SECT. VI. Handling Grace as Gods workmanship, and Good VVorkes as the end thereof.
The New Creature is Gods Workmanship, also its necessity and dignity.
EPHES. 2. 10.
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.
That God gives Graces to the most indisposed.
EPHES. 2. 10.
THe first Proposition in this Text, (viz. We are his workmanship) hath been al∣ready handled; I now proceed to the further illustration of it in this present Verse; and there is observable;
- First, the manner of this workmanship; Created.
- Secondly, the meritorious cause; Through Jesus Christ.
- Thirdly, the finall cause; To goodworks.
My businesse at this time will be to describe the manner of this workmanship, Created; And here I shall not touch upon what hath already been observed about this action, but consider it in another distinct notion, which is this;
As God at the Creation made the earth which was without form and void, and so Page 290 wholly indisposed, to bring forth fruit, by that word of command and blessing upon it, when he said, Let the earth bring forth grasse and fruit. Even thus of disorderly, wicked and most indisposed men to any godly actions, he doth by his grace make us prepared and fitted to every good work. Now that it might wholly appear to be of Gods blessing and power meerly, that the earth did bring forth fruit and grasse, observe Gods Providence herein; For he gives this command to the earth, before he had made a Sun, and before there was any rain, so that all must acknowledge this fruitfull and germinative power in the earth to be meerly of God. There was no more at first in the earth to bear fruit, than in any stones or dry wood. Even such an admirable work of God is this spirituall change which he makes upon men. For those who formerly were enemies, and adversaries unto all godlinesse, they become lovers and delighters in it. Oh how necessary and comfortable is it to preach of this mighty work of God? for hereby we hope, that God may create some such auditors, and make to himself a holy and godly people out of those who before were prophane and ungodly.
Such is the great and mighty work of God, that he makes those, who where altoge∣ther*unfit and averse from what is godly and holy, to imbrace and delight in it. Thus God is said to be able to raise up Children to Abraham out of stones.
Every time thou seest an ignorant prophane man made a believer and holy, then is a very stone made Abrahams childe; every time you behold a wicked and wretched sinner, praying, humbling himselfe, and reforming his life, you may then wonder and say; Behold how God makes Grapes to grow of Thorns, and Figs on Thistles; when God makes Matthew a Publican to leave his gainfull sinnes, and to follow him; when he causeth Mary Magdalen to bewaile and forsake her former lusts, God doth as he did at first Creation, out of a confused and unformed heap, make a glorious world. Therefore the Apostle useth that expression, God who worketh light out of darknesse, 2 Cor. 4. 6. implying that God did not once only at the Creation, work light of darknesse, but still he doth it daily. Even as often as he makes the Word of God to enter into mens hearts. So that we may say even of the worst and prophanest of people, as the Prophet did to God, when God asked him, Can these dry bones live? Ezek. 37. 3. So, Can such a people, so stupid, so carelesse, so rebellious, be prepared to every good work? O Lord thou knowest! that is, O Lord, its in thy power, thou canst do whatsoever thou pleasest! A Camel with his big bunch on his back hath no di∣sposition or fitnesse to enter a needles eye, yet God can make it do so. Though we deny there is any transubstantiation, God cannot (and Potentissimè non potest) or rather one substance cannot be changed into another, and they retain their pro∣per dimensions and qualities; Yet in every conversion of a sinner, there is a soul∣transmutation in respect of the qualities thereof, darknesse is made light, gall is made honey. This glorious conquest over mens hearts is prophesied of as the great glory of Christs Kingdom, Isa. 11. 6. The Wolf and the Lamb shall lie down toge∣ther, &c. That cursed enmity shall be removed, when God shall take away the poisonous nature of evil men. Thus Isai. 29. 18. The deaf shall hear, and the blinds shall see, and vers. 24. They that erred in spirit and murmured shall learn Doctrine, who more unlikely to hear then refractory and rebellious men? yet these shall un∣derstand.
To explain this Doctrine, let us view the truth of it in particulars. As *
First, God in this spiritual change makes a people unfit, unpolished, and every wayes indisposed, sutable, and enclining to what is holy. Every man naturally lies like a rude stone in the quarry, it must be polished and come under much sawing and cutting ere it can be put into the building. Hence an upright heart sometimes is called by a word that signifieth a polished heart, the roughnesse and ruggednesse of it is taken away. Thus the work of renovation is expressed by taking away an heart of stone, and giving an heart of flesh. Take a stone and you can make no impression upon it, whereas flesh is pliable and tender. Now this ruggednesse Page 291 and unpreparednesse of people to become godly, how universal is it? Though many John Baptists, are A voice crying, Prepare a way for the Lord, yet the Mountains are not made low, or the valleys exalted to make an even and plain way, till God prepare all. That Orphaeus so much celebrated by the Heathens for his musical Harp, thereby taming the wilde and savage Creatures, as also making Trees and Bushes to runne after him as ravished with his Musick, is nothing but a wise Magistrate, by wholsome and good Laws making a barbarous people, ci∣vil and righteous. But how much rather may the Word of God be called that Harp which changeth Beasts into Angels, and makes rude and sottish people holy? And certainly all people generally are such a barren wildernesse, that if we do look to mans power meerly, we should despair of ever seeing them made pleasant Gardens. And as all new Plantations finding a people uncivilized, and the ground unhusbanded, need a world of pains and diligence to bring them into good order; so the several Dispensations of Gods Word, in divers places, which are like spiritual Plantations, need much labour, preaching, instruction and exhortations, ere they are fitted for heavenly operations. Let us therefore make you look up unto Heaven, imploring that omnipotent power of God; Oh say, Lord, bid these dry bones live! These crooked Trees to become straight: say, Lord, I have no fitnesse in me to pray, to hear, to do what is godly: O do thou prepare and sit the heart!
Secondly, Of a people wholly impotent and unable, God in this spiritual Renovatior, he makes able and strong in some measure to do things pleasing to him. That womb of * the soul which was so barren that no humane power could open it, God makes fruitful. Our impotency is supposed in that we are dead in sinne, and not able of our selves to think one good thought; What can be lesse then this, we are not able of our selves to entertain the least good thought how we may be sa∣ved, how we may leave and forsake our sins. Neither doth this discovery of our impotency excuse us, and make us the lesse sinful, or to be the lesse pitied; for it with us, as with a man, who had a great stock given him, and he hath prodi∣gally spent all. This voluntary inability of his doth not excuse him from paying his debts, but makes him more faulty, who might have done well and would not. Thus God gave us a rich and plentiful portion, and we quickly spent all; and now the Law of God cals upon us for good actions, as so many debts we owe, and we are not able to discharge any. But when this renewing grace of God is vouchsafed to us, then the lame can walk, the blinde can see, the dead Lazarus can come out of the grave, and have the grave cloaths untied, in which he was bound; So that we Ministers in preaching, and you people in hearing are to call upon God fervently and earnestly, that he would take away all our ina∣bility and insufficiency. Oh pray that he would give thee good thoughts, good affections, and so good operations! say, Oh that God who made so many Ro∣mans, Corinthians, Ephesians, of weeds to become flowers, that he would vouchsafe the like gracious power to us! say, Oh Lord, thy arm is not shorten∣ed, our hearts are no more too strong for thee, then theirs were.
