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

SERMON L.

Of the Hearts being established with Grace, and in what sense it is so.


HEB. 13. 9.
For it is a good thing that the heart be established with Grace, not with meats, that have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

IN the former part of this Epistle, Paul (for we take him to be the Author of it) doth like a kinde father crack the shell of those Jewish Ceremonies, and give the ker∣nell to believers; he opens the spiritual sense and mean∣ing of all those typical prefigurations, making them sha∣dowes onely of Christ to come; so that as the blos∣some fals when the fruit cometh, thus they vani∣shed, when Christ arose: and because they were one∣ly shadows, he thereupon argueth their insufficiency for any spiritual effect, making Moses in all his administrations, no more then the Prophets servant with his Masters staff, that could not raise the dead man. But in the later part of the Epistle, he enjoyneth many practical and plain Du∣ties; as in this Chapter vers. 7. he exhorteth them to follow the faith of their spiritual Governours and Teachers, which is to be supposed, as Paul in the like case, while they follow Christ. This duty he enforceth from a two-fold Argu∣ment.

1. The joyful and profitable end of their Pastors conversation.

2. That Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Christ that helped his servants in former times, will still help them. Christ is still the same, Page  310 though we be not those worthies that went before us: an excellent point of com∣fort.

In the next place he dehorts from the contrary sinne. Be not carried about with divers and strange Doctrines; carried about, as light, empty chaff is with every winde; divers, that is, different Doctrines one with another, for all errours disagree among themselves, as well as with the truth; strange Do∣ctrines, because brought in against the sense and meaning of the Scripture: now to make this Dehortation prevalent, he declareth that grace in the heart is farre better then any learning in the head, by the Proposition in the Text, it is good, the positive is for the comparative, it is better to establish, or have the heart established (the word is in the middle voice) by grace, that is, the inward works and gifts of Gods sanctifying Spirit, then with meats, that is, dispute and controversies about the difference of meats: you know how that Question troubled the Church of God in her infancy. Some indeed expound meats of the Legal Sacrifices, for the Jews thought themselves made more holy by eat∣ing thereof. Insomuch that some are brought in pleading this at the day of Judgement, Have we not eat in thy presence? Others relate it to those banquets, and dainty feastings, the Nicolaitans entertained their Disciples with: but the first exposition is to be preferred. By grace also some understand the Do∣ctrine of faith; others the grace of the Gospel, and the sense of it in our hearts. But the phrase, Establish the heart with grace, doth carry it for some gift of God wrought in the soul, confirming and setling it in the truths and commandments of God, by saith and obedience, which we call sanctifying grace; so that as I have handled the work of godlinesse, under the notions of regeneration and a New Creature; so I shall out of this Text speak of it, under that usual and fre∣quent name of grace, the work of grace in a mans heart; but there is one pro∣fitable and necessary Doctrine lieth in the way, before we enter into the bowels of that Point. That whereas the Apostle dehorting from following strange and divers Doctrines, doth urge as a special help and remedy hereunto, to get grace in our hearts, whereas in probability we should have thought, he would have prescribed, to study controversies, to spend our time in Disputes, that so we may finde out the truth, he adviseth not to such a course, but to study the ex∣ercise of grace, and to have our hearts established with practical godlinesse, as if an heart bu••ed and diligent in the practical power of grace, were the best bul∣wark in the world against all false Doctrines. Observe then,

That its far better to have the heart filled with the power of grace, then the head with disputes and controversies in Religion.

Its better to have faith setling thy heart upon Christ, then to dispute whether faith justifie. Its more comfortable to be a Saint, then to argue, Whether Saints only are members of a visible Church.

For opening this, I shal first shew, What it is to have grace establish the heart, and then give the grounds of the Point. Only you must know, that as grace is here said to establish the heart; so in other places this effect is attributed to God, 1 Pet. 5. 10. The Apostle there prayeth that God would stablish, strengthen, settle them: there God doth it, and here Grace; for its usual in Scripture to attribute the same effect to the instrumental and principal cause; Grace doth only establish the 〈◊〉 of a man formally, as the instrument of Gods Spirit; and indeed grace in the heart being also a creature, though of a supernatural excellency, needeth it self a daily strengthning and preservation from God. Hence the Apostle when he exhorteth us to put on the whole armour of Christ; when all this is done, he concludeth, Praying alwayes, Ephes. 6. 18. A Christian in all his spiritual strength must pray as earnestly, and depend as solely upon the power and might of God, as if he had no grace at all. *

