SECT. V. Treating of the Nature of Grace under the name New Creature, with the Counterfeit of it.
Shewing the Necessity of the New Creature.
GAL. 6. 15.
THe Apostle at the 11th Verse concludeth this Epistle with a testification of his love and kindnesse to them: For his re∣proofs had bin sharp, yet love caused them, and that is good of Austins, Dilige, & loquere quod vis, Love, and then speak what thou wilt. The Argument of his love is seen in the length of his Letter; a large Letter argued large affections, and that with his own hand; whereas many of his other Epi∣stles were written by others. The second demonstration of his love is in warning them against false Apostles, whom he describes by their ambi∣tion and hypocrisie: Their hypocrisie, they desired〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an excellent word, To make a fair shew. As strumpets commonly more trim up themselves than grave Matrons, so falshood is more varnished and painted than truth. Then their am∣bition is described in affecting Disciples, Ambitio scenam desiderat, Ambition loves to have some look on and applaud. Lastly, there is the carnall advantage they look at, it is to avoyd persecution: For the Jewes being zealous of the Law, and per∣secuting to the death those that seemed to take it away; these false Apostles to avoid danger would retain the Doctrine of Christ, and the Ceremoniall Law also: Thus they were as Reeds shaken with every wind. Now the Apostle to oppose them, instanceth in the contrary grace in himself, God forbid that I should glory, save in the Crosse of Christ, &c. Persecutions for the Gospel I fear not, but glory in them; and hereupon layeth down a generall sentence, an excellent practicall Aphorism, In Christ Jesus neither Circumcision, or uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a new Creature. As if he should have said, you are wholly taken up in disputations a∣bout Page 246 Circumcision and uncircumcision, all your conference, all your studies run out about this; but the truth of grace lyeth not in these things. It is not any Privilege, any Sacrament, any external duty makes us acceptable to God if we are not new Creatures. The Apostle hath a parallel expression in the Chapter before, Chap 5, 6. 1 Cor. 7. 19.
Before I come to handle the nature of this new Creature, I cannot passe the pre∣heminence and superiority the Apostle giveth it to all other privileges and duties though never so glorious. From whence observe,
That no privilage, or duty in Religion, is acceptable to God, unlesse a man be a new*Creature.
Dost thou pray? unlesse a new Creature God owneth it not. Dost thou hear? unlesse a new Creature God regardeth thee not: As Joseph said to his Brethren, Unlesse bring Benjamin come not in my presence; Unlesse you come to holy duties as new Creatures, God loveth not to see you. This Doctrine is so necessary, and so worthy of all acceptation, that the Apostle addeth, Whosoever walketh after this rule (that is) as some expound, according to this position, that no externall duties are accepted without a new Creature) peace be on him and mercy. The receiving of this truth, is opening of the door for the peace of God to rest on you.
To understand this better, know, That the Apostle doth not speak this, as if ex∣ternal duties were to be omitted or neglected; for he that saith here, Circumcision a∣vaileth*nothing, doth in another place say, It profits much every way, Rom. 3. 2. and he calls it, The seal of the righteousnesse of faith, Rom. 4. 11. Thus the Or∣dinances of the New Testament, prayer, hearing, receiving of Sacraments, though they are nothing without Regeneration, yet they are duties commanded in their time and order. If a man should say, eyes, and eares, and a head are nothing without a soul; it doth not therefore follow, that they are not to be prized as mercies, when God gives us to enjoy both soul and body. Though the Chaff be worth nothing when the Wheat is not, yet it was a great defence and shelter to the Wheat when it covered it growing in the field. Outward duties are not to be opposed to the work of grace, but composed; you must not argue from one, to the destruction, but to the position of the other.
If a man should say, There are so many forms of Church-Government, and if a man be for this form, or the other, it is nothing unlesse a man be a new Creature; he saith truely: but to infer from thence, that Therefore it's no matter for that form which hath clearest testimony from Scripture, it is a great inconsequence; and the ground of all this is, Although outward duties, and the Religious forms God hath appointed, be not the essence of grace; yet being commanded by God, we are to use them, and thereby testifie our worship of him; and withall where true grace is, they doe increase grace, and by dayly frequent exercise therein, we come to an higher degree in holinesse; for they are the Pool, in which not an Angel, but God comes in with healing; they are the Garden, wherein Christ walks; they are the Feast, at which God himself is present; and for these spirituall effects, the Saints of God have such admirable ravishing expressions about them. Take heed therfore of that dangerous Rock on one hand, to neglect the ordinances, expecting immediate Revelations, and Enthusiasms; or on the other hand, a propliane con∣tempt of them, even as the Swine doth a Pearl.
Now let us consider, Why God careth not for those externall duties, without the work of Regeneration. If thou prayest and hearest in that old state thou wert born in, and not renewed, these duties are like wild Grapes. And,
First, Because God doth not graciously accept any man, but where he seeth his own likeness, his own similitude. Thus God made man at first after his own Image, that so * he might delight in him, and communicate happinesse to him, which Beasts were not capable of. Now this Regeneration is called, Ephes. 4. A renewing after the Image of God. It is a known Rule, That likenesse is a cause of love. And this Page 247 holdeth in some proportion between us and God: For although this new Creature of grace hath many imperfections and deformities in it; yet for the substance and main it's the likenesse and Image of God, and so for Christs sake he accepts of it.
