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  403

SECT. IX. Of the VVork of Grace, under the Notion of Conversion, or Turning unto God.

SERMON. LXVI.

Shewing that the Damnation of Wicked Men is unpleasing to God, and that which he delights not in.


EZEK. 33. 11.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live; wherefore turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; For why will ye dye O house of Israel?

I Shall now in the next place, consider the work of Grace, under the notion of Conversion, or Turning unto God, which is one of the most frequent words in the Scripture to denote that duty. For the better opening of the words upon which I intend to build this discourse, we may ob∣serve God himself inditing a Sermon for Ezekiel the Pro∣phet to preach, wherein there is, 1. The Doctrine, I have no pleasure in the death of a wicked man. 2. The confirmation of it by an Oath, which God himself makes, As I live, saith God. 3. The use of Exhortation, Turn ye, turn ye. 4. The Motive, Why will ye dye? For the occasion of these words, you may see God giving Commission to Ezekiel to be a Watchman, admonishing him by several Arguments to discharge his trust faithfully; and in that all Ministers are concerned: It was Chrysostomes wonder, if any spiritual Officer, who had charge of souls committed unto him, could be saved; for if a man is not able to give an account for his own sins, how shall he do it for others? Therefore the forepart of this Chapter, should be the faithful Ministers Looking-Glass, wherein he should often look: And if there be so much joy in heaven, for the reducing of one sheep that goeth astray, how much Page  404 rather for the conversion of a wandring Shepherd! Another part of his duty is, to vindicate and justifie God; for the Jews quarrelled and repined at Gods pro∣vidence, as if his ways were unequall, or as if God did delight in the destruction of men, yea, though they turned from their wicked ways. Now my Text is an Apology unto that calumny, where the clean contrary is confirmed by an oath of God himself; who though he cannot lye, and so his word is enough, yet for condescension to our capacity, and to confirm our faith, doth swear, That he delights not in the death of a wicked man. O beatos nos quorum causâ Deus jurat, O miserrimos si nec juranti Domino credimus, Tertullian.

Now this Text is frequently urged and debated upon in the matter of Re∣probation, corrupt Teachers concluding from hence, that there is no Election * or Reprobation absolutely, because God doth seriously will every mans life, and no wicked mans death. Some answer, that this place is wholly impertinent to that question; for (say they) the Prophet speaks not here of eternal death, but tem∣poral, and that which is by the violence of the sword: And (say they further) the antecedents and consequents do evidently shew, that the sense is, God doth not will the death of a wicked man, if he will turn from his wickedness; for the Jews charged God foolishly, as if they were punished unjustly, for they per∣swaded themselves they turned to God, and yet their calamities were not taken away: This is probable; but grant the Text to be comprehensive of Eternal death, as many other places are; such as that, God would not have any to perish, but to come to the knowledge of the truth, &c. 1 Tim. 2. 4. Then the answer is known, which may easily be made good, though it be not my work now, God hath an approving will, and an effective or decreeing will. Gods Approving will is car∣ried out to the objects, as good in its self; but Gods Effective will is, when he intends to bring a thing about. God had an approving will, that Adam should stand, therefore he gave him a command, and threatned him if he did fall; yet he had not an effective will, to make him to stand, for then who could have hindered it? Thus Christs tears over Jerusalem (How often would I have gathered thee, and thou wouldst not?) were not Crocodiles tears (as some say the Calvinists make them) for though Christ, as God, had not decreed the conversion of the Jews, yet the thing it self was approved of and commanded, and he as the Mi∣nister of the New Testament, affectionately desired it: So here in the Text, God by this pathetical expression, doth declare, how acceptable and desirable a thing it is in its self, that the Jews should be converted; how distastful and un∣pleasant their damnation was: therefore mark the expression, he doth not say, I do not will the death of the wicked, but I have no pleasure in it: And if that of the Arminians be true, that God doth effectually will the conversion of all, why then are not all converted? Who hath resisted his will? but I intend grapes, and not thorns; practical, not controversal matter from this Text.

The first Observation is, That the damnation and destruction of a wicked man, is unpleasing to God, its not that which he delights in.*

Before I open the point, you may object one known and evident place (there being many others also equivalent to it) Prov. 1. 26. I will laugh at your cala∣mity,*and mock when your fear cometh: This argueth their destruction was plea∣sing to him. Hence judgements upon the wicked are compared to Sacrifices, be∣cause they are so acceptable to him.

To Answer this; Both these are true, God delights not in the death of a sinner, yet He will laugh at their Destruction: For if you consider death and hell, as * the sinners misery meerly, and as sin brings it, so it is displeasing to God; but as it is an act of justice punising the impenitent for his wickedness; so it is well pleasing to God, for he is just as well as merciful. Even as a just Judge that condemneth a malefactor, may pity the man condemned for his crimes, and the execution be grievous to him, as its the mans misery; yet as he is a just Judge, so he delights also to have justice done: but this is handled in controversies

Page  405 Let us see wherein it appeareth, that this is not well pleasing to God; and that therefore the whole fault and blame of a mans perdition, is wholly on his own head:

First, Gods unwillingness to damn, is seen in the original and primitive instituti∣on*and creation of man: He made him after his own Image; indued him with all sufficient power and ability to persevere: There was no spot, or blemish, or defect in him, onely he was mutable, and might Apostatize from this happy estate, if he would: Seeing then God withheld nothing from him, that might make him happy; and in him he covenanted with all mankinde, intending the like good to them; hence it doth appear, how well pleasing it was unto God, that man should continue in a state of holiness before him: Sin then came into the world, and by it death through Adams voluntary transgression: There was no Antecedaneous decree from God, necessitating him to sin: It was his own willful choice, and that when he knew the penalty to the contrary; but yet so, that Gods permissive decree of his fall, did precede, though not necessitating: If therefore sin had been inbred in mans heart at first, as it is now since his fall, then the cause would have been imputed to God; but then he had that priviledge of power to do that which is good, and to withstand what is evil.

Secondly, Gods unwillingness is seen, even since mans revolt; For whereas he * might have dealt with us as the lapsed Angels, who are left without any re∣medy, he hath appointed an Ark to save some Righteous persons. There was never such offers and tenders to Angels, as here in the Text, Turnye, turnye, why will ye be damned? Now the means God hath appointed for a mans recovery are divers: *

First, There are means by way of love and goodness: There are also means by way of Chastisements and afflictions. By way of Love; How winning and overcoming should that be? Love doth surround thee; its love that thou livest, that thou breathest; its love, thou art preserved from hell and damnation; its love, that thou hast any support at all; therefore the goodness of God in all the Creatures thou enjoyest, should lead thee to repentance, Rom. 2. The Sun that shines to thee, the Earth that brings forth fruit for thee, the health and per∣fection of the senses, should melt thee always into good. Again, because na∣turally we are slavish, and so moved rather by judgements then mercies; ra∣ther driven with whips, then drawn with silken cords of love; therefore God leaveth not that way unattempted also: Hence the Prophets are so diligent in informing the Israelites, what was the cause of their plagues, famines, the sword and captivity, even their sins; and therefore they should not be so much weary of them, or cry out of them, as of their iniquities: God doth not punish willingly, saith the Scripture, Psal. 104. like the Bee that naturally gives honey, but stings not, unless provoked. As the Physitian doth not willingly put his Patient to torments, but for his good: Thus it is here, God seeth all his love upon thee will do thee no good, thou doest abuse it, and grow wanton under it, there∣fore he will take another course, he will throw thee sometime into the water, to see if that will get the filth out of thee; sometime into the fire, to see if that will fetch the dross out: If therefore God would leave thee incurable, he would let thee alone, and punish thee no more, as he threatens some, Hosea 4. 14. O then know, there is never a mercy, or an affliction, never a smile from God, or frown from him, but he will have an account of it: How hath it made thee weary of thy sins, and willing to repent?

Secondly, The means God hath appointed, are either external or internal. Ex∣ternal, * are the Scriptures, and the preaching of the word of God. As where the Sun shineth, that is to give light and life; so where the Gospel ariseth, that is to beget spiritual and supernatural life: The word of God therefore, and the preaching thereof, is compared to all effectual and energetical things, to Page  406 Musterd-seed, to Leaven, to a Sword, to an Hammer, to Fire: Now why doth God cause this noise always to sound in thy ears, but because thou shouldst hearken and be obedient? It is true indeed, we must distinguish of wicked men; they are either such as live in Paganism, in the ignorance of God, and without the Church (though God hath not left such without a testimony and a wit∣ness their consciences within, and the creatures without, bearing witness of God) yet we cannot say, that God so immediately wills their salvation, as of others, still keeping to the first distinction we mentioned, and not contradicting that: Why indeed God should thus differently dispense the means of grace to some, and not to others; yea neglect the far greater part of mankinde, is a mystery too deep for us to wade in: Gods ways are always most just, when they are most secret and unknown to us; yet even of such destitute persons, we may say, God hath no pleasure in their death, according to our premised sense; for he giveth them warnings against sin, and implanted a thousand witnesses within them, to accuse them if ever they do evil: or such wicked men, who live un∣der the sound of the trumpet, that are awakened, and reminded every day of their transgressions, to such as these God discovers, how unwilling he is, that they should perish in their impieties. Consider therefore, that every leaf in the Scripture, every Sermon thou hearest, will be a terrible matter of account at that dreadful day: God will say, How often would I have converted thee, in∣structed thee, but thou wouldst not! Then there are internal means, of which anon.

Thirdly, Gods pleasure in the conversion of wicked men is seen, by those patheti∣cal and affectionate expressions, which we see the Scripture useth; which do not * onely argue Gods will, but the height and strength of his will: As here in the Text; First, Gods Oath, As I live (saith God;) then the ingemination of the duty, Turn ye, turn ye; lastly, a vehement expostulation, Why will ye dye? So you may read many times in the Scripture those exclamations, Oh that my people were wise, that they would consider their latter end; and we see Christ himself, though in the midst of all that pomp and glory which was attributed to him; yet weeping over Jerusalem, Oh that thou hadst known the things that belong to thy peace, &c. Luke 19. 42. The truth of this also will further be amplified, if you consider what zealous and importunate Messengers his Prophets are: We be∣seech you, and intreat you to be reconciled unto God, 2 Cor. 5. 20. If ye will not hear (saith Jeremy) my soul shall mourn in secret for you, Jer. 13. 17. The con∣sistency of these things, with an absolute Election, in the sense that the Ortho∣dox maintain it, and not which their adversaries calumniously fasten upon them, See in Controversal Writers.

Fourthly, That the death of a wicked man is displeasing to God, appeareth, in that sin, which is the cause of death, is the onely evil hated by him, and that onely which*he hath decreed to punish to all eternity: Thou art of purer eyes, then to behold ini∣quity, Hab. 1. and, God is angry with the wicked every day: He that commands us to hate it, how much rather must he himself loath it? God therefore is not the author and lover of sin; for Non est author ejus, cujus est ultor, He is not the Author of that of which he is the Avenger: How then can God delight in thy damnation, when the cause of it is so abominated by him! Indeed (as you heard) seeing damnation is an act of Justice, and so hath the nature of good, God doth delight in it; but as it is ruine of the creature by sin, so it is not accepta∣ble to him.

Fisthly, Gods unwillingness that the wicked should perish, appeareth in those in∣ternal means, and inward works of Gods Spirit, that are vouchsafed to many:* God thinks it not enough to give the word, and the ordinances, and thus out∣wardly to knock at the door; but he also opens the door in some measure. Hence come those convictions of Conscience, those illuminations of the under∣standing, and many such secret motions of Gods spirit, that if possible, the Page  407 soul might at last bewail its sins, and turn unto God. Its true, thus far God doth not go with every one, neither are all admitted unto such favor, but many within the means of Grace, have their hearts thus continually beaten upon, and their consciences thus convinced and smitten: And therefore such who shall yet retain their natural pravity and wickedness, when so many remedies shall be applyed, argue the greater obstinacy, and judgement of God upon them.

Now to all this, there is one grand and main Objection; which is, If God * do thus will and delight in the conversion of men, If those invitations are se∣rious, and so pathetical, Why then doth not God change the hearts of all? why are not all converted? why are any damned? *

To this there is a true Answer and a false Answer returned: The false Answer is by Arminians and others; Therefore some are converted and not others (say they) because some do receive the grace of God offered, and not others: But this is to put all the glory of mans conversion upon his own will; for why do some receive the grace of God, and not others? Can any receive grace, without the help of grace? Must there not be supernatural life breathed into a man, before he can stretch out his hand towards God? besides, this opposeth all those places of Scripture, which describe man dead in sin, and unable to any good; and conversion is not the awakening of a man asleep, but the resur∣rection of one that is dead: Therefore the true answer is, that although God hath revealed his approving will thus, about the salvation of sinners; yet the Scripture doth plainly limit his effective will, to those that are elected, not to all men, but to some, Rom. 9. there this question is on purpose handled, and the Apostles conclusion is, On whom he will, he sheweth mercy, and whom he will, he hardens, And doth there silence all those cavils, that proud sinners may make; even this very Objection he instanceth in, Who hath resisted his will? So that you must compare one Scripture with another, and be sure to keep sobriety and humility in this great mystery, not lanching further into this Ocean, then the Scripture is a star to guide you in.

Secondly, Though God doth thus will the salvation of sinners, yet he is also a God of Soveraignity, and Power: None may prescribe to him; he is of boundless * Wisdom and Counsel, and none can search out or know the depths of God, but the spirit of God. How many things doth the Scripture reveal, as objects of faith, which cannot be comprehended by us; that are above all humane reason, though not contrary to sound reason! Our Saviour hath taught us an excellent way to resolve these dispensations of God, Even so Father, for so it pleaseth thee, Mat. 11. As Ipse dixit must be the ground of faith; so Ipse voluit of our submission.

Use 1. Of instruction, concerning the inexcuseableness of wicked men, who * perish in their sins; Who may be blamed but thy own self? Although we have it from Adam; to lay our sins off from our selves, yet these fig-leaves will not cover our nakedness; for to God thou canst not impute thy ruine: O Israel, thy perdition is of thy self, Hosea 13. 9. Let no man say, when he is tempted, that he is tempted of God, for he tempts no man, but every one is led aside by the lusts of his own heart, James 1. Oh thou! that in this life time slatterest thy self, thy sins must not be owned by thee, none may put thee in minde of what thou art; when God shall at the day of judgement, discover all hidden things of dark∣ness, then it will be manifest, thou, even thy own self, hast undone thy self: God hath done like a gracious, good, just and merciful God, but thou hast been a cruel enemy unto thy own soul, Qui voluntatem Dei spreverunt invitantem, voluntatem Dei sentient vindicantem, You shall finde his power in punishments, who have despised his grace and mercy in offers thereof, Austin. Neither may you excuse your selves, by casting your sins on Satan; for although he be a Tempter, and doth continually suggest corrupt lusts unto thy heart; yet this is onely by temptation, by suggestion; he doth not make thee sin, whether thou wilt or no: Thou art stubble, and that makes the sparks of fire which come from Page  408 him, so easily inflame. As some Heathens have imputed their miscarriages to I know not what, Fate, and the constellation of Stars; so many Christian peo∣ple, put their iniquities off either to God or the Devil: What would you have them to do? they cannot help it; How could God punish and damn thee for these sins, if he caused them in thee? God indeed hath a just and terrible pro∣vidence about the sins of men, he is not an idle spectator of them, but yet he doth not infuse any wickedness into men; that they have of themselves, onely God may guide and order it to wise ends, and cause it to run down what chan∣nels he pleaseth.

Use 2. The aggravation of the wickedness of those sinners, who stand out wilfully against the goodness and patience of God, that would lead them to * repentance; For how shall any mouth be opened for thee? who shall plead for thee? What excuse hast thou? Consider, that God desireth thy conversion, who doth not need thee, who can be honored though thou art damned in hell: he can raise up children to Abraham out of stones: When therefore God shall thus invite thee for thy good and advantage onely, he is not bettered by thee, nor made the more happy, then thy forehead must be brass, that doth not blush at such ingratitude; cry out, Who am I, Lord? what am I, that I should be regarded? wilt not thou have praise, and honor, and glory, though I be a cast-away? why should my life and salvation be so dear to thee, who am naturally a cursed enemy to thee?

Use 3. Of consolation to broken and tempted Christians, who sit down like Job upon the dunghill, abhorring themselves; they are loathsom in their own * eyes, and because so, therefore they think God will not receive such Monsters into his presence: Oh, they say, though God take pleasure in the life and salva∣tion of others, yet he will not surely do so to me: But O this Text, should be sweeter then the honey or honey comb to thee; God saith, As he liveth, he delighteth not in thy damnation: Art thou therefore weary of thy sins? doest thou renounce thy lusts? Then be not afraid to come, Those that come to him, he will in no ways cast off: God saith, Why will ye dye, O house of Israel? Do thou turn the Text, and say, Why shall I dye, O God of Israel? set this Scripture against Hell, Devil, and all accusations of conscience, God doth not delight to bruise and break thee with those many temptations, that are worse then death it self.

Use 4. Of direction unto Christians, under all their miseries and troubles, not to repine at God, but to blame and humble themselves. The Jews here, had the * devouring sword come upon them, which did cut them off father and son toge∣ther; now they thought Gods ways were not equal herein: And thus So∣lomon, The wickedness or foolishness of a man, perverteth his own ways, and then his heart fretteth against the Lord, Prov. 19. 3. As God hath no pleasure in the death of a man repenting; so neither in the troubles, calamities, and sad afflictions he lieth under: He doth not afflict willingly; Were it not our rebellion and un∣towardness, we should not have so many stripes and scourges from him: Oh this is an excellent way to humble our selves in the dust; why should a living man complain for the punishment of his sins? Lam. 3.

Page  409

SERMON LXVII.

Divers Propositions or Considerations introductory to the Doctrine of Conversion.


EZEK. 33. 11.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he turn from his way: Turn ye, turn ye from your evill wayes.

THis Text hath informed us how unpleasing the death of a wicked man is to God. We now proceed to the inference made from that proposition, There∣fore the wicked should turn from his evill wayes. Turn ye, turn ye. The inge∣mination denoteth the vehement affection and desire of God, as also our stupidity and love to our sins, when once calling will we not awaken, but we must over and over again be called upon. I am therefore now to treat on that famous and neces∣sary work, conversion or turning from sinne. As Satan and the Angel did once strive about Moses his body, So now the great controversie between God and his Angels, and the Devil and his instruments, is about a wicked man, whether he shall still be kept in the bonds or chains of sinne, or whether he shall be loosened from them, and set free to walk in Gods Commandements. I shall, because of the usefulnesse of this point, handle it doctrinally, and practically. And the foundation upon which we will build our discourse shall be this Doctrine, viz.

That conversion or turning, from our evill wayes, is necessarily required*to an happy and eternall life. The Text hath this in the affirmative and the contrary, Let the wicked man turn, that he may live. Turn ye, Why will ye dye? See how life is the necessary consequent of Conversion, and death the fruit of neglecting it. Life and death are the great Arguments in the world. What will not a man give for life? and death is the King of terrors. We use to say, such a man is so ear∣nest and busie in that matter, as if life and death depended on it. To be sure, such ought your cares, prayers, and endeavors to be about the avoiding of sin, and cleaving to that which is good; for life and death are in these things. Oh that men by faith and an effectual Meditation would apply these things more.

For Introduction into this matter, consider some particulars.

First, That the phrase in the Text, To be converted, or turn our selves, is a meta∣phor*taken from the outward situation or position of bodies, and is applyed sometimes to things, sometimes to persons. To hings; so God is said to turn joy into laugh∣ter, and to turn the captivity of Sion: unto Persons, and sometimes it is applyed to God, when of angry he becomes loving and propitious unto men, when they leave their lusts, and turn to him, both are comprized in this Text: Turn unto me, and I will turn unto you. Turn unto me by an holy change, and I will turn to you by a gracious change, though all the change be in man, not God. The Texts of Scripture which command and commend this conversion are so many, that it is end∣lesse Page  410 to name them; so then as bodies, are said to have such a locall posture, (as for example) a man may stand with this posture, as to have his back upon the Sun, and his face clean contrary to it; Thus it is with the soul, the affections of the soul are its feet, and when it turneth from God, the back is turned upon the Sun; and in that posture he continueth, till by faith and repentance he be turned again. Consi∣der therefore in what posture thy soul is, whether thou art not clean opposite to God and his way. As naturally we came into the world, with our faces towards hell, and our backs upon God; so it is with our souls.

Secondly, As by sinne we are thus turned from God, which is terminus a quo, so the Creature, and the lusts of sin are the terminus ad quem, to which they turn. Con∣version * is a motion; Now in all motions, there is the term from which, and the terme to which. Thus in the motion of the soul to sin: The term from which, is God; the term to which, is sin: and the contrary is, when we turn to God; so that if there were no other arguments, this might easily perswade us to come out of that custome and delight in sin, which we have been used unto; for how reasonable and happy is the change, to leave sinne, that hath guilt, torment, condemnation, and all curses in it, and to turn to God, the fountain of all happinesse and joy! Oh, we might think, that all the violent temptations of sinne, should never be able to hold us, but that we would quickly break all those bonds, and run to God.

Thirdly, This phrase of turning to God, and from sin, implyeth thus much, That while we live in sinne, we make sinne our Lord and Master; and therefore follow * that, turn up and down after that, as the Servant after his Master: but when we cast off these transgressions, then we follow the Lord our Master, and go after him; so that all men in the world are divided into those two ranks, either they are such as goe after their lusts, turn after them, as the shadow after the body, or else such as cleave unto the Lord, and as the herb Heliotropium, turneth up and down after the Motion of the Sun, so doe they in obedience and affections after the com∣mandments of God. Now this service and obedience to the lusts of the flesh, is a tedious and toilsome life indeed, though to the corrupt heart it may seem other∣wise: Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, Matth. 11. 22. A man that turneth into the way of sin, is like a traveller that should turn into a way full of Quick-sands and Bogs, and dangerous Precipices, having also a sore and in∣tollerable burden on his back, pressing him down with exquisite pain.

Therefore, if you ask, How can wicked men be thus merry, jocund, secure and presumpucus, when they are in such a dangerous estate? The Answer is easie. *

First, They are ignorant and foolish; their eyes are put out; and mad men can∣not apprehend the danger they are in.

Secondly, sin is a connatural and sutable object to their depraved affections; and so they swallow down sin, which is like honey in the mouth, though it prove Gravel in the belly. Oh then that all wicked men would have those repenting re∣solutions, as the Prodigal, I will leave my Husks and Swine, and rise, and return to my fathers house. I will leave these new lovers, and new Husbands, and go to my old, as the Church purposed, Hos. 2. 7.

Fourthly, This Conversion unto God, as it implyeth sin putting us into an aversion from him; so also it supposeth slight and contempt, which every wicked man puts upon God. For to turn the back on a man is an action of scorn, and disdain. Thus God complaineth, They turned the back upon him, and not the face, Jer. 32. 33. All sin hath in it a contempt of God; for it is the turning the back on God. And al∣though every sin doth not formally, and expressely intend such a disdain and con∣tempt of God; yet interpretatively, and in truth it doth so. Aristotle saith, that contempt and contumely doe more provoke an ingenuous man than reall oppositi∣ons. When God would aggravate Davids sin, he calleth it, A Despising of him. Oh then that wicked men would lay this more to heart! Thy ungodlinesse and wickednesse thou livest in is so much scorn and contempt offered unto God, its tur∣ning the back on him. Now for thee a poor sinful Creature, who hast all thy mer∣cies Page  411 from God to put contempt on him, how unsufferable is it? and the greater the contempt is, by how much base and more ignoble thy lusts, are to which thou turnest. To prefer the Devill before God, to regard his temptations more than Gods Promises; What arrogancy, and impudency is this? Did the Devill creat, thee, doth he preserve thee, did he dye, or was crucified for thee? Then if thou art so many wayes obliged, and ingaged unto God; yet for thee to prefer the Creature, yea the Devill before God; how unjustifiable is it?

Fifthly, Because by sinne we are thus averse from God. The further we go on in sinne, and the more progresse we make in those wayes, the farther off still we are from*God, and our turning back to him will be a more difficult thing. The Prodigal went into a far Countrey, spiritually as well as corporally: He went far from God, and therefore his return would cost him dearer: so that this should make every man stop betimes in the way of his sinning; this should make him without any delay return to God: for every day thou goest farther, and still farther from him; when∣ever thou shalt return to him, thy task will be the harder. Oh it is seldome seen, that a man who hath all his life time been in motion and travell from God, should at last bethink himself, and resolve to go back to God, from whence he fell. As Austin said of the Heathens noble and admirable actions of morality, which he called glittering sins, That the faster they learn, the more they were out of the way; This is true of all wicked men, the greater haste they make in this world, and the more dayes they live, the farther off are they from God: thou art farther off from salvation, than thou wast many years agoe. A sad thing it is to consider, that the longer thou livest, the lesse hope of thy Conversion; the more time thou hast spent in this world, the further off from happinesse. Be not then worse than the Horse, or the Mule, for a Bridle in their mouth will stop them, and turn them out of the way: But though the Scripture put many Bridles in thy mouth, give thee many curbs to keep thee from sin, yet thou wilt violently rush on. The A∣postle could say of some, Their salvation was nearer than at first, Rom. 18. but we may of many, Their damnation is nearer.

Sixtly, This Conversion, and turning unto God, is in Scripture spoken sometimes as*our work, and sometimes as Gods work. Thus in the Text, Turn ye, turn ye. And again, Make ye a new heart, and a new spirit: But in other places, its made the peculiar gift of God alone. Thus God saith, He will take away the heart of stone, and give an heart of flesh, Jer. 31. Ezek. 32. So, He will circumcise their hearts, He will give them a new heart, &c. Now how can these be reconciled? If God doe it, how can man? If man, how can God? Can it be Gods gift and our work too? Now there is returned this answer by erroneous Teachers, that (say they) from those pla∣ces its plain, our Conversion is partly from Free-will, and partly from Free grace, though Gods grace be acknowledged to be the principall: The one teacheth Gods operation, the other our co-operation. Thus they do not exclude God totally, yet they make him onely a co-partner with us in this work of conversion: But this is quickly dispelled, by those places that describe man dead in sinne; and so can be no synergist with God: as also by those Texts which give the praise and glory of Con∣version totally and solely to God, not dividing this glory between him and the Creature, no more than divine worship, of which God is so jealous, that he will have it alone.

The true Answer therefore lyeth in this; That the former kind of places of our duty and obligation, what we ought to doe; They are not a measure of our pow∣er what we can do. When the Prophet saith, Turn ye, turn ye; He doth not here declare what we are able to do, but what we ought to do; and yet this is not in vain, because by this we are convinced of our impotency, and are humbled under our in∣firmity; and withall God makes this a practical command to turn us: Even as that word at first, Let there be light; or that of Christ to Luzarus, Lazarus come forth; and the latter kind of places they argue the work of Conversion to be wholly of God, in which we are subjects receiving; not agents co-working. This is to be Page  412 understood in respect of the initiall working of Grace; for this phrase, Turn ye, doth also imply that we act and work; being first acted and wrought upon by God; Actiagmus, & hoc bene agimus, quod a bono agamur. So that to speak properly, turning to God, or conversion, is not so much that work of grace infused in us, which we receive, as Adam had the breath of life breathed into him; but its the actual motion and turning of the soul, which floweth from the fom••: So that this is rectus secundus, the other is actus primus, as they say. Hence a man is not said to turn to God, because he hath the habits and principles of grace, but because they are actuated, and by them the soul doth move to God, as is more largely to be shewed. Thus then you see how those places are consistent together.

Seventhly, This Conversion or turning to God, is either the first Conversion, or the latter. The first Conversion I call that, when we are at first translated from the * state of darkness to glorious light; when at first we are taken off the bitter root we were in, and ingreffed into the swet Olive-tree. The latter conversion is that when upon fals, or sins committed, we have in some measure turned from God again, but afterwards return. Thus Peters recovery is called a conversion, Luke 22. 32. When thou art converted strengthen thy brother. And thus when the Disciples fell into p••d and contention, our Saviour saith, Except ye be converted, and become like little children, ye cannot enter into the Kingdome of Heaven, Mat. 18. So that although there be but one main fundamental conversion, or turning to God, yet seing every sin, especially those that are more foul, do turn remarkably from God; therefore even converted persons need dayly to be further converted. Do not therefore rest in this, that thou art once converted, thou canst remember the time and instru∣ment of it; but consider, there is a daily conversion, and turning to God requisite; Thou art to be converted from thy daily pride, daily hypocrisie, daily guile of soul, diffidence in the Promises. Some think, because of that great work, and remark∣able change God once made upon them, that therefore they may say, Soul take thy ease, for thou hast much good laid up for thee, and think to be cloathed in all glory, like the L〈…〉es, that neither labour, or spin; but the word of God tels us, that there are daily corruptions remaining, from which we must constantly turn away.

Eightly, There is a two fold Conversion. The one from Heathenism and Paga∣nism or Heresies, to the true Faith and Doctrine of Christ: The other not oly from*that, but also from ungodlinesse and impiety in our lives. Now though the one be much admited, yet the latter is the chief of all. We see by the preaching of the A∣postles many thousands were converted; but many of these were Hypocrites, and loved the world and their lusts still. Therefore they were onely converted to re∣ceive the faith of Christ, not to obey his holy laws and commands. Thus some are said to Turn from their Idols to the living God, 1 Thes. 1. 9. But if they did not leave their sins, and their carnal confidences, which were as so many Idols, they found no advantage. Therefore diligently mark this; Its a light matter to be con∣verted from Heathenism, Heresie and Popery, so as to come to acknowledge the Truth; but art thou also converted in thy heart and affections, to submit to, and willingly obey the Lawes of Jesus Christ? This is all in all.

Ninthly; Therefore in the last place; As every part and faculty of the soul and body hath been averse from God, so Conversion must be in them all. The mind must * turn from its vain, ignorant, blinde, and unbelieving thoughts and imaginations: The will must turn from its obstinacy, perversnesse and disobedience: The heart and affections from their unlawfull objects they were placed upon; and from all this excesse, violence and immoderacy: for want of these comes that partiall and im∣perfect Conversion to God so often condemned in the Israelites. Oh then sit down and think, Lord, every thing within me is averse to thee, there is nothing but is turned from hee Oh then vouchsafe thy Grace, which will make all within me turn to thee; minde, heart, affections, and all my might: you will find that true Conver•• are very rare, half Converts and partial conversion is often; but this true, solid, and universall Conversion is in a few onely.

Page  413 In the next place, let us consider, what goeth to the m〈…〉g up of this Conver∣sion, or turning to God. And first,

There must be a true and sound understanding out of Gods Word, that the way we*are in is a wrong way: That if we turn not at la〈…〉 the end of those 〈◊〉 is in hell and damnation. A blind man, or he that walketh in the darknesse can see no necessity to turn out of the way he is in. Therefore if this Text may do any good to thee, pray for illumination of mind: Say, Lord, open my eyes, that 〈◊〉 may s•• the cragg••, and slippery, and dangerous places I walk upon. Thus Esay 6. Lst they hear with their eares, and understand, and be converted. That understanding is antecedent to con∣version; so that ignorant, sottish and brutish people, who know nothing of God, or of their own corruption, are very remote from conversion: till thou come to know & understand the danger thou art in, thou wilt not be willing to go out of the way.

Secondly, The wayes of sin must administer sme wear〈…〉ss and trouble; else the * soul will never think of returning: Come to me ye that are heavy lden. When the Prodigal is almost farnished, then he thinketh of going to his Father. When Is∣raels way is hedged in with thorns, then she will go back to her first husband, Hos. 3. So that if thou wouldst ever turn to God, pray thou maist feel the weight, and burden of sin in some measure, not to break thee, but to drive thee out of the way thou wast in, when thou believest lyons and all curses to be in thy way, then thou wilt quickly go back; whereas wicked men that live in ollity and prosperity, that have no trouble, no exercises, nor crosses in their sins, they are far from Conversion; they never think of going out of that broad way as long as they find it so sweet and pleasant: and hence God in mercy afflicts, grieveth, and con∣tinually troubleth that sinner whom he intends to convertr.

This Conversion cannot be, till God hath first infused a supernaturall life in a man;* for seeing this turning is a spiritual motion of the soul, there cannot be any motion, if there be not life first: and in this respect, no man in the world hath any active fitnesse, or worthinesse in him to be converted, no more than thorns have to become grapes, or stones children. The first step that must be taken towards heaven, must be after Christ hath said unto thee, Arise and walk. Iter ad gratiam est per gratiam, per{que} ipsam venitur ad ipsam, Prosp.

Fourthly, Its not enough to have this life infused, but there must be the actuating*of it. For to turn is an action, is a motion; and therefore though a man be renewed passively by God, yet till actively he move unto God again, he is not said to turn to him: so that this conversion doth denote more than regeneration, or a new crea∣tion; for in them its enough if God hath wrought a spiritual change; but here he doth not onely work to will, giving the ability and power, but to doe also, giving the exercise of this power.

Fiftly, This turning unto God is to be looked for in the constant and diligent atten∣dance*upon the preaching of Gods Word; for that is instituted as an instrument to change and turn us. You have many examples of the great and glorious conversions, that have been upon the most indisposed and unlikely subjects. And how so? By the plain and powerful preaching of Gods Word. Its not humane Oratory, or arti∣ficial eloquence hath done this, so much as the autoritative and spiritual explication and application of Gods Word; and therefore all those who carelesly neglect, or despise the Ministry appointed for this end, no wonder they reject the good counsell of God; and its no wonder why Satan doth so rage and set against the Ministry of Jesus Christ; for this is the only Engine and Battery that destroyeth his Kingdome and rescueth poor captives that were taken in his snares.

Use of Instruction. See and understand now the necessity of thy conversion. It is * that which undoeth most; you live the same, come to Church, and go home the same, and you never think of a turn & a change that ought to be upon you. Doth not God say to thee, Turn from this and that evil way of sinning, why wilt thou dye and be damned in it? but thou like the Serpent stoppest thy eare, if there were no other Motive to make thee turn than this, that thou livest in an age, where many turnings Page  414 and changings of things have been, this might prevail. God hath turned peace into war, quietness into trouble; why then shouldst not thou turn prophaneness into holiness; security, into godly fear and trembling? Oh turn from sin, before God turn thee into hell; and the longer and further thou hast gone on in wicked ways, know it is the higher time thou shouldst return. He goeth far that never turneth (we say) and why then is it thy obstinacy to do so?

SERMON LXVIII.

The Impediments and Obstructions of Conversion; And what kinde of persons are most unlikely ever to be converted, not to drive them to despair, but to awaken them out of their Security.


EZEK. 33. 11.
Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye dye O house of Israel?

THe particulars that clear the nature of conversion are dispatched: Let us now consider, what are the impediments and obstructions of conversion. That conversion now adays is very rare, comparatively to former times, experience evidenceth; and yet how much reason, and what unanswerable ar∣guments may be pressed on every mans conscience? Therefore its worth the while to consider, what are those causes that make men continue in their ac∣customed sins, when God and his Ministers do thus importune to leave them. Now although it be true, that in every unregenerate man, there is a natural im∣possibility to turn unto God, and so no hopes of any man in the world, if we respect humane power and strength; yet there are many, who besides this natural impossibility, have contracted on themselves a voluntary impossibility of turn∣ing unto God; so that their conversion, is not the taking away the stone of the heart, but the stones; for they have laid one upon another: We shall then ex∣amine, * what persons they are, that have the Symptomes and visible Characters of difficulty to be converted, rather then other men.

And first, Ignorant and stupid people, that have no knowledge or understanding about God or themselves: These are notoriously indisposed to turn to God; the reason is plain, because understanding goeth before conversion, and is initial or introductory to it; as Isa. 6. 10. So that if there be no knowledge, there is no hope of any turning to God; therefore Laodicea is counselled to buy eye-salve, Rev. 3. 18. as that which would be the first means to help her; and this Prayer is still to be continued, for those whose conversion we desire, That God will give them eye-salve: Its ordinarily said, As God in the first Creation wrought light, before other things; so in man, who by nature is a miserable Chaos and confusion, God causeth light to shine out of darkness. The bruit beasts are not capable of conversion, because they have no reason; and although our rea∣son be naturally corrupt, and so a great enemy to God, yet there is by it a passive capacity, though not an active of conversion. Hence the Gospel at first did take the best and most glorious effects in cities, where men were bred up in more knowledge and understanding: It's true, Paul saith, Not many learned are called, 1 Cor. 1. and, God chooseth the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and our Saviour Christ giveth thanks to God, That he had hid the things of salvation from the wise, but revealed them to babes: But by Wise and Learned, are meant Page  415 such, that with their learning are also pufft up with pride; and by babes, were not meant those that have no knowledge or understanding, but that are lowly and weak, comparatively to others: Howsoever, where conversion comes, it giveth light and knowledge, if there were none before. The consideration of this, should much startle and amaze many of you, for how woful and lamen∣table is the ignorance of most? how little is known about original and actual sin, which is their disease? and how little about Christ, who is the Physitian? God would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim 2. The knowledge of the truth must be first attained; and on the contrary, Its a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them, will not save them, Isa. 27. 11. Christ told the woman, If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, John 4. 11. If thou hadst known; and this we may say to those, who lie still in the dungeon of their sins, If thou hadst known what thy condition is, what the curses of the Law are, how terrible God is, how few shall be saved, and such like, thou wouldt not stand idle, as thou doest, but like the Hart, pant after the blood of Christ, as that after the waters: Oh then that God at last would perswade ignorant peo∣ple of their damnable estate. To whom is the word without profit? to whom is it a savor of death, but to ignorant people? Where may the Ministers make their sad complaints, They have labored in vain, and none believe their report, so much, as where this darkness, this night is upon mens hearts? You old men then, that know nothing, that understand very little, why are ye not afraid, being you are in such darkness? and you fathers, whatsoever you fail in, fail not here, about instructing your Children, though you cannot leave them wealth and estates, yet let them have the knowledge of God out of the Scriptures: How much would it affect you, to have children bodily blinde? would you not heal them, if you knew any remedy in the world? but to your childrens ignorance and spiritual blindeness, you are voluntarily accessary, and you willingly are the cause of it.

Secondly, Men far from conversion, are such as have a Pharisaical Self-conceit*of their own Righteousness and good Works; by which means, they never think of going back, for none can perswade them, but they are in the right way already: This is a generation, that will sooner dye in their sins, then ever turn to God; and our Congregations have such, as well as the former. Observe our Saviours Sermons, and you shall finde, that he did least good, upon those that iustified themselves; insomuch, that he tells them, Publicans and harlots entered the king∣dom of heaven, before such as they were; and again, I come not to call the Righte∣ous, but sinners to repentance, Luke 5. 32. so we preach, not to convert those who think themselves Righteous already, who applaud themselves in their good Mo∣ralities, or plausible lives; but to those who are convinced of their sinfulness, and groan under it: I know it is a very unpleasing thing for a man, to be found a sinner, to judge himself and condemn himself upon that account; he had ra∣ther sit down with a false, dawbed peace, and cozen his own soul, then arraign and terrifie himself after that maner; but it is a vain thing to hide and exte∣nuate, when we have to do with God; we must judge our selves, else God will judge us. It was the Churches bold presumption, that would at last destroy her, to say, She was rich, and clothed, and wanted nothing, when indeed she was miserable, and naked, and wanted all things; yet in such a foolish Paradise do many place * themselves, They be converted, they become changed, they are as good as any others already, they have as good an heart as any other: These men are most incureable, and are in the greatest danger, because they feel no danger: O then know, That quietness and security which thou hast in thy breast, and all that * confident presumption in thee about thy self, will at last be like the cobweb, not serve to cover thee, when the tempests of Gods wrath shall arise.

