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.


Shewing the Counterfeit of the New-Creature.

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

I Shall now finish this Discourse about a new Creature: we have handled the na∣ture of it, and its properties; I shall in the last place shew you the counterfeits of this new Creature, or what that is which seemeth to be this new Creature, and yet is not. There is nothing wherein a man doth oftner deceive himselfe than in this. If the question should be put to every man, Whether he be a new Creature, or not? He would answer affirmatively, And thank God he is: It is therefore good to demonstrate it ocularly and palpably, that there are many things which have the vizar and form of this new Creature, but they want the power of it; and in∣deed to have the shew, name and title of it, is easie; but to put forth the powerful operations of it, is burdensome and difficult: In the number therefore of these Counterfeits, are,

First, All those who have the outward forme and shape of godlinesse, but are wholly destitute of the inward efficacy and power of it. Thus the Apostle, Having a form of*godlinesse, but denying the power of it, 2 Tim 3. 5. The Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is ren∣dred by a Form, Image, or Similitude; As if you should say, the Picture or Statue of a man, it is not a man: Thus it is here, there are many who have the outward fashion and expression of godlinesse, but they have not the reality of it, which is here in the Text called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, virtue or power, because the true nature of eve∣ry thing is discerned by its operations, a picture doth not speak, nor walk, nor grow, because it's onely the form of a man. Now this outward profession might seem to put in fair for this new creature; for look upon him as a Christian, so he is one who hath renounced the Idols of the world; he is one that comes out of the wildernesse he once lived in: If you compare him and an Heathen together, doth not one seem to be a new Creature in respect of the other? But this externall new change is not enough. *

First, Because as you have heard, The greatest work of this new Creature is in the heart, called therefore the hidden man, and the inward man. It is not so much a new Tongue to professe a new worship of God, as a new Minde, a new Will, new Affections: for look where the old man had his greatest Hold, and his strongest Page  277 Fort, there this new man cometh and possesseth it. Now the strength of corrup∣tion lyeth in our mindes and hearts; there is the Treasury and Shop of sin: It's from the heart (saith our Saviour) that evill Thoughts, Adulteries, Murders, and all wickednesse doth flow, Mark 7. 21. Then on the contrary, when a man is made a new Creature, from his heart come good thoughts, holy affections, and a godly conversation. Doe not then judge according to outward appearance, thou must not onely look to what fruit thy life bears, but what root that is from whence it groweth.

2. This outward form cannot be the new Creature, because the Apostle in the Text*makes it contradistinct, and an opposite; or at least a diverse member to that of a new Creature. For when he saith, Circumcision availeth nothing, he meaneth the whole external form of the service of God in the old Testament, when he saith un∣circumcision availeth nothing, he meaneth the whole externall form of the worship of God in the new Testament. Now to both these is contradistinguished this new Creature: so that if a man have all the postures and outward forms of the Christian Religion, and godlinesse professed therein, yet he hath not oyl, he hath only lamps, and when the voice of the Bride-grooms coming will be heard, he wil fall into mi∣serable confusion: Why is it then, that men rest in forms and externall shews, as if that were all God required, as if there were no further thing requisite?