Is it any wonder then, if the prayer, the hearing of a wicked man be an abho∣mination? for God seeth there the Devils likenesse, the resemblance of Satan, and how can he entertain such? Say then to thy self. I goe to pray, I goe to hear to day, but is there any thing of God in me, am I holy, as he is holy in some degree? If not, God seeth nothing but what he hates and abhorreth in me. Those outward duties they put not a divine stamp upon us, but this inward change wrought by God. How then is it, that you are no more sollicitous in this great matter? why should you not be as much afraid of praying without a new heart, as not praying at all; of hea∣ring without a new heart, as not hearing at all?
Secondly, God doth not regard outward duties unlesse we be new Creatures be∣cause *we are not able without this to perform them upon spirituall and supernaturall grounds: And unlesse all our duties be grafted upon this stock, they are no more than Brambles and Thorns fit for burning: now the supernaturall ground in pray∣ing and hearing is because of God, and in reference to him: Israel was an empty Vine, in all her duties, because she brought forth fruit for her self, Hos. 10. 1. she did not turn to God, even unto him. The Motive or Loadstone to draw our affe∣ctions in any spirituall exercise, must be Gods goodnesse, holinesse, and spirituall excellency: The Virgins love thee, because of thy oyntment powred forth, Cant. 1. 2. Christ raxeth his followers because of his loaves; and the Apostle reckoneth it as an Argument, That all old things are passed away, and all things are become new, be∣cause, they know no man, no nor Christ himself after the Flesh, 2 Cor. 5. They do not look for carnall advantages by Christ, but love him and obey him because of spiri∣tuall grounds; now a stone may as well flye up into the aire, as a man without this new Creature be carryed out in Religious duties upon spirituall grounds. A Beast may as well speak and understand reason as a naturall man discern and be affected with spirituall Motives; and yet if this be not, a man in all religious duties is like David in Sauls Armour, they are too big and great for him, he knoweth not how to manage them: Consider then, How can I pray, or hear upon those supernaturall Motives which God requires, if this new nature be wanting? How can Im prayer rejoyce in the promises of God, mourn because of the foul and loathsome nature of sinne, if there be not this good foundation laid? This then is all in all, and yet we doe not above all attend to this: Therefore as Paul said, commending the gifts of the Holy Ghost, speaking with tongues, working of Miracles, &c. Yet I shew y•u a more excellent way. So, though ye doe well in praying, in hearing, yet there is a more excellent and more necessary way, and that is to perform all these by a sancti∣fied, renewed principle within.
Thirdly, as Religious duties cannot be performed graciously without this, so, Neither is a man a fit subject to receive those spirituall benefits communicated by God*in them, without this. Unlesse a man be a new Creature he knoweth not what it is to have Communion and Fellowship with God in Prayer and Sacraments; He cannot taste of the comforts and joyes in the Holy Ghost; such expressions as those, I will come and sup with him, and he with me; and my soul panteth after the living God, when shall I come and enjoy him? he is not able to understand: There is in the spirituall discharge of holy duties, a very heaven, a comfortable enjoying of Gods presence; I will dwell with them, saith God, 2 Cor. 6. and yee are the Temple of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. 3. But (alas) these are unspeakable miseries to an un∣regenerate man. In all duties they have but the bone as it were, not the marrow; they stand in the Porch of the Temple, they doe not enter into the Holy of Holies; They doe not feel what David and Paul, and all those holy Servants of God have felt in Gods Word; what should move you more to seek after this new Creature than this? To think these Ordinances are but husks to me, and Manna to others; they are but a Wildernesse to me, when a Garden to others; others goe home bles∣sing Page 248 and praising God, as if they had been in a glorious transfiguration, but I re∣turn earthly and stupid. Oh why is all this, but because I want this new Creature; then it wouldbe new praying, and new hearing.
Fourthly, therefore no outward Duty or Privilege is accepted without a new * Creation, Because justification and this new Creature are inseparably united toge∣ther, and cannot be one moment divided from each other, Rom. 8. There is no con∣demnation to those who are in Jesus Christ, (there is Justification:) Who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit, (there is Sanctification:) Now seeing that justification is the ground of all acceptance both of our persons and duties, and this is alwayes concomitant with a new Creature; therefore without this, that hath necessarily adjoyned to it a ground of all acceptance, we can never be regarded by God. Oh therefore think with thy self, The prayer of a justified person is onely approved of, God hath first respect to Abel, and then to his Offe∣ring: You must not think by praying and hearing to get your persons accepted, but they must be first accepted, that your duties may; now this justification is of none but this regenerated person: Why should ye not hearken diligently to these things, for if all thy duties hitherto have not been accepted, thou art to begin a∣new, to lay a new foundation; and certainly it is the necessary duty that lyeth up∣on many persons, though Christians, to raze the very foundation they have built all their hopes upon; they have trodden in a road, judge of acceptance with God according to the principles of Reason, and the light of Nature, but have not infor∣med themselves out of Gods Word, for by that we must attain to those two great works of God, Justification and Sanctification; Justification to reconcile our Persons; Sanctification to make holy our Natures and spiritualize all our Duties; and if these two be not in us, God rejecteth all our Duties, as the Artificer in, his building doth some crooked stone that he cannot make straight.
