrought upon them. It's the opinion of Bergius before-cited, that the greater part of Christians are but temporaries, and it is to be feared that this opinion is too true: for if you do regard what little rooting grace hath in mens hearts, how weak their pulse beats that way, how strong their affections are to the world, and the things thereof; we Ministers may fear, that the greatest part of our seed is sown upon thorny ground. Oh therefore that this Sermon might be blessed by God to make some Embryo to become a perfect man, some that are almost, true beleevers, true rejoycers in good things, even altogether such: Oh this sluggishnesse and lazinesse, whereby people rest contented with some flashes of joy and sorrow, in the matters of God, will devour like a roar∣ing Lion.

Page  123

SERMON XXII.

Shewing that from Judgements, Opinions and Di∣sputes, arguments of the truth of Grace cannot be drawn.


ROM. 14. 17.
For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the holy Ghost.

THe Apostle is a Casuist in this Chapter, and handleth that case of Consci∣ence, which did much trouble the Church at that time with much prudence and moderation. The dispute was about the observation of some legal rites, Whether this was abrogated by evangelical liberty, some were for the affirmative, some for the negative, and the contest groweth so high, that they make the summe and substance of Religion to lie in these things. Now the Apo∣stle his scope is to rectifie them by several excellent rules, some whereof are to use our liberty alwaies with respect to our weak brother, To judge charitably of one another in these differences, not unseasonably to trouble the Church with our particular opinions, but to keep our faith to our selves; in which respect Cypri∣an said, God would have us confiteri fidem, rather then profiteri, He confesseth it that is demanded and called thereunto, he professeth that doth it ultroneously, without any invitation at all. And in my Text the Apostle giveth an excellent rule. The marrow and essence of godlinesse lieth not in these things, though ye are apt to make these the pillars and foundations of Religion, yet they be not.

So that in the words you have a Proposition expressed; first Negatively, and then Positively.

In the Proposition you have,

First, The Subject, The Kingdom of God. This is in other places called The Kingdom of Heaven, not respectu loci, in respect of the place where it is, for it is exercised on the earth, but respectu modi, because it is administred after an hea∣venly manner. It doth in the general signifie that Regiment and Government which God exerciseth, either of glory in the Heavens, or of Grace in the hearts of his people; and by a Metonymy of the Adjunct for the Subject, it signifieth the Church, Mat. 13. 41. and by a Metonymy of the Effect for the efficient Cause in∣strumental, it signifieth the preaching of the Gospel, Mat. 13. 33. and by a Synecdo∣che of the genus for the more excellent species, it signifieth that peculiar time of renovation and restauration which was made in the Church by Christ and the Apostles, Matth. 3. 2. Mark 1. 14. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Hence the Kingdom of Heaven is never used in the Old Testament, but in the times of the Messias only.

Secondly, There is the attribute, 1. Exclusively, It is not meat or drink, that is, it consisteth not in the doctrinal opinions, in the different practice about these things. 2. Affirmatively and Positively, but this Kingdom of grace is in righ∣teousnesse,Page  124 an universal conformity to Gods will, in peace, viz. with others, and in joy in the holy Ghost, viz. a godly joy in the exercise of all grace, accom∣panied with the sense of Gods favour and love in the Gospel, which is wrought in us by the holy Ghost, for Joy is reckoned among others the fruit of the Spirit.

That doctrinal disputations and difference of judgements in matters of Religion can∣not*be relied upon as symptoms and evidences of Grace.

Even the strong Christian who had the truth of his side, could not prove his godlinesse from his opinion or practice in this controversie, because the Kingdom of God consisted not in these things. The Apostle speaketh the like in another disputation, that did much exercise the godly, 1 Cor. 8. 8. about eating things offered to Idols. But meat commendeth us not to God, for neither if we eat are we bet∣ter, neither if we eat not, are we the worse. The Greek words are emphatical, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, we do not abound, we have done no such great matter, neither 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 do we fall short of others, as if we were not so excellent. Thus also the Apostle, Heb. 14. 9. It is good (that is better) to have the heart established with grace, rather then meats, rather then Doctrines and Disputations about them; where you see Disputations and Opinions do not establish, are not the staff of a mans heart; Grace only is so. Yea the Apostle in that grand controversie which did so much exercise the Church at first, viz. the Disputation about Circumcision, and the observation of it, speaketh manifestly, Gal. 6. 15. In Jesus Christ neither Circum∣cision or uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a new creature. Let not therefore men for a particular opinion which they conceive truer then others, boast them∣selves, appropriate godlinesse only unto that way. Although we are very prone to do so, yet the Scripture discovers such arguments to be only broken reeds.

For the Explication of this, consider these things; *

First, That true and sound Doctrine is the foundation of godlinesse. There cannot be a godly life where there is not a true faith; hence the Scripture makes Rege∣neration to consist in Illumination in the first place, Ephes. 4. 23, 24. There must be knowing before there can be doing; you must not therefore extend this to all Doctrines even fundamental in Religion, as if the believing of Jesus Christ to be God, believing the Scriptures to be the word of God, were nothing, no without faith it is impossible to please God. Therefore to suppose a man godly, and to be saved in any Religion or Opinion, is to deny that there are damnable heresies, which yet the Apostle asserteth. Some have coyned a three-fold piety, Judaica, Jewish, Pagana, Heathenish, Christiana, Christian; but as the gold within the Temple was only holy, so is godlinesse only within the true Church. This therefore is to be observed especially in these times, where men are thought to have godly regenerated hearts, although they pertinaciously hold fundamen∣tal errours; whereas the Apostle Gal. 5. reckoning up heresies, as the manifest works of the flesh, with other grosse sins, concludeth, He that doth these shall never inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Although therefore orthodoxy be not presently a sign of the state of grace, yet wilfull perseverance in heresie even as in adultery and drunkennesse, may make us conclude these are the fruits of the flesh. Be therefore informed, that although sound Doctrine be not necessarily godlinesse, yet it is a necessary foundation to it. Ubi malè creditur, nec benè vivitur, A good Faith, and a good Conscience, the Apostle couples together. And as the Spirit of God is called an holy Spirit, because it worketh holiness in his children, so it's also the Spirit of truth, because it guideth them into truth; and first the Spirit of truth to them, before the Spirit of holiness to them; hence the Scripture doth so often commend a sound minde unto the godly.

Secondly, There is a lawfull disputation in matters of Religion, yea it is a duty*sometimes, when the Church is unsatisfied to have points of Religion throughly discus∣sed. Thus our Saviour did use many arguments to prove he was the Messias, yea tentativè did once argue against the truth, that the Messias was not the Sonne of Page  125 David, because he called him Lord, which was only to draw out his adversaries the more. In like manner Act. 15. there was a famous Councel gathered toge∣ther, when Doubts in Religion troubled the Church, and in this Councel there was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉much disputing; so at another time we reade of Paul, that he was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, proving out of the Scripture some truth; the word signifieth by a strict comparing and knitting of one place to another. And for this reason it is that God doth suffer heresies and false doctrines to be vented, that the truth may be more resplendent, by having all rust filed off; As in times of persecutions God doth exercise patientiam Ecclesiae, the patience of the Church; so in time of heresies he doth exercise sapientiam, the wisdom and skill of the Church.

But now when we say, Disputations in Religion are necessary, and sometimes * a duty, you must bound this several wayes. As

First, In the Object matter, if it be in matters usefull and profitable. The Apo∣stle * condemneth disputations meerly upon this, because they profit not, though they do not so visibly hurt and destroy, yet that is enough, if they do not profit. Disputare is as much as to cut off superfluous branches; Now if the disputation it self be a luxuriant branch, that must be cut off. The Scripture speaks of the *acknowledgement of truth after godlinesse. All light in the understanding ought to produce heat and warmth in the affections.

2. It must be in matters revealed in Gods word. We must not prie beyond those * things that are written. The Apostle condemneth some that did 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Go a tip-toe, like a man acting in a Tragedy, and arrogantly intruding into those things he hath not seen. The Papists make a wicked Allegory of the beast that might not touch the mountain, when the Law was delivered, if it did, it was to die. This they apply to a Lay-mans reading of the Scripture; but we may better referre it to their Schoolmen, who though they were never wrapt up into the third Hea∣vens, yet write of Angels, as if they had been there.

Secondly, For the Manner, Disputations ought to be wholly in reference to pra∣ctice,*not in parties, to raise new sects, to get victory, but wholly to increase in the power of godlinesse, otherwise disputations are but like much fretting, that eat away the flesh of godlinesse, and bring it into consumption; and truly it is much to be lamented, to see how godlinesse is decayed, mortification lan∣guisheth, since so much quarrelling and wrangling in matters of Doctrine. It is reported of Bellarmine by Fuligattus in his life, Quod à studiis Scholasticae Theo∣logiae averteretur ferè nauseabundus, quoniam succo carebant liquidae pictatis. He did with loathing turn from the study of School-Divinity, because it wanted the juice of sweet piety. All Religion is practical, it is food not to be looked up∣on, but eaten and digested.

Thirdly, The Subject ought also to be qualified, one who is able and wise, under∣standing*what the true state of the Doctrine is, not a David in Sauls Armour. It's a miserable thing to see how many dispute about Universal Redemption, Free-Grace, Justification, Predestination, &c. who yet are no more able to wield those Doctrines, then a Pigmy could Goliah's Armour; we must not attempt things above our strength. With these and many the like Qualifications, Disputa∣tions in matters of Religion are lawfull; so that in all these we do not manifest a sceptical doubtfull heart; as if nothing were certain (which I am afraid is the temper of too many in these dayes) as if faith were not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a substance, evidence, perswasion and full assurance and con∣fidence.

Thirdly, It will alwayes fall out, that even in the Church of God, there will be dif∣ferent*judgements and opinions, because we know but in part, and are spiritual in af∣fections, but in part. So that howsoever God hath promised to lead his children in to all truth, yet they are no more freed from all errour, then from all sinne; and as the Spirit of God sanctifying is more powerfull in some then in others; So also the Spirit of God enlightning and directing into truth, is more effectuall in Page  126 some then in others; some are Babes, others are Men; some are strong, others are weak. And as we know in part, so being also sanctified but in part; hence by different opinions we make several factions, One is of Paul, another of Cephas. And we are apt to monopolize piety, to inclose it in such a way. None godly, but those that are of such a judgement; and indeed if we speak of fundamental Doctrines, this were lawfull, but in other matters that are superstructions onely, it is unlawfull. Thus the Papist, he makes it, De necessitate salutis, subesse Ro∣mano Pontifici. The very refusing his superiority, is made a sign sure enough of damnation.

Fourthly, There is great difference between Doctrines that are fundamental, and*others that are not so. In that they are called fundamental, it's evident there can be no salvation, if they be denied. The Scripture cals such truths 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 foundations and elements; In which sense because the Jews accounted the legal observations 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉foundations, necessary to salvation, the Apostle cals them beggarly, and elements of the world, because of their pride and ambition in maintaining of them; now there are Doctrines that are fundamental to faith, such is the Trinity, Incarnation of Christ: Others that are fundamental to holi∣nesse, and others that are fundamental to the worship; and it is a damnable thing obstinately to deny any of these. Of such opinions as these the Apostle doth not speak in this 14th Chapter, as Chrysostome well observeth; no of such the Apostle speaks, If an Angel from Heaven bring any other Doctrine, let him be an Anathema. But there are opinions that are accessaries not principles, that are not articuli or main parts of the body, and of such properly we may say, The king∣dom of God doth not consist.

Fifthly, Although it be not a necessary demonstration of godlinesse, yet it is a great*mercy of God to be orthodox, and to be kept in the right faith. Hence all errour and ignorance is described by the name darknesse, as truth is by light, to shew how dreadfull the one is, and comfortable the other is; The truth of God is so great that we ought to lose our lives for it. Yea Christs death, though as it did respect Gods justice, it was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a Propitiatory, yet as it did respect men, and the good confession of faith he made, it was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a Martyrdom. Hence are those expressions, To contend earnestly for the faith, Jud. 3. Not so much as to bid God speed, to him that bringeth false Doctrines, 2 John 10. Hence also as a glorious gift, is the Spirit of God promised to teach us the truth, John 16. 13. Yea it's made the comfortable priviledge of the Elect, that though false Prophets shall prevail much, yet they shall not deceive the Elect, that is, totally and finally; and when the Apostle spake of the Apostasie of Hymenaeus and Philetus, he addeth by way of comfort to the godly, Neverthelesse the foundation of the Lord standeth sure, knowing who is his. Blessed therefore is that man whose heart is kept in a conti∣nual fear and trembling at errors and false waies, as well as at iniquities and un∣godly practices.

Sixthly, Take this Caution in the last place, That although the life of Religion and*godlinesse lieth not in every truth, yet we ought not to despise or contemn the least truth or deny it. Paul withstood Peter to the face, in an error that did not seem so great; in Paul you have an example of zeal, and in Peter of patience to bear it; for Genus quoddam non ignobile est Martyrii, reprehensionem patienter ferre, It is a kind of glorious Martyrdom to receive a reproof patiently. Even the least truth is so precious, that Christ saith, Heaven and earth shall sooner passe away, then one iota or tittle of his word. Though truth for the matter of it may seem little, yet because it is the truth of the great God, therefore it ought not to be neglected; some have called every truth so far forth as it comes to be made known fundamental, as if a man would necessarily be damned if he did not receive it. But certainly truth is called fundamental, not from the manner of revelation, or means of knowledge, but from the nature and use of it. *

In the next place, Consider why Doctrines, though never so excellent and true are Page  127 not an infallible sign of grace. And, First, Because enlightning the minde to receive truth, is but an introduction or antecedent, and that not a necessary one to godlinesse,*it is not a constitutive part of it. Hence it is that a man may be very orthodox and knowing of the truth, yea zealous for it, yet hating the power of godlinesse in others, and refusing to reform in his own life. The Scripture makes a difference between those that know Gods will, and those that do it. Boast not then of this that thou art among the orthodox, thou hast not forsaken the truth, running af∣ter these new errors; Thou holdest the truth in Justification, about the Law of God; thou art no Arminian, Socinian or Antinomian, all this is well. But this is not plea enough for salvation, and the judgement of discussion at that great day, will not be, How much good knowledge thou hast had? What a good faith only, but what a good life also? Therefore if thou art gone no further then to the doctrinal part of Religion, thou hast no sure arguments of comfort within thy self.

Secondly, Seeing that corruption is in every part, not only blindnesse in the minde,*but contumacy and rebellion in will and affections, thou hast no full cure upon thee, un∣lesse grace hath healed thy affectionate part as well as thy intellectual. If thy spiritual eyes be open, yet hast no legs to walk in Gods Commandments, thou canst never attain to the end of the way which is eternal happinesse; so then think with thy self, if I would ever have any true comfort about my spiritual estate, I must have a plaister as broad as my sore, now not only my understanding was darkned with ignorance, errors, foolishnesse, &c. but my heart also with sinfull and corrupt affections. Therefore if the grace of God do not give me a good heart, as well as a good head, I am still undone. Hence the promise of Regeneration is not only expressed in words relating to the understanding, They shall all know God, and be taught of God, but in phrases concerning the affectionate part, I will take away the heart of stone and give an heart of flesh, and I will write my Law in their in∣ward parts. Examine then thy self, whether the grace of God converting, is as universal and extensive as sinne infecting? For as an hand of a man, or an head of a man, is not a man; so neither is any particular revelation or illumination of the minde with faith, the whole image of God.

Thirdly, Know that orthodoxy or a right judgement is easier obtained then the reno∣vation*of the other faculties of the soul. We are easier perswaded to believe the truth, then to love the truth; How many times were the Pharisees convinced of the truth, and of the light, yet they could not love it, or delight in it? And as mo∣ral Philosophy tels us, The understanding draweth the object to it, but in the will and affections the object draweth them to it; so that if a man loveth the earth, he is earthy; if he loves the lusts of the flesh, he is fleshly: but if a man understand or know that which is spiritual, he is not presently spiritual; and this is the reason, why God and Angels do Scire malum, know evil, but they cannot velle malum, will that which is evil, because the understanding abstracts from all the imperfections of the object, as it is in its self, but the object of the will draweth down the faculty to it, as it is in its self. There is also another reason, why it is easier to know the truth then to love it, Because the understanding is a meer passive faculty, and cannot refuse the object of truth, when laid before it. But the will and affections are active and re∣bellious, not necessarily carried out to their objects: and this is the reason why many a man believeth many a truth, which yet he hateth, and wisheth it were false, because the object works on the understanding irresistably. And therefore till grace come and work so insuperably and irresistably upon the will also, it never boweth or yields to God. Oh therefore say, that besides that general knowledge of the truth, and the zealous maintaining of it, there is necessary a further, more peculiar, particular, and operative way of grace upon thy heart. What is the rea∣son that you may have many an orthodox man write many learned books against errors, yet know not the meaning of those truths upon his heart? But onely be∣cause true Doctrin is not enough without a gracious alteration of the whole man, Page  128 A man may learnedly dispute for the grace of Conversion against Arminians and others, yet not feel the power of conversion upon his own soul. He may learn∣edly maintain the true Doctrine of Justification, and yet not at all be acquainted with the sweet benefit of it in himself, and so be no better then those spouts and water-pots that refresh the garden, and cause sweet flowers to grow, but they have no sweetnesse themselves.

Fourthly, That cannot be rested upon as grace, which may breed pride, ambition,*vain-glory, and such wretched worms in thee, but so many times do doctrinal disputa∣tions and great abilities in learning. The Apostle speaks of some busie disputants, 1 Tim. 4. 6. That they turn aside to vain-jangling. Now the Apostle giveth a con∣trary end and use of the Gospel. The end of the Commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and faith unfeigned; So 1 Tim. 6. 3. If a man consent not to the Doctrine which is according to godlinesse, he is proud, or puffed up. As sick corrupt bodies swell with humours. Therefore saith the Apostle, From such withdraw thy self.

Fifthly, The Devils that are damned in hell have admirable knowledge. They know and believe the things of Religion. James saith, The Devils believe and tremble, not with any faith infused by Gods Spirit into them, but from the evi∣dent conviction upon their consciences; yet the Devil for all this knowledge is an unclean spirit. Though the Devil tempt men to errors, and heresies, and athe∣ism, yet he is neither Atheist or Heretick. The light implanted in him, and ac∣quired by observation of things, prevents such darknesse and clouds upon him. Now what a goodly signe will this be to boast of, wherein the Devils doe ex∣ceed thee? The Devil hath his very name 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 from knowledge, yet that is no advantage, we may say the Devil is an orthodox Devil in some sense.

Use 1. Of Instruction, That although we are to blesse God for orthodox Churches, yet that is not enough unlesse we be holy and godly Churches. Neither maiest thou * confide in thy self, because thou art no heretick, thou art no erroneous person, thou lovest the honest old orthodox truths. Alas the Kingdom of God, of grace, reacheth further then to the understanding onely. Now if so be the orthodox indeed may not thus be self confident, how intollerable is it, when men for their heresies and false doctrines, though esteemed truths by them, judge themselves the nearer salvation! What a miserable delusion is this, to be thought the more accepted to God and endeared to him by the false wayes they walk in? Stirre up thy heart therefore, that as thou canst not abide heresies nor false doctrines, so neither canst thou endure impiety or prophanenesse. It is a shame to be able to confute hereticks by books, and not ungodlinesse by our lives, yet what La∣mentations may the godly eremiahs of this age make, to see how possessed men are with their Tenents and Doctrines, when it may be false, as if none were god∣ly, but such as are found among them, as if the Kingdom of God did only consist in their opinions, and in the mean while, the known and powerfull way of godliness is laid aside.

Use 2. Of Exhortation, To turn all knowledge and truth into practice. Take not the points of Religion, as little children do books only to look upon the gay pictures, * and not to read the matter therin contained. If thou canst tell what it is to be con∣verted, what it is to believe, what it is to be justified against all false teachers, labor experimentally to finde all these in thy own self. Would a painted fire content you in a cold winter? Would painted food satisfie your hungry appetite? No more should the meer doctrinal part of Religion, without the practical part. Alas it is a poor priviledge to say, We have the true Church, the true Ministery, the true Administration of Ordinances, if we have not also the true way of belie∣ving, heavenly-mindednesse, and mortification. The Socinians they make sport in their books with the Protestant Authors, because they call themselves the Or∣thodox, and say, We use it as a spell, thinking thereby to charm all dissentiats. Page  129 But could the Godliness of our lives, be as convincing as the purity and truth of our Doctrines, Christ would say to us, Thou art altogether fair and lovely, the chiefest of ten thousands; then would he come and sup with us: In our Congre∣tions he would manifest a more glorious and efficacious power.

Let therefore all truth be incarnated into practice, be a living definition, a walk∣ing definition of repentance: that we may learn from your lives what Grace is, as well as from books.

SERMON XXIII.

Declaring what deceipts men lye open to in judging those things to be works of the Spirit, which indeed are not.


1 JOHN 4. 1.
Beloved, believe not every Spirit, but try the Spirits whether they be of God.

THe Apostle having asserted immediately before, in the verse precedent of the former chapter, a true and sure sign of our state of Grace, viz. The sa∣ving and sanctifying operations of Gods Spirit, by which the Spirit disco∣vers it self, as the sun doth it self by its beams and heat, or as the rational soul manifests it self by rational operations: He doth in this verse regulate us in our proceeding about this sign, advertising us not to be too credulous, or overhasty in believing every thing that may seem to be of the Spirit. Where by the way you may see it's no good argument against the use and truth of signs, That men may be deluded, and think they have them, when they have them not: For the Apo∣stle at the same time saith, We know that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he hath given us, and yet addeth, believe not every spirit, taking Spi∣rit in both places Metonimically, the effects of the Spirit either real or pretended, for the efficient cause, the Spirit it self: So that in the words you have a cautiona∣ry admonition, set down

First, Negatively, Believe not every spirit: That is, every Doctrine or Doctor, pretending Revelations from the Spirit, and by consequence not thy own heart, either in Doctrine, or Consolation that may seem to be of the spirit: for although the words following argue spirit, to be meant of Doctrinal positions, yet the words going before in the former chapter, are to be understood of the operations and consolations of Gods spirit; and therefore we may understand it universally of all the works of Gods Spirit, whether relating to Doctrinals or Pra∣cticals.

In the next place the duty is set down Positively, Try the Spirits, which is to be meant thus, by the word of God: for all tryal supposeth some rule by which the thing tryed is to be examined: and this duty is imposed upon all believers, who though they have not a judgement of Decision, yet have of Discretion for their own selves.

Page  130 In the Third place you have the reason of this Examination, Because many false Prophets are gone out into the world; Many who shall boast of the Spirit, and say, It lodgeth with them: And that we may be the better guided in this Examina∣tion, he layeth down one rule as it concerneth Doctrine, verse 2. Hereby we know the spirit of God, if it confesseth that Jesus Christ is come into the flesh: which may be understood either largely, as acknowledgeing all matters that pertain ei∣ther to the person and office of Christ; so that although we may acknowledge Christs incarnation; yet if we deny his offices, we offend against this rule, and so have the Spirit of Antichristianism, as in Popery; or else more strictly, for that de∣terminate particular point of Christs incarnation; for though a man be heretical in other points, and so have the spirit of Antichrist, yet so far as it acknowledgeth this truth, it is of God. And thus Austin said, Hereticks and Schismaticks are of the Church, so far as they hold any thing that is true and good: but wherein they are divi∣ded from truth, they are divided from the Church, and wherein they are united in truth, they are united to the Church.

Obs. That a man may much delude, and deceive his own soul, about his spiritual estate, by judgeing those things to come from the spirit of God, which indeed*do not.

We may think indeed we have revelations, raptures, spiritual consolations from the Holy Ghost, when we are all the while in great delusions: this point deserveth many things introductory for Explication.

First, The spirit of God doth in and by the word, comfort, assure, or instruct the soul so certainly, that the true believer is not, or cannot be deceived. Therefore the Scripture calls it, The testimony of the spirit, and the sealing of the spirit: and it would be horrid blasphemy to make the spirit of Truth, the spirit of Falshood: Hence Faith, which is the work of Gods spirit, is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, words that signifie a sure and certain establishment: we must not there∣fore with the Papist, who commendeth doubting for humility, prophanely make such scoffing interrogations as these: one man thinketh he hath the spirit, another thinketh he hath the spirit, and yet anathematize one anothers spirit: therefore there is no certainty about our knowledge of having the spirit in us: For howso∣ever hypocrites may be deluded, and hereticks deceived about the spirit, yet those that indeed partake of the Holy Ghost, they are not deceived. It is true, this evi∣dence and perswasion cannot be made clear to another: and no wonder, for God giveth not this perswasion to assure others, but that heart in whom it is. Take we heed therefore, that because there have been miserable and sad instances of hor∣rible delusions by men boasting of Revelations, and spiritual raptures, that we fall not into Atheistical, or Sceptical thoughts about the true works of Gods spirit.

Secondly, Therefore to make you afraid herein, it is an high sin to attribute those*works which are done by the spirit of God, to impostures and diabolical delusions. Al∣though we are to Examine the spirits, whether they be of God, whether in our selves, or others: yet to make that coming from the Divel, which is indeed of God, is a sin of the greatest magnitude. Therefore take heed least that which thou sayest is hypocrisie, and dissimulation in the Godly, be not indeed true Godliness in them, and so thou do despight to the spirit of Grace. It is a great dispute, What is the sin against the holy Ghost? Austin said, Forte in omnibus Sanctis Scripturis nulla ma∣jor quaestio, nulla difficilior invenitur, it may be there is no more difficult question in all the Scripture: Yet Math. 12. 32. It seemeth to lie much in this, when a man doth wilfully, and maliciously attribute those works that are done by Gods spirit, to the Divel, as they said, Christ cast out Divels, by the Prince of Divels. Hence Mark, 3. 30. giveth the reason why Christ spake of this sin to the Pharisees, because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. It would be like boldness, said Atha∣nasius, if we should attribute the Creation of the world to Beelzebub. And howso∣ever Page  131Cajetan and Jansenius take the words Holy Ghost essentially, as if it were to be understood of blasphemy against God, and so any of the Persons, because its spo∣ken oppositely, and by way of distinction unto a sin against the son of man, yet it is more ordinarily understood of the third Person, yet not as the third Person, but as it is his proper work to enlighten or sanctifie. Therefore as we must take heed we do not embrace Diabolical delusions for the spirits Operations, so also take heed of calling the spirits Operations, Diabolical Suggestions; and this especially con∣cerneth some of Gods own children, who will not take notice of the graces of Gods spirit in themselves, but reject all as hypocrisy and falshood: know that in this thou callest good evil, and light darkness: hence the Schoolmen make despair one part of the sin against the Holy Ghost, because unbelief doth immediately op∣pose the spirit of God comforting and sanctifying of thee. Be therefore afraid how thou deniest Gods work in thy soul, this is a greater sin then thou thinkest of in do∣ing so.

Thirdly, The Divel is Gods Ape, and imitates him in all those waies or worship that God hath appointed. Hence there hath been no true way of God at any time, but * there hath also been a counterfeit way of Satan at that time. How wonderfully was Jesus Christ demonstrated to be the son of God by signs and miracles, yet our Saviour himself said, There should be many false Christs: so there are false Pro∣phets, and false Apostles, all which did boast of the spirit, and that they had re∣ceived doctrines from Christ: Some learned men say, The History of Apollonius Thyaneus with his strange wonders, was writ on purpose to obscure Christs wonder∣full signs, Salm. Tract. 2. de virtute signorum Christi. 2 Thes. 2. 2. The Apostle ex∣horteth the believers, Not to be shaken in minde about the day of Christs coming, neither saith he, By letter or word, as from us, nor by the spirit. Some there were that told the Church they had Revelations, and secret illuminations of Gods spirit about this: 2 Cor. 11. 13. There are false Apostle transforming themselves into the Apostless of Christ; and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an An∣gel of light. Thus wheresoever that Christ or the Spirit is in the Church of God, Satan hath his juglings and cosenings: and therefore as God is said to have his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, deep things, so have they the depths of Satan also.

Fourthly, These delusions of Satan may be, and are as large as the works of Gods*spirit. The spirit of God, is the spirit of Truth, and leadeth into all Truth: Now Satan hath his delusions about Doctrines: hence come all those Heresies in the Church of God: As Christ hath his Apostles, and Pastors in his Church, To build up in the most holy Faith; so the Divel hath his false Apostles, and his Instruments of darkness. Again the spirit of God is our comforter, and joy is a proper fruit of the Holy Ghost: Now the Divel by delusions and suggestions, can fill the heart with much consolation: hence he is called an Angel of light. Now light in the Scripture, signifieth not onely Truth, but joy and gladness: whence have those joys and consolations flown, which have been in those that have been manifestly in Satans waies, but from Satan? Again the spirit of God doth perswade, and im∣bolden the heart by believing against all discouragements whatsoever. Thus the Divel also doth imbolden, and harden a man in a false way, that he hath no fear at all. Hence the Divel is said To fill Ananias his heart: that is, as learned De Deiu sheweth by a parallel place out of Ecclesiastes, obfirmed and made his heart audaci∣us: so that as in the Godly there is, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so in deluded men there is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Their Spirits and hearts are raised, and fitted for bold∣nesse to any false way.

Lastly, The spirit of God doth foretell things that are to come: And this is proper∣ly to Prophesie: and this the Prophets did; Agabus and others in the New Testa∣ment. Now the Divel also may use his instruments to foretel something to come: not that of his own nature he can foretel things to come, for so it's Gods property; but by Revelation from God, God justly permitting this for to punish those that shall be seduced: thus the Divel told Saul what should befall him. And in the story Page  132 of the Anabaptists in Munster, when a Law was made, That all the Citizens should bring their goods into the common stock, there were maids that could tell certainly how much every man had hidden at home of his goods: Now this is like that of Ananias and Saphira: and this Revelation (very probably) was by the just judgement of God made to the Divel; for seeing the Divel is an instrument to execute Gods justice and wrath, what should hinder him from knowing that which God on purpose imployeth him about for the judgement of others. Aemulantur di∣vinitatem dum furantur divinationem. This is clearly confirmed, Deut. 13. 1, 2. Where a false Prophet is said, To give a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder is supposed to come to pass: So that false Prophets may by Gods permission and Re∣velation foretel some things to come: but mark the reason why God permits this, The Lord your God doth this to prove you. Oh therefore with what holiness, humi∣lity, and circumspection ought the children of God to walk in the midst of such Delusions: In so much that it is called, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 The efficacie of de∣ceiving.