Thirdly, In this spiritual change, God of a froward, contrary and irreconcilable*people, makes a loving and willing people to what is good. Take all men till fashion∣ed by grace, they are enemies to God and godlinesse. The wisdome of the flesh is not subject to God, neither can it be. As the Wolf cannot love the Lamb, nor the Hawk the Dove; so neither can wicked men love those things that are holy. What a wofull experience have all the wicked men in the world in their several ages, given of their cursed venom, and cankered malice against godlinesse, in all the oppositions they have raised against the faithful Messengers of God, reproving them for sinne, and informing them of duty! Oh but when God makes these waters to go back, when he toucheth these mountains and they melt like wax, then what imbracing and loving is there of that which once Page 292 they could not endure. Thus Psal. 110. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power; Oh then that we could see God making such a wonderful change up∣on us. The time hath been, thou wast an enemy to all godly waies, a professed opposer and scorner of them. No Toad so odious in thy eyes as one who lived strictly and laboured to fear God in all his waies; but now God hath made such a change that they are only thy delight upon the earth. Thy righteous soul is now like Lots, grieved and tormented to see and hear the evil doings of wicked men: if thus, thou art then one created to good works.
Fourthly, Where this powerfull Renovation is, There God of a people that were*weary of his service, and repining at it, as a burden, do now delight and rejoyce in it, as the greatest happinesse they are capable of. Thus Isa. 4. The Nations shall flow to the mountains of the Lord. Though it be against their nature and custome, and former advantages of profit and pleasure, yet they overcome all these tem∣ptations, and account nothing so dear, as the opportunities of enjoying God in his Ordinances. See in what an heavenly manner Davids affections are en∣flamed, who could live alwayes in the Courts of the Lords house, and envied the very Sparrows that came so near the Altar. And certainly if the carnal and worldly heart can rejoice so much in those advantages, where their lusts are satisfied, how much rather must a spiritual heart in the midst of all these spiritual applica∣tions, because spiritual good things are unmixed, and have no gall in them at all, as the good things of the world have?
Fifthly, Of a people inconstant and unsetled in the wayes of God, by this new change*he makes fixed and rooted upon a sure Rock. Observe the people of Israel, they often cried unto the Lord in their extremities, but their hearts were not stedfast within them, and so they quickly revolted again, Psal. 18. 31. But the people of God are said to be like Mount Sion, that cannot be removed, Psal. 133. 3. The gates of hell cannot prevail against them. They are an house built upon a Rock, and so when the winds and tempests arise, they stand fast. As God is a God that changeth not, so they are holy, believing, and change not. Israels righteous∣nesse is like a morning Dew, Hos. 13. 2. it quickly drieth up, the Dew fals as Ari∣stotle observeth, when the Mornings are neither too hot or cold; Thus an heart that is lukewarm, and hath no real, inward efficacy of grace, sets upon Duties, but when the Sunne ariseth and scorcheth, presently the grasse withereth. Oh its a great Argument of this New Creation, to be stedfast and immovable in the work of the Lord. Not to change with the times and seasons; To be one while for the truths and waies of God, and another while to be against them. Those things that are from a principle of nature are constant, and alwaies alike, but those things which come about by accident, and as it happens; they are vari∣ous and incertain. See then thou art, as it is said of Christ, The same Yester∣day, and to day, and for ever. As great storms and tempests discover what root∣ing the Tree hath, so variety of conditions doth manifest what mettall we are made of. As therefore David praied, That God would alwaies keep up that willingnesse in the mens hearts, who then offered to God; so doe thou desire that God alwaies would keep thy soul in that tendernesse, love and strong affe∣ctions which sometimes are kindled in thee. Johns hearers did 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for an hour, a short season 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Rejoyce exceedingly, as in triumph, but when his Ministry began to touch them close for their particular sins, then they said, He had a Devil: Now certainly God is alwaies the same, that which is good is alwaies as lovely, that which is sinne is alwayes as abominable; Therefore thy affections should be alwayes in the same manner carri∣ed out towards them. I might in many other particulars shew you, how God doth create a people unto that which is good? The term from which, and the term to which, Happy are the people who finde such a change. What wondering was there when the Apostles were filled with the holy Ghost; so Page 293that they all spake with strange Tongues; No lesse is it here. Thy tongue prai∣sing of, and praying to God, speaks in a strange tongue to what it did once, when lying and cursing came as so many sparks of hell out of thy mouth. Oh when will God appear thus in his power, when will he bow the Heavens and come down?
Now the grounds why God takes such untoward and indisposed materi∣als * to any thing that is good, and makes them complying with, and imbracing of his holinesse, are
First, To shew forth the Glory of his Power and Grace. That which Paul speaks concerning himself, whom he makes a monster of men, and stileth him∣self, The chiefest of all sinners: Now (saith he) God converted him, that the exceeding riches of his grace might be made manifest to the ages to come. Gods Power and Goodnesse is wonderfully revealed in this: His Power that he can subdue the hearts of men so averse, and so oppositely bent: And his goodnesse, that he will do it to such enemies to him. That he should surprize Paul in his journey to persecute the people of God, with so much melting Grace, when he might have struck him into Hell with the Thunder-bolt of his anger, This was unspeakable Goodnesse; so that upon this ground, the Ministers of God may earnestly importune God that he would turn their people from darknesse to light, O Lord, thou dost all things for thy Glory! Now the more unwil∣ling, unable and opposite men are to their own Salvation, the greater will thy glory be in helping of them; As David useth this as an Argument, that God would have mercy on him for his sins are very great. Some indeed translate it (Although) Thus we may urge, O Lord, Pity them and shew compassion to them, for they are a people cruel to their own souls; and therefore God hath many times chosen the worst of men, that so his Goodnesse may be the more remarkable. Thus (some say) the Jewes were the most brutish and blockish people in the world, yet God chose them rather then any other to be his people. So the Corinthians, they were noted to a Proverb for wickednesse and uncleannesse: They had a Temple dedicated to Venus, and many Virgins were dedicated to her yearly to make Whores; And Coty's the Heathen god for uncleannesse, was there worshipped, yet God turneth these Beasts into Saints, and sweet Herbs come up where Brambles and Thorns did grow.
Secondly, God hath this end in this spiritual Creation, to shew his absolute Do∣minion,*and free Liberty in exercising his gracious Power upon what Subjects he pleaseth. He doth not many times vouchsafe his Grace to those that are civil and of a lovely conversation, nor to men alwaies of wisdom and parts, as our Saviour acknowledgeth with the admiration of Gods wisdome herein; Thou hast hid those things from the wise, and revealed them to Babes. The Apostle Paul, Rom. 11. doth professedly dispute Gods Dominion herein, Whom he will he chooseth, and whom he will he hardeneth: And who are thou, O man, that disputest with God? Gods Dispensation herein is wholly Arbitrary, and none may say unto God, Why doest thou so? Thus while the Apostles were preaching, it is said, As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed, Act. 1. 48. And the Electi∣on hath obtained, Rom. 11. Hereupon it is that the Apostle doth so often put the godly in minde of their election, that hereby their hearts might be stirred up to all Thankfulnesse; for what an overwhelming consideration would this be to the gracious heart, to consider of those many thousands lying in a lump of sin, God should choose thee among others, and leave the rest in a perishing con∣dition!
