The Second SERMON. July the 20th, 1645.
3. Doct. BUt now comes in the Third Point: It's true, the people of God have all their spots; I, but know, There's a great deal of difference between the spots of the godly, and the spots of the wick∣ed.
And this Scripture I chose for the handlling of this point, to take away that vain plea that hardens the hearts of most men in their sin; Why it's true, we have sin, and who hath not? the best of all have their sins. I appeal to you, whether you do not know that this is the great hardning conceit of most people in the World? Thou hast thy sins, and the best have their sins; but there's a great deal of Page 28 difference between the sins of the one, and the sins of the other; you will see a great deal of difference, however, whatever thou sayest; Psal. 22. 18. sa••ih David, I have not wickedly departed from my God: David would not say but that he had sometimes departed from God; I, but I have not wickedly departed from him, saith David, I can appeal to God in that: There is still remaining in the Saints, corruptions; in their understandings there is some dimness, though there be light; But I may say of that, as in Isa. 11. The dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation; It shall not be such dimness; It's spoken there in case of affliction and misery: We may apply it thus, by way of allution, in case of the re∣maining corruptions: There is in the under∣standing a dimness, but not like that that was before, and is in natural men: There is not that dimness of darkness in the weakest Man or Woman in the World that is converted, that hath the least natural parts as in the great∣est learned Man or Woman in the World that is unconverted: And though, perhaps, a Child of God may have some security in his heart for a while, yet in 1 Thes. 5. 6. Let us not sleep as do others, lest perhaps we should sleep and he overtaken: yet saith the Apostle, God forbid we should sleep as do others: There's a great deal of difference between the Page 29 sleep of Gods people, and the sléeep of others; that is, between the security of their hearts, and the security of other mens hearts: It was the special work of the Priest in the time of the Law, to discern between spot and spot; to shew which was the spot of Leprosie, and wich was not.
When there was a spot in the bodies of men, they were to come to the Priest to discern whether their spot were the spot of Leprosie, or no.
And 'tis a special work of the Ministers of the Gospel, to shew the difference of spots, between the spots of the wicked, and the spots of the Children of God. And here indeed doth consist the spiritualness of their Ministry, and a great deal of efficacy of it is in this thing; and without this, our Ministry is like to do little good; and therefore, though I had thoughts of some other things, yet I thought alwaies, except there were somthing laid down about this, I might preach many Arguments, open many points of Religion to you, and the want of the knowledg of this, might hinder the efficacy of all. Jer. 15. 18. If thou shalt separate between the precious and the vile (saith he to Jeremiah) then shalt thou be as my mouth: So that, that's the work that God looks for from his Ministers; and indeed it's the work of a soul saving Ministry, to separate between Page 30 the precious and the vile; and then indeed when they speak, they are as the mouth of God to a people: God makes men in this point, to be as his mouth, for it is a point that doth separate between the precious and the vile: Therefore, as Moses said of the whole So•g in the 46 v. of this Chap. Set your hearts unto all the words which I testifie among you, &c. For it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life:〈◊〉 I may say of this part of the Song, I beseech you brethren, set your hearts to it, and mind it, for certanly it is not a vain thing, it is your life; It's as much as your souls are worth, the understanding of this point rightly; and thousands of souls do perish eternally for want of the under∣standing this point rightly—Then let's fall upon it.
There's much difference between the sins that are in wicked men, and the sins that are in the Saints. It must be granted,
First, that in some particular acts, a wick∣ed man may do something better then the godly; and not sin so much in some acts; as we have famous examples of this.
As in the example of Abimelech; com∣pare him with David: Abimilech in respect of Abraham's wife, and David in respect of Ʋriab's; Abimilech did carry himself like a Saint, and David rather like a wicked man, in comparison.