3. This outward form will not suffice, is not the new Creature, because men may be*rea•• Heathens, while they are formall and titular Christians. In works they may de∣ny Christ, while in words they do acknowledge him. and reall denying by actions, is worse than verbal by words. Thus Isaiah calls the Rulers among the Jews, Isa. 1. Princes of Sodom and Gomorrah, the worst of Heathens, because their lives were like such: The Apostle instanceth in one sin, and we may say so of any other gross sin; If any man provide not for his own, he hath denyed the faith, and is worse than an Infidel, 1 Tim. 5. 8. As it holds true of that sin, so we may say; If any man be a drunkard, lyar, swearer, Sabbath-breaker, he hath denyed his faith, and is worse than an Infidel. But why worse than an Infidel? Because he sinneth against more light and knowledge, as also against more holy obligations and bonds which are in the Christian Religion. Know therefore that a titular Christian, but a reall pro∣phane man; a nominall believer, but a reall ungodly person, is like old Sepulchers, with new guilding and painting over them; like a Statue of earth and dirt, with some glorious colouring; and as if a man should goe to touch and feel what such a Statue is, it would presently turn to dirt and dust in his hand: so if thou wouldst seriously lay to heart thy condition, that which thou hopest in, and boastest of, thou wouldst finde to be empty and vain: reall ungodlinesse and prophanenesse under the form of Christian profession, is grosse and palpable hypocrisie; and it's a won∣der, how that contradiction between thy faith and thy practice, thy Religion and thy conversation is hid from thy eyes; It's a wonder, that thy sins stare thee not in the face, when thou art in thy Christian duties, like so many devils, asking you what you do there. How doth thy praying and swearing stand together? how doth thy hearing and thy contempt of godlinesse consist together?

4. This new name thou hast got by being a Christian, and a baptized person, cannot*be a new Creature, for then every one who is baptized, and of the Orthodox Religion, should be saved; for every new Creature, whether Jew or Gentile, bond, or free, shall be saved; there is none that is a new Creature here, that shall not have new Robes of glory hereafter, but the Scripture doth terribly, yet plainly set down this position, that but few onely of those who enjoy the outward priviledges of the Church shall be saved. Many are called; and few are saved, Mat. 20. 16. it's a sen∣tence, though full of terror, yet worthy to be written on your Pew doors, or your Chamber doors, yea rather upon your hearts with a Pen of Iron, to think that few of those who come in our assemblies and hear, and sit within those walls, shall yet have a Crown of glory upon their heads; who art thou then that boastest of thy Church-priviledges, of thy Protestant Profession? Thou art no Atheist, no Papist, Page  278 but if no new Creature neither, heaven is not a place prepared for thee. The paucity and little number of those that shall be saved even of Christians, and baptized per∣sons, should always make us tremble and quake. O Lord are we in the number of those few or not! But eight persons in the whole world were preserved in the Ark; but two persons of those many thousands that came out of Egypt, entred into Ca∣naan. If the Scripture were not plain in this point, you might cry out, It was an hard speech, and not to be born. But heaven and earth shall sooner passe away, than one ot or tittle of that sentence: say not then every thing that groweth in Gods garden is a flower, every thing in Christs field is good seed, every called man is an elected man, every baptized man a new Creature, for this is directly re∣pugnant to Gods Word.

A second Counterfeit pretending to this new Creature, may be every one who for∣merly being given to some prophane and wretched wayes is now turned a new man; for * what can be thought the new creature, if this be not? But every man changed from his former wicked wayes is not presently a new Creature, though he be a new man. Ahab was a new man in his humiliations; he had new affections, new sorrow, new humiliation, yet not a new Creature; This is diligently to be considered, that so men may see upon what grounds and motives they set upon a new course of life. And first, this new man may not be a new Creature for want of constancy and dura∣tion. This new Creature is incorruptible, being born of the seed of God, and there∣fore liveth and groweth under discouragements as well as incouragements, under temptations and oppositions, as well as fair and pleasant opportunities; like Camo∣mile it groweth the most by treading upon it; The new Creature hath always been in its most spiritual glory when it hath been in greatest outward reproaches. Golden times of peace and plenty made rusty new Creatures, as I may so aliude; but times of persecution took off all their rust, and made a lustre upon them. This new Crea∣ture therefore is unchangable in all changes, at least for the main substance and root of grace; but there is many a man became new and wonderfully changed for a fit, for a pang; It's but a Land-flood not a Fountain, and so is quickly dryed up. The people of Israel in their afflictions were wonderfully changed, but their hearts were not stedfast within them; we have a notable instance in one particular, Jer. 34. 15, 16. where the Prophet Jeremiah warneth the people of Israel to let their ser∣vants go free at the time appointed by God, otherwise they should not go free from judgements: Hereupon they entred into a Covenant, to proclaim liberty to their servants; but they did not hold long in this new change: Therfore mark that expression, Ye were turned to day, and had done right; but ye turned again, and pol∣luted my name: See here how a people may be changed from evill to good, and then not long after change good unto evill again. Thus the Swine new washed is all o∣ver new for a while, but she returneth to her mire again: Thus Johns Hearers did rejoyce 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for an hour, for a season; and afterwards they say, John had a Devill. Oh consider then, whether thy becoming a new man, be not upon some fits for a little while, and then thou Apostatizest again: Thy inconstancy is an argument of thy hypocrisie: Thou art but a blazing star that may make a lustre for a while, thou art not fixed in the Orb. Now with what earnestnesse should this be pressed upon you? How many men become new for a day, for a week, but then presently return to their old lusts again? This argueth thy motion is not naturall, but violent, otherwise it would hold out.

