Spiritual refining: or A treatise of grace and assurance Wherein are handled, the doctrine of assurance. The use of signs in self-examination. How true graces may be distinguished from counterfeit. Several true signs of grace, and many false ones. The nature of grace under divers Scripture notions or titles, as regeneration, the new-creature, the heart of flesh, vocation, sanctification, &c. Many chief questions (occasionally) controverted between the orthodox and the Arminians. As also many cases of conscience. Tending to comfort and confirm saints. Undeceive and convert sinners. Being CXX sermons preached and now published by Anthony Burgess sometime fellow of Emanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and now pastor of the church of Sutton-Coldfield in Warwickshire.
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.

SERMON XLVI.

The New Creature is Gods Workmanship, also its necessity and dignity.


EPHES. 2. 10.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained, that we should walk in them.

I Have chosen this Text as an additional to the further explication of this New Creature you have heard so much of: That as continu∣all dropping doth at last make an impression into a very stone, so a constant information, and application of this Doctrine, may in the close make a powerful change on you. To understand the Text, we must take notice of the coherence, as the very first word For, dothadvertise us. In the begining of this chapter the Apostle after a most divine and admirable manner, describeth the whole nature of our justification, regeneration, and salvation.

1. From the Efficient cause, God rich in mercy; with the impulsive cause, For his great love wherewith he loved us.

2. From the Meritorious, or as the Logicians call it, the Procatarcticall cause, moving God from without, through Christ Jesus.

3. From the Final cause, To shew forth the exceeding riches of his Glory. From this description so magnificent and full of spiritual glory, ariseth verse 8. a sure and solid proposition, By grace ye are saved: From the first to the last, all is of Grace: And grace that is without us, viz. The good love of God, not any dwelling in us. We are saved: Salvation is here either put for justification, because by that we are intituled to heaven, or else we are said to be already saved, because we have the seal and pledge of it here; and it is begun in us, and also we have a sure right to it: Page  284 and qui jus habet ad rem, rem ipsam videtur habere: some understand salvation, as much as a purgation, or deliverance from sin; for as sin is called death, so free∣dome from it, may be called life and salvation: it comes all to one. In the next place we have the instrumental cause of our salvation, and that is Faith: And lest we should be thought to have this faith of our selves, as if God indeed gave his mercy & grace to those that believe, but we did believe by our own power; God giveth the Oyl, and we bring the vessel to receive it, he presently addeth, and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God: And as if the spirit of God would herein expresly provide against all those subtile opinions that craftily undermine Grace, he further addeth by way of opposition, Not of works, giving also a reason of the whole, lest any man should boast: Whereupon my Text is brought in as a reason to prove all is of Grace, For we are his workmanship. The strength of this argu∣ment lyeth upon that rule in Logick, Nothing can be a cause and effect too, in the same consideration. But our works and holiness, they are the effects of his grace: We are his workmanship, therefore they cannot be a cause; and yet lest by magnify∣ing of Grace, and setting up of faith, excluding all that we do, he might seem to justle out good works, and an holy life, he saith, We are created in Christ to doe them, onely they are effects flowing from grace, not causes producing grace. I shall at this time ouely insist upon the Apostles reason set down generally in the Text. We are his workmanship,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, his figment, translate some, his Creature, others; our translators well, His workmanship. He doth not speak of our naturall making, the forming of our bodies in the womb, and infusing a soul, but of our spiritual renovation. Neither doth it signifie any kinde of workmanship; but a cu∣rious, and exact one: In which sense, verses are called Poems, as consisting of ex∣act measure, and quantity. It may be an allusion to those expressions the Old Testament useth about the people of Israel, which God formed a people to himselfe, Deut. 32. 6. Isa 43. 21. especially that place, Isa 43. 7. is remarkable, I have created him for my glory, I have formed him, yea I have made him: where Mer∣cer observeth a gradation; God by degrees did make Israel a glorious people, as he made the world by degrees, he created them, he formed them, that was a further work upon them; yea he made them, that was the fulnesse and comple∣ment of all.

Doct. That all those who are renewed in a spiritual manner by God, are his work∣manship.*

For the opening of this, consider these things as introductory.