Thirdly, They have but little hope of conversion, who have been long accustomed Page  [unnumbered] to sin, whose iniquities for many years together have been taking a deep root. If a Blackamoor may change his skin, then may you do good, who have been accustomed to evil, Jer. 13. 23. Hos. 9. 9. When Israel had deeply corrupted themselves, then God would remember their iniquity. A man that hath been a long while given to his lusts and ungodliness: Oh who can give hopes that ever he will turn to God! Take heed then of custom in any sinning, it is like a milstone about thy neck, it will, like Pharoah, oppress thee, and keep thee down, that thou mayest never leave Egypt. The Devils that possessed a man from his youth up, were more dif∣ficultly cast out, then any others: The husbandman hath little hope of a crop in sowing, when the soil hath a continual wont to miscarry. Custom in sin, makes men like the tall grown Oaks, which cannot be removed, they have got such deep hold in the earth; whereas at first sin is more timorous, and less impudent, the conscience of a man is not so hardened: A continual use in sin, takes away all the sense and feeling of it, all the horridness and terror of it: Thus men that are accustomed to cursing and swearing, they minde it not: Men given to lust∣ful and filthy ways, have no horror upon them, after their unclean practices; and why? custom is like a great stone laid upon a man, already dead and buried in the grave of sin: And therefore a sinner, habituated in an evil way, is compared to Lazarus, who was dead and buried, and even putrified ere he was raised again.

Fourthly, Those that have enjoyed the means of grace for a long season, and yet are bryars and thorns: These give little hopes of conversion. The ground that * hath often received rain, and brings forth nothing but weeds, is nigh unto cursing, Heb. 6. 7. Those that refused the Prophets, The dust of their feet was to be shaken off, in testimony against them, Mat. 10. 14. The word of God doeth most good, and hath the greatest effects, at its first coming to a place; as you may read in the several plantations of the Church at first, whereas the longer men live under it, the authority and majesty of the word is abated: Ye did for a ••a∣son rejoyce in his light, as our Saviour told the Jews concerning John Baptist, John 15. 35. When God hath sent his Ministers and Prophets one after another, ad∣monishing, instructing, and vehemently exhorting and charging you, to part with your lusts, saying, You cannot have them and Christ too; you cannot hold them an heaven too: Its a sad presage, (and yet thou hardenest the neck against all these reproofs) that Christ hath said of thee, as of that fig-tree, Never fruit grow more on thee. As there are ears of corn that are blasted, that never thrive, or come to any good; so there are many blasted sinners, impenitent and obsti∣nate, which after many remedies applied, yet continue under the power of their disease: O then, consider how much this concerneth you! you may by your unfruitfulness and barrenness under the means of grace, make your conversion less possible, then that of Pagans and Heathens. Did not our Saviour say? Mat. 11. 21. That the Tyrians and Sodonians would have shewed more effects of a conversi∣on, then the Jews to whom there had been so much preaching, if God would have vouch∣safed the Gospel to them? Certainly you are in a more dangerous estate, then any people that sit in darkness, and have no light: If so many Sermons, so many Sabbaths, so many Exhortations, have done no good? who can but think it is in vain to plant and water any more?

Fifthly, Those that have accustomed themselves to rebel against the light, and to live against the convictions of their conscience: As the Mariner used to storms and * tempests, is not afraid; so these continually used to the whips and scourges of their conscience, at last are not afraid at all, yea, quite put it out: The Apostle calls this A cankered conscience, seared with an hot iron, 1 Tim. 4. 2. or Quite cut off, as some expound it; and certainly, this must be a desperate presage: for see∣ing conversion is let into the soul, by that needle of conviction; if this be resisted, and continually beaten back, what hope is left at the bottom? There∣fore this is the inlet to the sin against the Holy Ghost, from which never any Page  417 was, or shall be converted, of whom if we had certainty, we might no more preach to their conversion, then to the Devils and damned in hell. But whence comes this impossibility of turning to God? it arose at first from rebelling against light, living in those sins, which the spirit of God convinced thee of by the word, and so in some measure, Doing despite unto the Spirit of Grace: This makes thee at last insensible; even as frequent walking barefoot, brings a senselesness of pain upon the feet: Now whether this light be natural, ingrafted in thy con∣science; or supernatural, revealed by the grace of God, it is a woful hardness, to resist any of them: This indisposition to conversion, is very common; for what man is there, that liveth in gross palpable sins, that doth not rebel against his conscience, and rebel against the light of Gods word: Oh! this must ar∣gue, thou hast devilish wickedness in thee, that thou doest the things, thou know∣est are sins: I say, Devilish, because the Devils have great light in their under∣standings, but malicious enmity against God in their wills: If therefore thou wouldst prepare the way for God in thy heart, and have the gates of thy soul unbolted, that the King of Glory may come in, be sure, let thy conversation answer thy conviction; let thy heart in affections and practice, be proportion∣able to thy light and judgement; be so blessed, that when thou knowest, thou doest also: Therefore you that live under much preaching, are often in hearing, and ministerial admonitions, you had need take heed to your selves, for as often as thou sinnest, thou goest against the instructions of thy own heart: Thou knowest otherwise, thou hast been taught otherwise, thou hast heard other∣wise; This is kicking against the prick: This daily use to the noise and sound of conscience, will at last take away the terribleness thereof.

Sixthly, Those also are very far from turning unto God, even without any hope,*that are by Gods just judgement, forsaken and given up to the power of their sins, to sin with all greediness, wilfulness, and without any remorse at all. There are such who have this incurable disease upon them; and which is more terrible, it is to be found chiefly in the Church of God, and amongst them, that have en∣joyed the best means: Thus Isa. 6. 10. Many of the people of Israel are to have their eyes shut, and their ears made deaf, and their hearts senseless or fat, lest they should understand and be converted. To make the heart fat, is a metaphor from beasts, that by the fattest pastures, are soonest prepared for the Shambles; so many people by the choicest and most excellent means of grace, are ripened for this heavy judgement of a senseless spirit. Wo be it to those persons, that are smitten with this spiritual blindeness: Behold then the severity and ter∣ror of God, to several persons, who for a long while receive his grace in vain, and resist his spirit; God in his anger sweareth, This people shall never enter into his rest, give them blinde eyes, a deceived heart, a stupid conscience, let no Mi∣nistry trouble them, let no judgement awaken them: Therefore howsoever thou boastest in thy boldness and impudency in sinning, and bravest it towards God and man, yet thou art more terribly cursed then Cain, for he went trembling about under his curse, and thou goest securely in all jollity and mirth.

Seventhly, A people of frequent resolves and purposes to amend, while judgements*are upon them, but when they are removed, returning to their former sins again: Such discover their inconstancy and hypocrisie so often, that they give little hopes of a true and right turning to God. Pharaoh, while the hand of God was heavy on him, how ready then for his duty! then he will let the people go, then he cryeth out of his sin; but no sooner is the rod taken off his back, but he is in the mire as before. The people of Israel are also a pregnant instance for this, while they were in fears of enemies, or under any of Gods sore judgements, that they sought and cryed mightily to God; but let them have respit, they fall from God again: Hence are they so often condemned for hypocrisie and backsliding, 〈◊〉 such whom God would wholly forsake at last; this is too often to be found. Page  418 There are many people in times of fear, and dangers of death, are as soft as wax; but when recovered, as hard as iron: Men of aguish dispositions, sometimes very hot, and again very cold; sometimes in great fears, straights and troubles of soul, ready to roar out like Bears, for the anguish upon their souls, because they have sinned against God; and other times as bold, and ready for the same sins they complained of, as if they were not the same men. As they say of long ague fits, they end at last in a consumption; so these changes and vicissitudes upon thy soul, will at last end in final Apostacy: O then be sure to keep up all those Engagements and Obligations thou hast taken upon thy self: Be the same in health, as sickness; in joy, as fear; after a sermon, as when thou art hearing one, that fills thy heart with fears.

Eighthly, Such also seem remote from conversion, that are scorners and deriders*at godly and holy things: The prophane scoffer, is seldom turned an humble lover of the things he so despised: Hence he is a blessed man, That sitteth not in the seat of scorners, Psal. 1. 1 that hath nothing to do with them: The Apostle Peter speaks of some men, 2 Pet. 3. 3. whose damnation is of old ordained for them, and they are scoffers and deriders at the day of judgement, and Christs coming. Solomon doth often sentence a scorner, for a man that shall perish in his wickedness. I know not why it is, but it falls out, that godliness and true holiness is the ob∣ject of scorn, derision and contempt to carnal and wicked men: Thus David was the song of drunkards; and what is more ordinary, then to despise and de∣ride the practical power of godliness? Now what hopes can such give of turn∣ing to God? wilt thou come and be in the number of those, whom thou mock∣est and despisest? wilt thou eagerly pursue that way, thou didst so deride? though this be too common, yet it argueth high prophaneness. Many wicked men, as Herod, though they did not turn godly themselves, yet they reverenced and honored it in others; And wilt thou be so arrogantly wicked, as to scorn at that, which thou shouldst renown and imbrace? Who can think that these Dogs and Swine (for so the Scripture calls such prophane wretches) should ever be turned into Lambs?

Ninthly, As scorners are far off from this priviledge, so proud and haughty men, thy seldom are converted: The humble and meek he will teach his way Psal. 15. * These high Mountains are always barren of good: God resisteth the proud; How is that? By not giving grace to them. Pride is a divers shapen sin, it emptieth it self into many channels: There is pride of Parts and Abilities, pride about Birth, Estate, and External Greatness; which way soever pride vents it self, common∣ly Christ will not come into that heart, and dwell there: They were the proud persons, that did not care what Jeremy told them from the Lord: The Humble, the Meek, the Poor, the Hungry, the Empty, the Naked, these are drawn home to Christ; but the proud and the full are sent empty away: Take heed therefore of any kinde of pride, for this will always make thee at distance with God: This will make thee contemn the Word of God, and the voice of his Messengers. Oh! think the mountain of thy heart must be made a plain, ere Christ will own thee.

Tenthly, Apostates and Revolters from former zeal and forwardness in the ways of God: when these fall away, there is little hopes for such to turn unto God: The * Scripture is clear, Heb. 6. and Peter compareth such, To the Dog returning to his vomit, and the Sow to the mire; and that their latter end is worse then their be∣ginning; yea, that it had been better they had never known the way of Righteousness, 2 Pet 2. 21. yet such instances of Apostacy and Backsliding, all times do sadly af∣ford; and truly, such Prodigals, seldom go home to their fathers house again: Its true, the work of grace was never sound and right in them, no, not when they most flourished; for if they had been of us, they had not gone from us: Oh then! take heed how you abate of your former love and zeal; you once were more forward for God, once you delighted in holy duties, and holy com∣panions; Page  419 now thy heart is become like a dryed wilderness; the world, and thoughts of the world hath choaked all: Oh sit and tremble, lest this be but the beginning of thy sorrows.

Lastly, Those are difficultly brought home to God, who are insnared and intangled*in wicked and ungodly company, who have ungodly relations, live in ungodly fami∣lies: For whensoever such are invited to turn to God, then their carnal friends become impediments in their way. Paul consulted not with flesh and blood in his conversion; if so, he had not turned to Christ: And this undoeth you, God and your conscience calls upon thee, Turn to God, why wilt thou dye and be damned in these sins? but then thou consultest with flesh and blood, some ungod∣ly friends and acquaintance, and thus they hinder thee: Oh thou shouldst say to the dearest friend in the world that stops thee in this course, Get thee behinde me Satan, for thou savorest not the things of God: Hence our Saviour is so per∣emptory, He that loveth not me, more then father or mother, cannot be my disciple; neither would our Saviour have one that would follow him; so much as go back to bid his friends farewel, or bury his dead father: Oh then consider, that when a right eye, or a right hand offends thee, these must be parted with: The Queens daughter must forget her fathers house; when thy soul is espoused to Christ, thou must forsake all thy former lovers.

Use of Examination, put thy self upon this severe and impartial tryal, whe∣ther * thy name be not in one of these black scrols or no: Art thou not to be found among the ignorant and stupid, or proud and prophane scoffers? or among those that rebel against their conscience, or change in their resolution, as good or evil floweth upon them? Hast not thou a long while accustomed thy self to an evil haunt or custom of sinning? If these, or any of these; Satan and sin hath bound thee in such strong cords, that are not easily broken: while therefore there is any hope, though there be not so much probability; yet while God hath not de∣clared an utter impossibility, Go and commune with your own hearts, and stand in awe; yea, cry out, Lord turn me, and I shall be turned; say, I am weary of my former courses, they are a shame, a torment, an heavy burthen upon me: Oh! (say) I dare not go one step further in the way I was in, I see Hell gaping to de∣vour me; and never let that trouble thee, to think how the world will wonder and laugh to see thee become a new convert: Thou hadst better have frowns from men then God; thou wilt leave the company of wicked and ungodly wretches, to enjoy God and good men: There is a necessity of this turning, that wickedness thou livest in, must be turned from, or else wo unto thee that ever thou wast born: If death and judgement finde thee with them, no mountains or hills can cover thee from the wrath of God: Hearken what thy own conscience sayeth, It is high time to leave off from being such a beast any longer; take Manasses, take Mary Magdalen, take Paul for examples, they ran far in a foul and dangerous way, but at last they turned: Oh this was there happiness, they turned from their evil ways. Why do ye not take off all your cares and thoughts from other things, and fix them upon this business?

Page  420

SERMON. LXIX.

The Motives and Grounds, of our turning unto God.


EZEK. 33. 11.
Turn ye, turn ye, Why will ye dye, O house of Israel?

THe subject of the Text, viz. Conversion, is vast and large, like a living fountain that alwaies sends forth fresh streams: We have spoken of the particular difficulties in some mens conversions rather then others: not that they were to be without hope, but to awaken them out of their security. Now motives and grounds for our turning unto God, are in the next place to be conside∣red. For in our Exhortations to be converted, we do not speak as men destitute of reason, and forsaken of truth: But it is even a wonder when all the Arguments out of Gods word shal be propounded, if every one do not say, Arise, let us go hence from our sins. *

And first, The possibility of thy conversion may make thee set about it. It is not with thee as with the damned, and divels in hell. Being thou art not yet in the Grave and Hell, there may be hopes for thee. Although the last day I shewed how difficult and unlikely some men were to turn to God, yet that was onely in respect of visible second causes; otherwise as when our Saviour said, It was as impossible for a rich man to be saved, as a Camel to go through the eye of a needle; the Disciples then cryed out, Who then can be saved? But our Saviour said, With man indeed it is impossible, but with God all things are possible; So sinners, and wicked men under those Characters thus described, are no more likely to turn to God, then a Camel with its bunch-back to go through the eye of a needle: but with God all things are possible. An absolute impossibility of turning to God is onely in those that have sinned against the Holy Ghost, or are for ever delivered up by God to an impeni∣tent and a hard heart. But who they are, is rather a secret in Gods councel, then a mystery discovered to us: so that no wicked men under any Characters whatsoe∣ver (unlesse those excepted) may conclude in despair, That it is not possible they should ever be converted. God doth here invite the sinners of Israel in what quali∣ty soever, to turn to God; now this is a great encouragement, the very possibi∣lity of turning to God. Ah, How justly might God strike thee dead in thy sinnes, send thee with thy goar blood to hell, and leave thee hopeless and helplesse? But he hath not shut the dore against thee: He hath not yet bid thee depart into ever∣lasting fire, He knoweth thee not. It should be like oyl in thy bones to think such a thing may be. O Lord, Is not my condition desperate? Is there any hope left for me? Am I not past all favour? Is not my time spent? Oh, What a mercy is this? But 〈…〉ing the possibility is uncertain, thy life is so short, time is so quickly run out, that it may be thy conversion is not possible for any longer then a day more, or a night more; then what inexcusable folly and madnesse will it be to de∣fer it? It is many times Satans temptation to hold men a long while in sin, and then to perswade them it is too late to turn to God. At first any time is soon e∣nough, Page  421 and afterwards every day is too late; but never believe that suggestion. Oh then, as the Husbandman ploweth in hope, which nourisheth all actions; so thou maist hear in hope, pray in hope, set onwork of reformation in hope; for God never bid a people seek his Name in vain.

Secondly, Not onely the possibility, but the probability may much prevail with thee. For on Gods part it seemeth more probable thou maist be converted, then millions * in the world. So that howsoever many men by abuse of the means, may make their condition far worse then that of Heathens and Pagans: yet if we speak strictly in respect of the means themselves, it is far more probable thou that hast the means of conversion, shouldst be converted, rather then those that enjoy them not. The greatest part of the world sits in horrible darknesse without any light: to them the word hath not come, which yet is the ordinary means of conversion; so that on Gods part, and the means, it is far more likely that God wills thy conversion, rather then those to whom he sends no Prophets at all. It is true, the word is sometimes sent to harden men, and it becomes the savour of death; but this is after men have horribly abused it: and it is not the proper and genuine effect of the word, but accidental through the indisposition and obstinacy of the hearers. Well then, let this encourage thee to turn to God, God hath not withdrawn, or denied the means to thee; yet he sends his Prophets, and ministers to call thee to him: Why doth God vouchsafe all this to me? who should turn if I do not? Oh it is intollerable shame if any in the world turn to God, and thou dost not who art so often exhorted. Doe any in the world repent, grieve for, and for∣sake their sinnes? and doest not thou who enjoyest the powerfull means of Grace.

Thirdly, It is not onely probable, but thy turning to him is very acceptable and welcome. Thou art sure to have the dore opened to thee: Never any man turned * to God that was put back again: Come unto me, ho, every one that thirsteth come, come and buy without money, Isai. 55. 1. No man that cometh unto me, will I in any waies cast off, John 6. 37. so that this should be like fire in every sinners bowels. Oh Lord, when men have been offended, and grievously injured, they many times become so implacable, that no submission, no satisfaction can content them. But God after all the despite and disdain done unto him, is willing to be reconci∣led: this goodnesse and mercy of God should abundantly change thy heart. And certainly thou dost not seriously and fully ponder these things in thy heart, if thou didest, thou wouldest not a moment longer stay from running to him: Thou wouldest not onely turn, but run to him; Draw us, and we will run after thee, praieth the Church, Cant. 1. God doth not onely powerfully over-rule the soul, but so sweetly enclines it to delight in good and holy objects, that when the heart hath once tasted of the goodnesse of God, nothing can keep it from him: Seeing therefore thy turning unto God is so acceptable to him, is so vehemently desired by him, Why should it not make thee shake off all slothfulnesse, and address thy self to him?

Fourthly, Therefore turn to God, because this will prove thy good, and thy hap∣pinesse: It makes not at all to Gods happinesse: God is all-sufficient, the Sun, to which the Starres contribute no light: My goodnesse doth not extend to thee,* Psalm 16. 2. If a man drink of a fountain he bettereth himself, he doth not pro∣fit the fountain: If a man see any comfortable objects by the Suns light, he re∣fresheth himself, he doth not advantage the Sun: So it is here; If thou turn to God, God is not made more happy by thee, he needeth not thy conversion, or thy Graces; but it is thy self onely that will reap the profit. Oh then let this move thee, What doth this at all avail God? If I turn to him, it is my good, not his that is interested herein? One would think that self-love would herein provoke thee; for will a man give all he hath for a Temporal life, and not much rather for Eternal?

Page  422 Fifthly, Therefore turn to God, because he is your God. God is the God of a people two waies, internally, when he changeth their hearts, and indeed bestow∣eth * all spirituall priviledges upon them; and thus he is a God onely to those that have true grace; that are the Children of the promise, and according to the spi∣rit: but then he is a God externally to all such who outwardly own him, and call upon him: A God by externall Covenant and acceptation; and in this sense he is the God even of those that are the Children of Abraham, according to the flesh onely. Now the scripture makes this externall relation to be a ground why we should turn from our sins, Hosea 12. 6. Therefore turn thou to thy God; to thy God, the propriety is a ground of Conversion; and certainly the motives are very attractive which are drawn from this: You all by your Baptisme have received God as your God; to be no more the Divels, or sins, or the worlds: if therefore thou hast Apostatized, and broken this Covenant, How necessary is it to re∣urn?

For 1. By External Covenant, thou tookest God to be the Husband of thy soul. The Scripture delights to expresse it, by betrothing, and marrying the soul to God, Hosea 2. 19. Thou wast to leave Father, and Mother, and all Loves, and to cleave to him onely. Now by thy sins thou hast turned from this Husband, and hast set thy heart upon other Lovers. Thus the Scripture doth not onely call Idolatry Adol∣tery, and going after other Husbands, but all inordinate love of the World, or a∣ny thing therein, James 4. 5. Ye Adulterers, and Adulteresses, know ye not the friendship of the world, is enmity with God? Here all kinde of immoderate, and excessive affections to any Creature, is Adultery: so then whensoever thou art turned from God to any sin, thou hast run from thy Lawfull Husband; thou hast forsaken the true object of thy Love: is it not then all the reason in the World to take up the Churches resolution, Hosea 2. 7. I will go and return to my first Husband, for then it was better with me then now: say then, my soul hath been playing the har∣lot all the while it hath forsaken God; it was God, and not these that my soul pro∣mised to cleave unto.

2. As an Husband, so in the next place, a Father also thou tookest him to be, and by this means thou art commanded to call him Father: But if thou like a Prodigall hast left thy Father, and spent thy substance in the service of the Divel, With what face canst thou call him Father? Think of it seriously, you who live in grosse and palpable sins: Is God the Father of such wicked sinners? Have they the Chara∣cters of sons, and not rather of enemies, who thus disobey him? remember then that thou hast forsaken thy Father, and by thy sins hast turned from him. Is it not time then with the Prodigall to say, I will arise, and goe to my Father, and ac∣knowledge that I have sinned against him?

And Lastly, Then was he taken for a Lord and Master; for a King to rule and reign over thee. Thy Baptisme was a giving of thy self wholly up to Gods govern∣ment, to walk according to his Laws; now since that, How perfidiously hast thou violated thy Oath? Thou hast not been a servant to him, but to the Divel, Gods great enemy. It is usuall with Divines to say, Baptisme is Sacramentum militare, a Military Oath; because every Christian being called to a spirituall war∣farre, doth there swear fidelity to Jesus Christ, as the Captain of his salvation. Now every wicked man is, Proditor militiae, a flyer from his Colours, and runs into the enemies Camp. Consider then what Rebellion and Treason against God is in every sin, after thy Baptism-ingagements; thou art a runagate servant from thy Master. Now if so, is it not requisite that thou shouldest turn back to him? E∣very sinner is not only an Apostate, and Covenant breaker in Adam our first Parent, but a second time a revolter, and Covenant breaker also, by not living according to that ••ipulaion in Baptisme. Oh then it is high time for men to awaken out of this wretched estate. Go to the true husband of thy soul, return to thy Father, and true Lord and Master again.

Sixthly, Therefore turn to God from sin, because sin is a state of thraldom,*Page  423and slavery, and our conversion unto God, puts us in a state of freedome and libertie. Of what a man is overcome, that is he a servant to, saith the Apostle, 2 Pet. 2. 19. Now then, thou being daily Mastered by such lusts, daily overcom by such sins, thou art made a Slave and Vassal: And if liberty be Boum inestimabile, a good that cannot be prized, yea, as the Rabbins say, If the heavens were Parchment, and the sea Ink, it could not sufficiently contain the praises of Liberty; How much rather is this true of spiritual Liberty, when the son of God hath indeed made us free? Why then canst thou endure to lie in the Dangeon of sin, to be kept prisoner and Captive in the Divels snares? And if thou saist, I finde no traledome, I feel no miserie or bondage in serving sin: It may be so; but therefore thy misery is far the greater: A man may desperately be sick, and yet not feel he is so: And so maiest thou be kept fast in the Chains of sin and yet apprehend no but then at all. But thou art to believe the Word of God against thy own sense and feeling; that makes it such a Captivitie and slavery. Oh therefore pray to have this Captivitie turned: Why do I live in a Dangeon, when God hath glorious mansion places? Why do I feed on husks, when God hath such dainties for a true convert? leave off this drudge∣ry to sin: The divel is an ll master; fils thee with much trouble here, and eternal tor∣ment hereafter.

Seventhly, Turn unto God, because he will then turn unto thee, for so he promi∣seth. Do thou turn with an holy change, and he will with a gracious change. Thou hadst thy back on God, and God turned the back upon thee. Thou was an enemy to God, and God was an enemy to thee: But who can stand under his enmity? Who can endure his wrath? But upon the souls turning to God, what an happy change and turn is made in all Gods dispensations? The Creatures are now turned when he is turned; for they groaned under him as under a burthen. The Angels are now turned to him when he is turned; for they are reconciled, and take him for a fellow servant. The Scripture that is curned also; for whereas before every page did speak terror, and breath forth anger, now it breaths onely comfort and consolation to such. The providence of God is now turned; for whereas before every thing was a Curse, and wrought to thy Damnation, now eve∣ry thing worketh to thy good, and furthers thy salvation, Yea now God is turned, (to speak after the manner of men, though the change is properly in us, not in him) for he that was an enemy, that was angry, that accounted all thy prayers Abhominations, that askedst thee, What thou hadst to do to take his Name in thy mouth: Now he becomes a gracious Father, answereth prayers, and welcometh thee into his presence. Thus you see how happy a thing it is to turn to God, for then every thing in Heaven and Earth, becomes also turned for thy good.

Eighthly, Turn unto Christ, for he is the true and proper rest for the soul. You heard conversion was a motion, and all motion is at last for ome rest: Now all the while thy heart moveth after any sin, or Creature, as if happinesse were to be found there, thou art carried out in restlesse motions, thou •••nest to one thing, and then to another, and in all there is vanity Turn then to that God, which if once taed of, thy soul will thirst no more, thou wilt be at thy jounes and, thou wilt desire to have nothing else. Thus David, Whom have I in H••ve but the, and whom in earth but thee? When his soul was turned to God, he was like the Dve returned to the Ak: He was like an house on the rock. Where is every wickd man is like a man in a burning fever, or in exquisite pas and torens of body; he turneth on this side, and turneth on that side, and can get no rest or ease. Thus it is here; the wicked man turneth from one lust to another, from one sin to another, but can have no ease in all. It therefore thy soul be wise, thou wilt think on these things: Thy actions are a way, as the Scripture often calls them, and so they will lead to some end: if they be the way of sin, they lead to death and damnation: why doit thou not think of turning to God? for in any thing that is not God, Page  424 there cannot be full content and satisfaction in the heart: Feciste (Domine) cor nostrum, as Austin; O Lord, thou madest our heart, and it is restlesse till it come to thee again: Even as the Waters that come from the sea, never cease runing till they are at last emptied into that Ocean whence they came. Come unto me ye that labour, and you shall finde rest to your souls, saith Christ: Think not then to say, It is good for us to abide still in our lusts, it is better then if we turn unto God; for in this thou speakest as one who never knew God, or his good∣nesse.

Ninthly, Set before thy eyes those Converts who are recorded in the Scripture, and see the joy and happinesse of their condition, and then do thou write after their copy. Man asses a bloudy sinner, that did not onely sin himself, but caused many others to sin, yet when he repents and turneth to God, God receiveth him, and his ini∣quities are forgiven as if they had never been. Oh blessed change! So Paul, he had gone farre in bitter opposing, and persecuting the waies of Christ, though in ignorance; but when converted, Oh how doth his heart burn with all thank∣fulnesse and praise to God? What unspeakable joy doth he finde in his heart to think he is what he was not once? If thou hadst never heard of any that turned from their sinnes to God, or if they did, that they have repented that ever they repented, they were sorry that they turned from their sinnes; it was better with them when they served their lusts, then when they served God. Then thou mightest have some plea. But when thou readest of the exceeding joy, and won∣derfull blessednesse and peace of Conscience they have had, who have been thus converted from their evill waies, What cords of sinne can be so strong as to hold thee any longer? Oh say then, as I have sinned like a Manasses, like a Mary Magdalen, so I will turn to God with mourning and humiliation as they did.

Tenthly, Turn unto God from the way thou walkest in, because it is a way of death and damnation. We may truely say, Lyons are in the way, even those roar∣ing Lyons that seek to destroy, And wilt not thou turn out of it? What passen∣ger doth not take it for a great kindenesse, if travelling out of his way to be in∣formed, he is going a clean contrarie way? and besides it is a dangerous way, ma∣ny Roberies and Murthers use to be committed in that way, Will not he with much joy thank you, and speedily turn out of it? This is your case who live in grosse and prophane courses: Thou art going the clean contrarie way to heaven; men go not to heaven through such miry paths; and besides, there is Hell and damna∣tion, and all the curses of God in the way, Why then should you not say, Blessed be God, and blessed be those Watchmen that have given me this warning? Consider then, these are not waies to live in, to dye in: The life that I live is not a life to have any comfort, any hope in. Oh therefore return unto God.

Eleventhly, Therefore turn from thy sinnes to God, because these are thy ene∣mies, thy deadly Adversaries, they are sugred poyson and venome. Thy sins do as Jael to Sisera, bid thee come in, come in, and it provides pleasant sweetnesse for thee, and puts thee in a secure sleep, and then it kills thee. Now is it not the highest madnesse in the world for a man wilfully to stay under his enemies power that seeks his blood, that plots his death, and no friend can perswade him to come away? This is thy madnesse; so many sinnes thou livest in, they are so ma∣ny bloody enemies to thy soul. They are called lusts which warre against thy soul, 1 Pet. 2. 11. And wilt thou love thy enemies rather then thy friend? Shall not God, nor the Minister, nor thy own Conscience perswade thee to get out of thy adversaries hands? Neither think sinne the lesse enemy, because it is sweet, and pleasant, or profitable for the season; for it is an enemy under a friends habit, and that is most dangerous of all. It takes thee as Joab did Abner by the beard, as if he would imbrace, but giveth him a mortall wound under the fifth Page  425 rib. It comes and kisses thee as Judas did Christ when he had plotted the betraying of him into his enemies hands. Therefore judge thus of thy lusts, and thou wilt pee∣dily escape from them.

Twelfthly, Therefore turn unto God, because the end of all Gods judgements*and calamities which are brought upon thee, whether publick or private, are for this, to make thee turn from thy sinnes. When Nineveh is to be destroyed, she must turn from her evil waies, else no hope: That threatning was to prepare for Conversion. Thus the Prophet Isai, and others, Amos 6. com∣plain, I smote you with famine, and reckons up many several judgements, and in the enumeration of every one, still concludes, yet are ye not returned to me, saith God: So that the end why God bringeth his sore judgements, is, That e∣very one in the Land should turn unto God. Hast thou any personall Cala∣mities, any Domestick Afflictions? The lesson God would also teach thee by these roddes, is to turn from thy iniquities to him: Yea, as the end of all Gods Works, so of his Word also, of all Preaching, and all hearing, is Conversion unto God.

Use, Of exhortation. Refuse not all these Motives, reject not these grounds of Conversion: Which of them hath not reason and strength enough in it to bring thee to God? Art thou not sure to speed? Will not all sorrow be turned into joy, when all wickednesse is turned into godlinesse? Can you doe better, be more happy by turning unto thy lusts which have a moments plea∣sure, and an eternities torment? Why do you not with all humility and thank∣fulnesse blesse God that calls you to turn to him? Why should he not suffer the Divell and sinne still to reign over thee, whom thou dost so willingly serve? Consider, What joy there is in Heaven, when a wicked man is converted to God; What joy there is on earth to faithfull Ministers, to Godly friends, when this Conversion is vouchsafed unto thee: Oh say Then, though many Sermons have heretofore moved me, and made me almost to leave my sins, yet this shall turn me quite from them: I will be tempted no longer: I will no more consult with flesh and blood, and God grant you may go home with another spirit upon you; God grant that you might finde the World like fire burning in your bowels, that it may be said of every one of you as the Fa∣ther of his Prodigall Son, He was lost, but now he is found; he was dead, but now he is alive.

Page  426

SERMON LXX.

Answering some Prejudices and Cavils of un∣godly men, against Conversion, or turning unto God.


EZEK. 33. 11.
Turn ye, turn ye, Why will ye dye, O house of Israel?

THis subject of Conversion, is like Ezekiels waters, that rise higher and higher; therefore marvel not, if we continue long upon it, for the mat∣ter will still be new, though it be the same Text. The last day our en∣deavor was, to use all those forcible Reasons, that might perswade you to turn from your sins to God; although indeed, the very naming of it, doth carry so much light and truth with it, that it argueth incredible stupidity and obstinacyin all those, who yet wilfully continue in their iniquities: that therefore every moun∣tain may be made level, & every valley raised, to make a prepared way for Christ, I shall answer those Objections, or Prejudices, or Cavils, which are as a great gulf between them and conversion. The Objections that arise from a carnal vain heart, I will call The mountains that must be made low; the objections from a discouraged or dejected heart, that doubteth of its acceptance with God, if it doth return, or imagineth strange impossibilities for its own particular; this I call The valley that must be exalted: And first, let us endeavor to prevail with the carnal man, to have so much faith, as to throw this mountain into the sea. That objection which I shall begin with, is this:

To turn unto God, is to leave all those pleasures, that delight and carnal mirth, I have had in my sinful ways: If so be I were to be a Cloistered Monk, or a solitary * Hermit; If I were persecuted, flying into caves and dens, that it would deprive me of all my pleasure, then such contemplations, and holy meditations might be im∣braced; but for me, that finde such pleasure, such jollity in my wicked ways, to turn to God with mourning and humiliation, is to bid me be no more Naomi, but Marah: Thus the voluptuous man, the unclean man, the drunkard, the glutton, the earthly and coveteous man; yea, all who finde iniquity, like honey in their mouth; these all speak like the Fig-tree and Olive-tree in Judges, Shall I leave my fatness, and my sweetness, and forsake all my former pleasures, to mourn and fast, and reform, and to live a strict life of mortification? Thus every man is drawn aside by pleasure. To take you off in this respect:

First consider, That the Scriptures judgement about sin, is wholly con∣tradictory to thine: The word of God acknowledgeth no pleasure, no de∣sireableness * in sin; but the clean contrary, Gall, and Wormwood, and Bitterness, and Death, Wrath, and Terror, and Curses, and Torments: How then comest thou to speak of pleasures and delight in sin, when Gods word knoweth no such thing? Now the Scripture is the wisdom of an All-knowing God, and we are to believe that, more then our own sense and apprehension: We see diseases do so infect the palate, that it many times judgeth bitter sweet, and sweet bitter, Page  427 but the nature of things is not changed because the palate is changed; and thus it is here, by reason of that corrupt frame of heart in thee, thou judgest sin pleasant; no ordinances, no godly objects have any savour or delight in them: but these do greatly affect thee; know all this is a disease, a sickness upon thy heart, as some diseases make the sick parties eat black coals, and such loathsom rash: This is a disease. The word of God, which onely revealeth true wisdom, speaketh otherwise: Oh then! call no more thy lusts sweet, thy sins pleasant, its a disease on thee makes thee think so, if thy palate and taste were spiritual, thou wouldst with dislike, reject every temptation of sin, as Christ did the vinegar they gave him to drink. Paul told Elymas, He was in the state of gall and bitter∣ness, Acts 8. 23. Elymas did not think so, nor feel so: And thus is every wicked man, in a condition of gall and misery; if his heart were truly qualified, he would cry out of the bitterness of those sins, which he now saith are sweet: Judge then righteous judgement about thy iniquities, and thou wilt quickly forsake them.

Secondly, Grant thy sins have pleasure and delight in them, yet they are plea∣sant onely to the bruitish and sensual part of a man; the eyes, the ears, the body, the*imagination, these for the most part are pleased in the actings of sin: Now what an unworthy and irrational thing is it for thee, to pursue those pleasures, which are common to thee, with beasts? Sin haply may bring bodily pleasures, bo∣dily delight; but how low should these things be to thee that hast a soul, whose true good and happiness lyeth in godly actions, and enjoying of God? Did not the rich man in the Gospel, shew himself like a beast, when speaking of his barns full, he said, Soul, take thy ease, for thou hast much good laid up for thee, Luke 12. 19. Soul! O brutish expression, what were these good things to his soul? he might have said, Body, take thy case, but Soul he could not: when therefore the pleasures of sin, have painted themselves, like Jezebel, to intice and deceive thee, reject them with disdain: These are not pleasures for an immaterial, immortal soul; these are not a proper delight, for the chief and most noble part of me; If I were onely a body, and not a soul; then there might be greater reason to admit them.

Thirdly, Grant further, that sin hath pleasure with it, yet its such a pleasure, that causeth death, a pleasure that brings damnation with it; like some deadly and * mortal herbs, that they say, will put a man into laughing till he dyeth: Plea∣sant delightful things, do sooner cause diseases, then bitter: Much honey, quickly turneth into much choler; so that sins imbracement of thee, is like that of the Ivy, which secretly devoureth the thing it cleaveth to. Consider what the Wiseman, that had got the true experience of all things, affirmeth, I said of laughter, It was madness, Eccles. 2. 2. and, It is better to go to the house of mourning, then of mirth, Eccles. 7. 2. do not then like thy sins the better, because sweet and delightful. Poyson that kills presently, may be made sweet; and so those sweet lusts, and those sweet sports of sin, convey death and hell in their pleasure.

Fourthly, Let it be still granted, that sin hath pleasure in it, yet it is but for a moment, its but like the blazing of some crackling thorns in the fire: That which * the Scripture speaks about a mans vanity of life; its but a Vapor, a Shadow, a Bubble, is true of all the pleasures of sin; they pass away in the enjoying of them: The godly comfort themselves in this, That these present afflictions are but light and momentany, in respect of that eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. 4. 7. and the con∣trary a wicked man may say, That these present momentany pleasures, are no∣thing to that eternal weight of torment: Thus the grace of Moses is commend∣ed, That he chose rather to endure the reproaches of Christ, then to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, Heb. 11. They are but pleasures for a season; O then! when thou art but a mortal sinner, and thy joy a mortal joy, all is fading; why then art thou so importunate after these shadows?

Fifthly, Although sins may have sweetness for the present, yet they have a tor∣ment*Page  428and a sting afterwards. A man that in his hot blood hath got a dangerous wound, he feels it not presently; but when he is cold, then he begins to be sensible of it: And thus it is here, a man in the hot and violent pursuit of lusts, feels no∣thing, apprehends nothing; but when his conscience is once awakened and ter∣rified, then he cryeth out, O the wounds, the sting, the blows that sin giveth him: Thus Solomon, speaking against drunkenness, not to be inticed with the occasions of it, he addeth his reason, Look not upon the wine, while it moveth it self in the cup, for at last it biteth like a Serpent, and stingeth like an Adder. Prov. 23. 32. Little doth the drunkard think, he had as good swallow down so many live Adders, and stinging Serpents. The Apostle tells us, That sin hath a sting, 1 Cor. 15. How then is it, that thou perceivest the honey, but not the sting of it? but its no wonder, for this is at last: At last it biteth like an Adder, at the time of death, at the time of fears and grievous judgements, then it puts forth those sharp and poysonous stings. It was Aristotles advice, we should look upon pleasures going and notcoming, they leave horror and terror behinde them: Commune therefore with your own hearts, sit down and consider, This sweet∣ness will be turned into gall; this is the Devils subtilty, to present the pleasure, but not the torment of a sin; see what a sting it made in Cains conscience, what a sting in Judas, and it will be such a scorpion in thy side one time or other.

Sixthly, Thou wilt not turn to God, because of the pleasure in sin? Oh! but what pleasures and joy doest thou indeed deny thy self, by not turning to him: If husks * and dross hath pleasure, how much hath true repentance, and the exercise of the graces of Gods spirit, which is the true manna? If a wilderness be such a delight? what may Canaan be? If these drossie and filthy lusts do affect thee, then how may glorious objects move thee, if thy heart were spiritual? At thy right hand (saith David) are rivers of pleasures for evermore, Psal. 16. 11. and, We believe with joy unspeakable and full of glory, saith Peter, 1 Pet. 1. 8. Therefore if pleasure and sweetness do move thee, Oh taste and see how good God is, and all the ways of godliness. The pleasures of the world are like muddy puddling waters; but these are pure streams: Thou wilt finde one hours praying, better then a thousand of prophane fudlings; one hours enjoyments of Christ as thy husband, by faith, then all the wanton dalliances and unchast imbracements of unlawful objects: Oh then! thou art an enemy to thy true joy, to thy true peace, as long as thou doest not turn to God.

