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  257

SERMON XLII.

Shewing what the New Creature doth not imply, and to what it is opposed.


GAL. 6. 15.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a new creature.

THe work of grace regenerating and renewing us, is here called A new Creature, or Creation (as you have heard:) And this phrase signifieth two things.

1. That it is the work solely and wholly of God, for he can onely create. If God should onely make thee a man, and thou make thy self righteous, or a new Creature, thou shouldst do something better then God: For Melius est te esse ju∣slum, quam te hominem esse, It is better for thee to be a righteous man, then to be a man, said Austin. Now though this point of Gods sole and irresistable efficiency in point of grace, be of large and noble concernment both Doctrinally and Practi∣cally, yet I shall say no more of it then what hath been delivered, reser∣ving the residue of that position, to some other opportunity, and seasonable Text.

I come therefore in the next place to the second thing implyed in the adjunct that qualifieth this Creature, It is a new creature, which denoteth the great ex∣cellency, and noble nature of it: for so the word New is used frequently in Scri∣pture, for that which is excellent and admirable; though here in the Text it doth especially relate to an opposition between the Old things that formerly were done by this Regenerate person, and the New things he now exerciseth him∣self in.

The Observation from the Text is obvious. The work of grace regenerating ma∣eth*us altogether new.

That new and glorious Body which the people of God shall have by their resur∣rection, doth not more exceed this vile, mortal, and infirm body that we now bear about with us; then the alteration and change God makes in the soul when he re∣neweth it, causeth it for the future to differ from what it was formerly; then proud, now humble; then earthly, now heavenly. Then it was like Naaman be∣fore his washing, full of a loathsom leprosie; but now like his skin after his wash∣ing, fresh and beautiful. Before it was like a Lazarus, full of noysom Ulcers and sores; but since it is like Absolom, that was comely from the head to the foot. This Page  258 point deserveth diligent explication, because it will be a mirror or glasse to see your selves in, as also to know whether you may go on comfortably in the way you are in, or else wholly begin a new course: for the Apostle by this supposeth, That a man may live many years in the outward priviledges of the Church, and in the dis∣charge of the publick duties which relate to Gods worship, and yet be an old crea∣ture, he must begin all anew again: Do not therefore think it strange, thou who hast served God, as thou thinkest, this fifty or threescore years, if it be told thee that thou art yet to begin to be a Disciple of Christ. The Apostle in this Text tels us what is true Christianity, wherein the marrow of Christian Religion consists, viz. Not in external duties, but in a new sanctification of the whole man: This is the Holy of Holies, whereas duties are like the outward porch of the Temple: I shall proceed in this method.

  • 1. I shall inform you what the phrase doth not imply. *
  • 2. What it doth oppose.

This expression, A new creature, doth not imply

First, As if there never were such a work of God in the world, before the times of the gospel For although this phrase be used in the new Testament, yet Shem, Enoch, Adam, after repentance, all these were new creatures. So that this new creation was as soon as ever there was any godly man in the world: It is true, the Gospel-admi∣nistrations have many prerogatives above that of the Law: hence it is called in a peculiar manner, The Kingdome of Heaven, but yet this work of God in regene∣rating and renewing, was in that former dispensation as well as now, though it may be not so many in number were begotten unto God. Here Rachel is more fruit∣full then Leah, as I may so allude. Though God ceased from this work of Creation on the seventh day in respect of temporal objects, yet not of spiri∣tual. Nor

Secondly, Is this new creature so to be understood, as if it should alwaies be suk∣ing*after new religion, a new faith, new worship, and so should every day have some new thing. No, but the Doctrine, the pure worship of Christ, the holy life com∣manded in the word, this new creature applyeth it self to, receiveth it without any further change or alteration, though the use and custom of it be never so old. Indeed when a Church is become like the Chaos at first, darkness of ignorance and prophaneness, spreading it self all over; then as the Apostle presseth, 1 Cor. 3. They are to become a new lump: but when the pure Doctrine and way of God is re∣ceived and imbraced, there still to affect new things, is as if a man should not be content with the Sun or Earth, but to desire a new Sun and a new Earth. Though this new creature is to grow in knowledge, faith, and other graces, yet they are not to look for new things above what is written. The Scripture is like the body of the Sun, into which God hath put all light: And saith Turtullian well, Hoc primu credimus cum credimus, quod nihil ultra credere debemus, This we first believe, as soon as ever we beleeve, That the Scriptures are like Hercules his pillars with this Motto, Ne plus ultra.

