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  251

SERMON XLI.

Shewing that the Production of the New-Creature is from God alone; and what Attributes are con∣spicuous in the Work.


GAL. 6. 15.
For in Christ Jesus neither Circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a New-Creature.

THis Text hath informed us of that Superiority and Preheminency which the Apostle giveth to the New Creature above all external Priviledges or Duties in Christianity. We therefore come to search out the Nature of this New Creature, and by the name we shall come to know the nature of the thing. In the Greek it is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Creation or Creature; for the word is used both for the action it self, and the effect produced by it: Now this phrase to create a thing, is used of some strange and unwonted work of God. Thus Numb. 16. when God is about to make the earth swallow up Dathan and Abiram, he is said according to the Hebrew, to create a Creation. As Gods wonderful judgements are called a Creation, so his mercies, as in that of Jeremiah, Jer. 31. 22. Behold I create a new thing, a woman shall compasse a man, that is, Israel, weak as a woman, shall compasse about in an hostile manner, and so overcome her most potent ad∣versaries; and thus here, because God doth work upon some men a wonderful and great alteration by the Word preached, such as cannot be performed by any moral education; therefore this is called a New Creature, and the expression is allusive to many passages in the Prophets, where when God intends to make a glorious Reformation in his Church, by abolishing their former wayes of wic∣kednesse, and guiding them into paths of Righteousnesse; he is said To create new Heavens, and a new Earth, Isa. 65. 17. and that Old things are passed away: So that this phrase a New Creature, implieth that the work of Grace, is wrought by the sole power of God only, it cometh only from him, and also, that this being thus wrought in us, it is of a most excellent and glorious nature: And first I shall speak to the nature of it, it is a creature; then the qualifying adjunct, it is a new Creature.

That the work of grace in mans heart, whereby he is born again, is a creature wrought*meerly by Gods glorious power.

No Angels, no men are able to work this in a mans heart, but as a man though he beget the body of his sonne, yet not the soul, for that is infused by the Fa∣ther of spirits. So though men come to Church, and-outwardly hear, and though the Ministers of God they labour faithfully in preaching, yet it is God only that makes this light shine in the heart. Paul plants and Apollo watereth, but God giveth the increase, 1 Cor. 3. The Gardener doth only use his outward means, Page  252 he doth not make the tree, nor can he make any one apple that groweth upon it. I shall not at this time insist upon the nature and operations of this new creature, that will be proper when we speak of the Adjunct; but of the efficient cause of this, that so we may know where to have it. As God onely created the world, and all the things therein, so he onely doth this new world of grace. Thus Austin defined grace, Bona qualitas facta in nobis, sine nobis, Wrought in us without our help and power: Now that this work of grace is wrought in us by God meerly, ap∣peareth:

First, In that it's called a Creation. and God onely can create. For to create there * are required these particulars:

1. An infinite vertue and power; in so much that the most solid Divines do hold, That no Creature can be used as an instrument in Creation, much lesse be a principall: For seeing it is the giving of a Being to something out of nothing, no Creature can work but upon some materialls provided; But God when he Created the world, when he made that Chaos, there was nothing pre-existent: Hence that power of God which turneth our hearts unto him, is said to have 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Ephes. 1. 19. an exceeding great strength with it; compared to that power of raising Christ from the grave. Hence Christ in converting the hearts of men towards him, making them at his command to follow him, demonstrated his Divine Power more than in all externall miracles. Oh then we need not won∣der to see men love their sins and delight in them, notwithstanding they hear and know to the contrary. Alas the Ministers are not able, no more than the women at Christs Sepulchre were, to remove the stone upon mens hearts, yea this is hea∣vier than that, for there came an Angel and rolled it away; but here God onely can speak to this Mountain to be removed into the Sea; see we then a man by na∣ture dead in sinne, and by voluntary practice buried in it; if ever this man came to be holy, and to live in holinesse, wonder at it, as if a new world were made; for onely an infinite power could make this alteration, As Divines to prove that God made the world, it could not be made of it self, give many fit examples to convince thereof: If a man see a glorious house built up in a curious and most exact manner, he concludeth, That house did not make it self; or if one have an instru∣ment of musick curiously tuned, and excellent Musick played upon it, he conclu∣deth, This doth not make it self, or its Musick; so the world being so curiously and harmoniously composed, called therefore 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, did not of a suddain put it self into this excellent glory: As they argue thus from the world, we may much more argue from the godly life of a Regenerated man, see such a man leaving off with de∣testation all his former wickednesse, and that because he loveth God, and deligh∣teth in holinesse, see you him acting above the praises of men from God, and to God; this man could not do this of himself, but God hath changed him. Seeing therefore an infinite power is put forth by God to make us thus new Creatures, well may we exclude man from being partner in this work; so that as Austin ob∣serveth well, We are the Creatures of God, both quâ homines, and quâ justi; As a man thou art Gods Creature, as a renewed man much more Gods Creature.