This premised, let us consider in what sense inherent grace may be said to sta∣blish and settle the heart: And this it doth several waies:

Page  311 1. By rooting us upon Christ, and building us upon him; by which means the * gates of hell cannot prevail against such an one: Where grace is in the heart, there also Christ dwells, and grace is but the fruit, Christ is the root, Col. 2. 7. Grace is like the navel string, especially faith, whereby the soul is united to Christ, and fetcheth nourishment from him. Our Saviour maketh a difference of two builders in Christianity, both raise up and edifie, have a profession, an outward from of Religion, but one buildeth upon sands, and another upon the rock. Now he buildeth on sands, whosoever taketh up the way of Religion upon any worldly, carnal or corrupt principle: If it be built upon education, custom, formality, this is like a stone not fastned to the corner stone, and so a sudden tempest will hurl it down; therefore Ephes. 3. when the Apostle had prayed, that they might be strengthened in the inward man (the words spoken of in my Text) he addeth, Rooted and grounded in love, in the love of Christ; till therefore thou art homogeneous with Christ, as it were, and dost love him because of holiness and godliness sake, thy heart is loose and uncertain: If the tree had no rooting in the earth, it would be as subject to fall as any leaf it bear∣eth: If the ship be not anchored, its carried with every wind; so unless grace settle thee upon Christ, and thou cleave to him, there is no temptation but will hurry thee this way and that way: Even a reed that is apt to be shaken with every wind, if tyed to a rock, stands unmoveable; so thy heart natural∣ly false, deceitful, inconstant, and full of treachery to God, if fastned to Christ, then as Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, so art thou; As the times did not, nor have not changed Christ, so neither will they thee, when grounded on him; if therefore you see men leaner in the ways of godliness then before, not so much in the practical exercise of Grace, it's because they run as sheep among the brambles and bryers of disputes, and lose their wool, they do not keep close by faith to the live Tree, which would convey sweet fulness: Happy therefore is that Christian, who daily goeth out like that woman to touch Christ, that so he may finde vertue come from him to heal him: If thou hast bottomed thy self upon any thing but Christ, thou art not a pillar in the temple of the Lord, which cannot be removed, as is promised to the godly Revel. 3. 12.

2. Grace establisheth the heart, by fixing it to one object, so that the main stream * and current of his heart runneth that way: Its the great corruption in our na∣tures, that we would serve two Masters, God and the Creature: we are divided between these two, and sometimes God and Religion hath our heart, and some∣times the world and earthly comforts have our hearts: Now grace comes and fixeth the heart upon God; whereas before the scales were even, or rather that to∣wards the world did weigh down, now grace weigheth heaviest: This the Scripture calls halting between two, and the Apostle James〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a double minded man, Jam. 1. or a man with two souls, he is even sorry he hath not a soul for God, and a soul for the world also: But this is a notable effect of grace, to make the heart cleave to the Lord; as the Scripture often calls it, even as glew makes things to adhere to one another, so that they become one. A man of Disputes and Notions meerly in Religion, is like a ship tossed in the sea, with∣out Pilot or Anchor; whereas a man ballassed with Grace, and anchored on Christ, is not in danger of shipwrack: Oh then let not thy soul be like a Meteor, tossed up and down, but like a fixed Star in its Orb; chuse Christ for thy por∣tion so as to leave the world, take up Davids disposition, My heart is fixed, my heart is fixed: Hence the godly soul is said to be married unto Christ, because it leaveth all other objects, and chuseth him onely.

