The counterfeits of Sanctification. That Devo∣tion, in superstitious Customes, or Gods own Ordi∣nances, or being externally in Covenant with God, do not really sanctifie a man.
1 COR. 6. 11.
YOu have heard the nature and properties of Sanctification: Now let us discuss the counterfeits of it: for there are many things in Christianitie which people do generally trust in, as if they had power to sanctifie them, in the mean while neglecting wholly true and real Sanctification. This point is of great consequenco, if men would diligently attend to it: For as it was generally received among the Jews, that the Temple & Sacrifices did sanctifie them, though their lives were ful of wick∣ednesse: So there is scarce any one Christian, but thinketh his Baptisme, his Chri∣stianity, the Gospel, these do sanctifie him. And as among the Jewes, this princi∣ple ingraffed in their hearts, was that bitter root which made all things else bitter; so it is now among Christians. Let us go over in particular those abused instruments for sanctification.
And first, There are and have been many superstitious humane customes introduced, in the zealous performance of which men, have thought themselves sanctified. These * things have abounded in Popery: Insomuch that all the holinesse almost they cele∣brate and commend, is this external holinesse. Hence their holy images, holy vest∣ments, holy Altars, holy Crosses, holy Water, and a world of such Consecrated things they have, in the devout use whereof they conceive themselves made more holy. The accumulating and heaping of these consecrated sanctities, were brought in partly by an ignorant zeal to imitate the Jewish dispensations, as also a desire to symbolize with Paganish rites: and partly for to satisfie the ambition and avarice of their holy Mother, the Church of Rome: And if we consider the generall igno∣rance and superstitious disposition in most people, It may seem a wonder of won∣ders, that ever such a reformation could be brought in, as should take people off from their accustomed superstitious sanctification. But God calleth things that are not, as if they were: Now although I hope there are few that hear me, but have learnt better then to be addicted to such consecrated holinesse, yet take these antidotes against it.
1. That if the instituted consecrations, and sanctifications in the Old Testament,*and that by God himself, did not upon the meer use of them, or the work done, beget reall, and morall sanctification; much lesse can meer humane institutions, introduced solely by the will of man. Now that it was so in the Old Testament, it is plain. We read of many purifications, and sanctifications; They had holy vessels, the holy Temple, the Priests Garments were holy; yet none of these instituted holi∣nesses did make the priests or people better; though they had holy Oyl poured on Page 392 their bodies, yet if they were not anointed with the graces of Gods Spirit, all was nothing. Though they came to an holy Temple, yet if their bodies were not an holy Temple, this profited them not; and no remission of sin could be obtained by the killing of Sacrifices. If then Gods own Consecrations did not make persons inwardly, and in their lives sanctified, How can we think that holy places, holy Oyl, holy Water, or holy times that have no Ori∣ginall, but from Mans presumption, shall be able to work such effects in us.
2. These can have no such sanctified operation, because not appointed by God; and where there is no Divine institution, we may not expect any Divine operati∣on. *In vain do they worship me, teaching for Doctrines the Traditions of Men, Mat. 15. 9. In vain, Oh what a Thunderbolt is this; Who can perswade the su∣perstitious man, that hath laboured and toiled himself in such ignorant and formall Devotions, that all is but labour in vain? Why might not men appoint Sacraments, and adde more to those two Christ left us, if so be that they could appoint any Usages or Rites, which would work such effects?
3. It argueth a people of a Divine and Noble disposition, when they enquire into*the Originall, and Divine institution of things. Hath God put his stamp and seal upon such a Custome? Is there a Divine superscription upon such a religious Rite? This would be like pulling off the scales from the eyes, and make them weary of Egyptian darknesse. The Hebrews call Idols sometimes by a word that signifieth Terrors and Fears, because the Worshippers of them did excruciate themselves by a thousand of superstitious fears about them. And thus also are all the Traditions of men, perplexing the consciences of men with endless scruples; whereas a true know∣ledge of God out of his word, arising in the heart of a Man, would like the light quickly dispel this darknesse.
4. It is a dangerous thing to depend on these things for sanctification, because they fill the heart with opinions of merit, satisfaction, and compensation made to God.* Hence where these Customes are introduced, there the Doctrine of Merits and Free-will, and of humane satisfactions, are vehemently asserted: Now the main scope of the Scripture is to pull down this pride of mans heart, to em∣ptie him of all righteousnesse and worth; to make him to see Christs fulnesse, and his emptinesse. Oh, How farre was Paul from thinking of any satisfa∣ctions, or Compensations, who admireth that Evangelicall Grace so much vouchsafed unto him a most grievous sinner! The Godly heart cryeth out with the Centurion, he is not worthy Christ should come within his roof.