Seventhly, Call not that pleasure, which when thy soul is powerfully wrought upon by Gods grace, will be onely bitter and miserable to thee: Look upon all the true * converts unto God, how have they been affected with sin: Did not Mary Magdalene with anguish of heart, cause floodgates of sorrow to be opened? Did not David upon his after-conversion to God, being turned aside by murther and adultry, lie roaring through anguish of spirit? What profit, saith the Apostle, have ye of those things, whereof you are now ashamed, Rom. 6. 21. And so here, What pleasure and sweetness is there in that, which you now finde so bitter? And if thou hast not such a merciful time here to finde it bitter? thou wilt have a terri∣ble and just time to finde it so in hell: What? do the damned souls feel any pleasure? is there so much as one drop of honey, in all the gall they are to drink? If not, where is thy wisdom and judgement, that doest not throw away thy sins as so much hemlock, and imbrace godliness in the room thereof, which brings its pleasant well-come with it, even much tranquillity and quietness of conscience.

Thus we have unmasked this Objection, and made that appear to be a serpent, which was taken for so pleasant a fish, if we may allude to our Saviours ex∣pression.

The next obstruction in the way, which doth commonly keep men from turning to God, is the profit and great advantage they finde in those sins they live in: If they * be sins of Iujustice, Violence, Oppression, any unlawful way of gain; Oh 〈◊〉Page  429 hard then, not to cry out, Great is Diana: The Apostle speaks of some, that thought gain was godliness, 1 Tim. 6. 5. not godliness gain, as it is indeed great gain: Thus ambitious men, covetous men, those that are immoderately affected to any thing, they care not what laws they break, what violation they offer to Gods Commands, so that they may be rich, and great, and honored in this world, that is all they look at; so that a too attentive eye to worldly profit, is that many times which keeps from turning to God.

This is also easily answered, if a man go into Gods Sanctuary, or plow with his Heifer: For

First, If there be profit in thy sinful ways, it is about worldly fading things, which*will leave thee at last, as Judas his thirty pieces did, in a tormenting hell: Our Sa∣viour tells us, That if a man should get the whole world, and lose his own soul, it will not avail him, Mat. 16. 26. whereas that is indeed profit, which is immortal, which will continue for ever, which is profit in life time, and profit in death time, which will be profit when thy body is buried, and rotting in the grave: Thou then that gettest profit, and this earthly profit comes upon thee daily, still remember thy grave will be a period to it: There is a sudden storm arising, that will make all this suffer shipwrack, and thou must swim naked, as it were, to Gods Tribunal, to be judged there.

Secondly, Never call sin profitable, for to that are all the curses of God threatned,* How then can that be profitable to thee, which makes a man cursed at home, and cursed abroad, cursed in all his store and abundance? Oh do not deceive thy self! it is not wealth, but Gods wrath thou art treasuring up every day: In∣deed, godliness is profitable for all things, as the Scripture saith; and hath the promise of this world, and the world to come; but wickedness is profitable for nothing, but hath the curses of this world, and the world to come: Do not then account of any increase by sin, God hath threatned to blast it, it will melt away like the dew, it will turn to garvel in the belly; all these profitable mor∣sels God will make thee vomit up. Hence the Scripture doth so commend a little with Gods favor, and obtained in Gods way, then all treasures with iniquity, * call not then that profitable, which is either the moth to eat thee secretly, or the fire to destroy thee violently.

Thirdly, That is onely profitable, which is profitable to the greatest good that we*stand in need of, and to divert the greatest evil that can befal us: Now no sins are profitable to that, but the clean contrary; for the greatest good that we are ca∣pable of, is the favor of God, the light of his countenance: This David doth so often pray for in his straights, as being the onely Sun to dispel that dark night which was upon him; and on the contrary, no evil, no not of misery, torment, and pain, is like that of Gods anger and fury against sin. Now take all the pro∣fit and advantages thou hast got in a sinful way, what do these help, for the ob∣taining of the one, or repelling of the other? Oh take Cain and Judas burning and scalding in the guilt of sin, can they buy Gods favor? can they purchase the light of his countenance? Doth not the Scripture make the rust of their mo∣ney, * and the timber in the wall, to cry out, and witness against the wicked man? Then be ashamed ever to pretend this any more, that the wicked ways thou livest in, are in so many respects hopeful to thee, for that cannot be, it destroyeth the main, and is contrary to the true happiness.

Fourthly, That cannot be called profitable, which as it cannot help to the good we cannot want; so neither at the time, when we are in the greatest extremity. Riches*will not avail in the day of wrath. Iudas had the bitter experience of this; if there∣fore thou couldst finde any true profit in the way of sin, it might then be dis∣covered, when at the time of death, or at the time of fearful and heavy judge∣ments, thou art in the greatest extreamity: But (alas!) how truly mayest thou take up that, Ye are miserable comforters all; who doth not then cry out of his sins? who doth not then bewail the time, and his folly, that ever he entertained Page  430 such a bitter-sweet as sin is: Take up then at last principles of wisdom, lay up treasure for an evil day, provide against a sad storm arise, and what will that be? The hour of death, the hour of Gods judgements: Oh! then to have an Ark to run into, then to have a mark upon thee, that the destroying Angel may not con∣sume thee, is a great mercy: But this will never be obtained in a sinful way; so that if thou turn to God, and art constant in the daily exercise of grace, then thou hast the onely Cordial, the onely Oyl to be poured in thy wounded soul.

Fifthly, Never pretend profit, for all the while thou doest not turn to God, thou art in every thing a loser: Who can enumerate all thy losses which come through sin? * There is the loss of all true joy and peace of conscience; there is the loss of eternity in happiness, of heaven, and all the glory therein, which is more then can enter into the heart of man to conceive; there is loss of thy immortal soul, which is more worth then all the world; and lastly, there is the loss of God, the fountain of all good and happiness, Bonum in quo omnia bona, That Ocean of good, in which all the several streams of goodness empty themselves: Oh then that ever thou shouldst be so seduced, as to say, Its better to live in my sins as I do, then to turn unto God! for what? is it better to have that present profit, then Heaven, Happiness, and God to all eternity? Oh say rather! These my sins will never make satisfaction for the loss incur by them; these my corrupti∣ons will never get me as much, as I lose through them: I keep coals and dung; and part with gold and precious pearls. Its the great ignorance and pravity of our corrupt natures, that knoweth not how to put a right prize and esteem upon things.

Sixthly, If thy profit keep thee from turning to God, and thou thinkest it a great part of wisdom and prudence to continue in this saving way, as thou callest * it: Then how doth this condemn all the holy Martyrs and Confessors for the faith of Christ, of the greatest folly and madness that ever was; They may then lay aside those Robes of Glory they are adorned with; For what did not they lose? their wealth, their riches, their pleasures, their lives to follow God; they thought turning to Christ more profit, then turning to any carnal safe way in the world. Did not the Martyrs take the spoiling of their goods joyfully? Did not they as willingly lay down their bodies at the stake, as men do their cloathes to sleep? Certainly, sin and the world did then tempt them to turn out of Gods way, but they would go forward; and thereby our Saviour had given them an excellent Antidote, He that will save his life, shall lose it; and he that will lose it, shall save it: And thus we have cast this mountain down, that exalted it self against our conversion.

The third Cavil is, The custom and habit they have in sin: That now they say; It is vain to attempt this work; had they in their yonger years set themselves up∣on * such courses, there might have been hope; but now, none can make this crooked thing straight, they are too far gone, ever to turn again, To remove this stone: Consider

First, That God is ready to stretch forth his hand to thee, who are willing to swim cut of this sea of corruption: This very thought or desire at last to turn to him, cometh from God: Thou art as unable of thy self, to have a good thought of turning to God, as to turn unto God. The women could not remove the stone from our Saviours Sepulchre, and there comes an Angel, who did it: Thou canst not remove or stir thy heart, but God can: And

Therefore in the second and last place (because this may be more spoken to, when we come to remove the discouraging Objections that are in some * mens hearts;) Although to change this custom of sin, and to make the Blacka∣more white, be impossible to flesh and blood, yet with God all things are pos∣sible; and therefore say, Though the work be too hard for me, yet it is not to God. Lezarus was many days dead in the grave, yet Christ raised him to life, Page  431 as well as those that were lately dead. Consider how Autoratively God speaks. I will take away an heart of stone, and give an heart of flesh; I will doe it, who can * hinder? I will not depend upon the consent and co-operation of Free-will. Can God do wonderfull things, and miraculous works upon the whole Creation, upon mens bodies, and cannot he also upon the souls? Is not he the Father of Spirits, as well as the God of all flesh? Therefore be thou awakened and look up to heaven, who changeth the natures of things? who cureth diseases that have been from the very birth?

Use of Admonition to all those who are bound in any of these Cords. Arise, * like Sampson, and break them in pieces: speak not of delight and pleasure when thou leavest the wayes of God; speak not of profit when thou losest God and Heaven. Oh, no man is in the state of bitterness if thou art not, none are undone men if thou art not. Why should not reason perswade you? Why should not Scrip∣ture counsell you? Suppose Wisdome (as Solomon describeth it) calling aloud to you; Why do ye passe by O ye simple and foolish? Come in to me, I have my Feast * provided, my glory prepared: Why shall not this prevail with you? What, shall lusts and sin stand at the door and say, Come in, turn into me; and you readily go in, though her paths lead to the gates of death; and do ye refuse Gods Calling? Will you not be justly condemned at that great day? Shall not heaven and earth bear witnesse against you? Oh turn from sin now; fot in hell and torments there is no turning from them.

SERMON LXXI.

That ungodly Friends and Relations are great Hin∣derances of ones Conversion, with some helps or Directions to those that are thereby kept in their Sinnes.


EZEK. 33. 11.
Turn ye, Turn ye: Why will ye dye, O house of Israel.

THe next Mountain to be made low, that so way may be made for our tur∣ning to God. is The Temptation of evill and wicked companions. Some have desires and resolutions to come to God, and leave their sins; but then they have carnal friends, and prophane neighbours, they stop them in the way, or else they live in wicked families, in ungodly places, where no fear of God is: and these presently like Herod, kill all the young Motions and Desires that may be in any mans heart, lest their Kingdome and glory goe down: so that we may say, Evill and ungodly companions are that deep ditch out of which few doe recover. But yet if thou applyest thy self to the Throne of Grace, and importune for divine strength, thou wilt finde it not onely possible but easie to break these bonds, and come out of Egypt. Therefore to take thee off this excuse, let us consider this temptation of evill company and acquaintance.

Page  432 First, It cannot be denyed, that ungodly friends, especially if in near relations, * as Father, Mother, husband, wife, &c. are wonderfull impediments in the way to heaven. Many had in all probability, been turned to God, if they had had bet∣ter parents, better knred, lived in better families, where Piety and Religion might be more incouraged, and a good example given thereto. It was a great advantage to Timothy, That he had a Mother and a Grandmother, both godly, and so from a youth he was acquainted with the Scriptures, 1 Tim. 1. 5. And it is as heavy a judgement, where Children can see nothing but wickednesse and impiety in those who are their Superiors, or to live among men that are prophane enemies to godli∣nesse; Now the reasons why such men so yoked with unrighteousnesse do hardly throw it off, are,

First, From the nature of a man, who is a sociable Creature. Its a natural pro∣perty to joyn in society with those amongst whom he liveth, and by that means * doth easily partake of their sins. Therefore one great means of Conversion, is to set our selves apart from company, To commune with our own hearts and be still, Psal. 4. that upon this retirement we may come to a right and ound judgement in all things, Prov. 18. 1. Through desire a man having seperated himself intermeleth with all wisdome. Man therefore being a sociable creature, its the greatest part of prudence and wisdome that can be to make choise of his company, to see who they are that he acquaints with, for he will quickly be coloured, and receive the impres∣sion that others put upon him. Aristotle said, That he who lived alone, was 〈◊〉 a God or a Devil, because retirednesse would much improve a man, either in wick∣ednesse or piety; but that holdeth not in every respect; for many times wicked∣nesse is incerased and drawn out by companying with others.

Secondly, Because evill acquaintance putteth so great a demur to Conversion, Therefore the Scripture is so diligent, in giving many exhortations to avoid all the So∣ciety*of wicked men. If any man be a Drunkard, an Adulterer, a riotous person, no not to eat with such an one, 1 Cor. 5. 11. Not to eat, that is, to have no familiar, voluntary and unnecessary acquaintance with him, that may incourage him and im∣bolden him in his sin: so, If any walk disorderly, from such withdraw, that there∣by the person offending may be ashamed, 2 Thes. 3. 11. And Solomon the mirror of all wisdome, is very frequent in Precepts, concerning the Adulterous woman; The young man must not come near her dwelling, he must passe on the other side of the street, keep off from such place as places of the plague, and dangerous infecti∣ons. So where unjust violent men are brought in, Prov. 1. entising the young man to cast in his lot with them, he is warned to have nothing to do with them, he must avoid them, as the bird doth the snare that is laid for her. Hereupon the Psalmist begins his first Psalm with the blessednesse of that man, who doth not sit nor walk in the company of the ungodly, Ps. 1. 1.

Thirdly, Therefore ill company is dangerous, because sin is of an infecting conta∣gious nature; it quickly spreads through a family, through a parish, especially if any e∣minent*in place and office give an example to wickednesse. The ground of that Church-censure, Excommunication, is the contagion of other mens sins; Purge out the old leven, that was in the incestuous person, 1 Cor. 5. 7. And why? because a little leven leveneth the whole lump: he that toucheth pitch, cannot but be defiled with it. He that lieth in the dung-hil cannot but smel of it: so then thy delight with ungodly, and prophane men, cannot but in time make thee as black as they. Why should not men be as much afraid of being infected with sin, as with a contagious disease? but onely we are carnal, fearing the evil of the body, which is death, but not the evil of the soul, which is sin and damnation. Oh then say, Why am I such an enemy to my soul? How can I ever turn to God as long as I live here, delight in such men? How can I ever go into Canaan, if I leave not this Egypt?

Fourthly, He that is joyned in ungodly acquaintance, doth hardly turn to God, be∣cause*there is not onely evil got by them, but this is also a sure demonstration of that mans naughty and evil heart. For it is the old rule, simile, simili, gaudet; similitude Page  433 is a cause of love; and therefore if ye see a man delight in the society of that man, who is prophane and wretched, that man is so too in his heart and disposition; for though many men will not outwardly be drunk or swear, yet if they love those that do so, it is plain their dispositions are against godlinesse as well as others: so that as David having a godly heart, did evidently demonstrate this by that expression, His delight was in the Saints of the earth, Psal. 16. 3. So it is a sure demonstration of a wicked man, though he may not do outward wickedness, yet if he keep company with those that do it. The Apostle makes it a sign we have passed from death to life, If we love the brethren, 1 Joh. 3. 14. and if we love those that live in the exer∣cise of all evil, it is a sign we are still in the state of death: separate therefore thy self from that evil society, if thou wilt turn at any time to God.

Fifthly, Therefore do evil companions so greatly hinder conversion, because they are*daily hardening and encouraging one another in an evil way. Thus they emboldened one another that said, Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall dye: and the A∣postle alleadging this, saith, Evil communications corrupt good manners, 1 Cor. 15. 33. For as the godly are recorded in Scripture as so many live oals put together, enflaming one another with fire from heaven, thus those that feared God spake often one to another, sath Mal. 3. 15. and in Esai, 23. they are calling upon one ano∣ther, Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord, we will go also: So the contrary is with wicked men, they put presumption and desperate boldness into one another; they hearten one another. Where any hopeful seeds of good motions are rising up, they presently pull them up: What, you grow precise? What, you turn me∣lancholy? What matter is it what Ministers preach? They must have something to say; thus they are able to blast all, and one wicked companion is able to do more hurt, then many sermons good.

Lastly, Therefore are those, who are joyned in evil fellowship, hardly converted to God, because men are moved by examples, especially of a multitude. Where corcuption is universal, there not to be carried down the stream, argueth life of grace: Exam∣ples affect more then precepts, because they are visible and obvious to the eye, Thus Peter is said to comple some men to Judaize, by his example meerly, Gal. 2. 31. especially examples are more potent and violent, when they are general: Therefore you have a speciall command in this case, Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil, Exod. 23. 1. In corrupt ages, where sin like a deluge doth overflow, then to have some men apply themselves to God, is a great wonder. Thus it is spoken as a great matter after that all flesh had corrupted his waies, Then began men to call upon the Lord, Gen. 4. 26. as some expound it; Then some men began to set up the pure worship of God. Well, though this be such a mountain in the way, yet several con∣siderations may make thee easily climbe over it.

First, You have the example of some who have lived in prophane places, have been*compassed about with all wickednesse, yet these even out of hell have cryed unto God and drawn near unto him. Thus Hezekiah was born of a wicked Father, King Ahaz, and all the family was likely very much corrupted, because he did after all the abo∣minations of the heathens. Yet how wonderfully doth God bring a clean thing from an unclean! Thus in Nero's Court, who was the monster of men, and no doubt but his family a monster of families, especially for cruelty and bloody perse∣cution of the Church of God, yet the Scripture tells us, there were a company of Godly men, even in Nero's Court, Phil. 4. 22. Thus also Nicodemus a Pharisee, and a great man in the Pharisees counsels, yet he feareth God, and is not drawn aside by their examples. Do not thou therefore put it off, and say, if I lived somewhere else, if I had any to joyn with me, to take my part, I would then turn to God, but now I must do as those with whom I live, else there is no abiding for me: speak not thus, for the Scripture recordeth those that have broken through greater difficulties then thou art in, neither if thy heart were right, could this stop thee.

Secondly, Lay this down for a rule, that it is not so much a friend, a father, a*neighbour, as the divel in and by these that doth thus tempt thee to keep from God: For Page  434 such is his subtilty to destroy thee, that he layeth all baits, and useth the most like∣ly instruments that may undo thee, as we see he did thus from the beginning: He doth not imediately set upon Adam, but upon Eve, and by her seduceth him. Oh, If Adam had perceived the Divel tempting him by her, How resolutely would he have gainsaied her? Rev. 10. It is said, The Divel should throw some of the Saints into prison, How so? The Divel would stir up the malice and venom of wicked men against them; especially this Truth is manifested by our Saviour when Peter took him aside, and disswaded him from the suffering which he was to undergo; see what entertainment our Saviour giveth him, Get thee behinde me Satan, for thou savorest not the things of God, Mat. 16. 23. Oh thus should thy zeal and anger work: It is not thy friend, thy father, thy husband, thy neighbour, but the Divel in all these, that seeks to destroy thy soul.

Thirdly, Remember this, that Christ makes it a fundamental qualification in e∣very one that would be his Disciple, to hate father, and mother; and brother, and sister,*for his sake, Luke 14. 26. Be not then startled at this: Oh my parents, my kindred, my friends would never endure me, should I turn to God, and live a holy strict life. Think of this Text; he that hates not the dearest relations for Christs sake, is not worthy of Christ. Therefore our Saviour calls for a man to cut off his right hand, to pull out his right eye, Mat 5. 30. the dearest things in the world, that may be an offence to him, and keep him from God; for as Christ saith, It is better to go with one eye, and one hand to heaven, then both eye and hands to hell. It is better to go with the frowns and anger of thy dearest friends to heaven, then with all their love to hell. Never then urge this any more, I dare not for my friends, for my acquaint∣ance; for thou canst never be Christs Disciple, if any thing be dearer to thee then Christ. We see Christ himself, though a pattern of all holinesse, yet when his mo∣ther would have had him done something when it was not Gods time, Woman, saith he, What have I to do with thee? Joh. 2. not mother, but woman, and what have I to do with thee?

Fourthly, Whensoever the Lord begins to shake and trouble thy heart for sin, and thou art thinking of another life, to take another course; then it is thy speci* duty not to ask counsel and advice with carnal & unregenerate friends: alas they think thou art mad; now thou wilt be undone; they know not what such troubles for sin mean: Why then shouldst thou discover thy disease to such who are no Physiti∣ans? Take rather Pauls example, when God wrought wonderfully from heaven to convert him, He obeyeth God imediately, and never consulted with flesh and blood, Gal. 2. Thus do thou: Doth God by the Ministry, by Preaching, convince thee of thy sinful waies, of becoming a new man, give up thy self to this call imediately? Do not consult with flesh and blood? But as Eliah when he threw his cloke upon Elisha, and the spirit of God moved his heart, he presently followeth Eliah, will not go home to take leave of his friends, but imediately followeth him: so let it be with thee. And we see when some proffered voluntarily to follow Christ, onely they desired to bid farewell to their friends, and one asked leave but to go and bury his dead Father, that our Saviour rejected them, Mat. 21. 22, and would admit of none of these excuses: so that these instances should teach thee, when God by his Mi∣nisters calls thee from thy sins, never to ask counsel at home, never to enquire what my kindred and acquaintance will say, but presently follow God.

Fifthly, Doth the strife and variance thou shalt have with thy Naturall friends and acquaintance move thee? Oh, Consider that Christ hath foretold this a long*while ago, and therefore be thou the more encouraged to endure such assaults. Mat. 10. 31, 32. 30. 35. Our Saviour there instructing his Disciples how they ought to confesse him before all men, least they should be amazed to see the jars and contentions that will be because of godlinesse: He tels them, I am come to set a man at variance against his Father, and the Daughter against the Mother; and a mans foes shall be they of his own houshold: mark this Text, for it may seem very offensive and harsh. Shall Christs Doctrine be a make-bate? shall that set families Page  435 all on a fire, and a contention? This seemeth to be little credit to his Doctrine. But it will be thus, not from the Nature of Christs Doctrine, for that is a Doctrine of peace with God, and peace with men: but wheresoever his Truth is received in the practical power of it, such is the violent opposition even of the dearest friends against it that are not godly, that it raiseth up all their hatred and violence against it. Hence we read in Ecclesiastical history, that sometimes even children have been persecutors of their Fathers: Let not then thy spirit sink under this, That by thy turning to God, and condemning the wicked waies that the family liveth in where thou art, thou shalt make much contention, stir up an hornets nest; for this is no more then Christ hath foretold. Considering the venemous, and malicious disposi∣ons men have naturally against God and his truth, it cannot be otherwise; onely let this teach thee wisedome, and courage to prepare for a storm.

Sixthly, How many times do evil and wicked men, though never so great one with*another, fall out in deadly enmity about worldly sinfull matters! For although these Swine and Bears do many times agree well among themselves, especially against godliness, which they look at as the common enemy, yet there is no true love among wicked men; they hang together as ropes of sand, any matter of profit, lust, or pride, will presently make them rage at one another. Now what shouldst thou care for the love and friendship of such men, who can love no body but for self-re∣spects? The Heathens have excellently debated this, that there is no friendship a∣mong wicked men, but onely good men; for when profit or pleasure is the knot that tyeth them, that is easily broken; when wicked men agree, it is not peace, but conspiracy. Never then let that dishearten thee: Oh if I set my face for godlinesse, be once accounted in the number of those that walk strictly, all my neighbours will reproach me, every ones mouth will be open. Art thou so weak a Creature to re∣gard this? their love is not worth the owning; no wicked man can love another, but for carnal ends; and therefore they are very hypocrites, and secret back-biters of one another where it makes for their advantage: so that in this thou shewest thy self unworthy of Christ: there are many men that its a glory to be spoken against by them, and it would be a mans dishonour to have their good word, yea, a man should presently say as the heathen, nunquia mali feci? what evil have I done that such a man commends me?

Seventhly, Consider this thou who art hindred by natural friends and carnal * acquaintance, that if thou forsakest these to cleave to God, Thou wilt never repent of thy losse. For Christ will be in stead of a Father, Husband, or the most necessary friend that can be. Thou wilt finde thou hast made an happy exchange; for what friend could quiet thy conscience, forgive thy sin, support thy spirit, fill thee with spiritual joy? Now Christ will do all these: imbrace that promise, for it is worthy of all acceptation, Mat. 19. 29. Every one that forsaketh Houses, Sisters, Father, or Mother for my sake, &c. shal receive an hundred fold in this life, and shall inherit ever∣lasting life. Here will be a two-fold satisfaction, thou wilt have in this life an hun∣dred fold comfort for that one comfort thou hast forsaken, though indeed Mark addeth, it will be with persecution. Oh then never think thou shalt be undone, thou shalt lose all the favour and love of thy friends, for thou dost but part with a drop to have an ocean; and consider that comfortable place also, Mat 12. 50. For who∣soever shall do the will of my father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother: suppose thy friends will never own thee more, never take thee for bro∣ther, or sister more, yet see Christ will be these, thou wilt be in a more comfortable relation.

Eightly, Consider that all thy merry company will be so far from easing thy torment,*that they will encrease it the more when thou comest indeed to be forsaken by God. When thou lyest a dying, ready to give a dreadful account to the great God, What will thy companions say? They will come and stand by the bed side, and take thee by the hand, remember we have been thus merry together, we have plaid these pranks; Oh miserable and wretched comforts! thou wilt cry out, What doth all this avail Page  434〈1 page duplicate〉Page  435〈1 page duplicate〉Page  434〈1 page duplicate〉Page  435〈1 page duplicate〉Page  436 me now I am a dying, and know not what wil become of me? Oh I have no ease, no quietnesse, What shall I do? Oh I cannot abide to see you, I cannot endure to look on you, you bring all my wickednesse to my mind. Thus it will be with thee, if God do but in the least manner awaken thy secure conscience.

Let the Use be, first of Admonition to you that are Parents, Masters, Friends, or Neighbours, take heed of checking and quenching any little spark of a good moti∣on that God may work in your children and servants: It is an heavy sin to murther their bodies, but far greater to murther their souls, and yet thou dost this, when thou canst not abide to see in thy wife, child, or servant, any desire to become a new crea∣ture. Thou callst it Melancholy, madness, folly, and thou despisest it in thy heart. Oh know this is to act the Divels work in an high degree: As Herod sought to kill Christ as soon as he was born, so thou endeavourest spiritually to kill Christ in the heart of him who is almost converted. There is too much of this divelish wicked∣nesse in the world; men that had rather see their friends and neighbours, any thing in the world, then professe godlinesse.

Use 2. Of comfort to those who will cleave to God, and follow Christ, though they have all the hatred of their friends, though parents, husbands, make them have a wearie and sad life, yet they love Christ more then all: Oh blessed art thou above others, thou art a kinde of a Martyr; all the hardship and grief thou goest through for godlinesse, it is a Martyrdom: The Scripture giveth thee many encouragements in this way.

Use 3. Of Exhortation to all those who are intangled by evil companie, by un∣godly societie. Oh come out of that Egypt, come from that Babylon; never ex∣pect to be Christs Disciple till thou leave that accursed followship. What is it to be affected at a sermon, to be almost perswaded on the Sabbath day, and then pre∣sently after to fall into the companie of those that hate and abhor pietie. Oh hadst not thou better say to them, depart from me, I will know you no more, then have Christ say to thee, Depart into everlasting fire, I know you not: And know godlinesse will help thee to excellent companie, to excellent mirth: A good Con∣science is a continual feast: Thou wilt enjoy God, Christ will dwell with thee. The innumerable companie of Angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, will be of the same fellowship with thee; Oh what an happie exchange wilt thou quickly finde.

Page  537

SERMON LXXII.

Some Helps and Encouragements to those that are discouraged, because of the fruitlesness of their Resolutions to Repent, or the hainousness of their Sinnes.


EZEK. 33. 11.
Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye dye, O house of Israel?

WE have endeavored to make plain those Mountains, that are in the way to our Conversion, and turning to God: Now it remaineth, that we exalt some Valleys, and remove those discouragements that are on mens spirits, while in the general, they seem to desire and purpose to turn unto God. I acknowledge, these valleys are not so many as the mountains; discourage∣ments and dejections not so frequent, as presumptious; more are fondly per∣swaded of the easiness to turn to God, then the difficulty: which is clearly evi∣denced, by the secure and negligent disposition of most, that though they hear never so much about this duty of turning to God, yet never consider or apply, never make any matter, whether they are turned unto God or not. I will not be too long in enumeration of the usual dejections in this kinde; I shall in∣stance in one or two, which will in effect serve for the rest: And

First, There are some who say, They have many purposes and desires to turn to God, they have frequently resolved to forsake their sins, but then these quickly perish*again, and so they think it is in vain to try any more: They do but as the man, that is rolling a great stone upon the hill, which presently returneth with the greater force: They are as a man striving and rowing hard against the stream, but im∣mediately is forced as much backward, as ever he got forward: And I cannot but think, that this is a sad objection upon many mens hearts, who have their times of relenting, of much sorrow and trouble, and then take up high resolutions, They will never live, or be as they have been; in the minde they are in, all the temptations in the world shall never prevail over them any more. Now to help such out of their disconsolateness; Consider

First, That it may be these purposes they have, are not hearty, real, and fully con∣quering the heart: They are but a kinde of wishes and desires, such as Balaams,*Oh, that I might dye the death of the Righteous: They are but faint wishing and woulding, as we say, and this will never do any good: They are such desires as the Sluggard is said to have, which yet doth scarce draw his hand out of his bosom to help himself: Its not as the phrase is, To cleave to the Lord with full purpose of heart; as Paul said in another case, I could wish to be made an Anathema, so thou couldest wish to be separated from thy lusts, thou couldst desire to be a new convert; but these are such languishing motions, that they are like those living Page  438 Creatures, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that live but for a day; there comes up a worm, that quick∣ly consumes these gourds. The desires of a man in his conversion, are compared to Hunger and Thirst, to Panting and Breathing, all which are the most vio∣lent and impatient motions of a man: Can a man be hungry, ready to be starved, and sit still crying, O that I had food? no, it will break through stone walls. You see what the hungry Lepers did, 2 Kings 7. 8. desperately ventured even into their enemies quarters, that they might be satisfied: And thus, if thy purposes and resolutions were full and strong, no lust, no temptation could be so strong as to hold thee any longer; but now they are half desires, and faint wishes, and God hath made no promise to such, that they shall be satisfied. Austin speaks of himself before his conversion, how he had many desires and resolutions to leave his sins, which made him pray to God, that God would give him grace to part with them, yet at that very time he was afraid (he saith) that God should hear his prayers; he was afraid God should do that for him, he desired: And thus it may be with thee, thou hast many affections and desires to forsake thy sins, frequent relentings, yet if it should come to it indeed, that thou must be taken from them, it would be a trouble to thee; all which argueth, thou art not real, fully bent against them.

Secondly, As these purposes are but weak and faint, so it may be they are slavish in thee, extorted onely from outward considerations of danger and punishment, in fear*of death, and of publique judgements: Now if so, its no wonder if these thorns do not bear grapes: This is often in the Scripture exemplified, Ahab, Pharaoh, the Israelites; while the strok of Gods judgements was upon them, then they would turn to God: Thus the Israelites turned and turned very often, but they turned from God again, as often as they turned unto him: Now the ground of this mis∣carriage was, because these purposes were violently wrung from them, they dared not to do otherwise; and so when the cause was removed, the effect pre∣sently ceased. Look then, what it is that is the rise of thy resolutions; thou re∣solvest and resolvest sometimes, even with sad and bitter tears, but thou art after wards where thou wert before; Is not this that which marreth all? These reso∣lutions never are, but when thou art in some fears, in some terrors, and these violent things therefore will never hold long: They will hold as long as the principle of their violence holdeth; but when that ceaseth, all thy purposes fall to the ground again. Never then wonder to see the Israelites commit those idolatryes, and that injustice, which sometimes they cryed out off, and confessed to God; for all this was squeezed from them, not willingly done by them: O then! if thou wouldst at last see a sweet harmony, between thy resolution and conversation, begin to mend thy purposes; let them not be resolves out of fear, but out of love: O Lord (say) not onely in time of danger, but in the midst of all mercies and comforts, my soul breathes after thee: Its not fear of hell and death makes me take up these conclusions, but love to thee, and what is holy: Thou mayest be sure, this will hold, thou wilt be the same, if this move thee first. Thou wilt be no longer, as the man that purgeth his ship, which leaketh, and water comes in at one place, as fast as it is emptied at another; but thou hast laid a good and sure foundation to build upon.

Thirdly, Thy purposes vanish away without execution, because it may be they art onely sudden and flashy, they continue but for a season: They come like suddain light∣ning, * that makes an astonishment for the present, but immediately is gone: Thus Balaams desires were upon a sudden apprehension of Gods glorious providence to his Church. Agrippa was almost perswaded to be a Christian, for that time while Paul was preaching; so that those purposes, which are not constant not rooted, will dye as soon as they begin to live. As our Saviour speaks of a tem∣porary saith which doth immediately spring up, and immediately wither; so * these resolutions, they do presently rise up, while we are preaching, and while you are hearing, but then as soon as the duty is over, thy purposes are over: Page  439 Therefore as David prayed for the people, that offered so willingly, God keep this always in their hearts, 1 Chron. 29. 18. so shouldst thou, O Lord, not at this time onely, but always make my spirit thus resolute, thus fixed against iniquity; let not these holy motions of thy good spirit dye within me. Its not the having of godly resolutions to turn unto God, but the powerful retaining of them, and making use of them in time of need, that doth avail and help us: Why then art thou so disquieted within thee? the cause is plain, thou mayest see clearly what is to be done: Let not those resolutions of thine, be as pilgrims and strangers, that lodge but for a night; let them rather be as the fire upon the Altar, that never went out. As it is said of the wicked man, that he cannot sleep, till he hath accomplished his mischieef; so do thou take no rest, till the godly purposes of thy soul be fulfilled.

Fourthly, Thou complainest, that thou art driven from thy resolutions to * turn unto God: Then resolve more in the grace and power of God, not in thy own humane strength and confidence: This makes men fall again as often as they rise, they think to stand by their own power. Certainly, if in ordinary common things, we may not peremptorily resolve to do such and such things, but to expect his aid and providence, if God will; much more in spiritual duties: say then to all thy sins, which have so frequently conquered thee, as David to Goliah, I come unto thee in the name of the Lord, whom thou hast defied; I set upon the mortifying of these sins, not by my own strength, but in the power of Christ, whose glory and honor my sins would take away. When Paul spake of that ex∣cellent temperament of grace, He knew how to abound, and how to want; he con∣cludeth, I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me, Phil. 4. 13. over∣come nature, remove mountains, make the dead to live; thus it will be with thee, if thou adhearest to God. Alas, what can an hand do, if separated from the body? what the branch, if divided from the vine? no more can thy pur∣poses or resolutions, unless partaking of Christs influence: If therefore thou wouldst not have yea and nay, as the Apostle excuseth himself in another case, but thou wouldst be setled in thy conversion to God, go out of thy own strength, lean no more to thy own power, but cry out, Oh thy weakness, Oh thy impo∣tency, Oh the guile and falshood of thy heart; there is no more trusting of it, no more believing in it; and therefore Lord, let thy right hand uphold me. Do as the little childe, that hath attempted to go alone, but finding it cannot, holds the father by his hand, and then he is not afraid to go. Do as Peter; when ready to sink in the waters, then he cryeth out then Christ holds his hand out to sustain him.

Fifthly, If thou finde thy self thus prone to break thy promises and resolutions,*this should not so much dishearten, as make thee the more wary and diligent: Diffi∣culties do not dishearten, but inflame a resolved spirit, even as stirring doth the fire. If oppositions and temptations should take away all hope and confidence? then every man might sit down with fear in the way to heaven, and say truly with the sluggard, A Lyon is in the way, yea, many Lyons; but God hath made the way to heaven narrow and straight, that so we may the more strive to en∣ter therein; and the violent must take heaven by force, even as the Israelites did the Land of Canaan: So then, though thy turning to God, put thee in many agonies, many fears, sometimes in hope, sometimes again in despair; yet let not this make thee cast away the Anchor of Hope, and say as they did, It is in vain to pray, to resolve, to seek any longer: That expression of the Apostle, calling Hope an Anchor, Heb. 6. 9. is excellent to this purpose. Would it not be a wilde mad thing in a Marriner, when the waves arise, and strong gusts beat his ship back, if he should in that conflict throw away his Anchor? no less is thy folly, while thou art thus unconstantly tossed up and down, sometimes in high resolutions towards Heaven, sometimes as low as hell; thou castest away thy hope, which onely would support thee; Oh rather say, These difficulties Page  440 arguue a duty of the greater watchfulness; there is more reason for me to watch and pray, to fear and pray.

Sixthly, Let that encourage thee, while climbing up this high hill, That God hath made gracious promises, even to the least sparks, the least beginnings of any good in a*man: How comfortable is that? The bruised reed he will not break, the smoaking flax he will not quench, Mat. 12. 20. as God said about his Temple, None should de∣spise the day of small things; so it is here, Let not small things be despised: What is less then a grain of Mustard-seed, and yet how quickly doth that overgrow other herbs! so that there is no doubt on Christs part, but that he is ready to draw thee, and to give legs to thee; the onely question is, Whether thou doest seek him with thy whole heart? let that be, and the Ministers of God may in∣sure thee, that he will make little sparks flame into a great fire: There is an excel∣lent promise in Isaiah, The faint and weary shall renew their strength like an Eagle, Isa. 40. 30, 31, 32. Oh then, sit down and meditate on these gracious promises that are made, even to the Hungry, to the Thirsty, to such who seek, though they have not found; never doubt on Gods help, onely be sure thou art sincere and hearty in thy purposes, to turn unto him. Certainly, God that heareth the yong Ravens, and gives them food, will hear those yong and infant crys and resoluti∣ons of thine to better things.

Seventhly, This may also greatly incourage thee, though thou hast many foils, That grace is far more potent then sin: Though thy sins be pleasant, be made na∣tural * to thee, though they grow up like weeds, of their own accord; and grace is a stranger, and a plant in an unnatural soil, while in thy heart, yet it is far stronger then thy strongest corruptions; so that thy diseases are not such incura∣ble ones, but that grace is a medicine and plaister potent enough to help thee; there is balm in Gilead: For as Christ is stronger then the Devil, therefore he judgeth him, and casteth him out of the strong holds he had; so grace is more effectual then sin: Fear not then to grapple with thy lusts, say not they are above me, they are to strong for me; for the seed of God, whereby a man is born of God, is stronger then this. Hence faith is said to overcome the world, 1 John 5. 4. and as for outward helps, Greater is he that is with us, then those that are against us; so for inward help also, if thy sin be great, let the power of grace be also apprehended greater: The house of David will grow greater, and the house of Saul lesser; make therefore thy arguments from without thy self, not within; say, O Lord, thy grace can cure me, thy grace can deliver me out of this miry clay.

Eightly, Doest thou complain thy resolutions take no effect, thou art still where thou wert? consider, if it be not, because though thou purposest aganst * sin, yet thou doest not abstain from the occasions of it; and if so, no marvel if it be labor in vain: Never think to turn to God from thy sins, if thou doest not turn from the occasion of them: Alas, if thon hast not strength to avoid the oc∣casion of sin; which is less? how canst thou sin it self, which is the greater: He that resolveth not to be burnt in the fire, will never come too near the flames; he that will not be inticed by the adulterous woman, must not come near her dwelling. Job that resolved against uncleanness, made a covenant with his eyes. Paul that feared to be a cast-away, kept down his body; thou mayest then easily see what undoeth thee: No marvel if the Bird that endeavoreth to fly up to hea∣ven, fall down again, when a string is on her foot: Thus thou hast sometimes heavenly resolutions, heavenly meditations, but there is a string on the foot, or rather a milstone about the neck; and that is, the occasion or temptation to some sin, from which thou canst not part: Separate thy self therefore first from the occasions of sin, then the sin will be more easily subdued; as the husband∣man first cuts away the under bushes and brambles, before he layeth his ax to the root of the tree: This is so great a matter, that our Saviour teacheth us to pray, Not to be lead into temptation; he doth not say, lead into sin, but tempta∣tion; Page  441 for that is opening the gate, that is the first tumbling down the hill, and it is hard to stop afterwards.