A third end, Hereby God will for ever keep his New Creatures in Humility and*self-emptinesse. For when we know, that Justification and Regeneration are Priviledges vouchsafed unto us, not for any Works we have done, for we were enemies to God; This keeps us in daily humble and low thoughts about our Page 294 selves: God hath ordained that way to Heaven, wherein he shall have all the Glory, and man take only shame and confusion to himself. How can Pride and Vain-glory ever lodge in our hearts, when God onely makes us to differ from others, and we have nothing but what we have received? Hence the Apostle doth so often put the converted Saints in minde, what they were once, how they walked in all their grosse waies of sins and hainous crimes, as others did, till God had mercy on them, and this he doth to return all into grace. The remembrance of what thou wert once, how full of sin, what an enemy to that which is good, may make thee cry out, Not unto us Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name belongs all glory.
The fourth end, Why God makes such a glorious change upon his people, is to ingage them to more Service and Obedience. That as they have yeelded themselves * servants to sinne, now servants to Righteousnesse: Men of great sins, when converted, become men of great services. Thus David, who sinned above others, how active is he for Gods glory above others? Paul who persecuted the Church more then all, when converted labours more then they all. This is a sharp good to be more then an ordinary Saint, when a man hath been more then an ordinary sinner. Peter that three times denied Christ, is three times called upon to feed Christs sheep. The ground that was fruitful of weeds, when well ordered, becomes excellent for corn.
A fifth end is, Hereby God would provoke others to godlinesse; For when we see that by Gods grace men of desperate lives, and hopelesse conversations, are be∣come * lovers of God and Godlinesse, then what a shame will this be to others, who did not seem farre from the Kingdome of Heaven! Thus God is said to provoke the people of Israel to jealousie, for when they saw the Gentiles, who knew not God, and lived in all darknesse and wickednesse, to become imbracers of Gods Worship; This was enough to stirre up Jealousie in them. Thus also the Pharisees might have blushed to see the Publicans and Harlots entring the Kingdom of Heaven before them. Oh what a provocation should this be to men, when they see men who were formerly averse and contrary to what is good, now to rejoyce in it! When a Mary Magdalen forsaketh her lusts, and cleaveth to Christ, what Harlots then will any longer stand out? When Paul an enemy makes much of that way he so hated once, How might this turn all the Pharisees? When therefore you see God working such great things upon any man, say, The Lord doth this to provoke me, Shall such repent and not I? Shall such amend their waies, and I stand out still?
Having thus explained the Doctrine, let us consider what use may be made of this,
And first, Is it thus usual with God, To raise stones to be children to Abraham,*to make a barren wildernesse a pleasant garden? then what Encouragement may the Ministers of God have, where they see the greatest opposition and averse∣nesse? Alas God doth not finde men with a natural propensity to good things, but he creates them. God doth not find men Lambs, but he makes Wolves Lambs; sometimes where Paul had a minde to goe, hoping to doe good, the Spirit of God did prohibit him to goe, and at other times he is sent to a people, that was not likely. This made the Prophet say, He was found of those that sought him not. We are with Abraham not to look to the dead womb of the Creatures, but to the mighty Power of God, who calleth things that are not, as if they were. It was Moses his sinne of unbelief, and for which only he was hindered from entring in Canaan, that when God bad him strike the Rock, to have wa∣ter gush out, he was unwilling, and doubted whether God could doe it or no. Let not the Ministers of God sinne through unbelief, as if to God, the conver∣sion of men were not possible, because its impossible to men. When the Dis∣ciples had been sishing all night, and catched nothing, Christ afterwards bids Page 295 them throw in their nets, and it was so full of fish that the net was in danger of breaking. So then let us be encouraged in our work, for all those who are or∣dained to life in a Parish, they will believe, they will be converted at one time or other. And because the Ministers of God know not the secret counsels of God, therefore are we to preach to all, to wait patiently upon all, as if every one were to be saved. Therefore the Apostle exhorts us to instruct in patience and meekness, even those that gainsay, if peradventure God may give them repentance, 2 Tim. 2. 25. Though they are not sure their instruction will do any good, there be a difficulty in it, yet they must not give over.
Use 2. To humble us under all the works of grace God vouchsafeth to us, * for we made not our selves New Creatures: Oh take heed of all those proud Doctrines that debase Grace, and set up mans Will, as also of all inward pride of Heart, glorying in any thing thou hast. Did God revenge himself so up∣on Belshazzar, because in the pride of his heart, he boasted, That that was great Babel which he had built; How much rather, if a man should say, This is the Heaven I have merited, This is the eternal Glory I have purchased: A∣las look into thy by-past life, and what was there to move God to shew mercy unto thee? In stead of having God call thee so graciously to him, he might have pronounced that curse, To depart into everlasting fire. Pauls for∣mer wickednesse made him for ever humble and ashamed in himself. And this is the main reason, why the good Works the godly do cannot justifie them, because though they were for the present perfect, yet they could never absolve from the guilt of our former sinnes, we committed in ignorance of God.
Use 3. What cause a people loaden with grievous sins, and rooted in them, * have to cry mightily unto God, for his omnipotent power, for nothing can se∣parate thee and thy lusts, but that strong arm of God which made Heaven and Earth, and raised Christ from the dead. In natural necessities there they apply themselves to God, thinking nothing but his power can give rain, can stay the pestilence, can sheathe the sword; and why then do you not also say, Oh its God only that can soften this heart of mine! that can humble this proud sto∣mack of mine! Oh therefore pray unto God! saying, O Lord, Thy arm is not shortned! Art not thou he, who didst turn Manasses his heart? Art not thou he who didst convert so many thousands at one Sermon? Oh put forth the same power, Draw us and we will run after thee, roll this stone away, and we shall praise thee!
Of good works; What to be created unto good works implies, and what works are good.
EPHES. 2. 10.
THe next thing in Order considerable in this Text, is the meritorious cause of this spiritual workmanship, and that is Christ Jesus. But this particu∣lar I shall pass by, as a subject requiring a more large and distinct discourse of it self. I proceed therefore to the final cause of this spiritual creation, and that is, To good works: In the Greek it is Created in good works. The final cause (saith Erasmus) is not here signified, but the effect of grace creating: so that in his sense the Holy Ghost should not intend the end of creating us anew, but the effect of his grace, as if that did work all the good in us; and which is a wonder, Estius a Papist goeth this way, quoting Isa 26. that place, O God thou hast wrought all our works in us: It is much for him to do so, for this seemeth greatly to exclude the power of free will: But I rather take it for the final cause, and commend our tran∣slators who render it, unto good works; and it is an Hebraism to use the Prepositi∣on in, for unto, although the Grecians also do so, as 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for gains sake, for a rewards sake. There 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 denoteth a final cause, though indeed this is so the final cause, as that it is also the effect.
Obs. That all those who are new creatures, are created unto good works; so that a*godly life is a necessary fruit of their renovation. This new creature can be no more without an external godly conversation, then fire without heat, or hony without sweetness. In some sense it is more then the fruit of a tree; for a tree may live and grow, and yet bear no fruit; but this new creature cannot be, unless there be also those good and holy works which God requireth of us. This point is of great con∣cernment when so many satisfie themselves with hopes of this glorious estate, & yet their works are the works of the flesh, and of darkness: As Christ said of the false Prophets, By their fruit you may know them; so it is also true of false Christians, by their fruit you may judge what they are.
