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  264

SERMON XLIII.

Concerning the Supernaturality and Excellent Qua∣lities of the New Creature.


GAL. 6. 15.
For in Christ Jesus, neither Circumcision, or Uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a New Creature.

THis new Creature hath been discovered as it stands oppositely to those old things, which the Apostle saith, are passed away. We come in the next place to handle it positively, as it is in sense absolutely considered; and in the ge∣nerall, when the Apostle calls it a new Creature; the essence or being thereof is thereby declared to consist in a supernaturality, or way of life, above that which the power of a meer man can reach unto; so that it is no more than a supernatu∣rall Creature, one, who is acted above the principles and motives of nature in all the duties he doth, so that the best way to discover this new Creature is, to shew wherein it is above the ordinary course of Nature: And although the School-men dispute, wherein lyeth the true and proper notion of supernaturality, or what is that which makes a thing supernaturall, yet I shall not enter into that La∣byrinth.

First therefore, this work of grace is a new Creature or supernaturall, in regard of its original and beginning. It doth not flow from the principles of nature: it's * from the power of nature that a man eateth, drinketh, laugheth or discourseth; but let a man doe any thing holily, believe, or repent, to this a speciall power from hea∣ven is necessary. Indeed we need the aid and assistance of God, even to all ordi∣nary actions; Therefore the Scripture saith, In him we live, and move, and have our being; and God is the Author and Actuator of nature, as well as of grace; but that is a common help, this a speciall help. God doth more for thee when he gives thee an heart to breath after Christ, then when he inableth thee to breath the breath of a naturall life; and if God be the Fountain of our naturall life, much more of our spirituall life. It is not enough to call a thing supernatural, in that it's solely of God, for so the world was created onely by him at first; but it must come from him in a peculiar and speciall manner, as the author of all grace; thus every where in the Scripture, faith, repentance, love, joy, and all other graces are made a fruit of the Spirit, or the gift of God, they are not by humane power; and this should make us sensible of our own poverty and nothingnesse; for as often as thou hearest the Word calling thee to believe, to repent, it doth but put thee in minde of thy utter impotency. By the Precepts a man may see what he should doe, by the reproofs what he doth not, and by the promises what the grace of God doth; from this stock and foundation that Thou art nothing, and Grace is all, must the new Creature proceed. The beginnings of this is with a deep poverty of spirit, and apprehension of our inabilities. The great obstruction in the way why thou dost Page  265 not aspire after this glorious estate, is because thou findest not the need of a power from heaven to lift thee up thither: As those that were blinde and lame; they de∣sired Christ, knowing, he onely could give them their eyes and their limbs again; so doe thou; O Lord, I must mourn for, and turn from my sins upon holy grounds. Oh that I could doe it, how often, Lord, doe I resolve to climb up this hill to∣ward heaven, but I presently fall back again; to thy power therefore, and to thy grace I flye.

