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.
Page  375

SERMON LXI.

Of the washing and cleansing of a Sinner.


1 COR. 6. 11.
And such were some of you, but ye are washed.

WE have already considered the Corinthians, according to what they were by their own voluntary corruption, Let us now take notice of them, as what they are by grace. They were black and uncomely of themselves, but sanctified and made beautifull by the grace of God. Now this grace of God vouchsafed unto them is expressed in three particulars, Ye are Washed, Ye are San∣ctified, Ye are Justified. Some make this difference between them, That the first priviledge, Ye are washed, is a general comprehending both Sanctification and Justifi∣cation; as if the Apostle had first expressed himself in the general, and then distributed this general into two famous branches thereof: and indeed washing or cleansing is sometimes used for the taking away of the guilt of sin, and then it is the same with justification; as when David prayeth God would wash him & make him clean, Psa. 51. and somtimes its used for the cleansing from the filth and power of sin, in which sense its the same with sanctification: and in this respect, Isaiah 1. God cals upon Jerusalem to wash her, and to make her clean: This may well be received: But I 〈◊〉 goe with other Expositors, that make the Apostle use a gradation, naming those priviledges in the order God bestowed them upon them: and the first is Washing, that is Regeneration; the Type whereof and Seal is Baptism; which was the first thing done to them, when received into the Church: so that the mea∣ning is; But ye are spirituallly washed and cleansed from the filth and dominion of these sins, a Seal whereof was your Baptism.

Then the second degree is Sanctified, which is a further grace of God, not only regenerating, but making us holy unto the Lord, and causing us to walk as those that are set apart for God, from all common and prophane use. Lastly, they are Justified. Now although it be seriously disputed, whether Justification or Sancti∣fication goe before one another; and generally it is asserted, that in priority of na∣ture a man is justified before he be sanctified, though they be both together in time; yet withall they acknowledge, that according to our sense and feeling, and the Method we must take for comfort, we apprehend our Sanctification before our Justification; and no man may perswade himself, that he is justified, who doth not discover in himself the fruits of Sanctification. The one is the fruit, the other is the tree: so that the Apostle may very well put sanctification first, because to our sense and apprehension it is so. As for that interpretation of Papists and others, that make justified, to be the obtaining of a further degree of righteousnesse, and increasing in holinesse, we reject as erroneous. Now this threefold mercy is am∣plified by the meritorious cause, In the Name of the Lord Jesus. That is by Jesus Christ known and beleeved on; as also by the efficient cause, the Spirit of our God, which is therefore called the holy Spirit, as being in an appropriated manner, the Page  376 Author of our Sanctification. Thus the Text is opened. I begin with the first, Ye are washed; and observe,

That Regeneration, or the renewing of sinners is a washing or cleansing of them. Sin * hath two things in it, Filthand Pollution, and so Sanctification cureth it; guilt and merit of condemnation, so justification taketh it away. We are upon the first work of grace, that which takes away the noisomnes, and pollution of sin, with the do∣minion and power of it, which is here called Washing and Sanctifying. The Corin∣thians like Swine had been wallowing in their Mire, and grace did not onely wash their out-sides, but their in-sides, their very natures away, and make them sheep. Thus God speaketh of a clear Fountain he will set open for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in. Zach. 13. 1. For the discovery of this point, consider,

First, That the Title of Regeneration, under the notion of washing, doth suppose that sinne is of a defiling polluting nature, making the persons unclean and loathsome,*where it is. Its therefore compared to Spots, Deut. 32. 5. and Blemishes, Ephes. 5. 27, to Mire, to Vomit, 2 Pet. 2. 22. Such names doth the Scripture give sinne: to teach men, How they should look upon themselves, when sinners? Ezek. 16. you have there the Prophet excellently describing every mans naturall condition, by an infant new born, tumbling in its bloud, not washed, or cleansed. Men make sin the matter of their boast, and their glory; but it is indeed matter of shame and loathing. Thou art ashamed of thy rags, and thy spotted garments: But oh what blushing should be at thy wicked and ungodly actions. Thou shouldest sit down like a Iob upon his Dung-hill, abhorring thy self; like a Lazarus full of sores; like an unclean Leaper, crying out, Thou art unclean, unclean. The Scrip∣ture speaking of wicked men, saith, They are become filthy and abhominable in their doings, Psalme 14. and it calls them Vile persons, Psal. 15. 4. Whatsoever esteem and glory ungodly men may have in this world, yet they are with God vile persons, and therefore called by the name of such Beasts as are odious to men. Whereas on the contrary, Grace is the life, the beauty, the honour and glory of a man, com∣pared to excellent and precious ornaments.