Fifthly, God doth not accept our religious services without this new Creature, * because they cannot be so much as called good, and holy in a Scripture-sense without this. God saith not unto thee as unto the Centurion, Thy Prayers are heard; Neither doth God, as it's said of Noah's Sacrifice, smell a sweet savour, till thou art made new, and changed from thy Originall estate. For they are not good or well done, because to have a good action there is required all the conditions, Bonum est ex integris causis, malum e quolibet defectu, one defect is enough to make an action evil, but it cannot be good unlesse all circumstances are concurrent; now the Scripture, to have it good praying, good hearing, requireth; First, That the man himself be made good: Make the Tree good, and then the Fruit will be good; Cleanse the inside first: The heart is the good Treasure; so that a man cannot do any thing after a godly manner but by a renewed nature, he may doe it after a custo∣mary and seeming religious manner, so that men may admire it, but he cannot do it with a gracious foundation, till his nature be healed: Then as the principle must be good, so the manner also, that is, after a fervent, zealous and heavenly man∣ner, not with a meer lip-labour, or bodily presence; there must be motions and ear∣nest stirrings of heart: Take heed how you hear, and pray with groans unutterable: and lastly, as you heard all this must be to God, pleasing God, aiming at God, loo∣king at God, and not at man; so that all our spirituall duties are to be of him, and by him, and to him; and no wonder if so much be required to the right dis∣charge of any holy duty, for Aristotle requires as much to any virtuous action; He saith, That onely can be called a righteous action which is, justa, à justo, justa, from a just man, in a just manner; and so that is onely a godly duty, which is done by a godly man, in a godly manner, to a godly end.
Sixtly, This new Creature is looked after, rather than any outward duty, Be∣cause*in this true Christianism doth consist. A man is not really and properly a Chri∣stian, because Baptixed, because he professeth Christ, and worshippeth him, but because he hath this new Creature in him, and this is the scope of Paul in the Text: So that as in the time of the Old Testament, true Judaism, or the true be∣ing Page 249 of a Jew did not consist in being outwardly Circumcised, but it was in that of the heart, and he was a Jew which was so inwardly, Romans 2. Thus he is a Christian, not who is outwardly baptized, but who is inwardly anoin∣ted with the graces of Christ; for to be a Christian is to be an anointed one; and then of this inward Jew see what the Apostle saith, Whose praise is of God, not of men. It's God that is a Father of spirits, that looks to the hearts of men, that praiseth this Jew, this Christian. The denomination of every thing is from its chief and better part. We call a man reasonable, because of his soul the chief part of him; so a man is called a Christian, not so much because he prayeth, hea∣reth, cometh to Church, which is but like the body; but because these are done by a renewed nature within, which is like the soul. O then know, as every Profession hath its Art, its Skill, its Mystery, which a stranger hath not; so hath Christianity; there is a Mystery of praying, a Mystery of hearing, which the naturall man under∣standeth not.
Seventhly, If external duties were enough without this new Creature, then the way to heaven would be a broad easie way. Whereas the Scripture sets down a peremp∣tory * position clean contrary; Streight is the way, and strive to enter into it, and Few enter in it. But if no more were required to pray and hear then most men doe, it would be a broad way, every man would enter into it. There needs no striving, no agonies to such duties: A man in prayer must have a broken contrite heart; it is a Metaphor from a broken bone, which cannot be without much pain and torment; so a broken heart in a duty cannot be without much sense of grief, shame and spirituall confusion; and as when any thing is broken, we see what is in the midst of it, which did not appear before; so in a broken heart we discover all that foulnesse, all those loathsome Monsters, all that horrid impiety, which we had no acquaintance with before. And oh that this truth had got full possession in your hearts! Every religious duty, if rightly performed, puts the heart into a great agony: They are but few that can enter into this streight way: Therefore say, I fear my praying, my hearing, my walking is too broad a way, too large a way, it doth not wound deep enough, or affect throughly.
8. These externall duties are nothing without a new Creature, Because while*this is absent there cannot be faith to apply Christ, and bring him to dwell in the soul who onely is the meritorious cause of all acceptance with God. Without faith its im∣possible to please God. By faith we are justified, we have boldnesse: Now this faith cannot be but in a new nature; yea its made equivalent to this new Creature; for that which the Apostle calls here a new Creature, in the Chapter mentioned before he expresseth it, By faith working with love. As in the Holy of Holies every thing was Gold, or covered with Gold; so all that is accepted with God, is either Christ, or Duties covered with Christ. Til therefore thou art a new Creature, thou canst not put forth an act of faith, there wants that Hyssop which should sprinkle Christs bloud upon thee; and howsoever people may think and say they believe in Christ, yet its impos∣sible for them to doe it, till they be born again; for to believe in Christ is the great∣est grace, and so needeth the greater power of God.