2. It may be defective in the motives of it; Thou art become a new Creature upon old grounds, for so it may fall out. Not love to Christ and spirituall considerations may set thee upon this change, but temporall fears, and love to outward mercies: When the Apostle, 2 Cor. 5. 16. would declare, That every man in Christ is a new Creature, and old things are passed away, he declareth this by instancing in particu∣lars; Henceforth know we no man after the flesh,, no not Christ himself: A mighty ex∣pression. The sense is, That whereas once they delighted in, and had much com∣fort by the bodily presence of Christ; he was a great stay and comfort to them, in∣somuch Page  279 that they were exceedingly troubled to hear of his departure. Now (saith the Apostle) we look not after those corporeal considerations, but know him after, a spiritual manner, we expect spiritual strength, spiritual priviledges, and spiritual consolations by him; so then if a new Creature, thy humiliations are after the Spirit, not after the Flesh; all thy religious duties, thou knowest them not after the flesh: But there are many men, though changed in their lives, yet it is after the flesh only they are changed, because Gods judgements were upon their estates, their bodies, and the outward man. The Prophet Hos. c. 7. doth excellently compare all the Jewes Prayers and Fastings, because for their wine and oyle onely, to howlings, that as bruit beasts, when they are deprived of their food, and ready to be starved, make an horrid howling, and yelling. No better did God esteem of their humilia∣tions, and dejectons before him. Let not then any corrupt worm breed in thy du∣ties thou dost newly set upon, for that may quickly devour all thy expected fruit.

3. This new man may not be a new Creature, because the change is wrought upon him by confused principles of the minde, and suddain affections and resolutions, not by a distinct, clear, and well advised information of judgement. Those hearers that recei∣ved the Word with joy, found immediately a change upon them; but they held out for a season only, because it was not a deliberate work on them; Therefore our Saviour exhorts every one that would make a change of his life, and become his Disciple, to sit down first and consider, Luk. 14. 28. whether he be able to make such a building as that of grace is, or whether he can set out strength enough against so many thousand enemies that will be in the way. Observe it, he compares this un∣dertaking of Christianity, and his discipleship to two great and chargeable things, which have exhausted men of great Treasures, building, and waging Warre; and therefore our Saviour turned back some that came to be Volunteers in his Service, informing them of the hardship that would accompany his wayes; so that there is no such hopefull way of continuing in a good new change, as when this is wrought by a sound illumination of the mind, and by strong conviction of the judgement, through potent Arguments. And what can be thought the reason of so many Apo∣states from the hopefull beginnings of grace, which seemed in many, but this onely, Their affections were wrought upon, they had great grief, great fear and terror upon their consciences, but little or very weak workings upon their judgements? Therefore we Ministers of God, think not this any such great matter, to stir up in you, new grief, new sorrow, new fears in you. Alas, this water will quickly be dryed up; but this is the great work, to convince your judgement with such new light and reason out of Gods Word, and this will stick like an Arrow in thy heart: Thou wilt roar out and cry, Oh there are such arguments from the Scripture, such strong reasons from Gods Word for me to become a new man, that I am not able to gain-say them. Therefore this new creature is called Light in the Lord: fear all those affections of grief, and sorrow, and terror that are in thee, being but affecti∣ons, and not the fruit of an inlightned judgment, will quickly vanish away: And as rotten fruit falls to the ground before it is ripe, so will all these affections decay be∣fore they come to any maturity, that flow not from a sanctified understanding. Di∣vines say, God beginneth orderly, he first worketh in the understanding, and by that moveth and exciteth the affections; but the divell he first moveth the affections, and by them he perverteth and corrupteth the understanding. Thus he propounded to Eve what was good to the eye, and pleasant to the taste, thereby to ensnare the af∣fections, and by that means blinded her judgement. Therefore the Apostle com∣mands Timothy, to reprove with all Doctrine, 1 Tim. 4. 2. To make men afraid and tremble about sin, when by good and sound Doctrine they are not informed of the foulnesse and guilt of it will never hold.