2. The supernaturality of this Creature is seen in the Motives, why it sets upon*any duties, and that is, because of God. Thus faith, part of the new Creature in a man, believeth Gods Word, not from custome and education, or the authority of the Church, but because of that divine Authority and Revelation which appeareth therein: As a man seeth the Sun by the light of the Sun shining from it. Thus the Thessalmians received the Word of God, not as the word of man, but as of God, 1 Thes. 2 14. This new Creature believeth the principles of Religion, Quia ipse dixit, because God hath said it, not because men say so: when a man assents unto matters of Religion no further than humane grounds lead him, it is but an humane faith, and we need not a speciall gift of God to believe thus: After the same man∣ner also it is, when a man bewaileth his sins, and condemneth himself for them, meerly because of the naturall light of conscience, not from the Word, and be∣cause God is offended, but because of externall judgements, this is but to move as a man, to repent as a man; whereas the Apostle telleth us of sorrow after a godly manner, 2 Cor. 7 9. which is, when a spirit of prayer and supplication, and mourn∣ing is upon our souls, because God is displeased with what we have done; and in∣deed the greatest, and the most noble part of the supernaturality of this new Crea∣ture lyeth in this, That we goe to all divine objects upon a divine ground, upon a di∣vine motive; so that it's acknowledged by all, both Papists and Protestants, that nothing can be said to be graciously and after a godly manner done, unlesse it as∣cend as high as God, and be terminated on him, as the object: we are not to stay on Jacobs Ladder, but to goe up to him, who sits at the top of it in heaven. Oh con∣sider, we may believe as men, repent as men, pray as men, hear as men, but all this while not new Creatures; because these things are not done with a reference to God, and a complacency in him: and by this we may easily judge, why it's so pos∣sible for a man to be taken from the wedding Feast, and bound hand and foot, and thrown into utter darknesse, I mean to be taken from religious duties, and damned, because these were not the acts of a new Creature, but the humane devotions of a morall man. Let not therefore thy heart be quieted in any holy duties, till it be immediately applyed to God himself. The women that sought for Christs body were not contented to see the Linnen in which it was wrapped, but they looked still after the body; so neither may we rest in the expressions of duties, but to go further, even to the Lord himself; this very point is the hinge of Christianity, get this and you get all: Believe because of God, mourn because of God, and then you are at the highest of essentiall perfection, though not graduall. This is the onely, or at least main specifying difference between Judas his tears and Peters; this makes Manasses his humiliation good, and the want of it makes Ahabs bitter. Do not then any longer like worms crawl on the ground, but like Angels sour up into heaven: This would make you like the Silk-worm, sending forth that which is precious alwayes from you.

Two wayes a man may apply himself to God: either, First, As he may be known*by the creatures. Of this the Apostle discourseth much Rom. 1. for in them he revea∣leth his wisdome, power and goodness, and so the Gentiles are condemned, because they did not glorifie him as God; they did not goe as far as by the Moon-light of Nature they were guided: But suppose they had glorified God according to the knowledge they had of him, and did not detain the truth in unrighteousnesse; yet in those acts they were not new Creatures, because there wanted faith in God re∣vealed in his Word, which is the soul to every action, and the Salt that seasons it. Page  266 Therefore there is a second way of the souls tendency to God, and that is, As he is revealed in his Word, and made known in Christ, being drawn unto him by his * Spirit, and so lifted up above all his naturall abilities, and this is the expression of of a new Creature; So that what Luther prayed for Melancthon, Rapiat te De∣us, ex humanis in divina, è tuis in sua, is to be powred out in the behalf of every na∣turall man. If you see a Paul crucified to the world, having his Conversation in heaven, knowing how to abound, and how to want, inabled to doe all things, through Christ that strengthens him; that his former sinnes he once lived in, doe not still stick close to him, and damn him; you may as much wonder as they did, when they saw the Viper upon his hand did not kill him; and when they said, The gods are come down tous in the likenesse of men; and Paul would return the same answer as then was, Why doe you look upon us, as if we had done these things by our own power? but in the name of Christ are they wrought. If you see a man walking holily, humbly, reformed from sinne, say, This is the great pow∣er of God to salvation.

Thirdly, this supernaturality is seen, In that it is a way of such perfection and ex∣actnesse,*that it is no wayes agreeable to our nature; we have nor so much as an in∣clination to it; and so supernaturall is as much as connaturall; for thus holinesse was not supernaturall to Adam, but it was a fit and suitable qualification, even as rationality and risibility was connaturall to his soul: so God creating Adam for such a glorious end as to enjoy him, holinesse was a connaturall perfection due to him; but now since our lapsed-and polluted condition, all holinesse is so far super∣naturall, that it is against our natures, we have no inclination to that which is ho∣ly; yea, the Apostle saith, We have enmity against the way of God, and we neither are, or can be subject to it, Rom. 8. Godlinesse is a kind of violence to our corrupt natures; and therefore we are said to crucifie, and mortifie sin, yea to deny our selves; all which argueth the repugnancy that is in us to that which is holy; won∣der not then, if men be so unwilling, so untoward to be brought to this work of grace: There is a secret enmity, and antipathy in us to it; we love it no more than the thief doth the light; and upon this is grounded all that rage, hatred and oppo∣sition they have against godly wayes: They cannot give you a good reason why? onely their hearts are full of venome against it.