Fifthly, As the Divel in a Church corrupted, and defiled with Idolatry and Su∣perstition, doth there prevail by humane Traditions, and Forms of will-worship,* whereby all spiritual worshipping of God is wholly neglected: so in times of re∣formation, then he seduceth men in another Temptation, under the pretence of seting up the spirit, and its revelations, it crieth down the word of God, and all the ordinary Ministerial Officers Christ hath appointed. The first worthy Reformers, and glorious instruments of God, found a bitter conflict herein; so that they were exercised not onely with Formalists, and Traditionary Superstitious Papists on one side, but men that pretended themselves to be more enlightened, then the Refor∣mers were, on the other side: hence they caled those that did adhere to the scripture & would try revelations by it, Vocalistas & Literistas Leterists & Vowallists, as men acquainted with the words and vowels of the scripture, having nothing of the spirit of God. And wheresoever in any Town the true Doctrine of the Gospel brake forth to the displacing of Popery, presently such opinions, like Tares, came up a∣mong the good Wheat, whereby great divisions were raised, and the Reformati∣on made abominable, and odious to the world; as if that had been the Sun to give heat and warmth to those Worms and Serpents to crawl out of the ground. Hence they inveighed against Luther, and said, He had onely promulged Carnale E∣vangelium, a carnal Gospel. And that the Protestant Doctors did onely Carna∣lia sapere, by them indeed aliquot frndes de Antichristianismo succis, sd arborem & radices adhuc superesse. They burnt all books but the Bible, and said, That hap∣py time was come when all should be taught of God. Many remarkable passages I might further relate but this may suffice to shew, That as the Divel in one time of the Church in the deformation of it, deceiveth by superstitious, pompous, and visible worship; so at another time, in the reformation of it, doth he delude by re∣velations, and pretended high Teachings of the spirit of God, even above the Scri∣pture.

Sixthly, That therefore we may not split our selves upon inevitable Rocks, God hath left us his Word as a Rule, by which all revelations, and operations of his spirit*are to be tryed. All the Scriptures are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉by Divine inspiration; and there∣fore the breathings of Gods spirit, are to be expected in this Garden: and those commands of attending to the Scripture onely, and to observe what is written, is a plain demonstration that God hath tyed us to the Scriptures onely: so that as the child in the womb liveth upon nourishment conveighed by the Navel cleaving to it, so doth the Church live onely upon Christ by the Navel of the Scripture, through which all nourishment is conveighed: Hence the Apostles Doctrine, though in∣spired by the Holy Ghost, Yet was examined by their hearers, whether agreeable to the Scriptures: And for this their zeal was commended: hence it is, That because these erronious persons could not prove all their dogmatical assertions by scri∣pture, they accuse the scripture as insufficient and imperfect.

Page  133 As the word of God is the Treasure of all revealed truth, so God also implant∣ed a Natural truth in our consciences; so that the Spirit of God doth suggest no∣thing that is contrary either to revealed Truth, or implanted Truth, The Anabap∣tist instanced in by Spanhemius in his History, pretended he had a revelation to kill his brother, which accordingly he did: this revelation could not be of God, because against natural light, but of the Divel. Whatsoever is either against revealed, or implanted light in Men, cannot be thought to come from the Holy Ghost.

Seventhly, As the operations of the spirit of God, are discovered by the rule of Truth, so also by the concomitants and effects of them: Which are two especially, *holiness of life, and humility.

If you examine the course of the false Prophets in the Old Testament, and of those recorded in the New, their fruit was corruption in manners, and worship, encouraging those that were ungodly in their evil ways: It was Michaiah onely, not the other 400 Prophets that Ahab hated, because he only faithfully reproved him for his sin: so the Prophetess suborned by Nehemiahs adversaries, was to discou∣rage him in the work of Reformation. Humility also will quickly manifest the spirit of God working in a man: Paul had a great rapture, even into the third heavens, but least he should be lifted up with the multitude of revelations, there was a thorn in the flesh, and buffettings of Satan continually afflicting of him. The holy Ghost descended in the form of a Dove upon Christ, to shew how meek and humble the operations of it are in those where it dwels.

Lastly, Not onely suggestions from Satan may delude us, as if coming from the * Spirit, but also violent motions, and strong imaginations of our own hearts; we may take them as coming from Gods Spirit, which flow onely from the violence of our own spirits: Thus the false Prophets, they speak of themselves, and according to the strong inclinations of their own heart: so great a matter is it to difference that which is humane in us, from that which is divine. Now the reason, why in delusi∣ons we are so confident, Is

First, From the violence of all false motions, whether from our selves, or of Satan. They being 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 irregularities, do hurry the soul beyond all bounds and limits; so that the Divel worketh in mens souls, as he did on their bodies, with violent and sudden alterations: and these must needs produce strong passions and affections in us, of love, joy, or hope; whereas the spirit of God working conformably to the rule, is more sedate, and orderly. Indeed the efficacy of Gods spirit is demon∣strated by that apparition of fiery loven tongues, and by a mighty rushing ind; but at another time appearing in the form of a Dove, demonstrateth that it is such fire and power, as also is consistent with other graces of meekness and humility. Hence the people of God, who are partakers of the Holy Ghost, are also possessed with an holy fear and trembling in themselves, whereas others are not so.

Secondly, Therefore are men confident in these, Because they are admired by others,*and they draw a multitude of disciples. Many times even godly men have been drawn aside too much after those, who have pretended to Revelations, and Extasies. The Apostle speaks 1 Cor. 2. 4. That he was among the Corinthians, not in enticing words of mans wisdom, but in the demonstration of the spirit. But how was that? because his Doctrine was consonant to Gods word, and it was companied with an efficacious power to raise up to all Godlines. Now false Apostles, that they may also be applau∣ded, would gladly come in some demonstration of the spirit; nothing so prevailing as such resemblances: It is known in Ecclesiastical story, how fouly Tertullian was deluded by admiring of Montanus and Priscilla as Prophets, contemning all others as meer natural men: It is said of Swinkfeldius, who so much magnified Revelati∣ons, and debased Scripture, That Caput regulatum illi defuit, cor bonum non de∣fuit, he had a good heart, though not a sound head: so easily are good men tempted away, with that which seemeth to be more spiritual then ordinary.

Page  134 Lastly, Therefore are men so confident in these things, Because to many these delusions come by way of a judgement for abusing former light, and not receiving the*truth in the love of it. Those four hundred false Prophets in Ahabs time, are thought by the learned to be true Prophets at first, and such as were in the company and Colledge of the other Prophets; but abusing that gift to the pleasing of men, and seeking themselves, they were justly by God delivered up to such a false way. And that they were hardened in this deceitfull way, appeareth by Zedekiahs im∣pudence, 1 King. 12. 24. When he strook Michaiah upon the cheek, saying, which way went the spirit from me to thee? Thus if there be Revelations among the Pa∣pists, as they bragg of them, What is the fruit of them, but to confirm them more in believing of a lye? And where spiritual judgements are, they make secure, and full of self-flattery.

Now the reasons why we are not to rely on these, are *

First, Because that cannot be the mark of a Godly man, which is not the note of a Church. Now although Bellarmine make Lumen Propheticum, Prophetical light a mark of the true Church, and would prove that we are not the true Church, because we have no Prophets, or Revelations amongst us, as they have: yet the Orthodox do reply, that even false Prophets may have prophetical illustrations, as is before quoted, Deut. 13. 1. and certainly Balaam was a wicked man, yet for all that, he had a spiritual Revelation from God. Yea, and Caiaphas, one of the worst of men, yet it is said he prophesied, because he was high Priest that year: Therefore though thou hadst predictions, divers Raptures, and extatical illuminations, yet these are no sure mark of thy good condition: and seeing men unsanctified, may by the Holy Ghost work wonderfull things, is it such a strange thing if they may also have several raptures?

Secondly, Neither may these be regarded, Because such pretended illuminati∣ons,*are consistent with the works of ungodliness, and injustice, as appeareth Math. 7. Those that prophesied in Christs name, were yet workers of iniquity. Spanhimius out of Sleidan hath several instances like wise to confirm it, In his short history of the A∣nabaptists. Therefore the surest discovery of Gods spirit in us, is not by any pre∣tended Revelations, raptures, or secret conference with God, but by holiness, hu∣militie, and a conversation justifiable by Scripture-rules: Therefore what the Apo∣stle said of all outward ceremonial worship, Bodily exercise profiteth little, and op∣poseth it to godliness; so we may say, This soul exercise profiteth little, and op∣pose it to godliness: but godliness is profitable to all things.

Use of instruction, to direct us between two rocks: Take heed of being found in the number of those that scoff at the Spirit, and the workings thereof, con∣demning * all the godly for Enthusiasts and Illuminists. This is the rode of pro∣phane and superstitious men, that cannot abide the very word of the Spirit. This is to go far on in the way to the sin against the Holy Ghost: and then on the other side take heed of a contrary error, that under the pretence of Revelations, thou despise the Scriptures, the Ministry, and the Ordinances. If Satan cannot seduce thee the former way, then he sets upon thee in the latter way. We might out of Ec∣clesiastical history, give you large instances of the sad ruins that have come upon many, being thus carried away: though upon some God had mercy, and recover∣ed them out of such delusions. Be not therefore credulous; be afraid lest God should leave thee; take great counsel and advice, that thou mayst not be seduced.

Page  135

SERMON XXIV.

Manifesting that the greatest Sufferings for Christ are not infallible Evidences of Grace.


1 COR. 13. 3.
And although I give my body to be burned, and have not Charity, it profiteth me nothing.

THe Apostle his scope in the former part of this Chapter is to commend the graces of Gods Spirit above the gifts of the same. Hence he makes suppo∣sitions of the most excellent perfections, which if without Charity, are but as a tinkling cymbal that may please the ear of others, but it self is worn out and destroyed thereby. And by charity he means that unfeigned love of God, * and the good of others, whereby all our gifts are improved for this end, and not for our selves.

His first instance is diversity and variety of tongues, a gift in the Primitive times, that made the enjoyers thereof admirable.

A second is of Prophecie and understanding of all Mysteries, all Knowledge, and*all Faith. This place doth not prove justifying Faith to be separable from Cha∣rity. But either it is a conditional, hyperbolical speech, like that Gal. 1. If an Angel from Heaven, &c. as not onely some later Divines, but even the Ancients have thought: or else it may very well be restrained to miraculous Faith, in this sense, If I had all miraculous faith, so that I were able to work the greatest mira∣cle. And thus it is plain, such a faith may be severed from true love.

The Apostle having thus instanced in Gifts, he further proceeds to give two glorious instances of the external works of grace, which are most admirable amongst men, whereby he would teach us, That the most specious and glorious external acts of grace, if seeming onely, are nothing, if grace it self doth not in∣wardly animate them; so that inward grace in respect of those external actions, is like the soul to the body, like art to the instruments of Musick, without which an uncertain sound is made.

These glorious externals the Apostle specifieth are of two sorts:

1. A work of extraordinary mercy, If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor. The Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signifieth to divide victuals in several pieces, and so to distri∣bute it. Now this is very terrible to consider, that a man may do all the exter∣nal works of mercy, even the highest and most transcendent, yet not have true love.

The second instance is of remarkable fortitude and glorious courage for Christ and his truth, which is expressed in the designation of that action, wherein my courage may manifest it self, If I give my body to be burnt. Where some observe this aggravation, Though a man be not summoned by others, and condemned to death, but although he willingly and ultroneously offer himself, and then not to be whipped or imprisoned, but to die, and that the most terrible kinde of death, even burning, yet if all this be without true love to God, his glory, Church and truth, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, All this will profit me nothing. In which sense Page  136Hierom said in Gal. 5. Timeo dicere, sed dicendum est, Martyrium ipsum si ideo fiat, ut admiraetioni, & laudi habeatur à fratribus, frustra sanguis effusus est. A man may be the fleshes martyr, the devils martyr, as well as Christs.

No kinde of external sufferings, though never so grievous either for the truth of*Christ indeed, or for that which a mans conscience judgeth to be the truth of Christ, is a sure and infallible sign of the state of grace.

This Doctrine will be like a two edged sword, dividing between the joint and mar∣row. It's not all thy marks, stripes, imprisonments, persecutions, though for a good cause, is enough to evidence thy true interest in Christ. To open this Point many things are considerable.

First, That many times persecutions are a true discovery of a mans firmnesse in grace. Insomuch that all the while Christs cause and carnal accommodations are con∣joyned together, every hypocritical and unsound heart makes as great a shew, as that which is faithfull, But when storms and tempests arise, then the house built up∣on the sand fals, but that on the rock endureth. Thus Matth. 13. when the hot Sun arose, persecutions began to be violent, then that which was not deeply rooted, pre∣sently withered. So that howsoever we may not certainly gather the truth of our grace, by our perseverance in persecutions, yet troubles and oppositions do fre∣quently discover who is false. Hence afflictions and not mercies are alwaies in Scripture called temptations, God is never said to tempt by a mercy, but by an affliction, because it is more difficult to withstand an evil then to enjoy a good. The high and strong windes discover how well-rooted the tree is; the fire will manifest the cracked vessel. Oh then account it nothing to rest upon, that thou art for the truth, thou ownest God and good men! Alas as yet thou losest no good, no profit by doing thus. If a man may be imprisoned, impoverished, un∣done for the truths of God, and yet be nothing; then what a poor nothing in∣deed is Christs truth and thy riches with it! Alas Christ hath not put thee upon any trials, and thou knowest nothing by thy self as yet. It's true, out∣ward sufferings, and that to death, are the highest expressions before men; and therefore we are to judge with charitable apprehensions of all those who are able thus to suffer for that which is the truth, especially they at the same time demon∣strating all Christian deportment. Therefore it was cruelty in the Popish perse∣cutors to charge those blessed Martyrs with stoutnesse and pride. Hence also it is, that we account the Martyrdom of so many millions of all sorts for Christ, to be an eminent testimony of the truth of Christian Religion. No Sect could ever instance in the like, as Christians may, which we read was acknowledged by Trajane the Emperour; and Justine Martyr confesseth the consideration of the willingnesse and zeal of Christians to die for Christ, was the occasion of his con∣version. The Heathens instance only in Socrates and some few Gymnosophists for their false Religion.

Secondly, From hence it followeth, That wheresoever the Scripture promiseth*salvation to any external action that is by way of Patience or Fortitude for Christ; That must be understood with this proviso, that as the action for the matter is good, and the cause is good; so the motives that draw out his heart be also good. Matth. 10. 33. Whosoever shall confesse me before men, him will my Father also acknowledge before his holy Angels. In this place a glorious reward is promi∣sed to a stout confession of Christ in the midst of an adulterous generation, yet you must explain it thus, supposing he do as for Christ, so out of pure ends and holy affections, without which these external actions are but as so many glorious branches without any root at all; for we may see this fully confirmed in a paral∣lel about giving of alms, and relieving the poor. There is scarce any religious duty hath more promises made to it in the Scripture then this hath, yet a Pha∣risee who frequently gave aims, could take no comfort at all from those Promi∣ses, because his motives were carnal and unworthy. Thus in sufferings for Christ even in imprisonments and death it self, it being possible that corrupt grounds Page  137 may sway us, as well as heavenly, there can be no solid comfort from such ex∣ternal sufferings, though never so sad and miserable. Therefore no promise of heaven is made to the most specious external exercise of any religious action whatsoever; Even now as on the contrary our Saviour saith, He that shall deny him before men, him will God also deny. This is to be understood universally, for Peter and many godly men have denied Christ, yet God did not deny them, be∣cause their denial was through infirmity out of fear, not from any malicious or purposed obstinacy against him. So then in all externall duties we are not onely to look to the matter that it be good, but also to what frame of heart, we doe those things with; and in this lieth the marrow of Christianity, to look to internals, as well as externals; the former onely commends us to God, though the later make us admirable among men.

Thirdly, It is very possible for a man to suffer much losse, and endure hardship for*Christ, and yet have not his heart sound towards God. In the Apostles times, trou∣bles were so great, and carnal discouragements so many, that we may wonder any hypocrites or unsound men should joyn to that way which was so opposed and persecuted, yet there were false Apostles and false Brethren; There were ma∣ny that sought their own, and not the things of Christ, as Paul complaineth, Phil, 1. 22. and this was strange, for if they did seek their own, why did they not re∣nounce Christ? why did they not abjure the Gospel, seeing that was the cause of all the violence brought upon them? All that professed Christ in those daies were like Sheep among Wolves, Doves among Hawks; yet even among those ac∣knowledging Christ in the midst of an adulterous generation, all were not up∣right. Judas left all as well as the other Apostles, and this was a kinde of suffer∣ing, this was a taking up of the Crosse and following him; We see when Christ re∣quired such things of others, though they seemed to profer themselves, yet they presently revolted. Therefore Judas went further. And the Apostle Gal. 3. 4. supposeth men may suffer great and grievous troubles for Christ, yet all in vain, Have ye suffered〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an aggravating word, so many things for number, so grie∣vous for quality, and all this in vain? implying, that if they revolted to those Mosaical Ceremonies from Christ, all their former sufferings for the truth, would be wholly unprofitable, indeed he addeth a rhetorical correction [If so be in vain] as hoping better things of them. Take we heed then, that we do not only lose all our praiers, Sacraments, and such like Duties, but also our suffer∣ings and troubles for a good cause. For sufferings for God are more then doings for God. Hence the Apostle speaketh by way of aggravation, We account these light afflictions, not comparable to that eternal weight of glory, and for an instance of losing our sufferings for God, we have a remarkable instance Act. 19. 33. of Alexander venturing his life in the multitude enraged at Paul and others for the cause of Christ, yet by most learned Interpreters, this is that Alexander Paul doth so complain of, 1 Tim. 1. 20. that did him so much wrong. And it is abun∣dantly known, that many who in Queen Maries daies continued faithful to Christ, in Queen Elizabeths daies through peace and quietness grew corrupt.

Now that it may more plainly appear, our sufferings though for a good cause * may be corrupted, we may take notice of what sinfull ingredients there may be which will make these sufferings unprofitable.

First, A man may suffer for the truth, or a good cause, not as it is true or good, but as his interest is in it, and as it is that way he hath ingaged himself in. Thus a man may die for Protestanism against Popery, not so much because it's the truth of God, but because it is that truth he hath lived in, it is that wherein all his outward interest lieth. O beloved! This cursed corruption is too common and frequent, not to look upon the truth of Christ, the cause of Christ, as his, but as it is ours, and so we become sufferers or Martyrs for our selves, and not for Christ. Among the Corinthians, some said they were for Paul, others for Apollo, others for Christ.Page  138 It is judged by some Interpreters, those were indeed for Christ, but they set him up by way of a party and faction, as their Christ, rather then Christ. Although therefore imprisonments, persecutions, are terrible and dreadfull to flesh and bloud, and they may be thought great testimonies of love to God and his cause? Yet be not too confident here, make diligent search of thy heart, whe∣ther that which moveth thee in all these sufferings, be not thy interest, thou art ingaged in this way; And so an argument from thy propriety, not Christs pro∣priety, prevail over thee. We may observe of Christs kindred, how desirous they were that Christ should do miracles; now their motive was not spiritual, that hereby he might be demonstrated the true Messiah, and so men graciously receive him, but from carnal pride, because he was their kinsman, and this might exalt their glory among others, such carnal self-seeking affections men may have to the truths of Christ, desiring they may be exalted, because hereby themselves shall be exalted.

Secondly, The power of truth may undeniably so work on the conscience, that they*cannot deny it, yet for all this not powerfully sanctifie their hearts. Thus a man may be so convinced of the true Doctrine, and his conscience set such a strong seal to it, that if he had all the world, he dared not gainsay it. Balaam, though he had a house full of gold, yet would not curse those whom he saw God would blesse. There is a natural light and goad by the conscience, whereby it makes a man willing to undergo any punishment rather then contradict it. Thus Socrates he died for this truth, that there was but one God, and when he was condemned by the Ma∣gistrates, staid himself with that which we read of the Apostles, It is better to obey God then man. This makes it evident, that a man having no more then nature in him, may yet die for those truths he is convinced of. Thus there are many who it may be reform not their lives from grosse impieties, yet would die rather then turn Papists or Socinians, I mean learned men, who have their understand∣ings fully satisfied with the truth. And History affords us many examples of Heathens, who would rather endure the most terrible death, then do any thing against moral honesty, why may not there be such orthodox Protestants, ventu∣ring as much for those truths, which they are perswaded are of God? There is a know approved sentence, Causa non poena facit Martyrem, the cause not the punishment makes a Martyr, but this is not enough, for neither punishment nor cause make a Martyr, without a gracious frame of heart, at least to God, though with man he may be judged so. So that these three must go to make a Martyr, pu∣nishment, a good cause, and a good heart. Therefore in all thy sufferings, say, It is not enough that I suffer for God and his truth, but doest thou also suffer with such a gracious, humble and heavenly heart, as Gods cause doth require? Look that besides conviction of judgement, there be also renovation of affections.

Thirdly, A man may suffer, though for Gods truth, yet the motive be the*meer stoutnesse of his stomack, and undaunted resolutions of spirit. As there is a spiritual fortitude wrought in us by Gods Spirit, so there is also in some men a natural height of spirit, whereby they fear not dangers or death. Now it is much to be enquired into, Whether thy sufferings arise from the strength of Gods Spirit, or the strength of thy own? Even Aristotle with his purblinde light of nature could make a difference between fortitude a vertue, when a man would die for vertues sake, and upon vertuous grounds; and an audacious man, who would contemn death out of a rash boldnesse in him. Oh then! How straight is the way to Heaven? How rare is grace, when our very sufferings in a good cause, may be so much corrupted and polluted through sinfull ingre∣dients? when men shall say not only, Lord, we have prayed in thy Name, pro∣phesied in thy Name; but Lord we have suffered in thy Name, been imprisoned in thy Name, died in thy Name, and yet God return this answer, Depart from me, I know ye not.

Page  139 Fourthly, A fourth corrupt motive in sufferings though for God, may be*Pride and Vain-glory, Ambition to get a Name in the Generations to come. One would think this were a poor thing to venture a mans life for such an aëry bub∣ble. Yet if we reade humane Histories, and see how willingly men have ex∣posed themselves to death for this outward glory; or if we peruse Ecclesiastical Histories, and consider, how much the Patriarchall Hereticks, Heads of Fa∣ctions, have suffered to propagate their Sects, we will cease to wonder; for as by the bloud of Martyrs, the Church hath flourished, so sometimes by the bloud of Hereticks, Heresies have encreased; as Paul said, Many of the godly waxed bolder by his bonds; So many times doe erroneous persons grow more obstinate by the sufferings of their fellow Hereticks. Though ashes and fire are barren things, yet pride is such a Salamander, that will live in these flames.

Fourthly, In the fourth general place, As sufferings for Christ, doe not*argue necessarily a state of Grace, so much lesse doe sufferings for those things a misguided conscience thinketh the truths of God, but are indeed damnable He∣refies, and dangerous Opinions. Yet how often doe we finde this in Books to prove Heresies great innocency, because they goe with a good conscience, they deny all carnal emoluments, patiently suffer the utmost dangers! but (alas) here is no solidity in this: For first, A false misled conscience may put a man upon all outward dangers. A deluded conscience in mat∣ters of Religion, will throw a man, as that Devil did the party possessed, Sometimes in the fire, and sometimes in the water: So that as our Saviour said, Some men thought they did God good service in putting others to death: So again, They may think they doe God great service in suffering themselves to be put to death. Doe not Socinians die? Doe not Papists die for their Reli∣gion? A false Religion, especially if received upon conscientious, not politi∣call Principles, will make a man think his bloud not dear enough to lose for that. The Pharisees by what reason they compassed Sea and Land to make prose∣lytes, by the same they would have lost their lives to defend their superstitious worship. Doe not then hereafter admire that specious Argument for Here∣ticks? Doe they seek themselves? Doe they not deny all worldly hopes? Doe they not give their bodies to be destroyed? for this is no more then Heathens do for their Idols. Nor is it any wonder, if men die thus for a false Religion, seeing we reade of Atheists who have died because they held there was no God. Vaninus who once wrote a Book to prove God and his Providence, yet after∣wards revolted to Atheisme, holding no God, and was put to death for it at Paris: And being commanded by the Judge, that he should ask forgive∣nesse of God, and the King, and his Judges: He answered, Of God he would not, because he did not believe there was any: Of the King he would not because he had not wronged him; Of his Judges he would not, but ra∣ther if there were a Hell, as he believed there was none, he would curse them all thither. Thus Voetius de Atheismo. You see here a miserable wretch, dying for this professedly, because he thought there was no God. So that all sufferings even to death, are not presently to move us.

And if you ask, What should make them thus venturous, if they be not in Gods way?

I answer, two things, First, There is a Carnal Self. Secondly, A Spiritual*Self; which also is carnal, though not grosse. A carnal Self is then set up, when a man prostitutes all Religion to outward advantages: Of such were some false Apostles Paul speaks of, Whose God was their belly, who minded earthly things, and did all they could to avoid persecution. Such an one was one Theo∣philus a Bishop in Ecclesiastical History, nicknamed Euripus, because of his ficklenesse in Religion, turning his conscience, as Diogenes did his Barrell al∣wayes against the winde. This man, when the warre was between ConstantinePage  140 the Christian, and Lycinius the Heathenish Persecutour, appointed his Dea∣con to reside at Constantinople, with this Direction, That he which did prevail in the battel, either Constantine or Lycinius, he should gratifie his victory with some Presents to him. This kinde of carnal Self is odious in the eyes of all men.

But then secondly, There is a Spiritual-carnal Self. When a man seeks not outward greatnesse and pomp in the world, but is inwardly proud, ambitious, affe∣cting a Name by some singular thing; And because this cannot be had in the world, without outward passages of worldly self-denial, therefore he is dili∣gent to deny himself carnally, that he may seek himself spiritually: and this hath been the temper of many Hereticks, prizing their Opinion and intel∣lectuall Abilities above all externall glory. Now this spirituall carnall self, is that which may put them upon imprisonments, and all outward ruine; So that herein they be the fleshes Martyrs, Pride-martyrs, not Gods. Hence although they may suffer like true Martyrs, yet for the most part they dis∣cover a carnall temper then, not shewing that holinesse, humility, self-resig∣nation into Gods hands, as the godly Martyrs doe. So that their very ex∣ternal sufferings have not such sweet Concomitants, as the godly men have. The godly men burning in the fire, being like Juniper in the fire, sending a sweet smell. The Heretick like crackling Thorns in the fire, full of discontent, rage and revenge.

2. The Devil who was a Man-slayer from the beginning, he through strong*delusions tempts men to such hardinesse, as to be prodigal of their lives. That as when he possessed the bodies of some, he delighted to torment them, and to make them miserable; so he doth also when he hath bewitched their souls. It is matter of amazement to me, when I reade the Story of the Do∣natists, especially the Circumcelliones, how greedy they were to die, threat∣ning to kill men, if they would not kill them. Whence should this madnesse arise, and fury to die, but from the Devil? yet they thought this great piety, and contempt of the world. Therefore the Devil by Gods just permissi∣on, may benumme and harden a man to die, as well as the Spirit of God in a gracious manner imbolden a man: And this may suffice to open the Point.

Now two grounds among others there are, Why we may not judge the firmnesse*of our spiritual estate by these sufferings.

First, Because no externals, whether in actions or passions, are any further good, then as they are animated from a spiritual life within. These outwards may be informed from a corrupt principle, as well as a spiritual one. We cannot judge of the Tree by this fruit, because it will grow both upon good and bad. Now herein we daily delude our selves, because we judge our estate good, by ex∣ternal Actions, when yet reprobates may doe the like. It is not here as it was with Moses, and Jannes and Jambres, Moses doth many miracles, and they do the like, but at last Moses doth such things which they could not imitate. If you speak of externals meerly as abstracted from inwards, we cannot judge. Do the godly pray, hear? so doe the reprobates: May the godly suffer, be impri∣soned, die for the truth? so may reprobates. It is true our Saviour saith, Greater love then this can no man shew, then to lay down ones life for another. So one would think, to give ones body to be burnt, and yet have no Charity, were to speak a contradiction. But when we consider how strong and potent corruption and a false Religion is, then we may no more admire. We reade in the Old Te∣stament of some superstitious parents, that would make their children passe tho∣row the fire to Moloch, that is, they offered them as a Sacrifice in the fire to Moloch: who would not wonder, how the tender bowels of a father or mother could ever become thus senslesse like a stone? But superstition made them thus Page  141 unnatural. And certainly as they offered their tender children, so if Moloch their god had required it, or rather his Priests for him, They would have given up their own bodies into the flames. Judge not then of the goodnesse of thy estate, by any externals whatsoever, though never so specious. They are a sheath that will receive either a golden, or an iron Sword in them. They are the Trumpet that make no other sound, then what the mouth bloweth into them.

2. That is not a pillar to be relied on, which may consist with unmortified lusts*and affections, yea with ungodly practices. But experience teacheth us, how ma∣ny men in their imprisonments, yea death it self, have been unsavoury, ungod∣ly; insomuch that their ungodlinesse hath more dishonoured the cause they suf∣fered for, then their sufferings have honoured it. Therefore if thou restest upon thy sufferings, and yet livest in sinne, say as Austin, Habes quod in te occidas, mar∣tyr thy sins, before thy body be martyred. If therefore thou sufferest for one truth, and holdest any thing, or practisest any thing against other fundamentals, it's no true Martyrdom; Hence the Primitive Church never judged a Mace∣donian (for example) who denied the Deity of the holy Ghost, to be a Mar∣tyr, though he were put to death by the Arrians, because he professed the Deity of Christ.

Use 1. Of Instruction, not to admire as signs of grace, or Gods being in a man,*when you see a man patient, denying all outward advantages and comforts for his opi∣nion and doctrine he holdeth. As some, misunderstanding places of Scripture, have given away all their goods and estates, and one parting with his very garments that covered him: being asked, Why he did so? held up the Bible, saying, Hoc me nudavit, This hath made me naked, whereas indeed it was his errour, his mi∣stake. Thus many may say, It is their conscience makes them endure all misery, whereas it may be corruption or carnal motives, or at most, an erroneous, misgui∣ded conscience, which although it may excuse à tanto, yet not à toto. Those that reade what Heathens have done in this way, will never admire at Chri∣stians.

Use 2. Of Direction, If God call us to suffer, Rest not on all the hardship thou*hast endured for Christ, Boast not of the bonds and chains thou hast born for his sake, but examine with what heart thou hast undergone all this. It is a wofull thing to be imprisoned in chains here for Christ, and at the day of Judgement Christ to cast thee in everlasting chains of darknesse. It is miserable to be burnt with fire here for Christ, and afterwards Christ to bid thee, Depart into everlasting fire here∣after. Lose not then thy sufferings by any corrupt frame and sinfull disposition of heart. It is a great matter to suffer for Christ, but it's a greater to suffer with that heart Christ requireth.

Page  142

SERMON XXV.

Shewing that, and whence men have such strong Perswasions of their exact keeping of Gods Law.


MAT. 19. 20.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: What lack I yet?

THis Text is a remarkable History, wherein many excellent practicall do∣ctrines are contained. The whole scope being to represent a man that hath good affections and desires for heaven, yet because of some strong corru∣ption and temptation violently detained from it; for in the close of the History he goeth away, not reviling and raging at Christ, as the Pharisees used to do, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, exceeding sorrowfull, and as Mark hath it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as sadly affected, as the sky seemeth to be, when it's black with clouds, and threatens rain; so that in this posture with Christ he is like the Poets Medea, or like Aristotles incontinent person, who hath great conviction, but strong corruption.

In the History observe the Person and his Question propounded: The person, as appeareth by the Harmony of three Evangelists was a rich man, a great man in pow∣er and place, and a young man: All which three were sore temptations to prejudice him against Christ and his way: Yet by his Question it seemed he was not altoge∣ther prophane and worldly, for his desire is to know What he might do to have eter∣nall life. In which Question although we may perceive a Pharisaicall leaven in him, thinking by works to be saved, yet there appeareth for the main a good desire in him. Our Saviour intending to beat down his Pharisaicall confidence, which is as great an enemy to Christ as Publican sinnes, first reproveth him for his compel∣lation, and then answereth his Question. His reproof is, Why callest thou me good, there is none good but God? Christ refused this title, partly because he cal∣led him good in no other sense, then as some eminent and singular Prophet, not as indeed the Son of God: but especially to teach the young man that he was whol∣ly corrupted, and therefore whatsoever good is in us, is to be acknowledged, as coming from God; it is his gift, it is none of our work.