Lastly, to quicken thee in thy resolutions to turn unto God, though thou * often get falls; Consider what the strong appetites and purposes of men in natural and worldly things put them upon. Those that will be rich, saith the Apostle, pierce themselves through with divers cares, 1 Tim. 6. 9. Their earnest desire after these things, puts them upon all labor and toil day and night; every difficulty is easily devoured, per mare, per terras, &c. they compass sea and land, and all to possess themselves of these fading riches. Take the ambitious man, that hath a boundless and vast desire after honor and greatness, he doth not onely resolve and resolve, but is very industrious to compleat his designs: Take the malicious man, how unquiet in his sleep, how restless in his thoughts, till he hath vented his poyson! Now shall men in sinful and unlawful ways, not onely imagine wickedly; but constantly and effectually practise it? and shalt not thou be as active in the ways of godliness? Never then let this temptation binde thee hand and foot; and certainly if thy conversion to God could never be attained, if thy turning to him were impossible, yet its better and more safe to dye in com∣bates and conflicts with these lusts, then out of diffidence to give up thy self a prisoner to them: Its more noble to go lame to the grave, with thy struglings against thy dear corruptions, then to become a voluntary slave to them.

The next valley to be exalted, is the greatness of a mans sins (for other objecti∣ons * will come in more seasonably elsewhere) and of this onely very briefly: Thou art perswaded to turn to God, thou couldst readily set upon the work, but thy sins have such a gastly look, and are of such a bloody nature, that thou doubtest, God will never accept thee: But this is a vain fear; For

First, The Israelites in the Text, were sinners in as high a degree as ordinarily*could be: If you regard the nature and quality of their sins, if the means a∣gainst which they rebelled, the obstinacy and refractariness in them; all these things made them bloody and crimson sins; yet to these how pathetically and compassionately doth God speak, Turn ye, turn ye! and it is universal; he doth not say, Turn ye onely, that are sinners of such a degree, but as for the rest, they are incureable; but he speaks generally: So Jer. 3 7. I said unto her, after she had down all these things, Turn ye unto me; and in that Chapter many times, though they were an adulteress and a backsliding people, yet he inviteth her to return: Therefore let not that cast thee down.

Secondly, Fear not acceptation because thou hast been a great sinner, for thy*Acceptation and Justification is not founded upon thy turning unto God: Thou art not pardoned and received into favor, because thou art turned from thy evil ways: No, its Christ blood, not thy tears which maketh the atonement; its true, without this turning to God, there is no favor to be had from him, but its not because of this: So that thy Conversion and thy Justification are two distinct things, they are several priviledges, and though never separated, yet are always to be distinguished.

Thirdly, Therefore turn unto God, even because thy sins are great; for the * greater they are, the more dangerous it is to continue long in them. As a man sick of desperate and dangerous diseases, he hath a great cause to seek out for help: None have so great cause to turn, as those that are so far gone out of the way; and thou needest more grace then others.

Use of Admonition, to you who are not yet given up to a reprobate heart, * and senseless spirit, that have many secret desires, yea, and serious purposes to turn from all your evil ways: Oh take heed how you quench these coals; be afraid of every thing that may suffocate and stifle these beginings; take heed, God may never give you these good thoughts any more, the Angel may never come down to stir the pool again. Oh! what a sad thing is it to suffer ship∣wrack near the very haven; to be damned, when thou hast even been entering Page  440〈1 page duplicate〉Page  441〈1 page duplicate〉Page  442 into heaven! Oh that you were not almost, but altogether perswaded to turn from your evil waies; it may be God may inspire this holy purpose at this time in thy heart: Oh go home and cherish it, pray over it, mourn over it; say, O Lord, keep this alwaies in me: As thou hast planted it, so water it, and give it sure en∣crease.

SERMON LXXIII.

Of Gods framing and devising evill of Calamities, That men might turn from their evill doings; Al∣so what Gods framing and devising evill implies; And why Judgements and afflictions which are the good effects of Gods Justice, Wisdome, and Power, are called evil.


JER. 18. 11.
Thus saith the, Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device a∣gainst you, return ye now every one from his evil way, &c.

IN the former part of this Chapter, you have an injunction laid by God on Je∣remiah, and the execution of it. The injunction and execution, is in going down to the Potters house, and beholding a work upon the wheels which was mar∣red, the Potter made it another vessel, as it seemed good to him. This was a Type, or outward visible sign, in a lively and ocular manner to represent the power, Soveraignty, and Omnipotency of God, in respect of all Kingdomes and States, and more particularly of that of Israel. Every Kingdom is but as the Potters unformed and ude clay; God is the Potter, and he can easily make it on a suddain a vessel of honour, or dishonour: He can easily make it, and then break it in pieces again. This is the meaning of that Type, as appeareth by verses, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Now my Text is a conclusion, or inference from this Type ex∣plained, wherein is prtly information, and partly exhortation; onely to make these the more prevalent, you may observe Jeremiahs Commission, given him by God himself, which should make him bold and couragious, Go to, speak to the men of Judah, &c. 2. The subject to whom he must perform this embassage, in the Hebrew, To the men of Judah and Jerusalem, to every man; which denoteth the universal and general corruption that was on every man. This coming from God ought to be received by him with all fear, reverence, and submission. The matter of his Commission is partly to instruct, and partly to exhort, as you heard. To instruct, and that is in the beginning of the 8. verse; Behold, I frame evill against you, and devise devices against you; wherein is the efficient cause, 1. God: Our Calamities and Judgements come not by chance, or by inferiour instruments oue∣ly, but God is the principal agent: And it is his sword, his famine, his plague, his War, because arrows shot out of his quiver. 2. The manner of his efficiency, or Page  443 causality, He frames it; a Metaphor alluding to the Potter spoken of before. This Metaphor is plainly expressed, devising a device: How much is observable in this you shal hear afterwards. 3. There is the effect, which is called Evill. There is a twofold evil, an evil of sin, and an evil of punishment: This latter is here spoken of, as be∣ing the effect of the former; why afflictons are called evil, is anon to be spoken to. The second general part of his Commission is exhortation, wherein is the duty, Return yee. 2. The time, now, Return ye now. 3. The term from which, of their motion, 1. Particularly, Every one from his evill way. 2. Generally, And from your evil doings, which is more positively, and affirmatively urged; Make your waies and doings good. Lastly, you have the peoples incorrigiblenesse, and obstinatenesse notwithstanding, and they said, There is no hope, but we will walk af∣ter the devices of our hearts. You will perceive that the excellent matter to be de∣rived from this Text, will like the widows oyl, or our Saviours bread, multiply ex∣ceedingly in the use and spending of it. But that I may frame a body, and not a monster of discourse, I shall put my self in a methodical way. And first I shall treat of the information, which is Gods forming, and preparing of judgements for this end, to make men turn to God; so that not onely the Ministrie, but all Gods Chastisements, whether publique or personal, are for this end, to turn us unto God from our evil waies.

Obs. God doth frame and prepare evill, calamities, and desolations, that so wicked*men may turn from their evill doings.

God brings his evil (which is indeed a good act of Justice) that we may part from our evil. The same Hebrew word is used for the evil we do, and the evil God doth, though they differ exceedingly; so that we see God preacheth not only by his word, but by his works. His turnings of a Kingdome by Wars and others judgements, is to cause our turnings: God removeth a peoples peace, mercies, and externall good things, that they might remove far from them all their evil things. To open this Do∣ctrine, let us consider these particulars,

  • 1. What is implied in Gods framing and devising of evil.
  • 2. Why Calamities are called evil, seeing they are the good effects of his Justice Wisdom, and Power.
  • 3. How conversion is intended by all these, and why.

For the first, Gods framing of his judgements hath these observable particulars contained in it.

First, That our miseries and calamities come not by chance, or peradventure, they*rise not out of the dust: We are not to blame instruments; but they all come from Gods hand. The Arrow falls not of it self, or by accident, but as it is directed by the Archer: a piece of clay is not of it self made into such a shape and form; but it is as the Potter pleaseth. The stone of it self pierced not into Goliahs head and killed him, but as with skill and power flung by David; so that when it is said, God frameth evil, this should teach us, That there is no evil of punishment in the land, but he doth it. The Evangelist calls diseases 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Strokes, because they come from Gods hand. Now this is a great matter; for such is mans Atheism, and pro∣phane security, that he conceiveth of God, as keeping himself within the circle of heaven, and not acting and governing the world by his providence here below. The Church was better taught, when in her Captivity and other judgements, shee makes her moans, but still looks over all instruments to God, Why hast thou, O God, cast us off? and why art thou angry with us? Psal. 74. 1. Job also was bet∣ter taught when he considers, not the Sabeans, but God spoyling him of all his comforts, The Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken, Job. 1. t hath been the great sin of England in judgements upon her, that she hath cried out of instruments; some lay all the blame on oneside, and some on another side; but the anger and just displeasure of God for our sins hath not been acknowledged.

Secondly, This phrase, to frame evil, supposeth Gods Soveraignty, and omnipo∣tent power over all people. He can as easily destroy a flourishing happy Kingdom, as Page  444 the potter can mar his vessel on the wheels, Isa. 41. how excellently is God described in his majesty and greatness, holding all the world in his hand, Ut homo nidum, as Tertullian, as a man doth a birds nest; yea, all the nations of the world are but a drop, but as small dust, as nothing, yea less then nothing: Oh what little cause have men to trust in greatness, power, forces, fenced cities and strong places, when they are but as so much dust, when God breatheth on them! and it is as impossible for any earthly power or greatness to subsist and keep from ruine, when God is angry, as dust to lie still in the air, when a stormy wind doth arise: Well then might Jeremy cry out, Jer. 10. Who would not fear thee, O King of the Nations? Let us not then account any thing great but God; we are clay, and he is the potter: And as it may discourage, when we are a sinful people, though overslowing in all external mercies; so it may incourage a people when converted, though in a desolate confusion, for God can make this rude clay, a glorious vessel of honor; he can make dry bones to become living men: Here is his Soveraignty extolled in this phrase.

Thirdly, It argueth, that God can suddenly and quickly bring judgements upon men: Gods wonderful works of his wrath, are not onely seen in the matter he * doth, but also in the manner: On a sudden, in a moment calamities rise be∣fore any man thought or looked for them; even as the Church saith, When he turned their captivity, they were as men in a dream, Psal. 126. 1. so when he brings their captivity also: Hence you have the expression in this Chapter, At what instant I speak to a land to pull it down, or build it up: He can do those things in an instant, which humane power could not produce in many years. I create light and darkness, Creatio fit in instanti they say; God makes the deluge of his wrath to overflow in an instant: Thus he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha on a sudden; and that wonderful work of God, in bringing dead bodies out of the grave to appear before his Tribunal, will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Cor. 15. 52. so that when God is said to frame evil against a people, it implieth, that he can bring this in a moment, on a sudden, before men think it possible. How often doth the Prophet tell them, That their miseries shall come upon them as travel upon a woman with childe: Oh how should this make every wicked man speedily turn from his evil ways, for God can bring his judgements on thee in a moment; thou mayest have no time, no space to bewail thy sins, but his anger will consume thee in the twinkling of an eye; yet how securely do men live in open rebellion against God? how do they put far off from them the evil day? They put it far off in their thoughts, when God puts it very near in reality upon them: Could men eat and drink, and rise up to play, if they did consider how obnoxious they are to the sharp arrows of God, which may be shot into their hearts every hour? who can tell thee what evil the next day, the next night, the next hour, may bring upon thee?

Fourthly, Gods framing of evil, as the Potter doth his clay, doth denote an im∣possibility to resist, and to escape his judgements: Can the clay refuse the Potters * hand? no more can wicked men Gods Government, whereby he punisheth wicked men for their sins: There is no running from God, If thou gettest into heaven or hell, as the Psalmist saith, his right hand will finde thee out, Psal. 139. 8. God tells Luifer, that is Nebuchadnezar, Though he build his nests in the clouds, yet he will pull him down: He that escaped the Lyon, the Bear would devour him; and he that escaped the Bear, the Serpent out of the wall would sting him, Amos 5. 19. If then God prepare and frame evil against thee, its not all the policy or power in the world can secure thee. Who art thou, O piece of clay, O mortal man, dust and ashes, that thou shouldst be able to flee from Gods anger, when it pursueth thee?

Fifthly, As it argueth irresistableness, so a necessity of submitting and yielding*to him; Not to strive or repine at his chastisements: Thus the Scripture often, Shall the potsheard rise up against the Potter, and say, Why madest thou me so?Page  445 Rom. 9. 21. The foolishness of a man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord: Thus when we by our evil deeds cause Gods wrath to fall upon us, we are ready to say with the Jews, His ways are not equal; its part of the sin and punishment which the damned have in hell, that they curse, and rage, and blaspheme God continually: Oh take heed of being like the damned in hell, fretting at that evill which God frames against thee! Do thou, as Ieremy here, Go down into the field of the potter, and consider the clay there: Remember thy own self, thy dust, thy clay, and thy sins; all which will make thee not open thy mouth, because God doth it. How should this humble the proud and lofty spirits of haughty and obstinate sinners? God he frames his judgements against thee, and can〈…〉 thou refuse them? must thou not yield the back to his scourges and blows? why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins, Lam. 3.

Sixthly, This phrase doth imply, how unwilling God is to exercise his wrath which*he hath purposed; for here he tells the Israelites, He frameth and deviseth evil a∣gainst them, as his purpose and resolution; therefore let them return from their evil ways, to prevent the actual pouring out of his wrath: Thus in the former part of the Chapter, God speaks to a people about pulling them down, before he doth indeed destroy them. To frame and purpose evil, is not presently to bring evil; No, if that people, against whom it is framed, repent of their evil practised, God will of his evil framed and resolved on: Thus God speaks of Whetting his glistering Sword, before he run it into the bowels; and he is said to roar like a Lyon, which giveth warning before he tear in pieces, and there be none to deliver. The Prophet expresseth this way of God excellently, when having instanced in what judgements God purposed to visit them with, And because I will do this, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, Amos 4. 12. Take thou our Savi∣ors counsel, Agree with thy adversary in the way, before he hale thee to the judge, and thou be condemned, Mat. 5. 25. from whence thou canst never be re∣prived: So that this expression of framing evil, signifieth much love, goodness, and unwillingness of God actually to destroy.

Seventhly, To frame evil, and devise it, doth excellently represent the justice*of God, that he dealeth with men according to their wickedness; for as this people would not turn to God, but go after the devices and imaginations of their own heart; so God he will imagine and devise from his heart evil against them; so that its a very sutable expression to those wicked men. As in another place, when the Israelites were so obstinate, that they would walk in the way which they should choose; God to answer them, tells them, He would also choose out their delusions, Isa. 66. 4. so true is that of Psal. 18. With the froward thou wilt shew thy self froward: So that this should exceedingly humble and terrifie wicked men, for God will shape out punishments, and frame out such judge∣ments, that will be very answerable and proportionable to thy wicked∣ness.

Eighthly, To frame evil, and devise it, implyeth the wisdom of God:

First, That he afflicts in counsel and deliberation (to speak after the manner * of men) not in sudden, irregular passion; he frameth it, he deviseth it: Thus when God was to destroy the whole world, he saith, Let us go down and see whether it be so or no: These are expressions to humane capacity, to shew how just and wise God is in all the calamities he brings upon a people. When Theo∣dosius had in cruel passion, caused the people of Thessalonica to be put to the sword, for some offence done against him, Ambrose would not admit him to the Sacrament, till he had repented of that cruel passion; and withal, made a law, that when any man was condemned to death, there should be thirty days re∣spite between sentence and execution, that so nothing might be done in pas∣sion.

Secondly, Gods wisdom is seen, in that its not every kinde of judgement Page  446 he takes, but what is fit for his end he propounds: As the Potter doth not make every vessel in one shape, but one one way; another, another, as his use is of it, Thus God sheweth wonderful wisdom, in the variety of his afflictions, one is one way exercised, another, another; because they come not at random, but are framed by God, at his pleasure. Hence Dan. 9. he is said to watch over evil, to bring it upon them. God watcheth over evil, to shew that he considers what is the fittest judgement, what is the fittest season, who are the fittest subjects: Oh how well is it, that the framing and devising of all evil, is not in the Devils hands, and wicked mens hands! they indeed frame evil, and devise malicious devices; but they are onely instruments, every way limited, in power, in time and place, and therefore they cannot devour as they desire: And thus much for the phrase, To frame and devise evil, when attributed to God.

In the next place, consider briefly, why judgements and afflictions are * called evil; For is not God just in dispensing of them? Are not his judge∣ments righteous and holy? Do not the people of God with much joy and praise, acknowledge them? why then should they be called evil? This hath struck so much upon some of the Ancients, Arnobius and others, that they thought onely that good came from God, which was pleasant and comforta∣ble; and that these bitter sore afflictions, come onely Permissivè, as the Orthodox say, about the evil of sin: And the error about this, made the Marcionites hold two first and chief principles: One Good, from whom came onely good; the other Evil and wicked, from whom came onely evil: But the Scripture is very clear, and the Prophets are very diligent to in∣form, That all the judgements they lay under, were brought by God upon them for their sins.

First therefore, They are called evil, because though in their nature and use, the good fruits of Gods justice, yet they deprive us of our temporal and spiritual*good we might enjoy: So that as the happiness and quietness we might have in body and soul, is truly called Good; so that which depriveth us of these, may well be called evil. Thus the Prophet, Your iniquities withhold good things from you, Jer. 5. 25. Oh how should this, if not the love of God, make thee set against thy sin; for its that which depriveth thee of all temporal and spiritual good; its that which turneth all thy honey into gall, all thy wine into vinegar, all thy bread into a stone.

Secondly, It may well be called evil, because its the fruit of that which is truly evil. The evil of punishment is the necessary daughter of the evil of sin; * now it is usual to call any effect by the name of the cause, and nothing is more ordinary in Scripture, to call both sin it self, and the punishment of sin, by the name of sin: Thus sin is said to lie at the door, Gen. 4. 7. Christ became sin for us, 2 Cor. 4. Your sin will finde you out, Numb. 32. 23. that is, sin and punish∣ment: So that no man may commit the evil of sin, with hope to escape the evil of punishment, for they are both chained together.

Thirdly, They are evil, because upon all men naturally where they fall, if not prevented by grace, they draw out their evil, they make them more wicked, as we may*see in the damned: so that afflictions and judgements of themselves, have no sutable power to convert and turn from sin, but rather stir up the fire of cor∣ruption in men to a greater flame. They are as Garlike, and other unsavory herbs, the more they are pounced, the worse is their smell.

But although they be called evil, yet they are nothing so evil, as the evil of sin. The breach of Gods law, the offence done to his Majesty, is infinitely a * greater evil then any temporal or eternal misery; yea, this latter is to be in∣dured, rather then the other committed: Oh! who shall perswade the world of this? that to be poor, to be miserable, to be tormented with all kinde of cruel deaths here, and eternally tormented hereafter, is nothing so bad as to commit the least sin; yet nothing is more true then this thing. Oh thou that Page  447 judgest sin pleasure and profit, hearken to this; few have Anselms resolution, That if sin be on one hand, and hell flames on the other, he would chose rather to run into this latter, then commit the former. Iob was charged for an hypocrite by his friends, though falsly, in this, that he chose sin rather then affliction: An hypocrite will rather venture on the evil of sin, then fall into the evil of af∣fliction.

Use of Admonition, To take heed of all ungodly and wicked ways, for you see you have to do with a wise and just God, who frameth punishments for * thee: Do not think to escape, do not please thy self with impunity, God seeth and looketh on, and accordingly is preparing to smite thee: Oh, while you are jolly, secure and merry, what is doing in heaven against you! Be not any longer prophane Atheists, but set faith on work; imagine with Belshazzar, thou doest not onely see an Hand-writing on every wall against thee, but on every cup, on every pot, on every bed, on every piece of ground thou treadest upon: O turn to God, before he put his purposes in execution, then thou canst not resist, but art undone for ever.

SERMON LXXIV.

Of Afflictions; The difference between Penal-Destructive Calamities, and those that are Me∣dicinal; And how Afflictions are operative to the Conversion of men.


JER. 18. 11.
Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device; Return now every one from his evil way.

THe Doctrine gathered from these words is, That God purposeth evil and calamities against a people, that they might return from their wicked ways. In this point three things are to be considered; 1. That God frameth all calamities. 2. That these calamities are called evil; both which are dispatched. The third thing which remaineth is, That Gods end in all these exercises, is to make men turn from their sins: Conversion is the end of all Gods scourges and stripes; if men did throw away their evil, God would quickly burn his rod. As Absolom sending for Ioab, who would not come to him, till his corn was set on fire, and then Ioab hastened quickly to speak with him; so it is here, God speaks once or twice, yea often to us, to turn from our evil ways; but we stop the ears, and will not obey: at last God afflicts us in our body, or estate, or name, one way or other; and then we say, or at least should say, Come, let us re∣turn early unto God: So that Gods judgements, they are real sermons, God preacheth by them, as well as by his word; insomuch that he puts a remark∣able observation upon their obstinacy and impenitency, Amos cap. 4. from the 6; verse to the latter end, upon five several judgements, he addeth, Yet have ye Page  448 not returned unto me, saith the Lord: So that publique and personal evils which come upon us, should make us turn from sin: And Oh take heed, that God saith not, Yet have ye not returned unto me: Thus also God complaineth again, 〈◊〉 12. 13. For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them: So that you see, God looks for conversion, from every one whom he doth any way chastise for sin: For open∣ing this point. Consider

First, That Gods afflictions upon a people, may be branched into three heads:* some are first meerly exploratory, or by way of tryal, to draw out a Christians graces, and to encrease his glory Thus persecutions and troubles for the Go∣spel, imprisonment and Martyrdom; these were not so much evil framed by God, to make them turn from their sins; but conflicts and combates appoint∣ed by God, for his choice and valiant Champions, that so they might receive the greater weight of glory: And hence the people of God are commanded to account it all joy, when they fall into such temptations, James 1. for what the fire is to the dross, the water to a spotty garment, the winnowing to the wheat, the same are these combates to them, they strengthen their graces, they weaken their lusts, and they advance their glory; so that the ignorance of this end, doth sometimes put Gods children into great perplexities; for because they fall frequently under Gods afflictions, no sooner is one over, but another suc∣ceeds, like the waves of the sea; they begin to doubt presently about the main, they call the very foundations into question, Why doth God thus follow me with losses and troubles? is it not because I am an hypocrite? may I not fear the great work of conversion is yet to be done? But this is a temptation; had not Iob been well exercised to discern between good and evil; these very tempra∣tions had broken his heart.

A Second branch of Chastisements, are indeed for sin, and flow from Gods an∣ger,*but they are wholly medicinal: They are to let blood, like the Physitian who intends health; not like the Butcher, who is to destroy; and these by the Scripture are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because God would discipline us by them as children, not punish us as condemned malefactors.

And if you say, How can these be for conversion, when sometimes they fall upon those that are converted, such as are made Gods children already?*

To Answer this, you must remember what was said heretofore, that even those who are converted, do yet need daily to draw nigher and nigher to God; * they are to be converted daily from those frequent corruptions, which estrange them from God; and thus when Gods own people have their afflictions, they are to consider, Is not this to turn me nearer to God? is there not such pride, such dulness and coldness in the service of God, that I am to be turned from? Well, its clear, to Gods own children, they are thus medicinal; but by the Texts forementioned, and in several other places, its also evident, that even to those who are sinners, and remain in an unconverted estate, God reacheth out his gracious offer in their troubles: That as it is said of several Psalms, which more principally contain the subjects of affliction, A Psalm to give understand∣ing; so shouldst thou write, as it were, upon every trouble, upon every af∣fliction, An affliction to give understanding. Do not Physitians command men distracted, and out of their wits, to be kept in dark dungeons, to be bound in straight chains and fetters, to have hard and miserable fare, that so by all this hardship, they may come to their understandings again? thus God doth, Men by their sins are turned mad, they are grown out of their right reason; they indeed think strictness and preciseness is the way to make men out of their wits; but thy lusts and thy wickedness, deprive thee of all sound judgement; now God, that he may recover thee, bindes thee in chains, afflicts thee with several judgements, that so at last thou mayest seriously consider of thy self, and thy condition: so that there was never any trouble befell thee, but thou shouldst make as good use of it, as ever thou didst of the best sermon thou hast heard. Page  449 Hence Parisiensis will not call these afflictions evil, but good; and therefore divides Gods dispensations into Bona Attractionis, and Bona Retractionis; Good things drawing or attractive, these are Gods mercies; good things withdrawing or retractive from sin, and these are afflictions.

But thirdly, There are some judgements of God for sin, wherein God doth not aim at conversion, but utter ruine: Therefore when we say, God by his calamities, in∣tends * the conversion of men; it is not to be understood universally, not of all men, nor at all times; God hath some judgements which are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, punishments and torments, which proceed from the meer hatred and implacable enmity of God; and so conversion is no more intended by these, then the flames and torments in hell are appointed to convert, or to bring the damned to repentance: Thus was the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrha, fire and brimstone was a fit declaration of the hell they had deserved; and although it may not be peremptorily said, that all the whole world that perished save eight persons, were all damned, for that is disputed among the Learned; yet its plain, the great∣er part were incurably wicked, and so the deluge, though of water, was not to wash their sins, but God did first throw them into water, and then into e∣ternal fire presently; and wo be to those wicked men, to whom their miseries here are but the beginning of sorrows hereafter.

Now we may observe a difference between these penal, destructive evils, and * healing medicinal ones, in these respects:

First, Destructive calamities come violently and totally upon men; So that the wrath of God comes upon such to the extremity, to the uttermost: Thus So∣dm and Gomorrha were overthrown in a moment; and God thretens incurable Israel, That affliction shall not rise up the second time, Nahum 1. 9. he will strike them dead with the first blow; whereas Gods converting scourges, they come by degrees: As God removed his glory from the temple, being unwilling to stir up all his wrath, as the Psalmist expresseth it, Psal. 78 38. when therefore God doth first threaten before he smite, and when he doth smite, he doth it with moderation; when if he doth rebuke, yet it is not in his sore displeasure; then all these dispensations are to purge out thy dross; then thou art set on the fire, that thy scum may go over. Ieremy makes an excellent difference between these two dispensations, Ier. 10. 24, 25. Correct me, O Lord, but with judgement, not in thine anger, lst I be brought to nothing; so then, never repine or grud e under any sore hand of God upon thee, if it be with judgement, with measure, not in wrath; then it is but the shepherds crook, to bring the wandring sheep in: As the waters of the flood overflowed the mountains, and drowned all the Roval Palaces, and great buildings, that were extant at that time, but advanced the Ark higher to heaven; so do afflictions to incurable men, that minde earthly things onely, and glory with greediness in them; but those that belong to God, will be advanced to heaven thereby.

Secondly, Afflictions are converting, and not destructive, when God doth vouch∣safe inward teachings of the soul, inward meltings and humiliations of the spirit*with them. Gods judgements upon Pharaoh, had no gracious operation upon him, because his heart was more hardened every day. Hence the Psalrist, Blessed i the man, whom thou chastenest, and teachest thy way, Psal. 94. 12. when Gods chastening and Gods teaching go together, then there is hope of an hearty conversion unto God: when God strikes on the back, and opens the eyes at the same time, then are afflictions blessed and happy to such men: The bitterness of them is quickly recompensed with the fruits of righteousness they bring forth. Consider then, doth the rod give thee wisdom and understanding? doth God speak wisdom to thy heart, while thy outward man is so sharply exercised? then these things come from love, and will end in love: Oh this undoeth us in out calamities! we attend to the outward burthen, and grievous nature of them, we ask, When will they be gone? we cry out, How long Lord? but wenever re∣member Page  450 that we are by our calamities in Gods School; we consider not, neither do we hearken to what God saith unto us; look then to have teaching, as well as striking: Oh woe be to that man, whom God onely beats and beats, but teacheth him not at all: This is a forerunner of sad destruction.

Having premised these things, I come to shew in the next place, how Afflicti∣ons * are operative to the conversion of men, what influence they have to make us turn to God: And here are two Errors to be avoided:

The first is, as if afflictions of their own nature, in their own self, could beget any such heavenly change upon men: No such matter, for if the Word of God it self, and the Sacraments, if destitute of Gods spirit and his power, are uneffectual, how much more must these outward calamities be? Therefore as Ezekiels wheels could not move, unless the Spirit drive them; nor the pool of Bethesda communicate health, unless the Angel descended and stirred the waters; so neither do any afflictions or troubles at all, do any good, but where Gods spirit moveth upon these waters. Experience confirmeth this, How many times do people grow more desperate, more obstinate and impenitent in every evil way, by the judgements upon them? The Prophet Isaiah complaineth of them, O Lord, when thy hand is lifted up they will not see, Isa, 26. 11. Though a fool be brayed in a morter, yet he will not learn wisdom, Prov. 27. 22.

The Second Error to be avoided, is to attribute any merit or worth to a pati∣ent * bearing of afflictions, as if by this we could merit either grace or glory. The Apostle indeed saith of Afflictions, That they do work an eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. 4. 17. but the word doth not there signifie a proper causality, onely God doth make afflictions advantagious for his children glory: Do not then think, that because thou hast a miserable life here, God is bound to make thee amends in the life to come: Those that say such things, know not that their sins have deserved all wrath in this world, and the world to come. This stone being removed out of the way, I proceed to describe the manner how these outward calamities may further conversion.

And first, They are very advantagious to set the word preached upon our hearts:*I spake unto thee in thy prosperity, saith God, but thou heardest not, Jer. 22. 21. The word of God is never so likely to have a powerful impression, as when men are in miseries; then their proud spirits, their lofty hearts are tamed: As the rod in the school, and discipline makes instruction easily enter into the negligent childe; so when God teacheth you by his word, and afflicts you by his works, this may provoke to conversion: Doth God therefore put thee in this fiery fur∣nace? say, This is to bring all that hath been preached to me to my minde; God hath a special regard to his word, it is the precious seed sown, and there∣fore he ploweth and harroweth the ground; he afflicts and humbles Hearers, that they may get good by it: This is the proper use of all chastisements, to make way for the word preached, to mollifie and soften, that it may enter; and there∣fore what hearers are more obstinate and opposite to the word, then such as live in jollity and security, that have their hearts ease? These have a fat heart, and so are not sensible.

Secondly, Affliction helpeth much to make men sober and wise, to give our selves to understanding; and by understanding we come to be converted. Solomon often * tells us, That the rod gives wisdom; and therefore God takes this way with us, we being far more stupid and senseless in spiritual things, then any childe can be to humane Learning: Now when God depriveth us of our joy, of our com∣forts, of all outward delights, this is apt to make a man to consider the vani∣ty of all things, What are Riches, what are Honors, what are External mercies to be me thus afflicted, thus broken and bruised? When thou rebukest man for his sin, all his desireable things perish; when then God takes away the desire of thy eyes, the desire of thy heart, this is to make thee wise; as you take away the childes babies, to make it learn its lesson: Its better to go to the house of Page  451 mourning then laughter, for the living will lay it to heart. The Prodigal never came to his true minde, till he was brought to bitter extremity: Oh then, if thou finde Gods hand heavy upon thee, say, This is the time to get wisdom, speak now Lord, for my heart is ready to hear: If thou doest not know more, and understand more then ever, thou losest the benefit of thy af∣fliction.

Thirdly, Affliction may further conversion, in that it doth sensibly teach a man, how*sad and bitter a thing it is to sin against God: Sin is compared to gall and worm∣wood, but it is never perceived to be so, till God bring us into external miseries: Thus Jeremy, Jer. 2. 19. Then shall ye know, it is a bitter thing to depart from God: Therefore though men in jollity and outward ease, never think of turning unto God, yet how is it that you refuse, whose sins have found you out. These Ser∣pents have now put out their stings upon you; you finde your iniquities no longer smiling on you, no longer tickling and pleasing of you, but they have said you in a tormenting bed of sorrow: Thou hast received thy good things, but now thy time is come for evil things: Every man doth quickly settle upon his lees, if he be not removed from affliction to affliction: How fit then and congruous is it for that man, who lieth under the smart of his sins, to depart from them! What is the cause of thy present misery, of thy present troubles? is it not sin? What hath brought thee into that deep gulf thou art in? is it not sin? What hath turned all thy waters into blood, as it was with the Egyptians? all those comforts and delights thou usest to refresh thy self with? is it not sin? Then why doest thou not say? If sin make all this evil, if that bring all this misery, why shall I imbrace it any louger? And a Christian will further argue, If these beginnings be so heavy, what will the after end be? if in this life it sting and wound so deeply, what will it in the life to come? What is hell and the tor∣menting flames thereof, if now sin be so terrible?

Fourthly, In this afflictions may also prepare for conversion, because they are apt*to dead a mans heart, and all his delights that he took in the creatures: Sin is an aversion from God, and conversion to the creature; now grace is an aversion from sin, and conversion to God; and there is nothing doth so prepare and take off the heart from the creature, as when God afflicts us in them, and by them. As then the breast is made bitter, to wean the child; so God puts bitterness in every comfort, in every condition, makes affliction to grow up with every mercy, a thorn with every flower; that so thou mayest say, Its not good to be here, we must seek a better good then these things are: In their afflictions they will seek me early, saith God, Hosea 5. 15. Oh when God shall make every thing bryars and thorns to thee! when thou lookest for good, and behold nothing but bitterness, now is the time to allure thy soul to God; say, What wilt thou do? whether wilt thou go? Hath not that Star wormwood fallen into every state thou art in? Hath not God bid thee be called no more Naomi, but Marah: Why then doest thou any longer seek for grapes on thorns; for true happiness in the way of sin? God took the Church into the wilderness, and then he spake to her, Hosea 2. 14. Oh when God hath brought thee into a wilderness, all comforts are kept from thee, then take the advantage, then pray, then mourn; now, if ever, that iron of thy heart is in the fire, and it may be beaten into a good frame; and there∣fore the more universal thy affliction is, if it takes thee off from all refuges, leaveth thee not one drop of comfort, the likelier it is to do thee good, for thy spiritual disease and corruption is contumelious, that it must be strong physick, else it will not work on thee: As long as thou canst catch upon any twig, any branch to save thy self, thou wilt not throw thy self into the arms of Christ: Therefore God hedged the Churches way with thorns, Hosea 2. 6. that she might not any way break through for her sins; and when she was thus stopped, then she resolveth to go back to her former husband again. Thus afflictions in these particulars may help on our turning to God, not but that the word is the pro∣per Page  452 instrument, onely this may smooth and prepare the way for the word to en∣ter; insomuch that a man, who hath no afflictions, and who liveth in all the ease and delight of his soul, he may be in a desperate condition, and most dan∣gerous, though he bless himself. Its related of Ambrose, that being in the house of a man who boasted he never had any calamity in all his life; Come, saith he, let us make haste out of this house, lest some remarkable vengeance of God fall upon us: He thought those were most unhappy, that had so much earthly happi∣ness, Nihil infelicius semper felici.

Here is one doubt to be answered, and that is, Why should men be pressed in times of calamities and miseries to turn unto God, seeing that is usually brand∣ed * for hypocrisie; all is out of fear, and extorted, and so not thank worthy: If Israel return to God, because he is framing evil against them, its meerly for fear of evil, and not love of God, or what is good. Doth not the Prophet call the Israelites fastings and mournings, when they were under Gods judgements, by no other name, then howlings, as if they were so many beasts kept up in a den, ready to be famished, that cryed for food onely, Why then should this be urged upon us?

I Answer, These calamities must be the occasion onely and initial motive; they must prepare and make way, but they must not be the principal ground, nor the * onely: Even as the needle draweth on the thread; or as in matter of faith, the true Churches Authority, makes way to receive the truth of God, but af∣terwards we believe for the divine Authority thereof; so these outward miseries, they give the first hint, they begin to make the first shake, but afterwards the soul forsakes sin, and cleaveth to God, not out of fear onely, but love to him: We do not therefore press you, to make your afflictions the onely ground, but let them be sanctified introductions: And so I proceed to the Uses.

First, That no man hath cause to boast and rejoyce of his outward prosperity, that he is not afflicted as others, he liveth and is dandled, as it were, in the worlds * lap: Who knoweth, but that this is the fatting of thee for the shambles? Who can say, but that God is most angry with thee, while he seemeth not to be an∣gry: Oh how much better were it, that God did follow thee by one affliction after another, by one misery after another; this great calm is but the forerunner of a terrible storm; know sin hath it stings, and it will one time or other be ter∣rible. As its said, the Magistrates hath not the sword in vain; so neither are all those threatnings, all those arrows and swords of Gods vengeance in vain, But who believeth our report?

Secondly, That we the people of England, of any Nation in the world, should be a converted generation to him: It should be matter of amazement and asto∣nishment, * if every sinner be not turned from his evil ways; for God hath not onely framed evil against us, but poured it on us; he hath not onely whet his glistering sword, but run it in our bowels; the Lyon hath not onely roared, but torn in pieces: In vain do we speak and hope of Gods turning his wrath from us, till we have turned from our iniquities: We look not to the true cause of all our judgements; the sins we lie in, we live in; the sins that every Town and Village walloweth in, these have been our undoing: Oh then you who say, Your have lost thus much and thus much by the times, be able to say, You have lost your sins also, and found God.

Page  453

SERMON LXXV.

Of the time of turning unto God (viz.) pre∣sently.


JER. 18. 11.
Return ye now every man from his evil way.

THe Prophets Commission consisted of two parts, The first Instruction. The second Exhortation. We are upon this latter, and in it are ob∣served 1. The duty, Return; the nature of which hath been already discussed. 2. The time now, Return now. 3. The term from which, with the appropri∣tion of it, Every man from his evill way. 4. The extent also of it, From your evil doings. The next thing in our method to be handled is, the time when this duty must be set upon, and that is now Turn ye now.

From whence Observe, That Conversion or turning unto God, is a duty required at the present time. Thus in other places parallel in the margent, where this duty is often commanded; still the time is prefixed now, Return ye now.

For opening of this necessary practical point, Consider *

First, That it is a very prone inbred thing in a man to procrastinate, and still to put off the day of repentance, and conversion to God. He resolveth, and he purpo∣seth, and he hopes in God to do it, and God gives him grace to do it, but he never sets upon the work. Do but commune with your own hearts, and see if there be not something or other ready alwaies to stisle and kill those purposes to return and so thou art alwaies delaying, and delaying, hoping for a time at last, till it may be thou fallest into the grave, and so all thy hopes cut off. Now the causes of this de∣lay to turn to God, may be several: Sometimes it may come from sluggishnesse and*idlnesse: Even as the sluggard hath a desire to eat, but he tolleth himself on the bed, and saith, Yet a little sleep, and a little slumber, and so he refuseth to set his hand to work. Thus it is here, he desireth to part with his corruptions, to sin no more, but then he cryeth a little more ease; so much praying, so much hearing, so much humi∣liation, so much fervencie and violence is very tedious to him: The kingdome of heaven is to be got by violence, Mat. 11. 12. and the way to heaven, is striving, runinng in a race, wrestling and combating, all which the idle man will never doe.

A second cause is, Dear, and excessive love to the lusts we live in, when we have at*the same time some conviction, and yet strong corruptions. Conviction that it is high time for us to break off our sins by repentance, and yet strong corruptions do so en∣tice us, and perswade us, that we are not able to break these bonds, and cast them asunder, then conversion is delayed. Thus Agrippa was almost perswaded to be a Christian, Act. 26. 28. but yet his present lusts with-held him.

Page  454 The third Cause of delay to turn unto God may be, the immoderate and excessive love, and cares of the things of this world. Those are apt to surfet, and over-charge the * heart: this dust got into the eye, is apt to blinde them. Thus the young man that seemed so forward, when he was bid to sell all, could not bear that Doctrine, but went away very sorrowful, Mat. 19. 22.

A fourth Cause, may be recovery out of some dangers, diseases, or calamities that we were in. The Israelites often turned unto God, but they proved deceitful, they went * backward, as well as forward, and what was the matter? They would turn to God from violent fears that were upon them; they then cryed, and mourned, and prayed unto the Lord; but this fountain presently dryed up when a sun-shine day came. So that prosperity and freedom from trouble, makes a man pur off his re∣solutions, as much as ever he put them on in times of adversitie. Thus you see what are the causes that may make men use that Corvinumcras, as Austin calls it, The Crows note, Cras, to morrow, to morrow.