2. In Creation the Creature is made of nothing; and thus Creation differs from the works of men, which alway suppose matter aforehand to work upon. Thus in * this sense, the Chaos, or confused heap, that was properly created, because made of nothing, yet the works on the other dayes are said to be created; because, though they were not made of nothing, as the Sun and Mans Body, yet of matters alto∣gether indisposed, and unfit; and this some Divines call Creation mediate, as the former Creation immediate. Now in this sense the work of Grace is truely called a Creation; for there is nothing in us that did cooperate, or consent to it; our hearts are dead wombes, till God cause us to live, and in this respect the Scripture doth represent us so full of sinne, and all over corrupted, that thereby the work of grace may be acknowledged onely of the Lord; Those are derogatory Doctrines to the grace of God, that say grace doth onely stirre up and excite the naturall

Page  253 3. Creation is in an instant, on a suddain; and that is the reason why the Scrip∣ture * expressing Gods work in bringing about any suddain mercy, or suddain judge∣ment, calls it creation, I create light, and I create darknesse, Isaiah 47. 7. What a glorious world did God make in six dayes? Here was a mighty alteration in a short space of time; and if as some of the Ancients speak, whom Cajetan pertina∣ciously argueth for, and followeth, that God made all in one day, and that the di∣stinction of six dayes is but for our capacity; if this opinion should be true (as I think it far from truth, because so expressely contradictory to the very letter of the Scripture,) it would much more demonstate the instantaneous nature of Crea∣tion. As Creation is thus suddenly, so this work of a new Creature is wrought very quickly in the hearts of those, whom he effectually toucheth. Thus Paul of a Persecutor, how quickly made a Prosecutor of the truth and Gospel? Thus Zachaeus the Publican, how immediately doth he leave all and follow Christ? and in all instances of Conversion, we may wonder to see the strange and admirable al∣teration on a suddain: that as the Psalmist cryed out, What ailest thou, O Jordan, that thou turnest back? Thus may we admire, What aile these men that formetly li∣ved in such grosse and prophane courses, that now they should love and delight in the contrary? Only you must know that although it be wrought thus suddenly and from nothing in us, yet God hath ordered that he will dispense this grace no other way ordinarily than in the preaching of the Word, and the constant waiting there∣on. Doe not thou therefore expect this Manna will fall from heaven in what place soever thou art in; and although thou neglect the publique Ordinances, and the means of grace. No, for although God hath not tyed himself to means, yet he hath tyed us to them; and therefore every time thou doest wilfully neglect any one Ser∣mon, thou knowest not how much thou hast provoked God, what effectuall and * gracious operations thou hast lost by not being present.

4. This new Creature must needs be wholly of God, Because it's of a superna∣turall being, and so the operations of it doe exceed the sphere of naturall power; As when the Apostles were inabled to work miracles, it was plainly a demonstation of Gods power with them, because they did those things which did wholly tran∣scend Page  254 any natural power; so when men love God, when they obey his commands out of upright and sincere motives, they are inabled to doe that which wholly transcends the most refined natural abilities; It is therefore called, A participation of the divine Nature, 2 Pet. 1. 4. whereby our actions have a divine stamp upon them; and as Sampson when he put forth those wonderful acts of strength, he did it not by his naturall power, but an extraordinary assistance from God; so in those actions of a new Creature, whereby we mourn for sin, or delight in God, we have then more then as a man; for we pray not as a man, we hear not as a man; but God is in us, and with us.

5. This new Creature must needs be of God, if ye do consider, What we are till*made so, even the old Creatures of the Devill; therefore the old man is said to be in us; and the Devill, that old Serpent, he reigneth and ruleth in our hearts: This old house must be pulled down, ere a new one can be built. The making us new Creatures is sometimes called a Resurrection; now as our bodies cannot be made glorious and happy, till a great and wonderfull alteration hath been made in them, so neither can our souls be made those new Creatures, till God hath wholly new moulded us, put another stamp upon us, and another life in us: There cannot any thing be a greater object of horror and terror to us, than the beholding our selves in the pure glasse of Gods Word; for that represents us so full of loathsomnesse and enmity unto God; that we have cause to cry out, That God would wash us, and make us whiter than snow: Never think with that naturall condition thou art born in, to enter into the Kingdome of heaven.