5. The work of this externall adherent holinesse is very easie. It is no greater * labour or trouble to besprinkle themselves with so much Holy water, to be an∣oynted with so much Oyl. If this were all that Christ required of those that would be saved, hell would be emptie. But to what purpose are consecrated Cros∣ses, and Sannctified Beads, if thy tongue, and eyes, and whole bodie be not also sanctfied. The Papists they give this reason, why so many turned Protestants, be∣cause (say they) Protestantism chalks out an easie way to heaven, it is but Believe, and all will be well: but Popery holds out a more pleasant and sutable way to flesh and blood; for what burthen is there in heaping up many Ceremonious and super∣stitious actions? The mortifying of one sin, the crucifying of one Lust, will be more heart-ache and trouble to flesh and blood, then a thousand such Traditio∣nal services.
Secondly, Well then, it may easily be granted, That such petty ridiculous san∣ctities that are by mens commandments, may be no more then dung, yea, an abomina∣tion unto the Lord. But what shall be thought of those holy Duties which God hath appointed: there is holy praying, holy hearing. These holy ser∣evies which God himself hath Commanded, Doth not the constant, and Page 393 diligent use of these sanctifie a Man? No, these are not barely to be relied * upon.
For 1. These duties do not sanctifie, except thou be first sanctified inwardly. Prayer doth not make thee holy, but an holy prayer proceeds from holiness. These duties do then onely encrease, and adde to our Grace, when they are the exercises and effects of a sanctified life within us. A wicked man who is spiritually dead in his sins, can no more pray after a spiritual gracious manner, then a dead man can speak or breath. Do not then mistake in this businesse: these re∣ligious Duties are called holy, not because they sanctifie every one that appeareth near to God in them; but because God, who is the object of them, and on whom they are terminated, is an holy God, and because they encrease holinesse in those who are endued with a supernatural life.
2. God in the Old Testament doth severely rebuke all those that draw nigh to Him*in those duties he commanded, and yet refuse to be washed from their sins. This is the main scope of all the Prophets in all their Sermons, upbraiding, and complaining that they would approach to him, as if they were his people, in a very solemn man∣ner: They would hear, yet do nothing, Ezek. 33. 32. And thereupon God disdaineth their Duties; God accounts of them no more then as heathens, and the vilest of men: And do we not need such Prophets again, to awaken our people? May not we say? The burthen of the Lord? the burthen of the Lord. To what purpose are those multitude of Duties? Wash ye, and make ye clean, and so will God ac∣cept you. What a ridiculous thing is it to comfort thy self with an holy prayer, as thou thinkest, when thou hast so many unholy words, and unholy actions? will God take notice of thy duties, when thy sins cry so loud in his ears? but we have spoken heretofore of this.
We come to the Third thing intended, And that is the holinesse of the Covenant*under which all passe that outwardly professe God to be their God, and accept of Jesus Christ to be their Lord. This is the highest holinesse next to that of Sanctification, and true Godlinesse: Now because this is a controverted point, and many who confesse an outward Covenant-holinesse that was Typical among the Jews, yet de∣ny any such federal holinesse in the New Testament, and therefore say all the holi∣nesse in the Gospel, is a Moral real holinesse; we must be the more tender what we deliver herein.
And 1. Consider, That God who is the supreme Lord and Governour of all, that*might deal with man onely in an absolute way, as a Lawgiver, man being his Crea∣ture; yet such is his gracious goodnesse, that he enters into a familiar Covenant-way with us. God might have commanded us to do such and such things, but never have entered into a Covenant to promise and engage himself to be thus and thus, and to do thus and thus for us. This Covenaut of Grace is that which the Scri∣pture doth so often speak of and admire; the substance of it being to become our God, and to make us his people. Now what tongue can expresse the priviledge, and great glory of this condition, to own God for our God; so that thereby his wisdome, his power, his goodnesse, all is for our advantage; and we come in all duties unto God, not upon absolute terms, but Covenant terms, and that of Grace: Where by God doth as it were lay aside the glory of his Majesty, and his terrible severe justice and becomes like one of us, condescending to us?