Secondly, This apprehension that sinne makes men unclean and defiled, hath been*so ingraven in the hearts of all men by nature, that therefore they have used super∣stitiously many externall bodily washings: as if that would take away their polluti∣on, and make them more acceptable to God. Thus the Heathens used to wash themselves, before they entred into their Temples, to sacrifice to their Gods, and they had water pots, or stones of water stood at the entrance into the Temple, wherein thy purified themselves; confessing hereby, that sin made them so beastly and unclean, that they were no wayes fit or decent to perform any Religious acti∣on: and thus the Iewes they brought in many superstitious Washings: When they came from Market, when they had been about any imployment, they would come home and wash themselves, yea they wash'd their Beds, their Pots, their Di¦shes, Mark 7. 4 lst they should get any defilement. Thus Pilate did wash his hands, to denote thereby his Innocency; and Tertullian speaks of the superstiti∣on of some Christians in his dayes, That they would never goe to prayer, till they had washed themselves. Now our Saviours Doctrine is a good Antidote to all such superstitious thoughts: Not that which goeth into a man doth defile him, but that which comes out. Its not a bodily filthinesse, or uncleannesse, but a soul-filthinesse, which is so displeasing to God. The Papists they attribute much to * their Holy-water, as if the sprinkling of that would cleanse away the stone of the soul, but this is the peculiar effect of Christs bloud onely.

Thirdly, That we might be fully convinced of our native filthinesse, and the nature of Gods Spirit in renewing us, God appointed externall Ordinances and Rites of bo∣dily*washing, hereby to make us understand spirituall things. Thus in the Old Te∣stament, God commanded severall washings of the body: The Priest was to wash himself before he sacrificed; and severall other cleansings there were; by all which God did inform them of their vilenesse and loathsomnesse; as also there∣by Page  377 to look to Christs bloud, of which these were Types: As the Apostle argueth at large to the Hebrews. In the New Testament also, although the externall Rites are but few in number, which Christ appointed under the Gospell, his Church being now out of her Infancy, and so more inabled to discern spirituall things of themselves. Yet one of the two Sacraments, viz. Baptism, God hath appointed for this end, to signifie our naturall pollution, and the renewing operation of Gods Spirit: Thus Baptizing is as much as Washing. All that are made Christs Disciples he would have washed, to shew that they had noysomnesse upon them; and that the Spirit of God must cleanse their souls. John 3. 5. Unlesse a man be born of Water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdome of heaven; He doth not speak of Baptism there; for Christ had not at that time appointed Bap∣tism (though Iohn Baptized) and to be sure it was not appointed then univer∣sally to all Nations, as appeareth by the Commission afterwards; Goe, Baptize all Nations. This is confessed by Bellarmine himself: I rather therefore take wa∣ter for the Spirit of God, as afterwards it is compared to fire; so that the sense is, Unlesse a Man be born of the Spirit of God, which is like water, cleansing, healing, quenching, Sanctifying, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But though this place carry it not, yet many other places speak of this Baptism, and the sig∣nification thereof: so that the foulnesse of sinne, and the nature of Regeneration is excellently decyphered by the Sacrament of Baptism. Doe not thou then rest in thy Baptism, doe not presume upon that; for unlesse thereby thou art taught to loath thy self for sinne: unlesse thou art washed from filthy sinnes and lustfull wayes, this washing is no more to thee, than the washing of a Blackamoor, which leaves him as deformed as he was. Oh that Baptized men, washed men should yet be so foul and noisome in their lives, unclean bodies, foul tongues, earthly hearts; all these defile.

Consider that place, Hebr. 10. 22. where the Apostle sheweth the duty, and the priviledge of of the people of God; they may come with boldnesse unto God, he hath held out the Scepter of Grace to invite them. But who are those whom God will thus honour?

First, Such as are washed from an evill Conscience; all those who wash them∣selves from all known evils; who avoid inward sinnes, pride, hypocrisie, earthly * and immoderate affections, Oh thou canst have no boldnesse to pray, or to call on God, whose Conscience tels thee of such defilement and wickednesse thou livest in: And,

Secondly, Their bodies washed with pure water. This is an allusion either to the legal washings, or to Baptism; and implyes, that not onely the soul, but the bo∣dy also must be washed from all its bodily filthiness, as 2 Cor. 7. Let us cleanse our selves from all filthinesse of flesh and Spirit; so that soul-wickedness, and bodily wick∣edness must be washed away,