In the next place our Saviour directs him to keep the Commandements, instan∣cing not in the Ceremoniall, but the morall, nor in the morall duties that relate to God, but that belong to our neighbour, which were most vulgar, that hereby he might teach this Pharisaicall man, that he never yet performed any one Com∣mandment aright. Therefore the ignorance and the arrogance of this young man in the text is remarkable; All these have I kept from my youth up; he thought he had kept not some but all, and that from his youth up, as soon as ever he could act with reason; some Expositors think, that he grosly lyed against his own consci∣ence in saying so: but that is not likely because Mark saith Christ loved him, upon this speech, and that could not be if he were such a dissembler; and if you take Page  143 the word love, for to praise or kindely to speak to a man; as the Septuagint some∣times do, Caut. 1. 1, 4. 2 Chron. 18. it will argue that he was no hypocrite, and hereby we see, that it is a Ministers duty to love and encourage those men, who though they have not the truth of grace, yet have a fair, civill, honest life, and have generall desires for heaven. He did not therefore lie against his conscience, but yet he spake that which was false, for he had not kept one of those Commande∣ments perfectly, as appeareth by that tryall or exploratory precept Christ puts him upon: only he knew no better: He was brought up in ignorance about the spi∣rituall latitude and extent of the Law, and so thought a meer negative, or not do∣ing grosse wickednesse, to be a positive keeping of the Law.

Obs. It is a very difficult thing to drive an unregenerate man out of this false sign*of his good estate, viz. that he keeps the Commandements of God. This was the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. In this was the fundamentall miscarriage of this great man, that he had a confident perswasion of his good estate, because he did no murder, he com∣mitted no Adultery, he bore no false witnesse against his neighbour, Now falsly jud∣ging this to be all the Law required, he concludeth that unlesse Christ hath some new and extraordinary way about this, these matters are so low and easie, that he observed them along while ago. Upon this point was our Saviours greatest con∣troversie with the Pharisees, who like Serpents, though they had a fine skin and colour, yet inwardly were full of poyson: and the great work that the Ministers of God have to do in their Congregations in these times, Is it not to shew to men the pure glasse of the Law, that they looking therein, may see their defor∣mities, and be wonderfully out of love with themselves? Doth not every man walk with this self-damning principle, that his heart is good? What would you have him to do more then he doth? Is he any Drunkard, Whoremonger? and thus he pleaseth himself with an externall righteousnesse, being altogether igno∣rant of the pure and excellent work of regeneration, and from hence it is, that our auditors are filled with so much stupidity and security, that it is a wonder to hear of a man or woman, with fear and trembling, expostulating after this man∣ner: The Law is so spirituall, and I am so carnall; regeneration and a new nature is so necessary, but I am so plunged in that sinfull estate and corruption I was born in, That I fear my self, I quake at my condition, Oh for the Lords sake, help ye Ministers by your praiers and directions, that I may be put in a safe way.

For the clearing of the Doctrine consider, *

First, Whence it ariseth that men have such a strong perswasion of their good lives, as satisfactory to Gods Law. Why is it that though a man by nature be indeed like a Job, or Lazarus full of wounds and sores: yee he judgeth himself like Absolom, altogether fair, without any blemish at all?

And the first ground is ignorance about the totall deep, and universal pollution of our*natures, whereby this Leprosie hath made all we are and all we do unclean: and in this sense our Saviour faith, we may call none good, for can we call any spiders, any serpents, any toads sweet? so neither can we call any man good or holy. There∣fore the Scripture that it may lay a foundation for our prizing of Christ, and open our eyes to see the necessity of regeneration, is very diligent and copious in aggra∣vating this naturall defilement. Paul is a cleer instance in this, Rom. 7. his heart was like a dungeon full of noisome and crawling vermine, but because no light was in his heart, therefore he did not see, or beleeve this. Let me therefore expostulate with thee, who pleasest thy self in thy good estate: Is thy life as free from sin as the childe new born? may no more iniquity be laid to thy charge now, then could be to thee, when thou suckedst at thy mothers breast? yet, if no more, thou ought∣est not to take any content or delight in thy self, but to tremble and earnestly to importune to be translated from that darknesse into light: lay aside then thy high, and self-flattering thoughts; say no more, thy good heart, thy good meaning, thy good life, but cry out unclean and unclean. Wo, wo unto me, for I am polluted in Page  144 my blood, and God might not say unto me in my bloud, live, as he did to the Church, but to die, and be damned: Wouldest thou therefore no longer be sick of this dan∣gerous surfet and fullnesse? study more, and meditate more of originall corrupti∣on, how universall and diffusive it is, how contagious and infecting of every thing that we do, so that although we could speak with the tongue of Angels, and work with the hands of Angels, yet we being in our naturall condition, all that would be abominable: Without faith it is impossible to please God, and the tree must be good before the fruit; To the defiled, all things are defiled. What therefore is ex∣ternall righteousnesse, morall justice, formall piety, as long as we abide in that old bitter stock of nature? Pray therefore, Lord give me to understand what I am by nature, make me to know how sinfull and lothsome it is, and let not this be a ge∣nerall, speculative, barren knowledge, but let it be a close, particular applicative, and practicall knowledge, whereby the whole heart may be set on fire, and pow∣erfully wrought upon, even to bid all creatures, all comforts, all businesses stand aloof till thou be redeemed from this thraldome.

2. Another cause of this bold perswasion is, An ignorance of the spirituall ex∣actnesse*and obligation of the Law. It was the received opinion of the Jews, and the Pharisees they so explained it, as appeareth, Mat. 5. that the Law command∣ed only externall acts, and that we satisfied it, if we did keep it in the outward man. Therefore our Saviour seemed to bring new doctrine into the world, when he explained the Law of heart-sins, and shewed that men might be adulterers, murderers, &c. though they never committed those externall acts. This was so pa∣radoxall to the received doctrine at that time, that men were amazed at it. Now howsoever (it may be) people will acknowledge the doctrine true, yet in pra∣ctice they are as gresse and secure as ever Jews and Pharisees were. Neither did they ever make their works a refuge, and a bulwark, more then people now adaies do. And no wonder, for Paul so great a proficient in the knowledge of the Law of God, yet confesseth his great blindenesse and mistake herein, Rom. 7. insomuch that when he cometh to understand how spirituall the law is, and how carnall he is, he cryeth out of himself as most miserable. The Law is spirituall, saith Paul, that is, it reacheth to the sinnes of the spirit, it forbiddeth all inordinate motions there, it prohioits all their secret irregularities: so that as God is the father of spirits, thus the Law is the Law of spirits, and thou maiest become an horid transgressour of this in thy heart when thy outward I so seemeth pare and innocent; The Law is compared by James to a glasse; now it's no won∣der that a man never abhorreth the foulnesse of spots and dirt upon his face, as long as he looketh not in there. No man can bewail the obliquity and crooked∣nesse of his actions, that doth not diligently apply them to the straightnesse of the rule, Oh then say, This justice, this honesty, this freedome from grosse sinne is highly esteemed among men: but what is it to Gods Law? how foul a transgres∣sor shall I be convinced to be, if I compare my self with that rule! Hence there∣fore ariseth all that self-righteousnesse, in that men do no more understand how holy and exact that rule is by which they ought to walk. There is a world of unseen, and unknown filthinesse in thee, and if thy eyes were opened to behold it thou couldst no longer abide thy self. But it is no wonder, that unregenerate men who have no life at all in them, feel none of these distempers, when the godly themselves as appeareth, Psal. 19. cry cut, Who can understand his errours, cleanse me from secret sins: By that David implyeth, that there is more corruption in his heart then he is aware of. Much unknown pride, hypocrisie, earthliness dwels in their hearts, and they perceive it not. If therefore it be thus with the godly, that they are not able to understand how lothsome and wretched they are, is it any wonder if men dead wholly in sinne, feel not any burthen, though mountains lie upon them? Soon therefore wouldest thou depose those lofty imaginations, if so be thou wouldest on purpose consider how exact the Law is, forbidding the root, as well as the branches of sinne, making every inordinate motion, (thousands of Page  145 which rise howerly in thy soul) a Transgression of the Law.

3. Therefore are they so confidently perswaded, because they attend only to the*negative Commandements, Thou shalt do no murder; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not forswear thy self, &c. And so suppose that the whole duty required by God of us, is swallowed up in those negatives. This made the young man no doubt so bold; from his youth up, he had been preserved from such foul, grosse sins. Indeed he speaks arrogantly when he saith, I have kept these; as if he by his own power had restrained that sea of corruption from overflowing the banks; for what evill hath been committed by any man, which he might not also have done, had not God bounded and limited his wickednesse? Well but howsoever though he be thus spotlesse in his life: yet that is not all God requireth, God hath positive commands, as well as negatives; and the same authority which saith, Do not steal, do not kill, saith also, Keep the Sabbath holy, and sanctifie the Name of God. Now although this be a very small matter to build a mans salva∣tion upon, yet we may wonder to see that all the covering many men have for their nakednesse, is only these fig-leaves: That they are no drunkards, no whore∣mongers, no thieves; A meer negative godlinesse, what pity is it, that a people instructed out of Gods Word, living under the means of salvation, should appre∣hend no better in matters of God?

4. Another cause of false perswasion is, that although they may minde affirma∣tive*precepts, as well as negatives, yet they understand them not in their comprehensive sense, and so think they have attained to what the Law requireth, when indeed they fall exceeding short. As for example, this command Thou shalt do no murder, doth not only forbid that sin, but command the contrary duty, and not only so, but all the means, occasions, and circumstances that tend thereunto; and so in eve∣ry commandment. Now if a man consider seriously how many occasions and cir∣cumstances, and causes there are of all sinnes; as on the contrary, how many oc∣casions, motives and causes there are of holy duties, he will stand amazed to see himself so much guilty in millions of sinnes, which he thought could never have been laid to his charge; so then as the Gospel hath a mystery of grace, and origi∣nall sin a mystery of sin, so that we are never able to go to the depth and breadth of these: So the Law is a mystery of duties: and as the Logicians say, The ten predicaments do contain every created being that is in the world; so do these ten Commandements all the duties required of us; It is therefore of great conse∣quence if ever men would be driven out of these golden dreams, and foolish Para∣dises they fancy to themselves, to study, and understand the comprehensive sense of every precept.

5. Another stupifying and benumming principle, is the totall neglect of that*necessary duty, self-reflection and self-examination; Whereby a man liveth fourty or threescore years, and is a meer stranger to his own self. Hence are those duties so frequently pressed, to commune with our own hearts, to sweep them, as some tran∣slate, to dig into them, as others; and this duty is to be done with much stillnesse and quietnesse of spirit, and at those times when we are most free from distur∣bances, according to that rule, anima sedendo, & quiescendo fit sapiens. In other Texts, it is called searching our hearts, and trying our reins; which duties imply, that our hearts are not presently what they outwardly appear: Gold may be in the surface, and iron or stone in the bottom; you know how impossible Hazael thought that should be in his heart, and done by him, which the Prophet foretold. Man in that he is rationall, can only reflect upon himself, beasts cannot, and it is a great obstruction to salvation, that men use this no more, no man saith accord∣ing to the Prophet, What have I done? Therefore deal with your selves as an ene∣my would do. The Hebrew word for an enemy is an Observer, because he watch∣eth and lyeth at the carch to see what haltings and failings there be; Do thou thus become an enemy to thy self, and that is to be a friend to thy self; Say, O Lord I arraign my self at thy barre, I would be winnowed that my chaff may ap∣pear, Page  146 I would be filed, that my rust come off. It is strange to consider what sinnes men may live in, and yet not attend to the consideration of such. The making of a practicall Syllogism would be very introductory to our full conversion unto God, in this manner: The Scripture in severall places speaketh terrible threatnings to such and such sins. But I live in such and such sins. Therefore all those threatnings belong to me: oh how can the soul put off this conviction? how can it extinguish this light shining upon it? what have I to do but to repent and turn to God! There is no other course can be taken by me.

6. Therefore are men thus senselesse, because of that abominable self-love, and*self-flattery, which cleaveth to every man. This ruined the Pharisees, our Saviour tels them plainly of it; You are they that justifie your selves, but that which is high∣ly esteemed amongst men is〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an abomination before God. Wonder not at this in wicked men: see David a godly man, through self love, how did he favour himself in his grosse sins, and applyeth nothing till Nathan say, Thou art the man. And this lay at the bottom in this rich mans heart, an over-weaning of a mans self, and an immoderate love, whereby we judge every thing we do well done: Many times a godly man through pusillanimity of spirit, and an holy fear, doth bear false witnesse against himself, he will not own or acknowledge those good things Gods Spirit inableth him to do, and thereby he walketh both unthankful∣ly, and uncomfortably. But the unregenerate man he is in the other extremity, he presumeth of good to be in him, when it is not; a full instance of this is, the Church of Laodicea, who said, she was full, and wanted nothing, as if she were God himself, for he only is allsufficient, yet she boasteth, she wanteth nothing, not a God, or Christ, or his grace, when at the same time, she was miserable, and wanted all things. Here was a great difference between Gods judgement about them, and their own; and it is a poor small thing to be acquitted by our selves, when God doth condemn us: Therefore say, It is thy folly, it is thy madnesse, it is thy self-love, makes thee conclude thy self in a good estate: Doth God say so? Do the Scriptures say so? It is a sinne to call good evill, and evill good, in our selves as well as in others.

7. Fear of guilt, that also makes us hoodwink our eyes that we will neither * look into the Law, nor into our hearts: so that it is with us as with Bankrupts, that are loth to cast up their accounts, because thereby they shall see how undone they are. As it argueth guilt in heretiques that they are lucifugae scrīpturarum, they are such Owls that cannot abide the day, such thieves that love not the light: so it ar∣gueth our guilt in our own hearts, when we are walking without any disquisi∣tion to perswade our selves of the good in us. Oh we are afraid to be troubled, we think we shall finde that which may disquiet us, and so by this means, we rest in generals; thereby to deceive our own souls. But as it is folly in a wounded man to fear the searching of his soar, for if that be not discovered he can never be made whole: No lesse wickednesse is it in a man not to search out the worst by him∣self, and to know the greatest danger he is in, that thereby he may indeed come to be healed.

8. Therefore are men thus well conceited of themselves, because they are ig∣norant of regeneration, they know not the necessity of being born again: yea, they * blesse themselves they are no changelings. They have found no manifest alteration of themselves from the beginning. We see Nicodemus a man much conversant in the law of God, yet altogether to learn about this great point. If therefore a Master of Israel knoweth not these things, is it any wonder that an ordinary disciple doth not? Therefore take most men, they do as grosly mistake about godlinesse and re∣generation, and know no more of it, then a blinde man of colours. If therefore thou didst know the nature and necessity of regeneration, thou couldest take no more delight in thy self, or any thing thou dost. Thou wouldest say, I am but a weed and no flower in Gods garden, I am a thistle and no branch of the true Vine. And in this case thou wouldst cry more bitterly then the blinde or lame did; for thou needest life it self.

Page  147 9. There is an extrinsecall cause which addeth to all this, and that is, the de∣vil,*he reigneth in the heart of every one by nature, he hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts. Now our Saviour tels us, that while the strong man keeps the house, all things are quiet: There is no trouble or contest. Even as Pha∣raoh let the people alone, till he saw them desirous to go out of his power. Won∣der not therefore to see morall, civill men, with such great peace and quietnesse in their conscience, never fearing of their condition, never doubting of their estate, for all this calmnesse comes in part from the devil, who keeps every thing quiet, and hardeneth in presumption more and more: blesse not God then for every peace and quietnesse thou feelest in thy self: The body may feel no pain from rom rottennesse as well as soundnesse, and it may be thy condition were far bet∣ter if thou couldest neither eat or drink, or sleep for fear of thy condition: Blessed are they that mourn, and wo to those that laugh.

10. The last and main reason is, because every man naturally is destitute of the*spirit, without which we are all devoid of light and life. The Spirit of God Joh. 16. is that which convinceth the world of sinne; so that a man can never vigorously and powerfully be affected with his wretched estate, till these Sunne-beams shine into him, which will discover the least motes; The spirituall man judgeth all things. Hence it is that godly men though great proficients in grace, have lower thoughts of themselves then unregenerate men, only because the spirit of God is alwaies con∣vincing them of sinne, as well as sanctifying, and comforting of them against it, Paul never had such debased and humble expressions about himself before his con∣version, as after: Would he ever have said all his righteousnesse was dung and dross? That he had not yet attained what he desired? Would he ever have acknowledged himself the greatest of all sinners in his former daies? No: The people of God are more debased for their imperfect duties, then wicked men are for their greatest sins, and whence is all this, but because of Gods Spirit dwelling in them, and in∣lightning of them? But wicked men being without this light, are not able to judge any thing about themselves.

The Use is, To take heed of this self-conceit and self love, desire Gods Word * may be a two-edged sword in you, dividing between marrow and joynts: I am afraid this Laodicean fullnesse is the sinne of most now adaies, and this is as desperate an enemy to Christ and his grace, as grosse prophanesse, yea, in some particulars worse. More Publicans and Harlots were brought to repentance, and so to the kingdome of heaven, then Pharisees. Oh then fear, lest that which thou judgest thy blessednesse and happinesse, be not thy greatest danger and misery. Thou thinkest it well that all is at peace and ease within thy soul: O pray rather that God would convince and trouble thy soul more effectually, and so give thee true peace.

Page  148

SERMON XXVI.

Declaring that many rest upon a strict way of Reli∣gion, which yet cometh not up to, but often is besides the appointment of the word.


ACTS 26. 5.
Which knew me from the beginning (if they would testifie) that after the most straitest Sect of our Religion, I lived a Pharisee.

THe Text is part of Pauls Apologetical oration to Agrippa, wherein we have the Exordium, or Preface, and the Narration, or substantial matter summarily contained therein. In the Preface Paul doth with great Rheto∣rique captare benevolentiam, endeavour to incline the affections of Agrippa to him, accounting it an happiness to Apologize before him, who was so expert of all the Jewish customs: In the Narration, we have

First, The history of his former life.

Secondly, Of his present state and conversation.

The Text is part of that Narrative which relates to his by-past conversation, wherein he described himself from the religious condition he then was in, and that first more generally, then more particularly: Generally, He was after the most strict way of Religion〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the Originall for Religion. Plutarch tells us, cometh from the Thracians, eminently taken notice of for their devotion: and it is used sometimes in a good sence, sometimes in a bad sence, as it degenerateth into superstition. The Original for Sect, is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Heresie, and so the several sects among Philosophers were called Heresies. It is the opinion of Gerhard, a learned man, That this word is alwaies taken in an ill sence in the Scripture: but this place with two or three more in the Acts of the Apostles, seem to imply the use of it in a middle, or indifferent sence, any particular way that a man shall chuse dif∣ferent from the rode, although in the Epistles it is used in an ill sence: Therefore Tertullian called it Secta Christianorum, The Sect of the Christians. Now this way Paul walked in, is aggravated with this adjunct, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the superla∣tive sence: and so Josephus speaks of the Pharisees, as those that were most accu∣rate in the observance of instituted and Traditional obedience: more particularly, his way is described by its denomination, a Pharisee. There were three Sects sprung up among the Jews, the Pharisees, Sadduce s, and Essenes; the Scripture speaketh nothing at all of the latter, because as some say, They lived like Hermits, in remote solitary places, and so the Evangelist had no occasion to mention them: Now the Pharisees were called, either as some say, from a word to open and explain, because they expounded the Scripture; or from a word to Separate and Segregate; and Ca∣meron upon this place makes the Hebrew word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 not to signifie every kind of Division or separation, but that which is after a most subtile, and minute manner: Hence Isa. 28. 29. It is applied to the teeth of a rake, and Horse riders〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Page  149 are called, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because of their spurs: and Proverbs 23. It is applied to The sting of a Bee: Therefore to be a Pharisee, was to be a scrupulous, anxious man, which did subtilly examine all things: Hence they were so strict, that they would not sleep upon any easie thing, least they should have any vain, or indecent thoughts so much as in their very dreams: and because of this strictness, it was that they were so admired among the people, whereas the Saddueces denying Angels, Spirits, and the Resurrection, were for the most part of the richer, and greater sort, because such opinions did best suit with their lusts; yet because of their greatness though they held such fundamental Errors, yet they were not Excommu∣nicated Errors.

From the Text we may observe,

That an extraordinary strict way taken up in Religion, is thought a sure and a good foundation by many for their eternall happiness.*

The Pharisee for this unusual, and supererogating way of exactness, as they judged, was reputed by himself and others, as those that should certainly go to Heaven, if any did. How confidently they used to presume of this, appeareth by Paul, Phil. 3. 5, 6, 7. Where making a Catalogue of those things, He once thought a gain to him; he instanceth in this as one of the last and most noble priviledges, that he was after the Law, a Pharisee: Insomuch that if any might have confidence in external priviledges, he saith, he might. Where Paul also at another time, Acts 22. 3. Declaring his former conversation, mentioneth this particular, as the main, saying, He was taught according to the perfect manner of the Law of the Fathers.

To discover this false sign, several things are considerable, as

First, The way to heaven is a strict and exact way, and all our duties are to be done*with a curious circumspection: Our prayers are to be exact prayers; our obedience exact obedience: so Ephes. 3. Walk〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, exactly: Hence the Gate that leads to happiness is straight and narrow, as the way to hell is broad and easie. I shall not therefore speak against a true and Scripture-exactness: the people of God may, and ought to take comfort, in that they walk in a more singular and exact way then the world doth, and a man living and dying in the common rode and practices of men, having nothing more extraordinary in him then they; hath no symptome of grace upon him: Math. 5. Our saviour speaking to his Disciples, That they should love their enemies; For saith he, If ye love your friends, what singular thing do ye? do not the Publicans the same? Therefore from hence it followeth, That the people of God ought to do singular things to men of the world: There is a good singularity and preciseness: and howsoever the prophane world make a taunt, and reproach of this, that you are so singular and precise, yet none are Godly that are not so: Do not even the Publicans the same? He that goeth no further, and doth no more then Publicans, hath no evidence for salvation: Therefore lay down this for a foundation, The way of Godliness, is a strict, precise, singular way. The Scri∣pture makes it an exact course; and therefore my dissolute, careless, negligent walk∣ing, can no more claim a Title to heaven, then darkness to light. Attend to this, you whose lives are as most of the world are; proud as they, prophane as they, con∣temning of Religion as they.

Now, That godliness must be strictness appeareth partly from the nature of Grace,*which is contrary to our affections, and so doth with prevailing power subdue them to the grief of the unregenerate part: Hence the Scripture calls it, Mortifying, and crucifying the old man; which implyeth the pain and Agony our corrupt part is exercised with by Grace: Christianus est perpetua naturae violentia, to conquer lusts, is To pull out the right eye, and chop off the right hand: and by this we may see how few are Godly, because they are rare that feel this spiritual conflict and agony, there is no mortifying and crucifying within them.

Again, Godliness must needs be exactness: partly, Because our duties are so bounded, and circumstantiated in their principles, manner and ends, That to do a∣ny Page  150 good action, is alwaies to hit the mark, as to sin, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is to miss the scope and white. Aristotle placed his Moral virtue, in medio, and so made it difficult to avoid extremities on both sides: but (alas!) the word of God requireth far more concurrences then ever the light of nature could discern: so that if you take any religious action, whether elicite, or imperate, to do it after a godly maner, there must be a great deal of circumspection: there is so much required in the cause, in the manner, in the motive, that we may cry out for every particular duty, which Paul did for one main one, Who is sufficient for these things? so that negligence, formality, and luke-warmness can no more consist with godliness that is of a strict and exact nature, then hell with heaven.

Therefore in the second place, It argueth a tougue and an heart set on fire from*hell, to reproach, and cry out against strictness in the way to heaven. Oh that even among Christians, there should be men whose Throats are such open sepul∣chres, as to send forth such noisome and filthy speeches: What needs all this strict∣ness? What needs all this singularity? Why should men refuse to do as the most do? Is it not their pride and hypocrisie? Alas, ignorant and prophane wretch! What thinkest thou of that place, The Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force? What thinkest thou of that, Strive to enter in at the strait Gate, for few enter therein? Are these places of Scripture true or no? if so, then wo be to thee, for thou makest the Kingdom of hell to suffer violence, and ta∣kest that by force, though the Word, and Minister, and thy Conscience be against thee: so thou that livest in dissolute prophaneness, ordinary neglect of publique and private Duties, Is thy life such a strict life? Must there be such striving to do as thou dost? Oh consider, either Gods word is wrong, or thou art out of the way: thou art not yet such an Atheist to assert the former, be therefore so far inge∣nuous as to acknowledge the latter.

Thirdly, From hence it followeth, That the number of those who are truely*godly, are very few. They are but a little flock; and they are but few, not onely compatatively to the whole world, but in respect of titular and nominal Christi∣ans, who have the name, and own the profession of Christ, but deny the power thereof. Many are called, but few are chosen, even few of those that are called: as the gold is but little to the other part of the earth; & flowers are few in respect of weeds: so that the ground why people do so easily perswade themselves of their good condition, is because they understand not how exact and strict the way of Grace is. You have this notably cleared Mat. 19. 25. Where our Saviour shewing that it was as impossible for a rich man to be saved, as a Camel to go through the eye of a needle: because its hard to have riches, and not to trust in them, or love them immoderately; when his Disciples heard this, saith the Text, They were exceed∣ingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? They do not say, what rich man? but, who can be saved? because as a rich man hath his riches, so every man hath some∣thing or other that his heart is too immoderately carried out after. Therefore say they, who can be saved? Oh beloved, while we look upon Gods gracious promi∣ses, and Christs merciful invitations, while we think of his love in dying and suf∣fering for us, we are apt to think it a very easie attainable thing to be saved, and no question the Disciples looked on these considerations, else they would not have so startled, and been so amazed at Christs Doctrine: But then on the other side, when we consider what strict qualifications, what exact conversations cught to be in those that go to heaven, we shall then stand amazed, saying, who can be God∣ly? who can pray, hear, as the Scripture requireth these duties? Hence our Sa∣viour to allay the Disciples astonishment, bringeth that universal Axiome, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible: the way there∣fore to bring you to resolve upon a more exact way of life, is to put you into this * spiritual astonishment, and amazement at the accurate way of Godli∣nesse.

Fourthly, As the way to heaven is a most strict and accurate way, So the Page  151 word of God doth onely declare and reveal what that exactness is: So that as in mat∣ters to be beleeved there is no Doctrine can be urged as necessary, which is not con∣tained in that writing: So in matters to be practised there is no degree, or high strain of holiness that is a duty, which is not also commanded in Gods word: those two commands, one Negatively, Thou shalt not lust the other affirmative, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and strength, do command both for matter and manner, all that possibly can be done by man, and therefore can never be fulfilled in this life, because of those innate and adherent corrupti∣ons in us. I have seen an end of all things, saith David, But thy commandments are exceeding broad: they contain the whole duty of a man, and this particular is more to be observed, because we are apt to go to extraordinary waies: as if the word of God were indeed a total and adequate rule for our faith, but not for our practice and conversation.

Hence, Fifthly, All strictness introduced, that is not according to Scripture, how*specious and glorious soever it may seem to be, yet it affords no true solis comfort to those that are imployed therein. Now you must know, that as there is a proneness in men, curiously to pry into doctrinal matters above the word of God, to be wise above that which is written, so there is also an ithching inclination in us, to affect an holiness above the Scripture, to bring in a greater strictness then God hath required; not that it is indeed strictness (as is to be shewed, but carnal looseness) onely it hath the appearance so to the eyes of flesh and blood: As for example, The Pharisees way that seemed to be more religious and exact, then the course our Savi∣our taught, and therefore they called him a wine bibber, and charged him for keeping company with sinners: The Pharsees would not come near any such prophane men: they would not go out, or come in, but they would first wash themselves, least they should get any uncleanness upon them. Here in outward appearance, they seemed to teach a more exact, and strict way then Christ: though all this outward austerity did flow from a poy oned, corrupted fountain within.

Let us instance in several waies whereby men may affect, and introduce an higher strictness, then the Scripture speaks of: And I shal not instance in false worship, which was a great part of Pharisaical strictness, busying themselves in those things God never required; for I shal speak of that (God willing) in the next sermon, because it is the greater sign by which many superstitious and ignorant people cousen their souls. I proceed therefore to other affectations of extraordinary strictness, such as these.

First, When the Scripture or word of God is accounted too low a thing to guid us,*and therefore they expect an higher, and more extraordinary teaching by the spirit of God, and that for other matter then is contained therein. It is true indeed, the word of God as it is Scripture, without the Spirit of God, cannot enlighten or change the heart: therefore these two must never be opposed, or disjoyned; but the word of God is the onely adequate rule, to which we are tyed, and the Spirit of God that work∣eth in and by that: so that as God will not produce any extraordinary new mate∣rial light to direct us bodily, but in and through the Sun, so the Spirit of God will not vouchsafe any new spiritual light, but in and through the Scriptures Hence it is, that although God be not bound himself, yet he hath bound us to that only: To the law, and to the Testimony, and search the Scriptures: yea, Timothy must not look for infallible directions from Paul, but give himself to the studie of the Scriptures, which were able to make him fully perfect for every good work. Now the Papist and Enthusiast they both agree in this, to debase the Scripture, not to make it a full and perfect rule; to expect higher, and more noble teachings then are from that. Hence the papist call it inkie Divinity thus to walk and believe onely by Scripture: who can think, say they, That God would have us tyed to Paper and Parchment: and they apply that place of Paul, Ye are our Epistle, 2 Cor 3. 3. Not written with ink, but the spirit of God, &c. making all those that adhere to the Scripture as a rule to live by, the Letter, and not the Spirit: so on the other side, Enthusiasts they undervalue the Scripture; and its reported of them, that they cal∣led Page  152〈1 page duplicate〉Page  153〈1 page duplicate〉Page  152 it Pessimum idolum mundi, the worst Idol in the world: and no wonder if they cry down the Scripture as being a low form, seeing some Anabaptists have denied the humane Nature of Christ, and called those Creaturistas, Creaturists, that held it so: even as some complain that Christ is made a form, and that we ought not to stay on him but go immediately to the Father. Howso∣ever these high things may seem to ravish men, and but people in∣to admiration: yet they are indeed low and false things: do not therefore grow weary of these plain Truths concerning faith and regeneration, or those plain Ser∣mons that teach this; for thou wilt shortly come to be weary of the Scripture it self, as too plain and mean a thing: That as some corrupt fancies have disdained the Scripture (such as Politian and Austin once confessed of himself) because there was not humane eloquence enough in it: so these nauseate the word of God upon another ground, as not having high and lofry Doctrines fit for their Eagle eyes. Therefore it is a miserable thing to consider how such preachers, and people that are thus elevated up to cloudy things, do Torrure and perplex Scripture, to fasten their absurd imaginations upon it: Alas, the cripture was not made for such cu∣rious Aerial speculations: Let not therefore such go any longer a Tiptoe, as if no Christian in all his glory were like to them, because of their abstruse conceptions: for they are higher then others but as chimneys are higher then other parts of the house, that carry away empty, smoaky, obscure vapours. I am the larger upon this, because it is a great part of Grace to sit down contented with the plainness and simplicity of Scripture, both for matter of it, and manner of delivery.