Ninthly, thereupon it is, that we must be new Creatures in all our duties, because Gods Promise is onely to such duties that flow from such a Fountain. There is no * promise made singly to bare hearing, and bare praying, but to those that are done with a godly heart, with the whole heart: To those that are poor in spirit; to those that turn from their evil wayes, and all these properties are the fruit of the new Creature. If therefore there can be no promise, then there can be no ac∣ceptance: Now what a terrible consideration is this! Thou that livest in thy sins, thou that refusest to be reformed, yet thou prayest, thou hearest, think with thy self what promise is there in all Gods Word, that I may challenge. What Word of God is there to encourage me to pray in hope, to hear in hope; so that by this you see the absolute necessity of this point: Well might the Apostle say, Pace be onPage 248〈1 page duplicate〉Page 249〈1 page duplicate〉Page 250all those who walk after this principle, for to other there can be no just peace in all their prayers, and religious duties.
To conclude all; a new Creature must needs be more then all duties, Because*this onely gives life, vigour, and power to them: they are but dead works; as a dead eye, or a dead hand without this supernaturall life. This new Creature is the root that communicates all juice, and sap to these branches; This is the kernell, the other is but the shell: out of this renewed heart come renewed duties; so that as long as you are defective in this, whatsoever parts, abilities, inlargements you have in any duty, you are still defective in the main. All knowledge, all understanding, though it were equall to Angels cannot make a good prayer without a renewed heart. Bernard said well of Lucifer, the chief Angell that fell, Bonum erat si fu∣isset ignitus magis quum Lucifer; He had better have had the fire of love to God, than the light of knowledge; so it is here, it's better having a renewed heart, which is full of faith and love of God, than the greatest parts and assistance that can be.
Use 1. Of Instruction, That there is a just and great reason why men should at*well be troubled for not doing of duties with a renewed and regenerated heart, as for not doing them at all. Thou thinkest, Oh if I should never hear, never pray, I may justly be accounted an Atheist, one that hath no fear of God in my heart; this is a good thought; but think further, If I doe not pray and hear with a sanctified na∣ture, God casteth all my duties away, as so much dung. Consider, doth not the same God that commands thee to pray, to be baptized, to professe his Name, command thee also to have a new heart and a new spirit. Oh then sit down and bewail thy self, Lord how have I lived! What shall I do! whither shall I goe that have been carefull in the outward work of Religion, but not in the inward. God forbid that any should think this is to discourage you in your outward duties, to abate your willingnesse and diligence. No, these must also be done; but these are not all that are to be done; remember, God is a Spirit, and so must be served in Spirit.
Use 2. Of Exhortation, Be at last provoked to pray to God for this new Crea∣ture;* Think all thy Religion is like an house without a foundation, till this be ac∣complished in thee: Oh think God saith to thee every Sabbath day after every du∣ty private or publick, What is all this, If I have not your heart? say, I want the main, the soul, the life of all, while I want this: To pray, to hear, are duties too high for me to do in a right manner, till God cloath me with spirituall power from above; Think upon this very ground, so many shall pretend to heaven, and glory, yet by God will be rejected; for imagine there come men with parts and abilites, and they say, Lord we have done thus in thy name; but depart (saith God) ye were not new Creatures. The third and fourth kinde of hearers, they knock to have heaven opened to them, but depart, ye were not new Creatures. The foolish virgin• came with more hope to speed than any; but depart ye were not new Creatures. Oh it is this makes a Christian; This makes us have praise of God.
Shewing that the Production of the New-Creature is from God alone; and what Attributes are con∣spicuous in the Work.
GAL. 6. 15.
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; Ma•y 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 swi•sh 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!
Shewing what the New Creature doth not imply, and to what it is opposed.
GAL. 6. 15.
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.
Concerning the Supernaturality and Excellent Qua∣lities of the New Creature.
GAL. 6. 15.
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 laud•t, 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?
Answering those Carnall Objections men are apt to make against such a change in themselves.
GAL. 6. 15.
WE have already declared the nature of this New Creature, Negatively, Positively & Oppositely to those old things which are passed away: is also the excellency of this New creature above all other Creatures. I shall now examine the weaknesse and insufficiency of those grounds and obstructions which mens corruptions are prone to make against such a change in themselves; for the wicked heart of man makes many objections against this new creature; and that it may not seem to do so unjustly, and unreasonably, it maketh many plausible excuses and fair pretences: The Apostle James speaking of a man pretending to the title and name of religion, yet opposite to the reality and power of it. James 1. 26. saith 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, He deceiveth, he makes a false Syllogism, and so cousens his own soul. The heart of a man is a cunning Sophister; think not to say within your selves (saith John to the Jews) There are no Auditors; but when a pricking powerful truth is pressed upon them, they have many things to say within them∣selves for their justification.