For the understanding of this point, let us consider what the phrase implieth, Created to good works; and that comprehends,
First, An inclination and propensity to a godly life. For as God created all crea∣tures with an inclination to their proper operations, thus this spiritual man is en∣dued * with a willing tendency unto those actions that are heavenly. Thus as the sparks flie upward, and the stone falls downward from an inward inclination of nature, so they are carried out to faith, repentance, holiness, from a free principle within. Aristotle defineth that to be the nature of every thing, which is the prin∣ciple Page 297 of its motion, for its self sake, and not by accident: And thus natural moti∣ons differ from violent, which are from a principle without, and by accident. Oh its a matter worthy of all your consideration, to attend to the principle of your motions in holy things, whether it be natural or violent. You may read of Ahabs good works in some sense, he prayed, and humbled himself, but he was not created to them, because they were from a violent principle without, the judgements of God; not a natural principle within, which is a sanctified and renewed heart: Yea, if you look upon Judas, you may see in some respects also his good works: there was his contrition, his confession, and his satisfaction, but he was not created to these good works, because extracted by slavish horror of conscience, not sweetly enclined thereunto by faith in God, and love of him. There is a great difference be∣tween the nurses care of the child, and the mothers: The former doth it because hired, and betrusted with it, but the latter from an inward storgy, and maternal bowels: So then is it thus with thee? dost thou pray, hear, live in all Godliness, as one that is created thereunto? One who hath a free voluntary inclination? in which respect the law of God is said to be written in their in ward parts.
Secondly, To be created to good works, implyeth not onely an inclination, but a*readiness, or preparedness, which is a further qualification. The fire hath an inclination to ascend upwards, but yet something may violently keep it down, that it cannot ascend actually: Inclination to good works implieth the remote power, but rea∣diness supposeth the proxime and immediate power. Gods own people who have the seed of Grace in them, yet how unprepared, and unready many times to that which is good! Therefore to watch and to be ready, is a duty so often pressed; Be ready to every good work, and prepared to every good work: To this is opposite, dulness, sluggishness, listlesnesse, and all kind of wearisomness in the service of God. But this should quicken us up, That we are created to Godliness: There∣fore the heart should alwaies be swept and ready dressed for Christ to lodge in: you must have lamps and oyl; commonly sin surpriseth us, because we are not pre∣pared for Godliness: Thus Christ knocked, desirous to come in, but the Church was unwilling, and so deprived her self of much comfort. Prayer is the Key of heaven, but if rusty it will not open; and thus it is of all duties, if thy heart be not prepa∣red for them.
Thirdly, The phrase, created to good works, doth denote them to be the principal and*main end. God hath appointed every thing to an end, which holds not onely in mo∣ral agents, but also natural: Hence is that rule, Opera naturae sunt opera intelligen∣tiae, The works of nature are the works of reason and understanding, because it ordereth, and wisely directeth them to an end. Now as other creatures have their ends, so this new creature hath its, which is to be wholly imployed in those works that are godly. This is his errand, his business and employment. The Apostles ex∣pression is remarkable, Tit. 3. 8, 9. This is a faithful saying, and which thou art to affirm constantly, What is that? That those who believe be careful to maintain good works: Two Greek words are observable 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that it be their care and study, and all their wisedome, and then 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to maintain, or rather to be an example, and a president. The Apostle his scope is, that all Christians should make their houses and families a school-house, as it were, of a godly life, that there should be no prophaneness, no filthy lusts, no scandals. That which the Apostle speaks to Timothy, belongs to all, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to exercise himself unto Godliness; as he that is to run in a race, giveth himselfe wholly to that: so that hell is not more opposite to heaven, then their lives are to this new creature, who live in a constant way of im∣piety and manifest wickedness. The fruits of the flesh are manifest, saith the Apostle, Every man that liveth in obedience thereunto, may presently discern he is not a new creature. Oh then, when thou art overtaken with any evil ungodly way, say, Is this the good work God created me unto? Is this the Godly action he made me for? God did not make thee to eat and drink, much lesse to riot and revel it, but to walk holily, righteously, and soberly; and let the Godly when at any time unwilling, Page 298 and indisposed to that which is good, stir up themselves to all chearfulness, saying, For this end God created me anew; for this end I came into the world, How can I neglect the main business I have to do?
Fourthly, It implieth constancie and perpetuity. That which we are created unto, is not once or twice to be thought on, or practised; but it is the constant imploy∣ment of a man. All natural actions are constant; The fire doth alwaies ascend, the stone doth alwaies descend: and thus he that is righteous, doth righteousness, 1 John 2. 29. saith the Apostle: This discovereth the hypocrisie of those who are uncer∣tain, and in some fits onely for good actions. In time of fear and danger, then they will do good, bewail their sins, promise reformation; but this bulrush that hangs down its head for a while, because of some storm falling upon it, after a fair day doth presently perk up again, Gal. 6. 9. Let us not be weary in well doing; let us not faint or swound by any discouragements or oppositions, but remember a good action will alwaies meet with a good reward, which grace will Crown it with. How many are almost perswaded to take up a godly and holy life, but present∣ly return to their vomit again!
Fifthly, Here is universality of good works. The Apostle speaks indefinitely, created to good works, and that is equivalent to an universal where the matter is necessary: He doth not say, created to some good works, or this and that good work, but good works in the general. If a man be studious for all the good works of the second Table that relate to man, as the works of righteousness, liberality, hu∣mility, and love, &c. if negligent in the good works that relate to the first Table, of piety, worship of God in Truth and sincerity, keeping his Sabbath, zealous for his glory, fearing an Oath; this man is but for some good works, and so not created by God, which is universal. Again, if a man be zealous for the works of piety and religion, but carelesse in the duties of justice, equity, truth to men, of brotherly love and liberality to those that are in necessities, as far as it is his duty, he also is to doubt whether he be created to good works; for Gods grace createth to one as well as to another.
Sixthly, It doth not onely suppose us inclining and ready to them, but zealously to pursue them. Thus they are called a peculiar people, zealous of good works; zeal is an hot burning affection, compounded partly of grief, because we are hindered in what we would do; partly of anger against that which opposeth us; and partly of vehement love, which carrieth us out to that we desire. Thus the godly are greatly grieved, because of that relique and remainder of corruption which makes them not to do the good they would, as Paul bitterly complaineth. They are also angry at those lusts which have the greatest power over them: And lastly, hot burning love to the glory of God, whom they do honour, and desire to exalt continually. And as zeal breeds jealousie, so it doth also in the godly breast: Their zeal to that which is holy makes them jealous, lest at any time sin should deceive them, or Sa∣tan seduce them. Thus Job made a covenant with his eyes, and David set a watch before his mouth, and Paul kept down his body, and all out of a godly jealousie, lest though they had gone so far in the way of holiness, their feet at last should be turn∣ed out of the way.