6. This Creature must rather be made of God solely, than the heavens and earth;* for although the Scripture doth often celebrate the power and wisedome of God, in founding the earth upon nothing, and stretching out the heavens; yet this Creati∣on upon a mans heart, and his life, is far more wonderfull: Hence it's ordinarily said, That it's a greater wonder to make a man holy and godly, then it is to create a world.

For first, it cost God onely a word when he made that; Let there be light, and there was light; but ere this mercy could be purchased for any, Christ was to be∣come man and dye for us; so that God doth not onely speak, but in his man-hood suffer; for you must know, as justification and pardon of sinne is a fruit of Christs bloud, so is also this new Creation, and new making of us.

Again the excellency and glory of the heaven and earth is only in a naturall way, this in a morall way, They declare the glory of God, as passive objects, These as active agents, and understanding instruments. If therefore the Ancient looking upon the heavens, said, If these be thus beautifull, how beautifull is God the Maker of them? so may we much rather, beholding the grace and holinesse of this new Creature, cry out and say, He that makes man thus holy, how holy is he? If this new Crea∣ture be so admirable, how wonderfull is the Creator of it? Hence also it is, that the godly are said, to shine as lights, Philip. 2. 15 in dark places, that so others beholding them, may glorifie God in the day of their visitation. If the world be thought a Book sufficient to convince men of God, and that they shall be inexcu∣sable, because they did not glorifie God as according to this knowledge; how much rather, that so many godly men as have lived with you, wil be a condemnati∣on to you, if ye have not followed their examples? you shal not only give an account of that good gotten by the Sermons we preach; but of the godly life of those new Creatures who have dwelt amongst you; not onely our Sermons, but their conversations should have turned you unto God.

7. This work of grace must be wholly of God, Because even in Christs humane*nature, where there was a fulnesse of it, yet it was the gift of God. The humane Nature of Christ, though infinitely advanced by reason of the hypostaticall union, yet be∣ing not God, but a Creature, could not furnish or anoint it self with those rich graces he was adorned with; Therefore the Scripture saith, God giveth not the Spirit in measure to him, John 3. 34. It was given him, though it was not in measure; Page  255 now then if this new Creature of grace was wrought by God in Christs humane nature, how much rather must it be wrought in us, who are altogether polluted, when his humane nature was like the sunne, wholly spotlesse? This is a clear and an undenyable demonstration, that God is sole Author of this grace; That as the Sun is like an universall principle in regard of light, and every thing is enlightned by that, so is God the universal Fountain of all that holinesse which is communica∣ted unto the godly.

8. This must needs be Gods Creation onely, Because he hath so absolutely pro∣mised*to accomplish it for us. All those expressions, I will give a new heart, and write my law within thee, Jer. 31. 33. And I will take away the heart of stone, Ezek. 36. necessarily inferre that it is Gods peculiar prerogative; for if this could not be till man had consented, and there could not be any application of grace till we had given way; Then all those promises of God must be onely conditionall, expecting till man will yield also; and thus it would not be Predestination but Postdestinati∣on; and mans will should not follow Gods, but Gods will lackey it after mans. But this cannot be thought, that God is not sui juris in his promise, and that he is not able to make good by his hand, whatsoever is gone out of his mouth. Oh therefore, when thou findest thy heart so greatly assaulted by sinne, and thou com∣plainest thy lusts and corruptions are too strong for thee, remember they are not too strong for God.

9. If this were not Gods Creature meerly, Then the greatest glory in a mans con∣version*and salvation would belong to himself. Certainly, if a man cannot arrogate this to himself, that he made himself a Man rather than a Toad, much lesse can he glory in any such strength, whereby he should difference himself from other men wallowing in sinne. This differencing work of God, Christ himself resolveth into his Fathers will; Even so Father, for so it pleaseth thee, Matth. 11. And Paul also into the like cause, What hast thou that thou hast not received? and Who makes thee to differ from another? 1 Cor. 4. 7. Certainly, it's the greatest Idolatry which God can be jealous of, to give the glory of thy new nature unto any other but himself; Thou dost not indeed fall down to a stock and a stone to worship that, but thou dost in∣wardly put confidence, and rely upon thy own power and abilities, to procure thy own salvation, and inward peace.