4. This new man comes short it may be of a new Creature, because the work of grace is not deep enough. He is an outward new creature, but not an inward new creature. That foolish builder our Saviour speaketh of, who lost all his pains and cost, miscar∣ried in this, because he did not dig deep enough: Thy heart is throughly wounded Page  280 for sin, and slightly cured again: It hath not been a deep wound, or a sure cure a∣gain: so then as Planters of trees are careful about the root and builders wary about the foundation; so when thou beginnest to set upon a new course of life, remember that thou goe low enough into thy soul, that it may take root downward as well as fruit upward. The heart is full of hardnesse and stoninesse, and so thou canst not get into the bottome of it presently; the love of God, the fear of God rooted in the heart would make thee hold out a new man alwayes.

I might now speak of other Counterfeits of this new Creature, As a man affe∣cting new and strange opinions, he is very prone to judge the better of himself because of*this; so a man undertaking some new and strict way different from the Word of God, as the way of Pharisaism: but I have handled these already, when I spake of false Signs. I shall therefore conclude this Text and Subject with the suggestion of some helps and remedies to become new Creatures; for I doubt not but that many of you, at least in some sad thoughts or other, have resolutions to become new crea∣tures. The conscience surely is not so stupified, but it many times tells thee, O this old life thou livest must be altered, it's time to turn over a new leaf, to learn a new lesson; God forbid I should dye with these sins upon me! How many times dost thou resolve and purpose, I will never be prophane more, My life shall be new, I will set upon a new course in my family; but these buds are quickly snipt off by some cold frost or other. What directions then may be given to keep this purpose in our hearts, and to put these resolutions into practice? for we resolve, and resolve to be new, but we live and dye in old wayes. To help us herein, take these directions following.

First, Let thy resolutions come from solid reasons, not suddain affections. This I * hinted before; What purpose is taken up by strong demonstrations from Scripture, they will hold alwayes the same, because the Scripture is the same. The Scripture doth represent sinne in a terrible aggravation as well one day as another; that de∣clareth the goodnesse of God in the same attractive manner as well one week as a∣nother: whereas meer suddain affections they ebbe and flow. If therefore thy resolutions doe not hold as firmly against sinne in time of health as well as sickness, if they be not as cordiall in thy life time as at the time of death, quicken thy self up with Scripture-arguments, and say, The Word of God saith the same things still, and why should not my heart be the same still?