Thirdly, This new creature is not so to be understood, as if it did make a man substan∣tially*and essentially new. For a man might ask, Where is this new creature? Doth it give a new soul? A new body? Another kind of natural life then other men have? No, this new creation is not in respect of substantials, though the scripture calls it the New man, but onely because of Accidentals. A man by this hath a new faith, new repentance, new affections, new desires, and a new conversation; and certainly this moral change is of as great efficacy and wonder, as a naturall change. It is not therefore to be expected as if this grace of God should work bodily changes, though it makes a change of the body. Thy eye is changed, thy Tongue is changed, for these were instruments of evil, but now of good.

Fourthly, This new change or creature is not so to be explained, as if it were on∣ly*Page  259in the outward lives of men. For though it demonstrate it self there in part, yet the Choycest, and most Noble operation, is within upon the understanding heart, and will of a man. This new creation is most potent there, where it is invisible to the bodily eye. For if this new creature were no more then an outward change in our lives, then we might finde such in Plato's or Socrates, and Aristotles School. To define a man to be a godly man by outward duties onely, is to define a man by his body, and not by his soul, which is the main part: though therefore thou hast given over thy former lend and ungodly practices, yet we cannot presently say, Behold, a new creature; for though all old outward things are passed away, yet not all old inward. Therefore the promise of this great work of God is primari∣ly upon the heart, and inward parts of a man: and David, though totally ab∣dicating his former wickedness, yet cryeth out, Create in me a clean heart, Jer. 31. Psal. 51.

Neither in the Fifth place is this new creature to be understood, as if there were no reliques of the old corruption in such a man. As if in the description of this work, * you must all expect to finde nothing but what is the meer work of God in you, not any thing of your old selves, or the old Serpent. No, although Christ when he cu∣red any man of his bodily disease, did it perfectly and presently, yet the cure of our souls is by degrees, and hath much imperfection cleaving to it. There are some old dregs in this new wine: yea there is not any one duty, or act of Grace can be done by this new creature so perfectly and purely, but that some dross may be found in it. Paul was a new creature, like the sun among the stars, yet he found Evil present with him when he would do good: And this God in great wisedome is pleased to do to keep us humble, and low in our selves; to be alwaies thirsting and panting after Christs grace: That as long as this flux of blood runneth, thou shouldest alwaies be desirous to touch at least the hem of his garment. This is neces∣sary to the godly, who many times think this mountain of grace is so high, that they shall never climb to the top of it.

In the second place, Let us consider the nature of this new creature by what it op∣poseth:* For when the Apostle saith, a new creature, he supposeth there are some old things to which this stands diametrically opposite. Therefore the Apostle, 2 Cor. 5. 17. expresly mentioneth the generall of them, when he saith, Old things are passed away, and all things are become New. Let us therefore examine what those Old things are, in whose room this New Crea∣ture comes.

First, There are the old things of sin and ungodliness. The glorious sun and a * dark night can as well stand together, as this new Creature; and thy old swearing, lying, thy old lusts and prophaneness: As soon as ever God works this new work upon thee, presently those old things do not onely pass away, but are thrown a∣way with great detestation: As it is said of Naaman, 2 King. 5. 1. That he was a great man, a man of much eminency, but he was a leper, and till he was washed, he was loathsom and unclean. So may we say of many a great man, a rich man, a learn∣ed, but if an ungodly man, He is altogether unclean. The Apostle speaking of the Corinthians what they were formerly, Riotous, Thieves, Unclean, Effeminate, but ye are washed, but ye are justified, but ye are sanctified, 1 Cor. 6. 11. Such black∣mores must have their skins made white: Oh then, Why is it that so many who bear the glorious profession of a Christian, should yet wallow in such mire, and vomit? The Apostle reckons up many gross sins, and tels them, They should not be so much as named amongst them, much less then, practised, and lived in. Oh, what Mi∣nister can lift up his voice loud enough, like a trumpet, to declare unto people their transgressions. Thou art to be a new creature, a new building, Why then is there that old rubbish in thy life? Why is not that old house pulled down? Why is it that custom, and the Divel, and thy wicked heart is stronger to keep thee in these bonds, then Gods word, and his Ministry are able to unlose thee out of them. In Page  260 other things, use and custom bringeth contempt and weariness, Why should not then dayly sinning make thee weary? Those old lusts, that afford no new comfort, Why dost thou not loath it at last? If the Israelites were weary of Manna, though so sweet and excellent, Why shouldst not thou say of these husks of sins and swines draff, thou hast enough? It were impossible if this new creation were in thee, thou couldst live in, and love those unlawfull pleasures thou hast been used to. Cal∣vin well presseth that forementioned Text: Old things are passed away, all things are become new, as (saith he) Old leaves in Autumn through driness they wither, and fall off from the tree, there is no more sap or juyce to maintain them. Thus when a man is regenerated, those former lusts lose their vigour and life, they have no more nourishment to support them. Be therefore no more blind at noon day: those continual and dayly lusts which thou frequently practisest, demonstrate to all the world thou art in thy old state of Gall and Bitterness: If the fountain were sweet, it could not send forth such bitter streams.