A second extraordinary strict way in which men support themselves, is the undergo∣ing voluntary penalties, or bodily chastisements for sinns past, or setting upon exter∣nal*austers discipline, to prevent sin to come. The Apostle describeth such, Col. 2. 21, 22, 23. where he speaks of bodily discipline, as having a shew of humility, and neglecting of the body; then he explaineth the manner how this neglect was de∣monstrated, viz. by several precepts, Touch not, tast not, handle not. Judicious Calvin doth think there is a gradation, and that superstition grew higher, and high∣er: therefore by the first command Touch not, he understands according to the Scripture use of the word sometimes Eat not, the Antecedent being put for the Consequent: so that their superstition swelled higher and higher: First, Eat not, then Tast not, which is more; then not so much as handle, which is highest of all: But what account doth the Apostle make of all these, in which some put the sub∣stantials of Religion? Truely, nothing at all, in that he calls them Rudiments of the world; and such as argue men not alive with Christ. Where you may observe, That our spiritual resurrection with Christ, doth not onely raise up our hearts a∣bove sin, and earthly things, but also all such humane Ordinances, though seeming never so much to promote piety. True Godliness and participation of spiritual life from Christ, carrieth a man not onely above lusts, and the world but all humane institutions that seem so admirably holy to flesh and blood. Indeed there ought to be a sober, moderate use of all bodily comforts: Therefore the Apostle saith, He kept under his body, an emphatical word, 1 Cor. 9. 27. yea, the whole Context is an expression from these Wrestlers, or Fighters that were known in antiquity: now the adversary that Paul fought with, was his body, that hindered him in his course to heaven: Therefore he saith, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, he did beat his face black and blew,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Tryumph over his body, and make it a slave. If you ask, how he did this? he expresseth it in that general rule, Every man that striveth for the mastery, is temperate in all things: There ought to be in every one a temperate, sober use of clothes, food, delight: because our bodies are so many ad∣versaries to hinder us in our race to heaven. Auferte ignem, adhuc enim paleas habio, said a languishing sick man of an alluring object standing by him, Take away that fire, for I have straw, or chaff that will kindle quickly. And certainly this Doctrine is much to be pressed upon you that are Citizens, who live in much ease and plenty, & go richly clothed: are you so strict and riged as you should be, in making your body Page  153 instrumental to serve God? The string of the Instrument, if it be wet and not dry∣ed, is not fit to make any melodious tune; no more is the body overmuch repleni∣shed with any pleasure. We see Timothy going too far in the bodily discipline; Therefore Paul adviseth him To drink a little wine for his present infirmities. John Baptist, he also came in an austere way, his garments being of Camels hair, and his food locusts: This way of his was different from Christs: nor is John Baptist an example to us; but his deportment was peculiar, as being most sutable to him that was putting a period to the old Testament-dispensations.

Therefore all those affected Austerities of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, eating of hearbs, and other dry things, as also Humicubaticus, or lyings on the ground in rough sack-cloth, though the exercisers therein did no doubt much please themselves, and thought hereby to endear God to them: yet all this is but a vain refuge: The Apostle deter∣mineth, 1 Tim. 4. 8. Bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable to all things. He makes a distinction between bodily exercise, and godliness; therefore one is not the other: Do not then measure thy hopes and assurances of heaven, though very specious to a carnal eye, by such outward strict observances.

Thirdly, An extraordinary strictness which maketh men confident, Is a volun∣tary abdication, and actual dispossessing our selves of all outward comforts, and apply∣ing our selves onely to religious exercises. How did this mistake seduce thousands of devout souls, who were zealous for God, but wanted knowledge? Hence came those Monasteries, renouncing of riches, wealth, and whatsoever comfort was in this life: As if those places, Unless a man forsake all, and deny himself, taking up the cross and follow me, &c. did command an actual abdication of all, and not rather an habitual preparation of heart to leave them all when God shall call for them. And if we read of Philosophers that have thrown all their wealth away, that they might the better study Philosophy, is it any wonder if a false zeal carry some to part with all, that according to their thoughts, they might the more expeditely come to the races end? It is true indeed, the Scripture commands such strictness in our affe∣ctions and desires to all worldly comforts, That those that have them must be as if they had them not: And who is there that can stand under those exact commands of God herein? yet we may erre on the right hand, as well as on the left. Such were those Euchetae, that gave themselves onely to pray: And the Donatists up∣braiding the Orthodox with their impiety, and commending their own godliness, Nos formidamus divitias, We (say they) are afraid of riches.

Fifthly, Men may judge their Spiritual conditions the better, Because of an ex∣traordinary strictness in Church Discipline, and Church Dispensations, when yet there is no ground at all for it: That there may be overmuch rigor in Discipline, appeareth plainly, 2 Cor. 2. 7. where the Apostle blameth them, That they did not receive into favor that incestuous person, who had truely repented: And the Apo∣stle doth in part suppose it is part of Satans subtile devices, when he cannot destroy a Church by prophaneness, and dissoluteness, to overthrow it by too much severi∣ty. Now how many waies there may be an excess in rigid Church waies, we have upon another occasion shewed: As when men hold onely perfect men; or if not so, only truely godly men to be admitted into Church-fellowship; and men, though qualified with sufficient knowledge, and free from Scandal, to be debarred many priviledges: As also when they think men committing such sins, were ne∣ver to be received again; which was the error of Novatians and Donarists: or if they did admit such repenting, yet not for many years, in which excess the primitive Church did fall. Now all these Doctrines and Practices, having a specious pretence of more strictness, and exactness then others, is a temptation to many, that they build themselves upon these waies and manners, not at all attending to the power and life of Godliness; this is a seasonable Doctrine at this time. Oh, puff not up thy self: do not conclude great things for thy self, meerly because thou judgest thy self in a more strict Doctrinal, or Church way then others. Alas these external waies profit little, but god liness profiteth to all purposes. Many times high principles, have Page  154 but low practices, and strict opinions, sometimes large conversations. Now the ground why these instituted, and introduced strictnesses, are not to be rested upon, is because they are not what they seem to be. We call them high things, but they are indeed low things; we call them strict things, but they are indeed large and loose things. For take this Pharisaical most exact and straight way; alas, their hearts were large and loose enough; so that all strictnesse, which is not commanded by Scripture, comes from a loose principle, and tends to a loose end: for it proceeds from a carnal heart, not acquiescing in Gods word as a rule: it is not subject to Scripture directions, and then the end is carnal; for it is alwaies for some self-ad∣vantage, though it be in a subtile and crafty way. As you see the Pharisees st〈…〉ctnes was, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to be seen of men: should they not have applause, and profit, and Disciples to admire them, they would never have engaged in such austere ways.

Use 1. Is there indeed a true Scripture-strictness, without which heaven cannot be obtained; Then see what a gulf there is between heaven and you, who live in all loosenesse, negligence, and carelesse contempt of what is good. Is thy life thou livest so difficult, so contrary to flesh and blood? Is to be drunk, to cousen, to be unclean, like pulling out of the right eye? Thou canst not have bread for thy mouth without the sweat of thy brows, and thinkest thou to have this prize with∣out earnest running in the race? Dost thou think God will provide Salvation for thee, as he did a wife for Adam, by casting thee in a dead sleep, and thou know no∣thing, nor discern nothing of it? But especially do you tremble, who scoff, re∣proach, yea, persecute and oppose men for strictness in religious waies: This argu∣eth a legion of Divels in thee: thou canst not abide the image of God: thou canst not indure to see the practical power of it. The fire of Gods wrath will be heated se∣ven times hotter for such opposers as thou art.

Use 2. Of admonition, to examine and judge wisely of all strictness commanded to thee: For the Divel may seduce thee in thy zeal, as well as in thy prophanenesse: and do not perswade thy self of Grace, because of a more strict opinion, or Church∣practice thou conceivest thy self to be in: For this is not the Scripture-strictnesse in which the essence of godlinesse consists; for that lyeth in the inward circumcisi∣on of the heart, in the powerful mortification of the affections, in walking humbly, in living by faith, and heavenly-mindednesse. Oh, it is easier to be of the strictest Church way in the world, then to practise strict Graces. Oh, what a reproach is it, to pretend a singular way, and not to have a singular heart, and a singular con∣versation? but are men in the broad way, proud covetous, earthly, wanton? so art thou in thy strict way; what a contradiction is this?

Page  155

SERMON XXVII.

Zeal and Diligence in false Worship no ground of Comfort.


MARK 7. 7.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for Doctrines the traditions of men.

THe Text is part of an historical Narration, wherein is manifestly decipher∣ed the envious and malicious disposition of superstitious persons and hy∣pocrites against the pure and upright, for here we have the Scribes and Pharisees, that were reputed the only Saints of the world, because of their out∣ward devotion, quarrelling and contesting with Christ, about the neglect of a superstitious custome. So that you have their impeachment in the 5th verse, Why walk not thy Disciples according to the tradition of the Elders, that eat bread with unwashen hands? They do not say, Why is Gods Law, or Moses his Law transgressed? but the tradition of the Elders. The Elders among the Jews had brought in under a specious pretext of piety and religion, many devout customs and religious usages, which they called Sepimenta legis, hedges to the Law of God, but they were indeed Impedimenta, for hereby Gods commands were fru∣strated. Now among other traditions, this was introduced by them, that they did before they went to meals, or when they came home from businesse abroad, wash themselves. The ground was, lest they should touch any thing unclean, and so be defiled unawares; hereupon also it was, that they used frequent wash∣ings, as of themselves; so also of Cups, Pots, Vessels and Tables: where by the way we may observe 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to signifie in the general any wash∣ing, and not dipping onely, as some contend. If you ask, Why our Saviour would not conform to such a tradition, seeing there was no visible appearance of evil in it, neither was it a sinne to do so? Chrysostom giveth this reason, because those that are intent to the most necessary and serious matters of Religion, use to neglect, what is supersluous: but we may say, This tradition was used not upon civil respects, for so to wash their hands was comely and decent before they eat bread, but upon religious considerations, hereby worshipping God, and thinking thereby to approve themselves more acceptably to him.

To this Accusation of the Pharisees our Saviour answereth two waies:

First, By Recrimination, and then by Positive Information, vers. 14, 15. My Text is part of the Recrimination, which consists partly in application of Isaiahs Prophecie to them, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is farre from me. This was spoke to the Jews living in the Prophets time, but because they were guilty of the same sinne, he extendeth the Prophets speech to all that are guilty of hypocrisie in the like kinde.

Again, Christs upbraiding is partly in the manifestation of the vanity and un∣profitablenesse of such false worship, In vain do they worship me. The Hebrew word is Fear in the Prophet; but because that is many times used for the whole Page  156 worship of God, therefore it is expounded so here. And although the word in vain is not used by the Prophet Isaiah, yet the Septuagint hath it, and this sense is necessarily implied by consequence.

That it is a vain and unprofitable sign to support and comfort our selves by, that we are diligent in the worship of God, if not commanded by him.*

The Pharisees made their observation of religious traditions to be the eminent ground of all their happinesse. In this they placed all their Religion and Sanctity; whosoever concurred not with them herein, was accounted prophane and cur∣sed; but how light and empty is all this found, when weighed in the balance of the Sanctuary? And it is wonderfull to consider, how in all the ages of the Church, this Pharisaical leaven, hath leavened most persons. Insomuch that Gods Commandments have been wholly laid aside, while mens traditions have been admired; So that it is a true Assertion of Augustines, Sincerus Dei cultus apud paucos est, The sincere and pure worship of God, is but among few. So that the discussion of this Point, will much clear the true Nature of the service of God.

Therefore to be informed herein, consider, *

First, That it lieth as a necessary duty upon all to worship and serve God. The He∣brew words and Greek are several and observable, that expresse this worship, which are exactly handled among the learned; The ground of this worship is, Because he is the Jehovah, who giveth us our being, and all other mercies: It is therefore most natural, and a most indispensable debt to acknowledge him for his supream excellency herein, and to give him a peculiar and proper worship. Now this worship and service is either internal, or external, or mixt, compounded of * both; internal consists in our love of God above all things, Faith and Hope in him, Obedience to his commands, which the Scripture preferreth before all external worship; External is that of adoration and inclination of the body, kissing the hand, bowing the knee, dedicating Temples, Altars, and Offering of Sacrifices; Mixt is compounded of both these, such as calling upon Gods name by Petition and Thanksgiving.

Secondly, This worship and service of God is not given to God, because he needs it,*or is made more happy thereby. This is a good consideration to debase hypocrites who are so apt to swell and to be secure, because of their worship of God. Thus David doth acknowledge that his good reacheth not to God. God is no more better∣ed by our worship, then the fountain is, because a man drinks of it; or the Sun, because a man seeth by the light of it. Such do not advantage the fountain, or the Sunne, but their own selves. So God hath appointed this worship, not that he might receive good from us, but communicate good to us. Thus God saith, The beasts upon a thousand hils are mine. God there sheweth, he needed not their * Sacrifices; This is a necessary truth, for hypocritical Formalists to meditate on. Thy worship of God consists not in thy giving to him, but receiving from him. It is for thy own good and advantage that God hath appointed thee to hear, pray, and to be exercised in any godly duty.

Thirdly, Such is the infinite Excellency and Majesty of God, that we are to trem∣ble*and greatly to be ashamed of any worship or service we tender to him. The Angels that are not conscious to the least sinne in themselves, but are pure above the Sunne, that cannot call themselves dust and ashes, yet cover their faces before God. An expression to signifie the dazeling Majesty of God in their eyes: Then much more ought man to abhorre himself in any worship, and that as he is a creature, though he had nothing but that excellent and pure stamp of holinesse, then with what humiliation and self-abhorrency should sinfull man stand in the presence of God! It is a remarkable expression in Joshua, Ye cannot serve God, for he is an ho∣ly God, Josh. 24. 19. Ye cannot serve him, viz. according to his nature, as his Majesty deserveth. Oh how should such considerations as these work more aw∣ful and trembling thoughts upon you, when you are in any worship, why are ye Page  157 so drousie, sleepy, dull and carelesse, when ye are worshipping of God, what high contempt is this?

Fourthly, God only may appoint that worship which he will accept of. The second * Commandment containeth all the instituted worship of God, and by what rea∣son Images are forbidden, by the same are also prohibited all parts or means of worship invented by man, though upon specious and glorious titles. Hence are they so often blamed for a way of worship, which they chuse of their own heads, and for walking after their own imaginations. The deformity of an Ape li∣eth in being so like a man, and yet not a man; so doth the loathsomnesse of all false worship lie in this, that it imitateth the worship of God, but indeed it is not so. Augustine acknowledgeth that of Socrates, as good and true, God must be worshipped in that way only he hath appointed: And the same Augustine layeth down an excellent position, Erroris hoc est principium, quod quae placent nobis etiam Deo placere putamus; & quae nobis displicent etiam Deo displicere. Nothing though it seem never so good, may be added to Gods precepts. Therefore in all worship, look to a warrant, else thy sinne is very great. Hence Joh. 4. The Samaritans are said to worship they know not what, because they finde not Gods appointment for what they did.

Fifthly, Our Saviour doth excellently and briefly lay down what is accepta∣ble * worship unto him, ohn 4. 22. Those that worship him, must worship him in Spi∣rit and truth, and as a Father; such worshippers he seeketh for, though he needeth them not. To worship God in the Spirit, is to have a spiritual and holy inward frame of heart in all our addresses to him. This is worshipping of God in a way the most of men are not acquainted with: The Jews and Pharisees were general∣ly ignorant of this; Paul said, Whom I serve in my Spirit. Oh it is an hard mat∣ter to have a spiritual man in praier, hearing and other worship! And indeed this is the soul and life of the service of God. The other way of worship is in truth, which by some is explained against hypocrisie and guile of Spirit; for this God complaineth of, That they drawed nigh with their mouths, but their hearts were farre from God. Lastly, as a Father, they must worship, though humbly, yet not slavishly and servilely. Seneca speaketh of the superstitious intimidated person, that while he worships God, he provoketh him, Quem colit, violat.

Sixthly, Howsoever worship of God be commanded by him, yet such is the nature of*all moral duties, that the obedience to them is required before any instituted worship. I will have mercy and not Sacrifice. Goe and learn what that meaneth, saith our Savi∣our. Insomuch that comparatively to obedience, God is said not to command these at all. And herein Samuel gives Saul a remarkable lesson, Rebellion or dis∣obedience is like the sinne of witchcraft. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, to walk humbly, to do justly, &c. Therefore how diligent and busie soever thou art in outward worship, yet if not obedient to the known Commandments of God, thou canst not be called a true worshipper of God. Consider this, you who live in grosse sins of swearing, lyings, filthy lusts, yet what a stirre doe you make for outward worship and ceremonies not commanded. If so be that God be to be worshipped, why doth thy tongue blaspheme him by curses? Why doth thy body dishonour him by filthy defilements? What hast thou to doe (saith God) to take my words in thy mouth, and hatest to be reformed? Oh remem∣ber obedience is better then all bowings, inclinations and incurvations of the body!

Seventhly, The heart of man is exceeding subtil and ingenuous to palliate over all*false worship: Insomuch that there never were superstitious abuses of the worship of God, but that there have been learned men, and wise men to plead for them. The Pharisees were accounted the only learned, and knowing men of the Jews, yet who more zealous for this traditional worship then they? And thus in Pope∣ry for their Altar-worship, Image-worship, all their pompous adoration. What heaps of distinctions have they minted to represent them lawfull? Insomuch Page  158 that Sixtinus Amama speaks of a Papist, that confesseth he had need have inge∣nium valde metaphysicum, a most metaphysical ingeny, that can understand all those abstractions and precisions which are requisite for the full conception of the manner of their worship. How do they colour over their worship of Angels and Saints, by making a two-fold religious worship, one primary, as to the foun∣tain of all excellency, and so they acknowledge God only to be worshipped: The other secondary as to instruments and mediators, yet still they hold it religious. But divine worship appointed by God is indivisible, like conjugal love. Hence false worship is so often compared to whoredoms and adulteries, and Gods an∣ger to jealousie. Now as it would be no excuse to a married woman, if she com∣mit leudnesse with another man, to say, she keeps her primary love to her hus∣band, for that were not lawful, no not in that woman in the story, who yielded her self to the lust of another, to redeem her husband from captivity, though love to her husband put her upon this fact, yet it was not justifiable; so neither can any good intentions, or a loving heart to Gods glory and zeal for him, excuse or legit〈…〉te any worship he hath not appointed. Take heed therefore of plead∣ing good intentions, and a good meaning in Gods worship. Who seemed to be more excusable then 〈◊〉 yet God struck him suddenly dead for that trans∣gression? If people were truly sensible of this, they would not so revile and rage at a Reformation as they do; What is more cheering and rejoycing a true godly man, then to see the pure administration of all Church-worship? And on the other side, nothing doth cut and pierce the heart of a carnal superstitious man more, then to have his superstitions removed: Then they think all Religion is re∣moved with it. Well, howsoever thy intentions are good, as thou saiest, yet God accounts it so much worship done to Devils. It is said of Jeroboam, His wor∣ship was to Devils. Alas did the people think so? Were not their intentions for the true God? But God calleth it worshipping of Devils, for all false worship is brought in by the instigation of the Devils.

Eighthly, God under the New Testament hath appointed all his worship in a plain*simple way, not to please the eye, or affect the heart, but only to draw out the spiritual exercise of the soul. Insomuch that it is the most difficult thing that can be, not to be offended at the simplicity of Gods worship now appointed; I am afraid, saith Paul, 〈◊〉 as the Serpent beguiled Hve, so your mindes should be corrupted from the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ. Paul was afraid of this, the Devil is to be fear∣ed more as a glittering subtil Serpent, then a raging roaring Lion: and in nothing * doth his serpentine art appear more then in introducing worship that is pompous and ceremonious. As children love to play with babies; so do ignorant, carnal people with an external sensible worship. And the more spiritual any Ordinance, or the administration of it is, the lesse glorious it is unto a corrupt heart; whereas a gracious heart seeth glorious Majesty in spirituality. Christs presence in the Temple, expounding, informing and reforming, made the second Temple more glorious then the former, which did exceed in gold and other magnificence. As the paint∣ing of a precious jewel hinders the native and proper lustre of it. So doth humane pomp added to the pure institutions of Christ take off from the innate beauty and glory of them. God indeed in the Old Testament appointed a solemn external worship, full of sensible glory and pomp, but it was because they were infants, and children had rather have a baby then a rich inheritance. Expect therefore in the worship of God, that which may exercise thy faith, heavenly-mindednesse, and dependency upon God, which may make a divine impression and stamp upon thy soul, not that which may ravish thy eyes, and thy ears.

In the next place, let us consider, why such men so addicted unto externall su∣perstitions, * though they much admire themselves, yet are indeed vain men, and lean upon vain props.

1. Because alwayes such persons have the bitterest enmity against true godlinesse. Our Saviour and his Disciples had no greater enemies then these of the Pharisees. Page  159Luther had no stouter opposites out of ale-houses and brothel houses, then he had out of the Monasteries and other religious places, as they call them. And observe now adaies, who are more implacable enemies to all godliness and t••e power of it, then those that dote upon ceremonious worship? who manifest a greater enmity unto a Reformation then such. Shalt thou therefore take delight, and have hope in thy self and waies, when thou art in the first rank of those that oppose true pie∣ty: And the reason of this enmity is, because true godlinesse doth discover the falshood and hypocrisie of that painted worship, and brings it out of repute in the world, all which is a torment to their galled hearts. How canst thou say thou art godly, who abhorrest, reproachest and persecutest it, where thou findest it practised?

2. Here is no ground of confidence in these, because they are consistent with the ordi∣nary*practice of grosse and sinfull courses. The Jews cried, The temple, the temple of the Lord, when yet their lives were fraughted with murders, adulteries, and all kinde of notorious sinfulness; and this is still to be seen, none so zealous for superstitious waies, as men of corrupt lives, and dissolute conversations; and it seemeth very strange that a man should be so seemingly for God in worship, and yet so really against him in practice. The first Chapter of Isaiah is a most excellent remon∣strance against such men, I have your new moons, your sacrifices are as if a dogs hear were cut off. Wash ye, make ye clean. Here you see that which God looks at, is real Obedience: yea God judgeth all such worship a great dishonour to him. And in∣deed it must needs be so, for such men think God like themselves, Thou thoughtest (saith God) that I was such an one as thy self. God is indeed the God of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob, the God of believers and of holy men, but not the God of Cain, Lamech, Esau and Judas: What blasphemy would it be to entitle God to such. God is God of the living, and not of the dead, in this sense, viz. who are dead in gross and wicked impieties. Know therefore, that notwithstanding all thy worship, thy ceremonious addresses, thou art but a dead corpse, which makes every thing un∣clean it toucheth.

3. If a man may not relie or trust on the instituted worship of God, yea nor on the*graces wrought by Gods Spirit in us, then much lsse in a worship of his own. Paul who once put confidence in his strict way of Pharisaism, when converted, accounteth his very graces and holinesse, but dung comparatively unto the righteousness of Christ. If therefore the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, be not sanctu∣ary sure enough to flee unto, shall the temple of Baal, or the Image of Moloch, be a City of refuge? If the Sacraments and Ordinances appointed by God are no symptom of thy grace, Can those bowings and incurvations or external Discipline set up by thy own self? If the green tree cannot endure the fire, shall the dry hay and stubble encounter with it? If thy own graces are not helmet strong enough to repell Gods wrath, then thy own voluntary worship is but so many cob∣webs, when a furious tempest bloweth upon them.

4. These are not to be relied upon, which are vain and unprofitable, and so frustrate*of that end we expect. Now the Text saith, In vain do they worship me; other du∣ties commanded by God, though they are not pillars to be leaned on, yet they are not vain. God saith not to Jacob, to seek his face in vain, but all this service is lost labour: Who hath required all these things at your hands. Now of all things to la∣bour in vain in religious matters is the saddest expence of all. After all that zeal thou art never a whit the nearer heaven, thou art no more indeared to God, Thy state is no waies spiritually advantaged: yea though it be a fruitlesse labour one way, yet it is not another way; for there is a fruit of these labours, but it is bit∣terness and wormwood, God is more provoked by thee. These false worships will be written down in the catalogue of thy other sins, a drunkard, a swearer, a Sab∣bath-breaker, and a false-worshipper. Now consider that this sin of false-worship, though it be not so condemned by a natural conscience, yet it is far above all sins against the second Table caeteris paribus; for, 1. God is said onely to be jealous Page  160 about this sin. The rage of a man is seen in his jealousie, if wronged therein, he can least bear it. And thus God describeth himself about superstitious worship. That which thou with a great deal of comfort and satisfaction delightest in, is an abomination unto God. Thy lies in thy trade, thy curtain sins do not so offend God, as thy Church sins, those superstitions thou art acting there. 2. It is a sin against the first and second Commandment; yea if our worship be not done as God hath appointed it, it is (as you heard) done to Devils; and hence it is that of all sins God did most remarkably punish the Israelites with captivity and sword, for defiling and corrupting his worship. How then can that be a plea for thee, which will be the greatest plea against thee? Of all blindnesse, it is most terri∣ble to take your crimson sins for your service to God, and to place Religion in that which is the greatest irreligion.

5. That which is a sad curse and fruit of former sins, that can be little comfort to*any man that rightly considereth of things. Thus we say, it's an absurd thing to be proud of cloaths, for in that thou needest cloathing, it's an argument thou art fal∣len from integrity and innocency: But in this matter, the curse of God is more wonderful upon thee, for all that admiration and applause of false worship is in∣flicted upon thee as a punishment, because thou hast not received the truth in the love of it. That Antichristian spirit in Popery, whence is it? to believe a lie for truth; to take Idolatry for Religion, is it not because men are given up to believe a lie? because they loved not the truth And thus our Prophet Isaiah from whom our Text is alledged, speaks of the blindness God had given these idolatrous Jews up unto, that they cannot understand nor know the minde of God: As therefore you have Gods judgements upon some to be delivered up to carnall grosse sins, which they cannot leave; so there are also some given up to spiritual delusions and superstitions.

6. These of all men are in a most unsafe estate (notwithstanding their security) be∣cause*they are in a most absolute contrariety and indisposition for receiving of Christ, in whom only our souls have rest. Publicans and Harlots went to Heaven before the Pharisees, why so? because the former were sooner convinced of their sin, their undone estate, and so more willingly flying unto Christ. Come unto me ye that la∣bour, and I will give you ease. But when do we ever hear of such pharisaical spi∣rits burdened with sin? when do such feel the weight and load of it, desiring to be refreshed? The full stomack loatheth the honey-comb. And God filleth the hungry with good things, but the rich he sends empty away. As in Gods providence we see he commonly helps not, till all the oil in the cruse be spent, till all outward helps fail. And Christ when he was upon the earth, cured not those diseases, which for the most part could be healed by Physicians; so it is in the work of Justification, the righteousnesse of Christ is not revealed, but to those that are naked, poor and miserable in their own feeling.

Use. Of Information, Why of all men those are so hardly recovered out of their*wayes unto Christ, who accustom themselves to false worship, why they are so bitter unto the powerful waies of godliness, why they make such out-cries when such superstitions are taken away: all this ariseth from that self-fulness and self-righte∣ousness they perswade themselves of, by such religious practices. How unacquain∣ted are such with the heavy weight of sin, if they were, how insufficient would they see these plaisters for their wounds? They would call them miserable com∣forters, and throw them away. When do you see any of these lying like the man of Jericho, wounded and half dead, desiring oil to be poured in his wounds: there∣fore let such be awakened from that desperate condition they are in; let them see they run in vain, they worship in vain, they serve God in vain. Let them tollere & legere, take up the Scriptures, and reade those many places that speak against such corrupt worship.

Page  161

SERMON XXVIII.

Externall Obedience to the Law of God no sure evi∣dence for Heaven.


MAT. 5. 20.
For I say unto you, that except your righteousnesse exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

I shall take that doctrine for granted which the Orthodox prove against Papists and Socinians, viz. that in this Chapter our Saviour doth not as a Law-giver impose new commands, and duties, which were not obligatory in the Old Te∣stament; but doth only vindicate the Law of God from corrupt glosses and in∣terpretations; so that although his doctrine and interpretation was new, through the default of those corrupt traditionall Expositions, which the Pharisees had de∣livered, yet it was not new indeed, for the same duties had alwaies been com∣manded. Our Saviour doth as the Painter, which doth not draw a new image or picture, only varnisheth it over, where the colour and beauty was lost; He doth not dig up new fountains, but cleanseth away that earth and mudd which these Pharisees had thrown in. The Lord Christ in this Chapter teacheth excellent and admirable purity and holinesse, transcendent not only to Pharisaicall glosses, but to all the corrupt opinions and judgements of men, pressing upon us heart-du∣ties above external obedience, and prohibiting inward and soul-sinnes above out∣ward filthinesse. And in the Text, he doth by a vehement asseveration, remove all that reputed righteousnesse, which dazeled the eyes of the world in those daies.

So that in the words you have a necessary qualification for out entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The qualification is in an exceptive expression; Unlesse your righteousnesse, &c. By righteousnesse is not meant that Evangelicall righteousnesse imputed to us, but inherent wrought by Gods grace, and therefore called your righteousnesse, because subjected in us: our holinesse is called righteousnesse, not because we are justified or accounted righteous before God because of it: but because there are all the essen∣tiall parts of righteousnesse commanded by the Law, though defective in the gra∣duall intentions thereof.

In the next place there is the necessary requisite to our righteousnesse, viz. that it doth exceed, abound, as the greek word, or encrease and be greater then that [of the Scribes and Pharises] Scribes are named because of their learning, and Pharisees because of their pretended exactnesse in piety. He doth not say, unlesse your righte∣ousnesse be more then Publicans and Harlots, for that would easily be granted, but more then Scribes and Pharisees. Nor, unlesse it be like and equall to that of the Pharisees, but unlesse it exceed. This was extreamly offensive and paradoxall, and it is, saith Musculus, as if in the time of Popery a Preacher had said, Unlesse your righteousnesse exceed that of the Minorites and Carthusians, you cannot be saved; Now the generall ground why the Pharisees obedience was insufficient; was because it consisted in an externall conformity to the Law, without any in∣ward Page  162 change or renovation of the heart, as Paul speaketh of himself, that he knew not inward lusts to be sins.

That externall morall obedience unto the Law of God, though it be much relyed up∣on*by men; yet it is no sure evidence for heaven.

To open this consider these particulars.

First, That by externall obedience we mean an innocency or freedom from all grosse vices. No drunkard, no whoremonger, no prodigall, &c. For the Pharisees made clean the outside, howsoever inwardly their hearts were dens of theevish Iusts: Now although this innocency be no symptome of grace; yet how many such noi∣some and filthy weeds grow in Christs garden! how many such beastly swine are in Christs sheepfold, sins that should not be named among Christians, are yet pra∣ctised and boasted of among them. What comfort and hopes caost thou have in thy conscience, who carriest about with thee such evident plague-tokens of Gods wrath? What do such Crows among Christs Doves? What do such Brambles a∣mong his pleasant plants? Depart ye workers of iniquity from Christian assemblies for these know you not: God called you not to uncleannesse but unto holinesse. Oh that these spots and reproaches of Christianity were once purged away from us.