Secondly, Let thy resolutions to become a new man, be made not in thy own strength, but in the strength of Christ: Thou dost resolve in thy own power to cast out the de∣vills * that possesse thee, thou purposest in thy own strength to destroy these Goliahs. But saith Paul, I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me, Phil. 4. 13. And saith Christ, Without me ye can doe nothing, John 15. He doth not say, No great thing, but nothing; and he doth not say, Ye cannot perfect, or consum∣mate any thing without me, but ye can doe nothing without me, as Austin well considereth the Text; and then it's 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, without me, or separated from me; As the Branch cut from the Vine cannot bear any fruit: Now the more sensible and apprehensive thou art of thy own infirmities, and impotency, the more ready Christ is to help: say, O Lord, though this be too great a work for me, I cannot throw these mountains into the Sea, yet it is not too great for thee.

Thirdly, Let these resolutions be accompanied with earnest and fervent prayers to God. Thou purposest and resolvest, but where are thy lively and powerfull supplica∣tions * unto God? There is no such Engine to batter down all the strong holds of sinne, as prayer; see our Saviours incouragement herein, Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, Mat. 7. 7. Prayer is the key of Heaven, as the Ancients called it; thy resolutions therefore and desires are like those of the sluggard, who desireth, and desireth, but putteth not his hands to work, and so his desires are said to kill him; Thus thou resolvest, and resolvest, but dost not set home, or back these resolutions by earnest and strong prayers; therefore thy resolutions destroy thee: A man strong in resolutions, and weak in supplications will presently be foyled up∣on Page  281 every temptation, you must not therefore onely resolve, but you must watch, pray, and even yet thy resolutions take no place, extraordinarily fast, and seek to God; for sinnes that have been long upon thee, are like those divels which possessed a man from his youth, and such could not be cast out, but by prayer and fasting.

Fourthly, If thou wouldst turn these godly resolutions into godly actions, separate*thy self immediately from all temptations and occasions to sinne, from all evill compa∣nions, who are apt to hinder thee in such good purposes; for it's vain thing to think thy self strong enough to abstain from a sin, when thou canst not withdraw from the occasion of it. The Jewes that were to abstain from leaven in the dayes of the Passover, that they might be sure not to eate it, would not so much as have it in their houses: yea, so superstitious were they, that they would not so much as mention the word Lechem, Bread, lest leaven should come into a mans minde. The Nazarite that was not to drink wine, would neither eat Grapes. Therefore bid farewell to all thy old companions, all thy old temptations, and say as that new Creature once did, who formerly living in Fornications and the Whore com∣ing to solicite him as she used to doe, he cryed out, Ego non sum ego, I am not I: I am another man than I was.

Lastly, Pursue thy resolutions into actions, because of thy mortality and uncer∣tainty * of life. To day if you will hear, harden not your hearts; Now therefore, or it may be never: Do not as some Heathens, which Offer their Bee-wax unto their Gods, and keep the Honey to themselves. Doe not thou reserve thy old decrepit age for this new Creature, and spend the prime and flower of thy time in the ser∣vice of sin: Post Genesin sequitur Exodus, as soon as we have a beginning we are making to an end; Why then art thou still resolving, and resolving, when thou hast no security for thy life? This night, this day, thy soul shall be taken away from thee. Oh thou mortall man, and lump of clay, thou that art but so much dust before the wind, how darest thou put off becoming a new man?

Use Of exhortation, Let not this Subject be preached in vain unto you. The ne∣cessity * and excellency of it, might be our constant Theme: we might sit down as soon as ever we have read the Text, and say, This is the summe of all. Doe not de∣ceive your selves; as if thy old wayes thou hast lived in will leade thee to hap∣pinesse. If these were our inventions, if they were our words and perswasions one∣ly, you might easily reject them, but being the assertions and plain commands of the Word, how can you but hear and tremble! and above all motives let this prevail, viz. The wonderfull comfort, joy and peace of conscience you will have in think∣ing, That I am not as I have been; such and such sins have been committed: but oh (blessed be God) I have forsaken them: you would not be what you were once for all Solomons wealth. Alas! What torments and hellish pangs did you, while old servants to sin, feel? What gripes and stings, that thou livedst so, and wast not changed into a new man!