Secondly, That old darkness and blindeness which was upon his minde, is passed a∣way,*& new lights in the room thereof. I might instance in every particular of old cor∣ruption in a man, and shew you what a new creation there is instead thereof; but that would be infinite: I shall therefore instance in some remarkable particulars: And what is more notable then that Chaos, which is on every mans heart before conversion, Darkness covering the face of his soul, not able to discern any spiri∣tual thing, yea to judge them folly and madness? What doth a man naturally more scorn and contemn then the practical power, and precise strictness of Godliness? He seeth no loveliness, no Majesty, no beauty in supernatural things: Aristotle saith, That if an old man had the eyes of a young man, he would see as well as a young man, because the soul in its own operations doth not grow old or weary, but the organ of see∣ing in an old man is more indisposed and unfit: And we may say, if a natural man had the eye of a new creature, he would then see, judge, and discern as a new creature. The Apostle mentioneth this great alteration in men converted, Ephes. 4. Ye were darkness, in the abstract, but now ye are light in the Lord, yea its called Marvel∣lous light by Peter, 1 Pet. 2. 9. For certainly that light of knowledge, faith, and spiritual discerning in a Godly man, is wonderful and admirable. So then where this new creation is, that old stupiditie, dulness, blindeness, knowing nothing, and regarding nothing of God, doth pals away; and now they know God, believe his word, and are filled with much delight and comfort there∣by. Therefore how canst thou judge thy self to be a new creature, whose right eye is put out, whose understanding is wholly darkned? Every sermon is a riddle and parable to thee. The Bible is a book sealed up to thee: Why is it that thou art no more carefull to get light in thy heart? How hath nature defended the eye, by pla∣cing it in an hollow place of the head, fortifying it with skins and an eyelid, and brows, as a three-fold wall to keep off any thing that may hurt it? And wilt not thou be much more desirous to preserve spiritual sight?

Thirdly, His old confidence and bold presumption concerning his good estate, and Gods love towards them, that also passeth away: And instead thereof trembling en∣tereth * into his bowels, rottenness gets into his very marrow, because he hath felt the terror of the Lord. There is no greater destructive principle of that old man in us, then that it bewitcheth a man with a self-flattery, self-fulnesse, and self-righte∣ousness, that God loves him, that he hath a good heart, and a good God: Thus the divel keeps all things in quiet and peace, till Christ a stronger comes; but when Mary Magdalen feels the burthen of her sins, she needs Christs comfortable speech to her, That her sins are forgiven. Davids heart roareth like the sea, and the windes and tempests blowing on it, are not still till God quiet them, She that thought her self full, wanting nothing, now she knoweth she is poor, misera∣ble, and naked. What a vast difference between Paul a Pharisee, and Paul re∣generated? Then he was alive, all was well, now he is dead, and sin kils him. If Page  261 thou art a New Creature, thou art loathsom, defiled in thy own eyes. Thou stand∣est like a Leper aloof off from all the mercies and promises of God. Thus God hath ordained, That none should finde rest to their souls, but such who are loaded and burthened, Mat. 11. 22. Now thou hast a rest without any burthen, thou hast an ease and never didst feel a load: This is much to be suspe∣cted.