Page 31 And, Secondly, If we compare Rehoboam and Amaziah, with Asa; Rehoboam and A∣maziah were both wicked men, but yet they, in some acts, did better then Asa that was a godly man; it is very remarkable, the com∣paring the stories of them: For, Rehoboam he was a wicked man, and yet in 1 Kings 12. 24. when ten tribes of his Kingdom did re∣bel against him, and he got an Army to re∣duce them again to their obedience, there comes but a poor Prophet of God to him, and saith, Thus saith the Lord, ye shall not go up nor fight against your Brethren the Children of Is∣rael: Return every man to his house, for this thing is from me: The Text saith, they heark∣ned to the word of the Lord, and returne to depart according to the word of the Lord: A very strange thing, that a King, a wicked man, exasperated to the uttermo••, that had an Ar∣my ready, whose cause could not but be justi∣fied before all the World; for who would have said what the Prophet did, That this was from the Lord: Yet that one poor man coming to him, and telling of him that it was from the Lord, though he must lose ten parts of his Kingdom, ten of twelve, yet Reho∣boam hearkens to God, lets go his Army, lets go the ten parts of his Kingdom, hearing but a Prophet say. It was from the Lord! one would think that this were a Saint! what an obedient Page 32 man was this to the word of God? and yet this was a wicked man, an unregenerate man.
Again, Amaziah, that was a man whose heart was not upright with God, 2 Chron. 25. he had likewise hired an Army, and there comes a man of God to him, in v. 7. saying, O King, let not the Army of Israel go with thee, for the Lord is not with Israel, to wit, with all the Children of Ephralm—But saith Amaziah, what shall we do for the hun∣dred talents, which I have given to the Army of Israel? They had their pay afore-hand, why, saith the Prophet, the Lord is able to give thee much more then this: and Amaziah was content not only to part with his Army, but to lose the pay that he had given them before∣hand, meerly at the word of God, by one poor Prophet of his: Now one would think, a wicked man that was a Soldier, should have contemned such a message from a poor weak man, and bad him go and meddle with what he had to do with; yet these two men did not: But now, you shall find Asa that was a godly, man he did not do so well: These two the Scripture brands for wicked men at this time when they did so, and so for ought ap∣pears, continued and perished in their wicked∣ness: But now, I say, Asa, that the Scripture notes for a godly man, you find him quite o∣wise, Page 33 2 Chron. 16. there a Prophet did but come to Asa, and rebuke him for relying upon wicked men, for so much correspon∣dency with those who were ungodly, the Text notes in the 10. v. Then Asa was wroth with the Seer, and put him in a Prison-House, for he was in a rage with him, because of this thing; and Asa oppressed some of the people the same time: This was a godly man, and the other wicked—You will say, here now the spot of Asa was worse than the spot of Rehoboam, or Amaziah, that were wicked men; sometimes, therefore, for some acts of sin, wicked men may do better than the Saints—And therefore, by the way, you should learn not to bless your selves in this, that you in some particular acts do good things; you may do good things, in particu∣lar acts, better than others that are godly, and yet you may perish eternally, and they may be saved in the day of Jesus Christ.
And it must be acknowledged likewise, that in regard of the excellency of the souls of ••e Saints, any spot in them, is worse than •he spots of wicked men: As a Fly in a box •f Ointment, is worse than a thousand in a •arrel of Beer; why, because the Ointment 〈◊〉 more precious than that &, in divers circum∣••ances likewise, the spots of the Saints may be •orse than the spots of wicked men: Which Page 34 I have had some occasion to speak to, out of another Scripture: But, for all this, in respect of some particular acts, and in respect of the excellency of their souls above others, and in respect of some circumstances, one may be worse than another: But take all together, and the spots or sins of wicked men, are farr worse than the sins of the godly; and that I shall shew in these Three regards, the differ∣ence between the sins of wicked men, and the godly; and shew, that one is far worse than the other.
First, In respect of the nature of their sin.
Secondly, In respect of the behavours of their hearts about them.
And, Thirdly, In respect of the present dealings of God with them for their sin—Their spots are different in these three re∣gards.
For the First, In regard of the nature of their spots, and that in divers regards, (ex∣cept indeed in some extraordinary cases, one of which we spoke of before in those example• I say) the spots of the wicked are far worse than the spots of the godly; yea, the truth is take them at any time, if you consider all things together, they are worse.
First, The sin of a godly man is rather 〈◊〉 Scar, then a Wound that is healed, or almost Page 35 healed: And the sin of the ungodly is a rotten putrifying sore in the flesh. Look what the difference is between the Scar of a wound that is almost healed, and a filthy putrified sore in the flesh; that difference there is between the sin of the Saints, and the sins of other men.