3. Grace doth establish the heart, because it removeth inconstancy, and enableth the soul to persevere: Its not so much grace, as perseverance in grace that crown∣eth * a man. Adam, though he had all good things bestowed on him, yet because he did not persevere, he lost all his happiness: Now this is a distinct work of Page  312 grace, establishing the soul, from the former, because here the soul doth for a while cleave to God, but then loseth its hold again: The Israelites are a per∣tual instance herein, who humbled themselves, and turned unto the Lord, but their hearts were not stedfast within them, and their righteousness was like a morning dew, which made Moses say, upon their good promises they made, O that there were such an heart within them; thus also the temporary Believer in the parable, who received with joy the word of God, and believed for a while, Matth. 13. presently revolted: The reason why men have a flux and a reflux of their faith and repentance, is because (as they say of the motions of the sea) they follow the moon that is subject to change; they are carried out to good things, not from an induring principle, nor hath grace taken deep root in their souls; Therefore Modo aiunt, modo negant; sometimes they affirm, and some∣times they deny. This inconstancy, is a fruit of the former uncertainty, and want of fixation upon God; as the Apostle Jame's sheweth, A double minded man is inconstant in all his ways; therefore compared to the waves of the sea, that sometimes are mounted up to heaven, and then presently vanish down again towards the earth. Stedfastness and constant evenness in the ways of God, breeds much joy, and is many times accompanied with comfortable as∣surance; whereas an heart sometimes up, and then down, in the ways of grace and duty, is also inconstant in his comforts, so that hereby he doubts of him∣self, and knoweth not what will become of him. If thy righteousness be but a morning dew, so is also thy consolation, it will quickly vanish: Oh then how comfortable is it for grace so to settle thy heart, that thou art not subject to such changes and variations as others are!

4. Grace doth in this respect establish the heart, because it makes the heart sincere*and upright, in all its endeavors and addresses to God. The hypocrite who is moved to duties from false and carnal grounds, he is up and down, and turneth as the wind of his own interest driveth him. Those that make gain godliness, they must winde and turn as gain moveth them. Judas not having a sincere heart, betrayeth Christ and his soul, for worldly advantages: Oh then how much better were it, while thou art thinking of this, and disputing of that, to labor for integrity, uprightness, to see thy soul be carried out to godliness for godli∣ness sake. Hypocrisie will make thee a Camelion, turn into the likeness of eve∣ry object thou comest nigh: And as Aristotle saith, It is fear that makes it sub∣ject to such changes; so in an hypocrite fear of the loss of some worldly com∣forts and contents, makes him become any thing to every body; so that this is the best study and conference, this is the best question, how I may get an unfain∣ed heart, an heart without guil or false and self-seeking ends. If thou hadst the tongue and parts of men and Angels, it would not afford thee so much comfort as a plain, simple and single heart towards God; to be able when thou dyest to say with Hezekiah, Remember how I have walked before thee in a true and faithful heart, 2 King. 20. 3. is of more consequence then those who said, Remember we have prophesied in thy name, and wrought miracles in thy name: It is good then, when the Professors of the Gospel meet together, and consider, How may we be true Israelites in whom there is no guil? we have much a do with our hearts, they are so apt to deceive, to supplant, to make false Syllogisms, as the Apostle saith, that we can never be wary enough: A clear conscience full of sincerity, is dulcis nutricula senectutis; a sweet nurse in old age, like yong Abishag put into old David to keep health and life in him.

5. Grace doth establish the heart, in that it uniteth all the powers and faculties toge∣ther*in the service of God: That as it makes the heart chuse one object onely, so it conjoyneth all the strength of the soul one way, to cleave to it: Thus love is with all the heart, all the soul, all the minde, and all the strength, and David prayeth earnestly for this, Unite my heart to fear thy name, Psal. 86. 11. All distractions and divisions, weaken not onely in a Kingdom, and in the Church, Page  313 but in a mans duties and approaches to God; therefore saith the Apostle, I would have you serve the Lord without distruction; see how divinely the Apostle presseth that point, 1 Cor. 7. 〈◊〉. I would have you 〈…〉 be without dividing cares: The heart must not be like the Levites wise, cut in many pieces; and vers. 35. That you may attend upon the Lord without distruction,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an ex∣cellent word, it signifieth leaving all things, and seeting our selves onely to this business, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 not to be distracted and violently taken off from it. The Heathens custom was to say, Hoc age, in their sacrifices; and it is a proverbial speech, Liberet me deus ab homine 〈◊〉 tantum negotii, deliver me 〈◊◊◊〉 that hath but one business in hand, for he is likely to be a desperate enemy: Here∣in then is the admirable power of grace seen, that the heart is 〈◊〉 and united, all his Love, all his Faith, all his joy runs the 〈…〉 he followeth his worldly imployments, but with 〈…〉 them comparatively, as if he did them not. This is the Work 〈…〉 this God hath called them to.