Lastly, this supernaturality may be seen, in that proportion and analogie it hath*with God, though with a vast difference. We call Gods Wisdome, power, ho∣linesse supernaturall, because it transcends the sphere of the Creature, though to God it be natural; so Christs power to work miracles was natural to him, though supernaturall to us: Now in this new Creature there is a rude draught, and some imperfect lineaments of this; Be yee holy as I am holy; and he purifieth himself, even as God is pure. As God loveth all things, and doth all things to the glory of God, so doth this Creature refer all to him, it liveth wholly to him; and as all the streams empty themselves into the sea, so doe they all their glory, welfare and ad∣vantage into the honour of God. As all comes from him, so they return all to him: Thus they also learn of Christ, who is the treasure of all supernatural perfe∣ctions, not onely his miracles, but his graces were above our humane strength; His Patience, his meeknesse, his humility, his zeal, his obedience to the death: all these demonstrated him to be the Son of God; and therefore in this we are to shew his image and likenesse.

In the next place let us consider the qualities and properties of this new Creature;*and first the excellency and perfection of it is very observable, it being a participation of the divine Nature, as Peter stiles it, 2 Pet. 1. 4. and hereby we are like not Angels but God himself. The Schoolmen do ordinarily determine, that grace is more noble and perfect than any Creature: neither the Sun, or the Heavens, or any Crea∣ture in the World is comparable to it; for they have onely a naturall perfection, this a morall: Yea grace in the soul, they say, is more excellent and noble than the soul it self; and if the soul of a man be more worth than a thousand worlds, what Page  267 is grace in that soul worth; and the reason why grace is a more noble thing than any other Creature, is, as Austin saith well: In illis tantum sunt opera a Des, in hâc est imago dei; look upon the glorious Sunne, in it is onely the work of God; but look upon grace, and in it is the Image of God; so that as we say, Non-potest a∣liquid esse melius Deo, Nothing can be better than God, so neither can any thing be better than grace the image of God. If therefore this be true, that this now crea∣ture is more perfect than any other Creature, no marvail if the wise man say, Riches and Pearls are not to be compared to it; And although this new Creature be an accident, and the soul a substance, and so in modo essendi, in the manner of being, it is more imperfect than the soul; yet because it's an accident that floweth not from the soul, as an effect from the cause, but is caused by an efficient of a more eminent nature, therefore it is more noble than the soul it self. As you see the light, though it be an accident, yet is more glorious than the aire in which it is, because it cometh from the Sun a more glorious body than the aire: so that the measure of every things perfection, is the near or remoter participation of God, and this new Creature bringeth a man to the nearest participation of God of any Creature. We are not like God in being Rich, Great, Noble, Honoured, but in being holy; and the perfection and nobleness of this Creature is herein unquestion ably seen; because the promise of salvation and eternall life is made onely to this. An Angel hath not eternall glory because he is an Angel made of such a glorious nature, but because he is holy. And the soul of a man, though it be immateriall, im∣mortall, and hath many perfections, yet salvation and happinesse shall not be given to it because it is a soul: though it be worth more than a world, yet it is not worth an heaven, but because it is found in the life of this new Creature, though even it then be also of grace; because this new Creature is not made perfect in this life.

Again, this new Creature must be more noble than any other Creature, because it prepareth and fitteth us for a more noble end and being (I speak not of merit, but of the order God hath appointed) so that it doth not qualifie a man as a man; in which sense Learning, Prudence, and other politicall abilities doe, but as one who by it may enjoy and have Communion with God himself; but though it be thus excellent, we must not lift it so high, as if thereby we were justified and accep∣ted of God through any inherent worth thereof.

Secondly, from this excellency cometh another quality, which is Beauty and lovelinesse, to be desired by all. Oh if thy eyes were not blinded, thou wouldst see * every thing in the world to be contemned, that this may be obtained. No wonder if the man in the Parable, sold all he had to get this Pearl: no wonder if Solomon doth so commend this new Creature under the name of Wisdome, and exhorteth to take pains for this rather than for other things. Oh that the preaching about it might beget love in you to it, desires after it, saying, I take pains for wealth, to live in this world, but there is a more noble good than all these things below: Let me not be satisfied till I be made a new Creature. If duties doe not avail without this, can wealth or greatnesse profit without it? Shall the devill think, that the shewing of the glory of the world may tempt men to worship him; and shall not the open∣ing of this glory make thee willing to worship God?