You will say, that, that's but a similitude; what do you mean by that of the scar, and a rotten sore?—
Why, the plain meaning of it is this, That the sin of a godly man, it is but the hinder∣ance of his soul in the making of God to be his last End; the frame of a godly man's soul is alwayes for God as his last End; and his sin comes in but as an impediment and hinder∣ence unto him in this work of his, in ma∣king God to be his last End—But now the •in of a wicked man, it is the departing from God, and closing with some other thing as his •ast End; and chief good. Now here lies a •road difference: When the heart of a man •hat is godly, makes God to be his End, and ••e scope and aim of it, is at God; now in ••me particular acts it is put off and hindered 〈◊〉 this work of his. But now a man that is ••cked, doth decline from God, and depart ••m him, to some other good, for his End, ••d closes with it as his chief good: Now this exceedidg vile and abominable—So Page 36 that the sin of a godly man is the hinderance of thy soul that's making after God as thy last End: But on, the other side, it is the decli∣ning of thy soul to some base contentment, as thy cheif good, that thou makest to be as thy God.
Secondly, The spot of the Children of God, it is not such a contagious, such an infectious spot as the spot of the wicked is. It is true, there is an infection in all sin, some contagion; but there's a great deal of difference between the contagion and infecti∣on of the remainer of sin that is in the Saints, and that that is in the hearts of unregenerate men.
You will say, What difference?
Difference? First, In this: The contagion and infection of sin in a wicked man, makes his very person to be abominable, and is loathsome, through his sin: The sins of the Saints, have no such infection in them; they have not such a contagion in them, as to make their persons to be abominable and hateful before God: God hates the workers of ini∣quity; but he hates not the Saints, that have iniquity in them; and this is a wide difference, in their contagion and infection.
Yea, Secondly, That sin that is in a wicked man, it doth defile all his actions, so as i• makes his very actions, the best of his actions, Page 37 to be turned into sin: While thou art an un¦regenerate man, thy sin is of such a contagious nature, that it makes all thy actions sin, thy best actions it turns them even unto sin: In Psal. 109. 7. Let his prayer become sin: All thine actions before God are sinful, thy best actions, while thou art an unregenerate man: There is not onely sin in them, but that sin hath so defil'd them, as they are even turned into sin to thee: Out of an unclean thing there cannot proceed that which is clean; out of a corrupt Tree there cannot be good fruit. Now, there is nothing but the fruits of sin, that comes from an unregenerate heart—But now, the Saints, though they have sin in them, yea, they have some sin cleaving to every one of their actions; there is no action that a Child of God doth, but hath some sin cleaves to it: But yet there is not that infe∣ction in it, as to turn his actions into sin; no, God looks upon his action as a holy action for all that: The work that he doth, is look't upon as the work of the spirit of God in him, though there be evil cleaves to it, as it comes through him: And therefore there is not such an infection in their sin, as in thine.