Secondly, By this morall obedience we mean a fair externall conformity*both unto the duties of the first and second Table: so that they have the out∣ward lineaments both of piety and righteousnesse. For thus the Pharisees they were carefull about the externall worship of God, how zealous about the Sabbath, charging the pollution thereof upon Christ! and as for morall du∣ties among men, had they not excelled therein, they could not have enjoyed such admiration and applause of men. It is true, our Saviour made them the worst of men, pulling off their vizards and discovering their pride and cove∣tous ends in all they did: but though they were inwardly ravening wolves, yet out∣wardly they seemed innocent sheep. Hence our Saviour called them hypocrites se∣verall times together; If therefore you have a man that is carefull in duties to man, faithfull in his word, just in his dealings, but neglective of Gods worship, a prophane despiser of the Sabbath; this man is not to be accounted so much as a morall righteous man, Again, if you see a man strict about the worship of God, in keeping of the Sabbath, in writing and repeating of Sermons, yet unjust and deceitfull in his doings, this man riseth not so high as this Pharisaicall righteous∣nesse. That which must be exceeded is an universall, generall conformity unto all the Commandements of God.

Therefore thirdly, That wherein this morall obedience to all the Commandments*of God is defective in, is, that it is a body without a soul, a shell without a kernell, a picture without life, there is nothing but an outward shape of righteousnesse; as for a principle of regeneration, and a new life within, that is wholly absent. Now this was the fundamentall miscarriage of the Pharisees, as appeareth by Nicodemus, they were wholly ignorant of originall corruption. They beleeved not that all was carnall and defiled within them, and thereupon saw no necessity of being born again, of having a new nature infused into us, and so become new creatures. And this is the rock upon which thousands split their immortall souls still. They please themselves thus, I live honestly, I do justly to every one, I frequent the Church, and receive the Ordinances of God, what further thing is there to be done? I thank God no man can accuse me, nor doth my conscience accuse me. But in the mean while, are miserable seduced men, and are at that very time, in the state of gall and wormwood; Paul though he walked with a good conscience, and concerning the righteousnesse of the Law unblameable: yet when God inlightned his soul, what a heavy doom did he passe upon himself, and called all that dung, which he judged gold once! Therefore herein is the danger of meer morall obe∣dience, that it is like a glorious house without any foundation, a fair apple with a rotten kore, a comely beautifull face with impostumed vitals.

Page  163 4. This morall obedient man though he comes so far short of heaven, yet is the worlds*Saint, and admired by them: for he having only the lineaments and form of god∣linesse, without the power and activity of it, hence it is that he is the more be∣loved of the world; Whereas if he had the vigorous life of grace, and were zea∣lous for the glory of God, and active to pull down the kingdom of sin and Satan, then all the rage and hated of the world would be derived on him. Look upon Christ and his conversation, there was more righteousnesse, holinesse, patience, meeknesse, and all lovelinesse in him, then in the strictest Pharisee: Yet the peo∣ple generally preferred a Pharisee before him, because the one had but the picture of godlinesse, and the other the lively expression of it, which is very offensive and troublesome to a carnall heart. Hence the world saith, give me an honest, quiet, peaceable man, that troubleth us not for our drunkennesse, wickednesse, and de∣bauched courses; but as for these strict, precise, zealous men, what have we to do with them?

5. Although external obedience and outward actions of piety are not to be rested*on, yet this external obedience is necessary.

First, Because outward actions are a complement and a perfection of the in∣ward habits of grace; God hath put all the internal habits of grace in the heart, that they might produce externall operations in our lives, and when they do so, they attain their ultimate perfection. Aristotle placed happinesse in the actions of the soul, not in habits and faculties, because they are not most excellent: It is not therefore enough for a man to please himself with contemplative good af∣fections, but he is also to demonstrate his grace in the powerfull operations thereof.

Secondly, Outward acts of obedience are necessary because the commands of God do especially oblige to these. Thus thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and * this is his commandment to beleeve on him: Howsoever therefore that actions are not sufficient, unlesse they flow from supernaturall principles within, and an inward rectitude of the frame of the heart; yet the commands of God do binde to these, as those whereby God is most glorified, it being not the having of a thing so much as the exercising of it, which makes us acceptable to him that imployeth us therein.

Thirdly, Outward acts of obedience are necessary, because these do corrobo∣rate * and strengthen grace within. The frequent exercise of outward duties do greatly confirm the inward principle of grace. Even as it is in sinne, the outward acting and daily committing of sinne doth encrease and inhance the power of sinne within. Hence sins we have been long practised in, become like an old Oak, that is hardly removed out of its place: Such devils as possesse us from the youth up, are not cast out without praier and fasting. Thus it is also in the works of grace, and outward obedience, the more diligent and frequent we are in them, the more doth our inward man grow stronger and stronger.

4. They are necessary in respect of others, Let your light so shine before men, that they may glorifie your Father which is in heaven: We ought by our outward con∣versation * to draw on others to godlinesse, and to give good examples in our exter∣nals, that men may not learn from thee to curse, drink, •••ff at godlinesse, but to pray and fear Gods Name. Thus you see, that howsoever outward obedience be not foundation sure enough to build thy hopes of heaven upon, yet it is ne∣cessary in its kinde, and therefore the want of this doth discover two kinde of hy∣pocrites.

1. Those that are called Nicodemites, who think it enough to keep their heart for God, although they pollute their bodies with any corrupt worship. There have been some who have much pleaded for this, and it's very pleasing to flesh and bloud, for hereby we shall alwaies save our selves, and martyrdome will be a foolish and unlawfull prodigality of a mans life: but that place doth wholly cut the sinews of such an opinion, With the heart we beleeve, and with the mouth con∣fession*Page  164is made unto salvation. The heart without the mouth is not enough for salvation.

The second sort of hypocrites discovered by externall obedience, is professedly disputed against by James. There were some who thought it enough to beleeve the doctrine of Christ, although no good works flowed from this faith: Now the A∣postle doth by many arguments demonstrate the absurdity of such a conceit, and makes this saith no better then that of devils. Shew me thy faith by thy works: saith the Apostle. So that it's a a vain confidence in any man to presume of salva∣tion without externall obedience, and good works issuing from faith: for saith and holinesse is inseparable, and faith hath a twofold operation, which can be no more disjoyned then light and heat in the fire, the one relating 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, within, to Christ laying hold on him, the other 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, without, bringing forth godly fruits to eternall life. Though therefore you cannot by the presence of outward obe∣dience necessarily conclude eternall life, yet by the absence of them you may in∣ferre eternall death. These things are considerable by way of exposition.

In the next place, consider the sad effect upon that mans soul who deceiveth * himself with ths sign, thinking all that God requireth lyeth in such an outward conformiy.

First, He will never see the necessary of being a new creature; He sindes no necessi∣ty of change but in the outward man only: Whereas the main and principall work of grace is that which reacheth to the heart of a man: yea, God beginneth the work of grace first upon the inward principles and affections of the soul, 1 Th. 5. 23. I pray God sanctifie you throughout, your whole spirit, soul and body: first spi∣rit, then soul, then body: and thus our Saviour pleadeth that the tree must be made good before the fruit can. When the Prophet intended to make the bitter waters sweet, he threw his salt into the Spring as the fountain and cause, which if once sweetned, would make the streams so. It is therefore a wofull condition to live a man ignorant of the heart-change that should be in thee. Thou hast been pre∣phane, but now thy life is changed; Thou didst commit such and such sinnes, but now thou hast left them, This is well, but if a greater change and alterati∣on hath not been made in thy soul, thou art yet in a state of sinne and wrath, 〈◊〉 therefore look about the, and fear lest God have not wrought such a glorious work within thee as is necessary.

A second sad consequent is the neglect of Christ and all his offices; for as a man * is trained up in this externall obedience, and thinketh the Law requireth no more, he seeth no need of Christ; He findes not the heavy and weighty curses of the law hanging over him, but is secure and quiet, as if all were safe and well; Come unto me ye that are heavy laden, and I will ease you. Till a man finde a load upon his soul, he desireth no ease: Ye are they that justifie your selves, saith our Saviour: hence they sought to establish their own righteousnesse, and would not submit to the righteousnesse of Christ: so that what Atheisn doth in respect of God as he is go∣vernour of the world, exclude and shut him quite out; the same doth a morall righteousnesse to Christ, as he is a Mediatour, and cloathed with righteousnesse for us; such being full of themselves, they are as if there had been no Christ, as if he had never died for us. These make Christ in vain, his life and death in vain, and all the glorious riches of Gods wisedom and grace in the Gospel a meer figment.

Thirdly, Here is this evill effect also, that purity and holinesse of heart which God*doth especilly look at, is quite laid aside; for how can men bewail the inward defile∣ments and foulnesse of their heart, when they fell them not? how can they desire the purifying and cleansing of the soul, when they see no necessity thereof? Hence all this obedience is but a work of nature, not of the holy Ghost, and so come far short of the excellent frame God requireth.

In the third place let us examine the grounds, why it is no safety to rest upon such outward obedience. *

And the first is, From those many causes which may produce this outward righte∣teousnesse Page  165 that come short of a true ground: As first, this externall freedom from sin * may arise only from the restraining providence of God, which as it hath put bounds and limits to the sea, that it overflow not the earth, so also doth stint the corru∣ption of man, that he doth not sin so much as his corrupt nature would carry him to. That every man is not a Cain, a Judas, an Absalom, comes from the mercy of God determining and ordering mens sinnes. As on the other side, it was from God that so many Romans were endowed with morall vertues in a glorious man∣ner. Abimelech was ready to fall into whoredome, not knowing any thing, and God by his providence meerly prevented him. Do not therefore presently build thy hopes, because thy life is a good and an honest life. Thou hast not those ble∣mishes and spots upon thee which others have, whence comes all this? is it from grace restraining or grace sanctifying? Is it from the love of God checking thy corruptions, or changing thy heart?

Secondly, If thy righteousnesse come not thus, then it may be from the sole power of naturall conscience and humane strength: for although it be true that * by the strength of nature we are not able to do any thing supernaturally good, but there must be antecedent to such an action spirituall illumination of the minde, and a powerfull alteration of the heart: yet those things that are good in a civill, or politicall sense, and so, good for the matter, may be done by the naturall dictates of conscience, such implantations are made in man, that he beleeveth There is a God, That parents are to be honoured and succoured in necessity. Now according to that natural light we have about God and a conscience perswading to it, there may also be a natural prosecution of the same good; But all this is wholly within the sphere of nature, not above it. Art thou then a man doing all the works of moral righteousnesse? Consider from what stock this groweth, from what foun∣tain this streameth, Doth it arise from any other principle, but meerly that of a naturall conscience? and if so, this cannot be a plaister to any soar, or a balm to any wound. As good Saints as these grow of themselves in the heathenish parts of the world.

Thirdly, This outward innocency and righteousnesse may be meerly for want of a temptation. The heart is ready enough to conceive such monsters, but these * want objects to cause this. We see in Scripture such sinnes latitant in our breasts, which will break forth by the midwifry of opportunities, that a man before would abhorre the very thoughts of them, as in Hazael and Peter. Hence the Disciples were warned by Christ to take heed of drunkennesse, a sinne that proba∣bly the disciples were far remote from, yet for all that occasions might kindle such lust in their hearts; It is not therefore presently to be concluded that all is well, because our lives are unblameable, for it's not from any goodnesse within, but from defect of matter without. We see the hedges and springs of wood are free from snakes and venimous creatures in the winter time, but it is not because they are not a fit bosome to nourish them, but there wants the Sun-beams to warm and revive them. As godly men many times would do good, but they cannot because they want the objects and opportunities thereof: so also wicked men many times have hearts prepared to do a great deal of evil, but these mad men have not those swords ready whereby they would destroy themselves and others.

Lastly, Therefore may thy conversation be so laudable, because the fear of hu∣mane laws and punishments, or else Gods judgements are like a fiery sword to * keep thee off, Rom. 13. Magistrates are a terrour to those that do evill, so that ma∣ny men are not so unclean, unjust, as they would be, because the Magistrates sword affrights them: and truly it's a great mercy, when in a kingdom men are necessi∣tated to do things that are good and righteous; The end of all civill punishments is, that others may see and be afraid, and do no such thing: so that many a mans externall conformity to good things is from the laws of the kingdom, wherein he liveth: or if these do not curb him, sometimes the heavy judgements of God im∣pending over him make him, to do his duty. Thus Ahab, when he feared no humane Page  166 laws to punish him, yet he humbled himself and mourned before God, because of Gods judgements that were almost devouring him; if then a mans outward Obe∣dience may arise from so many various grounds, and they all rotten and corrupt, What comfort can a man take from it? Therefore unlesse beyond and above all these, there be an heavenly and supernatural principle within thee, moulding and forming thy outward conversation, thou art not to live quietly in such an estate, but seek out for a redresse.

Secondly, External Obedience cannot be ground sure enough to stand upon, because it is not such which doth answer the command of God. There is a two-fold * Obedience to the Law accepted of by God; The one is perfect without any de∣fect at all; and thus the Law of God is not satisfied by any; The other is true and sincere, but being imperfect the defects are pardoned by Christ. But exter∣nal Obedience meerly, is not that true Obedience required by the Law; I doe not say, the Perfect, but the True; and the reason is, because the Law is spiri∣tual, and so reacheth primarily to the hearts and spirits of men; and God calleth for them, yea he rejects all external addresses to him without this; and therefore being this Obedience, this Righteousnesse, this Piety, is not such as the Law would have; therefore think not to put off thy brasse for gold; God is not like old Isaac, that takes Jacob for Esau, he regards not the garments thou hast on, but looketh into thy heart.

Thirdly, Meer outward morality will not afford any comfort, because this is consi∣stent with a professed hatred of, and enmity to the practical power of Godlinesse.* Therefore it's not godlinesse, for like would never hate like. Yea it's an argu∣ment that all that righteousnesse is but a carnal, earthly, fleshly righteousnesse, because so opposite unto that which is true godlinesse; Now experience will abundantly confirm this, that none commonly are such enemies and bitter ad∣versaries to the waies and life of godlinesse, as those that are meer civil righteous men: What needeth all this zeal, all this forwardnesse, all this exactnesse (say they?) Hence they can no more abide a powerfull and soul-searching Mini∣stery, then prophane wicked men; yea Christ and his Apostles had not such op∣position and persecution from prophane Publicans, as from those righteous Pha∣risees.

Fourthly, It is not true Righteousnesse, and therefore he that thinks himself happy, be∣cause*of this, is as if a man should judge himself rich, because of a coffer of brasse Coun∣ters. It is not true, partly because its but the outside only, the external lineaments, There is not the inward soul and life of godlinesse, partly because this is not the image of God, which properly is true holines, for the image of God consisteth not in bo∣dily actions, but in the actions of the Spirit after a godly and holy manner. There∣fore as in all your earthly commodities you buy, you examine whether it be the right and true commodity indeed, you would not have that which is sophisticate: so do here. Here are in the world many pretences to righteousnesse; some judge this godlinesse, some judge that, others think this is enough, others that it is not enough. Let me therefore make a diligent search hereinto. For the word of God that onely is the standard to discover what is true, and what is coun∣terfeit.

Fifthly, This is not true grace, because all this external Obedience is done with ease and facility: There is no strugling or wrastling by the contrary corruption, * whereas in all godly actions, The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things we would. It is in matters of good to be done, as in truths to be believed; if a man assent to a conclusion in Religi∣on, drawn by the meer power of reason, there is no difficulty to believe it, be∣cause this is sutable to our nature, but if he do it, because of Gods word, then he findes difficulty, for here is a supernatural motive; so if a man do that which is good upon humane motives, here is no contrariety in him, but if car∣ried out upon heavenly considerations, then the unregenerate part gain-sayes.

Page  167 Use of Instruction, Upon what a weak prop many lean for their everlasting * hopes! The Scripture signs and symptoms of grace they have none at all, onely they please themselves with false evidences of their own; and as counterfeit pearls do many times glister more then true ones, so false signs of grace many times make a greater dazeling then true ones. We are to blesse God that he restraineth mens corruptions, that men are of honest, civil, righteous deportment, other∣wise Commonwealths would become robberies, and men would be wolves to one another. Only this is not enough for Heaven; we may say even to such a man, as well as to a prophane man, Unlesse thou beest born again, ye cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: And unlesse your righteousnesse be a better then this, there is no salvation for thee.

SERMON XXIX.

That a Divine Faith or Perswasion of the Truths in Religion, is not Evidence sure enough of our being in the state of Grace.


JAMES 2. 26.
For as the Body without the Spirit is dead; so Faith without Works is dead also.

HOwsoever the Apostle his scope in this Chapter be much controverted, yet vers. 14. doth manifestly evidence his purpose, which is to take off Titular Believers, who glory in the Name and Profession of Faith from all their confident boasting, if their Faith be not accompanied with an holy and godly life. Some think this dangerous mistake grew from a misunderstanding of many places in Pauls Epistles, where he seemeth only to set up Faith, and makes no matter of Sanctification. Whereupon the reconciliation of Paul and James, these two great Apostles, hath to all seemed very difficult; to others impossible, who therefore have expunged this Epistle out of the Canon.

I will not trouble you with the several waies of Reconciliation endeavoured by the learned; That which I shall pitch upon is this, That Paul speaks of Faith in it's relation to Justification, considering it only in that act, shewing that Faith onely, and no other grace justifieth. James demonstrateth what kinde of Faith this is, viz. an actual operative one, which puts a man upon all holy duties. Paul proveth that Faith alone justifieth, and James, that this Faith which doth only ju∣stifie, is not alone, but accompanied with other graces. Paul argueth against a Pharisee that sets up his own works against Faith, James argueth against a carnal Gospeller or Publican, that thinketh a bare profession will save. Nor is it any won∣der that such an errour spread, That a man by his Faith only should inherit hea∣ven, seeing even in Augustines time it was a general opinion, which that Fa∣ther did with much fear and modesty gain-say, That every Christian, in that he was a Christian, though a drunkard, whoremonger, &c. would be saved?

The Apostle useth several weighty arguments to overthrow such a vain Page  168 confidence, in all which he doth not derogate from Faith, but discover Pre∣sumption.

For in the first place, to shew the weaknesse of such a profession of Faith, he compareth it with a profession of Charity, vers. 15, 16. If one give good words to a brother in need, bid him, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but give him nothing, would not this be ridiculous? So thou believest there is a God, a hell, a day of judgement, but livest in prophanenesse and impiety, Is not this thy Faith a mockery?

Secondly, He compareth this Faith with that of the Devils, and sheweth the Devils go further then such loose Christians; they believe a God and tremble, but so do not many dissolute believers: how Devils believe, and whether an hy∣pocrites faith goeth further then theirs, are noble Questions, but not at this time to be discussed?

Thirdly, He proveth the insufficiency of such a Faith from Abrahams faith, the pattern of all: Abrahams faith that justified him, was a working faith, it made him offer up his onely Sonne, when God commanded him. That very place which Paul brings to prove Abraham was justified by faith, James brings to prove, that this faith was not alone, but working eminently.

Lastly, In my Text, The Apostle argueth à simili, from a similitude, as the Body without the Spirit is dead, so is Faith without Works. By Spirit, some under∣stand breath, and so they think, that as without breath the body is discovered to be dead, so without holy works faith is declared to be dead; and this they doe, lest it should be thought, that as the soul is the form of the body, so a godly life should be the form of faith: Whereas indeed by other places, Faith is the form or efficient rather of holinesse; and therefore Faith is much rather to be compared to the soul, for it's that which animateth all our actions, and makes them acceptable to God. But we may retain the word Spirit, understanding it of the Soul, for the Apostle doth not consider a man here ad intra, in respect of God and Justification, but ad extra, in respect of others, and the declaration of his Justification. And so the sense, as the body is known to be dead, if we perceive no vital or animal actions flowing from the soul, we perceive it not breathe, stir, or move; so is a mans faith dead, if we see it not demonstrated by effectual opera∣tions in the way of grace. Thus as it was in Christ, his Divine Nature, which was hidden, became manifest by those miraculous operations he wrought, that none else could do; so faith is latent in a man, and breaks out in the discovery of it self by an holy life; and in this sense Faith is said to be made perfect by works, viz. declaratively, and by manifestation.

That a divine Faith, or perswasion of the truths in Religion, is not evidence sure*enough of our being in the state of grace.

Orthodoxy is not enough for Heaven. To be a good sound Protestant and no more, will not carry us out of the wildernesse into Canaan. To have a sound judgement, but an ungodly life, is to be like the Toad, which they say hath a Pearl in her head, but her body is full of poyson. It is not enough to say, You thank God you are none of the Hereticks or Sectaries, unlesse also you can say, You are none of the swearers, proud, prophane men. We may by experience observe what a strong support this is to many men, when they die, that they die in the true faith, they die no Papists, no Arminians, &c. Now although when errors creep in, as the Frogs once did into Aegypt, getting into every house and chamber almost, it be a great mercy to be preserved in the truth, and that also by truth we come to grace; yet because there are too many Solifidi∣ans, as the Papists calumniate the Protestants Doctrine, men who relie onely upon this, that they are of the Reformed Religion, but yet are not of a Reformed Conversation, it is necessary to drive this Point home to the ve∣ry heart.

For the opening of it, consider these particulars:

Page  169 First, That although the word Faith be of a very vast signification in the Scri∣pture, * yet this distinction is necessary to be observed; Faith is either taken for the Object which we do believe, or the true Doctrine; in which sense the Apo∣stle cals it one Faith, and Jude exhorts to contend for the Faith. Though Junius very improbably would interpret that of the act of Faith, expresly rejecting that Exposition of the Doctrine of Faith. This was afterwards called Dogmaticall and Catholick Faith, or Fides quae creditur; or secondly, it is taken for that act of the soul, whereby we give assent unto truths revealed in Gods word, and this is in the heart, not Catholick, but Personal and particular; and in this sense the word is most commonly taken, and this is Fides qua creditur.

Secondly, This Faith thus in the minde and heart of men, is by the Orthodox * divided into an Historical Faith, not called so because they believe the Scripture for the Authority of the History-writer, nor because it believeth the History of the Scripture onely, for it believeth the threatnings and Promises also, but because the historical part is the greater part in quantity of the object believed. 2. A miraculous faith. 3. A temporary, 4 A justifying: by which division the learned do not distribute an univocal genus into its distinct species, but onely grossely lay down this difference, for in a justified person its the same habit of faith that believeth the History, and particularly applieth the promises of Ju∣stification, the one being a general act, the other specifical. The Papists scorn at this distinction. To the Protestants, saith Maldonate, Tot sunt sides. quet in Lyra, jesting upon the word Faith: The Protestants have as many saiths, as there be Fiddle strings upon a Fiddle; but the Scripture compels us to make such a distinction; for we read of many who are said to believe in the Scripture, who yet had not a true lively work of grace upon them.

3. To Faith or believing, there are three acts required, Knowledge, Assent * and fiducial Application; Hence its usual with the Scripture to describe faith by one of these acts, not excluding but supposing the other, as, This is eternal life, to know thee, &c. Joh. 17. 3. by knowledge is meant the powerfull receiving of Christ into our hearts, and herein doth this historical faith come short, because its not so fiducial, and so receptive of Christ, the fountain of life, as it should be; and in this act its said to justifie, compared therefore by Divines to the hand, to the eye, to the glasse-window in the house that only lets in light; to the navel by which the childe in the mothers belly liveth and obtaineth all its nourishment; but we at this time speak of faith in the second act as it is assensitive, and giveth credence to the truths of God.

4. Our assent and perswasion of the truth in matters of Religion, may be ei∣ther * humane meerly, because of custome, education, and the Authority of the Church: or divine, being enclined and moved thereunto, because of Divine Authority. This distinction is much to be observed, because its to be feared, that most Protestants have no more then a humane faith. They believe our Reli∣gion upon no more divine ground then Papists theirs, or Turks theirs. It is the Religion of their Fathers, and of the State and Commonwealth wherein they live. Thus you see how in King Edwards daies the generality of the Kingdome turned Protestants, and in Queen Maries Papists, why so? but because their Religion was placed as the Heathens did Fortune upon a round Globe, which quickly moved this way, and the other. But Divine Faith hath this ground, The Lord hath said it. And as a man seeth the Sunne by the light of the Sunne; so they believe the truths in Scripture, because of that Divine Authority shining therein, I do not therefore speak of an humane faith in matters of Religion, but a divine faith, whereby men are inabled upon supernatural grounds to believe the truths of God revealed; for faith is the gift of God, and that in all the acts of it, Knowledge, Assent and fiducial Application, and the Spirit of God doth so enlighten the minds of many unregenerate men, that they believe the word of God, as Gods word, and yet for all that, are not in a soul-saving way united to Page  170 Christ. It may indeed be well doubted, and some Divines incline that way, that no unregenerate man hath so much as an historicall faith, as infused by God in them, and acting upon divine motives: only they say, they have an humane assent, as we spake of. But because the current of learned men go otherwise, and we see the Scripture expresly saying, that many did beleeve in him, who yet did not mor∣tifie vain-glory, and sinfull fear of men, therefore we shall take it for granted, that they have a divine faith, though not justifying.

5. This historicall faith, though it be not enough to Justification and salvation, * yet it's absolutely necessary, and is to be laid down as the foundation. The ground why men living under the Ministry are damned, is because they have not so much as historicall faith. Who hath beleeved our report? They do not firmly beleeve that there is a God, that there is an hell, that the threatnings of God are true; for if so, what fear, what great alterations would this make upon them! We see what humane faith will do, if a man beleeveth that he is in such danger, that such enemies lie in wait to kill him, that he is condemned by the Law to death, how restlesse and troubled is his soul? how much more would the heart of a sinner quake within him, if he did beleeve That Word of God which doth thus threaten and damn my sins is infallibly true, it will be made good, do I what I can: heaven and earth will sooner fall to pieces then one iota or tittle of it: Whether shall I fly from it? how shall I escape it? These vehement workings of faith would be like fire in his bowels, burning and consuming him, till he be cooled by the bloud of Christ. Therefore though this faith be not enough, yet here is no building without this foundation.

6. This historicall faith though in some respects it be like that of the devils, es∣pecially because of the barrennesse and unfruitfullnesse of it: yet it is in other re∣spects * farre different: for this faith is an habit infused into the beleever, and so wrought by God, but in the devils it's from evident experience, so that it's not a voluntary but a necessary faith, for they being already in torments, and finding part of their torments already inflicted upon them, they are forced to believe there is a God. Now although this be so, yet we may with the Apostle make a compa∣rison of both of them together, and thus farre argue, that if the meer acknow∣ledging and beleeving of the matters of religion were enough, then the devils might be saved as well as such beleevers.

7. Although faith hath knowledge (for a man cannot beleeve that which he hath not either evidentiam rei, or evidentiam testimonij at least. The Trinity though * it hath not evidence of the thing, yet it hath evidence of the testimony plainly in Scripture) yet that knowledge is not by demonstration, which Philosophers call scientia strictly, and therefore is obtained not so much by disputation as resignati∣on, bringing the understanding into captivity, saith the Apostle: and this should be thought on by these sceptique times, who are busied in knowing but not in assent∣ing, which makes them so fickle and unconstant: Austin said, that not intelligendi vivacitas, but credendi simplicitas tutam facit turbam; but how many like those Valentinians Irenaeus speaks of are puft up with arrogancy and pride in knowledge, as if they could number the hair of a mans head, and tell the stars in the heavens, or the sand on the sea shore!

Lastly, It cannot be denied but that the Scripture doth attribute salvation in some places even to this historicall faith, Mat. 9, 28. Christ required only of that * blinde man, a faith that he was able to help him; so Luke 7. 9. Mat. 8. 10. The faith of the Centurion so much commended, seemeth only to be of the historicall truth of Christs Divinity and omnipotency. Peters faith which Christ so praised, was only, Thou art the Son of the living God: so Martha's faith, Joh. 11. 26. and that is remarkable, 1 John 5. 1. Every one that beleeveth that Jesus is Christ, is born of God. These and the like places make Papists conclude that all the justifying faith that is, is to beleeve these truths only: yea Arminius, and I wish not too many of late, hold this to be saving and justifying faith, when we beleeve that Jesus Christ is the Mediatour, and will save all those that beleeve in him, and they are not a| Page  171 to say, that Abraham beleeved no more: I am not now to confute this unsound Tenet; only take notice, That the reason why the Scripture sometimes attributeth salvation to the meer beleeving of Jesus Christ to be God, was because the only question then was about the person of Christ, not the office of Christ; The godly doubted not whether if he were the Christ he would be a King and Priest to them, but whether he was the Christ or no; and because it was so great a matter to be∣leeve him to be the promised Messiah, who was outwardly o mean and contem∣ptible: Therefore doth the Scripture so much magnifie this act. And 2. though the Scripture give salvation to such acts, yet it doth suppose the other, so that we must compare other places with these, and then we shall see, that it is not enough to give a bare assent to these things, but there also ought to be a powerfull 〈…〉∣ence of this faith into our conversation, These things thus explained, let us consi∣der why such a faith is not enough, that so you may not deceive your selves. Com∣fort not your selves meerly in this, I have the true religion on my side: but rather enquire, whether all the concomitants and effects of it also be to be found in you.

Now the deficiency of this faith ariseth severall waies. First, The subject wherein*it is, This reacheth no further then to the perfecting of the understanding. Whereas full saving faith Rom. 10. is fixed in the heart, with the heart man beleeveth, so purifying their hearts by faith, and Christ dwels in our hearts by faith; so that faith extending no further then to the understanding, cannot bring that happiness the Word speaks of. A man of a sound brain, but corrupt vitals, will quickly go down to the gates of death. Now this is the generall temper of most Protestants, They have no further work then upon their understandings, many times their lives are as noisome as dunghils; Men are Protestants in doctrines, and recusants in lives, because they refuse the yoke of Christ, and will not submit to his Law. Hell is filled not only with Pagans and Heathens, but ungodly Christians: Truth like Aarons oil must not be powred upon the head only, but run down to the heart and other parts: The Orthodox were called Protestants first, because at the beginning of reformation they made a solemn protestation against those Articles of Popish Religion, which were to be established: but what if thy tongue protest for the truth, and thy life pro∣test against it?

Secondly, There is a defect in its acts, for although this faith carrieth us out to be∣leeve*it as true, yet not to embrace it as good; Whereas the Word of God is not on∣ly faithfull, but worthy of all acceptation: It's a frigid exposition to say, that faith it called the substance of things, because it makes them to susist in us by way of understanding meerly; no, it causeth those things hoped for to dwell in the soul by strong imbracements, so that the heart of a man is knitted to them, Abraham beleeved my day, and rejoyced; The people of God beleeve, and herein their hearts do all burn within them: It's like the burning-glasse, which by its beams sets the prepared object on fire: pray therefore to love the goodnesse of it, as assent to the truth of it.