2. Consider, that it is an high, and a very grievous sin, for a man obstinately and*formally to have this expression, I will turn to God, but not yet. I say to have this for∣mally, and not with attention to it, it argueth very great rebellion, for it supposeth light in thee; thou seest thy self out of the way, thou seest thy self undone, and wandring in waies to hell, yet thy rebellion against this light is so great and mani∣fest, that thou wilt oppose it: besides it argueth much contempt; for if thou didst highly prize God, and his favours, thou wouldst immediately forsake all other things, and cleave to him.

These things premised, now let us consider why we ought to take the present Now, not to put off, no not a day, an hour, not this moment; and there was never * any duty had such reasons for it. As

First, The vanity and uncertainty of a mans life is so obvious a reason, That it is strange every one doth not resolve, Now will I forsake my accustomed sins, I will do it now. The shortnesse of our daies is frequently agrravated by the Scripture, there∣fore we should apply our hearts to wisedom, we should not look so much to this moment, as provide for eternity: Who art thou then, O mortal man that doth yet put off thy repentance? who hath given thee security for to morrow? why dost thou not take the Holy Ghosts councel? To day, and while it is called to day, hear his voice, Psalm 95. 7. Oh dust and ashes, Why art thou not afraid of being blown a∣way with every breath of Gods displeasure? In wordly matters you are careful to make every thing sure; you know not what will fall out, it is good to be certain; and in heavenly things, there you content your selves with any probabilities. The Psalmist gives a convincing Epithet, Psal. 4. O ye mortal men, how long will you love vanity. Let us then beseech thee who art entangled in thy lusts by that body of death thou bearest about with thee, by the consideration of that sentence of death past upon every one, the execution whereof may be this night, so that thou never maist hear this Exhortation more, by the consideration of the grave into which thou art falling, that thou wouldst no longer put off, but turn from thy sins. Oh say, contrary to those Epicures, Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall dye: Let us pray, and return unto the Lord, for to morrow we shall dye.

Secondly, Turn now, because the day of Grace and salvation offered unto thee, is as un∣certain in continuance as thy life. Thus the Apostle, Behold, now is the time acceptable,*now is the day of Salvation, 2. Cor. 6. 2. therefore receive not the grace of God in vain: and our Saviour, Work while ye have day, for the night is coming, and no man can then work, John 9. 4. If a black night for Ordinances and the Ministry should be coming upon you, the sun and the stars be turned into bloud: Oh then, whi∣ther wilt thou run? and what wilt thou do? gather the Manna therefore while it falls; come in while the door of Grace stands open: take heed of being like Esau, coming too late for a blessing, like Saul, that cannot have God answer him any way, by Urim, or Thummim, or any other manner: The Prophet Jeremiah might Page  455 well say, Return ye now; for shortly captivity, or the sword will deprive you of all means of grace: How diligent is the husbandman to take the season for sowing, the tradesman his season for buying and selling! but for our souls we are not wise: We say not, Oh my soul, now if ever let this sermon pierce thee, now if ever let this exhortation prevail with thee. Oh unwise men, go and learn of the bruitish Crea∣tures, they are so wise as to lay up their store in summer against winter: and thus it ought to be with thee; if there may come a sad time of famine for the Ordinances, and the means of Grace, do thou as Joseph, who laid up provision for that time of scarcitie. Now while God calls, do thou say, here, Lord, I am.

Thirdly, Therefore turn now from your evill waies, because the longer you put off, the more you hinder your peace and happinesse. All the time spent in sin is lost time, it must be all redeemed again as the Apostle exhorts, Thou art an hinderer of thy peace and comfort all the while thou art labouring in the way of sin, thou art with the Pro∣digal feeding on husks, when thou mighst have a fatted calf; thou art eating onions when Manna may be gathered: What are the pleasures of sin, to the enjoyment of God, the peace of a good Conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost? How wilt thou try out when once set at liberty from this prison, Now I begin to live, Now I begin to have happinesse, now I begin to have pleasure, but never till now? Thou wilt finde a damage, and a losse which cannot be repaired, but by that happinesse in Jesus Christ: So then bethink thy self, What a loser am I, exchanging dirt for gold? It is my own advantage and happinesse, if I betake my self to God im∣mediately.

Fourthly Therefore turn to God, because the longer thou putst off, the greater diffi∣culty it will be to leave thy sins. At last Conversion will be every day more remote then at first; for the difficulty will arise several waies, here will more then a three-fold cord be to be broken.

For 1. It will be more hard, because sin is every day hardening of a mans heart * more: Now all hardnesse of heart makes turning to God more difficult: wax is sooner melted then cold Iron: Therefore saith the Apostle, To day if you will hear, harden not your hearts, Psal. 95. implying that every delay doth freez the soul, and make it more benummed: if thou art not fit to day, thou wilt be lesse fit then to morrow: and hence it is why men rooted in sin, and inveterate in old customary iniquities, do seldom change their black skins: the beginnings of a wound are to be healed; if you let it rankle and canker, then that groweth incurable at last. Oh then take up betimes; while there are any relentings, any meltings, go presently to God: If thou gettest cold after this heat, then thy disease will be more mor∣tall.

2. Therefore it is more difficult if thou delay, because to thy naturall hardnesse * thou wilt add adventitious, and acquisite, Every man naturally hath a stone upon his heart, and grace must remove that in conversion; but when thou hast refused often to come at Gods call, then there is a second, and a third, yea many stones laid upon thee while thou art buried in the grave of thy sins; Oh then, wo be unto thee who dost make thy condition worse at last, then at first. Who knoweth if thou hadst regarded the first impressions, and motions of Gods spirit, but that thy condition had been more hopeful? Oh take heed of proving bankrupt in the way of sin; then the more thou spendest, the likelier to be cast into that dungeon out of which there can be no redemption. Take heed then of adding hardnesse to that which is inbred in thee: Thou hast enough to presse thee into the lowest sea; thou needest not have more milstones hung about thy neck.

3. It is therefore more difficult, because the judgement of God is more terrible to such in a spiritual manner. The Lord hath spirituall judgements, as well as * temporall; and although we grone and complain more under bodily miseries, yet these spiritual have the greatest danger; and of all spiritual ones, this of hardnesse of heart is the most grievous, as by the Prophet appeareth, Esai. 6. Go and make their hearts fat, their eyes blinde. Oh then fear the longer thou putst off, lest God will Page  456 smite thee with more stupidity, more senslesnesse, and so at last thou fll into an hopelesse condition, that all means used for recovery, do make thy sicknesse more desperate.

4. Therefore it is more difficult if thou delayest, because the divel hath thereby * got the stronger possession on thee; for every man hath either God and his spirit dwelling in him, whereby he becomes a lively Temple, and his house, and so all things are according to his government, or else the Divel he hath a full possession of him; but now his hold in thee is stronger and stonger, as thou delayst, and there∣fore it will be the more hard to cast him out, when he hath had so many years pos∣session. The divels that possessed the man from the womb up, could not be cast out but by some extraordinary way. The divel was in Judas his heart long before, yet saith the Scripture, The Divel entered into his heart, John 13. 27. How is that? was he not before there? Yes, but now more then ever; he had sinned more, and resisted the grace of Christ more, and therefore God gave him up to the greater power of the Divel: And thus it will be with thee; the more thou putst off, the more thou delayest, the greater Tyranny and raign will Satan have over thee.

Fifthly, Therefore turn now to God, because the sooner thou goest to him, the more service and honour thou wilt bring to him. Suppose a man be called at the twelfth * hour, yet how little can he do for God before night? Alas thou hast lived a long while in the service of sin and satan, and thou needest even Methusalems age to do God service, for all the dislervice and dishonour thou hast done him. Paul because he had been very active for the Divel, and so laboured more then many of his equals in pulling down the Church; therefore when once converted, see how he rejoyceth as a gyant to run his race, and he laboureth afterward more then all to build the Church. Oh then think the greatest honour thou art capable of, is to do the Lords work: Angels rejoyce in this; and all the while thou art in the course of sin, then thou art doing the Divels service: Although now there be no greater delight to thee, then fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, yet when thou art once turned to God, thou wilt labour abundantly in the work of God, and it will be an heavy trouble to thee that thou hast been an enemy so long to God, and promoted the work of his adversary. Therefore get betime into the vine-yard of the Lord, and so thou wilt have time to do him the more service.

Sixthly, The sooner thou turnest to God, thou wilt prevent the more sin, and so the*more shame and trouble of heart. Those that have gone far in the waies of wicked∣nesse, they have the greater falls, and so their broken bones put them into the more pains e're they can be healed. Oh what a deal of peace would Manasses, and Ma∣ry Magdalen have enjoyed, if they had been converted in their younger years! So if Paul had been betimes drawen home unto God, he had not had all that trouble and grief of spirit for persecuting the Church of God. Those that are aged women, they say, have the sorer and more dangerous travails, if they had never any Children before: and thus they have the more difficult conversions, the greater anguish and pain of Conscience, who have lived long in sin, and committed great ones. Hence is that, Remember thy Creator in the daies of thy youth: and it is good to bear the yoke in the youth; so it is here, it is good to feel the bitternesse of sin betimes; it is good in our younger years to feel how sad a thing it is to displease God; this advan∣tage hath early conversion. So then, let young ones hearken to sermons, let them attend to what the Ministers of God exhort; for conversion doth not onely belong to the old, but to the young; yea commonly conversion is sooner wrought upon the younger sort of people, for they have not resisted the grace of God so much, they have not provoked God to give them up to their own hearts lusts and desires, as many aged persons have.

Seventhly, Suppose thy conversion and turning to God for the future, were not onely possible, but sure; if it were infallibly revealed to thee, that God would be∣fore * thy death make himself known in a gracious manner to thee, yet how unfit is old age, or a diseased sick body to turn to God? When thou hast given the Divel Page  457 all thy service, and power, and strength, then to give a Carkasse to God it is un∣seemly; like those Heathens that keep the honey to themselves, and offer the wax to their Gods: say then to thy self, as the Prophet in another case concerning those that offered blinde, and same Sacrifices to God: Offer it now to thy rulers, and governours, see if they will accept of it: And thus it is here, thy lame, diseased, in∣firm service, How fit is it for God, when it is not fit for any man? The command is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy minde, and with all thy strength: if this be required of thee, then it is most unworthy and dishonourable dealing, to put off God to thy feeble age.

Eighthly, Consider the nature of sin, what it is, and thou must needs say, There is no way, but presently to go out of it. It is the poyson of the soul, and that is not to be * kept long in the body: It is the bloody wounding of it, and thou must not let it lye long in this bleeding: it is the meer mercy of God that sin doth not give a dam∣ning stab and blow to thee, to undo thee to all eternity. Why then wilt thou stay for an hour, for a moment in this estate? Who would abide long in a place, where fire is ready to burn and consume all before it? Yet this is thy condition; it was Lots great stupiditie, that when fire and brimstone was ready to rain from heaven upon him, he would not go out till the Angel came and pulled him out, The Lord being mercifull to him, saith the Text, Genes, 19. 16. And thus it is here, our sottishness, and stupidity is so great, that although heaven above be against us, and hell beneath ready to devour us, yet we think not of conversion to Him.

Ninthly, If so be thou wouldst ever turn to God at all, then why not now? Do not de∣ceive, and delude thy own soul; if ever thou wilt part from thy lusts, begin presently, * for what can be more necessary? Commonly this is our method, that we will do the necessary things in the first place; we wil first provide for our lives, before we do for ornaments; Nature teacheth us to do that which hath the greatest necessity: now then what is more necessary then to turn to God? if this be not done, thy sins are upon thee, thy lusts will overwhelm thee, thy damnation is sure and unavoidable. Turn now unto God, because it is most necessary: one thing is needful: neither ri∣ches, honour, or any advantages are like to this. Besides, if ever thou wilt turn to God, do it now, for there can be no reason hereafter, which will not be much more now. Is sin of a terrible damning nature, then it is so now? Doth Gods anger be∣long to sin, so it doth now? Is God also to be loved, and chosen before all things? then now as well as at any time hereafter. Thy comforts will be greater, thy ho∣nour more, thy service to God more; therefore return now unto God.

Use of Exhortation, to be perswaded to this duty, Return now, set immediately upon the work, Why should Gods work be done last of all? Oh think rather I will turn unto God, and that presently, because I may dye before I think of it. If I dye before I have setled such and such worldly businesses, there is nothing but a tempo∣ral losse; but if I dye before I have setled the peace of my soul, then I am eternally undone. Oh how many have been surprized by Gods stroke, before ever they thought of it: then they cry out, Lord, spare me one year longer, Lord, give me space once more; I am not ready to dye, I have not quitted my sins; Oh if I dye now, I shall dye and be damned in them. Come then and take the good counsel of the Prophet, Do it now; are your hearts yielding and consenting? you will have the comfort of sincerity, if you turn to God while in your health and strength; whereas when fear and danger works upon thee, then still thou wilt doubt of thy integrity in what thou dost.

Page  458

SERMON LXXVI.

That Conversion puts a Man upon leaving his Be∣loved Sin; The reason of the difference of Dar∣ling Sins in men, and the Signs by which a Man may know his beloved Sin.


JEREM. 18. 11.
Return ye now, every one from his evill wayes.

THese words (you heard) were the second part of Jeremiah's Commission, the matter whereof is exhortatory, and in that the duty, and the time of the duty have been considered. The third thing in order to be prosecuted, is the subject, with the appropriation of it, Every man from his evill wayes. Be∣sides the common and general sins, wherein all had defiled themselves, there were also peculiar darling and beloved sins, that every one had espoused particularly to themselves: If therefore they would declare their sincere, and unfeigned Con∣version unto God, they were to throw away these Dalilah's to sacrifice these Isaacs, their onely sins, which they loved so much. A man may leave many sins without any trouble, so as it be not that to which he is dearly ingaged.

That true Conversion will put a man upon the forsaking his dear and beloved sin: He will not as Lot, desire to have a little one spared: So, Lord, I will pray, hear, * turn unto thee; onely in this spare me. Some say, that Naaman the Syrian was not truely converted, because he stuck at one beloved sin; for when he proffered his service to the true God, promising to take him for the only Lord, he addeth, Par∣don thy Servant in one thing, that when I goe down into the house of Rimmon, and my Master lean on me, I also then bow down, 2 King. 5. 18. They that make him not a true Convert, say, here was hypocrisie. This Office was a place of honour and profit, and so though he would acknowledge the true God in many things; yet this his evill way he would not leave; I will not determine that point of his true Conver∣sion; but certainly this is a very frequent miscarriage in these dayes; Many hear the Word gladly, receive it with some joy, and do many things willingly; but then they are held in one string, there is one dead Fly, and that marreth the Box of oynt∣ment, so that it passeth a Diminitive but on a man, and all his Religion. As in that Naaman we instanced in, it is said he was a great man, and of great authority in the land, but he was a Leper, and that marred all: so it is here, he prayeth, he heareth, he conformeth to many godly things; but there is such a finne, such a lust, and that undoeth all; and as every man may have his particular sin; so its observed, that Na∣tions have their proper sins. The Jewes in former times were above all sins proue Page  459 to Idolatrie; therefore its thought God did exercise them in such a bodily way of worship; and so many external and glorious Ceremonies were commanded them; that if possible, they might not desire Idolatrous worship. The Corinthians, their sin was uncleannesse and wantonnesse, therefore the Apostle doth so much presse Arguments against that. The Cretians are branded to be alwayes Lyars; and the Apostle confirmeth this testimony. Thus Nations have their proper sins, as well as particular persons, yea particular Towns and Villages, by one reason or other, are observed to be more prone to some kind of sin then others: But I shall limit my self to particular mens darling corruptions, which is the root to be plucked up, the Fountain to be dryed up; and every Christian should be so far a spirituall Physici∣an to himself, as to be able to know, what is that particular sin to which he is most inclined; for at that breach hell and damnation will enter.

But to make this point naked and open, consider, That Originall sin, though it*be the seed of all kind of wickednesse, and there cannot be an instance given of any horrid crime in the world, but this would carry a man unto it, yet this poison in every man vents it self in one way, rather than another: Even as in every mans body there is a seed and principle of death; yet in some there is a pronenesse to one kind of disease more than to another; and this may be called that mans proper sin, his evill way. As Philosophy tels us, Though all the individuals of one kind agree in one common specifical nature, yet every one hath a particular difference, whereby it is distinguished from another, which they call Hecciety; so its here, though there be many sins acted in common by all, yet several men have their particular corrup∣tions, which are like the Prince of Devils, that commands all their other sins. Its true, there is no sin committed by any man, but thou hast cause to blesse God, that thou art not as desperately intangled in it, as others. Therefore what the Psalmist speaks of the worst of wicked men, and highest enemies to the Church of God, the Apostle Romans 3. applyeth to everie man. Yet evetie man hath his inclina∣tion to one kind of sinne rather than another: and this difference of darling∣beloved sinnes may arise from two grounds, the one internal, the other ex∣ternal.

The internall cause of a beloved sin is the complexion and bodily constitution of a*man: For as one mans body inclines to cholerick diseases, another to melancholick; so the very natural constitution, while a man is under the power of sinne, hurrieth one way rather than another: Not that this excuseth a man, to say, its his inclination to do thus and thus, he cannot help it, for sanctifying grace will work in a man, a contrarie inclination, put another predominant principle within him; and besides this doth not extenuate, but aggravate his sin; for the more it is rooted, and clea∣veth to him, the more difficult will his recoverie be; so then a mans peculiar sin, that he is most addicted unto, may arise from his bodily constituion, that may be a more prepared instrument for some vice rather than another. Or our darling sinne*may arise from some externall causes, and they may be these.

First, Custome and use in some kind of sinne. Frequent custome doth at last breed an habituated delight, and becomes a second nature; so that men who have been in long Captivity and service to lusts, they willingly have their eares boared, and are never willing to leave that Service. We see dayly sad experience of this truth. Men who through long continuance in sinne, have now turned it into their nature, They say of that sin, as Christ of grace, One thing is needfull; They add Drunkennesse to Thirst, as Moses calls it, Deuteronomie 29. 19. That is, after they have committed sinne, they are vehement and fervent for it a∣gain.

Secondly, A darling Sin may arise from the condition, or relation we are in. There may be some temptations sutable to the inward lusts of an heart, that we cannot leave such sins, unlesse we quite forsake such a condition, or calling. Ju∣das his beloved sin was Covetousnesse; and his condition he was in, carrying Page  460 the Bag, that was a continual blast to blow up the fire of lusts; so if ambitious men get to the pinacle of honour; if covetous men to places of profit and gain, here the Serpent in their breasts gets the warm beams of the Sun, there is a daily incentive to add many Cubits to the stature of their lusts; and its a very ill and malignant constellation, when a mans outward condition, and his peculiar sinne meet together, he had great need to pray to be delivered from the mouth of such Lions.

Secondly, In the next place, that may be called a mans particular way of sinning, which yet we cannot call his beloved sin. For it may be a great grief and torment * to him, it may be a Tyrant usurping power over him, not the delight of his soul. Some say David was very prone to the sin of lying; its plain, that being in many streights by Saul, he used many unlawfull shifts: Now this was an heavy burden to him, Deliver me from the way of lying, Psalme 119. 9. He doth earnestly pray against this Sinne: And so in another place, Psalm 31. 10. He speaks of being kept from mine iniquity: so the godly may be more prone to fall into one sin then another; some into inordinate passion, some to cow∣ardly fear, some to diffidence in the promises; yet these are not their beloved sinnes, but their hated enemies, they mourn and complain with Paul, That this Law of sinne within them leadeth them Captives; They cry out, and say, Their souls suffer violence within them: No sinne, but Christ, is the beloved of their souls; he is the chiefest of ten thousands; yet some corruption or other beateth them often down; they are more overtaken in such a corruption then in any; Therefore they say, This is my iniquity, this is the Saul that is always pursuing of me. Its necessary the godly should understand this difference between a sinne beloved, and a sin violently tyrannizing over them: for this is most certain, who∣soever giveth up himself willingly to one kind of sin, he is yet in the state of nature and wrath, he is not turned unto God.

Thirdly, As many of Gods people have found their hearts weakest to resist some kinde of sins: so the godly have for the most part some grace or other wherein they*doe most excell. They have their way of grace, wherein they are most admi∣rable: Thus Moses is marked for his meeknesse, David for sincerity and a faithfull heart, Paul for zealous labour in promoting the Gospel. Hence the godly are exhorted to think better of one another than their own selves; because there is no grace, but one man may exceed another in: This should teach the head or eye not to despise the foot; for even that member hath some peculiar serviceablenesse which the other hath not.

In the next place, consider the Signs or Discoveries of a beloved sin, and they will appear thus: *

First, That which swallowes and devoureth all thy other sins. All other sinnes are but streams emptying themselves into that Fountain, and Ocean; this is the dar∣ling * sinne. The Pharisees peculiar sinne was vain-glory, because all things were referred to that: For seeing such a sinne is in the room of God to them, whole belly is their God, saith the Apostle, Phil. 3. 19. Therefore they refer all to that. The Adulterer, if he be greedy toget gain, its but to consume upon his lusts; for that is the Idol of his heart; so Covetousnesse in an earthly man is called Idolatry; because all the sins he commits, all the fraud and wrong he doth, its to satisfie this: As in a mans body, where there is one great wound, all the humours will run thi∣ther.

Secondly, A beloved sin is that, wherein a man cannot endure to be reproved and rebuked sharply. They can with great delight, hear you preach against such * and such sinnes; but then come to that wherein they are most intangled, then all their malice and venome works, so that there is no such discovery of a darling sinne, as a mans impatience, and fretting against those who faithfully rebuke. When Herodias desireth Johns head in a Platter, it was because his Tongue Page  461 had reproved her beloved sin. Thus because the Pharisees were reproved by Christ for their beloved sins, hypocrisie, and Self-righteousnesse, they were moved with envy and hatred against him. Try then thy self, canst thou endure the sharp Rasor should come upon the sorest part? Is there nothing that is in the Word cutting like a two-edged sword, but thou art willing it should enter into thy very heart? This is very comfortable.

Thirdly, That is a mans beloved sinne, on which his minde, his heart, and all his*labour is spent. The Voluptuous man is described to be one that maketh provision for the flesh. The Adulterer is brought in by Solomon diligently observing the time for his Lusts. The malicious Enemy to Godlinesse is said by David to go up and down the street like a Dog waiting for an opportunity, and cannot sleep till he hath accomplished mischief. As Joseph was known to be Jacobs Darling, because he bestowed a more excellent coat upon him than the rest, and so the elder Sonne was to have a double Portion, as most beloved; So that sinne which hath a double Portion above others, that which hath more of thy Cares, thy Thoughts, thy heart; that is thy Darling sinne: Oh kill that, crush that in the Egge, before it come to be a Cockatrice. Men should commune with their own hearts, and study themselves more than they do in this matter.

Fourthly, That is thy darling sinne, which thou wouldst have spared above all. Thou wouldst never stand delaying, but turn immediately to God, but for that. * That which thou hidest in time of danger, as Iehojadah did young Ioas, hoping in time to make him King. This is the Goliah of all the Philistims: Common∣ly when the Grace of God comes close to a mans heart, begins to wrestle and combate with sinne; then there is no such sturdy and potent enemy as that be∣loved sin. All the difficulty is in throwing down that mountain. When there was a man very forward, and not very far from the Kingdom of Christ, our Savi∣our to trie his sincerity, presently puts him upon the leaving his indeared sin, and then saith the Text, He went away exceeding sorrowful. This was the cup of Je∣lousie-water that did presently make his thigh to rot. What then is the sinne that hinders thee alway? That is the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the milstone about thy neck 〈◊〉 If it were not for that, thou couldst gladly run in the way of Gods com∣mandments: This is the great enemy to thy souls peace, spare it not but de∣stroy it.

Fiftly, The darling sinne may be found out by the easinesse to be overcome by it. Sampson is easily perswaded by Dalilah, when none else in the World could * steal away his heart. The Apostle bids us lay aside the sin that doth so easily bese us, Heb. 12. 1. Its the general Rule of the Scripture, Of what a man is overcome, that he is in bondage unto: and if the man be easily without any resistance over∣come, then its an argument he is the more in bondage. Consider then what that sinne is, which thou canst hardly refuse, what that is which finds the door always open, and there know all thy Calamity ariseth by that, Its an heavy slavery (if the soul could be sensible) to be at the command of any sinne; when it faith, Go, thou goest; and when Come, thou comest: Thou canst deny nothing to it, as Herod could not to Herodias; Ask not half, but the whole Kingdome of Hea∣ven, and thou will part with it to enjoy thy lusts.

Thus you have heard how this particular sin of a man, which is his own indeared corruption may be found out.

Now lets consider, Why Conversion to God doth in a speciall manner make * a man leave this: The work of Grace doth in a peculiar manner take off this yoke 〈◊〉 That what Amnon did by unnaturall, carnall lust; he hated Tamar as much and more than ever he loved her: so when men are once truely humbled for sin and turn to God, those particular lusts which were their delight, their sport, their constant practice, they are now most set against them; of all sins their Page  462 hearts do most is and swell with an holie indignation against them. Now the grounds are these:

First, This beloved sinne was the strength and power of all other sinnes. They all runne into this: This is a kinde of an original mother sinne, that bred and * nourished all other transgressions. As Sampsons strength lay in his hair, so all the power and effiacie of sin in a man, ran into that Channel of his beloved sin. That was the premum mobile which carried all the rest with it; so that as it was given in command to the Souldiers, that they should not fight with little, or great, but with the King of Israel: so grace in the heart of a man doth not so much assault lesse sinnes as this great one. Come, saith grace, let us destroy this, and all is ours, This is the strong man that must be bound ere the house can be taken: This is the Dim that must first be destroyed. No wonder then, that a man intangled in any close beloved sin, can promise himself any true comfort or hope, for he is under the strong power of sin and Satan, as long as this is upon him.

Secondly, Therefore a man must forsake this beloved sinne, because in true conver∣sion unto God, we are to leave sinne upon such spirituall and Scripture grounds*which are true in every sinne, as well as in any. The grounds of turning from sinne are, because its contrarie to an holy God, it opposeth an heavenly and pure Law, it grieveth Gods Spirit, its the noisome filthinesse and dung of the soul: Why then if this be thy ground, then all this is true of thy beloved sin as much as any; for that is against Gods holy will, that is opposite to a spirituall Law that is contrary to purity and the beauty of the soul. Its an hypocritical Conversion, when men leave some sins, and not others; they can part with some kind of cocorruptions; but then there are others of which they say, as was of Goliah's sword, None like that. Now all this is but deceit and frowardnesse of heart, this is but halting before God; for if thy beloved lust be sinne, if an enemy to God, if an adver∣sarie to his glorie, how canst thou lodge it in thy soul? Oh that people would attend more to the true spiritual and acceptable ground of leaving a∣ny sinne, for that would sweep all away, it would not leave an Hoof in E∣gypt.

Thirdly, Therefore in Conversion, a man will be sure to leave his peculiar sin, because all repentance and humiliation is a kinde of revenge, and spirituall judg∣ing*and condemning of our selves. If we would judge our selves we should not be judged of the Lord; so the Corinthians, that had been too conniving at the incestuous person, not indeavouring to purge out the old Leaven as they should: when they began to turn from this sin, then saith the Apostle, What fear? yea what zeal, what indignation and revenge? 2 Corinth. 7. 11. In all things ye have la∣boured to clear your selves in this matter. Thus it is with a godly man; of all sinnes, that which was his greatest delight, his greatest practice, now his greatest zeal and indignation is against: Was uncleannesse his beloved sinne? Now he doth especially abound in purity; that so all the world, yea and God also may see him clear. Was pride his darling sinne? then of all graces he is most cloathed with Humilitie. Pauls great sinne was persecuting and destroying the Church of God once: but when converted, who had such Fatherlie bowels? who had the Church in his heart so much as he? As Cran〈…〉er, that had subscribed with his right hand to that which was against his Conscience, afterwards with re∣venge put that first into the Flames; So doth the true Convert; Of all sins I will be revenged most of that, by which I most dishonoured God. Thus Mary Magdalen takes that hair of hers which had been used to allure others, and washes Christs Feet with it. And those eyes that had been wanton Snares, doe now stand beblubbered with Water. Thus the godly man will be avenged upon his spiritual lusts.

Fourthly, Conversion to God is the bringing of a man to true and solid Wise∣dome.*Page  463 Now that will presently advise him to take heed of that sin which will most easily seduce him: He will take heed of that fire which hath so grievously scorched him; He will remember the deadly wounds and bloudy stroaks such sinnes have given his Conscience; and therefore he is afraid, and trembleth at the verie approach of such sinnes. David when he had been throughly humbled for his Murder of Uriah, afterwards refused to drink the Water that men jeoparded their lives for: This is the bloud of man, he cryeth out: So will the true Convert be afraid to come near the borders, near the temptations of his old former sins.

Lastly, Therefore doth Conversion make a man leave his darling sinnes, because*it puts a man upon shewing the greatest love he can to God, who hath shewed so much to him. Now wherein can he shew more service and love to God, than by kill∣ling his Absolom, by offering his Isaac? Now, saith God, I know thou lovest me, because thou hast not spared thy onely beloved Sonne. So God, Now I know thou art truely converted to me, for thou dost not spare thy dear lusts, thou dost not hide thy beloved sinnes any more: Love to God will put a man upon this; and no wonder, for it puts a man to lose his Wife, Children, yea his dear life for Christs sake: is it then any wonder, if it parts a man and his beloved sinnes?

Use of Instruction, That all they are still in their Hypocrisie, and lye under * Gods wrath, who retain any beloved sinne. What though thou doest ma∣ny things, yet if thou wilt not part with thy Herodias, thou art in Gall and Wormwood. And this is the rather to be observed, because a man may goe for in the profession of Religion, yet have some secret beloved finne that he hugs in his Bosome all the while. Oh throw that Toad out of thy heart; Christ cannot, will not dwell in thy heart, till that enemy of his be dis∣lodged. Oh let a Iudas be a Pillar of Salt to season you: Did not he pray, hear, work Miracles in Christs Name, and yet lived in a secret belo∣ved sinne? God will unmask such Hypocrisie, and make thy sinne finde thee out.

Page  464

SERMON LXXVII.

Sheweth that all Persons have need to turn unto God, and sets forth the true acceptable Motives to Repentance.


JER. 18. 11.
Return now every one from his evil way.

IN this exhortatory conclusion hathbeen considered, 1. The duty, (Return) 2. The adjunct time (Now.) 3. The subject to whom, with the appropriation of it, Every one from his evil way: This latter part admits of a sub-division; 1. The general term from which a man must turn, and that is, An evil way. 2. The restriction of it, His evil way: The restriction hath also been absolved. There remaineth onely one thing more in this Exhortation, and that is the gene∣ral term, (Evil way.) Conversion is a motion; and as local motions have a term from which, and a term to which; Thus it is here in spiritual Conversion; and you cannot clearly understand the nature of this duty, unless it be consi∣dered in both the terms: and of the term from which, at this time from this Text.

The Observation, The term from which we are to turn in our Conversion unto God, is the evil and sin we live in.*

That which we are to move from, yea run and fly from, is the impiety and transgression of our lives. Every one that lieth in any sin, must be turned up∣side down, as it were; his love must be where his hatred was; his grief where his delight was; his back, where his face was; and his face and affections upon that, on which his back and all contempt and scorn was. To turn and change from a mans former sins, is no disgrace, but a necessary duty, and a great dignity: Thus Conversion is a motion from sin, not like the turning of a door upon the same hinge, never moved out of his place. Wonder not that I am long on this subject; for I am not yet near the bottom of this excellent Foun∣tain of matter, and we shall draw up new and fresh water, not troubling you with the same matter that hath already been handled. For the discovery of this point; Consider

First, Who they are that are in sin, or live in sin, and therefore need conversion:* For many a man is eternally undone, because he doth not see a necessity of his turning to God; he either takes for granted, that he is already converted, or * he thinks conversion is onely for Pagans or Hereticks, to the true Christian faith, or some notorious gross sinners, whose sins are of a crimson colour. There∣fore to undeceive and convince you herein, know and consider, what it is to be in sin, or who may be said to be in sin, and every such person needs conver∣sion.

First therefore, Every one by nature is in the damnable state of sin, although he Page  465 never committed any actual impiety: Thus sin was unknown to Heathens, and denyed by some Heretiques; but the Scripture doth plainly assert it, concluding us To be children of wrath by nature Ephes. 2. he doth not say, by actions, by custom, by practice, but by nature: This is the first stone, and the deep foundation that must be laid: This is called native, original, natural, and hereditary sin. Till a man be inwardly and powerfully convinced of this, he cannot ever think of turning unto God; so that conversion is requisite to every one that hath this birth-sin. We come naturally with our back to heaven, and face to hell; now here must be a conversion unto God: Begin here, and study here, How were it possible that men should sit and hear so much of turning to God, and never be∣gin to move towards him, but because they feel not this natural averseness in their whole man from God, and what is holy? Let no man, free from gross sins, and walking in an orderly civil way, think this duty of conversion doth not belong to him; for if thou hadst no more sin in thee then the childe new born, thou wert yet to turn unto God, as being in a dangerous path of death and destruction; yea, this conversion and turning from this innate corruption, is far more difficult, then from any actual impieties, for this is more closely bred in thee, and setled in thy bowels: The Scripture calls this thy body, thy flesh, thy members, as if thou wert turned into this sin: This is the fountain, this is the root, this walketh with thee, riseth with thee, dwells in thee, as in its pro∣per possession: so that in your turning from sin, be sure you go as deep as to this native filthiness: Its not to turn thy coat, or thy skin, but thy very heart and inwards, when you are to turn unto God: We shall shew in time, of many turnings to God, but they laid no good foundation, they laid not the ax to the root of the tree; they cut off Sampsons hair, but plucked it not up by the root, and so the strength of corruption prevailed over them again; so that this turn∣ing from sin, is to turn from thy own self, to leave thy own self, and joyn with God, to be one with him: As iron put into the fire a long while, loseth its coldness, and its black colour, and looks like fire. Its a true and good saying of Am∣brose, Homo recedens malè a Deo, cecidit in seipsum, Man falling from God, fell into his own self: So that he is as a beast tyed up in a close dungeon; his thoughts, his affections, his designs are onely for himself, original corruption hath brought this perverse distemper on a man; look then that thou break this Dragons head: Thou wilt finde thy self within (how glorious soever in thy externals) like Ezekiels wall, whereon were pourtrayed the forms of all creeping and abo∣minable things; or like Peters sheet, that had all the kindes of unclean beasts within, Thus thy heart hath all manner of vile and foul lusts cleaving unto thee; and therefore though thou wert as innocent from actual sins, as once in thy cradle, yet thou art to turn to God, and to forsake that present condi∣tion.

Secondly, That man is still in sin, and so needs conversion unto God, who*hath daily inward delights and lusts after sin, though it may be, fear, and shame, and outward punishment keep them from acting the evil they would do. It was a received opinion among the Pharisees, and many Heathens, that the meer will and pur∣pose to sin, did not deserve punishment, no not from God: From man indeed it cannot: but to think thoughts, desires, and inward purposes of sin, are free also with God, is to deny the Law to be a spiritual law, forbiddin, all the in∣ward motions and affections of sin; it is to deny God to be a father of spirits, who beholdeth and tryeth the inward man, and doth most abhor spirit-filthi∣ness. Hence Peter, 2 Pet. 1. Beseecheth as strangers to abstain from those lusts that war against the soul: Grant therefore, that still thy life be unspotted from all the gross sins of the world, yet as long as unruly lusts prevail in thy heart, as long as inward secret motions of sin prevail over thee, thou art far off from God, and therefore needest turning to him: Oh how well were it, if all thy filthy lusts within were discovered to thee! if thou didst judge thy self a serpent, which Page  466 though it hath a glittering, glorious skin, yet is full of poyson and venom within.

Thirdly, He is still in his sins, and so needeth turning to God, that doth con∣stantly and daily live in the committing of gross and known sins: This is as clear * as that thou livest and breathest; and to this man properly the Text speaks, Re∣turn from his evil way. An evil way, is the trade, custom, and ordinary practice of a man: Oh then if we behold the lives of most men, who is there that doth not need conversion? who doth not walk in one evil way or other? who doth not live in the practice of one known sin or other? Then what an heavy judge∣ment is this of God, that no more are converted? that so few ever turn from their wicked way, but live and dye in it? How often, as the Scripture cryeth out, Return, O Shunamite, Return, Return, have the Ministers of God cryed aloud to such, Return, O return, and yet men go on desperately in paths of rebellion against God! Oh why is it, that when so many in our Congregations need this grace of conversion, so few obtain it! Know, thou that livest in the customary commission of any known gross sin, thou art speedily to get out from it, as Lot was out of Sodom, when fire and brimstone were ready from heaven to de∣stroy him.

Lastly, They live still in their sin, and so need conversion to God, Who though * now they do not commit their sins they once did, yet never have truly and unfeign∣ed lyrepanted of them: Oh its again and again to be considered, upon what terms men leave their sins; Thou wast such and such a prophane wretch once, but now thou art not; How comes this forbearance of time? if it be not from godly sor∣row, and a true apprehension of Gods displeasure, thou art still in thy sins, though they were committed many years ago. Its one thing not to commit sin again, and another thing to turn from sin: The former may be done upon many grounds that are not heavenly and gracious; but the latter is onely upon pure grounds: But of this more in the counterfeit work of conversion.

Thus you see how every Auditor is not to let these sermons pass as general things, like a tale that is told, wherein they are not concerned; but to consi∣der, Is not all this spoken to me? am not I in the number of those, who yet need conversion? was it ever done upon me? when did God ever make this change upon me? Oh this undoeth you! notwithstanding all preaching, and all your hearing, no man saith, What have I done? am I turned to God? you see every man by nature is a Blackamore, that must be made white: If thou hast not outward wickedness to turn from, thou hast that inbred pollution, yea, thy own self to turn from. Thus you see who are to turn from sin.

Secondly, Which is the quintessence of this point, Let us consider what are the motives and grounds which are acceptable with God, when we turn from * sin; for, as you heard, Men have left their sins, they have not so much turn∣ed from them, but even run from them. Ahab, the Israelites, Judas, those turned from their sins, would do so no more, at least as their present condition was; yet they never truly turned from any one sin: Therefore consider, that every kinde of forsaking sin, is not presently a turning unto God. That you may understand this, consider what are the right motives with a true convert to leave sin; he will never do or live as he hath done, no, not for all the world; And

First, There are inferior or lesse principal motives, which do lawfully work upon a man, to make him turn from sin, so long as they are in the second place; And that is the * Argument in the Text, Gods framing and bringing evil upon men for their sins: When God complaineth that he had thus and thus scourged them, yet they did not return unto him; this argueth, That its lawful to turn from sin, because of the fear of punishment, and Gods judgements accempanying it: And commonly this is the first motive in place, though the last in dignity and worth: Let then all the threatnings, all the wrath of God denounced against sin, make thee speedi∣ly turn from it, for God (as the Magistrate) doth not bear his sword in vain, Page  467 neither doth the Scripture threaten in vain; but if there be no more reason then this, if this be the principal and the onely, then thou lovest sin still in thy heart; thou art kept from it, as the Dog by a clog on him, from doing his mis∣chief. The godly, though they may be first awakened to turn from sin by these thorns in their sides, and yokes on their necks, yet they stay not in these; but they have more Noble and Divine grounds why they turn from sin; And they are:

First, The offence and just displeasure that is given God, by their iniquities: Oh * this prevaileth with them, more then all external punishments in the world: Alas, what is sword, or death, or hell it self, to Gods frowns, to Gods dis∣pleasures? Thus David in his conversion to God, after his grievous relapse, is affected with this, Against thee, thee onely have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight, Psal. 51. It was not loss of childe, and many other sad chastisements that followed him and his posterity, did so much affect him as this; He had displeased God, and done evil in his sight: This is a sure and everlasting ground, those that walk by this rule, will never prove a deceitful bow.