And then, Secondly, The infection and contagion of the sin of wicked men is such, as it defiles all they meddle with, and makes e∣very thing that they meddle with, to be un∣clean Page 38 to them: You know what the Scripture saith in 1 Tit. 1. 5. Ʋnto the pure all things are pure; but to the unbelieving and undefiled, is nothing pure, but even their mind and consci∣ence is defiled: The•e is that uncleanness and filthiness in thee, while thou art unregenerate, as every thing is made unclean: All the Mer∣cies of God are unclean to thee, thou hast no sanctified use of them; all the Ordinances, the use of them to thee are polluted and un∣clean: As in the Law, the uncleanness of the Leprosie was such, as whatever the Leprosie did touch, it was unclean; so it is with thee, whatever thou medlest with, thy meat, thy drink, thy clothes, thy estate, and every thing is made to be unclean to thee. We ac∣count the disease of the Plague a very grievous disease, because they who have it, can meddle with nothing, but it is in danger to be infect∣ed; any clothes that they put on, and the meat and drink that they take into them: So it is in the sins of unregenerate men, all things that they meddle with, are spiritually infected to them, and they have no sanctified use of any thing. But it is not so with the Saints: They have sin in them, but you never read that their sin makes every thing unclean: No, to the pure all things are pure; God looks up∣on them as pure, and they have a holy use of Estate, they do enjoy Gods Ordinances, Page 39 Gods Works, Gods Mercy: The wicked therefore, are not onely spotted, but you find in Scripture, they are called spots, in the ab∣stract; because of the impression of their sin: 2 Pet. 2. 13. and in Jude 12. They are spots in your Feasts: Not spotted, but spots; as if they were all turned into pollution
Thirdly, The spots of the Saints are not like the spots of wicked men; nor their sin, the spots of the Saints in this, they are not such deadly spots; the spots of wicked men, they are deadly spots: Wicked men, therefore, be∣ing defil'd with their sin, they lie in their sin as a Carrion lies in a Common-shore; That's the similitude that the Holy Ghost uses to ex∣press the wickedness, & wicked men & women in the World by; 1 John 5. 19, The whole World lies in wickedness; the meaning of that Text cannot be exprest better than thus; Look, as you see a filthy Carrion, lying dead and rotten in the Common-shore, so doth the World lie in wickedness: Surely their wickedness is a∣nother manner of wickedness, than the wick∣edness of the Saints: There's a great deal of difference between a sickly countenance of a weak man, and the gastly countenance of a dead carkase: a great deal of difference be∣tween the stiffness in a mans joynts, or in his flesh, by reason of some cold; and the stiff∣ness in a body that lies by the walls; a great Page 04 deal of difference between some breakings out of your Children, breakings out of heat, or other humors; and the filthy corruption that is in a dead carkase, that breaks out there: The Saints, though they have sin in them, yet they have a principle of life that works out that sin that is in them: Now the ungodly, they have sin, but they have no principle of life to work it out: Hence, in Prov. 25. 26. the Righteous when they fall, they are said to be like a troubled Fountain: Now, you know, a Fountain that's troubled, or if there be dirt and filth put into a Fountain, it's all in a soil, and all looks filthy and dirty as any puddle doth; for the present you can see no difference be∣tween that, and any filthy puddle: But do but stay a while, and you will see, that the Foun∣tain having a living spring in it, will work out all that filth. But now, if you cast dirt into a plash of water in the high-way, there it lies, and there it putrifies. Just thus is the differ∣ence between the sin of the wicked and un∣godly, and the sin of the godly; The sin of the godly is as the troubled Fountain; I, but there is a principle of life to work out that sin, and will work it out in time; but the sin of the wicked is like the dirt that is cast into the p•sh in the high-way, and there it lies and putrifies, and 〈◊〉 is filthy: There is no Spring to work out that filth: Hence in 1 Pet. 1. The Page 14 hopes of the Saints are said to be living hopes, that is, such hopes as is working out that filth that is in their souls: The wicked, therefore, their spot is a deadly spot; but the Saints, they have a principle of life. Take the Saints of God in their worst condition, when they are most overcome by temptation, and yet there is some symptoms of life; life will appear in them.
You will say, What symptoms of life will appear in a godly man or woman, when they are overcome with sin and corruption? Yes, you shall find Four, that will act in them when they are most overcom with their corruptions.