Having thus explained the phrase, Created to good works, let us consider what they are; For there is a wo to him that calls evil good, and good evil. Jonah thought he did well to be angry: it is a great degree to do good works, when we know what they are: And
First, Those onely are good works which are commanded by God, and conformable*to the rule laid down in the Scripture. So that as the definition of sin is, That it is the transgression of the law, thus the definition of a good work is, That it is a conformi∣ty to the law of God. The word of God is the Rule, the Canon; and as the Artificer can draw no good line which is not commensurate to the rule, so whatsoever thou dost which is not agreeable to Scripture, which is not answerable to that pattern, it is not good a work how glorious soever it be. This is an excellent truth to be insist∣ed Page 299 on: As that onely is true Doctrine which is agreeable to the Scriptures, so that onely is a good work which is answerable to the same rule. The Scriptures are a rule of faith, and of manners also: and as we say in matters of religion, Non credo, quia non lego, I do not believe it, because I do not read it in Gods word, so Non ago, quia non lego praeceptum, I do it not, because not commanded. And this cuts off most of those works from being good works, which are so magnified in popery. what are their good works, for which they call a man a religious man, a spirituall man, a perfect man? Are they not vowed poverty, chastity, and blind obedience, with many other superstitious usages? Now as the Pharisees thought their wash∣ings, and humane commandments in religion good and glorious works, when yet our Saviour disdaineth them upon this reason, Who hath required these things at your hands? Even so all those good works of superstition, will-worship, traditional customes, though dignified with the title of good works, yet are to be rejected, be∣cause not required: So that as counterfeit coyn is so far from being owned as cur∣rant mony, that he who is found guilty of the making of it, is adjudged to death. So all counterfeit worship and service of God which hath not the stamp of the Word upon it, is so far from being acceptable with God, that such without repen∣tance and reformation are condemned to eternal death. Herein certainly people fouly mistake; they judge things to be good by the custome of them, by the plea∣sure and profit of them, and not by the rule of goodness. How could vain, and prophane sports be accounted good works, if men did look into the Scripture for their goodnesse? Thou sayest, It is good for me to do thus, to live thus, to take up such a course of life, but doth the Scripture say, it is also good? Thus as for want of this rule we take up many things for good, which are not good; so again, we reject ma∣ny good works as folly, needlesse, not requisite, because we do not study herein. To live strictly, to be singular to the common waies of the world; to keep up holy family-duties, these things we look not upon as good works, because they are con∣trary to our corrupt affections and lusts: Especially how hardly can we be perswa∣ded that it is a good work to confesse Christ in the midst of a crooked Generation; that it is good for us to love Christ more then Father, or Mother, or life it self, that it is good to take up the Crosse and follow him. How hardly do we perswade our selves these are good works? That may be a good work which is grievous and evil to flesh and blood: In matters to be done, How often do we judge the good∣nesse of them, by the safety and advantage? If Paul had thus consulted with flesh and blood, he would not have thought it a good work to preach up that to his great danger, which once he so vehemently opposed.
Secondly, Good works are such actions as we are enabled to by the grace of God.* God is said to be the Author of every good, and perfect gift, James 1. No man unlesse enabled and sanctified by the spirit of God can do the least good work; as a beast is not able to act the things of reason: For the imaginations of a mans heart are onely evil, and that continually, Gen. 6. so that there is not room for the least good therein. How then must man plunged in sinne say, he is not good, nei∣ther can do good? The tree must be good, else the fruit cannot be good; and thus a man must be ingraffed in Christ, and partake of his fatnesse, else all is but a wilde Olive, and wilde Grapes. And upon this ground it is, that the Orthodox maintain that position against Papists, That all the works of unregenerate men are sins, as they come from them. Though Amasiah and Jehu do those things which are right in Gods eyes for the matter of them, yet in respect of circumstances, they exceeding∣ly fail, and so they are made sins to them. Whereupon is that necessary distinction, That an action may be said to be good materially for the matter of it: Thus when a wicked man prayeth, heareth, he doth that which is good for the matter; or for∣mally, that is, when they are done upon such principles, in such a manner, and to such an end as God requireth: So that to do a good work there is requisite the help of Gods spirit to lift us up. As Zacheus was too low of himself to see Jesus, he was fain to go up into a tree; so we are too too short to reach unto any good work; it is Page 300 above our reach till the spirit of God lift us up. Oh that unregenerate men did re∣ceive this Truth as ingraffed in their souls; I have lived thus long and have not done one good work, yet I have been without Christ, destitute of his spirit, & so a branch separated from the vine: Oh how little, or no hope at all have I! What shall I do? Have pity upon me all ye that know me, and pray for me: not one good work in all my life time! but a continual sinning hath run through my conversati∣on. And this every unregenerate man must say, though not prophane, but very ci∣vil and ingenuous, yet if not a new creature, he is not created to any good work. We are created to it: our free will or moral education cannot prepare us for them; so that though the name of good works be often in our mouths, yet the a∣ctions themselves are rarely performed, because few are endued with the spirit of God. Hence that is called the holy Spirit, because without it there is no holiness; as there is no light from the heavens but by the sun, the stars shining, as they say, by its light.
Thirdly, Good works are such which have the concurrence of all circumstances:* There must be a good cause, a good manner, a good end, and if any one of these be wanting, it is not a good work. Bonum est ex integrâ causâ: Uzzah did not a good work, for God was so displeased, that he struck him dead suddenly for it, though he had a very good intention, and all because the manner was not good. Cains Sacrifice was not doing well, for then he had been accepted, as God told him, because his person was not good: So that it is easie to commit evil, but diffi∣cult to do that which is good, because a man must every time hit the mark; if he fails in one circumstance, if one string be broken, the musical harmony is spoiled. Oh what a rousing Truth is this? How should this chase away all security, all trust∣ing in thy good heart, and good works? For where are they? God indeed looked on all he did, and saw they were exceeding good; but mayst not thou look over all thou didst ever since thou wast born, and see all exceeding evil? You think you do good works, but it is ignorance; you know not how many things are requi∣red to a good action, and one dead fly spoileth the whole box of oyntment. This bitter herb makes death in the duty, which otherwise would bring life. This made the Psalmist pronounce of every man by nature, There is none that doth good, no not one. What an uncharitable censure doth this seem to be in humane reason? *None doth good, not one in all mankinde till quickened and enlivened by grace. I beseech you lay this deep in your hearts; I am good for no good work: I am wholly evil, and all that I do is wholly evil. Paul that had some good in him, because of the mixture of evil, cryed out, O miserable man that I am, Who will deliver me? how much rather have I cause to bid all comforts stand aloof off, and to be alone, crying out, Who will deliver me? seeing I am nothing but evil, nothing but ulcers and sores all over me. There is nothing will sooner drive you out of self-love, make you amazed at your selves, and cause you to cry out, Help Lord, else we perish, as to think, not one good work hath ever been done by us yet.
Fourthly, Good works must flow from a good heart within. From a purified Fountain * and sweet, do issue sweet streams: When Moses vehemently required of the people of Israel, to obey the commands of God, which was nothing but to do good works; the people presently made a ready promise, that they would do all: But mark what Moses replyeth, Oh that there were such an heart in them; this is all: It is not for thee to say and promise, I will set upon a good life, I will be diligent in good duties: But oh that there were such an heart in you. Hence our Saviour compareth the good heart of a man to a good treasure from whence all things flow. Thus that great promise of regeneration first begins with the heart, I will take away the heart of stone and give an heart of flesh; and I will write my law in the inward parts, Ezek. 36. and what then? Then I will make them to walk in my commandments: Thus also the commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul, &c. As the wickednesse of an evil man lyeth most in his heart, so the goodnesse of a good man is most in the heart. Now this particular also is not attended to; men Page 301 never looking any further then the work they do, Is that a Duty? Is that com∣manded? but not attend to, with what inward rectitude and purity of spirit they do these things. The difference of the third and fourth hearers, lay not in externals at first, but that one had a good and honest heart, which the other wanted; & although men look to the outward good works, yet God looketh most to the inward good heart: Therefore the hypocrite doth no good work, though he seemeth to the world full of good works, because his heart is not good. Our Saviour instanced in this, and pressed it much upon the Pharisees, saying, They were wolves within, and noisome sepulchers within, though painted without. Think therefore thou hearest God speaking unto thee that of Solomon, My son, give me thy heart, Prov. 23. 26. thy good heart, else those good works are but a blaze, there is no good foundation.