Thirdly, There is a defect in the efficacy and power of it; True lively faith will * like fire devour all drosse, whereas we see the historicall believer cannot subdue sin. The Jews though they did believe on Christ, yet they for fear dared not to confess him, because they loved the praise of men more then the glory of God; They belie∣ved him to be Christ, but would not be afflicted or persecuted for his sake; so John 2. 23. Many beleeved, but Jesus would not commit himself to them, for he knew what was in man; but lively faith would make a man like Paul, triumph over all difficulties, because they look upon the things that are not seen: If faith bring Christ, the fountain of grace into a mans soul, that mans life can be no more con∣stantly wicked, then if a man could carry the sunne in his hand he could walk in darknesse. As therefore the people stood looking upon John as if he were the Messias, and John denyed himself to be the Messias, saying, there is one more no∣ble then I, whose shoe-latchet I am not worthy to unlose, so do thou say, Though there Page  172 are these acts of faith, to know, to assent to Gods truths; yet there are such fur∣ther noble acts, as that these deserve not the name of faith comparatively, such are, to purifie the heart, to justifie, to sanctifie, to keep from all sin, and to bring Christ to dwell in our hearts.

Fourthly, It is defective in its Concomitants; This Historicall faith is not neces∣sarily conjoyned with other graces, whereas a true and lively faith can no more be * separated from other graces, then light and heat can be divided in the Sun-beams, for true faith is that branch which sucks of the Olive fatnesse, it uniteth us as mem∣bers to Christ, and when we are so, it's impossible but that power and life should be communicated to us; Hence all those eminent acts of holinesse spoken of Heb. 11. are given to faith, and Gol 5. faith is said to work by love; but Simon Ma∣gus had HIstoricall faith, and it was alone, there were no graces to accompany it. Hence we distinguish between faith alone in the subject, and faith alone in the act of Justification. The hand alone receiveth that which is offered to it, but the hand could not do this if it were alone, separated from other parts. Hence it is that Believers and Saints are used promisenously one for another, because true live∣ly Believers can no more be without holinesse, then the Sun dark, or the fire cold: Yet for all this, This historicall faith is a true faith, and it's the gift of God, even as other common gifts of Gods Spirit are: As copper is a true mettall though it be not gold. By this means it cometh about that a lively faith is proper to the Elect only. Hence it's called the faith of the Elect; and as many beleeved as were ordained to eternall life. Oh therefore consider your selves, you who boast of your faith, you who glory in this, that you change not your faith as others do, make diligent search whether it be not a Simon Magus his faith that leaveth thee still in a state of gall and bitternesse, I am (thou saist) for the doctrine of the Church of England, and art thou also for the life required in Gods Word?

Fifthly, The deficiency of it is seen comparatively, with other graces; If a man make a beast of such a grace in his heart, and demonstrate no reall effects * thereof, is it not hypocrisie and delusion? The Apostle maketh a parallell in cha∣rity, which gives good words, fair promises, but exhibits no reall comfort: Even such a tular beleever is a man that assenteth to the true doctrine of Christ, but neglecteth reall godlinesse: faith is called the acknowledging of the truth after god∣linesse; when a mans heart comes to be heated with burning love, as well as in∣lightned with shining light, this is of sure consequence. All the graces of God have their reall effects, they are not barely notionall, but as fire doth really burn, gall doth really imbitter, so doth grace produce its sensible, and powerfull effects, Shew me thy faith by thy works, saith the Apostle: Shew thou beleevest there is a God by fearing of him, by obeying of him: Shew thou beleevest a day of judge∣ment by preparing to give an account at that time. All grace is for operati∣on as its perfection, therefore the commands of God are for the acts, not the ha∣bits, and we may as well carry fire in our bosomes, and not feel it burn us, as carry true lively faith, and it not cleanse our life.

6. Historicall faith if not growing into a saving, lively way, is but a kinde of hypo∣crisie and mocking of God; for to professe that we beleeve him to be omniscient, * omnipotent, that all those terrible threatnings belong to us, and yet we live in those sinnes that will bring those judgements; what is this but to delude God as much as lyeth in us? But be not deceived, God is not mocked: nay we delude, and mock our own souls; for so saith James, If any man seem to be religious, and bri∣dles not his tongue, he doth〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, deceive his own soul: put a fallacy upon himself, he argueth a non causâ, procausâ. He thinks this outward profession, this solemn, externall acknowledgement is enough, and a good cause of comfort: Whereas it is none at all: God complains of this of old, that men draw nigh to him with their lips, but their hearts are far from him. Consider this, you who are apt to judge the people of God that endeavour faithfully to secure him, though subject to many infirmities, hypocrites and deceitfull persons; know you are the Page  173 grossest and most notorious hypocrites that ever were; You professe you beleeve in God, you love him; you proclaim to the world, that you think there is an hell and heaven, but is not thy life a flat contradiction of all this? only to all this which hath been said, we must adde this caution, that while we make historicall faith thus separated from a godly life, possible in many men, and that it is in effect a dead faith, because it's not available for those necessary priviledges of justification and salvation: yet we lay not any ground for that popish distinction of a faith informis and formata: an informed faith they call a belief of the truths of religion, without any love to them, or of God: a formed faith they call that which is inabled by love, and animated by that to do that which is holy. Thus they make faith of it self a meer speculative apprehension, which is to be moulded into obedience only by love. But this is false, for it's true and lively faith that puts us upon loving and doing all for God, therefore called faith that works by love, and I beleeved there∣fore I spake. Thus Heb. 11. By faith Noah, Abraham, and all those eminent Saints and those glorious acts of holinesse. Therefore faith is rather a form assistant of love and other graces, then they of it: Historicall faith when it's formed into obedi∣ence, is thereunto inabled not by love but by justifying faith.

Use of instruction concerning the necessity of discovering this false sign. There * is nothing more common then to build all our hopes upon this, that we are for the truth. That as the Jews boasted, the law was given to them, and not to other Na∣tions: and therefore thought, though they lived in all wickednesse, that would save them; thus do Christians about Christianity: Oh, they beleeve as well as any; They will live and die good Protestants, not attending to what iniquity may be seen in their lives: but what are thy oaths, thy lusts, thy opposings of godlinesse? are these signs of a good protestant also? There was one Eunomius a wretched he∣retique in the Church, and he taught, that whosoever would be of his sect, a dis∣ciple unto him, his very faith would be enough to save, though he should commit the most flagitious crimes that ever were; and do not we thus about the true reli∣gion? The Antinomian he makes that a dead and dangerous faith, when we doe not beleeve that God seeth no sinne in us, and that we are as perfectly righteous as Christ, and therefore chargeth all the godly Ministery and people of England with no more then a dead faith: but we see that is a dead faith in Scripture sense, which doth not inable to all mortification, and godlinesse: Therefore the Antino∣mian faith is a dead faith in the Apostles argument: Well then, let none run to this altar, He is a good Protestant, if ungodly in life, for it will fall out to him as to Joab, though at the horns of the Altar, he will be dragged away, and adjudged to eternall death. Many complain the Creed is banished out of the Church, and they consider not they have long agone banished it out of their lives; for what doth not thy prophanesse, thy impiety, say there is no God, there is no resurrecti∣on, there is no day of judgement? How can ye beleeve (said Christ) when ye seek the glory of one another; Alas that seemeth a small matter, how can ye beleeve, when you oppose and scoff at godlinesse, prophane Gods Sabbaths, neglect all Fa∣mily duties? Consider you are not only called out of Popery to have a better reli∣gion, but out of the world to live better lives.

Page  174

SERMON XXX.

That every peaceable frame of heart, and perswasi∣on of Gods love, is not a sure Testimony of saving Grace.


JOHN 8. 54.
If I should honour my self, my honour were nothing, it is my Father that honor∣eth me, of whom you say, he is your God.

IN this chapter we may observe several sharp skirmishes between Christ and the Pharisees: but as Satan in his conflict was overcome by him, so are his children in these hot disputes. The Pharisees in the latter end of this Chapter, charge two things especially upon him to make his doctrine odious, the one is, The he had a Divel, and so all his Doctrine and Miracles to come by Satanical impo∣stures: the other, That he did all out of vain glory, to have a multitude of Disciples, and to be admired by them: Our Saviour is both defensive in this cause, vindica∣ting himself from those horrid aspersions; and offensive, retorting the same things upon them, That they were of their Father the Divel, because he was a man slayer, and abode not in the truth: So saith he, You seeck to kill me, a man, that is cruelty, Who tells you the truth, that is ingratitude, Which he heard of God, that is impiety: and because they gloried in this, That Abraham was their father, he sheweth the dis∣parity between their works, and Abrahams works: because also they said, God was their Father, he driveth them also out of this refuge; for if they were of God, they would hear and know his Word; Children do presently discern their Fathers voice. To that accusation of vain glory, he answereth in my text, by shewing the vanity of all humane glory: if I should look at this, I should but catch at a shadow, open my mouth to swallow air: it is nothing. Now if Christ did judge all the glory which he should hear by his Doctrine and miracles, nothing; how should this make Ministers afraid, who affect honour for some new notions, excellent Sermons, and parts? Christ did not glorifie himself, why should we then? Yet least they should think him without glory, he tels them, There is one that honoureth him, viz. God the Father, by immediate testimony from heaven, and by many miraculous o∣perations: and to humble them the more, he saith, This that honoureth me thus, is he of whom you say, he is your Father, of whom you make your boast and braggs, that he is yours. I shall stand onely upon this passage, intending to shew that a people may have great confidence, and a bold perswasion of heart that God is their God, and yet they be of their Father the Divel. For whereas the last time I told you a man might have an historical, or dogmatical faith in matters of religion, and yet be destitute of Gods Spirit in a saving manner: now I shall shew you, he may have some fiducial application of Gods favour, and confidently repose himself in the bosom or arms of Christ, and yet Christ say to such, Depart, I know you not. A ne∣cessary subject to be handled, because most people who have no true claim or inte∣rest in God, yet it is strange to consider what quietness, and peace, and boldness Page  175 they have in their hearts, when indeed fear should compass them round about.

Doct. Every peaceable frame of heart, and confident perswasion of Gods love, is not asure testimony that such an one is in the state of Grace.

Paul, Rom. 7. Sheweth he was alive without the Law, That is, he had great qui∣etness and ease of mind; he thought himself in a sure and safe way: but alas, this was his ignorance, his blindness. Even as a man in a dungeon may think himself safe, when there are Serpents and poysonous creatures round about him, onely he doth not see them: or as a man in a Lethargy feels no pain, though he be near the gates of death: Such is the condition of many persons, they thank God they have no trouble, their soul is at much ease and quietness, they doubt not of Gods fa∣vour and love to them: hence in the midst of their afflictions they will say, I thank my good God, when (alas) we may say of such, as Christ of the Jews, You say he is your Father, but you have not known him; so they know nothing powerfully and practically about God.

To open this, Let us consider what is the nature of this secure quiet∣nesse. *

First, It is accompanied with a great deal of ease and peace in a mans heart, so that their consciences have no terrour, no tremblings, but all is well within them. Now that wicked men may be in such a condition, is plain by that where they say, Peace, peace, then shall come sudden destruction: and the Psalmist doth with some kinde of emulation, describe the joyful quiet condition of many wicked men. They have no bonds in their death: They seem to live more cheerfully, and dye more quietly then Godly men: so then, all peace and quietness in thy conscience, is not presently a good testimony; for this security may arise from blindness, from self-love, from a senseless cauterized heart, as is to be shewed: So that this frame of Spirit is so far from being boasted of, that it is indeed the wofullest and saddest calamity that can be; better to be so many Cains, fearing every thing will damn a man, then to be one of Lachish, sitting at ease, and fearing nothing. It is true, the Prophet saith, There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked: and is therefore compared to the sea, alwaies foaming and disquieted: So that by this place, we would think it were not possible for a man to be a wicked man, and have any peace, but the Scripture speaks there of a true and right peace, such as when the Apostle saith, Being justified by faith, we have peace with God: Insomuch that the wicked mans quietness doth not deserve the name of Peace. There is onely a for∣bearance of wrath: and it is because his heart is rotten, that it feeleth no pain; even as the member of a mans body rotten, is not sensible of any torment. The A∣postle speaks of some, who had cauterized consciences, Seared with an hot Iron, or cut off, as some expound it: and of others who were past feeling. They were so brawny and crusted over, they had no sense of any pain: Alas this cannot be called peace. Take heed therefore lest that security and quietness in thy heart, come not from a mere rotten, senseless, stupidity in thee. Certainly this truth doth much con∣cern us; do not think to put off God as Jacob did Isaak; do not think to steal a bles∣sing and heaven from God.

Secondly, As there is nothing but quietness within, so there are bold and confident perswasions about God, and his love towards them. Now a mans condition cannot be * more desperate then when he is deluded with a resolute perswasion that God loveth him; even as some mad men have been perswaded that they were great Kings and Emperors, and had such great Kingdomes, when at the same time they were under cruel hardship. Oh such a madness is upon most men, that do not, with the Divel, look upon all the Glory of the world, and say falsly, all that is his, but upon all the Glory of heaven, and say presumptuously, all that is his: This was the Pharisees impudencie, who were confidently perswaded that God was their Father, that he he loved them, when they were the miserable wretched Impps of Satan! This al∣so was the grand cause of all those expostalations the Prophets had with the Jews;Page  176 they trusted in Gods love, though they did lye, steal, swear, yet they would come into his Temple, and call upon him, which the Prophet Jeremiah with much hea∣venly zeal expostulates with them for. Oh, this gross impudencie is too visible in our daies: have you not many prophane sinners? many lyars, cursers, opposers of what is good? Yet they will come here, and say, Our Father: nay, you cannot meet with any beastly sinner, but his heart is filled with this bold impudencie, to think and hope that God is his Father; So that we may cry out, Oh that God would touch these mountains, that they might melt before him, Oh that God be∣fore whom the very earth did tremble and quake, would also make such mens hearts afraid before him.

Thirdly, Where such bold apprehensions are concerning God, there is not only confidence in the general, that God is merciful, but they have also a fiducial application, & appropri∣ation*of God to their own selves in particular: And herein they have a great resem∣blance of justifying faith, as Paul said, Who loved me, and gave himself for me: so these will apply Christ to their particular: I thank my Christ, my Redeemer, my Saviour. In the Godly such applications are of saith in the most excellent manner, in the wicked it is of meer presumption, without any true ground at all. It is indeed the glorious fruit of the covenant of Grace, that thereby God becomes the God of his children, Hosea 2. They shall call me Ishi, and no more Baali, that is, My Husband, not my Lord: they shall have more dear and appropriated meditations of God; and at the end of the Chapter, I will be their God, and they shall be my peo∣ple. Hence Jeremiah, 4. 3, 4. God would have the Church repenting, say, My Father. Fiducial applications of Gods love to us are a duty, as the learned prove a∣gainst the Papists: Hence faith is called, Eating and drinking of Christ. When a true broken heart loaded with sin, cryeth out with Thomas, My God, my Lord, this is not carnal presumption, but holy believing. But now when men whose hearts were never smitten with Gods displeasure for sin, find no burthen of it, and so cry not for ease to Christ; when (I say) such say, I thank my God, and my Redeemer, this is bold presumption in them. God is not the God of the dead, we may say, but of the living; he is not the God, the Father of such who live in, and love their wickedness. It would be a dishonour to be a Father of such Children: but he in∣viteth those to call him Father, and my Father, who are deeply humbled for sin un∣der his hand, who are of self-emptyed and poor spirits, acknowldeging his Grace onely. As therefore we are not to discourage the wounded heart, but to imbolden him to appropriat Christ to himself in particular, and that he is to set against all se∣vile fears and doubts that would like the Divels to the possessed man, keep him alwaies about the tombes, and make him gash and wound himself; so we are also to set a flaming sword, as God did to Adam, to a prophane man, lest he venture to come into this Paradise. Oh then he advised and consider, whether it be faith or presumption makes thee say, My God, my Redeemer. A Paul may say so, and a Pha∣risee may say so.

Fourthly, Where this boldnesse is, there is a shifting and putting off all those consi∣derations that may bring us to make any doubt, or any question about our selves: and * truely that is a real demonstration; thy peace, thy comfort is not right, thou art so unwilling to be brought to light: the thief hateth the light saith our Saviour: now observe it, many of those persons who have such bold perswasions of Gods love, they cannot abide to hear terrible Sermons, they love not to hear of hell, and the day of judgement: they cannot endure to hear of the differences of Gods work upon mens hearts, and how far hypocrites and reprobates may go: Oh these things cut them, and make them mad; and why is all this? but because the peace and comfort they have, is a false and unsound one, which will abide no touchstone, cannot endure any shaking or moving at all. What was the cause that the Pharisees were so immoveably perswaded of Gods love towards them? did hate and op∣pose Christ even to death? It was onely because he manifested their godlinesse was not true godlinesse, their comforts were not true comforts, their peace was not Page  177 true peace, and thus woful self-flattery was their ruin. God seeing such a proe∣nesse to deceive our selves, makes expresse provision against it: If a man when he heareth all the curses of the Law, shall yet blesse himself in his heart, and say, None of these evils shall come upon me, God will expresly set against such a man. Oh it is terrible when God curseth thee, the Law curseth thee, the Ministers of God de∣clare his curses against thee, yet thou to bless thy self, and to say, God loveth thee, and will do good to thee: Oh take heed of these cursed shiftings: this untempered morter will not hold out, though thou daub it up never so craftily: do not ev••e and say, These judgements of God, these threatnings do not belong to me; for I love God, I have a good heart, I do that which is just and good to all; for all this slippery Ice will thaw when the sun ariseth.

Fifthly, Where this quietness is, there is much boasting and glorying in this, that they have a good heart, and so rely much upon this. It is a wonder to hear men that * live in a constant neglect of holy duties, yea sometimes wallow in the filth and mire of laothsom sins, yet how they will boast in this, They have a good heart, and that as good as any of the strictest professors have: What wilde Logick is this? How can there be a good heart, if there be not a good life? How can there be a good tree, if there be not good fruit? Is that a good fire that burneth not, that warmeth not? Is that good meat that nourisheth not? Oh, why do not such consider that excel∣lent Aphorism of the wise man, He that trusteth in his own heart, is a fool? Oh take heed that all thy boastings of thy heart being good, whatsoever thy failings be, are not meere folly. It is folly to trust in a mans heart, because it is so deceitful: He thinketh he doth repent, when he doth not: he thinketh he loveth God, when he doth not. Dost thou therefore appeal to thy heart, and call thy heart to witness for thy godlinesse? Oh, that is the very cheat and cousener in the world: It is deceit∣ful in all things saith the Prophet, who can know it? Do not thou rest on that which is naturally full of es, and hypocrisies: It is true, when the heart is enlightened by Gods spirit, as in the godly, then it is made a true heart, and a faithful heart though not perfectly: and so those graces in us, which of themselves would never evidence themselves, by Gods Spirit become visible; even as some relate of a pre∣cious stone, which will not cast any glorious lustre unlesse the sun-beams shine up∣on it.

Sixthly, This carnal presumption and boldnesse may hold in the midst of Gods cala∣mities and wrath, yea at the stroaks of death it self. The people of Israel, though * smitten by God for their abominations which were evident, yet saith the Prophet Micah, would come and lean upon God: they were either actually under Gods judgements, or under the terrible denunciation of them by the Prophet: yet they would lean upon God, as if he were their God, and that such secure confidence may hold to death, appeareth by the foolish Virgins, who found no lack of oyl till it was too late: And we see those condemned persons at the day of judgement, pleading for themselves, with a wonder why they should be condemned, for they neglected no duty required of them: When saw we thee sick, and visited thee not? So that it is no sure sign, though a man even at deaths door abateth not his confi∣dence in God for all that. The Psalmist saith, they have no such bonds in their death, or pain and fear as sometimes other men may have: a godly man may dye doubt∣ing, and a wicked man presuming: It is not then the saying, and the professing they have a great deal of peace in God, but the grounds why, and the motives, they must be searched into. Therefore though we blame Papists for teaching to doubt, and making a doubt a duty, yet we presse for an holy search, and a godly fear and trembling in the trying of our hearts, lest we be deceived.

In the next place let us consider, why such bold confidence is not to be relyed up∣on: * And

First, Because it comes not from a true and genuine ground, which is the spirit of a∣doption, the comforter, the seal, who onely quieteth the heart in a gracious sure way, but it cometh from carnal self-love, and self flattery: we are in love with our Page  178 selves, and we think God loves what we love. Thus the Psalmist notably to the secure wicked man, Thou thoughtest I was such an one as thy self: as the Roman painter being in love with a woman, painted every goddess like the woman he lo∣ved; so doth every man set up such a God in his thoughts and affections, which he would have, and is most like himself: and by this means, because he saith, all is well, he judgeth all good within him, therefore he supposeth God doth so also. Oh then know, that self-love and the Spirit of Adoption, differ more then heaven and hell. Indeed if thy assurance, if thy boldnesse come in the Spirits way, it were a comforting by it, a rejoycing by it, then thou mightest rejoyce and be glad in God: But when it cometh from thy muddy and filthy heart, all this will wash a∣way. It is God that justifieth, and it is God that condemneth; it matters not though a thousand hearts justifie us, if God do not. If a malefactor be condemned, and hath a pardon from inferior magistrates, he judgeth that nothing, unless the su∣preme Magistrate absolve him. Oh, therefore judge thy self: think, it may be for all my good thoughts God saith otherwise: I blesse it may be, but God curseth it may be; and know, it cannot come from any thing but carnal love, if thou hast this boldnesse, and yet livest in grosse sins unrepented of, and unre∣formed.

Secondly, It is because Satan doth not frown upon, trouble and molest them. Now that cannot be called a good quietnesse, or a good peace which is so onely because * the Divel looks upon them as his own, and so will no wise disturb them: our Savi∣our doth abundantly confirm this, when he saith, That as long as the strong man keepeth the house, all things are at quiet: Thus those that are under Satans Domini∣on, they have jollity, security, hardnesse of heart, that so they may not be sensible of their misery, and thereby seek an escape out of his snares. Pharaoh then used the Israelites most cruelly, when they began to be weary of their bondage, and to seek comfort somewhere else; so that thou hast little cause to be glad of this thy peace, for it is a peace thou art beholding to the Divel for; it is he that har∣dens thy heart; it is he that makes thee desperate; that hath put out thy right eye that thou canst not behold the enemy that lyeth in wait against thee: Therefore do thou no more be secure in this quietnesse.

Thirdly, This bold confidence doth not arise from a good motive: It cometh from general apprehensions of Gods goodnesse and mercy, such as heathens have. They * conceive of God in general, as one who is altogether merciful: they think he that made them, will save them: whereas divels might thus argue for hope, because God made them, yet he will not save them. What a miserable support is it to have no more ground for thy salvation, then the damned spirits in hell have? But a true gracious confidence is from the Covenant of Grace in Christ; it hath respect not to the nature of God absolutely considered, but relatively, as in Christ reconciled with us. Hence the promise of God is mutual, I will be their God, and they shall be my people: Do not thou think that any natural apprehension about God can give the least hope, know this must come wholly by revelation: set the word of God aside, which doth reveal Gods good pleasure to believers, and the way of pardon and salvation is no more possible then that of the Divels: so then the godly mans confidence is from Scripture revelation and direction, whereas the presumptuous mans is from natural suggestion.

Fourthly, This confidence is defective, because it doth separate and divide those things which God hath inseparably joyned together, and that is the means and the end.* The presumptuous mans confidence is maintained and kept up, though he go not in the right way, yea, though he walk in a contrary way: as those wicked men who though they defiled themselves with abominations, said, No evil shall come nigh us: and such as had made a Covenant with Hell and death: but the godly mans faith, it cleanseth the heart; and he that hath this hope, purifieth himself even as God is pure. How unsufferable is it to see a man confident of Gods love, and yet walk continually in the wayes he hateth! There is no making our calling and e∣lection Page  179 sure, but by the gracious f〈…〉 of Gods Holy Spirit. Think not to o into the North, by taking a journey So〈…〉d: and it is as absud to call God hy God, when God wa〈…〉 are not thy w〈…〉, Gods commands are not obeyed by thee. The Spirit of God that sealeth and comforteth, doth alo sanctifie and make holy: Think not therefore to have 〈◊〉, and no heat.

Fifthly, This secue confidence is not fil〈…〉〈◊〉 a Evangelical in its operation: It is not spiritual and in〈…〉: they are not hereby ca〈…〉 out to ob•• Gods com∣mandements, * out of lov and delight in God: love apprehend by 〈…〉vil〈…〉sh dispositions, makes them more d〈…〉, they turn the grace of God i〈…〉 wanon∣nesse, and make 〈…〉 lov aboundeth: But love shed abroad in the hea•• of G〈…〉, it works Evangelically, graciously, d〈…〉 to become like God, w〈…〉 us. Having these Promises (〈◊〉 the Apo〈…〉) let 〈◊〉 cleanse our selves from all filthiness. 2 Cor. 7. 1. The promises were, That God would be our God and Father: So then, conf〈…〉 of Gods love in an unrege∣nerate hear, is like some unkinde influences of the stars, that cause diseases and puifactions. When Papists o〈…〉 against 〈◊〉 assurance, that it bees con∣tempt, neglect of means, and d〈…〉, We Answer, Presumption indeed oth, and a vain p〈…〉, which wi•••d men have of Gods love; but in the godly it breedeth a 〈◊〉 like 〈◊〉, and holy far to displeas that God, whose goodnesse we so 〈◊〉 taste of. Examine therefore what the operations of this confidence are upon thee: D〈…〉 thou her by take libertie in the waies of 〈◊〉? This is ungodly.

Sixthly, It is not a c〈…〉 arising out of spiritual conflict and agony: and this * is indeed a o〈…〉 discovery of all 〈◊〉 confidences: carnel pr〈…〉 of Gods favour, it m〈…〉 no opposition: 〈◊〉 man so carried away, never 〈…〉t trou∣ble of sin is, what the terrible d••ts of the A〈…〉 are, how difficult and su∣pe〈…〉 a work it is to rely upon Gods promises; but all his joy and peace comes with a great deal of ease to him: but in the godly it is otherwise, I 〈…〉 my unbelief: so Davids Psalms, what ebbing and flowing e hath, confident of Gods savour at one time, then presently as much dejected and despondent: See how he expostulatth, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? still trust in God Now the ground of this difficulty and combat, is from the opposition every thing spiritual, hath to that which is carnal: an unregenerate heart doth oppose Gods spirit seal∣ing and comforting, as well as convincing and sanctifying. The easinesse therefore that thou findest in having this comfort, may justly make thee suspect it: say, My quietnesse is from the Divel, else my heart would oppose it more, I could not get into a true Canaan, unlesse I went through some wildernesse.

7. This carnal security is at that time, & in those conditions, when the Scripture calls for the contrary, Therefore it cannot be of God. As for example, Thou art thus per∣swaded * of Gods love, though thou livest in constant waies of prophanenesse; though thou neglect〈…〉 the exercise of all holy duties. Now remember, doth 〈◊〉 Scripture call upon thee to believe that God is pleased with thee? That he loveth thee? No, Gods word commands thee clean contrary: it bids such mourn and wep: it calls upon such to believe that the threatnings of God belong to them; that God is not their God; that their sins are not pardoned: Oh then, why will ye presumptuously, and wilfully believe a lie? Why do you applie promises to you, when you should do threatnings? Thou must make a new Bible, a new Scripture, e're thou canst take any comfort to thy self: Oh therefore if thou didst know what thou didst, and how it is indeed with thee, what an alteration would there be? For all that quietnesse, horrour and trembling; for all that jollitie, mourning and howling: for that easiness to believe, thou wouldst find it most difficult; Oh, who can believe? Lord make me to believe.

Use of Exhortation, To awaken, if possible, all such secure persons: Do not * the generality of Christians, as those of the Jews, glory in this, God is their Fa∣ther? But how comes this about? Where is your evidence? How will you prove Page  188 it? put your hearts to it. If this confidence of God being your Father were right, and of God; thy life would differ from what it is, as much as light from dark∣nesse, a wildernesse from a garden. Oh how may the Ministers of God with Jere∣my say, Our souls shall mourn in secret for you. Had we not as good set our shoul∣ders to a great Mountain to remove that, as make men begin to search whether their peace be a good peace or no, their quietnesse a good quietnesse? Oh do ye not say to us as the devils to Christ, Why are ye come to torment us? As we would not unsettle or put doubts into any that truly fear God, so on the other side, to those that vainly rely upon God, when yet he is not theirs; we could desire these words might be as arrows shot into their hearts, wounding of them; so as to take no rest till they have a true peace indeed.

SERMON XXXI.

That outward Successe, Prosperity, and Greatnesse in the world is no true Evidence of Grace.


DEUT. 9. 4, 5.
Speak not in thy heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thine eyes, saying, for my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land, &c.

THe people of Israel after a sore and dangerous voyage are now entring into their haven, after a wildernesse full of troubles and dangers they are now possessing a land of Rest, a land that flowed with honey; but lst they should surfet of this hony, and lest this rest and quietnesse should be like that of pools, which breedeth nothing but noisome creatures, Moses is exceeding vigi∣lant to inform them as of the great mercies God had done for them, so of the great duties he required of them: and this is the scope of Moses both in the precedent, and this present Chapter, with some others that follow. The mercies God vouch∣safed to them are aggravated by an enumeration of the severall wonders God had wrought for them, as also by a lively description of that Land and Countrey they were now made Lords of, Chap. 8. 7, 8, 9. called therefore the good land frequent∣ly, and is made a type of heaven, for the joyfull pleasure of it, as if the Israelites now possessed of Canaan were brought into Paradise again; and for the full com∣mendation of it the Scriptures expression is remarkable. Deut. 11. 12. A Land which the Lord thy God careth for, The eyes of the Lord thy God are alwaies upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of it: a phrase much like that which the Scripture useth even of his own children, as if he had the same care of that Land as of his own people. As he thus lively describes their mercies, so he doth as powerfully quicken them up unto their duty, which is to take heed of all those sins, that fullnesse, ease, and security, would quickly breed; whereof he instanceth in one more especially, viz. an apprehension that God had done this to them, for their righteousnesse, because they were more holy then others, as they thought; Therefore they concluded themselves more happy. Because their land abounded with all excellent fruit, they judged their lives to overflow with all graces. They Page  181 took all this prosperity as a reward of their piety. Now Moses removeth those foundations they built upon, instructing them that this mercy befell them, not because they were so good, but their enemies so bad.

So that in the Text you have the sin forbidden, a false conceit of their righte∣ousnesse and uprightnesse, amplified with their confidence therein; Speak not in thy heart, &c. The soul can talk to it self, and though man cannot hear what it speaks, God doth. Thus John to the Pharisees, Say not in your hearts; and the ex∣hortation in a good sense is, to commune with our own hearts; This phrase doth excellently imply, what discourses and apprehensions men are ready to frame to themselves, and although these lie in the breast, and cannot be discovered by men, yet God takes notice of them to punish them. When Moses excludes righteousnes and uprightnesse of heart, by the former he meaneth all outward actions of righte∣ousnesse, and by the latter all inward intentions and purposes of heart, though they fail sometimes externally; Now as Canaan was a type of heaven, so as the introduction of the Israelites thereunto was only of Gods grace, so is our possessi∣on of heaven. This their groundlesse apprehension to make outward blessings a sign of their righteousnesse, Moses confureth, by attributing this to other causes, as first, the impiety and wickednesse of their adversaries; as for their righteous∣nesse it moved not God, but the horrid transgressions of the Canaanites, they pro∣voked him: The iniquity of the Amorites was now full, not the righteousnesse of the Israelites. Another cause was Gods Oath and promise, which he made to their fathers, whereby though he was not a debtor to their righteousnesse, yet he was obliged to his own truth and fidelity: Hence Deut. 7. 7. The originall of all the blessings vouchsafed to them, is reduced to Gods love meerly, not any excellency in them. Now that this sinfull perswasion might not abide in them, see how the Scripture followeth it over and over again in these three verses: Speak not that it is for thy righteousnesse, &c. ver. 4. Not for your uprightnesse, ver. 5. Understand therefore that it is not for thy righteousnesse, v. 6.