6. Grace doth therefore establish and 〈◊〉 the heart, 〈…〉*forward on〈…〉, and to get up into an higher pitch of 〈…〉uch remedy against unstedfastness, as to 〈…〉 in grave. 〈…〉 when he bids believers take eed of falling from their 〈…〉 them to this as a special Antidote, But grow in grace, and 〈…〉 Christ, 2 Pet. 3. 18. Its a necessary thing in Christianity, 〈…〉 with low principles, but to 〈…〉 our selves the 〈…〉 degrees of grace: Thus Paul〈…〉 all behinde, and did 〈…〉 stretch out himself to reach and lay hold upon 〈…〉* Grace is so exact, hath so great a latitude, that there 〈…〉 thyself therein all thy life time, and yet at 〈◊〉 paratively, to the Giant thou shouldst be; why then art art thou 〈…〉 and negligens? Hast thou all the faith thou canst have? All the heavenly minedness thou mayest have? Canst thou go no further in godliness? look up∣on David and Paul in their course of godliness, and thou wilt cry out, Oh draw me, I am but the shadow of a godly man: There is so much perfection in the way of holiness, that I tremble at my imperfections.

7. Grace doth establish and settle the heart, by the joy and heavenly 〈◊〉 which many times flow from it: That as bread is called the staff of a man, it nourish∣eth * and maintaineth him in strength, and wine makes glad the heart of men, all which produce much natural strength; so grace accompanied with the sence of Gods love in the Gospel, and joy therein, doth very much confirm a man. Hence the joy of the Lord is said to be the godlies strength, 〈◊〉 8 10 and where grief and a wounded spirit is, there are weak hands and 〈…〉's a piece of timber while moist and full of sap, is not able to bear up 〈…〉; thus a godly man devoid of comfort and spiritual joy, is like frut 〈…〉 many worms, every blow will make it fall to the ground; but 〈…〉 with the comforts attending it, do revive and keep up the spirits of men, 〈…〉 that grace put strength into the Martyrs, and inabled them to conflict with all miseries; and it may justly be thought, that the want of the experience of this solid and unspeakable joy in the Holy Ghost, makes men seek out for comfort in other things, for all life is for some pleasure and joy, and if it hath it not one way, it will try another way: Now thou taketh so much delight in Disputing, in Questions, in Controversies, because, it may be, thou hast not the solid experi∣ence of the best joy, which is, in the spiritual exercise of godliness: So also an∣other he takes no delight but in the encrease of wealth and temporal greatness, because he cannot say with David, Lord, thou hast put more comfort in my heart, then they had when their wine and oyl encreaseth, Psal. 4. Oh then when a Christi∣an can say to every temptation, that would draw him off from minding the sa∣voury things of godliness, Why do ye tempt me to my loss? I cannot be better. Page  314 No exercise can equalize this, then is he excellently settled in Godli∣ness.

8. Grace doth establish and confirm the heart, by preparing and fitting it for eve∣ry*good work: For the same Hebrew word signifieth both to prepare and establish or fasten. Hence the Characteristical difference between the good Kings indeed, and those that appeared so, and were hopeful onely, lay in this, that the one prepared or setled his heart to seek the Lord, and not the other. The Apostle Heb. 13. 21. prayeth, That God would make them perfect to every good work; the Greek word signifieth, to set their joynts together, as it were. That as in a man whose arms or legs have their bones displaced or broken, there is no strength for their proper office, till healed and joynted again: Thus a man destitute of the help of grace, is wholly luxated, all his bones are disjoynted, and grace that repaireth him and confirmeth him, by fitting every part and faculty of the soul, for its proper operation. How much better then were it, in stead of whetting thy wits, and preparing thy self to argue and dispute, thou wer furbishing thy heart, and making it ready to every gracious performance.