First, That we become Gods workmanship, or his people (for it is all one) upon se∣veral grounds and titles: as *

1. By conquest and victory. Satan is called The prince of the world, John 12. 31. And he rules in the hearts of the disobedient, Ephes. 2. He kept the whole world as his own Castle; but when Christ a stronger then he comes, the prince of this world is judged, and cast out of his possession John 16. 11. And now Christ having thus conquered, we become wholly his: Even as the people of Israel are said to be the people that God had made for himself, because he destroyed all their enemies for them, and delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh: So it is here, The people of God are his workmanship, because delivered by the mighty power of God from all their spiritual adversaries, that we being delivered from our enemies, might serve him without fear all the daies of our life, Luke 1. 74. Therefore never think thou art Gods workmanship, till thou see thy self set at liberty and free∣dome from those snares of Satan thou wert held captive in. If God hath not sub∣dued those lusts that war against thy soul, thou art as yet sins and Satans, not the Lords. Observe that expression of Peter, 1 Pet. 2. 11. Abstain from lusts which war against the soul: Thy ungodlinesse is a war-like adversary against thee: Thou fearest the enemy that may take away thy life, thy goods; but thou fearest not thy sins that are in battel aray to deprive thee of God. Oh therefore say unto thy soul, Oh my soul, Why lovest thou to be in this dark Dungeon? Why are these Page  285 cords and chains of sin so pleasing to thee? Oh pray to God that he would save thee and deliver thee from those sins, thy deadly enemies.

2. We are Gods people, and so his workmanship in respect of his gracious Cove∣nant*and promise, for that is the tenor of the Covenant of Grace so often mentioned, I will be their God, and they shall be my people Jer. 31. 33. 2 Cor. 6. 16. So that to be Gods workmanship in this sense, is the greatest honour and priviledge we are capable of. Happy is the people whose God is the Lord, Psal. 144. 15. Yea, hap∣py is the people: the Psalmist speaks it comparatively to all those outward blessings, that are there reckoned up: And indeed to have God our God, is the treasure of all happinesse and comfort; For then his omnipotency, his wisedome, his good∣nesse, all his attributes are for thy use and advantage. It is to have the Fountain, the summ, the Treasurie of all good: It is the Divines rule, That we must not go to an absolute God, but relative one, considered in the relation of a gracious Co∣venent: For hereby God hath bound himself; and though we cannot plead our worth, yet we may his fidelity and truth: Though we cannot urge our works, yet we may his words: So that if we look into the Original of this workmanship, we shall finde it to be the onely Grace of God: Gods word is gone out of his mouth; and so being once passed under this rod, as the Scripture expresseth it, Ezek. 20. 37. we may boldly urge at the throne of Grace, Oh Lord, it was once free to thee whether thou wouldst own us or no, do good to us or not, but since thou hast entered into promise with us, thou canst not deny thy self. So that to be Gods work∣manship, Gods people, is to be had as it were into the mount of Transfigurati∣on, and God shews thee all the glory of heaven, and saith, All this will I give thee.

3. We are his workmanship or people by purchase, and that at a dear rate, even by the*blood of Christ. Thus Christ is said, To purchase to himself a peculiar people, zea∣lous of good works, Tit. 2. 14. And herein that holds true which was told you not long since, That it costs Christ more to make us his people, then to create the world; for there it was but his word, saying, Let there be light, and there was light: But here it is his death and sufferings, to redeem us from our former evil waies. This should make us even startle, and be astonished at the noisome, and foul guilt of sin, which plungeth us into an irrecoverable losse, unlesse by Christs blood we are set at liberty: Every sin is the price of Christs blood. Now herein people do much deceive themselves; they look for salvation by Christs blood, but not for a free∣dom from the power of sin, whereas the blood of Christ doth not onely cleanse away guilt, but it also makes white and fruitfull to every good word and work.