That men are very prone to make the outward prosperity and ncrease which God giveth them, an argument of their righteousnesse, and so of Gods love to them, to save them. They think it impossible that seeing God hath so blessed them here, he should damn them hereafter. This false sign doth not belong to every one, but to those who have abundance of outward mercies, especially if brought to partake them from a low and indigent condition. The more their change is admirable, the more testimony they think of Gods goodnesse to them, and their own inherent goodnesse. For the discovery of the weaknesse of this prop, take notice first of these particulars.

First, That prosperity, wealth and successe, they are in themselves blessings, mercies, and so good things to be desired. Hence the Scripture doth so often use * them as incouragements and incentives to holinesse, If you observe these, you shall be blessed at home and abroad, see Deut. 29. and lest we should think, that outward wealth and prosperity were only to be regarded in the Old Testament, because they had not such a measure of Gods Spirit, we see what Paul saith in the new, It is more blessed to give then receive, and he speaketh of it as a speech that the Lord Jesus was wont to use, though the Evangelists do not record it: so that outward mercies are in themselves blessings, and the want of them by the Scripture is made a misery and affliction: Aristotle made the outward affluence of wealth necessary to that Beatitude he speaketh of, but Christ his discipline is otherwise. Hereupon our Saviour when he speaks of severall blessednesses to seve∣rall graces, with spirituall happinesse he reckoneth temporall, Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Hence we reade of the people of God praying for these earthly mercies, and we have a direction for it in the Lords Praier, when we pray for daily bread, which although some learned men understand of heavenly bread, and translate it supersubstantiall, yet that hath no probability. It is true indeed the very petition doth much limit and moderate our desires, for it is af∣ter Page  182 the great things that belong to Gods glory; and it is but one Petition, where∣as there are divers for spirituall things, so that our Saviour would have us to be about these earthly things, as those fowls of the heaven are, which on a sudden fall on the ground for their food, but presently fly up to heaven again: and then, it's daily food, or as the most learned expound it, food convenient, and decent for our place and calling, not supersluity. Thus though these cutward mercies are blessings, yet we are to circumcise our affections about them; lst as when the waters overflow the banks, it getteth much soil and dit, so our affections immo∣derate grow polluted.

Secondly, Although these are blessings and mercies, and so good things; yet*they are not sanctifying of those that have them. Dives said, he had good things laid up in store; but how were they good? which mde him b••? how were they good which could not keep him out or hell? Riches therefore are nei∣ther good or bad, but indifferent in their nature, and saith Austin, God gives wealth to wicked men, to shew, that the nature of it is not good: and sometimes*to godly men to shew that it is not evil 〈◊〉 their nature. Therefore these outward mercies are not good, as grace and holinesse is, which makes them good that have them. Hence though they come to the godly from the grace of God, yet the Scripture never cals them grace, as it doth the fruits of Gods Spirit; so that this may abundantly comfort those that are poor in the world, yet rich in grace. Thou hast the best good that is in all Gods Treasure, in making the godly, he hath be∣stowed a greater blessing upon 〈◊〉 then if he had given thee all the riches of the world: A man that hath gold, thinks not himself poor for want of clay or brasse; so neither may a Christian that is in 〈◊〉 with holinesse think himself poor, because he wants outward mercies. Those are good things which make us good.

Thirdly, As outward wealth and encrease are blessings, so they do belong by * promise unto godlinesse; Godlinesse hath the promise of this life, and the li••, 1 Tim. 4. 8. Look over all temporall mercies that are in the Scripture, and you shall finde them made only to the godly man. Hence these earthly 〈◊〉••ey are appendices to the Covenant of grace; when God promiseth to be our recon∣ciled father, then he promiseth us also heaven and 〈◊〉, 〈◊〉 whatsoeve〈◊〉 for our good. I do not say with some Divines, That 〈◊〉 men have no right to their goods; That they are usurpers, and shall answer for every 〈◊〉 of 〈◊〉 they eat, as robbers and theeves: No, it is a dangerous po〈…〉on to hold 〈◊◊〉〈…〉∣on and right to be placed upon godlinesse. The earth 〈◊〉 given to the children of men, saith the Psalmist, to all men as well as to the 〈…〉ly; 〈◊◊◊〉 is a lawfull, civil right, so there is a sanctified use, and 〈◊◊◊◊〉. All wicked men shall indeed answer for every mosell of 〈◊〉, every 〈◊〉 of drink, every peny in the purse, but not as if they were th〈…〉, only as 〈◊◊〉 did not improve all they had for the glory of God. This is also of 〈◊〉 to the god∣ly, art thou poor, art thou despised, art thou imprisoned? The promise of wealth, honour, liberty, belongs to thee, as well as of pardon of sin and grace, only these are not so absolutely necessary; if they were as necessary as Christ, and grace, and heaven is, thou shouldest be no more without them then without these: Thou art rich in bonds and bils even wherein the Lord is obliged, though thou hast not the actual use of those good things.

Fourthly, It is no wonder, that particular persons may conclude of their good * estate by the outward felicity God bestoweth upon them, seeing it's the professed and maintained doctrine of the learned men in the Church of Rome, that temporall felicity is a mark of the true Church: Would ye know (say they) what Church to joyn to? joyn to that Church which aboundeth in outward prosperity and wealth (say they,) and it cannot be (think they) that the Pope is Antichrist, and Rome Babylon, for if it were, the Lord would have plagued it with sor destructions, and not so wonderfully have blessed them for many ages together. But this is a weak Page  183 argument, and it hath no strength, but with carnall hearts that account nothing great and good, but what is earthly. Paul was discovered a faithfull Apostle by his iron chains on his legs, not his golden ones about his neck. By this doctrine we may see how imbred a thing it is in a man to be high minded, and secure in his spi∣rit, as if God loved him more then others, because he hath bestowed more of these earthly blessings upon him then others. They think that as God giveth them a higher place here on earth, so he will also in heaven: Especially this sin is com∣mitted by you of the City, many whereof have been blessed by a bountifull en∣crease from little or nothing: you say with Jacob, With a staff came I over Jor∣dan up to London, and now I am become two bands: You are above him in the Pa∣rable, his five pound gained tenne, yours one peny a thousand, and do you not take this great providence of God to you as an argument of your righteousnesse? Do not you speak in your heart, as the Text saith, though not with your mouth, that this makes you have hopes, that God who hath done so much for you here, will doe much more for you hereafter? Here is little true comfort in all these thoughts, as is to be shewed.

Fifthly, Although we cannot conclude grace by outward mercies, yet thus far * we must by Scripture say, that God out of a generall love in a providentiall way doth give many a man outward prosperity and wealth, for his diligence, industry, upright and honest dealing in the world. Thus Solomon saith, The hand of the dili∣gent maketh rich, and truth and justice in our way is blessed by God to encrease. Thus Austin attributed all the temporall greatnesse that the state of Rome came to, unto the justice of their common-wealth, but this comes only from a generall Love of God, not from that peculiar love which belongs to his people; it doth not come from the same fountain that mercy and pardon comes; Therefore it's a fruit of providence, not of election: it argueth upright dealing, but not an heart made pure and upright to God: what then though thou saist, God hath blest my diligence, my honest dealing? yet thou canst not say, This is the fruit of my conver∣sion and regeneration, being turned unto God.

Lastly, Some go into another extremity, and conclude of their good estate and holy condition, because they are in a poor, needy, miserable estate, and destitute of all earthly comforts; They reade in the Scripture, that the poor receive the Gospel, Christ invited the lame and blinde, That persecutions and affli∣ctions are the way to heaven; They hear Christ said, Blessed are those that mourn and weep, and Wo be to those that laugh; They hear God hath not chosen many rich, many noble, and therefore because they are in great extremities here, they do not think God will make them have an hell here and an hell hereafter. But eve∣ry poor man is not a Lazarus, nay, there are many times none more wicked, cur∣sed, prophane, and enemies to all goodnesse, then those that are in a low and mi∣serable condition; A wofull thing it is indeed to have nothing but misery here, and nothing but torments hereafter. If thy poverty indeed were sanctified, thou wast more holy; humble, heavenly, then that estate would not be contemned by God: he doth not disdain the praier, of the poor, humble and lowly ones; but then be sure thou art such a poor man as the Scripture speaks of, otherwise as thou many times here on earth wantest a crum of bread, so thou wilt in hell a drop of water.

In the next place, let us consider why outward prosperity and blessings do not * argue a mans good estate.

And first, It may be demonstrated from the original or fountain whence they flow; It is not only from Gods love, but his anger and hatred also: Sometimes God gi∣veth men the outward comforts of this life in his hot displeasure; Thus Dives, it was Gods anger to him made him rich: Solomon speaketh of this vanity, that ma∣ny times a wicked man hath wealth given him, not for his own good, for he hath no power to enjoy it, but for the good of others: Solomon often taketh notice of this, that the wicked layeth up for the righteous; not that intentionally he doth Page  182〈1 page duplicate〉Page  183〈1 page duplicate〉Page  184 so, but providencially it shall be so, Quando{que} divitiae dantur ad panam, saith Au∣stin; God giveth wealth to men, as Saul did Michal his daughter in wife to David, not out of love, but to be a snare unto him, let their table become a snare to them. As the immoderate length of Absaloms hair was an occasion to hang him, to be his death, so the overflowing of mercies and comforts are sometimes the instruments of mens destruction: Do not thou therefore boast and grow lof∣ty by that which cometh from wrath and will end in wrath. Thy fat pastures are only to fat thee the more for hell; Do not bear thy head high, because thou hast more abundance, wealth, greatnesse then others. The higher the trees are, the nea∣rer to thunder and lightning. Oh what a difference did Dives in hell finde from himself faring deliciously every day!

Secondly, Therefore may not outward plenty and mercies be made a sign of our*good estate, because they have alwaies in corrupt hearts corrupt and sinfull operations: which we will take notice of, that so you who have what your hearts can wish, may know you have not what your hearts ought to wish.

As 1. Outward comforts in the plenty of them are apt to beget pride and lofti∣nesse of heart, so as to despise and contemn those that are under them: Hence Paul bids Timothy charge the rich men of this world, that they be not high min∣ded, but fear; charge them as if entreaties and milde perswasions would not do them any good, but charge them, and then that they be not high-minded; all out∣ward comforts are apt like ripe fruit to breed some worms, especially that of pride and insolency of heart: Mark therefore whether the blessings thou hast make thee bold, secure, lofty. Thou beginnest to care for no body, to fear nothing: Alas, God hath not done these great things to thee out of love to thee, for they have unkindely, and sinfull influences upon thee.

2. If these outward mercies deadden thy heart to the things of God, or the * exercise of those means of grace God hath appointed; Oh thou hast cause then to tremble in the encrease of them. We see Mat. 13. that the cares of this world, and ceitfulnesse of riches, did eat like a Cancer into the heart of those hearers that came nearest to godlinesse. They were next to the good, but these thorns springing up choak the good seed; so the Apostle saith, That some made shipwrack of their faith and conscience, because of their inordinate love to the world; Divitia a divi∣dendo, saith one if they divide the heart between God and them, if they distract in praier, in duties, all thy profession of religion, is more withering and languish∣ing, since God hath done thus mercifully to thee; think thou hast little cause to have any confidence from hence; Demas he did cleave to this world, some think he totally apostatized, others that he did wonderfully abate in his former zeal, that he forsook Paul in his Pilgrimages and Travels for the Gospel, and betook him∣self to some more profitable way: which soever it was, we see how quickly such worms as these may devour the fairest gourds. Thou therefore that saist, God hath blessed me thus much from nothing, God hath given me a great encrease; Tell me true, Hath God blessed thee in thy love to God, in the exercise of holy duties? dost thou pray better? are thy family duties more vigorous and zealous? Oh it is an ill symptome to grow up more into the world and down more towards hell. Thou blessest God thou art come from nothing to a great estate, and thou tremblest not to think that thy flourishing hopes of grace are now come to no∣thing. Oh therefore take heed how you boast your selves in that which God ab∣horreth: Hath the encrease of mercies been the decrease of duties? Is the flow∣ing of wealth the ebbing of holinesse? Then thou hast no cause to be confident, but rather to fear and tremble. Though duties and the means of grace, be wings to elevate thee to heaven, yet if these outward blessings are a clog or mill-stone about the neck to presse thee down, the latter will quickly justle out the former.

3. Then can outward abundance be no comfortable sign, when the means to * get it and the way to preserve it are unlawfull, and such as the Scripture con∣demneth: Page  185 The Lord many times suffereth unjust and deceitfull men to thrive for a while in the world, and so ungodly men have much outward prosperity. even Idolaters, when Gods own Church hath been much afflicted: David and Jere∣miah expostulated with God about this, no wonder wicked men thought the bet∣ter of themselves, when David a godly man was so discontented hereat, that he thought all his integrity and pure worship of God was in vain: Yea the Hea∣thens they have busied themselves, Plutarch and Seneca have on purpose deba∣ted this providence of God, Why it is many times so ill with the godly, and out∣wardly so well with the wicked: but till David went into Gods Sanctuary, un∣derstood Gods word, he was not satisfied, but by that perceived they were in slippery places, and he began to think he would not have all their prosperity, with the sad consequents of it; and indeed it is never well with the wicked, though in abundance, and never ill with the godly, though in deep extremities: say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with him. say ye to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, say it, Gods Ministers are boldly and peremptorily to pronounce this; that morsel which went down at first as sweet honey, will at last be emptied like gravel out of the belly. Do not therefore conclude of thy great mercies, it may be the manner and way may afford thee little comfort, it may be that which thou think∣est a demonstration of Gods love to thee, is an argument of thy wickedness; when men come to great estate, presently we ask, How is it raised? as the Geographers di∣spute about the spring of Nilus: Outward mercies in Gods way are sweet and comfortable, but in unwarrantable and unlawful waies, they melt like wax before the fire, and besides they sting like a Scorpion, and bite like an Adder.

Thirdly, Therefore may we not trust in outward prosperity, because God * many times giveth a man all the good things he shall have in this life only; and afterwards there is nothing but everlasting woe and misery. Thus Abraham an∣swered Dives in hell, Remember thou receivedst good things in thy life time. Now this is an heavy doom if men did rightly consider it. Thou hast much abundance, much ease, thou thrivest and growest fat in the world, thou eatest and drinkest, and makest merry. Oh fear lest God give thee all thy good things in this life only! What a wonderfull change was made with Dives and Lazarus; the one having only good in this life meeteth with only evil, not a drop of water to cool his tongue; the other having nothing but evil, meeteth with that which is al∣together happy. You may read in Judges about Gidons fleece, how that was first all wet, and then the floor dry, afterwards the floor was wholly wet, and the fleece dry. Thus Dives in this life, Soul, take thy ease, for thou hast much good laid up for thee; in the other life, Soul tremble and plunge thy self in horrour, for thou hast much torment and wrath treasured up for thee, all is changed.

Fourthly, Therefore may we not trust in these, because we many times abuse * them to a contrary end for which God gave them; he gave them to be instru∣ments of much glory to God, and good to others. If God give thee honours, dignities, successe, wealth, thou art to be glad of them no further then they may make thee serviceable to God; Thou dost not look at thy own ease, thy own profit by them, but only attend unto the serviceablenesse thou maiest be ca∣pable of thereby: But oh how rare is this! Rich men are the greatest men in debt of all others; they are much to God, much to the publick, much to others necessities; now what comfort canst thou take if God blesse thee with these things, if thou dost not also finde him making thee thereby instrumental to his glory? If thou keepest all the good mercies God vouchsafeth to thee, as the Ants and Pismires do their grain and corn which they hide in their little hils, and as they say, bite it that it may not grow.

Fifthly, They are not to be relied on, because though all power to get wealth * and prosper in the world, argue God is with thee, yet he may be only with thee providentially and powerfully, not graciously; As when Nebuchadnezzar con∣quered and prevailed; when Alexander became great, Augustus happy. God Page  186 was with these in a mighty providential way, but not graciously. It is an opinion that God vouchsafeth to some men an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a good successe, so that they prosper in all their enterprizes. Again, others though as prudent, as pious, yet never have good successe. Julius Caesar was perswaded of this, when he said Caesarem vehis & fortunam ejus: and concerning Alexander it is observed, that his very pictures were succesfull; but Psal. 75. 6. doth well conclude this matter. Well, grant there are such men whom God will preserre, make rich, great, honoured, whe∣ther they will or no; yet all this argueth God is only with them powerfully, not graciously. Now it is no solid comfort to perceive Gods power and assistance with us, unlesse we also finde his gracious presence.

Use 1. Of Reproof to those who desire these outward good things more then inward and spiritual, that say of all earthly greatnesse, as Rachel about children, Give me children else I die; or as Chrysostom reproved some that would say, Give me that which is sweet,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, although it choke me, give me wealth, greatnesse, power, although it damn me: alas the fading, vanishing nature of them should make thee temperate; these flowers will presently die. You will cry out with Jo∣nathan, I have tasted a little honey, and behold I must die. I have enjoyed a few years profit, a few years pleasure, and now I must be damned.

Use 2. Of Instruction to those who meet with much prosperity and outward encouragements in this world: Take heed of thinking that God doth this to thee, for thy righteousnesse, for thy piety. Do not think this is, because God loveth thee more then others: Nay fear lest these mercies prove not like oil in hell flames to make it scorch the hotter. O do not let thy heart run out Thus, God hath blest me in my trading, in my buying and selling, in my enterprizes and un∣dertakings; but withall consider how he hath blest thee with an heavenly heart, with a gracious life; since thou hast had more wealth hast thou also had more grace? The ship in the sea goeth swiftly, till it touch upon the sands and gravel under it, and then it is stopt. Oh take heed that ye be not like Corah, Dathan and Abiram, swallowed up of the earth in a spiritual way, as they were in a tem∣poral.

Use 3. Of Consolation to the godly, who it may be want many of those out∣ward mercies the wicked have. Let them know they are no arguments of true godlinesse, or of Gods dear love in Christ. If indeed thou hadst no portion in Christ, no interest in his grace; If thou hadst no gracious fruits of his Spirit upon thee; then thou mightst justly cry out, ah me, a wretched and barren wilder∣nesse near to cursing and burning: but now it is otherwise, thou hast those things that do indeed accompany salvation. Besides, let not thy heart be troubled at the want of these things, for they are not the best things, nor are they the most ne∣cessary things, and God hath vouchsafed them to thee: Oh it is a sign thy heart is too carnal and earthly, that crieth for earth, when God hath given thee pre∣cious pearls! Though all be gone, yet if grace be left in thy heart, and God be not gone from thy soul, thou maist abundantly rejoyce.

Page  187

SERMON XXXII.

That a mans leaving those gross sins he hath lived in is no Sign of Grace.


2 PET. 2. 20.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, &c.

THis Text may be called like that place in the Israelites travails, Meribah, a place of strife and contention; The Arminian, Papist, and others consident∣ly asserting a total ánd final apostasie from true grace, out of this Text. Nulla orationis suada, nulla argumentorum vis, is required for this, Textus per se lucet, say the Remonstrants. But you have the Orthodox as valiantly beating them out of this ground: What is the true meaning of the Text will appear upon a brief discussion; onely in the general take notice of the excellency of this Cha∣pter wholly spent in describing of false Teachers, manifesting their several evils of sinne, and their several evils of punishment, which is so great that the Apo∣stle Jude hath almost transcribed his whole Epistle out of this, with very little addition: Pulchra sunt bis dicenda, said he. For the understanding of the words, the Apostle used in the precedent verses two excellent similitudes, whereunto he compared false teachers; first to fountains without water; these invite the wearied passenger to drink, but when he cometh near he findeth nothing but clayand mud; so false teachers promise such excellent and wonderfull truths, that were never heard of before, but indeed give noisome filth. 2. He compareth them to clouds without rain driven with the winde, which denoteth two things, First, Their vain o∣stentation, as the cloud seemeth to bring rain, but yet emptieth none; and secondly, their instability, They are clouds driven up and down〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is properly an impetuous turbulent winde; and as such clouds do both raise great tempests, and obnubilate the Sunne, so do false teachers make heavy storms and troubles in the Church, and withall bemist the glorious light of the Scripture. A third descri∣ption is from their affectation of great and swelling words. All tumours argue a windy inflammation. In the next place he aggravates their condition by the per∣nicious and damnable effect of their false doctrines, they do not onely damn themselves, but draw a troop of others into hell with them. And this they do in a slie way, they do 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as the Fisherman or the Fowler, shew the bait, but hide the hook or snare. Whereupon the Apostle enlargeth himself concerning the miserable estate of the seduced persons, as well as the seducers, the followers as well as the guides tumble into the pit of destruction. The misery of seduced persons is aggravated first in my Text, from the greater curse and wrath that will now befall them since their apostasie, then if they had continued in their pristine unbelief and Paganism. So that you have the deceived wretches described by way of supposition;

First, In their former estate.

Secondly, In their fall.

Their former estate is deciphered in what they have done, and the means Page  188 whereby. The matter done by them, is to escape the pollutions of the world, that is, their idolatry and great vices, which formerly they lived in, betaking them∣selves to the true profession of Christ. The word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is but once, and that here used in the New Testament, Jer. 32. 34. it is used by the Septuagint of more grievous and grosse crimes, but Ezek. 33. 9. of the pollution of the heart only by covetousnesse. Bude us saith 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 was piaculum, when a man had con∣taminated himself with some grievous crime, contracting such guilt, that he made himself and others obnoxious to the wrath of God in a conspicuous manner: with Physicians the word signifieth those pestilential seminals that are in the corru∣pted air, whereby a general infection is procured; so that the Apostle meaneth whatsoever Idolatry, or the great sins committed by them in Paganism, they had escaped.

Secondly, The means by which, is through the knowledge of Christ, so that their lives were clean, not by moral precepts, and prudent dictates of nature, but by faith historical or temporary in Christ; now here is the great Question, Whe∣ther these were truly regenerated or no? Those that hold the Saints Apostasie, say the Affirmative, and they presse that word in the verse before 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they did in∣deed escape; I confesse that is all the probability, but divers have read it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for a little time, or almost they had escaped, as Agrippa was almost a Christian, and thus reading it would be no advantage, and so we see it in the Margin of our Bibles: But I think it dangerous to depart from universally recei∣ved copies. Others therefore that are Orthodox, say indeed, These were regene∣rated, but their fall was only partial and temporary, for they did recover again as David and Peter: but the Text affordeth no help to such an Assertion: I shall therefore conclude, That although by the Christian Religion there was made a great and wonderfull change in the lives of these men, yet they were not in∣wardly regenerated, and my reason is, because the Apostle compareth them to a washed Swine, which though never so white, yet is a Swine still, her nature is not altered, therefore she will return to her mire again; So these though purifi∣ed in their lives by the profession of the Gospel, yet were indeed in their natu∣ral condition; and therefore when temptations came, they returned to their own natures, therefore vers. 14. are called unstable souls. But you will say, If they were not godly, how are they said indeed to escape the pollutions of the world? Piscator answereth, because in the judgement of charity, and account of belie∣vers they were judged so. Beza better, indeed, that is comparatively with their false teachers, for they lived in all filthinesse, yet counterfeited an holy life, but lastly they did indeed leave the outward acts of wickednesse, as the Sow washed is indeed clean, but yet she is not turned into a Sheep; so these truly and indeed had altered their manners, amended their outward lives, but were Swine, were Dogs still. So that we affirm the Apostle to speak of men not indeed regenera∣ted, but yet changed in their lives from their former wickednesse, and having no inward change, therefore it is that they fall, and falling their later end is worse then their beginning, partly because they sinne with more knowledge and un∣derstanding, and partly because they sinne with greater ingratitude and unthank∣fulnesse for further mercies; and partly because they stand not at a stay till they fall into some foul waies of doctrine or conversation: And thus much for the sense of the words.

That a great change made in a mans life by forsaking those grosse actual sins he*once lived in, doth not presently argue such a mans conversion, or that he is indeed in a state of grace.

A Christian may be a Swine, and yet washed. Thou that wert once a drunkard, a whoremonger, a swearer, maiest have forsaken these sins, and yet this alteration be in externals only, not internals. Though thou hast escaped the pollutions of the world, yet not those of thy heart, and therefore thou art still in the state of gall and wormwood. This is cleared in the foolish Virgins, who are called Vir∣gins, Page  189 because they kept themselves from the Idolatry and pollutions of the world; yet foolish, because they had not oyl. Thus you have the Israelites several times throwing away their Idols, by which they had provoked God against them, and yet returning again to them: We may say, the Israelites did clean escape those I∣dolatrous pollutions, and they did it seriously, they were not grosse dissemblers; but because their hearts were not changed, and they steadfast in this reformation, they were swine washed returning to the mire. Judas throweth away his unjust gain, with great terrour and sorrow of heart, but he is a Goat, not a Sheep in Christs flock. I confesse this sign seemeth to carry much probability with it; and com∣monly such men, who have superseded their lusts, find a great deal of comfort: they rejoyce to see those fetters and chains of their legs, which once lust and the Divel had put on them, taken off. They were sins prisoners, and went up and down in their shackles, but now they are out of this dungeon. *

To open the Doctrine, consider these particulars.

First It cannot be denied but that the Scripture doth frequently comprehend the duty of repentance, and conversion to God, under these words, of forsaking our sinns, casting away our transgressions, turning away from our evil waies, &c. Insomuch that wheresoever there is such a forsaking, such a turning, there seemeth presently to be the whole nature of conversion to God. Hence James calls it, Pure religion and undefiled, to keep our selves unspotted from the world. But all those expressions do but contain part of the duty; for every forsaking, every turning from sin, is not presently, a gracious turning to God, as is to be shewed: Therefore think it not enough, That thou wast indeed once such a prophaner, such a vain person, but now thou hast left all such courses: Do not thou say, Behold a true Israelite in whom there is no guile: Behold a true child of God on whom are the sure works of grace: For though thus outwardly washed, yet inwardly the filth may abound; though the outside be fair, yet the Coar may be rotten within.

The reason why the Scripture describeth conversion by external leaving of sin, is, because hereby our hatred and loathing of it is made more manifest, and none can say, They cleanse their hearts, who do not also cleanse their lives: It fol∣loweth necessarily, That if the heart be washed, the outward conversation wil also be washed; but not on the contrary, that if the conversation be unpolluted, the heart is.

Secondly, An outward reformation of life, and forsaking of sin, may be from seve∣ral*principles.

1. From the grace of sanctification, which doth wholly alter, and change the nature of a man, putting new and spiritual affections, and inclinations in him, where∣by he is carried out against sin from the pure love of God, and delight in grace; and forsaking sin from this ground, is onely comfortable.

2. Another leaving of sin, is from the restraining power, and providence of God, * whereby bits and bridles are put into mans jaws, that they rush not out so madly into sin as their impetuous lusts would carry them; and such a forsaking of sin, though it be outwardly for the glory of God, his name is not so much blasphem∣ed, others are not so much scandalized; yet it affords no true solid joy to him, that upon these terms only parts with his sins.

3. There is a repressing of sin by the dictates of Nature, and the power of Mo∣ral * precepts instilled into a man. Thus there is a famous story of an Heathen, who was a debauched and prophane man, that went to hear Socrates read his lectures of Morality, with purpose to deride and scoff him; but he was so potently wrought upon by Socrates his precepts, that he went away changed, and never was such a debauched man any more; and no question it was from these natural dictates, with the common help, and assistance of God, that many heathens lived such pure and unblameable lives. So then, if upon these three several stocks, the outward emendation of a mans life may grow, it behoveth every man, who hopes he is Page  190 now turned a penitent and a convert, to enquire from which of all these his change is made upon him.

Thirdly, Mens lusts and sins are for the most part so dear and sweet to them, that it must be some great work either of grace Sanctifying, or grace restraining, that will make a man leave them. We see the Israelites would give all the wealth they had, yea, the very fruit of their womb to Oblations, rather then leave their accu∣stomed sins: This makes our Saviour compare them to a right eye, and a right hand, as those things which are most intimate, and dear unto us: And what is the ground of all that malice, and hatred against the word of God, and soul-searching Truth, but onely mens inordinate love and affection to their sins? Insomuch that when you see any wicked man leave his accustomed sins, you may with wonder cry out, What aileth this Jordan to turn backward, and this Iron to swim? How cometh this Blackamore to a white skin? Though therefore it be no sure sign, yet it is a great duty: we may go out to see it as a great wonder in a parish, Be∣hold! once a Swearer, once a Blasphemer, but now he doth so no more!

Fourthly, Though this outward alteration argue no grace in the heart, yet it is to be acknowledged as a merciful work of God. When the word of God, though it * doth not work to conversion from sin, yet it doth to repression of sin: so that men; though they cease not to be wicked, from holy principles, yet they do from a strong aw and fear which Gods word bringeth upon their consciences: so in that Herod feared John, and was thereby restrained fom many sins, though not from all, is was very laudable. Thus King Josha, that kept from several wicked waies, as long as Jehoiadah the Priest was alive, it was a mercy.

1. For hereby several good issues flow, as God is hereby lesse dishonoured: a * Christian prophane in his life, blasphemes the name of God; thy Oaths, Lusts are a kind of blasphemy against God: where therefore there is a forbearance of these, God is lesse dishonoured, let the grounds be what they will be.

2. Again, hereby Gods wrath is not provoked so quickly against a people, to * destroy them with temporal judgements: Be not evermuch wicked (saith Eccle∣siastes) Why shouldest thou die before thy time? and thus for Oaths, Injustice, and Oppression, the land mourneth: Hence grosse sins, are called crying sins, because they make a noise in Gods ear, importuning for vengeance: now it is a mercy to a place when no such crying sins are committed, when God is not importuned to con∣sume a place.

3. It is good, because hereby godlinesse hath a repute, and an esteem, and wick∣ednesse * hath a discouragement and brand upon it. The Scriptures speaks of an whores fore-head, and a face that could not be ashamed: Now it is well when Gods Mini∣stry hath brought sin into such an Odium, and matter of shame, that none of any in∣genuity, any care, dareth commit any vile sin: and Oh that in all our congregati∣ons, if there were not such sanctifying grace, yet such ingenuous dispositions wrought in men by the light of the Word, that men would say, I am taught better, I know better, I scorn and am ashamed to serve any lust, or commit any known sin: those that are drunk (saith the Apostle) are drunk in the night, and so those that steal, steal in the night. Thus let Ashkelon and Gath, let Sodom and Gomorrah, who are in the night and dark, have wickednesse committed amongst them; but let not Je∣rusalem, or Sion, who is in the light, thus stumble in the day and fall. How much is it to be deplored, that where the Gospel is received, and the word of God read, and preached, every prophane person should not be as much ashamed to shew his head, as a theif when he is taken?