The First is this, If they sin, if possibly they can, they labour to recall themselves: You shall find that their judgments are yet for holiness and strictness in the wayes of God: perhaps they are overcome by a particular temptation, and they are troubled and afraid that there is no grace, and that there is no difference between them and wicked men: I, but you shall find that even at that time when they are overcome with temptations, yet their judgments remain for God, and for his truth, and for his way, for the strictness of holiness; and they account the Law of God to be good, and holy, and righteous at that very time. We read of Saint Paul in Rom. 7. he •ad as great a conflict with his corruptions, as Page 42 you shall find almost in any; so that he was even led Captive, and that he was sold un∣der sin: But yet mark, in v. 12. though he had such a conflict with his corruptions, yet the Law was holy, and just, and good; I think he gives there some three Epatnites to the Law of God, when his corruptions did most strive against the Law of God; where∣fore the Law is holy, and the Commandment is holy, and just, and good: So you shall find gracious hearts, though they be under temptation, and may be overcome with an act of sin, Well, though I be base and vile, though I have a filthy, and carnal, and base heart, yet Gods wayes are good wayes, and his Commandments are good Commandments, they are holy and blessed Commandments, onely my heart cannot get up to them; I, but though I cannot, yet I would not have the Commandment come down to me, I would not have i•le〈…〉ly and good than it is: This symptom of life you shall find: I, but if a man comes to fall into sin, and he begins to think that he was a fool to make so much con∣science of sin, and to live so strictly, and ho∣lily, and it was but when he was young, and silly, and foolish▪ why, the man's judgment is altered: O! when did you ever know such a man, that having so apostatis'd, ever re∣turn'd again, if once his judgment were gone Page 43 against the wayes of God; though he may be overcome in an act, or there may be many distempers of heart, and passions, and the like, out if once he be taken in his judgment a∣gainst the wayes of God, the goodness, and strictness, and the holiness of them, it's to be feared, that this Man is quite gone, and that his spot is not the spot of Gods Children: In Lev. 13. 44. you have a notable Scripture there; and the reading of that Scripture, did hint to me this notion about the difference of the sins of the one and the other: Now the Le∣prosie was butas a tipe of the uncleanness of sin: The whole Chapter, you shall find, is spent in the discerning of Leprosie, what is the spot of Leprosie, and what not: Now mark, all a long you shall find that the Priest looking upon the spot, and seeing it to be thus and thus, saith the Text, he shall pronounce him unclean; but now in the 44. v. The Priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean, his Plague is in his head: If a man had it in o∣ther parts, then the Priest was onely to pro∣nounce him unclean: But now, when the Priest comes and looks upon a man, and sees the Plague to be in his head, then saith the Text, the Priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean: So here in the Leprosie of sin, if there be Leprosie of sin in a mans affections, it's very ill, he may be unclean by it; if it be Page 44 got into his will, or got into his thoughts, there is a great deal of evil, but if it be got in∣to the upper part of all, if it be got in the sences, the body, the actions, it may make him unclean; but if it be got into his judg∣ment, if a man hath such a corrupt judgment, that he gives a judgment against Gods wayes, against the goodness and strictness of them, he gives a judgment against the holiness of the word, and saith, What need men be so precise and strict? and, the Law of God is not so strict with men. Now I say, when it comes to the judgments of men and women, such a Man or Woman is to be pronounced not un∣clean onely, but utterly unclean, for the Plague is got into his head: But there's 〈◊〉 symptom of life that is in the Saints, though they be over taken with corruptions, yet their judgments are for God, and the strictness of the wayes of God, whereas the others are not.
Secondly, They do not yet forsake their lest End; that that is their ultimate scope and end, their heart is not taken off from that, (though as I said in the opening, they are hin∣dered) I shall give you a Scripture for that, as coming in more fully, in Psal. 18. 21. This Scripture was quoted before, to shew that there is a great deal of difference between the sins of wicked men, & the sins of the godly; Page 54 in that act of David, saith David there, I have kept the wayes of the Lord; and have not wickedly departed from my God: But now, David, how do you prove that? thou didst sin against thy God very grosly, why then dost thou say thou had'st not wickedly depart∣ed from thy God? why, he proves it in the 22 v. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me: That is, as if he should say, Why Lord, though I was overtaken with this corruption, yet I made thee to be my end and my scope, my heart was yet towards thee; I did not put a∣way thy statutes from me, but I was wil∣ling that thy statutes and judgments should stand before me; and herein he proves that he had not wickedly departed from God. Can you say so now? you say you have sin as o∣thers; but you hope your sin is not like the sin of wicked men; but, can you say as in the presence of God, Lord, thou knowest that I have not wickedly departed from thee; For all thy judgments are before me, and I do not •ut away thy statutes from me; O Lord, thou •nowest there is none of thy statutes that I would put away from me?