Secondly, They turn from sin, because of the contrariety it hath to the pure, spiri∣tual*and holy Law of God: And this is a sure sign of a true convert, when a man turneth from his sin, because of the enmity and repugnancy it hath to the holy Commandment of God: This is to leave sin, because of the nature of it, and for its selfs sake. Hence though God had not confirmed his Law by any threat∣nings, or made it penal in such an high way of punishment, yet the heart of him, who thus turneth to God, could not close with it, or imbrace it. The Apostle maketh the very nature of sin to lie in this, that it is a transgression of the Law: Now then when a man shall leave sin, not onely because it hath the curses and the punishment of the Law, but because its the transgression of the Law; this is a good sign. You may behold this excellent disposition in Paul, Rom. 7. What is that which makes him so sadly bewail his captivity and thral∣dom to sin? see the motive, Because the Law was holy and spiritual, and he was carnal: The purity of the Law, and the impurity of his spirit, made such an∣guish and conflicts in his soul: Oh then consider, what is that which sets thy soul on turning from sin, is it meerly an external punishment, not the loathsom and contrary nature of sin, to Gods pure commands? this is not compleat and sincere; it doth not argue thy turning to be from a true inward principle, but from external violence: Even as the wheel in the mil, moveth as long as the force of the waters compell it, but when they cease, then the wheel ceaseth; all see this motion is not natural, but violent; so it is here, as long as the waters of afflictions are upon thee, they set the wheel of thy heart moving in prayer and other duties, but when these are dryed up, then thou standest immoveable in thy sins. Oh then hunger and thirst for this frame of a true convert, that thou mayest say, O Lord, though sin hath so many inticements of pleasure and carnal advantage on one hand; and though it hath so much wrath and terror on the other hand, yet neither of these prevail so much with me, as because sin is contrary to so exact a rule, opposite to so heavenly a principle: He that can upon good grounds say this, needeth not doubt of the integrity of his heart.

Thirdly, The true Convert leaves his sin and turneth from it, because of love to God, and those graces which sin doth thwart: Ye that love the Lord, hate evil; hate that*which is evil, and cleave to that which is good, Rom. 12. Men may turn from sin, and yet love it for all that; they part with it, because sin is either taken from them, or they from it: Who can say, but that Pharaohs dismission of the people of Israel, was wholly against his will? had it not been for the sharp rod on his back, he would never have yileded; now all these things are by force and con∣straint: But as God loves a willing giver, so he loveth a willing forsaker of his sins, one that doth it with love and delight in him. When two things are fro∣zen and congealed together, they may either be violently separated by forcible Page  468 breaking the ice, or kindely by the thawings and meltings of the Sun: Thus it is here, when men and their sins are congealed together, the Devil hath mar∣ried them together; now these may be separated violently, by some forcible judgements of God, that they cannot sin, though they would, as they have done; or else in a kindely, gracious manner, and that is by the love of God shed abroad in their hearts; for whatsoever is not done out of love to God, is not thank worthy, neither doth God accept it: But the bypocrite, when he is forced to leave his sin, it is with him, as it was with the Devils that possessed bodies, they came out indeed when Christ commanded, for they could do no otherwise, but sore against their wills, therefore they were vexed, and tore and rent the possessed party as they went out; thus they leave sin as unwillingly: Therefore let the love of God be kindled like a fire in thy breast, and that will separate thee from sin.

Fourthly, He turneth from sin, because of the unkindeness and ingratitude that is in every transgression: All sin hath rebellion in it, against God as our Soveraign, * and unkindeness against him, as a merciful father, and the fouutain of all the good we have: Now he that doth truly turn from sin, is much moved thereunto, because of the unkindeness therein to all Gods mercies, because God was so ill recompensed after his love to us: Thus God aggravates Davids sins, by enume∣rating the several mercies that were bestowed on him, If all this had been too little I would have given thee more, saith God; so many mercies, so many hot coals of fire, and this makes a man escape from his sins. We might also shew, that be∣cause these grounds of turning from sin, hold in every particular transgression, therefore their conversion is universal; but of that hereafter.

Now let us instance in those things that hinder this motion or turning unto God: And *

First, Want of spiritual life: You wonder not if the dead carcass lie always in the same place, and do not stir it self; neither is it strange to see men dead in sin, and buried in the grave of it, never taking one step forward to heaven.

Secondly. As in corporal motion, there are two things requisite, the eye to * direct, and the feet to walk; so for the soul to turn from sin, there must be a right and pure eye, and there must be sound and good feet. The eye is under∣standing, especially faith, which is the pupil of the eye; that discovers the dan∣ger we are in, the judgements imminent over us, and this will make us rise up and walk. When that thick Egyptian darkness was, the people sate still, and did not stir out of their places for several days together; and thus men in darkness of minde, that know nothing of God, Heaven, or their own damnation, they sit still and see none of this evil coming on them.

Again, Affections are often called the feet of the soul; by these we turn from sin, when we are converted, love to God, grief for sin, and hatred of it, desire * and hope of pardon, and enjoyment of Gods favor: But the natural man is like the poor Cripple, that lay thirty years by the pool of Bethesda, he cannot move himself to be healed: As the poor bed-ridden man, he cannot stir or move himself; so neither can such, who lie sin-ridden, under the power and command of all foul iniquities.

Use of instruction, how much this Text, and this point of Conversion, con∣cerneth most of our hearers; for who is not in one evil way or other? Con∣version is not onely to be preached to those that are in the High-ways, Gentiles and Heathens, but to you who frequent the solemn assemblies; yet what hear∣er goeth home, and thinketh with himself, I am yet to be converted, I am yet to turn from my evil way? Do not easily perswade your selves, that the work is done already; no, such a change as this would make more noise in thy conscience, it would make more alterations in thy life; thy soul would have been in travel and pangs ere this manchilde had been brought forth: How art thou turned from that, which thou art committing every day? how art thou turned from Page  469 thy prophanenesse when it is still in thy mouth, in thy words, in thy hands, and act∣ions. Oh if you did consider you had to do with God, and scripture Truths will a∣bide so, when sin hath cursed and damned thee into hell, thou wouldst not let these things passe away as thou dost. You will know that conversion hath been preached unto you, and that all thy destruction and damnation is of thy self.

SERMON LXXVIII.

Of the wilful obstinacy that is in some men, with the causes thereof; and that ignorance of ones duty is no excuse.


JER. 18. 12.
And they said, There is no hope, but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

WE have considered Jeremiahs Commission in the two parts of it. The next thing to be considered, is the successe, or the event of it: and here we shall finde blasphemy writ (as it were) on their foreheads. Nothing but peremptory, and wilful obstinacy against this so just, necessary, and reasonable an Exhortation, And yet were this denial like that of the younger son in the Para∣ble, who said, He would not, but afterward repented, and went, it had been more tolerable; but they persevere in this impudent disobedience: So that we may take notice of the aggravation of their resolved wickednesse. 1. In their perem∣ptory Negation, And they said, there is no hope: Although it was Gods goodness to invite them to turn to him, it was their advantage, not his; and although he threa∣tens them with that evil he is preparing for them, yet they say, No: And herein their rude and obstinate rebellion is more evident, in that they make no excuses, pretend no reasons, but barely say, They will not turn unto God from their sins. Those in our Saviours Parable, that were invited to a feast, though it was their great sin to make any thing in the world an impediment to their coming, yet they feign∣ed reasons, and were willing to be excused; but how they fell, the Prophe plainly sets forth, They will be what they are, and they will not change. And this their obsti∣nacy is further declared in a two fold amplification. First, in that Phrase, There is no hope: There is the same expression, and the Hebrew word in Chapter 2. 25. some render it, Desperatum est, It is desperate; we are resolved to go on whatso∣ever it costs us; Vatablus, expectoratum est, in this sense, our heart is wholly turned aside, and plucked off from God; we cannot love him, or obey his commands. Others, Obfirmati sumus, we are setled, and obdurate in our wickednesse, Jeremiahs preaching is in vain to us; he may hold his tongue, for we are set upon that which is evil. On Translators render it, There is no hope, and that may be in this twofold respect; First, We have for so long a time given our selves up to the waies of wick∣ednesse, we have thus long accustomed our selves to them, that now there is no hope that ever we should become better. Or Secondly, we have for so long a time provoked God by our wicked rebellions, that there is no hope for us to be ac∣cepted with God if we would return unto him: But this seemeth not so proper, because at this time God did hold out his Scepter of Grace to them if they would come in, and turn from their evill waies. Now you may demand, Whether the Israelites did in plain and direct terms answer Jeremiah thus? For it might seem Page  470 improbable that they would acknowledge their way an evil way, and yet live in it: whereas they must needs do so, if they did in terminis thus refuse the Prophet; For (say they) we will walk every one in the imagination of his evil heart: Or whether doth not the Prophet say, They said so, because by their lives and conversations, wilfully persisting in their former impieties; They said thus by their actions, though not by their words? They might do both; for we see the Israelites sometimes telling Jeremiah to his face, That they would not do what God had commanded them by his mouth, Jer. 44. 16. a notable place to discover their avowed and open disobedience to God.

Obs. That there are some men, who though they hear never so much of their duty to turn from their sins unto God, yet are wilfully resolved to continue in the same. It * was not Jeremiahs portion onely, or the Prophets and Apostles in former times, but in all ages the Ministrie of God meets with such incorrigible and desperate hea∣rers. Let the word of God sound as terribly, as that Trumpet will at the day of judgement: Let all waies be used, Johns austerity, or Christs meeknesse: the moun∣tains of their sins cannot be removed into a sea of tears, and godly sorrow. Do we not every day see this fulfilled? How few are the hearers that come with this pur∣pose, and prayer unto God, that they may go out from Gods presence, cleansed from their leprosie? That they who came swine, may return sheep? That they who came Crows, may go home Doves? This undoeth you, that you come not to hear, that ye may be changed, made other men, but build still upon your old rotten foundation.

To make this Doctrine like fire in your bowels, consider, That under the Mini∣stry of the word there are two kinde of sinful and wicked hearers. *

First, Those that live in their sins, and in an unconverted estate, by either an af∣fected, or a grosse ignorance. Or 2. Such who have knowledge, and yet knowing∣ly, and wilfully commit those sins, that inwardly their own Consciences, enlight∣ned by the word, condemns them for. In these two ranks all wicked men may be placed: For as for Heathens, who have a meer negative ignorance or unbelief in God and his word, because they never had Prophets sent among them, some (Di∣vines) say they are not damned for the not knowing, or not believing of those things which are manifested meerly by revelation; but because they detained the natural light of Conscience in unrighteousness. We speak not then of such, but of those who are under the sun-beams of the word, and yet are frozen in their sins, (a Di∣vels miracle) or under the sweet droppings of the Gospel, yet are a barren wil∣derness: Now some of these persevere in their sins, from a sinful damnable igno∣rance. They know not the necessity of conversion: they understand not what all these sermons tend to: They are altogether unacquainted with such a work of Gods Spirit. Tthis ignorance doth not excuse. For the servant that doth not know his masters will, shall yet be beaten with many stripes, Luke 12. 47. because it is ei∣ther first, an effected ignorance, they desire to be in darkness, and not to see the light, that so they may the more quietly, and securely lye down in their sins; they will not understand, that so they may not do good: there is this horrible impiety up∣on mens hearts, that they are afraid of divine light: they shut the eyes, lest they should behold that which is Truth, or good: even as a man draweth the curtain that no light may hinder him to take his rest; as the thief hateth the light because it discovers his wickednesse. Take heed then thou are not in the number of such prophane wretches; thou carest not for hearing, preaching, for reading the Scri∣pture, for acquainting thy self and family with the principles of religion: This will breed scruples in thy Conscience: this will make thee see thy prophannesse, thy in∣justice, to be crying sins; and therefore thou stoppest thy ear with the deaf Adder, that no inchanting may draw thee out of the hole. This is affected ignorance. Or secondly, It is grosse ignorance, and that is which cometh by negligence, and pro∣phane carelesness: and this is the cause that most in our Congregations are so igno∣rant about Religion, about Conversion, and these main points of godliness. A pro∣phane Page  471 negligence, they have no hearts, no minde, no affections to such things; there is nothing belongs to their Trade, to their husbandrie, but they can skill in it, only in divine things they are as brutish as beasts. Think not that this ignorance will ex∣cuse you; say not, I am not book-learned, such things are too high for me: What, wouldst thou be thought a Christian, and yet the necessary principles of religion too high for thee? Thou art to lay aside thy endeavour after all other things in this life, till thou hast attained to this: If thou dost not eat of this tree of knowledge, thou canst never eat of the tree of life. Oh then that at last God would make us Ministers sons of thunder, to awaken and terrifie you out of this grosse igno∣rance.

The second sort of sinners living in their impieties, are these in the Text, who * have knowledge and instruction, yet are so desperately wicked as they will persist in it however: and such are all wicked men who live in grosse sins, that are not onely condemned by the word, but by a mans own heart. There is no Swearer, Adulterer, drunkard, but he saith, as these in the Text, No, but we will go after the lusts of our own heart. Now though the other are inexcusable, because their igno∣rance is wilfull, so these are much more to be reproved. Christ prayed, Father for∣give them, because they know not what they do. Luke 23. 34. But here it is rather, Father, let thy wrath fall on them, for they know what they do. Gregory and Au∣stin speaking of those places, They go quick into hell, and the earth swallowed them up quick, applie it thus (if by way of allusion it may be received:) such who sin wilfully, who know their sin, who feel their sin, whose consciences are quick to con∣demn them: Oh (say they) these go quick to hell, and hell swalloweth these alive as it were. Now it may easily be demonstrated, that many sinners are in this latter rank with these in the Text, They say, No, we will do as we have done, take the pleasures of sin we used to do, whatsoever is said to the contrary. Thus men fol∣low one another desperately into destruction: even as Saul, he first fell desperate∣ly on his sword to kill himself, and afterwards his armour-bearer as violently de∣stroyed himself. It is an heavy judgement of all judgements, thus willingly and wittingly not to murther his body, but his soul, which is the greatest sin of self∣murther.

In the next place consider (as was hinted before) that two waies we may dis∣cover this obstinate disposition; either expresly in words, by a publick owning this impudent rebellion, or in our actions and deeds onely: Of the former sort the Scripture giveth some instances, such as those that say, The Lord seeth not, and bid the knowledge of the most high depart from them, Job 21. 14. And again such as Ps. 12. say, Who is the Lord? our tongues are our own, we will not be controlled. Of the latter sort are those, who though they utter not this mischief with their mou hs, yet by their works they deny him. Therfore think not to say within your selves, We are not such impudent sinners, we do not belch such blasphemie with our mouths; for if thou goest on wilfully in thy wicked way, against all those admonitions and ex∣hortations that are dispensed to thee, God will judge thee in the number of such high offenders.

Therefore in the third place observe, What are those causes that tumble down * men headlong this hill of destruction, that they seemed to be carried into hell as vio∣lently as the Swine possessed by the divel were into the bottom of the sea; for men came not to be thus wicked at the first Temptation. And one Cause is, Atheisme and unbelief: Where this is, presently a floodgate is set open for all impietie and wickednesse, as Faith is the first foundation stone in the building of all godlinesse: a man must believe that God is, & that he is a rewarder of all those that seek him: so Atheisme and unbelief is the first sin that makes way for all other impieties. He be∣lieveth there is no God, and that God is not a severe Judge of those that do wick∣edly. Hence are those expressions of the most flagitious men; Is there knowledge in the most high? and God is not in all their thoughts: so that when the fear of God and his judgements is stricken out of mens Consciences by unbelief, you may call Page  472 that man Legion, for many thousand of Lusts will quickly possesse him; Oh then if thou wouldst be kept from this pit of confusion, daily quicken up in thee faith in God, and all his attributes, as the Scripture revealeth him, and fear of him in all thy waies; for if these will keep a man from swallowing Gnats, much more Ca∣mels.

Secondly, Another cause is long custome in sinning. This makes a mans Consci∣ence * like Leviathans scales, as Job speaks of; this doth not onely make a man dead in sin, but burieth him in the grave, and rolls a great stone over him: this makes a man like the fat beast prepared for the slaughter, and yet fils us for the present with all joy and content: These often say, There is no hope, We have lived thus long in the pleasures of our sin, and they are so habituated in us, that we cannot do otherwise. Hence experience tels us, that many men sin, and that grievously; yet they do not so much as think they are sinners, because custome hath taken away all feeling from them.

Thirdly, Prosperity and abundance of ease and plenty in the committing of their sins, doth also make men lift up themselves presumptuously against God: Thus God * by Jeremiah, I spake unto thee in thy prosperity, but thou wouldst not hear: and Sole∣mon observeth it, because judgement was not presently executed, Therefore the heart of man was set in him to do wickedly, Eccles. 8 11. and David also takes notice of this, when being greatly troubled at the prosperity of the wicked, and relating all things are according to their hearts desires, he addeth, Therefore violence com∣passeth them as a chain, Psal. 73. 6. What was it that puffed up Nebuchadnezzar, so that he made himself as God, and Tyre and Sidon, that they set their hearts as God, but outward greatnesse? therefore successe and prosperity in wickednesse, makes men exceeding bold, even against God himself.

Fourthly, Hardness of heart: This doth violently carry on men to wickednesse, for as long as that stone is, there can no mollifying, or softening impression be re∣ceived. * Thus the Apostle argueth, Rom. 2. Despisest thou the goodnesse of God, and after thy harduess and impenitent heart treasurest up wrath? hardnesse, and then im∣penitency. Oh what is the reason that men do not give over, but still add more wickednesse? Is it not because of this hardnesse? It is a vain thing for the Artificer to think to bring his cold Iron into any form or fashion before it be melted, and heated in the fire.

Fifthly, Despair, That sometimes makes a man heap iniquity upon iniquity; he thinketh he can be no worse then he is, and therefore he will eat and drink, for * to morrow he shall dye, he shall be damned: Thus as you heard some explained this, There is no hope, that is, we have committed such foul abominations, and have sinned so presumptuously, that there is no hope, God will not receive us if we should come. This was Cains condition, despair made him cry out, his sins were greater then he could bear; and therefore he never humbleth himself before God, but goeth on in his resolved wickednesse.

Lastly, The Divels great power and dominien that he hath over such men, makes them boggle at no impiety. These are the Divels instruments prepared for every * high degree of wickednesse: As God hath his servants, and precious vessels fitted for all his greatest imploiment; so these are by the divel prepared for the worst kind of drudgery: thus when the divel had entred into Judas his heart, taken greater hold on him then ever, then he can guide him to that perfidious act of wickedness to be∣tray Christ into his enemies hands, yea and can so horribly dissemble as to give him a kisse, pretending much reverence at that very time of treacherie. Thus you see what are those milsiones that are hung about such mens necks to presse them down into the sea. Here must be one Objection answered, and that is, How can men sin willingly, and knowingly? for is it not a received rule among Philosophers, and own∣ed * by Divines, that Omnis peccans est ignorans, All sins come from ignorance? And is it not also another received maxime, That no man can will evill, because it is evill, Nemo intendens malum operatur? and the reason is, because no facultie can be Page  475 carried out beyond his object: as the understanding cannot give assent to any thing that is false, it is impossible but it should believe that which is true, or appearing so; so it cannot be but that the will should will good, or what it judgeth good, How then can thy sin, when they know it to be sin?

The Answer is two-fold; Those mentioned rules are true, but thus men come to sin wilfully and knowingly. 1. Although they have the knowledge of sins in the general, and do in the universal believe these things to be sin, yet in the paricular they do not consider it at that moment of sinning; so that if we take ignorance for imprudence and inconsideration that men do not weigh circumstances or actions in the balance, then all sins come from ignorance. Or 2. Men come to sinne wilfully, because as their Consciences tell them such actions are sins; so their sense or corrupt affections, present at the same time the pleasure and the profit of sin, and by this means, they take the bait, not attending to the hook; and thus the evill of sin doth not so much deter them, as the seemiug good of sin doth allure them.

Use of Admonition to all that hear this Truth. Take heed that there be not many among you of this wilfull obstinate rebellion against God: How can God or his Prophets judge it otherwise, when he hath not onely framed evil, but actually ex∣ecuted his severe wrath upon you by sore judgements? yet many return not from their evil waies. If you are not guiltie herein, Why then after so many Exhorta∣tions and admonitions dost thou yet embrace thy lusts? What is this but like these in the Text? to say, No, we will walk after the imaginations of our own hearts. To be sure thou wilt confirm that there is this incorrigiblenesse, if still after this Sermon thou shalt persist in thy wickednesse; for it will come to this, either (Lord) I am convinced, I will stand out no longer, I will give up my self to thee; or else, For all that is said, I am resolved to go on in my impieties. Oh do not think to plead igno∣rance, think not to say, Lord for give me, for I know not what I do: Yea thou dost know what thou dost, and thy own Conscience with the word of God doth constantly condemn thee for it. Now consider the aggravation of sinning thus wilfully. 1. It is an argument of one that is hopelesse, and incurable; for if thou mockest at the day of judgement, and carest not for the threatning of God, What remaineth to cure thee? Hath not God used all means to reclaim thee, and yet thou art in thy sins?

2. Consider, God will one day over master that unruly spirit of thine, he will turn thy laughter into terror, thy jollity into horror: Who ever hardned himself against the Lord, and prospered? Job. 9. 4. Think not that this impudent boldnesse, and pro∣phane securitie will alwaies animate thee; no, God hath his time when he will make thee tremble and quake before him.

Page  476

SERMON LXXIX.

Of turning not onely from sin, but to God; And how many wayes men may do the former, and not the latter; Also, what it is to turn to God.


JOEL 2. 12, 13.
Therefore also now saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping and mourning: And rent your hearts, and not your garments, &c.

THe former part of the Chapter is very elegant and copious in describing a day of darkness, of thick darkness; that is, a day of Gods judgements, and his fierce anger. The Prophet is very Rhetorical and Metaphorical, in setting this judgement before their eyes. Some understand these Verses con∣joyned together, of the Army of the Assyrians, or some other potent Enemy, that God would raise against the Israelites: But Piscator from Verse 25. doth probably gather, that this whole destruction in several Verses, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. is not to be applied to any Army of men and horses, but to that numerous com∣pany of Vermine, Locusts, Caterpillars and Cankerworns, that God sent a∣mong them to devour their fruit and corn; which the Prophet calls verse 25. Gods great Army; and indeed the Prophets phrase seemeth to conclude this; for saith he of this Army, verse 4. The appearance of them, is as the appearance of horsemen, and like the noise of chariots upon the mountains shall they leap: Thus God many times useth the vilest and most loathsom creatures, to punish the stoutest and most lofty men; for as they say of Gods providence and wisdom in making of the creatures, he is Maximus in minimis, the greatest in the least; so is he most dreadful and terrible, in the most contemptible instruments. It trou∣bled Abimelech to be killed by a woman; & what a debasement was it to Pharaoh and Herod to be overmastered by Frogs and Lice? Oh how greatly is God to be feared! who hath thousands of invisible Armies, that he can raise to destroy those that oppose him. After the solemn and magnificent description of this dread∣ful judgement, the Prophet adviseth the Israelites, what is the duty God re∣quireth of them, their case is not yet desperate. Caterpillars and Locusts are loathsom to them; let their sins be so, which are indeed the true Cankerworms that destroy their mercies: This judgement would make the earth and heavens to tremble, verse 10. let it work so upon their hearts. As God would punish them with the vilest of creatures, so let them be more vile in their own eyes, then monsters and beasts: If they would have God turn away his judgements, let them turn from their sins.

This Text I have chosen, because it containeth the term to which of our con∣version:Page  [unnumbered] We have already handled the term from which, and that is Sin. Now the term to which is to be considered, and that is, God; so that in the words you have the preface to the duty, and the duty: The preface containeth the au∣thority and divine command inforcing to it, Thus now saith the Lord; its the great God of heaven that requireth this, who by his word made heaven and earth, to whom the winds and seas obey; how much rather should man? Oh apply this to your hearts; Who is it but God that bids me turn from sin? its not the Minister so much, its not the Messenger or Ambassador so much that I re∣fuse, as God himself; Is not his wisdom and his Soveraignty enough to command present obedience. 2. The duty; and there is 1. The duty it self, Turn ye, which is dispatched. 2. The term to which of this motion, Even unto God. 3. The maner, With your whole heart. 4. The effects, With fasting and mourning. 5. The form or nature of it, Rent your hearts and not your garments. 6. The mo∣tive to incourage, For God is gracious and merciful, &c.

We are in order to fix upon the term to which, and that is God. Turn ye even to God. Even to me, implieth, that a man may turn and turn, and yet not turn even to him; he falls short of this center, he cometh not to his journeys end: From whence Observe,

That it is not enough to turn from our sins, but we must turn even to*God.

Its not enough to go out of Egypt, but we must enter into Canaan; its not * enough to hate evil, but we must cleave to that which is good. Turn to me, even to me; let nothing else be the center, the end of your motion. This point is of great consequence; for hereby I shall discover the counterfeit conversions of many, And so set the true and counterfeit together; and not as in other Texts, handle the counterfeits separately by themselves. That it is not enough to turn from sin, unless we turn even to God, appeareth by that complaint, Hosea, 7. 16. They return, but not to the most high; they are like a deceitful bow. How do they return, but not to the most high? because they were diligent in fasting, humiliation, and the outward exercises of repentance, but still they were hy∣pocrites in heart; and therefore proverbially compared to the broken bow, that seemeth, as it were, to send forth its arrow directly upon the mark, but the string breaking, it either falls on the ground, or flieth back on the face of the Archer; so they seemed by all their external duties, to aim at God, and eye him, but all fell upon themselves; they looked no further then to their own advantages. For opening of this, consider, how many ways men may turn from sin, and yet not to God. 2. What it is to turn even to God. And

First; Men turn from sin, but not to God, when they commit them no more, be∣cause*the temptations and occasions are taken away: So that if they would, yet they cannot have an opportunity to satisfie or accomplish their lusts: There is nothing more ordinary then this, men conclude they are converted, because they do not sin as they have done; whereas the true cause is; the temptations and opportunities are removed; so that there is not the work of Gods grace changing thy heart, but the work of his providence removing the objects there∣of. Snakes and Adders they lie in their holes, and are alive as well in winter as in summer, yet because in winter they want the warm reviving beams of the Sun, therefore they appear not out of their holes: Thus sin, it may be, is as lively and powerful in thee as ever, but there are not the kindely and warm temptations to draw it forth: So then, this is no turning to God, because thy heart is still the same. The Lyon is a Lyon, though his claws be pared off, and he tied up in a dungeon: That King who stretched out his hand to lay hold on the Prophet, and his arm withered, was never the more innocent, because he did not actually commit his designed mischief; and certainly if the hearts of godly men have deceived them, that they have thought it not possible for them to commit such sins, as they have been warned about; as we see in Peter about Page  476 his Apostacy, no wonder if wicked men do so greatly delude their own souls: It may be then thou canst not be unclean, as thou hast been, thy body is an old painful decripit body; thou canst not be such a Prodigal as thou hast been, for thou hast not wherewith to do it: Alas! thou art not converted from sin, thou art onely deprived of the instruments of sin; therefore stand thou by, for here is no glad tidings for thee.

Secondly, They turn from sin, but not to God, that forsake their gross wicked*ways, but then either go no further then meer civility, or else divert to some superstiti∣ous way of worship: This is much to be regarded, for here men swallow down poyson, while they think it is honey: And

First, those that turn to civility onely, dye in the wilderness, and never come to Canaan; yet this is a great conversion and change in the worlds account: If they see a Prodigal turned a good husband; if a dissolute debauched man, a so∣ber temperate man, they cry out, Behold a true convert! but this is to turn half way onely to God: They leave the sin, and set upon the contrary duty, but from false and infirm principles: They turn not to God, to close with him, to receive him as their Lord and King, onely they have some inferior reasons, which make them thus change their lives: Fear of poverty and hardship makes them better husbands; so the indangering of their bodily health by gross in∣temperance, makes them more sober: Now in all this a man, though he turn∣eth from his sin, yet because his motions are onely humane, such as wise Hea∣thens have propounded to themselves, therefore they turn not unto God: These that from prophane men, turn to be meer civil men onely, and not godly, are, as it was with Jonah, who had got a goard to defend him from the heat of the Sun, and he thought now he had a sure defence, but a worm ariseth presently to devour it: So thou who art turned more civil and ingenious then once thou wert, beginnest to bless thy self, and admire thy condition, not considering that for thy black coals and dirt thou didst wallow in, thou hast not found gold, but copper. We may indeed, as our Saviour did, look upon such who have this change, and love them, and yet say, Thou art not far from the Kingdom of Heaven. The Prophets and the Apostles press a far other conversion, then the most exact Moralists among the Heathens; when therefore thou beginnest to turn and change, be sure thou goest to the proper end of such a motion; stay not in any thing but God; do not take up thy lodging any where, till thy soul rest on him.

But the second miscarriage in turning from sin, may be into some superstitious and seemingly zealous worship of God; and this is more dangerous poison then the former. It hath been the case of divers, when afflicted in conscience for sin, and feeling the load and burthen of it, presently to fall upon some austere superstitious exercise of Religion, which God never commanded, and by this means they think to make God amends, and to give satisfaction; but this is not so much conversion as subversion. Suppose the Pharisees had gained several pub∣licans and gross sinners to become their Proselytes, to leave their former foul sins, and to be very diligent and strict in outward superstitions; yet our Saviour saith, That such were made the children of wrath; they were not turned to God, but in some respects more from him: Take heed therefore of turning from a publican, to become a Pharisee; this is destruction still: And yet this kinde of conversion is for the most part onely acknowledged in Popery; for they speak much of their converts and conversion, but what is that which they so emi∣nently commend? viz. When men living in the world, and guilty of gross sins, do begin to feel the terror and burthen of them, and thereupon enter into some Monastery, joyn themselves to some Religious order, as they call it, and this i conv〈…〉 easie and sutable to flesh and blood. As we see the Jews very forward for any 〈◊〉 Sacrifices, though they were ten thou∣sand Rams, and thousand Rivers of Oy, when yet they would not turn from Page  477 one sin; and thus it is here: To bow to Altars, to go on pilgrimage, to keep a strict Lent, these are far more easie to flesh and blood, then to mortifie sin, Habes quod in to occidas, said Austin. Though we have not Rams or Sheep to kill for Sacrifice, yet we have several lusts to mortifie, and this is a greater pain: So then, beware of this delusion of Satan; for if he cannot keep men in pro∣phane security about their sins, but their consciences will tremble and cry out; then he leads them into dark superstitious ways, and so they damn themselves in a narrow way, that leads to hell; for there is a broad way to hell, and there is also a narrow straight way, which the troubled conscience of a man findes out, wanting the guide of the Scripture: And the Devil makes such take up their cross and follow him.

Thirdly, Then we turn not to God from sin, when we onely change the practice*of sin, gross foul bodily sins, to more spiritual soul-filthiness: As when we with indignation cast away our prophaneness and scandalous ways, but this filleth us with pride and self-confidence, and a carnal trust in our Righteousness: Oh this is not turning to God, but further from him then ever; I come not to call the Righteous, but the sinners to repentance, saith Christ, Mat. 9 13. such as are al∣ready conceited with a self righteousness, because with the Pharisee, they can say, They are no Theives, no Adulterers, nor like other men, these are in a di∣rect opposition to conversion. This was the great sin of the Jews, they went about to establish their own Righteousness, Rom. 10. 1, 2. to set up their own Dagon; but alas, that could not stand before God. Take heed then, that when thou hast cast out some black Devils, there come not white ones in the room; the Devil transforming himself into an Angel of light: Oh its a great matter, when these unclean spirits are cast out of the soul, what comes in the room thereof. Alas! the Parable tells us, that a mans heart may be garnished and fur∣nished to prepare for those Devils that are seven times worse, Luke 11. 25. and as this holds for self-righteousness and pride, so for vain disputations, and affect∣ing new opinions in Religion; for if thou hast given over all thy prophaneness, and on a sudden all thy strength runs out in disputations about Religion: Thou dost not minde mortification of sin, and close communion with God, but thou art of this opinion, and that, and runnest roving up and down in Religion, this is an argument thou art, it may be, unsettled from sin, but yet not settled upon God; Thou art too much a seeker, for it may be thou hast not yet found God. Do not thou think conversion is an exchange of one sin from another; no, its a well advised renouncing of all, and taking God in the room of them.

Fourthly, Though we leave sin, yet we do not turn to God, when afflictions and*calamities are the onely motive to make us keep off: So that we are beaten from our sins, as the dog from sheep, our hearts are not turned to hate those lusts we once loved: This was that which made the Prophet say, They returned not to the most high; because though they were constant in prayer, and humiliation, and fasting; yet it was meerly to divert judgement, and out of love to tempo∣ral mercies: And thus also Zachary the Prophet expostulateth with the Israelites, In those moneths, did ye fast to me, even to me? was it not for your selves? Zach. 7. 5. If therefore these temporal calamities be the great wheel to set all agoing, you return not yet to God.

Lastly, Let a man turn never so far from the committing of any gross sin, yet if*still he do not turn from himself, his self aims, self-ends, self principles, self interests, he is not yet turned to God; For conversion is the unhinging of the soul, hanging it upon another hinge, or setting it upon another bottom then it had before: Therefore the whole requisite to a Disciple of Christ, is comprised in this, To Deny himself: If a man deny his lusts, his sins, all his outward wickedness; yet if still he hath not denied himself, he hath not killed the Serpent in his head, and therefore he will revive again; for therefore were sins committed, because they were self-pleasure, self-ease, or self-profit: This was the blood that ran Page  [unnumbered] in every vein; therefore till a man be no longer himself, till he be converted and turned from himself, what a change soever may be in his life, yet he is not turned to God. Thus you see, that several ways men may turn from their sins, and yet not close with God; they are removed from their former life, as the dove was sent out of the Ark, but they have not found any place to rest their souls upon. Oh how much doth this concern you, who have made some motion from sin! you will not, you cannot, you dare not live as you have done: Oh! but upon what terms is all this? Thou mayest turn from sin, and yet go round and round about, till thou hast fallen into the same sins or worse again: As some wan∣dring traveller, that hath lost his way, goeth directly to that place at night from whence he came in the morning: Oh take heed of being a broken Bow, to have all thy seeming turnings to God prove frustrated.

In the next place, let us consider, What it is to turn to God, even to him: And

First, it is, Because he is displeased and offended by sin: This is the very quin∣tessence * and differential mark of conversion. David bewailed this consideration in his sin; and the Prodigal, when he became a convert, this wounded his heart, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and against thee, and am no more worthy to be called a son: All is but forced and counterfeit in conversion, till this be the great motive to set all on work: This will hold for all sin, and at all times, whether in prosperity or adversity, life and death.

Secondly, To turn even unto God, is to be unquiet and restless in soul, till we do*enjoy his favor, and the light of his countenance: So that if all judgements for sin be removed, if all outward comforts and abundance overflow, yet all is nothing, till God be reconciled: Thus it was with David, Restore joy (saith he) and heal the broken bones, Psal. 51. This is a sure Touch-stone of grace, when honors, riches, and all outward accommodations are nothing, unless God speak peace: As Hu∣man said, when he spake of all the honor and greatness he had, yet all availed him nothing, as long as Mordecai lived: Oh say thou much rather, All health, friends, children, comfort me nothing, till God cause his face to shine upon me! Oh desire to bathe thy soul in this meditation! this will manifest the up∣rightness and sincerity of thy conversion: O Lord, in thy light is life, comfort, happiness, and all things else.

Thirdly, To turn to him, even unto him, is when the soul being weary of sinful delights, and earthly pleasures, doth wholly repose it self, and rest on God as its true and*proper center: It was the speech of a true Convert, Lord, whom have I in heaven but thee, and whom in the earth but thee? it was the speech of the converted Church, I will leave all my lovers, and go to my first husband, for then was it better with me then now: Thus in true conversion, the soul forsaketh all, and cleaveth to him onely, Jer. 3. 14. Return, O Israel, for I am married to you: No conversion, as long as God is not the onely center of thy soul; if thou hast other objects, be∣sides him, if other lovers besides him, thou art not turned even to him.

Lastly, To turn to God, is obedientially to resign up our selves unto him as a Lord, & our Soveraign, whose commands we wil faithfully obey, whose Laws we * will readily submit unto: Thus Paul, when converted, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? and the Church cryeth, when converted, Come, let us return unto the Lord; as if she would say, Behold, here I am, do what thou pleasest: So that to turn to him, is to be like wax before the fire, melted into what form God would have it.

Use of Examination, Hast thou forsaken thy sins? art thou no more the beast, the Devil thou wast once? Oh Consider, and again consider, upon what * terms thou and sin did part: How hast thou closed with God? is he thy center, thy fulness? doest not thou take a picture for the true person? doest not thou lodge in some thing on this side God? Oh what sad shipwrack is that which is near the very haven! To turn so far and yet at last to be turned into hell! To get so far out of Egypt, and yet to have Pharaoh recover thee again: Fear imper∣fect and insincere conversion, as much as prophaneness.

Page  481

SERMON LXXX.

That our turning to God must be with the whole Heart; Wherein Hearty Conversion consists, with the effects of it.


JOEL. 2. 12.
Turn ye, even to me, with all your heart.

THe object, or term to which of our Conversion hath been dispatched, we come to the manner how we must turn to God, and that is, With all thy heart. God doth not say onely, as in another place, give me thy heart, but all thy heart, Prov, 23. 26. The Scripture doth for the most part make the heart the seat of the rational soul, as if all understanding, reason, and affections were placed there, and herein it doth contradict the opinion of most eminent Philosophers, who make the brain or the head, the seat of the rational soul; now some learned men think that therefore the Scripture makes the actions of the soul to flow from the heart, because God doth not make any account of meer speculative, or brain knowledge; but as it is accompanied with the strong affections, and motions of the heart, which put a man upon practice. Aristotle observeth that loose dissolute practices, do not corrupt the habits of meer speculative sciences, as the Mathematiques, &c. but they do quickly destroy practical habits, as prudence and the abilitie to guide and govern our actions. Now the end of the Scripture being wholly to make us good, and to reform our lives, which cannot be done without the vigorous and strong affections of the heart, doth therefore attribute all to this, in so much that a good heart, or a bad heart, are made the good or bad treasury of a man. So then howsoever in some places of Scripture, Mat. 22. heart is opposed to minde, and to soul, and strength, yet when it is put alone, as here, then it stands for all these, and in this sense we are to understand it, Turn to God with all thy minde, thy soul, thy might, with all thy heart.

Obs. That we are to turn from our sins, even to God, with all our heart. This * [Whole heart] is but two words, but hath very great matter and consequence in it: for a man to mourn for sin, to seek to God externally onely, or with his whole heart, differ as much as a picture and a live man, as real burning fire, and painted: To leave sin unwillingly, as Phaltiel did his wife; to turn to God with a deceitfull heart, is very abnominable. If a false balance be so abominable unto him, How much more must false and deceitful, or heartlesse conversions? But this sacrifice doth not so much need an exact division, or cutting of it, as to be bur••, or offered up in the flames of our affection. *

Let us therefore consider, First what it is to turn to God with the whole heart, and then the consequents of such a total conversion.