Thirdly, The necessity of this: If thou art not a new Creature, thou art miserable in all fulnesse. Thou art not a wise man indeed till thou art a new Creature. Hence * the Scripture commends this under the Title of Wisdome, and calls every wicked man a fool. Whatsoever parts and abilities thou maist have, yet thou art not wise til thou art thus made new: for a wise man, sapiens sapit res prout sunt, judgeth of things as they are. The child thinketh Copper is Gold, and thus while thou art not this new Creature, thou judgest earthly temporary comforts, which are but for a season, which will dye with thee, to be the only good to be laboured for. He is a wise man that judgeth earthly things as earthly, but esteemeth heavenly things as heavenly. Again, he is a wise man that prevents after-wishes. Non putabam, I did not think it, is the portion of a fool; therefore God cannot repent, because he fore-seeth Page  268 alwayes what is to be done. When Tully saw Pompey was overcome, whose side he favoured, and Caesar prevailing, he cryeth out, O miseram senectutem, O me nun∣quam sapientem; He is now full of miserable wishes, because he did not fore-see e∣vents. Now this new Creature, if we alwayes follow the direction and inclination thereof, we should never cry out, Oh that I had done otherwise, Oh that I had lived nother life: Then shal I not be confounded, when I have respect to all thy Comman∣dements, Psal. 1 19. The sweetnesse of this new Creature will be seen when you come to dye. Oh how happy will it then be to think, I doe not repent of my pray∣ing, of my strict serving of God; though I denyed my self much unlawfull plea∣sure, yet now I am full of lawful and good joy. Again, Wisdome is to lay up to e∣ternity, when resolutions to alter will be too late. Now onely this new Creature layeth up treasure for eternity. Oh if men would look upon sin now, as the damned in hell look on it; if it were as terrible to you now, as it is to those that are roaring in Hell, how quickly would men say to their sins, Be gone?

As the new Creature is thus onely wise, so this only is true riches, true wealth; rich in faith, saith the Apostle. And Laodicea was poor, though abounding in out∣ward fulnesse, Rev. 2. It was the Stoicks Position, That the wise man is only a rich man. To be sure, it is the Scriptures truth, That this new Creature is only a rich Creature, for he only hath God the Fountain, he only hath the promise: all things are his, as the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 3. This is better than the Philosophers stone, which is said to turn all into Gold.

Again, This onely is true peace, happinesse and comfort: Thus the Apostle, As many as walk after the rule, peace on them. Where this new Creature is not, there is no true peace, no true joy▪ they may in the midst f all their jollity, read many Texts of Scripture, which will be like the hand-writing in the wall, filling them with terror and horror. If then onely wisdome, onely riches, onely joy be in this new Creature, how is it, that men seek not after it in the first place? why is it not the first thing that all people begin with?

Fourthly, As the necessity of it is considerable, so another quality observable, is, *the exactnesse and strictnesse of it: For you heard that this new Creature doth not onely make a man forsake his old sins, and so he is a new man then, but it new mol∣deth and stampeth all his lawfull actions and comforts; it keeps a man exactly to his bounds, so that the water doth not over-flow the banks lest it get soil; he loveth, but not over-loveth; It sets the heart of a man like a Watch, to strike when, and no more than, it should. Hence the Apostle calls it, Walking exactly and circum∣spectly, Ephes. 5. 14. so that from this exactnesse, necessarily floweth a singularity, as to the common customes and ways of the world: you despise men for their strict∣nesse, for singularity; this argueth your ignorance of grace, for this new Creature necessarily makes a man singular; as to wicked and worldly men, Matth. 5. What singular thing do ye? Doe not even the Heathens and Publicans the same? so that although a vain proud singularity be a part of the old Creature, and a plain demon∣stration of pride and folly, yet a godly singularity is a fruit of this new Creature; he doth not such things, as wicked men do, as naturall men doe, as he himself once did; so that every man is bound to be singular in this sense, else he cannot be a new Creature.