Fourthly, That old end, aim, and scope, to which he formerly referred all things, is now changed, and a new white is now set up. Every man hath some ultimate end * to which he doth refer all his actions, that is, the center to which he falls. Now while a man is this old Creature, he looks no further then at earthly comforts, pleasures, and advantages in this world: Thus they are like bruit beasts, measur∣ing their happinesse by those objects that do please the sense: and as Eve desired to tast the fruit, Because it was lovely to the eye; so do they long to tast of that fruit which is pleasing to their corrupt appetites: But saith the Apostle, Whether we live, we live to the Lord, and whether we dye, we dye to the Lord, Rom. 14. 8. Whom have I in heaven but thee, saith David? whereas the property of every na∣tural man is described, Psal. 4. Many say, Who will shew us any good? and the contrary disposition of the regenerate sheweth it self, But Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us: So that if thou art a new creature, thy end is no longer to grow great in the world, no longer to fulfil thy brutish lusts, but to glorifie God, and save thy soul: And this end being earnestly and affectionately desired by thee, thou dost diligently practice all those means that obtain this end in praying often, in examining thy self often, in humiliation, and reformation often. As the supreme Orb carrieth all the inferiour Orbs about with its own motion, so this great and noble end wheels about all thy actions; every thing is subservient thereunto. Now if we would ask men, What is the great aim and end you propound to your selves in this world? Though with their tongue they would hapily say, the salvation of their souls; yet with their lives they would deny this: For if thy end be changed, the means would be changed, the way would be chan∣ged thou dist use to live in.

Fifthly, All his former false waies of worship and service of God, they are re∣nounced, and now he serveth God after a new manner. Thus all the heathens when * they came under this New Creation, they threw away their Idols, they forsook their false gods; and if they were not Idolaters, but trained up in superstitious waies, and a Traditional worship invented by their Fore-fathers, as the Jews were, they forsook this also. The Kings daughter is to forget & forsake her Fathers house. We see Paul spends much in his Epistles to take off the Godly from those very Or∣dinances God himself had commanded, when the time of their abrogation was come. Not but that even this New Creature, may for want of good light and instruction be far plunged into superstitious and unlawful worships: But as the Day-star shall arise in their hearts, so by degrees the night will wear away. What agreement hath Christ with Belial? saith the Apostle, handling the case of commu∣nicating with Idolaters in their Worship, 1 Cor. 6. Seeing they are the Temple of the Lord. It is worth the observation, Isa 2. when the people of God by his heavy judge∣ments upon them for their Idolatry, shall be weary of it, it is said, They shall throw their Idols to the Bats and Owls, that is into dark corners and holes: A fit expressi∣on; for as their Idols were blinde, Eyes they had, but did not see; so they shall cast them away unto blinde creatures. This should make people take heed how they plead for any old thing in religion, meerly because it is old; for then thou shouldest have continued in thy old popery, in thy old superstition, which many years ago thou didst live in. Remember we are to be new Creatures in the Lord, and so must leave all old false wayes; though there may be the good old paths also that we must enquire after, Jer. 6. 16. when new errors have overwhelm∣ed us.

Page  262 Sixthly, His old animall and natural actions, they passe away, and he is a new crea∣ture*in them. Not that he doth not eat and drink still, as if he did not live after the natural way of other men: but onely a new creature over-rules all those acti∣ons after a Godly manner, insomuch that we may say, it is new eating, and new drinking when this creation taketh hold of us. For in that former con∣dition,

1. We did onely eat and drink to comfort our selves, to satisfie nature, or to please our appetite: But when regenerated, we eat and drink thereby to be enabled in our places to serve him, fulfilling that of the Apostle, Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Oh the exactnesse and excellency of this new creature; it makes new eating, new drinking: now when thou drinkest thy selfe drunk, Art thou drunk to the glory of God? If grace were in thee, What an alteration would it make?