Fifthly, Good works are those, and those onely which are done for the glory of God.* Let any action be in it self never so necessary, so glorious, so profitable to others, yet if it be not for Gods glory, there is a wo to such good works instead of an Euge, or well done. The Pharisees prayers, fastings, and alms, have a wo and threatning an∣nexed to them in stead of a promise. Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God: now vain glory and self-applause, is a worm that quickly breeds in the best fruit, in the choycest actions: The godly at the day of judgement do not know the good works they did; as the silk-worm hideth it self within the curious silk it works, whence was that Motto upon it, Operitur dum operatur, She is all over covered whilst she works: The same ought we to be in all the holy duties, and most heavenly actions we perform; Operimur dum operamur: upon this reason Austin said, All the glori∣ous actions of the heathens were but splendida peccata, glistring sins, because they cor∣rupted their love to their countrey by vain glory, and so they did, as he said, Unam cupiditatem aliâ sanare, Heal one sin by another.
Use of Exhortation, To take up that of the Apostle, Let every man try his own*work. The word signifieth such a tryal as the Goldsmith useth about his Gold, whether it be right or no: He hath his Touch-stone to discover it. Let this be your care; thousands and millions of works you have done in your life time, bring them all to the Touch-stone, the Scripture, the rule of goodness. It is not an easie matter to be found doing but one good work: Inform and instruct your self better about the Doctrine of a good work, how much the Scripture requireth; and certainly if there be any sparklings of conscience, it will make thee fear all the works thou hast done. For what? dost thou call thy ungodlinesse, thy prophane courses, good works? Doth Gods word command these? Doth Gods Spirit enable thee to do these? Oh blind man, hood winked by the divel, that dost not see thy self all over plunged into evil! But it may be thou thinkest thy prayers, thy duties, thy civility, thy charity, good works, and indeed these are good for the matter of them, but as thou dost them who art not regenerated, who hast not the spirit of Christ dwelling in thee, who hast corrupt and sinful ends, they all are thy evil works, and come in the catalogue of thy other sins. Thy duties not done by a gracious heart, through gra∣cious power, to a gracious end, in a gracious manner, are sins to thee as well as thy other ungodly waies. I know the proud and self-flattering heart of man loveth not to hear this, cannot endure that all its gold should be discovered to be dross. But it is not what thou thinkst, and what others think about thy good works, but what Gods spirit pronounceth in his word: how great wil thy confusion be, if that which thou callest a good heart, a good life, and good works, all good, God shall discover to be an evil heart, an evil life, all evil! God cannot be deceived, but thou art easily.
Setting forth divers distinctions, and Axioms to clear the Doctrine of good works.
EPHES. 2. 10.
GOod works (you have heard) are the inseparable and necessary fruit of this *New creature. It hath also been informed you, what a good work is. I shall at this time lay down some distinctions, or necessary Axioms to clear this Doctrine about Good works, and so proceed to application.
And first, This is worth your observation, That the Scripture speaketh some∣times in praise and worth of them, sometimes again by way of diminution, and debasing of them. When good works are compared with the righteousnesse of Christ, or have relation to justification, then they are rejected as unable for any such use. Thus the Prophet saith, Our righteousness is like a menstruous cloth, Isa. 30. 22. How loathsom is that? and so are our holy duties if God should enter into judgement with us. Justitia nostra est indulgentia tua Domine, O Lord, our righteousness is thy indul∣gence: Our justification consists in pardon; therefore we have no perfection to ju∣stifie us, but imperfection to be forgiven us. Thus the Apostle also, He doth account (and that is an act of judgement and deliberation) all things but dung and dross in comparison of the righteousness by faith in Christ, Phil. 3. 8. So then when the best works we do are considered in the Court of justification, there they are damnable, and have so much dross in them, that God doth reject them as insufficient. They are not good, but bad works in that sense. Therefore a man in justification is looked upon as a sinner, without a righteousness answering the Law, though at that time also he doth repent and believe. But then at other times the Scripture speaks of good works in respect of sanctification, and as they relate to the glory of God, and are an orna∣ment to our holy profession. And in this sense the word of God doth often commend them, and exhort to them. So that if thou hast got so much skill as to know in what sense the Scripture debaseth them, and in what sense it commends them, bless God for that knowledge, and look upon it as a star to guid thee. The Apostle in this Cha∣pter, attributing our whole salvation to grace, lest he should be thought therefore to exclude good works, and it were all one whether we were prophane or godly, he addeth, That we are created to good works. Take heed of Popery to make thy good works a ground of justification; take heed of Antinomianism, to deny the presence of them.
A second rule is, That good works are not to be limited to one kind, but are to be*extended as far as the Law of Gods commands. Thus the Obedience to the first com∣mandment is a good work, to the second, & so to every one; for the Law is a rule of good works, and as the Logicians say, There is no created being, but it is reduced into Page 303 one of the ten predicaments: So there is no duty or good work commanded of us, but it is contained in one of those Ten words, as Moses calls them: A word is there used for a Precept, as often in the Hebrew. This is good to be observed, that so we may be conscionable and abounding in every good work. Good works are works of piety, works of righteousness, works of charity: Every work that comes from a good cause, commanded by the rule of goodness, performed in a good manner, to a good end, is a good work, whether the object matter be God or man; and howsoever use hath almost appropriated the phrase Good works, to those of charity, yet the Scripture extendeth it to all the good fruits of a godly life: And in the Scripture sense, no man can do one good work, which hath not a principle to do all. Godly obedience is copulative, and he that doth a good work, because God com∣mands it, will do all because God commands it. This consideration would make us not like Herod, to do many things, but like Zachary and Elizabeth, To walk in all the commandments of God, Luke 1. 6. Thou prayest and hearest, because this good work God commandeth: Oh thou, fool, Doth not God also command thee to be chast, to be sober, to be heavenly minded? The graces of God are chained together; he that hath one, hath all: and therefore it is to be wondered at, to see what hypocrisie may be in a mans heart to be affected with some good works; he could have no peace in his conscience if he should omit them, and yet can totally neglect others without any remorse at all: If thou hadst committed murther, the guilt of blood would torment thy conscience, torture thy soul. Why should not uncleannesse, cursing, do the like? Doth not the same God that saith, Thou shalt not Kill, say also, Thou shalt not commit Adul∣tery?