4. Here is this good comes by forsaking of sin, though not upon right principles, * that others are not encouraged to imitate and do the like. Sins in the Text are cal∣led pollutions contagions, they have a pestilential infection with them; and be∣cause so, how good is it when this arrow doth not walk abroad that would destroy at mid-day! Certainly if we praise God heartily for the abating of the plague, or Page  191 sword, which have such open mouths to devour, may we not much rather blesse God for freedom from grosse sins in the place where thou livest? If thou lovest thy self, thy family, thy relations, thou canst not but rejoyce to live, where they shall learn from others to do that, which is according to God and his Law.

5. It is a mercy, because where such great impieties are restrained, there is less * grief, and trouble to the Godly. Esai cryeth out, Wo be to me, because I live among men of polluted lips: and David, Wo be to me, because I live in the wildernesse of Meshech: And the same good man bewailed his exile among those that knew not God. Lot was tormented as in hell, with seeing, and hearing the ungodly practi∣ces of the Sodomites: So that where God doth not work to regeneration, if yet he doth to restraining and binding up of mens corruptions, that their wicked∣nesse doth not make the place an hell to live in, the godly do much praise him for it.

Lastly, Though leaving of sin do not alway argue an interest in Christ, and an * evidence for heaven, yet such men shall have less torments in hell; their judgement will be easier. Thus Austin said, Camillus will be less punished in hell then Catalie; and so a wicked man forsaking his ear lusts and sins, though not upon Sanctified principles, shall have more Temporal blessings here and lesse punishment hereafter, then those that wilfully persevere in them.

Let us in the next place consider, Why a meer forsaking of sin, or a reformati∣on in externals, is not enough: and this will be manifest from several demon∣strations.

First, Because (as was intimated) sin may be left from forced principles without,*not sanctified grace within. Forced principles are terrors of conscience, grievous judgements of God, whereby a man is taken off from his sins, as a mastive is pul∣led off from worrying a sheep, and sucking its sweet blood, by putting red hot Iron in his mouth. Nothing but a flaming fiery sword can keep him off from sin, which he accounted paradise: But that which is comfortable reforming of a mans life, is when a supernatural principle is infused within, whereby we are made new creatures; and so from the love of God, and his holiness, ariseth all our hatred and loathing of sin. Thus the Apostle abhors that which is evil, cleaves to that which is good, Rom. 12. When our hating of sin like hell, ariseth from a sweet intimate cleaving to good as glue, (for so the word implies) this is matter of rejoycing. We see in nature, operations follow the nature and essence of a thing; therefore departing from evil is not kindly, till it come from a pure, and sanctified na∣ture.

Secondly, A meer leaving of sin, is not perfectly a touchstone of grace, because it may be done unwillingly, with great grief that we cannot keep our lusts still: And * this is a consequent from the former particular; for when we leave sin from forced principles, there is a great deal of reluctancy: Thus Pharaoh and the Israelites under Gods judgements, they go from sin as Phaltiel was taken from his wife, They run crying after them to have them again. Oh, this is the wretched temper of too many; they have an heart to do thus, to live thus, and they are grieved their lusts cannot be accomplished, but other things keep them they dare not; as Paul said, The evil he would not do, yet he did it, but still he delighted in the Law of God in the inner man. So these, the good they would not do, yet they are compelled to do; and therefore still they delight in the law of sin, and with their mindes they serve it: do not many cast away their sins, as the Marriners did Jonah out of the ship in the sea? they used first all the means they could to keep him in, and when that could not be, then with great trouble of spirit they threw him away. Thus ma∣ny use all means secretly, publickly to keep their sins, plead for the lawfulness of them, excuse the committing of them, till a tempest of Gods wrath is so violent upon them, that they cannot hold them any longer: Oh, therefore if thou wer't once so and so, but now washed, now no such ulcers and sores are upon thee, con∣sider Page  192 with what willingnesse, delight, and joy in God this is done, if otherwise, say not, Grace is in thee.

Thirdly, Therefore may not leaving of actual sin, be a good testimony, because this*is not accompanied with mortifying sin in the root, and in the body of it; For that on∣ly is the true forsaking of sin, which goeth to the very bottom of all, which layeth the Ax to the root of the tree, which endeavors to kill the dam with the young ones, which would destroy sin as they did Jericho, never to be built again. Thus David repenting of those gross actual sins, goeth to the Fountain, his polluted na∣ture and unclean, bitterly bewailing that: hence also the Apostle calleth for cru∣cifying of the flesh, as well as the lusts of sin. The Scripture speaks of the body of sin, as well as members thereof, and exhorts to the mortifying of one, as well as another: And Paul, Rom. 7. In that great combat and conflict, he fights not with small sins or great, but the king, Original pollution. Sampson did but cut his hair, and when that grew, all his strength grew up again; if it had been pulled up by the root, then he had recovered his power no more, so it is here. If actual sins be onely circum∣cised, pared off, and not a pulling them up by the roots, they all increase to their former prevalency again. Know then, it is not enough to dry up the streams, un∣less the fountain also be: see how the root and seed-plot of all lust, and sin in thy heart is consumed, and then there is hopes thou biddest thy sins be gone upon right terms; otherwise this falling out of lovers, will be the renewing of love; or as water cast upon the Iron, makes it burn the more vehemently, so will this for∣bearance a while from sin afterward inflame thee seven times the hotter: and certainly here ought our sorrow and hatred to be most vigorous, because here sin is in its strength and power.

Fourthly, Therefore may we not take comfort from meer external reformation, be∣cause it may be nothing but the change of grosse sins, into a channel of Spiritual, and*more refined sins. Now this is onely to change such Tyrant-sins, but not the Ty∣ranny of sin. The Pharisees they carefully avoided all gross Publican sins: they thank God, they are no drunkards, publicans, adulterers; but what then? they are proud, covetous, superstitious; they avoid gross sin corporally, but they greatly de∣file themselves with other sins spiritually. A man diseased with distillation of humours, if the Physitian do not remove the humour, but divert it to some other part, that is more vital and dangerous, he doth not cure, but kill his patient; and thus it is here, that flux of blood, that noisom sore of sin, which did run out in a bodily way, is turned now into a mental way of pride, self-confidence, self-righte∣ousness; and thus as many times the drying up of sores and issues, strikes present∣ly to the heart, and kils immediately, so doth the forsaking of gross sins fill thy heart with self-love selfd-elight, & hereby thy estate is more dangerous then ever.

Fifthly, Take not comfort presently from thy leaving of sin, for it may be only a par∣tial*and limited leaving, not an absolute and universal. There is many a man hath made a wonderful change in his life, and hath cast away all those visible sins, that others observe in him; but yet some secret, pleasant, profitable lust he keeps, by which means he is still under the dominion of sin, and in Satans snares. Thus He∣rod, he did many things, but one thing he would not do: Now I know thou lovest me (saith God) when thou hast parted with thy onely son Isaak, and then God know∣eth thou truly lovest him, when thou leavest thy own personal iniquities; when thou canst say, Lord, I have willingly parted with that which I was most addicted to, which I have been long accustomed to which I would have desired of all to have spared: Thou mayest with Saul, kill many a petty sin, but wilt thou kill Agag? Wilt thou part with the fat cattle, as well as the lean? be impartial in this point.

Sixthly, Escaping of worldly pollutions, is not alwaies an argument of a renewed*nature, because sin may drive out sin, even as Divines say about popish exorcismes, when the priest calls out divels from men possessed, it is by collusion: the divel re∣cedes not, because those exorcismes are of divine efficacy, but because hereby he would confirm people more in believing a lye. Thus a man that hath propounded Page  193 to himself any great worldly end, of profit, pleasure, or advancement, he must for a while be a saint, that he may be a divel. Thus divers Hereticks have been men of unblamable, and excellent lives, that their seeming Sanctity may stamp the greater reputation upon their Heresies. It is Machiave's counsel to his great ones, That by all means they should get the name and repute of virtue 〈◊〉 though the thing it self be a burthen; see then whether thy reformation of life, be not subor∣dinate to carnal designs; if so, thou art but a serpent with a glistering colour, but a body full of poyson.

Lastly, This amendment of life is not satisfactory, because the means by which it is wrought, is not durable, rooted, and firm: It is said in the Text, by the know∣ledge of Christ: howsoever some would lay much upon the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, yet that is many times no more then a bare 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an historical knowledge of Divine things, with some light impression upon the heart. Our Saviour differenceth the foolish and the wise builder, by the depth of the foundation they lay, and its the knowing of the Truths as they are in Jesus, that makes a man put off the old man with all its lusts: Therefore examine, by what means art thou perswaded thus to reform? how cometh it about that thou darest not do as thou hast dore? If it be onely general, historical faith of matters contained in the Scripture, this is too weak and languishing; it is one thing to leave sin from meer illumination in the head, and another from a powerful inflammation, and renovation of the heart; thou must with thy heart, and soul, and strength love God, and leave sin, as well as with the mind.

Use of Instruction, How manifestly and evidently they have no hopes of heaven, * or grace, who live in the constant, common practice of gross sins; yet even such men would judge it hard to be told, That they are of their Father the Divel, that they are in a state of darkness, and bitterness; yet what is more clear? You need not have one from heaven come and tell you, your state is damnable, neither one from hell, with hell flames upon him, crying out, for such sins as you dayly com∣mit, Behold, I lye roaring and yelling to all eternity: If therefore any that is called a Christian, a believer, be thus a prophane, an ungodly person, let him see the wrath of God written against him so evidently, that though he runneth he may read it. What is a Swine, though washed, under the sad doom of Gods wrath? What then is the Swine wallowing in its mire, and tumbling in its dirt? And such an one art thou, who committest gross sins with greediness.

Use of Exhortation, Not onely to leave your sins, but upon such right grounds as will be of everlasting comfort: Cast away your iniquities, saith the Prophet; * That implieth willingness, readiness, vehement detestation, never to receive them any more; but thy sins are pulled from thee, thy heart is the same, thy love is the same, unless God hedgeth thy way with thorns, that thou canst not follow thy lusts. Hast thou therefore left off all those evil waies thou once livedst in upon Scripture ends, with such a love of Godliness, that though sin come like Josephs Mistress, in all her loveliness, pleasure, and importunate temptation, saying, Come, and lye with me: yet thou leavest garment and all, saying, How can I do this, and sin against God? Take heed thou art not like that man out of whom divels were cast, but he cometh with seven worse afterwards, and findes it garnished and swept, prepared for him; a sheep washed, loves not to go into the mire again, though a Sow doth.

Page  194

SERMON XXXIII.

The Difficulty, and in some sense impossibility of Sal∣vation notwithstanding the easiness which men fan∣cy to themselves thereof.


MAT. 19. 2
When the Disciples heard this, they were astonished, saying, Who then can be saved?

HAving in several instances discovered the weaknesse of those props, which most lean upon in reference to Salvation, I shall conclude this matter with a discourse upon the Disciples pathetical exclamation in the Text, Who then can be saved?

In the verse precedent, we have mention made of one, who had good wishes and desires for heaven, but being put by our Saviour upon an exploratory duty, it proved like jealousie water to him, discovering his rottennesse; he was a spu∣rious brood of the Eagle, for he was not able to endure these pure Sun-beams, He went away sorrowfull, for he had many possessions. It doth not say, for he loved them, but he had them, it being very difficult to have these things, and not im∣moderately love them: they were 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 indeed, because they possessed him, rather then he possessed them. He had much wealth, as we say, a man hath a feavor, when that hath him, destroying and wasting his health. Upon this we have our Saviour uttering a strange and paradoxal speech to flesh and bloud, Christs words were miracles as well as his works, It is hard for a rich man to en∣ter into the Kingdom of Heaven: compare this with Mark 10. and there are several aggravations; first, our Saviour saith, its hard; Mark saith, he spake it with admiration, How hard is it? Then this he affirmeth with a vehement asseverati∣on, verily, yea Mark saith, He looked about him, to signifie he had some ex∣traordinary thing to say, and therefore would have them attentive, yea the Evangelist saith, he sighed also, when he spake this further he spake this to his Disciples, though not rich, as appeareth by that compellation in Mark, Sonne, how hard is it, &c? as a tender father he bids them beware.

In the next place Christ doth not only shew the difficulty, but at last the im∣possibility by a proverbial speech, It is as impossible for a rich man to be saved, as a Camel to go thorow the eye of a needle, a Proverb in the Eastern parts to expresse an impossibility. Those that would understand it of a Cable-rope, as they mistake about the Greek word, so they consider not the greater impossibility is implied in the phrase the more significant it is. Now this speech of our Saviours is an hard speech, but thou art not to expostulate or contend with Gods Ministers about it, for truth it self hath said it: only by rich men, Mark expounds those who trust Page  195 in them, but Matthew speaks it absolutely, because of the difficulty not to trust in them, when we have them. Upon this speech of our Saviours, we see a nota∣ble operation on the Disciples, expressed first in their outward disposition, and then in their speech. In their disposition 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they were stricken with amazement, it was with them, as if they had had some astonishing blow given them; & then you have their admiration, who then can be saved? This implieth that they thought before they heard this a very possible, if not an easie thing to be sa∣ved, but now they despair of it: But why do they say, who then can be saved in the general, and not rather what rich man? for of them our Saviour spake, such poor men as the Disciples might be saved for all this. it is answered thus, though all men are not rich, yet all men have a desire and appetite after riches, and so they are thereby stopped in their course to heaven. Or thus, Though all men are not rich, yet as rich men have their wealth which they immoderately relie on: So there is no man but he hath some creature or other, he doth inordinatly affect, and that makes him a Camel with too big a bunch to go in the strait way to Heaven.

That howsoever men may suggest to themselves many probable and easie grounds for*their salvation, yet upon Scripture-consideration it will appear a great difficulty, yea in some sense an impossibility.

Thus the Disciples while they happily attended only to Christ his gracious in∣vitations and manifold promises of his love, they thought it a very easie matter to get to heaven; They found nothing but honey come out of his mouth. Now when they hear our Saviour speak of the exact qualification of him that shall be saved, they are affected with fear as the Israelites were, who thought it im∣possible to possesse Canaan, because of the tall Anakims that must first be con∣quered.

For the clearing of the Doctrine, let these three things be premised; *

First, That when we say it is such a difficult and impossible thing to be saved, we do not relate to that natural impossibility which is in every man; for so not only rich men, but even infants new-born, it's as impossible for them to be sa∣ved, as a Camel to go thorow the eye of a needle; for seeing all are by nature dead in sinne; we can no more put spiritual life in our selves, then Adam could at first have made himself of a lump of earth, a living soul. We do not then fetch this impossibility of Salvation so much from the weaknesse of nature, as from the exactnesse of the way of grace, for our Saviour in the Text laieth not this impossibility upon the impotency and inability of a man in respect of original defilement, though this stream will by long windings at last empty it self into that fountain, but upon the curious bounds that grace prescribes our affections even to lawful things; so that although we may love and desire, and use these creature-comforts, yet if we go but one step beyond those limits, we have pre∣sently transgressed; and so when our Saviour saith upon this to comfort the Dis∣ciples with some hopes, with God all things are possible. Though it be universally true, yet it is more peculiarly to be limited to the matter in hand, God can level this Camels bunch, he can command the waters of our affections to stand still, and not to overflow.

Secondly, This therefore may be extended not only to a natural man in his un∣regenerate estate, but even to a regenerated person, so that we may cry out, * What godly man can be saved? The work of grace is so exact, temptations are so great, corruptions are so strong, that we may say, Who of the godly can be saved? for though Gods grace will give them to persevere, as Christs presence in the ship did or might assure them they could not perish, yet when they saw their danger, and were in tempests and storms, they cried out, Master save us, we perish; so even a godly man, though while he look to the Covenant of grace he may anchor his soul securely; yet at the same time beholding his temptations and infirmities, he may frequently cry out, O Lord, support me, I am falling Page  196 into hell; we will therefore suppose a man in the state of grace, yet, were it not that with God all things are possible, this godly man would make shipwrack of his soul a thousand times over ere he could get into that glorious haven. Thus Peter 1 Pet. 4. 18. The righteous is scarcely saved, which although it be principally meant of temporal deliverance, yet spiritual salvation is by necessary consequence in∣cluded.

Thirdly, Although this be true, yet it must be acknowledged, that if we do * respect the grace of Christ, and his fulnesse, it is a very easie thing to be saved; for let sin abound in the guilt and power of it, yet grace in the justifying and san∣ctifying effects of it, doth much more abound. Hence Gods mercy in pardoning is compared to the heavens, and our sins are but like the earth a punctum in compari∣son, Isa. 55. 9. or as a drop of the water to the Sun-beams, which is quickly dried up. In the fift of the Romans you have an excellent opposition between the second and first Adam, shewing how much more potent Christ is to save, and grace to give life, then Adam was to destroy, or sinne to curse and condemn; in which respect Christ is said to give life, and that more abundantly; now this is to be marked by the dejected, tempted heart, which seldom looks up to grace, but to all the difficulties that are in heavens way. They cry out, O never godly, never believing, never coming up to Scripture-principles; but they do not joyn Gods power and their infirmity, Gods grace, and their guilt together; They do not say, O Lord, because this is impossible to me, Is it also to thee? Because I have sinned away my own grace, Have I also sinned away Christs ful∣nesse?

Therefore minde the strict qualifications to make thee walk humbly in fear and trembling, minde the gracious fulnesse of Gods love and power to make thee full * of hope and comfort. Put the Camels bunch and Gods power together.

These things premised, let us consider what are those considerations that make salvation so easie to a mans natural thoughts.

And the first is, A representation of God altogether pitifull and mercifull, without taking any notice of his purity and his justice, that he is a God Who will not acquit the guilty. This half representation of God unto a mans heart, makes him thus confident. Men argue, How can we think God, who saith, He would not the death of a sinner, who saith, Why will ye die, O house of Israel; Who hath put pity into mens hearts, shall not much more be a fountain when streams are so plentiful? This hath been aggravated so much, that it hath been an opinion of some, that at last all men, yea and devils also shall be saved: but the Scripture speaks of Gods sting as well as his honey, of his fury as well as his pity; The Scripture speaketh of his rejoycing in the destruction of the wicked, as well as pitying them; Do not thou therefore deceive thy own soul, by minding Gods mercy meerly. Gods justice is to finde out those, who have abused mercy, and he is a fire to consume as well as to give light.

A second ground which makes salvation so easie, is the general offer and tender*of Gods grace by his Word, whereby none seem to be exempted: Now if to this be ad∣ded, a doctrinal opinion also, which doth abound in these daies, viz. universal Grace, and universal Redemption, they now quickly perswade themselves the way to heaven is a broad way; but this Doctrine doth quite overthrow the Do∣ctrine of a particular Election of some only to salvation, which yet the Scripture manifestly declareth, and it puts the whole discriminating event of a mans self from others, into the hands of free-will: for if Judas have as much of the grace of God, and as much by the death of Christ, as Peter; the onely reason why Peter doth repent and Judas not, is meerly, because the one improveth his pow∣er well, and the other doth not. Therefore although general tenders of grace are enough to encourage those that are hungry and thirsty after it, and such as are burdened by sinne; yet they lay no foundation at all for such an universality Page  197 of grace as they pretend to; neither do we lay a foundation of despair in this, for we say, this grace doth truly belong to every one that believeth and repenteth; And the Arminian cannot go further, he dare not say, This grace belongs to you whether you believe or not, repent or not: so that we are as universal in pouring of oil into wounded souls, as they are.

Thirdly, Salvation is thought easie, Because of a mistake about faith: Oh say they,*if a man do but believe, then heaven is his, Christ is his: as to him that believeth not condemnation belongeth. Now all naturall men think it a very easie thing to believe, What, to trust in Christ with all thy heart? how ready is every un∣regenerate man to say, he doth it? And upon this it is, that the Papists charge us as making it such an easie pleasing way to go to Heaven; It's but be∣lieving (say they) and then all is well. But all this is a mistake about faith; he that saith, Faith is easie, never knew what it is to believe: To presume is ea∣sie, to be secure and self-flattering is easie; but out of the true sense of sinne and deep humiliation for it to relie on Gods grace; this the godly heart findes not to be done without many conflicts and spiritual agonies; faith therefore is made the work of Gods Spirit, and it is that which the devil doth most oppose, because that doth most withstand him.

Lastly, Therefore men make it easie to goe to Heaven, They may seek that in*the last place, Live in all jollity, and then to cry, Lord have mercy on me at the last gasp is enough, because they wholly mistake what true Godlinesse and Re∣pentance is. What godlinesse is they understand not, they think not of be∣ing borne again, of the pangs and travail the soul commonly is in, before it is thus formed; They consider not the way to Heaven is a strait way, and few that enter therein; if they did, could they be so silly, as to think such vicious lives as they live, such formality and morality they continue in, were the way to Heaven? Certainly if this be so, then the Scripture speaks falsly, Strait is the way, Mat. 7. 13, 14. No, broad is the way, large are the paths, and few misse them; You therefore think it easie to be saved, because you take copper for gold, counterfeits for pearls; and thus a man may think himself ve∣ry rich, when he is indeed very poor. Again, they mistake about repentance, for they think all kinde of sorrow for sinne, every Lord have mercy upon them, especially if this be with tears, a true Repentance; but if this be so we may cry out contrary to the Disciples, Who will not be saved? Then blessed Ahab, godly Pharaoh, holy Judas, for all these more or lesse ac∣knowledged their sinne, and begged for pardon; But if thou examine Scri∣pture, and see how much goeth to godly sorrow, what principle it must come from, what motives must produce it, what effects flow from it; Thou wilt be amazed, and say, O Lord, I doubt I never truly repented, my tears are too salt to come from a contrite heart in a gracious manner. Now doe but ob∣serve all those men who are secure and confident about their salvation, you may as soon perswade them a Blackmore is white, as they beginne to have the least doubt and suspition about themselves; and you shall see its one of these pillars they lean upon, if this their foundation were razed all their hopes were gone. Could you drive them out of this refuge then they would cry out, Men and brethren. What shall we do to be saved?

Let us therefore in the next place consider, why upon Scripture-grounds, * it will appear such an impossibility without Gods wonderfull grace; for a man, yea a godly man to be saved; so that of all miracles, it will be the great∣est, to see a godly man passing all the Rocks here, and safely lodged in Heaven.

And first it appeareth a wonder, If you consider that grace in a mans heart is not in its natural soyl. It's like an Herb transplanted and put into some ground it doth not agree with. Now it's a wonder this herb of Grace doth not wither, alas the soil helps nothing to it. God gave command at first to Page  198 the earth to bring forth grasse; but alas our hearts cannot do so: Grace in our hearts is like a stranger in a strange Land, like a spark of fire in the deep ocean, like a candle in a boisterous windy night, it's a wonder if it do not go out. And cer∣tainly if Adam so quickly lost his grace, when yet it was connatural to him, his heart was a fit soil; were it not for the Covenant of Grace, which fails not, a godly man would fall seven times a day wholly from God, as well as the Scri∣pture saith he doth so often in temporal calamities. Oh then wonder how any grace comes to be alive in thy heart, that those coals are not smothered up, that every night thou dost not as that mother lie upon thy childe, and thorow se∣curity and negligence kill this poor infant of grace.

2. The impossibility of it appeareth in the several manifold works of Gods grace,*which are absolutely necessary after we are regenerated: So that suppose a man be converted, yet if grace do not afterwards help, and that several waies, this man would die in the wilderness and never get to Canaan; now Gods grace is various, There is preventing grace, whereby a man is kept from those many sins and tempta∣tions, which if plunged into would utterly undo him. Thus David was kept from murdering Nabal; and as Paul said, 1 Cor. 15. 10. By the grace of God I am what I am; So he might have said (saith Austin) By the grace of God I am not what I am not. Yea Divines say, Plures sunt gratiae privativae quam positivae, Gods prevent∣ing mercies are more then his positive mercies. Oh therefore think, If the grace of God did not keep off this sinne, this lust, this temptation, how had it swallowed thee up, as the Whale did Jonah! Again, There is protecting grace, and that is, when thou art in the midst of all temptations, yet grace defends thee, and thou sinnest not; we wonder at Gods miraculous deliverance to Daniel, who was kept alive in the midst of roaring Lions. Alas God doth no lesse for thee every day. There are devils like so many roaring Lions, seeking to devour thy soul, and its grace hath a covering over thee. Its a remarkable expression of the Psalmist, mercy dth compasse the godly, Ps. 32. 10. its a Court of guard against all those assaults that our spiritual enemies would make upon us. There is also quickning grace, whereby the principles of holinesse are daily blown up and enlivened; now if this bellows were not alwaies blowing, if this were not alwaies filling our sails, we should lie like so many dry bones; This winde must arise ere they can come together. David found the necessity of this, when he so often praied, That God would quicken him. Thy very graces would lie & rust away, were there not this exciting grace; Do not the people of God fal into divers lethargies and hurtful sleeps, because of the want of this. Again, there is cooperating grace, which goeth along with us to do, as well as to purpose in our heart: Its Gods grace that worketh in us not only to will but to do, Phil. 2. 13. when we have desires and affections to duties, how many times are we diverted, and through lazinesse or distractions interrupted, but grace car∣rieth us out to the work it self. There is also corroborating grace, whereby the principles of holinesse, being weak and unsteady, are confirmed and strength∣ned more and more; for grace though it keeps us from sin, yet carrieth us on to holinesse weakly and faintly. Thus he praied, I believe, help my unbelief, Mar. 9. 24. Thus the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, that ma∣ny times they do the things they would not, Gal. 5. 17. Paul cals this to be strong in the might of the Lord; and I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Paul hath a kinde of omnipotency, and to him all things are possible, because pos∣sible to grace which inableth him. Lastly, There is persevering Grace; for let a man be furnished with all the former fruits of grace, yet if this of perseverance be not added, their works are not crowned; when we do things 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, then they are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as they are often put one for another. Its not of the essence of grace to continue alwaies in the subject where it is, for then Adam and the Angels could not have fallen. It is therefore a distinct work of grace to give perse∣verance from the first infusion of it.

3. The impossibility of it is seen in those slie insinuating motions of lust that do still*Page  199abide in the heart of the most holy men. Insomuch that it is a wonder all the sweet fruit of thy soul is not quite eaten up with these worms that breed in them, all godly men consumed by those motions and sparks of sin, that are not yet extinct. James doth excellently describe the subtil working of original corruption, Jam. 1. 14: it doth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 entice a man away, with a sweet or profitable bait hiding the hook, and it doth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 draw the heart aside from considering all those argu∣ments and motives that would make him forbear sinne; now that this spawn of sinne which would quickly prove Serpents and Cockatrices, is not destroyed, ap∣peareth by Paul Rom. 7. How strong and unruly doth he finde those remainders of sin in him, that were it not for Gods grace ready at hand to heal him, Pauls soul would quickly become as noisome through spiritual sores, as Jobs body through bodily ulcers. Its a wonder then that every man is not a Cain, a Judas, considering what fuel there is in every mans heart.

4. The impossibility of salvation without grace, appeareth in the temptations that*are in lawfull things; Insomuch that when outward grosse sins could not damn, the immoderate love of lawful things hath been like a milstone about the neck to drown in perdition; when the Philistims could not undo Samson, a Dalilah in his bosom can. Thy wife, thy children, thy houses, thy trade, these kill thee by se∣cret poison, whereas grosse sins destroy by open sword. One of the Ancients in a vision saw the world full of snares, and so it is; a shop is a snare, wife, children are snares. Our Saviour on purpose sheweth this in that Parable, where those in∣vited to the feast, say not, I am a drunkard, a swearer, and cannot or will not come, but I have bought, and I have married, and therefore cannot come, Luk. 14. 20. Seeing then every thing we touch is like pitch, every thing we meddle in is ready to entangle us, who can be godly, and so who can be saved? This wrought to an extremity upon some, that thought unlesse they gave over all worldly imploi∣ments, and spent their daies in cels and caves with continual devotion they could not be saved: but this was too much.

5. This will further be clear if you consider all the enmity, subtilty and power of the*devil against a man, especially if godly, Ephes. 6. it is with principalities and digni∣ties in high places, and Satan hath desired to winnow you. He chooseth out the god∣ly in a more special way to undo them, Luk. 22. 31. There is two things in sitting or winnowing, the one is concussion and tumbling of the corn and chaff, or refuse together; the other is the separation of the good from the bad; now the devil he desired the first only, to mingle grace and corruption, to bring them all into a confusion, and so overcome them. Now did not Christ powerfully intercede, our faith would quickly fail in such extremities. That same Parable of a man going to Jericho and meeting with thieves, was miserably wounded, being left half dead, if it may be applied to a mans spiritual estate, is not meant of him before conversi∣on, or in his natural estate, for he is wholly dead, but after his conversion many times foiled by Satan, and therefore needs oil and balm continually.

6. The impossibility of it appeareth in the manifold duties and ordinances which God*hath appointed us to he frequent in; All which suppose the fire would quickly go out; he hath appointed frequent preaching, administration of Sacraments, daily prayer, and why is all this? that these warm cloaths, and continual rubbing of thee may keep life in thee. God knew how fading our graces were; hence he hath commanded this continual dropping and watering, else thy soul of a Para∣dise would quickly become a barren wildernesse: and to this head may we bring those continual afflictions and chastisements which God doth most exercise his children with; and why are these, but as so much sope to refine us, so much fire to get out drosse? They are like the beating of the garment to get out the dust and moths; now then if there should not be such a continual praying, preaching, pu∣rifying, who could be saved? What godly man would not become like a standing pool full of mud and filth? so that salvation is a prize hardly obtained.

7. The impossibility appeareth, in that there is requisite a presence of all graces, and*Page  200a proportionable cooperation of them. Now without God how impossible is this, Adde to your faith temperance, &c. 2 Pet. 1. 6. If any one of these be lacking, it is a monster, not the image of God. Hence so many have come near godlinesse, been very like it, but have proved apes only, not really good; as there must be a pre∣sence, so a cooperation also. The Scripture commands the putting forth of such graces that to meer nature are inconsistent, they never act one but they prejudice the other. Thus we are to come with bold assurance to the throne of grace, and yet we must be in holy fear and trembling; so we must have repentance and faith, god∣ly sorrow and godly joy together, we must have prudence and zeal accompany∣ing one another; now who is godly if these things be so?

8. This will appear in the miscarriages of so many, who have put fair for heaven,*and yet fell short. Oh if grace and salvation had been an easie haven, men could ea∣sily have got into it! why have so many suffered shipwrack in the havens mouth? What was Judas, what was Jehu, what the foolish Virgins, what the second and third kinde of hearers? Did they not do much and suffer much, and yet at last proved blazing comets ending in slime, not fixed stars? Oh me thinks you should all stand and tremble to see them wallowing in their souls bloud, as they did at Asahel in his bodies bloud.

9. The strict and accurate indeavours of the godly, argue they concluded on this prin∣ciple,*that it was difficult to get to heaven. I made a Covenant with my eyes, saith Job, Job 31. 1. I set a watch before my tongue, said. David, Psal. 141. 3. I keep down my bo∣dy, saith Paul, lest I become a reprobate, 1 Cor. 9. 27. Think of this and tremble, whose affections and thoughts on good things are by the by only. Its hard for the poor man to get wealth, for a languishing sick man to get health, but above all for a man to get grace, and when he hath it to keep it.