By these Arguments it may appear, that whensoever you see a man, of an old ser∣vant to sin and Satan, made the Son of God and a new Creature; you may say, Ve∣rily God was there, these devils and lusts have been cast out onely by the finger of God.

Now in making his Children new Creatures, he demonstrates severall properties * of his in their great lustre and glory: As

First, His great goodnesse and pitty to us: How often is this called his grace, and the riches of his grace. It was Gods goodnesse to make a world, but this is the riches of his goodnesse not to throw us away, as refuse, fit fuell onely of everlasting flames; It might have been with all man-kind as it was with the Devills; in their Deluge God did not provide an Ark to save so much as eight persons, not one An∣gel had he compassion on. This grace of God is so deeply apprehended by the partakers thereof, that they rejoyce in it, speak of it all the day long, plead for it, and that they live, or have any outward comforts is nothing to this wonderful mer∣cy of God to them.

Secondly, He declares his Power; That you have heard sufficiently of, it being a * Creation, it being the same power that made the World, that raiseth the dead out of the grave; and although we do not use to call it a Miracle, yet it is Mirandum, a wonderfull thing; and indeed it being to the hearts of men, changing them, and new framing them, it must argue an omnipotent power; how often do we speak to the ear, intreat and invite, but it is God onely that can turn the heart; yea, how many resolutions and desires are sometimes excited in many men, but they vanish away like a land-floud? How often have they purposed to leave their sins, Page  256 to set upon other duties, but sinne is too strong for them. Oh that power of God, which keeps the Sea from over-whelming the banks, that power of God, which hangs the earth upon nothing: This must be seen to turn the streams of our cor∣ruption backward. Draw me, cryeth the Church, and I will run after thee, Cant. 1. 4. No man comes unto me, unlesse my Father draw him, John 6. 44.

Thirdly, His Wisedome, That is admirable from many considerations; for if you * do respect the persons whom he doth commonly make these new Creatures, they are for their outward condition, mean and contemptible in the world, Not manywise, not many noble, &c. 1 Cor. 1. 27. though some of these he chuseth, nor doth he approve according to outward appearance: As his wisedome is remarkable herein, so for their quality; He takes the worst weeds, and makes them the sweetest flowers, the most crooked pieces in the timber and makes them a glorious building; thus Paul, Zacheus Publicans and Harlots; his wisdome is wonderfull herein, that so all may be of his grace. Then these are but few in comparison of those rejected; May are called, but few are chosen. Hereby his love to those who partake of it is made more glorious: And lastly, Gods wisedome is seen in the time of making them new Crea∣tures, wherein so many concurrences of strange love meet together, that it ravish∣eth, and over-whelms them for ever.

Fourthly, His holinesse is admirable herein. If a clod of earth, or piece of muck, * should be made a glorious Star in the heavens, it is not more wonderfull then for a man become like a beast in his affections and actions to be made like an Angel, do∣ing the will of God. We see when God made man with other Creatures at first, what a signall difference there was in his processe about the making of one above the other: Let us make man after our own Image, Gen. 1. 26. And here again God doth renew, and remake us after his Image: Once God said by way of scorn, Man is become like one of us; but now in grace and holiness, he saith, Man is become like God. If we admire the skill of Artificers, who of rags and other base materials can blow up such a curious piece of clear and splendent glasse; how glorious is God, who makes thy earthy and sordid heart, heavenly, and pure, who makes thy swish desires, Angelical. The Philosophers called the matter of the heavens Quintesten∣tiall, and this soul is above a sinfull constitution.

Use Of Exhortation: If thou hast found any good grounds, that God hath made*thee such a glorious new Creature, let thy heart and mouth be filled with praises. All the power in heaven and earth, but Gods onely, could not make them such. Oh but this new Creature is a rare Creature; like new and strange sights brought from remote parts of the world: For if we be new Creatures, how is it that the old man is so prevalent in thee? how is it that thy old lusts, thy old conversation is not quite abandoned? Thou wouldst easily call it blasphemy to say, God makes thee lye, makes thee swear, are such sins of his Creation? O then wallow in the dust for shame and sorrow, as thou hast heretofore wallowed in lusts and pleasures; let the glory, beauty and lovelinesse of this new estate much move thee: This is a commend∣able new fashion, when thy principles are new, thy aimes and ends are new, thy life and manners are new; How can men with-hold from panting and longing af∣ter it!