Lastly, Which is most proper to this Text, we are his people and workmanship by a gracious renovasion, and making all things new in us. God once made us after * his image, but we soon defaced that superscription: That therefore we may be his again, he makes us the second time after his image again; and in this sense we are here called his workmanship: God takes away our rubbish, and all our filth, and makes us a fit Temple for the Holy Ghost to dwell in. In this sense the Psalmist speak∣ing of the Church, saith, It is he that hath made us, and not we our selves, Psal. 100 3. A the wilderness doth not make it self a Paradise, nor the weed a flower; no more can a people wallowing in their sin, and tumbling in their filth, make themselves an holy Temple unto the Lord. This is the Lords doing, and it must be marvellous in the eyes of all those that behold it: As God is said to create new hea∣vens, and a new earth, so he sometimes makes new inhabitants to dwell therein. *

Secondly, That it is a wofull thing to be the workmanship of God by Naturall creation, and not his workmanship by gracious Renovation. It had been better for thee never to have been born, never to have been Gods creature in the first ma∣king, if thou art not his creature in the second making. Thus our Saviour said of Ju∣das, It had been better for him he had never been born, Mark 14. 21. Some Scholastical Page  286 heads have thought the very natural being of a man, to be so great a good, as that in reason a man would chuse rather to be damned, then not to be at all: And there∣fore they expound that speech of our Saviours concerning Judas, to be true only in regard of the sensitive part of a man, but not his rational. But this cannot hold: for

1. Damnation is the inflicting of an infinite evill upon a man, so far as he is ca∣pable of it, and the depriving him of an infinite good. Now to be, or to have a * life, is but finite, limited good: If therefore thou art not Gods gracious work∣manship, it had been better if thou hadst been a Toad, a Serpent, yea, nothing at all, then to be a man: And if men in the extremity of their bodily paio, have curled the day that ever they were born, as we read Job and Jeremiah, though it was their great sinful impatience to do so: How much rather must they cry out so in hell, where there is not one drop of hony in all the gall they have? Not the least drop of water can be had to cool so much as the top of their tongue. Why then do not your ears tingle while they hear this? Art thou not a New Creature? Hath not God made thee all over anew? Oh miserable man! Alas that ever thou wert born! How often wilt thou wish in the horror of thy conscience, thou hadst never been a man? Why dost thou rejoyce in thy wealth, in thy greatness, in thy comforts, and hast no true godliness to rejoyce in? If thou hadst all Solomons wealth, and Me∣thusalems daies to enjoy it, yet if not Gods workmanship, wo be thee that ever thou wert born!

2. Thou hadst better never have been Gods natural creature, if not this gracious creature; because this natural life is fraughted with many miseries and troubles, so*that the grief is more then the joy: now to be miserable here, and miserable for e∣ver hereafter, is misery in its height. Man that is born of a woman is of few daies, and full of trouble, Job 14. 1. But man that is born of God, is incorruptible, and everlasting, and full of peace and joy in the holy Ghost. Alas, all thy comforts in this life, which are but few, they hang but upon a thred of thy uncertain life: so that as the heathen said, when one was commending the riches, and wealth of mer∣chants, Non amo faelicitatem è funibus pendentem, I do not love that wealth which hangs upon ropes, if they break the ship miscarrieth. We may say of all comforts: We love not that profit, that pleasure which hangs upon thred: Why then dost thou not betake thy self to some solitary & serious contemplation? saying, What is my life worth? wherein am I more happy then beasts? then that Toad that creeps there, if I be not made a new Creature?

3. Therefore better never be born, then not be this workmanship of God, because hereby a man is frustrated of his end, and that true happiness which ought to be the*study and endeavours of all. Man as he was created with more remarkable excel∣lency then other Creatures, therefore you have the Scripture bringing in God, as it were, consulting with others, Let us make man after our own image; so was be ordained to a more sublime and glorious end, which was to enjoy God, and hate eternal communion with him; and the means to partake of this beatitude, was the image of God, a pure and holy nature. Now when we lost, or fell from this means and help, we also Apostatized from that glorious end: And by this means in stead of everlasting happiness, meet with everlasting horror and damnation: So that if the blessedness of every thing lye in its proper and sutable operations after the most perfect manner, to its proper end, then are we become most miserable, who are turned both out of the way to, and end of all happiness. Oh that men should not more consider the end why they are made, the end why God gives them to live and move and have a being, is it to eat and drink and satisfie thy llsts, and at last go down into hell in a moment? Oh be not as bruit beasts, that perish without understanding.