9. Grace doth confirm and settle the soul, in that it is both defensive and offensive.*Defensive, against all that outward strength which combineth against grace in the heart: The Apostle saith, We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with prin∣cipalities and powers in high places, Ephes. 6. 12. implying, that the greatest strength in hell and earth is imployed against the godly; now grace onely conquers this. Resist, stedsast in the faith, saith the Apostle; and Ephes. 6. you may see how par∣ticular graces, are compared to particular defensive weapons, some to an Helmet, some to a Breast-plate: That as sin is said to make a man naked in the Scripture, Exod. 32. 15, it exposeth him to all judgements, and he hath not so much as one goard to keep him from the scorching heat of the Sun. So there is a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an universal Armour to cover all the parts of a man by grace; therefore our graces are called The weapons of Light, Rom. 13. 12. and take we head, lest as Saul in his sleep had his weapons of war taken from him, so thou by careless∣ness and negligence doest not dull and blunt the edge of thy graces. As they are defensive, so they are Offensive also: Hence the Scripture commands us to kill, to mortifie and crucifie sin, which is done by grace within us. The people of God are in a continual combate and conflict, an humble heart with a proud, and a dull heart with a willing quickned heart: Here is fire and water together, Twins strugling in his womb, 1 John 1. 4. Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world; Grace therefore being the seed of God in the heart, doth at last conquer all adverse power of sin and Satan; so that Sampsons strength in sub∣duing enemies is not so wonderful, as the gracious strength of a godly man, in conflicting with lusts. Hebr. 11. The people of God are said of weak to become strong; and indeed if you consider the inward temptations from Satan, and the outward persecutions in the world, you would think that they were made of brass and iron, that they can endure so much: O the spiritual fortitude and courage of the Martyrs, transceuding all the humane valour and gallantry of the Romans, that it should not be any longer said, Agere & pati fortia Romanum est, but Christianum.

Lastly, As all grace doth strengthen and confirm the soul, so especially faith, that*is most admirable to this purpose; therefore faith is called the substance or sub∣sistence of things, Heb. 11. and its called resting and rolling thy self upon some prop and stay, when otherwise we would fall to the ground: Thus of Abraham it is said, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉he waxed strong and mighty in faith, and this made him not to consider difficulties, but Gods promise; he considered not his dead body, and Sarahs dead womb, as 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, he did not dwell in his considera∣tions upon it, otherwise he thought of it in his minde, as appeareth Gen. 17. 17. see the word, Heb. 3. 1. Take it in those two acts of assenting to the truth, and applying Christ, or relying on him, how doth it stay and support the soul! Page  315Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose minde is stayed on thee, Isa. 26. 3. therefore the Apostle saith, Above all take the shield of faith; above all graces, nourish and quicken faith. The Scripture saith, unbelief, diffidence and distrust, doth make a man 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to be carried up and down like a Meteor, to 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to be like a man, where two ways are and knoweth not what to do, Math. 14. 31. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Rom. 4. 20. Now to both these, faith is prescribed as the onely remedy that strengthens the soul; give me a man with sound faith in the Do∣ctrine of Christ, and a strong faith in the promises, and this man will stand like a rock in the sea, when all errors and sins will be dashed in pieces.

Use 1. Is grace the onely setler of the heart? then marvel not if men with∣out grace, be carried up and down as so much thistle-down and chaff when the wind bloweth, that they change according to all occasions, self-interest, par∣ticular profits, that they have as many colours as the Peacocks tails. Alas, here is no foundation laid, he is a man without a bottom, he is a cloud without wa∣ter, he is a Land-flood without a fountain; he is a Cistern, onely having what is outwardly put into him, there do not rivers of living water flow from his belly; onely rooted grace, onely establishing grace will avail a man: This is the oyl: profession, parts and outward duties are but the Lamps. Take the sweetest flowers from the root, it dyeth presently; pull off the fruitfullest branch from the stock, it withers presently; and all thy glorious parts and abilities with∣out this foundation of Grace will quickly dye.

Use 2. To humble the best of Gods children, for how much weakness, dif∣fidence, inconstancy, hypocrisie and pusillanimity is in them? Oh if thy heart were always established and confirmed by grace, then what were able to hurt thee; to discourage a Christian in the power of his grace, is like Noah in his Ak, a Beast in his Den, a Dove in the Rock, sure and safe enough: Oh thou therefore who art so subject to convulsion fits in Christianity, subject to swoons and qualms; think not that riches, honors, greatness, can be a staff sure enough to lie on, it must be onely Christ received and dwelling in our hearts by grace; all sin in thee is thy weakness, thy imbecillity; thou shouldst be ashamed thou hast shewed thy self no more like one that is born of God. The Romans had a Temple dedicated to Fortitude, they made that a Goddess, so that the Hea∣then Historian observed, that was destroyed before Rome was taken (that is his superstitious Idolatry) but we Christians have strength in God; Be strong in the power of his might, which is stronger then all.