2. This Covenant is dispensed in an external, and visible administration, by*the Word and Sacraments. The preaching of the Gospel is the solemn promulga∣tion of this Covenant, and invitation to enter therein: The Sacraments are seals to ratifie and confirm this holy and sacred agreement. Now because all know not the work of Grace, to whom this Covenant is externally administred, hence ariseth that necessary distinction of an external Covenant, and an internall. The external Covenant is that whereby in an outward visible manner God doth own a people, and they externally professe their owning of him; but yet in Page 392〈1 page duplicate〉Page 393〈1 page duplicate〉Page 394 their hearts and souls they do not stedfastly cleave unto God, and faithfully keep this Covenant in the Conditions thereof. The internal, or inward Covenant, i• that whereby God doth in a Spiritual powerful manner take a people to him, work∣ing in their hearts all those gifts and graces promised in the Covenant, as regene∣ration, remission of sinne, adoption, and the like: And in this sense onely the truely godly are in the Covenant, and they are onely Gods people, and he their God. This distinction of a Covenant into outward and inward, is not a distinction of a Genus into it's Species, so much as a distinction of a thing into the severall administrations and dispensations of it. If Adam had stood firm in that state of integrity, there had not been this distinction of an externall and internall Cove∣nant: for all then would have been godly; and the outward dispensation of Gods love would have been to none, but those that were indeed his. But since the fall, even in Gods own garden, there are weeds as well as flowers, there is Chaff as well as Wheat in his Floor: and therefore some are partakers of the Covenant on∣ly externally, some both externally and internally also.
3. By reason of this externall and visible participation of the Covenant. All * those who live under it, and do not apostatize, or absolutely revolt from it, have a kinde of externall Covenant-holiness, and in opposition to Heathens and Pa∣gans or Apostates may be called holy. This is indeed greatly doubted of by some; but if we consider the Scripture, God doth own a people for his, though not in∣wardly godly, as long as they externally own him, and doe not plainly renounce his Worship and Service. It is true indeed, if we speak of spirituall and gracious Communion with an enjoyment of God, so they are none of his; but we now re∣late to an externall society onely: Thus the Jews, though they were false and hy∣pocrital in their hearts, yea full of many a•ominable •mpieties, yet God owned them as his people, till the conjugall bond at last was wilfully and perfidiously vio∣lated by them. Hence in that they were Circumcised, and solemnly worshipped the true God, God owned them as his people, though he did also at the same time reproove them severely for their sinnes. Hence the Heathens, Ephes. 2. are said to be strangers from the Covenant and common-wealth of Israel; Implying, that all the Israelites by Birth and Education, till they made a manifest revolt, were under the Covenant. Therefore consider what the Apostle saith of all the Jews Rom. 9. 4. Who are Israelites to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glo∣ry, i. e. The Ark and outward testimony of Gods presence, and the Covenants, and Adoption. They were all in Covenant, and so outwardly the sonnes of God; and therefore God by the Propht complaineth that they had taken his sonnes, and his daoghters, which they had brought forth •o him, and offered them up to M•∣loch. Thus you see in the old Testament, that even unregenerate men were in some sense under the Covenant, and so had an externall holinesse; and therefore somtimes they areall called Saints, Deut, 33. 3. in opposition to the world, that was destitute of the knowledge and true worship of God; and some again, that were the chil∣dren of the Kingdome, should yet be cast forth, M•t••. 12. Under the New Te∣stament, that such an external, visible enjoying of the Ordinances doth also bring a kind of external holinesse, which Heathens and Pagans have not is apparent first by that place, 1 Cor.〈◊〉. Else were your children unclean, but now they are holy. What holinesse can this be?
First, it cannot be a civil holinesse, as some would expound it. That is, they are legitimate Children, and not Bastards: for in that sense the children of heathens are holy, i. e. they are not Bastards, because marriages are lawfull and val•d a∣mongst them.
The• secondly, Holinesse cannot be understood of true inherent holinesse, for so all the children of Believing Parents are not holy. How many godly Parents have wicked and ungodly children?
Therefore thirdly, it must be meant of an external Covenant-holinesse, where∣by Believers were in outward manner owned by God, and by that their children Page 395 also had a right to Baptism, and so are not born as Children of Heathens in the outward power of Satan and wrath: For although by nature they are children of wrath, yet being born within the Covenant, they have an holinesse; that is, a right to such Ordinances they are capable of, which the Children of Pagans have not. Thus H•b. 10. 29. the Apostle speaks there of an Apostate who never had true in∣ward grace and sanctification in him; yet he is said to be sanctified by the bloud of the Covenant. How was that? not really and in truth; for then he could never fall into that unpardonable sin: but externally and in respect of the outward in∣joyment of the Gospel, with their profession of obedience thereunto. And hence it is, that the Apostle writing to all Believers, to all Churches which he had plan∣ted, he giveth them the title of Saints: especially we are to take notice of that ex∣pression, 1 Cor. 1. 2. To them that are sanctified, called to be Saints. The Corin∣thians (you know) were many of them taxed for grievous and dangerous crimes, both in Doctrine and manners; yet he stileth them Sanctified, and Saints. As for the exception that some make, he speaks thus in respect of the better part. I grant that to be true in part; yet because the other did not wilfully renounce Christ, they might in some sense be said to be sanctified; for they voluntarily owned that holy profession and name of Christ, though in works they denyed him. Besides, those titles shewed what they ought to be, and what Obligations were on them to walk holily: But this requireth a more large and exact handling. Some reject the Translation called to be Saints; because in the Greek it is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, called Saints, but this is needlesse; for in the first Verse Paul is said to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, called an Apostle; which necessarily denoteth his Apostleship to be the end of his Calling; as Saintship is the end of ours.