In the third place observe this, That as here in the Text we are called in the*general Gods workmanship, so in other places we have the particular kinde of work∣manship expressed; For Gods word doth use several similitudes to expresse our rela∣tion Page  287 to God, that so what one is not emphatical to declare, the other may do it. Thus we have handled the relation of Sons, which is more then his workman∣ship; for an house is the Artificers workmanship, but it is not his Childe, and therefore he hath not such endeared affections to it. In other places they are called, The wife of Christ, to shew their intimate conjunction, That they are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh; but in other places the Workmanship of God, under the instance of an house. As a man dwels in his house, so God doth not only make us his people, but he dwels in us afterwards: Now how rich and glorious must that soul be, who hath Christ lodging and resting in it? He that sits in his Glory at the right hand of God, doth also abide and dwell in thy heart. In other places, this workmanship is not only called an House, but a Temple, 1 Cor. 3. and that denoteth more then an House, viz. a peculiar destination and consecration of it to God. Thus every godly man converted is made a Temple of the holy Ghost. Its peculiarly dedicated to God; so that lusts and Satan have nothing to do there. Thus you see what kind of Workmanship we are, Gods House, Gods Temple. Oh the marvellous dignity and purity that ought to be in every New Creature! How comes Owls and Satyrs, lusts of darknesse to be in the Temple of the Lord! sometimes we are his Workmanship of a Vine-yard, or a pleasant Garden, as the book of Canticles signifieth, planted as Eden was by God himself? Now how come briars and brambles up in Gods Garden? So that the consideration of our being Gods Workmanship should make us take heed there be nothing of sins, or the Devils workman∣ship in us.

In the fourth place consider, Wherein Gods Workmanship as we are New Crea∣tures,*surpasseth that as we are creatures; And herein we must remove one false difference that is assigned in Popery, which is this, God indeed (say they) made us without our selves, there was not our Will or Consent required to it; but he doth not new make us, or cause us to be New Creatures without our Will; and they bring that old saying of Augustines, Qui fecit te sine te, non justificabit te sine te. He that made thee without thy own power, he will not also convert thee without thy own power. But the Scripture makes us wholly passive in that first work of grace. Although it be also true, That in being made New Creatures, we are not without understanding and a will at that time, but there is no natural imbred power in us to turn our selves unto God, as the very phrase Workmanship and Created do import; and truly this is the end of the Apostle in this part of the Chapter, to exclude every work of ours; for if it be never so little, we may boast at least so farre, but there is a vast difference in the original and cause of the one and the other.

First, God made the world, and with other creatures, man as the epitome of all,*out of his general love and goodnesse. He did not create from natural necessity, as Bees make their Hives and Honey, or as the Sunne communicateth his light, but voluntarily and out of his meer love, Ex indulgentiâ, not indigentiâ. Bernard. So that it was Gods goodnesse to thee to make thee a man, and not a toad, or a serpent: But the original of making us New Creatures is a special and more peculiar love. As Jacob loved Joseph with a special love, and as a sign thereof, gave him a party-coloured Coat: So God with a special favour is carried out to such whom he converts, and bestoweth on them the choice Ornaments of Grace. Hence it's never called Gods Grace, that he made the world; we doe not attribute it to Gods Grace properly that we live and have a be∣ing, but to his Love and Goodnesse. But the Scripture doth peculiarly ap∣propriate it to the Grace of God, that he elects us, justifieth, sanctifieth and glorifieth us.

A second Difference is, In regard of the acts and works of God in his administra∣tion*and dispensation towards them; For God dealeth with man as a Creature Page  288 in the way of a general Providence, and so man as a Creature meerly is looked unto, as the Beasts of the field, and the Fowls of the air, only in a more noble Degree, because he is a more noble Creature: but now Gods dealing to his New Creatures, is in a way of Predestination, and a Covenant of Grace; so that even the very outward Mercies that the New Creature hath, come from a sweeter and more comfortable spring, then they doe to a meer man; for thy very Food, Health, Raiment, and all thy daily outward Mercies, they are the fruit of Election, not of general Providence, and so they come from the same Love, which predestinated thee to glory, and doth justifie thy person: Oh what a ravishing consideration is this to every New Creature! How may he triumph with Paul, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods Elect? That which is but Providence to others is Predestination to thee.