2. Natural men, they eat without fear, Jude 12. They do not remember their Mortality, How quickly Gods judgements may come upon them: Those who were drowned in the deluge, the old world lived in this old corruption; they did eat and drink, and gave in marriage: That is, spent their time in the use of the creatures with much carnal jollity and mirth, and then the flood over-whelmed them on a sudden. Oh there is a great deal of carnal eating and feasting, a great deal of carnal mirth in the Creatures. But when a man is made this new Crea∣ture, he useth all these comforts with temperance and an holy fear. I beat down my body, saith Paul: That is, he kept himself in an holy strict way in the use of all lawful comforts, that no spark of fire might suddenly break out and set him on fire. Thus Job, He sacrificed unto God, and was afraid, least while his sons were feast∣ing, they should sin against him. David prayeth about some, That their table might become a snare unto them. And certainly this is the portion of wicked men, their eating, their drinking is a snare to them; their mirth and jollity is a snare unto them: They marry, they buy houses, oxen, and these things hinder them from coming to the feast when invited. But this new Creature is taught otherwise, He marrieth as if he married not, he buyeth as if he bought not, he useth the world as not overusing it. And truly this work of grace is not only seen in casting away the works of darknesse, unquestionable sins; but in a gracious moderating and ordering all law∣ful comforts.

Seventhly, That old way they were accustomed unto in their civil actions and*relations, this new creature changeth: And indeed this work of grace where it lea∣veneth a man, makes an alteration in a man, not onely in the general, as a Christi∣an, but as a Magistrate, a Minister, an Husband, or a servant in any particular rela∣tion. If the Heathen said, He could not be Bonus vir, which was not bonus civis, not a good man in the general, who is not a good Citizen in his particular rela∣tion; How much more doth the Scripture verifie this, which doth not onely in∣struct us about our duties, as Christians in the general, but layeth down the several Graces of Husbands, Masters, and Servants? So that as by it the Minister is Prepared for every good work, 1 Tim. 6. so every relation also is. If therefore thou art a new Creature, this will make thee a new Magistrate, a new Minister, a new Husband, a new Wife. A Magistrate who before looked onely to his own great∣nesse and power, Ut praesit, non ut profit: Now he remembers he is the Minister of God for good to those that do well, and for terrour to those that do ill. He considers that as the sun hath its light not for it self, but the world; so he hath not his place and authority for himself, but for others: He remembers that it is Res pub∣lica, not Res propria. Thus also, if a Husband, if a Master, he observeth all those Relation-Duties and Qualifications commanded by the word, and looks at God in all those things, which makes them called spirituall men; because their principles, aims, and whole guidance of their souls in these things is upon higher grounds then morality can attain unto.

Page  263 Eightly, This New Creation opposeth also those old religious approaches*unto God: They doe not pray, hear, as they were wont: Not that they change these instituted Ordinances of God as they doe when they come out of Idolatry and Superstition: But in these respects there is a great alteration made.

1. Whereas they thought the very externall Duties were enough to commend them to God, and upon this ground they prayed, came to Church, received Sacra∣ments: Now they see they were deceived, and judge all nothing without an in∣ward change of the heart, and an outward reformation in the life. Observe the Apostle Galatians the 5. Where having said the same thing in the Text, That Circumcision and uncircumcision availeth nothing, but Faith working by love, He presently addeth, This perswasion cometh not of him that calleth you: That is, this perswasion that external Duties are all the service God requi∣reth, that he looketh after no more, this doth not come from God who hath called us, for he enlightens our minds, and spiritualizeth our hearts to worship him in spi∣rit and truth.

2. There is a glorious change also made in manner of these duties: Before he prayed and heard perfunctorily, he came after a customary manner, doing these duties without the sense of sin, a broken heart, and groans unutterable: but now he is fervent in spirit, serving the Lord: so that a new creature leaveth not onely his former old Lusts and sins, but his former way of performing all religious duties.

Use of Instruction, How few are new Creatures? For in how many mens lives doe you see their old sins, their old lusts? Their Duties, and solemn Worship of God is done with no more fear, inward and spirituall deport∣ment of soul. That which thou gloriest in, That thou art no changeling, it is thy shame. As this body must be changed er'e it can inherit immortality, and glory, so thy soul must be changed er'e it can come to everlasting happi∣ness. What is more miserable then to see an old man with his old sins upon him, as ignorant as he was threescore years ago? The same Oaths, the same Curses as he had used fifty years ago: Oh thou great God of heaven, make this Truth fall like The Coal from the Altar, to touch Not their Tougnes onely, but hearts.