Let us therefore see those strong reasons they can produce for themselves in this matter.
And First, It is plausibly Objected if we should become thus new in all things, in a∣nimal,*civil, religious, and moral actions, as is urged, this would bring a necessity of condemnation upon all our former waies. We shall in effect proclaim to all the world that we were naught and rotten before; and then we must pull down all our former building, acknowledge we have prayed in vain, came to the assemblies in vain, and lastly, it is enough to drive us into despair; for if once we be perswaded that the condition we are in is damnable, and that the life we live is abominable and contrary to God, What shall we do? Must we not cry out with Cain? Our sins are greater then we can bear.
Answ. Thus here is a three-fold cord of absurdity which bindes them hand and foot, although if they did judge of things after a spiritual, and a Scripture man∣ner, * they would break these bonds asunder as easily as Sampson did his green cords.
For let us consider them in order.
The First grand absurdity is a self-condemnation, and a publick manifestation to all the world that thou wast not in a good way before. Now it is unreasonable to pretend this.
Page 271 For 1. This is the very necessary ingredient in our conversion and turning to * God: For in that thou art not admitted to pardon and consolation, either God must be blamed, or thou must be blamed: seeing God was an adversary to thee, and thou an enemy to him, the fault is somewhere, and either God must acknow∣ledge (I speak with reverence) that he hath done ill to threaten thee, to afflict thee, to break thee, or thou must confesse the blame lyeth upon thee. Now it would be blasphemy to charge God so foolishly; but it is piety to charge thy self heavily; and what do the words 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Repent, or be wise after the fact? but imply that thou hast been foolish, and out of thy wits all the while thou livedst in such ungodly courses; so 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, admonition, which the ungodly man is with all readi∣nesse to receive, is as much as putting a mind, an understanding in a man, as if a man were a beast before, and when he is converted, God breaths a rational soul into him again, at least gives a sanctified, and right use of reason. Again the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Conversion, doth it not suppose an aversion, or a turning away from God? So that the reason thou bringest against this change, is most for it. Goliah is cut off with his own sword: Thou pleadest if thou art a new Creature, thou must condemn all thy former life, all thy by-past conversation: very good reason; For how is it repentance else? How is it conversion else? Neither is this such dishonour, for God onely cannot repent because of his infinite perfection, ha∣ving no ignorance in his understanding, or mutability in his will, which are the grounds of repentance: But as for man naturally corrupted and defiled, he is Ad ni∣hil aliud, quam paenitentiam natus, Born, at least new regenerated to do nothing but repent of his former conversation. Do not then think with thy self, If I leave my old life, my former courses, I shall confess a blame upon my self. Alas, in this ve∣ry thing lieth the great work of a new creature; in this particular thou art often to excercise thy self.
2. Stick not at this to shame and condemn thy former life: For this is the on∣ly * necessary qualification for thy admssion into grace. Thou must come with a sacrifice of atonement if thou wilt be accepted: That is, Christs blood which is on∣ly shed for those that feel themselves lost. If we confesse our sins, is often the con∣dition expressed, for the Scepter of Grace to be held out to us, Levit. 5. 5. 1 John 1. 9. And the Apostle Paul, If we would judge our selves, we should not be judged of the Lord, 1 Cor. 11. And David, He confesseth and bewaileth his folly, that God may be justified and cleared when he is judged, Psalm 51. God will receive a Publi∣can, not a Pharisee. If thou givest glory to God, by judging thy own ways, clearing him, though he should damn thee, this is the most compendious way to obtain grace. Plutarch saith, Some heathens in their supplications to their gods, would not carry either Gold, or Iron, or a staff into the Temple with them, but lay all aside when they went to pray, to signifie they did not trust in earthly wealth or greatness, but Gods goodness and power only. And thus it ought to be in our spiritual suppli∣cations to the true God, we must lay aside our own righteousness, and go to Christ, as the menstruous woman who had spent all she had upon Phisitians, yet could not be cured: Oh therefore be so far from fearing this duty, that rather thou wilt forwardly offer thy self thereunto: say the way to get honour and praise with God, is to dishonour my self, and magnifie him. His mercy in pardoning, his grace in forgiving, will be so much the more admirable, by how much unworthy and vile I am in my own eyes.