And First, To turn to God with the whole heart, is when we do not reserve any part thereof for any sin, when we offer up our selves an whole burnt offering, and not like those Sacrifices where God had but part, and others they had part: such a con∣version Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  481〈1 page duplicate〉Page  482Herods was, that did many things gladly, but not all things: such a Convert was Judas, Did it not seem a glorious thing in Judas to forsake all, and follow Christ? but yet still he kept part of his heart for a lodging to receive some Lusts. And such half hearted Conversions are frequent in the world: Experience teacheth us of many who turn from divers sins they once lived in; but there is one or two endeared sins, and those they would joyn with God. Thus they attempt a contra∣diction, to make light and darknesse have communion, to cause an agreement be∣twixt Christ, and Belial. As the Idolatrie of some is recorded, who feared God, and yet worshipped the Idol gods of the Heathens: They would have the Ark, and Dagon also; so these would turn to God, and to some beloved sin also, as if a man at the same time could turn one eye towards heaven, and the other down∣wards. Oh fear least it be said to thee, as it was to Ananias and Saphira, Why hast thou detained part of the price? Thou hast not lyed to man, but to God, Acts 5. 3. and so thou dealest deceitfully with God, who will not be mocked, as if thou hadst par∣ted with all thy sins, destroyed all thy enemies, and yet hidest some, as Rahab did the spies, that they might not be discovered. Know then that he who turneth to God, with all his heart, doth not wittingly or willingly spare any one Agag, he doth not keep any one Isaak alive whom God would have sacrificed. Oh what a sad conviction is this of the insufficient, and imperfect conversion of thousands: If it be with thy whole heart, How comes sin and the world to have so great a share of it? Remember the first Commandment, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. God is a jealous God, not onely when his worship is given to other nuncupative Gods, but when thy heart and affections are given up to any Object besides him.

Secondly, To turn to God with thy whole heart is with our utmost might and endeavor, and highest perfection we are able to closewith him. It is muchdisputed in what sense * the whole heart is required in that commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might. The Papists give too low an Ex∣position, making it to be no more then sincerely or truely. Thus they bring down the Commandment to our power, and not make that to rise up to the Command∣ment, but by the concomitant phrase, With all thy might, it is plainly meant the utmost perfection of a man, and therefore can never be perfectly fulfilled in this life; yet a perfection the godly have, though it daily need more perfection, & in this sense we turn to God with the whole heart, when we cleave closer and closer to him; and draw nearer and nearer: So that this opposeth all faint, wearisome, and imperfect turnings to God. God complained of the Israelites, That they were weary of him; and such is the listlesnesse of man to what is good, that he quickly turneth out of the way, or fits down before he comes to an end. Thus they did not turn to God; that be∣gan in the spirit and ended in the flesh, Gal. 3. 2. and that with Lots wife look back, wishing for their old lusts again. It was no wonder that the Prodigal should with all his heart go from his swine, and his husks, to the dainty food in his fathers house; but if after that he should have gone from the fatted Calf, and been weary of his Fathers musick to his old husks again, this had been intollerable Apostacie. Do thou say then when turned to God, as the Church did, I held him and would not let him go, Cant. 3. 4. Do not go forwards and backwards as the children of Israel did in the wildernesse: Oh if thy whole heart were in this work, thou wouldst be more earnest, violent, and pursuing the enjoyment of God.

Thirdly, To turn to God with the whole heart, is to do it sincerely and uprightly. Oh this God hath complained of in the Israelites, that in their seeming conversions, * their hearts were not upright, and unfeigned in them: they did but dissemble with their tongues, and as it is said of faith, may we not also say of uprightnesse, When the Son of man shall come, shall he find uprightnesse on the earth? He may find the Chri∣stian faith, he may find praying and hearing, but shall he find sincerity? Thus the whole heart is very often used in the Scripture for a sincere and upright heart, as on the contrary a false hypocritical heart is excellenty called an heart and an heart. Oh this is too ordinary to pray with an heart and an heart; to confesse sin with an Page  481 heart, and an heart: An heart seemingly for God, and yet an heart for sin also: an heart apparently for Christ, and yet closely for the world also. This is commonly made the difference between the good Kings, and those that had a glorious shew of goodnesse, but wanted the power of it. The one is said to seek to God, or cleave to God with the whole heart; the other had an heart and an heart. As therefore the time was once when thou wert afraid of prophannesse, and grosse impieties: so now take as much heed of hypocrisie, and falshood of spirit.

Fourthly, To turn to God with the whole heart, is to have the heart all one in this*work, not to be overcharged with distractions and divisions of thoughts about other things. Thus David prayeth, Unite my heart to fear thy name, Ps. 86. 11. and dividing cares and thoughts, as also distractions about many things are frequently forbidden. Oh this is admirable, and comfortable, when the whole soul is inclined but one way, and that to God. As the Scripture speaks of a city, or family, it is excellent where they are all of one mind: so it is well when a man within himself is all the same way; nothing dividing, distracting, or disturbing in his motions to God: to run well, and to have nothing hinder. Thus some expound that promise, I will give them one heart, Jer. 36. 32. that is an heart not divided, not distracted, but wholly bent upon one object. As a Kindgom divided against it self cannot stand, so neither an heart in this sense divided; some thoughts for God, and some against him; some affections pressing towards him and some pulling back from him, so that if thy heart be wholly turned to God, Oh what a sweet harmony will there be in that motion. No unequal walking, no harsh jarring: but this being the predominant object, will carry all along with it. Indeed it follows afterwards, Rent your hearts, but that is a renting off from sin, not a renting it between God and other things. Do thou then grow acquainted with thy own heart more, see what it is that doth hinder thee from the one necessary thing: Is this turning with thy whole heart to God, when it is divided into many objects? Oh let thy heart rather be as the Tem∣ple was, into which they might bring no unclean thing, neither might men of no businesse walk there up and down.

Fifthly, He turneth to God with his whole heart, who doth not entertain any thing,* Supra, contra, aeque, or cum Deo, Above, or contrary, or equall, or with God: So that if all these particulars are necessary, we must conclude that conversion is a rare work. For first to turn with our whole heart, is to prefer nothing above God. This Christ makes a fundamental requisite in every convert. A man must hate Fa∣ther, or Mother, and his own life for Christs sake. Oh the wonderful change then that this converting grace makes upon a man: now his right eye, or his right hand is not dear unto him in respect of God, and is it not good reason that he who is the most high, should have the most high affections, the most high desires? is it not rea∣son to bid all things come lower, that God may have the highest room in our hearts. Oh but how many proclaim that there is a great gulf between them and conversion, for are not their base and filthy lusts preferred before God? is not the Divel obeyed in his lusts, rather then God in his Commandments? so that such instead of turning to God, with their whole heart, thy are turned to their sins, and to the world with all their heart: see then what that is which thy heart doth seek in the first place. The true Convert giveth the best and choicest of his thoughts and Affections to God: He now comes to Christ every day, and poureth out as it were a box of pre∣cious oyntment, the most excellent and quintessential vigour of his soul.

2. As an hearty Conversion makes a man prefer nothing above God, so neither any thing against him, he will much lesse love that which is hated and loathed by God. Oh then if thou art turned unto God, how comes it about that his enemies and adversaries do so often lodge in thy bosome? How is it that the prince of darknesse findes the Gates of thy soul open, when the prince of Glory should come in? No man can serve two contrarie masters: It was a plain argument that Dalilah was not heartie for Sampson, because all her projects were to advantage the Philistims, that were deadly enemies to Sampson; and so when all thy desires and purposes Page  482 are to promote the waies of sin, to further the Kingdome of Satan, thou mayest quickly conclude thou art far from conversion. As Joab adjured David, Thou lovest thy enemies better then thy friends: so mayest thou expostulate with thy own soul, That it entertaineth her own damnable enemies, rather then her friends who would bring the greatest good to her.

3. Hearty conversion goeth further still, and loveth nothing equally with him; for where all the heart is, there all the heart cannot be any where else: God will have all or none. It was the false mother that was willing to have the child divi∣ded; the divel will take half, because in that he hath all.

Lastly, Still higher the true Convert goeth, for he entertaineth nothing with God: Minus to amat, qui tecum aliquid amat. So that God being the Center, and the ultimate repose of the soul, he entertaineth nothing with him in that relation. There are some things that do so challenge a primacy, that they admit nothing with them, as we say in our controversies with the Church of Rome: It is a contradi∣ction to say, a primary head, and a secondary head; so a primary husband, and a secondary husband; and thus it is here: God is the head, the spouse of every faith∣full soul, and so he will have no co-partner with him. And although we are allow∣ed to love lawful comforts here below, yet because all are in subordination to him, and because of him, therefore still God is onely beloved. As we say, Such an house is such a mans, because though there be many servants, many attendants, yet because they are but servants, and one master onely, therefore it is his house only: so it is here; The heart of a Converted man is onely Gods, and for him, because though other things be received, yet as servants onely, and with reference meerly to God. Thus we are said to turn to him with all our heart. Oh then if all these things go to an hearty Conversion, In how narrow a compasse will this work be found? Who that heareth these things may not cry out, And who then can be saved? Who may not begin to make a stricter search into his heart?

In the next place, Consider the effect of this hearty Conversion unto God. And

First, It is inseparable for the future. He that hath turned from his sins to God with all his heart, will never go back again, as Hypocrites, and Apostates do, such * backsliding argueth that they never were rooted, or built up upon this rock: see how confidently that eminent Convert Paul tryumphs, Who can separate us from the love of God in Christ? Rom. 8. And there he challengeth all things that can be named; so true is that, He which drinketh of this heavenly water, shall never thirst more, John 6. 35. He becomes even like God: He prayeth, heareth, be∣lieveth, and loveth God; and in these things he changeth not. Oh this incon∣stancy and unsetlednesse, is a plain enemy to hearty Conversion.

Secondly, Hearty conversion to God is insatiable: it hath never enough of God, still it would have more in him, as we see in David, how full of longing and pant∣ing * expressions after God! It will never repent him that he did turn to God: He will never say, It was better with me when I enjoyed my pleasures, and my lusts, then since I took God for my portion. And now here is one thing more to Solo∣mons four things that never say There is enough, and that is a Godly heart enjoy∣ing God.

Thirdly, This turning with the whole heart is invincible, nothing can conquer it: This fire will dry up all waters: A man that hath an half heart, or a weak and * lazy heart, will quickly be beaten back. A Lion in the way, or tall Giants will soon discourage some men from Canaan: but where the whole heart is fixed, there it will break through stone walls: Christ became our Saviour with his whole heart; and because this Law was written in his heart, hear how readily he speaks, Re∣hold, I come to do thy will, O God, Psalm 40. 8. This made him conflict with Death, and all Agonies through his Fathers displeasure. No wonder then, till thy whole heart be in Conversion, if thou delayest, and findest out many ex∣cuses.

Page  483 Lastly, This turning with the whole heart, is accompanied with much joy, delight*and pleasant sweetnesse: What is done with all the heart, causeth a great deal of joy. Thus God saith, He would rejoyce over his people, and do them good with his whole heart, Jer. 32. 42. An admirable expression to shew what joy and delight God would take in doing good to them: so that to leave sin with some trouble, with many murmurings and repinings, argueth all thy heart is not in this work.

Use of Exhortation, to take up this Duty. God meeteth with many hypocrites, and in nothing more then in their turning to him: men would seem to do some∣thing, they would gladly be thought Converts, but (alas) these things are not done with their whole hearts. And know this, to turn with all the heart to God, is a work of great difficultie and rarity. As Christ said in another case, were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine? There hath returned but one. So of those many that pray, and weep for sin, and say they will become new Converts, may we not say, There is but such a man, and such a woman, that turn with all their heart? Now be moved to this cordial hearty Conversion.

1. Because the work of the heart is more accounted of by God, then all thy out∣ward worships, though never so diligently, and zealously performed: Rent your hearts and not your garments: God cared not for rent clothes, when mens hearts were too sound in sin: and so, a broken and contrite heart, thou wilt not despise; this is preferred before whole burnt-offerings.

2. Thou hast turned to sin with all thy heart, thou hast drudged in the world with all thy heart: Now which is the most large and ample object to fill thy heart: God or sin? God or the creature? Fecisti Domine cor nestrum, & irrequietum est donec ad to veniat. Oh be for ever ashamed that thou shouldst have thy whole heart for sin and the Divel, and not for God.

3. To turn imperfectly, and faintly, will be the greater confusion to a man; for thou hadst almost laid hold on God; thou wert very near closing with him; thou wert almost entering into the haven, and then some suddain blasts of sin or other, drive thee back again. Oh thou that beginnest to run in this race, What hinders thee that thou dost not get the prize?

Lastly, Thou wilt one day lament and mourn with all thy heart, that thou hast neglected the day of conversion; but then it will be too late. Would not the dam∣ned in hell with all their heart be delivered from eternal flames, and put into a day of grace again? Do they not with all their heart, and all their soul roar out for their undone estate to all eternitie? Oh that at last these Truths might prevail with you: Oh that it might be no more published in Gath, or Ashkelon, That our preach∣ing is not converting.

Page  484

SERMON LXXXI.

Of Tears and Sorrow for Sin; And that they must accompany Conversion.


JOEL. 2. 12.
Turn even unto me, with all your Heart, and with Fasting, and with Wee∣ping, and with Mourning.

THE third part observable in the division of this Text, is the effect, or if ye will, the concomitant property of a cordial Conversion to God: for we being not immateriall and spirituall substances, as Angels are, but com∣pounded of a soul and a body: therefore many affections are required of us as so compounded, which spirituall substances are not capable of: such are these in the Text, Fasting, Weeping, and Mourning. So that tears and bitter weeping for sinne, are a good sign to evidence an hearty Conversion to God. As for Fasting required also in the Text, that is not commanded primarily and intentionally for it selfs sake, but as its instrumentall and subservient to prayer and mourning for sinne; for as precious seed sown in Bogs and Quagmires, can never come to any maturity; so neither will any duty of humiliation thrive, where the body is not by fasting or debasement prepared for it. What ever else needs explication in the words, shall be discussed in the Doctrine.

Obs. That true and hearty Conversion to God from sinne is to be accompanyed with sorrow and tears for sinne. Its not a slighty, formall craving of forgivenesse * from God, but the soul is so wounded and pierced, and in such agonies, that many tears flow from it. The Scripture commands this sorrow, promiseth such a mel∣ting heart to those that are converted; and we have many examples of those who were hard rocks; but when converted, much water of godly mourning came from them. For a command, (because some have thought this afflicted, mournfull spi∣rit, to be an old Testament-spirit, and not beseeming the spirit of Adoption in the Gospel:) See it in the new Testament commanded, James 4. 9. Be afflicted, and mourn and weep, let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heavinesse. This is required of Christians in the new Testament. And as the Spirit of God did once move upon the waters, so he will still upon spiritual humiliation. This exhortation is directed to those that were fallen into grievous sins, and there is no other way for peace, but through this salt sea of tears. Every word is em∣phaticall 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, be miserable and wretched; that is, be inwardly tou∣ched with a deep sense of your sinnes, which make you miserable. Oh, he that is turning to God from his sinnes, must cry out of himself; O miserable and wretched man that I am, what shall I doe? where is any ease? who will poure oyl in my wounds? The other word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Mourn, isallusive to the custome of mourning in the old Testament, when they went in Sackcloth and Ashes. Thy soul ought to be full of pensivenesse, and bitternesse, as Tamars was, after she Page  485 had been destowred, and thrust out of doors; she teareth her garments, puts Sackcloth on her head, wrings her hands, goes wailing; And I, whither shall I goe? So sinne and the Devil have ravished and constuprated thy soul, which should have been left pure to God. Oh cry out, and make bitter lamentations, for thou art undone for ever, unlesse the grace of God interpose. Let your joy be turned to heavinesse, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is, such an heavinesse and grief as may be seen in a mans very looks; Thar all may say, What ailest thou? What troubleth thee? Thus as they abounded in carnall pleasures, and sinfull delights; so now all must be turned contrary; and as this is commanded, so our Saviour makes those blessed that practise it: Blessed are they that mourn, Matth. 5. 4. viz. for their own sinne, and the sinne of others; for they shall be comforted: yea he denounceth a woe to those that laugh and are merrie, that never rend their hearts, or wound their souls for the sins they have committed. Oh then blesse God, and count it an happy time, when God shall turn thy barren heart which was like a wilderness, in∣into running streams for sinne. This is so necessary, that its a grace particularly promised under the Gospel, Zach. 12. They shall mourn, as one mourneth for his only begotten Sonne. See there is the spirit of prayer and mourning promised under the Gospel, and that for sins against Christ, as cordially, affectionately, and a grie∣ved manner, as a mother cryeth for her onely Son. You have examples also for this in the new Testament. Did not Mary Magdalen make her head a fountain of tears, that could weep such showrs as she did? Which made Chrysologus say, Ter∣rarigat Coelum. Could she have cryed more heartily for the losse of her onely child, then she did for her sins? And thus Peter, after his relapse, upon his recove∣ry, is it not said, He went out, and wept bitterly. Matth. 26. 75. So that you see it a∣bundantlie proved, that our turning to God, ought to be with mourning and wee∣ping: but yet the point so generally delivered is subject to misconstructions; and therefore take notice of these particulars.

First, That these waters of tears may arise from a four-fold Spring or Foun∣tain: As, *

First, There are Naturall tears; Such which come naturally from the complexi∣on, or peculiar disposition of the bodie at that time. Philosophers say, That onely man of all creatures doth properly weep; and they dispute much about the effici∣ent cause, and nature of teares. Gregory Nissen, one of the Ancients, that had much learning in naturall Philosophie, makes the cause of tears, to be the vapours that doe upon the apprehension of any evill, quickly arise by consent from the com∣motion and stirring of the bowels, which ascending to the brain, by the coldnesse thereof are presently heated and congealed into water; as clouds are by the coldnes of the middle Region: Yet latter Philosophers reject this: but my purpose is to speak of weeping and tears, not as a Philosopher, but as a Divine. This is certain, there are natural tears, which arise from a tender complexion, whereby children and women are more ready to weep then men, and some men more then others: yea Aristotle observeth, some Drunkards are very prone to weep while they a∣bound with liquor; we call them, Magdalen Drunkards, that while they are full of Beer, and like beasts, will then crie and weep, and complain of their sins: but these tears being nothing but the excrementitious humour of vapours within, they are not at all to be regarded. Some Godlie men have complained, that they cannot weep, nor shed tears for their sinnes. They can for other things, Temporall evils, that afflict sense, but not for sinne. To this I shall Answer anon.

Secondly, There are worldly tears, and carnall weeping; and that is when we weep for the losse of any temporal mercy, or the evill of any misery come upon us: such tears are daily to be seen among us, who live in the world, that is nothing but a Valley of tears. This Christ forbade, when he said, Weep not for me, but for your selves, Luke 23. 28. And this might be every day published aloud, Weep not for the losse of such mercies, Weep not because of such miseries, but because of Page  486 sin and the losse of God. This when immoderate, is an heavy sin, and it worketh death, as the Apostle saith, and is repentance that must be repented of, 2 Cor. 7. 10.

Thirdly, There is hypocriticall weeping. The tears of Crocodiles, when men fast and publickly mourn, yet all this is because of temporal respects, not because * that God is displeased. We have too much of this weeping also: God com∣plaineth of such sorrow among the Israelites, and he compareth it to the how∣ling of beasts. All weeping and crying about sin, if not for sin, is but dissimulation with God.

Lastly, There is a godly weeping, which is wrought in us by the Spirit of God, and that is because we have sinned, and grievously offended God, which fils our * hearts with Gall and Wormwood: This latter is like the rain of the cloud that comes from heaven, sweet and refreshing; the other is like the salt water of the sea, or the muddy filth of boggy places.

Secondly, Godly tears they also arise from a two-fold cause. There are tears of hatred and indignation, or great displeasure against our selves, because we have so foolishly and wretchedly dishonoured God, and ventured our eternal undoing for a moments pleasure. There are also tears of love, and joy, which the heart poures out with much melting, partly because they have grieved so good a Father, and partly through ioy to see so much grace vouchsafed unto them. The former kinde of tears, viz. of hatred and grief, Manasses abounded with, and Peters eyes gush∣ed out such. The latter did flow from Mary Magdalen; for our Saviour attribu∣teth all that sorrow to her much love, because much was forgiven her, Luke 7. 47. and the true Convert is to expresse tears of both these kinds, of grief, and love; of hatred, and joy; Verus paenitens de peccatis dolet, & de dolore gaudet; The true repent∣ing Convert grieveth for his sinnes, and joyeth in his grief. Even naturally there is much ease in weeping, Expletur lachrymis, egeriturque dolor. And hence Tully complained, that though all his tears were spent, yet grief did stick at his heart, How much more will godly tears afford spiritual joy? Let thy heart there∣fore be like the Stillatory, which having the hot love of God daily under it, will plentifully vent forth the warm tears of Godly sorrow for sin.

Secondly, There may be a superstitious and Popish advancement of tears, and a Christian Scripture-acknowledgement of them. This must be also remembred, a * Popish commendation of tears is, when any Merit, Causality or Worth is attribu∣ted to them. Thus in Popery they make them have a spiritual effect, they attribute the washing away of sin to them, they are judged satisfactory: But how arrogant is this Doctrine, to make our tears and Christs bloud equal? If the bloud of Christ only doth purge us from our iniquity, then cannot our tears, which themselves need washing, as he said, Lava Domine Lachrymas meas, O Lord wash my tears, they are so foul. Could we therefore weep an Ocean of tears, yea bloud, yet this could not blot out one debt of ours to God. We do not then require mourning and weeping, as Friers and Popish Writers do: And yet on the other side we abhor those Antino∣mian Doctrines, that make all sorrow and weeping for sinne to be legal, and unbe∣seeming the spirit of the Gospel. No, the Scripture carrieth a mean between these two extreams.

Lastly, This must not be forgotten: There is a two-fold sorrow, or mourning; the one is intellectual, and spiritual; which is an act of the soul, whereby it detesteth * and abhorreth sin above all evil, and vehemently dislikes it, chusing any temporall evill, rather than this evill of sin. And there is a sensitive sorrow; which is accom∣panyed with bodily tears, and expressed in a sensible manner. Even as there is a two-fold prayer, a mental prayer of the soul, whereby we immediately make our requests known unto God; and a vocall bodily prayer, by the mouth also. Thus there is a two-fold sorrow, one rational, affecting the soul of a man, the other sen∣sible, discovering it self in the eyes, and face. Now the former kind of mourning, which is an act of the understanding and will, full of displicencie and vehement Page  487 detestation of sin; this is absolutely to be pressed: No man can think he is con∣verted that hath not this. But then for sensible and bodily tears, practical Di∣vines give these directions: first that in the pangs of our conversion, and while the soul is in its first labour, then many times such Tears abound: whereas afterwards in the progresse of sanctification, they are not powred out so easily. Be not then pre∣sently discouraged, as if thy heart were a rock, and an hard Milstone, because thou findst no affection, no melting, no tears; say not, Thy heaven is made Brasse or Iron; for it may be the time hath been, that thy two eyes have been as the Chur∣ches in the Canticles are said, to be like the Fish-pools of Heshbon. Remember then the bottles of tears thou then didst fill. Its not probable that Mary Magdalen could alwayes weep so plentifully as she did at her first Conversion to Christ, and recon∣cisiation with him.

Secondly, Divines give another good Rule, which is to regard thy pur∣pose, and well advised forsaking of sinne, so as never to return to it, more than any tears whatsoever; for Hypocrites have shed tears, and they many times arise from the bodily Constitution: Some can weep when they list; as there were women hired to mourn: and experience tels us, of many that will weep and cry for their sins, and yet for all that commit them again. Dost thou therefore finde that thy soul loatheth sin, and that thou darest not, or canst not entertain any sin in thy life? never then question thy condition, because thou canst not shed tears, for these are accidental and separable, but the other is eslential to grace; and this dis∣covers the hypocrisie of manie, that because they can sometimes weep and crie, when they speak of their sins, they therefore conclude all is well, though they go on in the practice of sin. No, its inward hating, and outward forsaking of them upon spiritual grounds, will more testifie thy Conversion then rivers of water flowing from thy eyes.

Thirdly, If thou hast mourning and sighing, because thou canst not be so passio∣nately affected with thy sins, as with temporal evils: This may also stay thy heart, thou canst not go out and weep bitterly, thou canst not water thy bed with tears, as David did. Oh, but dost thou groan and igh after more degrees of godly sor∣row? this may satisfie thee: for they that hunger and thirst are blessed; and if the Spirit of God work in thee groans unutterable, this is greater sorrow than weep∣ing; Groans of heart, are more than tears in the eye. When one Psannenitus an Heathen saw his friend put to death, he wept abundantly; but afterwards, when his Sons were brought to ex-cution, he did not weep. The reason was asked, and this was returned, Leves curae loquuntur, ingentes stupent, Light grief may be vented, but infinite grief stupifieth; and so many times the godly heart is in such an amazment and astonishment that stupifieth it.

Lastly, Then onely is want of Tears for sin, matter of trouble, when it is because of want of hatred to sin, want of meditation, or want of love to God. As for ex∣ample, Thou hast lost thy husband, thy friend, such an estate, and thy daily thoughts of this aggravating every circumstance, makes thee weep many showrs. Now if thou didst seriously set thy self to meditate about sin and all the aggravations of it, thy heart would melt as abundantly also; but thy negligence, thy worldly cares, thy hard heart, thy carelesnesse that makes thee so senselesse. Know in this case, the want of fears is thy fault, and thou dost not meditate and pierce thy heart with sharp considerations that water may gush out.

Now let us see, why Conversion is to be with mourning and weeping: And * First, Because the evill of fin is far greater both in the losse it brings us, and the positive damage it plungeth us into, than any outward evill whatsoever. What a shame then is it, to see people weep over their dead friends? Oh none have sucha loss as they have, and not to weep over their dead souls, for there is no such losse as that by sin: Shall that superstitious man make such a waiting for his Idols that were taken away, and shalt not thou mourn bitterly, because thou losest God and heaven by sin. Its the bitter evill of sin, that makes all other afflictions bitter; there had been no other Page  488 evill in the world to provoke tears, had not sinne been: This brought not onely Thorns and Thistles on the ground, but on every thing else; why then shall we not have mourning for that which is the fountain and root of all other sad things?

Secondly, Therefore we are to turn from sin to God with mourning; Because there is a condecency, and congruity of Justice in it. Its the greatest reason and justice * in the world, that as thou hast by delight and pleasures in sin offended and provo∣ked God; so thou shouldst by grief and bitternesse for sin manifest thy love to him: shal there be a time when sin was sweet and shal there not be a time when it shal al∣so be bitter? Oh consider this all you who have found the short and momentaneous honey of sin, but not the sting of it; that have found it sweet in the mouth, but not like Ezekiels Roll, bitter in the bellie.

Thirdly, Its necessary there should be bitter mourning in our Conversion; Be∣cause of the manner or method God takes in bringing men from sin; which for the * most part is accompanied with such strong convictions of sin, such tremblings, and agonies of soul, that as the woman by Gods appointment is to bring forth in pangs and travail; so doth the heart of a man labour till Christ be formed in it. Gods method is generally to convince of sin, the hainousness of it, all the bloudy circum∣stances that aggravate it, and that in a powerful, particular way; so that he seeth and seeleth himself to be this sinner: Then God discovereth the exactnesse of the Law, the spirituall extent of it, the innumerable curses that it threatens to every disobedient person; and lastly, it discovers an impotency, and an utter inability in a mans self and in all the world to help him, so that he is despairing wholly of himself, and receiving a sentence of condemnation upon his soul, onely the grace of God comes in, before the soul be over-whelmed: That stretcheth out the hand, as Christ did to Peter, before he sink in the waters. Now tell us, Can all these exercises, fears, conflicts, and commotions of heart be without mourning and weeping? It is true in some Converts these pangs and conflicts are greater than in others; yet it being Gods ordinary way to bring about Conversion by Con∣viction out of the Law, here must be needs great divisions and troubles of heart.

Fourthly, There will be mourning and weeping in our Conversion to God, Be∣cause of the sympathy and natural conjunction of soul and body together; so that * what the soul is excessively affected with, there is an over-flowing and redundancy of this upon the body. Thus David is so often in sensible passionate expressions of tears and desires after God, because his soul and heart did so affectionately burn after God; Insomuch that not onely his heart, but his very flesh (he saith) longeth after God, Psal. 84. 2.

Use is, Severely to reprove that stoninesse and hardnesse of heart upon many sinners: When did they ever turn to God with bitter lamentations, and mourning, * and weeping? When was their laughter and joy turned into heavinesse? You have indeed sometimes seen them wring their hands, cry aloud they were undone, be∣cause their estates are lost, their friends are dead, great pains and aches of body have tormented them; but not a sigh, not a tear for their sin. Oh know that in hell there will be weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; then thy sins will be appre∣hended in a more horrid and ghastly manner than now they are. A tear in the eye for sin, is more commendable than a jewel in the ear: and if thou canst not weep, yet sigh and mourn like the Dove. O smite upon the thighes, knock on the breast, say, Even Rocks (Lord) when thou hast smote them have given us water; but thou hast smitten by thy Word, by thy Judgments upon my heart, and yet no mour∣ning at all. The tears of the hearers are the commendations of a Sermon: Did you hear aright, you would pour your hearts out like water, as the Scrip∣ture expression is. Neither doe thou think it a childish weak thing to weep for sinne: For David, who had more knowledge than all his Teachers, yet how plen∣tifull in those showers! Neither doe thou think it an Argument of an ignoble Page  489 spirit; for besides that Homer makes his Heroical spirits 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, easie to weep, who more warlike and potent then David? yet how many penitential and mourn∣ful Psalms doth he make for sin.

SERMON LXXXII.

The Nature and Necessity of Godly Sorrow and Weeping for Sinne, as accompanying Conver∣sion.


JOEL. 2. 13.
And rent your hearts, and not your garments.

WE are arrived to the fourth Observable passage in the Prophets Ex∣hortation, and that is the form or nature wherein this turning to God doth consist. The very being and substance of conversion to God, is expressed in this phrase, Rent your hearts, and not your garments. To Rent the heart, is a Metaphor from bodies or garments, as in the Doctrine is to be shew∣ed: Onely two things may be taken notice of in this phrase. To rent the garments, was a custom among the Jews, whereby they did declare their excessive and im∣patient sorrow or detestation: Thus the High Priest rent his cloathes, when he charged Christ with Blasphemy; and Ahab rent his cloathes, when there was fear of some great judgements coming upon them: Thus Paul and Silas rent their garments with indignation, when the people of Lystra would have sacri∣ficed to them as Gods, Acts 14. 14. Thus you see it was a custom among the Jews, in apprehension of great grief, either for sins or judgements, to rent their garments; as they used also to cover their heads with ashes, and to go in sack∣cloath, which outward forms of mourning, are not to be drawn into practice a∣mong us, because all Nations have their several ways of publique mourning. The next thing observable is, the expression by way of negation, Rent your hearts, and not your garments; its usual with the Hebrews, to express a compara∣tive by a negative, Rent your hearts, and not your garments, that is, rather then your garments; so, I would have mercy, and not sacrifice; i. e. rather then sacri∣fice: God by this teaching us, that all external duties of Worship and Religi∣on are nothing at all, without the gracious and godly frame of the heart.

That Conversion unto God, is accompanyed with a tearing or rending of the*heart.

It is with as much grief and agony, as if the very heart were torn asunder. He tells us, that turning to God doth not consist in outward acts of humiliation and sorrow; if this were so, hypocrites would be very diligent in it; no, there must be a cutting or dividing the heart asunder, from all those former sins, that were so constantly committed. This point is worthy the Ministers earnest zeal, for people generally are not in earnest about this work; they will hear much, yea, it may be, say much about it; but to have the heart thus wrought upon, is very rare.

Page  490 To open it therefore, consider, First, That the Scripture hath other equivalent expressions to this in the Text: That which is here called A rent heart, in other * places is called A broken heart, yea, A contrite heart, Psal. 51. 17. A wounded spirit A tender melting heart, An heart of flesh, A soft heart, Ezek. 32. All which have, their peculiar efficacy, to demonstrate this gracious work of God.

A broken heart, is taken from a broken vessel, or broken bones: Now this doth imply, what pain, what grief, yea and misery a man undergoeth, while he is in turning unto God. David expresseth his broken heart, by broken bones: Oh think not then, that thou who hast lived with an heartfull of ease, mirth, and carnal jollity, that ever thou hast attained to this duty: No, this is that thou art afraid of; As Luther said, his soul hated the word Repent, because he appre∣hended it a word of bitterness, gall and wormwood, and at that time knew no∣thing of Christ, and the Gospel that might sweeten this bitterness: Thus the hearts of many wicked men, do even hate and abhor the very name and thoughts of a broken and rent heart for sin: They would not be put out of those plea∣sures and jolly security in sin, upon any terms.

Again, as the vessel, when broken, hath presently all that was in it discover∣ed and laid open: Thus it is with an heart in conversion to God, the breaking of it, makes all that wickedness and ungodliness appear, which formerly was hid and covered: Then he wallowed in such foul and noisom ways, and never took any notice of it; then he always blessed and flattered himself, still saying, I hope in God, I trust in God, I have a good heart, &c. O but when once the spirit of God breaks that hollow and hypocritical heart of thine, then O what depths of iniquity appear! What swarms of lust shew themselves! Then thou art monster, and abominable in thy own eyes; then thou canst no longer indure thy self, thou wilt be no longer a stranger, and unknown to thy self. The hea∣thens commended that sentence, as fallen down from heaven, Nosce teipsum, Know thy self: But (alas) they had onely candle light, or moon light, not the light of the Sun, the Scripture, to discover themselves, and to judge of them∣selves by it.

The other phrase is A Contrite heart, and that is more then broken; for this is to be bruised or pounced into small dust: So that this doth excellently denote, what a rent heart is; viz. An heart that is beaten into small pieces, that doth not retain the outward form or shape that once it had; it is wholly changed and altered. Take an earthen vessel, and let it be pounced into dust, and there re∣maineth nothing of its old beauty or figure: So it is here, when the heart is thus contrite, Oh it hath nothing of its old security, of its old mirth and jollity, it hath nothing of its old false peace and self-flattering, but becomes changed in∣to another hue.

The phrase likewise of A wounded spirit, doth fully set forth this Rent heart. The body wounded, is subject to much grief and pain, but a spirit wounded to much more; therefore saith the Wise man, A wounded spirit who can bear? Pro. 18. 14. If thy heart be ever wounded for sin, it will be the heaviest burthen in the world to bear: Oh then thou wilt think poverty, outward torments, bodily pain, nothing to a wounded soul: Oh but when shall we, like that good Samari∣tan, meet with such persons that lie wounded for their sins, that we may pour oyl into their wounds! when shall the two edged Sword of the word give such heart-wounds!

As for a Soft, tender melting heart: These come much to the same sense; for be∣fore our conversion, every mans heart is of stone, and adamantine, like cold iron, will receive no impression; Doth not experience teach it? Why is it, that after so many mercies, so many judgements, so many afflictions, so many sermons, men are as prone and ready to sin as ever, but from the hardness of their heart? *

Secondly, Let us consider, what this phrase implyeth, Rent your hearts; and then the negative, Not your garments: And

Page  491 First, It supposeth grief and trouble in the heart: The parts of a mans flesh can∣not * be rent or torn asunder, but it must be with great sorrow: And thus it is with the heart of a true convert, he findes much spiritual trouble and grief up∣on his soul; his soul is rent and torn into many sad dividing thoughts, between hope and fear, between faith and despair, between joy and grief; as you may see in Davids Psalms, such contrary affections working on him, that his heart seemeth to be like the sea, when contrary winds blow upon it: Oh then! this argueth, that many men have never been in these spiritual deeps, and to feel the wondrous works of God upon them; they have never said to their sins, as Paul to his weeping friends, Why do ye break my heart? They have never said, O how is my heart torn in pieces! There have been bodily punishments for hainous crimes, when the Malefactors have been torn in pieces, limb by limb, by wilde horses; this must needs be exquisite torment, yet this hath been born; But a wounded spirit who can bear? These tearings and divisions of heart, when sin in all the guilt and aggravations of it, is laid upon the conscience, who could in∣dure, did not God support in these agonies?

Secondly, It implyeth, violence offered to the heart: Even as a garment rent, or * our flesh rent, it is even by a violent motion; and so it is here, in conversion there is an holy and mighty violence offered unto our unregenerate part: To take that off from the sinful objects, it hath been fixed upon, is like keeping the greedy dog off from the sweet blood he hath begun to suck: Thus the Scri∣pture expresseth the work of godliness, by such words as implyeth great violence and pain offered to the carnal part in a man: Hence its called Crucifying the flesh, Gal. 5. 24. Rom. 8. 13. Gal. 3. 5. There was great violence and lingering mise∣ry the party crucified was put unto; and so we are called to mortifie the sinful lusts of the soul; so that although there were no external tribulations in the way to heaven, though there were no persecutions, no troubles, yet that which is done upon thy heart, upon thy sinful lusts, will make the way to heaven a straight and narrow way. There is a soul-Martyrdom, as well as a body-Martyr∣dom; and which is more terrible for flesh and blood to undergo, is hard to tell. No wonder then, if you see men stick so at conversion; O its an hell, its a torment to them; Why? the reason is plain, conversion is a real Purgatory; they go through fire and water to be made clean; they give themselves to be sacrificed by grace: Grace will not spare any one dear sin or lust they have been accustomed unto. Its also no wonder if Gods children finde it so difficult, so contrary to nature, to do any thing graciously; for how can it be but painful to hang crucified upon the cross, as it were? for thus, as Christ dyed for sin, so they dye to sin.

Thirdly, In renting, there is a separation and disunion of the heart, from that to*which it was once united: And herein lieth the very formal nature of rending, to make a violent division of one part from another, so that the near union is per∣fectly dissolved; especially this is seen in continuous bodies: And thus it is also in a spiritual consideration; herein lieth the very proper and real notion of a godly rending of heart, when its wholly divided from those sins it did once cleave unto: This is true, that love doth make the party loving, and the object loved all one. Hence it is, that the believer joyned to Christ, is said to be made one spirit, because he cleaves as glue to the Lord: Thus those that constantly follow sins, they are made one with sin and the Devil; when therefore they are truly converted, then comes this glorious separation and disunion; they are no longer one, but twain, now sin and they have no more union or communion, as it were: And how blessed is it to separate those, whom not God, but the De∣vil hath joyned together.

Fourthly, This implyeth impatiency of spirit, as not being able to hear, see, or*bear sin: It supposeth an extraordinary and raised apprehension of some dread∣ful evil before us: Thus the High Priest did, when he thought Christ spake Page  492 blasphemy; and thus the true Convert, he hath raised and aggravating thoughts about the evil of sin; he looks upon it with a more dreadful and sad eye then men of the world do: Doth the flesh, doth the world or Satan tempt to sin? Oh what horror takes hold upon him, what trembling amazement is upon him! he hath no patience, the zeal of God doth so burn in his heart: Oh this is a sure evidence, that few do truly turn to God; for where is that trembling, that im∣patience in thee against sin? how readily and willingly doest thou imbrace this Serpent, this Toad in thy bosom!

Fifthly, As impatiency, so indignation also, and high disdain is included in this phrase: Thus Paul and Silas when the men of Lystra would have Sacri∣ficed * to them as gods, tore their garments with indignation, looking upon it as a most unsufferable thing; and the like indignation against themselves have all un∣feigned converts; for every sin hath gross idolatry in it; for thereby a man at∣tributes his supreame affections, desires and thoughts, also to sin, which do belong to God. The Body-Idolater, he worships a stock or a stone, and bow∣eth down to that: Thou settest up lust or sin, and bowest down thy soul to that: Oh then, what cause hath the soul to cry out, as Christ did, Get thee be∣hinde me Satan! In every sin, Satan doth tempt thee to fall down and wor∣ship him.