Fourthly, Therefore the Scripture speaketh of a two fold subject to be washed. First, the heart; thus as in the place mentioned, having your hearts sprinkled * and cleansed from all filthinesse of spirit. This heart-washing is first to be set up∣on, as being the root, principle, and foundation. Thus purifie your hearts, ye double minded, Jam. 4. 8. If the Fountain be not cleansed, all the streams must needs be muddy. Now although most men neglect this Duty, yet this is the main of all. A bad heart is an ill Treasury: out of the heart proceed evill thoughts, and all manner of actuall evill. This point our Saviour pressed much upon the Pharisees, who had cleansed their lives from outward wickednesse, but their in∣wards were full of all foul and noisome lusts: and the necessity of this appeareth, in that God accepteth of no externall religious Duty, no Praying, no Hearing, no Charitie, no Humilitie, except they be first washed in their hearts; There lyeth the greatest filthinesse, though you must take the candle of the Scripture, if you would find out the Dust there, and sweep it away.

The second kind of washing the Scripture speaks of, is the washing of our Page  378 hands, which is the cleansing of us from all actions of Wickednesse; as Inju∣stice, Oppression, Uncleannesse, and all manner of unlawful and sinful do∣ings. * Thus Iames addeth, Cleanse your hands, and Purifie your hearts: He saith, first Cleanse your hands, and then Purifie your hearts. Not that the wash∣ing of the hands is to be done before the washing of the heart; but because our Actions they are most manifest and sensible to the world; and therefore we ought to declare our selves clear in that respect. So then, no man may com∣fort himself, as if Regenerated or renewed, if so be his Actions are oul and sinfull: If thy hands be not clean, thou maist not take hold of any holy thing. Consider Davids Expression, I will wash my hands in innocency, so will I com∣passe thy Altar, Psal. 26. 2. David will not come to worship God, till he hath washed his hands in innocency. Oh consider this excellent and holy pattern which David hath left for you. Say, I will wash my life, my hands, my eyes, my bo∣die from all its former wickednesse, and so will I pray, so will I goe to hear. Lay aside all superfluity of naughtinesse, saith the Apostle, Jam. 1. 21. He cals sin 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Sordes, filth and loathsome matter, and then hear the Word of God. As those that made the Garland of Roses and other Flowers, for those that conquered in the Race, they were to have clean and washed hands; so all those who meddle in any holy duty, praying, or hearing, they must have cleansed lives: when God gave the Law, he would have the people of Israel cleanse themselves three dayes before they heard it; and the women who were to come into Ahasuerus his pre∣sence, were severall dayes purifying, and dressing themselves. How much more then, when we come into the presence of an holy God, ought we to cleanse our selves, and to shake off all that which may be displeasing in his eyes.

Fifthly, To be spiritually washed and cleansed there are these things required:*

First, a loathing and abhorring of our selves; looking upon our selves as so many bruitish beasts, and so many abhominable Monsters, fit for nothing but to be cast upon the Dung-hill, because we have lost all our Savour. Thus Job abhorred him∣self in dust and ashes, under the apprehension of Gods glorious Majesty. Ezek. 0. 43. The Promise of grace made to the people of Israel is, That they should remember their wicked doings, wherein they have been defiled, and they should loath themselves in their own sight. We blush, saith Daniel and Ezra, and are ashamed. Thus the P〈…〉can stood aloof oft, as deeply sensible of his uncleanenesse. Oh then, how farre are most men from this washing in the Text; when did they ever loath them∣selves? when were they abominable in their own eyes? when did they humble themselves in the dust, crying out they were noisome Dung-hills, and not men. They could not indure their own selves: The very memory and thoughts of all their wayes were grievous and tedious to them. Till men come thus to be ashamed and confounded in themselves, they cannot be so much as in a preparation to be made clean. Oh tremble then, you who applaud your selves, who love and please your selves in your wicked wayes, like the Horse-Beetle, that delights to live in the Dung; like Vermine, that love to be in Muck-hils. Oh why are ye not ashamed that God should see you, that good Angels and men should behold you. It will ne∣ver be well with thee, nor wilt thou ever be put into any hopes of salvation, till thou beginnest to be odious in thy own eyes, till thou canst not abide and indurethy self.