4. The offer and tendring of this Covenant is not enough to make a people out∣wardly holy, but there must be an outward and visible accepting of it. The Gospel * hath been preached to many people, who yet rejected it; and therefore not taking the Covenant, continued still in their naturall pollution and uncleannesse; and this is necessarily to be pressed upon you: for most Christians know not, or attend not to what they do. There is none of you who are Baptized, and own the title of Christians, but ye have entred into a Covenant with God, you have promised to be his, you have resigned up your selves unto him, as your Lord, whose Laws you will obey. Thus as many as are baptized, are said, To put on Christ Jesus, Gal. 3. 27 That is, their external profession, and Sacramentall obligation, 1 Pet. 3. 21. That Answer of a good Conscience is an allusive expression to Covenants and Contracts which are mutually made between parties. Oh then, that all you who glory in your Baptism and Christianity, and thereby in a kind of holinesse, would remember what those stipulations were? Were not those ingagements to •enounce the devil, to forsake all wicked ways, and to cleave only to him? Because you entred into such an agreement, and made such an external profession, therefore thou art in a sense under the Covenant, and so hast a Covenant-Sanctification. But all this will not avail without true, reall, and practicall holinesse, and amendment of thy life.
First, This holinesse is but titular and nominal; and although it be of some dig∣nity * and priviledge, as it was to the Jewes, to have the Oracles and promises be∣longing to them; Yet it is not advantagious to the chiefest and most necessary good, which is the enjoyment of God, and eternal happinesse. Now as in all other things the name doth not satisfie without the reality, the name of riches without r•ches; the name of health without health; so neither may the name of Sanctification, without the thing it self. Put not then any confidence in this, that thou art under Gods Covenant, thou hast given up thy self to him in Baptism, thou wearest this Badge and Mark; for all this is but a shadow and no substance, till thy affections and conversations be made really holy.
Secondly, This Covenant-holinesse will not serve, because it doth but aggravate*and heighten the wickeanesse of those who being under this bond, yet walk contrary to Page 396 God. God will proceed against thee as a persidious violator of that holy Covenant thou madest with him, for thee who hast thus entred into Covenant with God, and brought all thy Children under this relation, to perform no Covenant-duties; how unpardonable is it? Therefore God doth greatly complain when his people are no better, and walk no more holily, then those that never knew him, or drew nigh to him. Hos. 6. 7. But they like men, have dealt treacherously. Some expound it thus, They like Adam transgressed the Covenant; That as Adam placed in Pa∣radise continued not faithfull to God, so the Israelites brought into a rich and plen∣tifull land, flowing with Milk and Honey, brake those holy bonds they were tyed in to God. But we rather take it as Rivet, They, like men, that is, as if they were none of my people, as if they had never covenanted with me, but were, like the common men of the world, that live without the knowledge of God, so opposite and rebellious are they against me. Oh how truely may this Text be verified of too many Christians: Like men they transgresse Gods Law.
Use of Instruction. How prone men are, though it is very vain, to have hopes in a false counterfeit Sanctification. In Poperie the greatest part of their religion * is placed in holy Images, holy Temples, holy Ceremonies; as if these things did sanctifie them. And although Protestants are generally delivered from this blind∣nesse, yet how do they lean upon external Signs or Badges of holinesse, because they partake of an holy Baptism, have a Covenant-holinesse, which also is commu∣nicated to their Children, how ready to be puffed up with it! Oh but none of these holinesses or sanctifications, is meant in that place. Without Sanctification no man shall see God: And, Be ye holy as I am holy. Attend therefore to that which is true Sanctification, that to which the promise of grace and glorie is made.
Use 2. To rebuke sharply all prophane and ungodly persons, that yet are un∣der the names and Titles of Christians, and sanctified persons, Oh the Justice of * God will fetch thee from these very Altars and condemn thee. How can the pa∣tience of God any longer bear with thee, in the profession of holinesse, (for so thy Christianity is) to be wicked and unholy. Many times hast thou been admonished herein; tremble at it, and know, the seasons and opportunities of getting holinesse will not continue alwayes.