Thirdly, Another rule about works is that of Austins, founded also upon the*Scripture, good works do not go before a justified person, but follow after, Bona ope∣ra non praecedunt justificationem, sed sequuntur. This Text doth clearly assert this Truth, We are saved of Grace, not by works, because we are Created to them, being his Workmanship. It is not in Divinity, as the Philosophers say in Mo∣rality, Bona agendo sumus boni, By doing good works, we are made good; No, we are by grace made good, then we do good: As the Fountain must be before the stream, and the root or tree before the fruit. Thus our Saviour, Make the tree good, and then the fruit will be good. Thus Abels person is first accepted, then his performances: This Truth is of great concernment, it being inbred in men to look more to an outward good work, then the goodnesse of their persons and natures. They do not imitate God, who is good in his nature, and then doth good in his Actions; so ought we to be good, and then to do good. Therefore by this rule thus setled upon Scripture, it is an undoubted Truth, That no man till justified and regenerated, is able to do any good work: He is a leper, all is un∣clean, and every thing he toucheth he maketh unclean to himself. This should make us sit down on the dunghill with Job, abhorring our selves, when there is none of all mankind of himself can do good, no, not one. What Doctrine may make us loath our selves, and seek out for a new creation, and ingraffing into Christ, if this doth not?
Fourthly, The next rule is, That then in Scripture things are said to be,*when they are made manifest, and apparent. And this rule will open the sense of all that discourse in the Apostle James, where he disputeth it by several argu∣ments, That we are justified by works. In so much that it hath much exercised the learned, how Paul and James are to be reconciled; For Paul, he expresly proveth that justification is without works; and that Abraham was justified by faith onely: and James he saith, Abraham was not justified by faith onely, but by works: Now two things reconcile these brethren that seem to differ. First Paul, He proveth that faith onely justifieth; and James, That this faith which ju∣stifieth is not alone, separated from Good works. Paul proveth what it is that justifieth, Uiz. Faith; and James, what kinde of Faith, Uiz. a working live∣ly Page 304 faith. Paul argueth against a Pharisee that thought his works would justifie him, and James against a Carnall Gospeller that thought faith alone, in the meer pro∣fession of it, was enough to save, without a godly life. And secondly, it may be thus composed; Paul speaks of the nature of justification in it self, and James of the manifestation of it. A thing in Scripture being said to be then done, when it is discovered to be so: And thus when you read in James in severall places, That a man is justified by Good works, that is, he is manifested to be so. As the Apostles similitude evinceth, when he saith, As the body with∣out the soul is dead, so is faith without works. Now as the body doth not give life to the soul, but fetcheth all from it, and doth outwardly declare what the soul doth; so doth a Godly life manifest and declare who are justified, and who not. So that it is in vain to pretend a good heart, where there is not a good life. And this is the reason why God in the Commandements requireth the out∣ward work, because that doth demonstrate to the world the frame of the heart.
Fifthly, We are alwaies to distinguish between good works, in the truth of*them, and in the perfection of them. The Godly are created to the Truth of Good works in this life, but to the perfection of them in the life to come. As he said, I believe, Lord help my unbelief: So it is true of every other Grace; Lord, I love thee, help my want of love: Lord, I am humble, help my want of humi∣lity. No man goeth beyond Paul, who when he would do good, found evil present with him. And the Apostle declareth a perpetual opposition and con∣flict between the flesh and the spirit: So that the Godly cannot do the good things they would; so that this Truth will direct two sorts of persons, First those that are ignorant, full of self-flattery, and self-righteousnesse; they are apt to take a shadow for the substance: every thing that glisters for Gold, whatsoever is good for the matter of it, to take it for good in all the circumstances of it. And then secondly, There are the Godly ones who are ready to conclude nothing is good in them, because not perfectly good. They think this action comes short of that perfect rule; and is not answerable to the glorious Majesty of God: and there∣fore they do not own that goodnesse in them which God owneth in them, and hereby walk not in that thankfulnesse, chearfulnesse, and exemplary joy as they ought to do.
Lastly, This is the true character of a new creature, That he is as zealous and di∣ligent*of good works, as if they were to save him, as if there were no Christ, no grace to rely upon: and yet on the other side he doth as fully and really rely upon Christ, and his grace, as if there were not the least spark of any goodnesse in him. This is a Scripture and admirable temperament, To joyn those places of Scripture together, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; and yet when you have done all, say, Ye are unprofitable servants. When ye have done all, if that were possible, how much rather must we say so, when we come far short of all! That which doth so puzzle corrupt and erronious heads, he can practically recon∣cile, viz. Gods promise to give, and mans duty to do. He so believeth in Christ, that yet he is not barren of Godly and holy works; and he so practiseth these, that his faith is not taken off from making Christ all in all. To some men we may say that of Luther, Take heed not onely of thy evil works, but of thy good also, Uiz. do not trust in them, be not proud of them; To others, that of John Husse, Ubi opera non apparent ad extra, ibi non est fides ad intra, Where Godliness is not in the fruit, there faith is not in the root; where the body doth not move or stir, there is no soul within.
Now because I did not intend to dwell long on this part of the Text, and be∣cause the comfort and profit of a good work, lyeth not in the Doctrine and know∣ledge of it, but in the practice and exercise, I shall therefore be large in the Use, and so conclude this point.
Use. First, Is it a necessary fruit of a new creature to walk in good works? then Page 305 the evil and ungodly deeds of most in the Christian world, sheweth that they are in that old damnable condition they were born in. If we consider the general conversa∣tion of most men, What deeds of darknesse, and of sin and Satan may be found in them? That which Salvian complained of the lives of Christians in his daies, may not we also take up? Praeter paucissimos quosdam, quid est aliud omnis catus Christianorum, quam sentina vitiorum? Besides a very few that fly sins, and endeavour to keep themselves unspotted from the world, What is the whole company of Christians, but a sink of all vices? You may sooner finde men reos malorum omnium, quam non omnium, You may sooner finde men guilty of all sins, then of some onely, And Facilius majorum criminum, quam minorum, And sooner men guilty of the greater crimes, then of the lesse; yea, he addeth, almost all the whole Church is brought to such a reproach and scandal of manners, ut incuncto populo Chrrstiano genus quoddam sanctitatis sit, minus esse vitiosum, That in all the Christian world it is a kinde of holiness to be lesse vitious. Doth he not speak as if he lived in our times? For except some few in every Congregation, which are like the Glean∣ings to the harvest; are not people generally ignorant, prophane, ungodly, so that it is a kind of great holinesse to be lesse wicked then others? His Oaths not so dreadful, his malice not so rancorous, his drunkennesse not so beastly: If men be lesse wicked, we are apt to judge them virtuous men, such a deluge of sin doth o∣verflow: But oh the patience of God who beholds and seeth all this ingratitude, rebellion, and hostility against his Majesty, yet forbeareth to take present ven∣geance.
Now there are many arguments why you should take heed of these evill works.
First, Thy evil deeds of sin, brings Gods evil work of punishment. Is there evil * in the City, or in the Land, saith the godly Prophet, and I have not done it? Amos 3. 6. viz. an evil of punishment: But why? Because men have first done their evil works. Thou that thinkest Gods judgements of Plague, Famine, and the devouring sword to be very grievous and evil; Why dost thou not consider thy evil waies, which have procured these things? Your iniquities with-hold good things from you. And the Prophets are alwaies diligent in the middest of Gods judgements brought upon a people, still to remember them of those iniquities, which have been like the vapours mounted up to the heavens, and afterwards congealed, fall down in terrible Thunder and lightening: Oh therefore if thou findest not God so good to thee or the publick, as thou desirest, consider it is the evil of thy waies that brings all calamities.