3. If thou art once sensible of the guilt and filth of thy old waies, thou canst not but*glory in that thou art changed. Paul said, When he was a child, he spake as a child, but when a man, as a man. Thou wilt say, When I was a beast, I lived as a beast, but since a new creature, as a new Creature. What profit have you of those things whereof yee are now ashamed? Rom. 6. 21. Thus Paul, With what shame and bit∣terness doth he recall his Blasphemies, and persecutions? 1 Tim. 1. 13. If there∣fore God hath once made thee ashamed of thy old waies, thou wilt not fear to ac∣knowledge all thy former life was out of the way: Thou wilt remember the daies Page 272 of old and be troubled: See how are Job and David affected with the sins of their youth; yea godly men are so far from fear of condemning themselves from for∣mer sins, that when their sins have been scandalous to the Church of God, they have acknowledged, and bewailed them in the publick assemblies: And this was that publick confession of sin and penance, which afterwards by popish Doctrines was so corrupted. If any of the Church had been overtaken by a foul sin, they had no peace in their hearts till they had thrown themselves down in the publick assemblies, crying out with him, Calcate me insipidum salem, Tread upon me as unsavory salt; No less wouldest thou do, if the glory of God, and the edification of the Church did require it for thy own sinful waies. Know therefore, that this ex∣cusing thy self, is but so much accusing of thee with God. Thou art afraid to be thought a new man, that thou hast done amisse heretofore: Oh if thou wert truly wrought upon, all the world could not make thee keep in those accusations and in∣dictments which thou makest against thy self daily at Gods tribunal.
4. A new creature sticks not at this self-condemnation, because those former wayes*repented of, are used as an advantage by him to set up the praise and glory of God in shewing mercy to him. Thus Paul, he is often willing to make mention of all for∣mer impieties, that so the grace of God may be made the more illustrious; and this is one reason why you have the sins of the Godly recorded in the Scripture to all eternity as it were. Noahs drunkennesse, Moses his unbelief, Aarons base com∣pliance in Idolatry, Davids Adultery and Murther, Peters Abjuration of Christ, not to defame them, but to have perpetual monuments of Gods grace & goodness to them. Thus the Apostle when he would stir up the Ephesians and others to thank∣fulnesse, and to admire the riches of Gods grace to them, he puts them in minde of their former conversation what they were once, Ephes. 2. and this they did not take ill, as a matter of upbraiding of them, but as a whetstone to sharpen their thankfulnesse. Why then shouldst thou be afraid to confesse thy self once out of the way? seeing this will make for Gods grace, which left the ninety nine sheep, and fetched thee home upon its shoulders who was gone astray.
A second Scarcrow that men pretend against this new creature is, That hereby they*must begin all anew, and pull down that whole building of religion which they thought was good and sure.
To Answer this, consider it is no new thing for many men to be such foolish * master builders in matters of religion, as that all must be taken down again; there is nothing more ordinary then to have some crack in the foundations: our Saviour doth fully clear this, when he speaks of one who built upon the sand, the winds blew, and tempests arose, and then the fall of that house was great, Mat. 7. 26. Thus also the Apostle chargeth the Galatians, Have ye suffered so many things in vain, Gal. 2. So that it is very ordinary for a people to go on many years in a rode of religion; and in the practice of holy duties, yet they do all these things in vain: All must be undone and a better foundation laid. If thou hast built hay and stuble, the fire will consume it all at last: Do not therefore do in thy spiritual condition, as bankrupts use to do in their temporal, never care to look to their accounts, afraid to consider of their debts, but still hope to rub it out, till at last all be too late: So many a man hath inwards thoughts and fears that his estate is not right, that this will never hold when he comes to account, but he is unwilling to dwel in his thoughts upon these things.
2. As this is ordinary, so we have plain instances in Scripture of men accustomed * a long time in the way of religious duties, yet this hath been earnestly urged to them to become New: Nicodemus a teacher in Israel, and so of long standing, and acquainted with the Scripture, in prayer often, yet unlesse he be born again, he can∣not enter into the Kingdom of heaven, John 3. And thus all those Jews that were converted by John Baptist, by Christ and the Apostles Ministry, they were all di∣ligent in that outward worship of God he had commanded, but by their preaching they saw a necessity of being born again: And this is the most happy, and necessary Page 273 lesson thou canst learn, to see thou must pray anew, hear anew, make an universal change in thy life.
3. Thou art the rather to make the more diligent enquiry here, because of all * vanities that is the soarest which is in religion. If it be found that thou hast thus many years come to Church in vain, not laid good foundations, and right principles, this is the most dangerous vanity of all: for to take pains in vain about temporall things, is but an outward momentary loss; but to pray in vain, to hear in vain, is a spiritual and eternal loss: Its an happiness for a traveller to know betimes that he is out of the way; but if he should travel the whole day in unseasonable sharp wea∣ther, and dangerous rodes, and then at night be told he is clear out of the way, What sad tydings would it be to him? And thus it is here: if a man should live for∣ty or threescore years in many sad exercises, and outward miseries, and when he comes to dye be truly told, Oh sir, you are quite out of the way to heaven, you have been travelling to hell this many years: How must he cry out, Oh why did not I think of this before? Why did I not know it before?
4. Let not the consideration of losing all that is past so much deject thee, as to * quicken thee up to be the more diligent for the future: As the Travaller goeth the faster when he knoweth he hath been out of the way; thus the Apostle, redeem the time, Ephes. 3. Thou must make up all thy former lost duties, by future fervency, diligence, and fruitfulness: say, Oh Lord, it troubles me that I loved thee so late, that it was so late e're I could do any duty after a spiritual godly manner; but now I shall press forward after the mark, I will labour to do much in a little time: Oh then think, If all my former time hath been lost, I have the greater cause to be up and to be doing.