Lastly, This doth suppose that a true Convert is thus affected, as well for other mens sins as his own: For seeing this renting of the heart, implyeth a deep ap∣prehension * of the dishonor that is done to God by every sin; then wheresoever it seeth sin committed, whether by our selves or others, it cannot but break out in this heavenly impatiency and indignation; yea, the nearer they are to him who do sin, if his children, if his servants, if his family, they are in the greater zeal: Oh then, if you ask for a sign of a mans conversion, see how he is affect∣ed to other mens sins as well as his own: When thou art converted, strengthen thy brother, Luke 22. 23. Conversion doth not stay upon a mans own self, but reach∣eth it self to others: Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted to thee, said David, Psa. 50. 1. so that if ever thou hast turned to God with thy whole heart, with this mourning and rending of soul, thou couldst never bear sin in others: What? can a true convert endure those that are prophane and ungodly in his company, in his family? No, light can agree with darkness as well: Come then and behold your selves in this glass; by this see what judgement thou mayest pass upon thy self: Thou art so far from casting out the wicked from thee, the ungodly out of thy family; thou art so far from zeal to Gods glory, to bid all evil works depart; that thou onely choosest such, and makest them the object of delight; and thou canst not endure, but art mad through malice against those that walk purely, and more strictly then thou doest. Could David say, Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law, Psal. 119. 116. and shalt thou sit in the seat of the scorner, and walk in the ways of ungodly men! Oh let this truth make thy ears to tingle, yea, thy heart to tremble: How canst thou say, without gross hypocrisie, that thy heart is rent for sin, and yet lovest to see it committed by others, thy family being like an hell, rather then heaven, wherein all kinde of impiety is committed!

The next particular is to consider, what is implyed in the Negative or Com∣parative, And not your garments: And that is, *

First, That no outward sign of sorrow or grief of heart, is regarded by God, if the heart it self be not exercised therein: God allowed of sackcloth and ashes, of smiting on the breast, of rending garments; but this was as dung before him, he abhorred it, if the hearts of men were not wounded for sin: And no won∣der if God did refuse these outward signs, if without the heart, when his own solemn and Religious duties, Prayer, Sacrifice, and the like, his soul did loath, while their hearts were unwashed, and unclean. Hence are those frequent complaints and expostulations God hath with the people of Israel, why they Page  493 were so diligent in external duties of Religion, and so little careful about clean∣sing and washing the heart: O that people could once be fit subjects to receive this truth. We still cry, The Temple of the Lord, Circumsion, as the Jews did; Our Baptism, our Prayers; but O where is the man that looks to any godly work upon his heart.

Secondly, Therefore is the heart thus prized above all things, because that is the foun∣tain*of all spiritual life: That is the good treasury, that is the fruitful tree; even as the heart in the body doth give life to all other parts of the whole man: My son, give me thy heart, saith God, and, With all keepings, keep thy heart, Prov. 4. This is the seat of all good, or of all evil: This is the souls Magazine, or spiri∣tual Store-house.

Now its very good to observe the reasons why God doth thus prefer a rent * and converted heart, before all outward acts of Religion, for men do not consider these things: They would think themselves beasts, and unworthy the name of Christians, if they should not pray, hear, and come to Church; but then for this curious and necessary workmanship upon the heart, they never minde it at all: Think therefore All is but a tinkling Cymbal, till God hath turn∣ed thy heart thus in duties: For

First, God never commanded simply and meerly any outward duty of Religion,*for its self sake, But especially he required gracious qualifications in the exer∣cise of them: He never commanded prayer, meerly for prayers sake; nor the keeping of the Sabbath, meerly for external observations sake; and in this sense some expound that, Sacrifice and burnt Offerings thou wouldst not have: If therefore these duties be not required, meerly and barely for themselves, why doest not thou attend to that which is the principal? Oh say, Its not this duty, so much as a converted heart in this duty; its not my coming to the Assemblies, its not my hearing Sermons this day, so much as a changed turned heart that God looks at: This is the Benjamin God commands you to bring, else not to see his face. Hence when the hearts of men do not spiri∣tualize this duty; the Scripture calls it no more then a Carnal Religion, or a Religion of the flesh, Phil. 3. and Heb. 9. The Legal Rites, because they did not reach to the purifying of the conscience, are called Carnal Ordinances: See how despicably the Scripture speaks of these things, when performed without spiritual reference to Christ.

Secondly, Its Rent your hearts, and not garments, because all outward duties of*Religion, are but the vessels or pipes which receive such liquour, good or bad, as are put into them: A man may be acting his sin, or his godliness, while he is per∣forming of them; as the Pharisees were: Although a constant, ordinary neg∣lect of Religious duties, be a sure sign of a prophane heart; yet the constant, daily performing of them, is not a sure sign of a gracious godly heart; for they are such as is put into them: Even as the good Angels, and the Devils also have sometimes appeared in humane bodies: And thus godliness or sin may work in outward Religious duties; so that those external performances and expressions, are not to be made arguments of gracious men: These leaves will grow upon corrupt trees, as well as good trees.

Thirdly, No wonder if God prefer a rent heart, before outward signs of humi∣liation,*because these have been, and still are consistent with the most abominable wickedness: They wrought miracles, and cryed, Lord, Lord, who yet were found to be workers of iniquity. The Jews had their New-Moons, and their Oblations, and their daily Fastings; and at the same time also had Idolatries, Adulteries, and all manner of outward filthiness: So that it is a great matter to know wherein true godliness doth consist, what is the life and soul of pray∣ing, hearing, and all Religious duties: One word spoken from a converted rent heart, is more acceptable, then many thousands expressed in a meer custo∣mary and formal way.

Page  492〈1 page duplicate〉Page  493〈1 page duplicate〉

Page  494Use 1. Is Conversion a breaking, wounding, tearing and rending of the heart? * then you may quickly judge how remote they are from this blessed estate, that make it their businesse to keep their hearts jolly, secure, merry and full of ease. Oh they must hear nothing, that must be like a two-edged sword at their hearts; you must never tell them of hell, and the day of judgement, of the narrow strict way to heaven. Oh bring not these sad and troublesome things to their ears. Oh thou foo∣lish wretch, that dost wilfully fat thy soul for destruction. Oh think that the word of God never works as it should do, till it hath grieved thee, diseased thee, till it hath made all worldly delights bitter to thee. Dost thou think to eat and drink, and sin, and to have the good things of this life, and yet no threatning enter into thy heart? Oh wert thou not bewitched, and hardned by sin, this present discourse would fall like fire into thy Bowels; and if there were nothing to rend and tear thy heart, the very civil and religious rents that are amongst us, might move thee. What woundings and rendings have there been of the body by the sword? What religious tearings in opinions and affections? Doth not the Lord then teach us by these rents and distractions what we should doe in our hearts? And if after all this thou findest thy heart like Leviathans skin impenetrable, and sayest, How may my heart be rent, and thus graciously affected? I say, depend upon the power∣ful preaching of the Word: That is appointed by God, not only to set Father a∣gainst Son, and Son against Father, but a man against himself, his heart against his heart, his affections against one another.

SERMON LXXXIII.

Of the Ministry of the Word as the Means of Conversion, with the other Ends thereof, &c.


JEREM. 23. 22.
But if they had stood in my Counsell, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evill wayes, and from the evill of their doings.

THis Chapter hath two main principal parts; the first is Promissory, the second Comminatory.

The Promissory is of a three-fold benefit. 1. Reduction from Captivi∣tie. 2. Godly and holy Governours, both Civil and Ecclesiastical. 3. The Mission of Christ, who is described in his glorious Office, he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousnesse.

The Comminatory beginneth verse 9. against the false and wicked Prophets, as the fountain of all the wickednesse in Jerusalem. The sins they are accused of, are a prophaning of the holy things of God, Adulteries, and swearings; as also Hy∣pocrisies, which not onely they themselves were guilty of, but infected others al∣so. The wicked lives of Ministers make a great deal of Atheism among people: Page  495 They are like poisoned Fountains or Springs, which do presently conveigh poison to all that drink of them. Now as their sin is decyphered, so their judgment is threatned ver. 15. grief and heavie trouble of mind; for saith God, I will feed them with worm∣wood, and make them drink the water of Gall. They fed the people with Gall in their deceiving Sermons, and God he feeds them with Wormwood. Now my Text doth by way of contrarie aggravate the sad and damnable effects of a corrupt and sinfull Ministry; for whereas verse 14. he had shewed that they did strengthen the hands of wicked doers, so that none did return from his evill wayes. On the contrary, in my Text he declareth the good, and soul-saving effect of it, in case of a godly and conscientious discharge of their Function. So that in the words you have good qualifications supposed: and secondly the godly and blessed successe that will flow from hence.

The good qualifications supposed are two.

First, If they had stood in my Counsell. To understand the full sense of this con∣sider, 1 Kings 22. 19. and Job 1. 6. Where God is described as a Judge sitting up∣on his Throne, and all the Host of heaven standing by him on his right hand, and on his left; so that the meaning is, If those Prophets had not delivered the ima∣gination of their own hearts, but had attended for my commands, had received all from me, as the Angels do; then, &c. And further note, that To stand before one, is an Hebraism, describing the ready posture of servants, to receive any command. Thus Gehezi is said to stand before his Master; and we are forbidden to offend any of those little ones, because their Angels behold alwayes the face of God, Mat. 18. 20.

The second qualification floweth from the former, And cause the people to hear my words. The false Prophets preached their own words of peace to them, whom God cursed; but they must be like the Trumpet, that sends forth no other voice than was breathed into them. Embassadors must keep themselves strictly to the words of their Commission; and Executors to the Will of Testators: for If it be but a mans Testament, no man may add to it, how much more to a Divine?

The next thing supposed, is the good successe, They shall be Fishers of men in∣deed; though while they followed their own ways, they laboured all night and day, and took nothing; yet then Christ will command them to throw in the Net, and they shall catch abundantly. When they thus water and plant, God will give great increase.

Doctr. That the Ministry of God faithfully discharged, according to Gods own*Counsell, is a sure way to turn men from their sins.

To explain this, consider:

First, That God hath firmly and immoveably set Ministers and Pastors, or their Office in the Church, for glorious and supernatural effects. That although God was pleased to make the world, the old Creature, by his own word immediately, using no Angels, or other things as instruments (nay they could not be used instru∣mentally to that infinite work of Creation) yet he is pleased to appoint spirituall Officers in the Church, To be co-workers, as the Apostle saith, with him, 2 Cor. 6. 1. Not that they co-operate with God in the infusing of grace in the soul, (no, that is Gods sole work) but they prepare and dispose the subject in a morall way, by convincing and instructing the Consciences of their hearers. That God hath thus firmly appointed such spirituall Offices is plain, 1 Cor. 12. 28. God hath set some in his Chnrh, set as he hath set the Sun and Stars in the Firmament: and then he reckons up extraordinary and ordinary Offices; and these are called gifts given to men, and the fruits of his Ascention, Ephes. 4. 11. where they are again enumerated: So that by these places, you see a Ministry is a Divine Office, a plant of Gods own planting: and that it is not a temporary, but a perpetual Office appeareth by their end, which is perpetual, Eph. 4. 13. till we all come to a full stature in Christ: And the Apostle in his Epistles to Timothy, laying down the Characters and Qualities of Page  496 such who are to be Ministers, he chargeth those Commandments to be kept impar∣tially till the coming of Christ. 2 Tim. 5. 21.

Secondly, As God hath appointed this Office, so it is the expression of his wonder∣full goodnesse and love to mankind therein. Hence God doth so often tell the Jewes of this his great love to them, that he sent them his Prophets, rising early and war∣ning of them: and in Ephes. 4. they are called the gifts, which Christ gave after his Ascension; and indeed they are greater than any temporall mercies, if men could spiritually judge. The giving of us the heavens and the earth, with all the abundance thereof, is not like to the giving of faithful Ministers to a people. There∣fore God to comfort the people of Israel when they were in great extremities, he tells them, He will give them such Pastors as shall rule after his own heart, Jer. 3. 15. And their eyes shall see their Teachers, though he feed them with the bread of affliction, Isa. 30. 20. Hence are those triumphing expressions to them by the godly; How pleasant are the feet of those who bring the glad tidings of the Gospel? Rom. 10, 15. And how can it be but thought an exceeding great mercy, when God who needeth us not, shall yet send his Embassadors daily to us, to intreat us to be reconciled un∣to him? As if a glorious Emperor should send Messengers to win the affections of a poor despised Beggar to be espoused to him.

Thirdly, The end of this Office is supernaturall, for divine and spirituall effects. And herein it differeth from all earthly imployments, who have onely outward * happinesse and prosperity for their end. Hence it is that they are called Angels; their imployment being sacred and heavenly, like that of the Angels. Now this supernaturall end is reduceable to a fourfold effect.

First, They are appointed for the Conversion, and spirituall change of the hearts and lives of those to whom they are sent. What a wonder was that of Peter, who * Converted three thousand at one time from their former ignorance and wicked∣nesse! Let not the Heathens any more boast of their Orpheus and his Harp, which would make wild Beasts came, and follow him; Here Peter doth farre more by the spiritual Keys of his Ministry: and thus James saith, James 1. We are begot∣ten by his word, and its the Word of Regeneration. Hence they are called Fathers, spiritually begetting Children unto them in the Lord. And if that be true, as it is, which Austin saith, The Conversion of the soul is a greater wonder than any mi∣racle; then where the Ministry hath this Divine effect, its more admirable than to cure blind eyes, or deaf ears, or raise dead men from the grave. Oh then this is a strong and mighty experiment of Gods work in the Ministry, when it doth reach thus into the inward hearts and consciences of men.

Secondly, Another main end is to confirm and strengthen those that are converted; To make them grow more and more, as Ephes. 4. till we come to a full stature in * Christ. Its pride and arrogancy to think thy self so knowing, or so godly, as not to need a Ministry; for suppose thou dost hear no more than what thou knowest, yet how dull are thy affections? how apt to apostatize, and back-slide! and there∣fore the righteous man he needs Ezekiels Watchman as well as the wicked, that he may not turn from his righteousnesse, Ezek. 3. And this is a noble fruit of the Mi∣nistry, to build up, when a foundation is already laid, to be adding cubits to thy sta∣ture, to be always blowing upon thee with this spiritual wind, that thy graces may be flourishing and sweetly fragrant alwaies.

Thirdly, Another effect is to revive and comfort those that are cast down with the sense and burden of their sins. Hence they are said to preach glad-tidings, and this * is called the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to those that need comfort. These are the good Samaritans, that bring precious oil, these apply the Balm of Gilead: And oh that we had more subjects to improve this glorious ef∣fect of the Ministry upon: A wounded conscience for sin, is an unknown thing to men of the world: To feel the Agonies of sinne through Gods displeasure, because of our iniquities, is a Riddle to natural men: but where such are, how welcome are the glad tidings of a Christ untothem!

Page  497 Lastly, To direct in matters of doubt and to advise in cases of Conscience. Hence * they are compared to light, and to guides, that lead the blind, and direct in un∣known and dangerous wayes: and certainly, this is no mean task: Who is suffici∣ent for this very imployment, To determine in perplexed cases of Conscience, what is to be done, and not to sin? Thus Paul determines many cases of Consci∣ence in his Epistles, about eating, and not eating, about presence in Idololatrical Temples, about marriage and single life, 2. Cor. 7. and the meeting of a Synod at Jerusalem, Act. 15. was in one part to advise in matters of conscience. These are the four noble and supernaturall ends, for which God hath appointed this Office; so that we are to attend upon the Ministry, and to expect these divine effects in no o∣ther ordinary way; for Christs promise is to be expected only where his Instituti∣on is.

Fourthly, The wisdome of God is herein observable, That having appointed the*Ministry for such supernaturall effects, he is pleased to use such outward contemptible means. We carry, saith the Apostle, this Treasure in earthen Vessels, 2 Cor. 4. 7. The Vessel is contemptible and unworthy, yet the treasure therein is glorious: That God should work such admirable effects in a way so unlikely to flesh and bloud; this was to confound the world; for when he appointed the twelve Apo∣stles, who did more to change mens hearts, than ever all the Emperors could do to propagate their Empire by the sword; how mean and despicable were they? Thus God hath still appointed, that not the humane eloquence and externall pomp of the world, should be instrumentall to this savoury and spiritual operation; But the plain and simple Explication and Application of Gods Word; which made Paul truly say, That God hath chosen the foolish and weak things of the world, to con∣found the wise and strong, 1 Cor. 1. Hence Rom. 1. Paul again cals it, The foolishnesse of Preaching; that is, in the eyes of carnall and humane wisedome. The Jews they require a Sign, and the Greeks wisdome, that is, eloquence and acute demon∣strations: But this foolishnesse of Preaching, is the power of God to salvation. Oh then take heed, that vain carnall pride and contempt doe not hinder thee from this spiritual good; as Austin was offended at the simple and plain stile of the Scrip∣ture, he found not such swelling, tuned eloquence, as in humane Authors, which made him say, Dedignabar esse parvulus. Oh know, that unlesse a man become like a little child, he can never with faith and trembling receive this word aright. I wonder not then, if the great wise men of the world do so undervalue this plain way of Gods Word preached; They cannot become like little children.

Fiftly, Consider, That although the Office and Ministry of the Church be thus*ordained and owned by Christ; yet so universall and generall may the ignorance and corruption be of those that are in this Office, that the clean contrary to Gods end is brought about. In stead of Instruction, men are more nourished in Ignorance; in∣stead of Conversion, men more strengthened in their wickednesse; as the false Pro∣phets spake peace, and promised good to those whom God abhorred. Oh this is the most fatall judgement that can befall a people, to have blinde, ignorant, dumb and scandalous Ministers; and although people generally may love to have such, because some eyes cannot abide the light; yet its the heaviest expression of Gods wrath upon a people. This Chapter complaineth that from such false Pro∣phets all evill came to Jerusalem. Even as if the Sun and Moon should be turned into darknesse and bloud; so is it, when those that should be guides, eyes, watch∣men, are clean contrary: onely by the way, when these are called here false Pro∣phets, observe, that they may be called false in two respects, either in regard of their Office, or in regard of their matter; of their Office, and such are false Prophets, or false Ministers, as have no true Call either mediate or immediate from God: So that although a man should preach that which is true and good matter; yet if he have not lawfully entred into this Office, he is a false Prophet. Consider that remarkable place: If there arise a false Prophet, who foretels a thing, and the thing come to passe, I the Lord doe it to try you, Deut. 13. 1, 2, 3. Observe, that a false Prophet may Page  498 tell those things that are true; and God doth thus wisely and justly permit these things, to try people whether they be soundly rooted, or not.

But secondly, a false Prophet or Minister is he, who though he have a true Cal, yet preacheth false and corrupt matter to please sinners: Thus these here are condem∣ned for both: They run, and I sent them not, they were forward, and yet had no Call. Thus they preached peace to obstinate sinners, and incouraged them in their wickednesse. Marvell not at it, if the Sons of Levi sometimes need to be purified, Mal. 3. And the Devils main design is either to overthrow the Ministrie, or cor∣rupt it.

Lastly therefore, if so be that Ministers would find the spiritual effect of their Ministry; and that Gods promise and power might go along with their Office, they are here directed to stand in Gods Counsels, that is, wholly to be inquiring of him, and directed by him: for to convert souls being it self supernatural, the means also must be supernatural, and that can be known only by divine Revelation. What coun∣sel therefore is it, which God giveth them, in the exercise whereof this comfortable effect may be produced? And,

First, That which is to be done before all other things, is to reform their own lives; That the world may say, they believe that to be true which they preach to others. Thus * they are to be an example of all purity, chastity, meeknesse, faith, temperance, hea∣venly-mindednesse. Not but that wicked men will cavill and find spots in the Sun. You see Christ and the Apostles were much traduced, and they walked through good report and bad; but let them approve their works to the Lord, and then they shall have comfort. Thus the Apostle to Timothy; Attend to thy self, and to thy Doctrine, 1 Tim. 4. 13. so shalt thou save others: To himself first, and then his Doctrine; the life of a man preacheth; Aarons Bels hung at his feet. What an uncomely thing is it to see a foul deformed Painter to draw a curious lovely Image? No lesse is it to hear a prophane Minister pressing his people to purity; a dissolute Minister to urge his people to strictnes: and therefore God threatned in Malachy, To make the Priests contemptible, and as Dung, because they had not kept his Word, Mal. 2. 3. This is woful: But when the Ministrie, for their faithfulness and oppo∣sition to the wickednesse in the world, are then as the Apostles were, made the off-scouring of the World; this is glorious.

Secondly, To take Counsell from God, is when they preach true Scripture, sound Doctrine, which is after Godlinesse; for so the Apostle describeth it, which is after*godlinesse: To please your ears, or delight the fancy, is not an acceptable work to God; no more than if a Priest in the old Law in stead of offering a Lamb, or Bul∣lock, shall Sacrifice a Butter-flie, or a Peacock, because of the radiant colour. No, you are to feel it as a two-edged sword, as an hammer; and the neglect of this solid Scripture-Preaching, hath made many Ministers through carnal affectation vent themselves into vapors and meer froth; and the people have been fed with wind, instead of solid food. What hath the Chaff to do with the Wheat? saith the Prophet in this Chapter. As it was said, He had made great Progresse in Rhetorick, to whose Palate Tullies phrase was pleasing, which is not so swelling and affected as some o∣ther: So he is a good judicious hearer, and like to get good by preaching, to whom the Scripture matter appeareth sound, admirable full of Majestie and worth.

Thirdly, As he is thus to preach sound Doctrine, so there are several qualifications which are like whetting, to make this two-edged sword enter the more powerfully. Such are our zeal and tender compassion to mens souls, to cry out with Rebecca, Give me*Children, or else I dye. Our Saviour Christ, when he saw multitudes of people, though they enjoyed the Teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees, which had some good use in it, else our Saviour would not have directed the people to hear them; yet its said, His Bowels were moved with compassion towards them, when he saw them, as Sheep without a Shepherd: Zeal makes the spiritual meat hot, and so the fitter for digestion.

2. Boldnesse to reprove sin; Rebuke with all authority. Ieremy must not fear the Page  499 faces of men, lest God confound him before them: That which some in a crafty insnaring manner spake to Christ, Master, we know thou speakest the truth, and art 〈◊〉 accepter of persons, should be applyed to every Officer in the Church. Charge them that be rich in this world, That they be not high minded; We have not received the spirit of fear, but of power. Thus Iohn to Herod, Paul to Felix, Chrysostome to Eudoxius.

3. With labour and diligence, Preach in season, and out of season: All their names and titles imply diligence, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, A Bishop or Over-seer, a Watchman, a Shepherd. VVhat labour did Iacob undergoe in that Office? The Titles they have are not so much of honour as solicitude; those that labour in the word and Doctrine.

4. Consideration of their great account which is to be given not onely for their own sins, but of all others committed to them. The Sacrifice that the Priest was to offer, was greater than that the King was, yea as great as the whole Congregation for all their sins: to shew that their sins as Ministers were of an horri∣ble aggravation; which made Chrysostome wonder, if any in that Office could be saved; and indeed with God this is possible, and not with man.

Lastly, all these must be coupled with earnest prayer to God for a blessing upon his word; for its he that teacheth to profit; he opens eyes, he changeth hearts; he raiseth up the dead. We may lay the staff as Gehezi did, but God giveth life. Christ preached in the day time, and prayed in the night: While thou ragest, fret∣test, and art full of heart-burnings against them; little dost thou think what earnest praiers he puts up to God, that his word may be blessed to thy soul.

Use of Examination: Whether the word preached hath obtained this saving * effect upon your souls, although the Ministers of God have stood in his Counsel. Have they been able to say, we have not ceased to give them daily warning? O Lord, thou knowest our pains, our prayers, our desires; and yet they are trees that bring forth no fruit. Well, God will say to such, Well done, thou good and faithfull Ser∣vant, Thou hast delivered thy soul, their bloud will be required at their own hands. Its the great question' Why Conversion is not so frequent, and ordinary now, as in the Primitive times, yea as at the first reformation out of Poperie? To that we may speak the next day: only know, Gods anger is gone out against men, that he makes them have miscarrying wombs and dry breasts. How few Ministers can say, as Isai∣ah, Behold I and the Children which thou hast given me. We would fain, as Iacobs sonnes were commanded to bring Benjamin with them into his Fathers presence: so gladly when we shall appear before God, would we also bring all our hearers with us, saying, Not one of them committed to my charge is lost: but we have too many sons of perdition.

Page  500

SERMON LXXXIV.

Why Gods power unto Conversion doth not alwaies go along with his Word though dispensed by a faith∣ful Ministry; and whether corrupt or prophane Ministers may be a means of Conversion.


JER. 23. 22.
If they had stood in my Counsel, &c. then they should have turned them from their evil way.

A Faithful Ministry (as you have heard) following the counsel of the Lord, is the sure and ordinary way for conversion of men from their evil waies. This Doctrine hath been explained: Let us now Answer some material questions which will further clear this point.

And First, It may be demanded Whether that Ministry which doth indeed stand in Gods eouncel, may not for all that be without this spirituall successe? May not they * for all that see no good and comfortable issue of their labours? May not they com∣plain they have laboured in vain? Shall we argue such a Ministrie to be corrupt, and unfaithful, because they are not blessed with spiritual children, like Olive plants about them.

I Answer, That it doth too often fall out, that even those who stand in Gods cousel, that follow this star, do yet plough and sow upon the rocks, and see no * seed grow up. Therefore this Text or Doctrine is not such a general, but that it hath its exceptions; and if we will seek for instances, how plentiful are they to con∣firm this: Shall we think that this Jeremiah, who is so zealous against the false pro∣phets, that he did not take a true and faithful course in his Ministrie, yes, his whole prophesie doth manifest that. Yet how sad are his complaints that he had no suc∣cesse in his Ministrie, Jor. 6. 29. The bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed of the fire, the founder mlteth in vain, the wicked are not pluckt away; where Jeremiah is com∣pared to a Refiner, or Founder, his mouth is the bellows: The prophesie he had from God, was the breath, or blast, the corrupt and impure mettle was the wicked Jews. Now all this blowing, and pains in refining, was in vain, for the drosse would not melt away. Thus also the Prophet Isai, he stood in Gods councel, yet he crieth out, Who hath believed our report? Isai. 53. 1. And again, All the day long have I stretched out my hands in vain. Ezchiel also, a Prophet so frequently in communi∣on with God by spirituall visions, and therefore so often called the Son of man, that these revelations may not puffe him up: Yet God tels him, he goeth to a peo∣ple that will not hear: but whether they will hear, or forbear, they must have a Prophet sent to them, Ezek. 3. Yea, what need we go further for witnesse to confirm this, when Christ himself, in whom were all the treasures of wisedome and holinesse, and no man ever preached like him; yet the number of his converts were few, in respect of the multitude he preached unto, which made him so bewail Page  501 the Nation of the Jews, as a tree that had enjoyed much culture and dressing, but still continued unfruitfull, and so was to be cut down and cast into the fire.

But what are the reasons, Why Gods power should not alwaies go along with his in∣stitutions?* What hinders, if when all things requisite on the Ministers part are concurrent? Yet God withdraweth himself. Now there may be reasons, first on Gods part two waies.

First, From the freedome and arbitrarinesse in his works: He doth in heaven and earth whatsoever he pleaseth. The spirit bloweth where it listeth, John 3. Though therefore God hath tyed and bound us to wait on the Ministrie, we must frequent the Ordinances, yet he hath not bound himself to work at every time, to every Au∣ditory. God keeps this soveraignty to himself: one Ministrie shall be more success∣full then another, and at one time more then another, and to some people more then others: Yea, many times God makes the weakest, and most unlikely Mini∣strie to be more fruitfull then a learned able one: even as Leah, that was more deformed, had more Children then Rachell, who was more comely and beau∣tifull. So that as it is solely in Gods will, to whom he will to send a faithfull Mi∣nistry, he gives to some that make no use of it, yea that hate it and are weary of it; and again denieth it to others that long for it, or that would with the Ty∣rians and Sydonians manifest greater affections to it. Thus also when he hath be∣stowed this Ministrie upon a people, it is successeful no otherwise then he will ap∣point: And herein we are to advance Gods dispensations, which are wise and just, though the reasons be not alwaies visible to us. Even as although God gave the Apostles power to work miracles, yet they could not do these when and where they plesed, for then Paul would have recovered Epaphroditus; but they did them only when he vouchsafed power. So that it is not of us that plant or water, But of God that giveth encrease, 1 Cor. 3.

A second reason on Gods part is his justice: For when a people have by their for∣mer * obstinacy, and unfruitfulnesse under the means of Grace, provoked him to anger, he doth inflict that just judgement of a blinde mind, and an hard heart, never to understand or be converted: and this is very wofull, but very ordinary. Thus John 12. This is the reason why the Jews, notwithstanding the daily preaching they had heard with their ears, and the miracles they had seen with their eyes, yet it is said, They could not believe, because of that spirituall judgement which was upon their souls. And thus it was also with Esaias, Cap. 6. He is sent, not to turn them from their evil waies, but accidentally through their corruption, to make them more obdurate, Oh then if we see where much faithfull preaching is, yet little Conversion, let us fear and tremble at the wrath of God upon such a people. If God hath given them up to their own lusts? If he hath smitten them with blindenesse of minde, and wilfull rebellion against his word, then they are under the judgement of all judgements? And is not this anger of God visibly gone out against all our Congregations? Was it not a plain demonstration that God had for∣saken Saul, when he would neither answer him by Prophet, or Urim and Thum∣min, or any other way? So it is thy case; Neither prayer for thee, or preaching to thee is made powerfull to convince thy Conscience, to change thy heart: Oh men in the state of Gall and Worm-wood, though they think not, or believe not so of themselves. Thou shouldst after every Sermon say, Oh Lord why is it that this word hath not yet turned me from my sins? Oh what is the matter that it hath not such power upon me? Oh what shall I do? Have pitty upon me, O God, and soften my heart. Have pitty upon me, O ye Ministers, and pray for me, that God would give me a soft heart.

Another reason why the Minister, though faithful, may not yet rejoyce to see * the good fruit of his labours, is from the Ministry it self, and that two wayes allso.

First, The Ministry doth not work like a natural cause to the Conversion of men,*Page  502 as fire burneth, and the stone falleth down, but as a meer instituted, and Morall cause, as they call it, that is by the Councell and power of God accompanying it. If it did work as a natural Cause, from an inbred power, in it self, then it would work alwaies alike; then it would never be frustrated of its operation without a miracle: as that the fire did not burn the three Worthies, it was a miracle. If the Word of God preached should turn men from sin this way, it would be a miracle that every Sermon, did not convert every sinner: but it works onely as an in∣stituted cause. And thus as the pool of Bethesda did not at any time vouchsafe healing, but when the Angel descended into it: so neither do our Sermons upon every person, and at any time work upon those that hear; but as Gods power shall come in; and therefore as was said at the Sacrament, should be also at preaching, Sursum Corda, lift up your hearts to him that is a Teacher in hea∣ven: as he Baptiseth not with water, but with fire; so he teacheth by fire also. And this should direct people by earnest prayer to look up to him: say, Lord, if thou goest not along with me in hearing; if thou speakest not to my dead heart to live, to my hard heart to become soft, it cannot be. Lord if thou hadst been here, saith she, my Brother had not dyed And so may we say, Lord, if thou hadst gone along with this Sermon, with this truth, it had not perished without profit.

Secondly, The Ministry, though faithfully discharged, yet is in a subservient way to Gods election. Now many are called that are not chosen: the Ministry is sent where election hath not to do sometimes: But then to such it is like an excel∣lent Medicine that is onely proffered, and not received to work any good: where therefore the Word of God doth convert and make these admirable changes, it is but the execution of Gods Election from eternity. Thus it is said, As many believed, as were ordained to eternall life, Acts 13. 48. And Paul was to preach at one place, because God had many people there; so that Election is sure to obtain, Rom. 11. 21. Wonder not then that the Ministry doth not Convert all, no more then that God doth not Elect all. For on whom God hath fixed this purpose of Love, there he will take away the Heart of stone, make plain the highest moun∣tain, and change a most ravening Wolfe into a Lamb.

Thirdly, Therefore a Godly Ministry following Gods Councel, may yet bring forth none, or very little fruit, because of considerations on the Ministers part also: For * as in the Old Testament, though encrease of Children were promised as a bles∣sing; yet many good women were much afflicted with barrennesse, as Sarah, Ra∣chel, Hannah, and others: So it may be here in the dispensations of Gods word. Those that have received five, or ten, may be diligent in employing of it, and yet have no more encrease then he that hid his Talent in a Napkin, though with lesse guilt: For successe is Gods work, not the Ministers duty. And this may be

First, To humble Godly and faithful Ministers. Had they a multitude of Con∣verts? Did they see God so visibly go along with them? this might stirr up pride * and vanity in them, as multitude of revelations was in danger to puff up Paul. The Disciples when they returned from their spiritual progress to Christ, were carnally rejoycing that the Divels were subject to them; and they could work miracles in his Name, our Saviour to humble them saith, Rejoyce not in this, but that your names are written in heaven, Luke 10. 20. God therefore may say not in anger, as he to Salum, but in mercy, Write this man childlesse.

Secondly, God may give no more successe, to draw out their Grace, and their love to him the more: For this is a great testimony of it, when we can rejoyce * that Gods work goeth on, though he will not use us as instruments. Wee see Johns Disciples had some envious thoughts to Christ, and his; and therefore told John, That all went after him whom he Baptized; now see how graciously John answers them, I told you I was not the Messias, but I must decrease, and he must encrease, John 3. 30. The Pharisees envy against Christ, because the multitude ran after him, did work the clean contrary to that in John, even to the killing of him. It Page  503 much that affection in Sarah, to be willing Abraham should have children, though it was not by her: There is this corruption in us, that we onely would be the in∣struments God should use. As he said in vain glory, This is the Babylon I have built; so we, This is the Jerusalem I have built.

Thirdly, Hereby God would teach even faithful Ministers, that he needs no mans*parts, no mans gifts or abilities: Christ took three of his Disciples up into the trans∣figuration; this was a great favour, for it was the glimpse of glory. Now he did this to them, and not to other of the Disciples: Christ hath some special favours which he will dispense as he pleaseth; for as the fountain heedeth not the stream, nor the sun its beam, but they are wholly from them; thus God needeth not the graces, the gifts, the enlargements of istruments; but many times (as the Apostle in another case) puts the greatest glory upon the most uncomely parts.

Lastly, A Ministry following Gods Counsel, may yet finde no successe, because of*the froward, and indisposed temper of the people. Thus Christ weeps over Jeru∣salem; How often would I have gathered thee, and thou wouldst not? Thus the Word also did not profit the Israelites, because it was not mingled with Faith: and if our Gospel be hid (saith the Apostle) It is to those that perish, whose eyes the God of this world hath blinded, 2 Cor. 4. 3. O words worthy of all observati∣on. If it be hid, that is, if men do not understand it, do not feel the power of it, it is because thou art one to perish, one to be damned: It is because the Divel hath shut thine eyes. Oh then lay the fault where it is: Thou art apt to to blame the Ministry, to cavil at him, or to blame his preaching. But see what the Apostle saith, If our Gospel, if our preaching be hid to you, it is because you are to perish: For as the husbandman, though he should be never so laborious in ploughing, sowing, and fitting the ground; though he be never so careful to provide precious and choyce seed, yet if the nature of the ground be so barren, as it will bear no seed, or cause it to degenerate into Cockle, all the labour is in vain: Or as the Gardener, though he water and dresse never so carefully, yet if the tree be dead at the root, it is all to no purpose: So though the Ministers of God are very earnest in praying, preaching, informing, rebuking, yet where the Tree is dead at the root, What hope is there!

The second grand quaere may be, Whether a corrupt Ministry that neglects the*counsel of God, may not yet be a means of Conversion? Whether an ungodly Mini∣stry may not be used by God to convert others? This was a question discussed of old, between the Orthodox, and the Donatists; for the Donatists thought, that if any Minister fell into grosse sinnes, neither the preaching of the word, nor his administration of Sacraments could do any good to others; for how, said they, can death be a means to beget life? How can darknesse produce light? How can a Mem∣ber of the Divel make a Member of Christ?

To answer this case, First, We must distinguish of the corruption of a Minister:* For either it is Doctrinal, in respect of that matter which he preacheth; or else pra∣ctical in regard of his life and Conversation: if the Corruption be Doctrinal, then it is either totall, or partial: Total, when he doth wholly forsake the Truth, and preach nothing but damnable Heresies, and the vain lies and imaginations of his heart: and he that is thus corrupted universally, can never convert others: The reason is, because the word and Truth of God is that immortal seed, by which we are begotten: Sanctifie them by thy truth, thy word is truth, John 17. So that Divine truths are the only instrument of life spiritual, as good food and not poyson is of natural; but if it be onely partiall, not in fundamentals, but superstitious additions; that ministry in some respects may be profitable: and hereupon our Saviour bid them hear the Scribes and Pharisees, While thy sate in Moses chair, i. e. as long as they preached the Doctrine of Moses, but then those that live under such a corrupt Ministry, had need be very judicious to distinguish between good and bad, There∣fore our Saviour, who allowed the people to hear the Scribes and Pha∣risees, Page  504 did also at the same time bid them take heed, and beware of their Doctrine.

But in the next place, suppose they be Orthodox, and sound in their judge∣ments, *yet ungodly and prophane in their lives, Can we think God will honour such? Can salt if it hath lost his savour season others? Can light, not put under a Bushell, but under a noysome dunghill, Can that enlighten others? Yet such unsavourie salt, such obscured light is every prophane Minister. To Answer this, Consider,

First, That if that Holy and good discipline which Christ hath appointed in his Church were observed, no such ungodly Ministers were to be endured in publick of∣fice.* Hence Paul commands Timothy, That he ordaine no man a Minister that is of an ungodly and prophane life; and certainly if Christ would have every parti∣cular person, that is an obstinate wicked person, cast out of the Church, how much rather an ungodly officer in the Church?

Secondly, Yet suppose that a corrupt Minister is continued for want of good Discipline, it cannot be denied but an ungodly life is a great occasion to pull down as much as the word builds up. Examples do work more then precepts. The lives of Spiritual Shepheards are like those rods Iacob laid in the way for the sheep to look on, that they might bring such coloured lambs; and therefore if ever they are instru∣ments to convert others, it is a strange, a rare and wonderfull thing. Hence in Da∣niel, those that convert others to righteousnesse, are said to shine like the stars in the firmament, Dan. 12. 3. which wicked men cannot do.

Thirdly, But for all this we cannot say absolutely and universally, That no ungod∣ly Minister is used at any time an instrument to convert others, no more then their un∣godlinesse may hinder the good effect of the Sacraments they administer, for these two reasons. First of Example in Scripture, That makes no distinction between Judas and the other Disciples in the successe of the Ministry; They all twelve were sent out, they all did miracles, they all casted out Divels, they all returned to Christ and gave him an account of their successe. To them all Christ said, He had ordained that they should go out, viz. in their preaching, and bear much fruit, viz. in their Ministry, John 15. 16. And our Saviour expresly saith of some, That they should prophesie in his name, yet he would bid them depart, because workers of iniquity: and Phil. 3. There were false Apostles who preached Christ out of envy, supposing to adde more afflicti∣on and persecution to Paul, which must needs be an high degree of wickedness and malice, yet Paul said, He rejoyced that Christ was preached howsoever, which could not be if their preaching did no good. Although indeed to these examples of Ju∣aas, and the false Apostles, it may be answered, That they were not at that time grosse and scandalous sinners for ought can appear, but unregenerate and spiritually wicked, not corporally.

2. They may be used by God for conversion, because the Ministry is gratia gratis data, not gratia gratum faciens; It is appointed for the publick good of others, not for the Ministers good so much; and therefore God may work that end of the pub∣lick good, though the instrument be sinful: As saith Austin, The seed that is sown by a foul diseased hand, may bring forth fruit as well as that which is sown by a clean hand.

Use of Admonition, take heed that the Word of God have no effect upon thee because of thy sins. Oh how terrible will it be when it shall appear, God hath done for thy conversion what a gracious God might do; The Minister hath done what a faithful Minister should do, but thou hast not done what a good hearer should do: What is that? 1. Thou art not swift to hear, thou art carelesse, neg∣ligent, thou dost not diligently wait on the gates of wisdom, as sick men do at the Physitians doors. 2. Thou dost not lay aside all superfluity of naughtinesse, as the same Text requireth; and so the word is like rain falling on dirty ground that makes it more dirty. 3. Thou dost not retain it and hide it in thy heart as David, thou dost not cover it with warmth, as the fowl doth her eggs; thou art but almost per∣swaded to leave thysins.