Thirdly, And then a Third symptom of ••fe in the worst condition, is this, That though 〈◊〉 man be fallen into great sins himself, yet •or all this, he will have his heart prising o∣ther Page 46 godly men that are not fallen into such great sins; when did you ever know any one godly man fall to be such an Apostate, as to hate the Saints, and yet to turn again to God? for thereby you may know whether he were godly or no; if it were a temptation in one that is godly, though he doth Apostatise very far, yet he will return back again: But for my part, I never knew it, nor heard of any man, that was a professor of Religion, and fell fo far, as to hate the Saints, to hate other godly men, and to persecute them, I never knew any example that came again: But now you shall have many godly men, that fall foully; I, but yet their hearts are towards the Saints, and they think that they are in a blessed condition; Though I have a wicked and vile heart, and I cannot prevail against such and such corruptions, yet there are those that are able to prevail against their corrup∣tions, there are those that are godly, O! they are in a happy condition; O! happy is such a man, such a woman, they are not o∣vercome with such corruptions as I am over∣come with: So that, though they be overcome with sin, yet they will still have their heart towards the Saints, and prising those that are not overcome with such corruptions as they are. But now it is not so with the wick∣ed.
Page 47 Fourthly, The last symptom of spiritual life that is in the Saints, is this: Though they be overcome with much corruptions, yet you shall find this ever in them, They do not lose the savour and relish of the most spiritual Mi∣nistry, and the Word, as others do: Wicked men they are so defil'd with their corruptions, that that takes away all their relish and tast of spiritual things: They cannot relish a spiritu∣al Ministry more than a filthy one; but, now take one that ever had any true godliness in him, though he be very foully fallen, per∣haps into some gross sins, yet he is able to taste the word in some degree, he can taste a difference between Ministry and Ministry; yea, between Company and Company, between the spirit of one Man, and the spirit of ano∣ther; I say, he doth not wholly lose his savour, but still he hath some kind of savour, to taste a difference between that that is spiritual, and carnal, and especially in the Ministry of the word; he finds some savour in that; for if ever he was converted, it was a spiritual work of the word that did convert him, and there is some seed of it doth remain in his heart, hence is that of the Holy Ghost by the A∣postle Saint Peter, 1 Epist. C 1. ver. last. The word of the Lord endureth for ever; and •his is the word which by the Gospel is preached •o you: Now this word of the Lord, he doth Page 48 not mean here the very Book and Letter of the word of God; but he means the word of God upon the hearts of the godly; for so you shall find he speaks of it in the 23. v. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incor∣ruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever: For all flesh is as Grass, and all the glory, that is, all works of nature and common gifts, they vanish, but the word of God endureth forever: that is, the word of God upon the hearts •f the Saints: There is a spiritual seed, and efficacy of the word of God that first did beget the soul, that doth a∣bide for ever: There is none falls off so, but hath some seed of the Spiritualness of Gods Word that doth abide in their hearts, that doth enable them to savour Gods Word—Thus you see their spot is not deadly: O! that if any of you that have godliness, and have fal∣len foully from God, that you would but con∣sider of these things: Are there such seeds of life remaining in you? you are those that do yet belong to him; therefore do not you fall off more and more; if you be one that do be∣long to God, you will not abuse this that I am speaking to you, but your souls will prise it, and it will draw your hearts more to God: But now, the sickness of the wicked, that's a death: as in John 11. 4. saith Christ con∣cerning Lazarus, This sickness is not unto Page 49 death: Two men are sick, one man he dies of it, the other is recovered; so you have your sins, and the godly man hath his sins, and outwardly the godly mans sin appears as much as yours doth; I, but yours may be to death, for all that: As now, according to this similitude of a spot, sometimes a man hath some kind of grievous spot upon his slesh cau∣sed by some distemper; well, but yet this is not so now as in the time of the Plague, when you see those blew tokens on you, which they call Gods Tokens, though perhaps you have no other spots nor sores. So many men and women may seem to live very strictly, and not break out into such scandalous sins as o∣thers do, and their spots seem not to be so full of corruption as other mens are; I, but there ••e the blew spots of a Plague upon them ••at be unto death: And you know, a Father ••d Mother would rather a great deal, see the •odies of their Children to be all blistered, and •potted, and run with filth, then to see but one •f those blew spots upon them, though their •kin should be never so whole.