And as for the Third pretended absurdity, That to question our former condition,*or to suppose it naught, would plunge us into despair: to that there are several An∣swers.
1. It argueth ignorance of the breadth, and depth of Original corruption to * argue so: Thou forgettest in what state thou art born, and how unclean thou art by natural propagation; otherwise if this were acknowledged, thou wouldst easily see that there is a necessity of being born again: What, thou wert not born with the image of God upon thy soul, Thou wert not born a Childe of Grace, but of wrath: As this corruptible body must put on incorruption, e're it can be made glorious, so this defiled soul must put on purity e're it can be made happy in hea∣ven. So that there is a necessity upon thee to conclude, That thou art wholly in sin, and shut up under wrath; thou must see thou art undon: And from hence it is that men desire not more this New Creature: they think their old life will serve. They perceive not the Ruines that are on their souls, and by this means rest contented, though in an undone estate.
2. Thou who art afraid of despairing, if all be found naught in thee, consider that*it is necessary thou shouldst despair and have no hope or stay in thy self, or any thing thou dost. For those loaden and burthened ones, who are invited to come to Christ, Mat. 11. can find no rest or ease in themselves till they come to him: Insomuch that none are further off from grace and mercy, then those who justifie themselves, as the Pharisees did. It is true, through the sense of sin to despair of the grace of Christ offered, and to neglect that salvation, is a crimson sin, and immediately oppo∣site to the Gospel; but to despair of our selves, and to have no hope in what we do, is a necessary qualification, and hereby we give glory to God; and therefore if we did despair more in our selves, our condition would be lesse desperate: And this is the condemnation of men, that they presume in the mercy of God, and blesse themselves in their hearts, when yet there is but a step between them and hell.
3. It is better despairing here with hopes, then despairing here after without any the*least ground of comfort. We had better know the worst here, while it may be prevented, then hereafter, when it will be in vain, Would not every one damned Page 274 in hell be a New Creature upon any terms, whatsoever it cost him, if it were pos∣sible? But we are foolish, like some foolish, infirm, and wounded person, who will not discover his wounds, nor make known his grief till it be too late: Lay it therefore home upon thy heart, and say, If I am afraid of the sight of sin here, What shall I do with it hereafter? If a spark be thus heavy and scorching, What will the whole flames be? Oh, but men are never wise till it be too late. Dives when he is in hell, then his eyes are opened, and he bewaileth his condition. Be assured of this, that God hath unchangeably decreed, thy sins shall be bitter to thee here, or hereafter. The word is gone out of his mouth, and it cannot be recalled: thou shalt either glorifie him by a voluntary confession, or by an extorted and con∣strained one hereafter: Therefore do not feed thy self with vain hopes, as if thou shouldst never find sin with a sting: no, at last it will bite like an Adder, and sting like a Scorpion, if it do not in this life.
And lastly remember, That trouble and pain which may be for a while in the pangs of this New creature, will be abundantly recompensed with the after joy and quietnesse*thou wilt have. Rejoyce in the Lord, ye upright in heart, and the Godly rejoyce with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, 1 Pet. 1. 8. Thou canst not imagine what sweet peace, and comfort of heart it will bring to thee, to think that once indeed thou wast captivated to such and such sins, but now thou hast broken those snares. Paul once a bitter adversary to the wayes of God, How much doth he rejoyce in the change made upon him? How often doth this New Creature cry out with gladness and thanks-giving, he would not for a world be as once he was? If he might have all the glory on earth, he would not live as he hath lived: And thus we have dis∣pelled that objection, grounded upon a three-fold absurdity.
A Fourth Objection, or Obstruction against this New Creature, Is the strictness and singular exactness of it. Not onely gross sins to be cast away, but even all lawful affections to be moderated, and dieted: They must not do as the world, not live as the world: this is to put themselves into a misery, as he said, Qui medicè vivit, misere vivit, because he must be so temperate, and abstemious in those things to which his appetite carrieth him. Now this cavill is wholly unreason∣able: for
First, Thy very Christianity, and the profession of it, carrieth thee not to do as men of the world doth. So that thou must either lay aside thy christianity, or else be * exact in thy life, and singular to the manners of the world. The Church of God is compared to a woman clothed with the Sun, and the moon under her feet, Revel. 12. 7. Doth not the Apostle exhort us, Not to be fashioned unto the world, Rom. 12. 1. We are not to have their fashion upon us: And why are we called a Church, but because we are called out of the world, and so have not our conversation ac∣cording to the principles thereof? And the Apostle James calls it Pure religion, and undefiled, to keep our selves unspotted from the World, James 1. 17. If therefore drunkennesse, lusts, pride, earthlinesse, immoderate affections to these things below, be things of the world, thou art no more to conform to them, then light to dark∣ness; and howsoever the world accounts those men of the best fashion, who are rich, great, and honoured, yet the Scripture saith, they are of the best fashion, who are not fashioned to the manners of the world: by this argument thou shouldest still lie in thy Paganisme, and Heathenisme; For why shouldst thou come out of the world in respect of thy faith, and not also in respect of thy life? Thou wouldest have a better faith then infidels, Why not also a better life? Answer that, if thou canst, God hath not only called us to imbrace his Doctrine, but unto holiness.