Secondly, Therefore let thy life be free from all evil works, because thy profession of Christianity obligeth thee to it. How can an holy profession, and an unholy life * accord together? How can darkness and light be reconciled? When God whom thou servest is holy, Christ by whose name thou art called is holy, the Or∣dinances whereby thou drawest high him are holy; when all this is holy, How is thy conversation so wicked and unholy? For a prophane man full of evil deeds, to pray, and hear, is as loathsom as for the sow wallowing in its mire, to come and rowl it self in a pleasant garden. That place is observable, 2 Tim. 2. 19. where the Apostle having spoken of some wretched Apostates from the Truth of Christ, he ad∣deth, Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure. As men who build glori∣ous palaces lay a sure foundation, so God being to build an eternal City, he layeth a deep and firm foundation. Now as their custom was to write some short and se∣lect sentences upon their foundation stones, as appeareth out of Zachary; so saith he, God hath set two Sentences upon his foundation: The one is, The Lord know∣eth those that are his, i. e. he will effectually preserve them from falling away. And the other is, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. Ob∣serve this, This sentence is one of the choice ones that God will have inscribed: Let every one that names Christ, takes his profession on him, depart from iniquity. Take heed then of being Thistles in Christs garden: of being Tares in his wheat: This Page 306 is to mingle heaven and earth, yea heaven and hell together: either therefore lay aside the name of a Christian, or the works of an Heathen, and one who knoweth not God. Quid in meo estis, non mei? What do you who are not Gods, in Gods vine-yard? Why are you that are Goats, among Christs sheep? Oh consider what re∣proach ye are to the holy name of Christ.
Thirdly, Consider the Titles which the Scripture giveth evil works, and those titles*wil demonstrate the nature of them. They are called The works of the Divel, What can be a more horrid aggravation then to say, Thy lusts, thy ungodlinesse, they are of thy self, and they are of the Divel too? It is the Divel in thee, and by thee, who provokes thee to such waies. Thus our Saviour bid Peter, Get thee behinde me Sa∣tan, get thee behinde me Divel, Mat. 16. 23. Why? was Peter a Divel? No, but because what he did came by the Divels instigation and temptation; therefore he useth that phrase. Thus Peter saith to Ananias and Saphira, Why hath Satan filled thy heart, to lye against the holy Ghost? Act. 5. 3. and the Jewes or Pharisees are said to be of their Father the Divel, for his works they do: and Christ is said to come into the world to destroy the works of the Divel. Oh then remember thy self, by whom, and from whom is it that thou art so prophane and ungodly? Is it not from the Divel? Doth not that unclean spirit ruling in thee, provoke thee to all uncleannesse? Thou wouldst judge it an uncharitable censure to be called as Simon Magus was, Thou child of the Divel; but yet every man living in that ungodly and unholy way, is so. Neither doth this excuse them, as if they were justified, and all the blame to be laid on the Divel, no, for he works upon thy corrupt disposition within. If thou wert not first tempted by thy own lust, the divel could not be a tempter to thee: If thou wert not stubble, his fiery darts would not enflame thee. Consider then all this, you who wallow in all mire and filth of sin. If the Divels were to act visibly up∣on the earth, and had bodily members to work withall, they would do as thou dost: And further also remember that he who thus enticeth thee to all sin, will be a tormenter afterwards unto thee, and will be an accuser unto God against thee, for that which he hath excused unto thee; throw them then away, they are the Di∣vels works.
Fourthly, Again they are the works of darkness, as good works are the works of the light. A wicked man is in darknesse, and knoweth not whither he goeth. They are*works of Darkness, Ephes. 5. 11. partly because it is for want of light and know∣ledge that they are committed. If thou didst know what the Scripture commands, if thou didst know the will of God, and the happinesse promised to the contrary thou dost, thou wouldst never live as thou livest. Again they are works of darkness, because committed without fear and shame, men do not think God seeth them, that the revengeful eye of God is upon them. Oh the horror and confusion that would be on their souls if this were attended to. And lastly they are works of darknesse, because they will be rewarded with utter darknesse. Thy sin and thy pu∣nishment will be proportionable. Thou lovedst darkenesse, and therefore thou shalt be thrown into utter darknesse. Oh that wicked and ungodly men should be no more amazed at their dreadfull estate. In the next place, they are called the works of the flesh, as good works the works of the spirit, Gal. 5. Of the flesh, because they come wholly from us corrupt and carnal; there is nothing of the Spirit of God in them: they are sparks from that fire and brimstone in thy bowels: they are so many drops of poyson vented from thy venemous nature: and as they are thus works of the flesh, so they work corruption as the flesh it self is corrupti∣ble. They that sow to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption, Gal. 6. 8. Again they are vain works, as the scripture calls them, 1 Pet. 1. 18. They are empty of that they promise: thou lookest for pleasure, profit, advantage by them, but they bring the clean contrary: they have a glistering skin, but a sting in the tail of them. With what curses & indignation wilt thou bid them be gone, which now thou dost so embrace? All that momentany pleasure, What is become of it? What is that drop of hony to that Ocean of Gall thou must for ever drink in hell?
Page 307Use 2. Are new Creatures created thus unto good works? then exercise thy self to them, be frequent in them. Is it good that I do? Is it according to Scripture that I live? Is my life good, according to the rule of goodnesse? and when you would make inquisition into your selves, and pronounce a sentence accordingly, take heed of self flattery, security and ease; but arraign thy self at Gods Tribunal; compare thy life and the word together: That sayeth, such a life is good, such actions are good: Is it thus with thee, or the clean contrary? Oh consider, That God judgeth not as man judgeth. He judgeth according to the inwards; he tryeth the heart and reins, and accordingly judgeth thy actions which come thence. All the Titles you have, Christians, Believers, Saints, Do not these engage to a godly life? These shew what you should be, else you are trees without fruit, and so to be cut down for the fire. Now be moved hereunto, First, because good works have a great deal of present comfort and ease with them. If thou dost well, there is joy and sweet∣ness in the conscience: But to evil deeds there is joyned a sting of the Conscience, horror of soul, fear of damnation; and though that may please for a while, yet all thy sins lie at the door like a band dog, ready to rise up and tear in pieces; whereas there is much joy and peace to him, that liveth a godly life.
2. Godly and holy works are a necessary effect of inward grace and a testimony of thy Predestination. In whose life you see nothing but wickednesse, there for the pre∣sent, till a change be, appeareth nothing but tokens of damnation: It is not being an Orthodox man, it is not being a sound Protestant, without a •ure and heavenly life, that doth avail to happinesse. Aristotle made happinesse to consist in action, and so doth the excellency and perfection of Christianity. Oh then see what evi∣dences, what marks there are in thy life for thy eternal blessedneste. This subject may be concluded with those two verses, Rom 2. 9, 10 that are like so much thunder and lightning from Paul tribulation and anguish (such as a man knoweth not what to do in) upon the soul (not body only) and upon every soul, no man by his greatnesse may look to escape that doth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. We may say, of the Christian first, and then the Heathen, because the Christian sinneth against clearer knowledge and revelation of a command, and so doth not onely that which is malum, but also what is vetitum: but how precious is the 10. verse, to him that doth well.