A third Difference is, In regard of the Comforts, and supports God gives to*the New Creature, above those to the Old Creature. God giveth to man as a man, many outward humane Comforts, otherwise even to live would be an Hell; Insomuch that all life is for some Delight and Comfort. Thus God hath put into all mens hearts some Delight and Comfort, as a Cordiall against those many miseries they are to grapple with in this world. Hence some men take Comfort in one thing, some in another, according to their se∣veral inclinations; and when these humane Comforts are taken away, then their hearts break, and they have no more content in their lives. Thus God hath also provided admirable and wonderful Comforts and Supports for this New Crea∣ture, They rejoyce with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and that in the midst of all outward miseries, when all humane Comforts fail, Rom. 5. 1. This is like some Herb that will be green and fresh in the midst of Winter, when all other are dead or withered: Oh then the folly of those who cannot part with their pleasures of sinne, they think they shall part with all their joy then, and never have a comfortable day more. Alas, thou never hast true solid joy, till thou leave those sinful pleasures, as the Israelites had not Manna, till the Aegyptian Garlick was gone. Other differences might be mentioned, but because this is a fruitful point in the use of it, I come to the practical improvement of it.

And first, Are those who are converted Gods Workmanship, the choice and excellent worke of his hands? then let us Examine our selves, whose*workes are those we do? Are thy Lies, thy Oathes, thy Lusts Gods Work∣manship? Are these the good workes God hath ordained thee to walk in? Oh, if thou pretendest to be Gods Workmanship, why are there so many works of Sinne and Satan in thy life? It is strange that men doe not com∣mune with their owne hearts, and consider their lives no more. Where is their Faith? And why is their Conscience so asleep? for doe they not easily see themselves the Devils Workmanship, and are they not of him as their father? Oh do not think that any greatnesse or stoutnesse of stomack will bear thee out against God! When God at the day of Judgment shall summon thee to his Tri∣bunal, and ask, Whose workmanship art thou? Whose works hast thou done? Wilt thou not be presently confounded before God and the whole world, not knowing what to say or do?

Are the people of God his workmanship? then here is ground for many com∣fortable considerations. As *

First, Thou groanest under the defect of grace, thou mournest for thy imper∣fect Faith, imperfect Love, imperfect heavenly-mindednesse. Oh consider * thou art Gods Workmanship, and he will make all perfect at last, never fear that sinne, Satan or the world can destroy the work of God; Christ came to de∣stroy the works of the flesh, and the Devil; The Devil cannot destroy the works of Christ, Christ did cast out Devils from men, but the Devils cannot cast Christ out of the heart. Oh then be not cast down and inordinately dejected Page  289 with thy rude, confused and disorderly heart, for God will at last put all into ex∣cellent order. Never think that God is like that foolish Builder, who began to build, and could not make an end; No, God will make every grace in thee per∣fect, ere he hath done with thee.

Secondly, Its ground of great Comfort in all thy sad temptations and miseries, * whatsoever thy burden be. Thou art Gods Workmanship, and so he cannot but pity thee. The Psalmist, Psal. 103. speaks of us as Creatures. He knoweth what we are made of, he considers that we are not as brasse or iron, but brittle clay, and he heareth the young Ravens when they cry to him; Now if God shew such pity to all things, because his natural Creatures; what compassion will he shew to his gracious Creatures? Oh therefore pray fervently unto God, Lord, are we not thy Workmanship? Thou that hearest the cry of Ravens, wilt thou not hear the cry and groans made by thy holy Spirit in us? Even the Sea-monsters draw out their brests to their young ones, and Lord, wilt not thou behold us thy chil∣dren, and relieve us in our wants? Many other comfortable Meditations might be sucked out of this Point, sweeter then the honey or the honey-comb.

The last Use of Instruction, to such who are the Workmanship of God, Oh do * nothing to blurre and soil this curious work of God in thee. If God hath made thee excellent and holy, wilt thou with these new cloathes upon thee go and roll in the dirt, when sin or the world tempts thee? Remember that thou art Gods Workmanship, Shall the Heavens become like a noisome dunghill? Shall the works of flesh and Satan be found in the Workmanship of God? You that are New Creatures, as you have exceeding great Priviledges, so also great Obli∣gations to holinesse; that wickednesse and ungodlinesse is not to be found in you, which is seen in the world.