2. Thou complainest this is an exact strict way, full of difficulties: Is it not true this of every good thing? Is there any good thing either natural or moral to be ob∣tained * without much labour? so that the difficulty makes for the excellency of it: Strive to enter in at the straight Gate, Luke 13. 14. For the way to destruction is a broadway. You cannot get so much as the bread and food of your bodie with∣out the sweat of your brows: and think you to get the salvation of your souls so ea∣sily: Page 275 Learning cannot be obtained without great pains and study: Sudavit & al∣sit, saith he: If therefore this new creature be so difficult and rare, so hardly to be obtained, then thou hast the greater reason to presse the more about it. Thou art to fear the way thou walkest in is too broad a way: Thou must be a Jacob wrest∣ling, before thou canst be an Israel prevailing: You must run in a race, e're you can obtain a Crown: and indeed that Crown of glory is so rich and glorious, that these are but siliquae laboris, as Austin called them, the husks of labour in respect of that Manna hereafter.
3. Thou complainest of labour and paines, if thou dost observe it, every man takes*more pains to go to hell. A servant to sin is a far greater slave and drudge, then a servant to righteousness. Take the Adulterer, How doth he watch for the twi∣light? How full of fears and hopes to accomplish his lusts: Take the Ambitious man, How doth he break his sleep, toil his mind, and consumeth himself to accom∣plish his designe? Take the covetous earthly man. How is his soul pierced through with many cares? And how doth he drown himself in thoughts and fears about his estate? So that thy service in the wayes of Godliness would be far more comfor∣table, quiet, and profitable, then those of sin and Satan. It is a known story of Pambo, who seeing a strumpet taking pains about the dressing her self to please her Mate, cryed out and said, He could not take as much pains to please God; and this will appear true; men take more pains, are more turmoiled in going to hell, then they may be in going to heaven.
The last impediment I shall insist upon is, The reproach, contempt, and persecution*that doth follow this new creature, even as sharp pricks attend the sweet roses. Now to Answer this.
1. Our Saviour saith, Blessed is he that is not offended at me, Mat. 11. 6. The very * Doctrine of Christ, and the Christian faith is subject to all manner of slanders to the enemies thereof: Yet for all that thou art not ashamed of the Gospel, or the Protestant religion: To believe in a crucified God, What matter of reproach was it? What names were given Christians by way of contempt? And if the faith of Christ be subject to persecution, yet thou darest not Apostatize from that, Why then from the power of Godlinesse, though subject to troubles? How often doth the Scripture forwarn us in this respect? That we are not to think the fiery try all strange, 1 Pet. 4. 12. And we are to know that we are appointed to all afflictions and troubles in this world, 1 Thes. 3. 3. This demonstrateth the excellency of a New Creature: For if it were of the world, the world would love it as his own, John 15. 19.
2. These troubles and persecutions are not a misery, if rightly apprehended, but*are a blessing. Blessed are ye when men speak all manner of evil against you for my names sake, Mat. 5. 10, 11. And thus the Apostles when they were persecuted, went away rejoycing that they were accounted worthy to suffer any thing for Christs sake: they are several waies a blessing; for first, The more they are affl•cted, the more of Gods Grace and support is vouchsafed unto them. The spirit of Glo∣ry rests on them, 1 Pet. 4 14. If they be upon Mount Calvary, they shall also be upon the Mount of Transfiguration. Nihil crus sentit in ligno quando animus est in Coelo, said Tertullian. Again they are a blessing, for they have a blessed operation. This fire is more precious then that which tryeth Gold: this is the file to get off the rust: the winnowing to blow away their chaff: And lastly, they are a blessing in the event, for they work an everlasting weight of glory, so that these troubles should not be discouragements to thee.
Use of Exhortation, Not to hearken to any of those cavils, or prejudices thy heart*may be filled full with, against this New Creature. Say, It is no longer disputing: shall I become a New creature? Is it wisdome to change my former life? But fol∣low the Scripture, and do as that directs thee. Oh if there were nothing but the peace and joy that accompanieth this life, that were enough to set thy heart on edge after it. It will be no grief of heart to thee to think of thy prayers often, thy Page 276 frequent exercises of grace. To dye a new Creature, is the putting of thee into a possession of eternall glory: But who hath believed our report? who begins to feel in himself hungrings and thirstings after this estate? who saith, I will return to God from whom by sinne I have wandred, for so it will be better with me than in all my sins? Alas, It's this new creature onely which hath the promise of this life, and of that to come.
Shewing the Counterfeit of the New-Creature.
GAL. 6. 15.
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!