Fifthly, This new Creature is endowed with a fittednesse and preparednesse for every*good work; so that thereby there is an universall inclination to every good way: Thus the Apostle, Eph. 2. 20. We are his workmanship, created to every good work. As e∣very creature is by Gods providence furnished with powers and faculties sutable to those actions and operations which belong to them; so is this new Creature accom∣modated with all those principles that may induce him to such a life as is answerable thereunto, so that what is said of Christ, A body thou hast prepared for me, is true, both of soul, and body in this new creature. Now this preparednesse of heart for every duty and grace, is of infinite concernment; for without this the duty miscarri∣eth, and the heart is not easily put into an instrumentall fitnesse for Gods glory; Page  269 there must be much cutting, and sawing, and hammering, ere the heart be a polish∣ed stone in Gods building.

Sixthly, This new Creature being wholly of God, both in the nature and operations*of it, doth elevate and lift up a man to it, so that a man is not to bring that down to him; The love of Christ constraineth us, saith the Apostle; and, He that is born of God, cannot sin; and hence it is, that Paul, with all new Creatures doth not consult with flesh and bloud in their duties, but with Gods Word, the Law and Rule of this new Creature; so that it is a thing which the new Creature abhorreth, to make use either of grace it self, or the opinion of it, to bring about any wicked thing; for as the Load-stone draweth the Iron, not the Iron the Load-stone, so grace doth draw and move the heart of a man after it, and man is not to make that follow him, grace being a new Creature; and so of God, it lyeth not in mans power to make what he will grace. The Magistrate is called, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 1 Pet. 2. 13. an humane Ordinance, or mans Creature, because he is of man, and to man; but this a divine Creature, and therefore godlinesse is the same in all ages; As a man may not make a new rule of life in stead of the Scripture, so neither a new manner or way of god∣liness. Do not thou therefore bring down this new Creature to thy way, and to thy capacity, which a man is very prone unto, tantum quisque laudt, quantum se posse imitari put it, but bring thy self to it; otherwise this is to make the Sun go by the Clock.

Sevently, Another excellent property, is the immutability and perpetuity of it; wher∣in * it far exceeds humane greatnesse and power; All flesh is grasse, and the flower thereof fadeth, but this is incorruptible seed; Therefore this new Creature here is the same in kind with that glorious Creature in heaven; when a man shall be glorified in heaven, there will come no new thing to him for the main; God is not a new God to him, he hath been acquainted with him, and enjoyed him in this world; peace and joy will not be new to him, for the main; I say for the main, otherwise in the manner and degree every thing will be new.

Lastly, This new Creature is wondred at, and despised in the world, As the shadow alwayes followeth the Sun, so do reproaches slander this new Creature: it is like the speckled bird among the Creatures, as the Scripture describeth the Church; They think it strange, saith the Apostle, that they run not into the same excesse of riot with you, for it's a life that is contrary to theirs, and so cannot stand together any more than the Ark and Dagon; But how despicable and miserable soever in the eyes of the world, yet of glorious account with God. It is with this Creature, as with all strangers, hated and despised; and like Christ himself, not having where to lay his head: but if thou art a new Creature, though in an old prison, in old rags, and no∣thing but outward ruines, thou art indeared to God.

Use. Is this new Creature of so excellent and necessary Use, Then be moved to*desire after it; Think not it is already well with you; doe not say, My old life shall serve, I will doe as I have done: Alas, though thou art confident and satisfied in thy self and wayes, yet remember there is no true wisedome, riches, or peace with∣out this: Thou art ashamed of old garments, to wear old rags; why art thou not ashamed to continue in thy old lusts? What can work upon thee if these things do not? But this new Creature is wholly of spiritual discerning; and so no wonder, if there be no closing with it: Many times new things affect us that should not, new fashions, new opinions; but here is a new way that every one ought to desire, a〈…〉 yet it is not regarded: Nay, do not your consciences sometimes see the necessity of being new men? how many resolutions have you taken up to this purpose, and broken them again?