Secondly, To be washed, is required godly sorrow, and morning for sinne. David washed his Bed with tears, and so he did his soul also. Not that our tears or sor∣row * can wash away the guilt of sin. No, there can be no remission without bloud, Heb 9. 22. and the bloud of Christ; but they may in some sense wash the filth and defilements of sinne away. Therefore there is Gods washing, which the Scrip∣ture speaks much of, and that is the remission of the guilt of sinne; and there is our washing, which is the godly, sorrow and mourning for the iniquities we have committed: so then if thou wouldst be a man washed from thy sinfull pollu∣tions, consider, That thy head must be like a fountain of tears, thy eyes must be 〈◊〉 the Pool of Bethesda in this sense, that thy filthinesse may be washed away. Page  379 How then canst thou perswade thy self, that thou hast received this priviledge, when thy heart was never melted for thy sins: Godly sorrow is wholly a strange thing to thee, thou dost not know what it means. Alas! those suddain exclamati∣ons, The Lord forgive me, God pardon me, I should not have said so, or done so: This is not the godly sorrow commanded in the Scripture; why then dost thou lie with thy filth and unclean abominations upon thee? why dost thou not mourn and lament over thy wretched condition? What hast thou tears for the losse of wife, children, goods and estate, but none for the losse of God? Tears in thy eyes are better Jewels than those on thy ears.

Thirdly, To be washed, there is also required a spirituall pain and trouble of the*soul. For this washing of a sinner, is like the washing of purified old sores which cannot but administer great grief and aches, as when the ailor washed Peters sores: Therefore David expresseth his Repentance by broken bones, Psalme 51. which declareth the holy pain and trouble of soul he had within him, because of his iniquities. Hence it is also called pricking and wounding at heart. Go to therefore you sinners, who live heart-whole, and heart-sound, as you call it, you never have any pangs, any travail of soul for your iniquities, you never are in labour or pain; know, that you are not washed from your impieties: why dost thou not take up the Prophet Micah's expression, Mich. 1. 8. I will wail and houl, I will go stript and naked, I will make a mourning like the Dragons, and wailing like the Owls, because of the anguish of mind, and trouble of soul upon me for my iniquities. Never think it will be well, till those sinnes which have been so sweet and pleasant to thee, be like Gall and Wormwood, biting like a Serpent, and stinging like an Adder. It cannot be, but that these lusts for a season so delightful, will afterwards become like so many devils tormenting thy conscience. Be not afraid to be sick and troubled for sin now, it may be medicinal and helpful now, but it wil be paenal and eternally tor∣turing hereafter.

Fourthly, To be cleansed, there is required a constant and daily applying of those*remedies, which are appointed by God to make us clean; and that is aith in Christs bloud, and faith receiving the Word of God. The bloud of Christ and the Word of God are both cleansers. Thus Acts 15. Faith is said to purifie the heart; and David prayeth, Psalme 51. That God would wash him with Hyssop, and make him clean, so he should be whiter than Snow: an allusive exposition to the Jewish Cu∣stome of besprinkling the Posts of the door with the bloud of the Sacrifice, which signified the bloud of Christ sprinkled upon the soul, and faith that is like the bunch of Hyssop, which though low and contemptible, yet was instrumental to that glorious effect. Thus also the garments of the Saints are said to be made white in the bloud of the Lamb; though it be red, yet it makes them white: Therefore faith in Christ is mighty in operation to get out all the spots and defilements that are upon our lives.

The other cleansing Instrument is the word of God, cleansing his Church through his Word; and Psalme 119. Wherewith shall a young man make clean his wayes? even by attending to thy Word. A young man most prone to foul and noisome lusts, even he may quickly by the Word be washed and cleansed. Come then often in this Bath, wash thy self often in the waters of the Scripture, and then thou wilt become white and lovely.

Lastly, This washing is a continual work. Though the Apostle saith, They are wa∣shed, in the by-past time; yet because man in his journey to heaven, gets much * soil and filth; therefore he must be washing himself every day, Iohn 13. 9. 10. Peter did not understand that our Saviour taught this, by his action of washing their feet; but when he did, he cryeth out, Not my feet only, but also my hands and head. Now that the most godly themselves doe need a continual washing, appeareth by that: He that is washed, needeth not, save to wash his feet. The meaning of this difficult place seemeth to be, That though they were cleansed by Regeneration, yet in their travel towards heaven, they got filth upon their feet, which they ought Page  380 every day to wash off; so that as thou gettest pollution upon thy soul daily, so thou must cleanse daily: Where then are those deluded persons, who think themselves without sin, that they need no cleansing? even therefore they have the more sin, because they think they have no sin.

Use of Exhortation, To all prophane and ungodly persons, that they would abominate and loath themselves, be in their own eyes as they are in Gods * sight, hated and abhorred. How can you but consider and be afraid un∣der these things: Thy actions, are foul actions; thy life, a noisom life; thy words, loathsom communication: Thou art like a dead carcase, like an open Sepulchre, ful of abomination: Oh that thou canst abide thy self! Thou shouldst be as some miserable wretch, that hath the members of his body rotting a∣way, and yet he liveth, how loathsome is such a man to himself? he cannot indure his own smell: Thus it should be to thee, who livest in thy gross wickedness.