You will say now, What sign may we give •f the sickness of a soul to be unto death, see∣•ng that godly men may by their sin be sick as •ell as others? I will give you these:
First, As in the distemper of the body, if be constant, though it be small, it may Page 50 prove deadly: As, if a man hath a Cough, yet if it continues constant, it may prove deadly: Take heed of constant sins, though they be small sins; for if thou goest on in a constant way of sin, it may prove deadly.
And then, Secondly, If the disease reach to the heart, it proves deadly. In time of in∣fection, if you can keep it from the heart, you are well enough: Physicians, though they give Medicines to keep the infection from the heart, yet they have never a Medicine to cure the heart, if once the disease get into it: They can keep it out of the heart, but not get it out of the heart: Jer. 4. v. 1. O! thy sin 〈◊〉 evil and bitter, for it reaches unto thy heart, saith the Text: O! that's an evil and bitter corruption that reaches to thy heart, that is, so comes to thy heart, as it finds thy heart to close with that distemper and corrup∣tion of thine.
Thirdly, When the sickness is an increasing sickness. Lev. 13. 8. When the spot spreads, then the Priest must say, it's a spot of Leprosie• So when thou hast some distemper and cor∣ruption, and it increases more and more; As it may be thou wert but a little vain, thou growest more vain, &c. Where the diseas• grows more and more upon thee, take heed it's a spot of Leprosie, and may prove to b• thy ruine.
Page 51 Fourthly, A sicknes: is then deadly, when Nature is overcome with it, so as the party is not sensible of his sickness; a Man when he lies sick, so long as Nature is stri•ing with it, there's good hopes; But one that comes to a man in a strong Feaver, and asks him how he doth; why, well, I thank God; he is not sensible of it; O! that makes his wife and all about him turn their heads, and fall a weep∣ing; It were better he did feel pain: So when men through the custom of sin, grow sensless of sin, that's a sign that it is unto death: perhaps when thou didst first commit sin, O, thy consience did trouble thee; But thou hast used thy self so to it, that thou art not sensible of it; O it's a sickness to death, and thou art like to dye by it, when by use of a sin, thou comest to be sensless of it.
Fifthly, When a man in a sickness cannot take any thing that will stay with him: So I may say of the sin of wicked men, though thy sin doth indanger thy soul, yet there's hope if so be that, that that is given thee might stay with thee, that is, the Word, that's as the Phy∣sick for thy soul: When some seasonable truth comes, and is applyed to thy soul against thy ••in, if thou canst receive in that ingrafted word, that's like to save thy soul; But, if as soon as ever thou hearest a truth that comes •ear to thee, presently thy heart casts it up, Page 52 and it will not abide with thee at all, it is a dangerous sign that thy sickness is a sickness unto death.
Lastly, That's a sickness to death, that, when a man doth take that that might help him, yet if it doth not work, then I say, it is dangerous too: So, it may be you do re∣member the Word, and it doth abide with you a while; but there's no good at all comes of it; it works mighty changes upon others, but nothing at all upon thee: If you come to a physicia in that case, and say, Sir, you did prescribe such or such a thing, I, but it works not; why, I wonder saith he, I have known it hath wrought upon such men and women, that I thought was in as desperate a condition as one could be, it wrought upon them, I, and did recover them:—So I may say to some that sit under the word, their souls are sick, and the word works not upon them; I, but it hath wrought upon others that have been as dangerously sick, why it's an Argument that their sickness was not unto death; God did not intend they should die. But if thou canst sit under the word, and it works not up∣on thee, it's a sign that thy sickness is unto death.
Fourthly, and Lastly, The suitablenes that there is in the sin of one, to the nature of those that have their sin in them: One Page 53 mans spot is like the spot of a Leprosie, that is, his spot is that that is suitable to the dispo∣sition of his soul: But now the spot of ano∣ther, it's that that is a spot indeed; I, but it doth not arise from his natural disposition, but meerly an accidental distemper: The spot of one rises from the very natural temper of the heart; but the spot of theother rises from some accidental distemper that comes to him: When a Man or Woman, therefore, sins, and it is suitable to his nature, take him when he is most himself; I beseech you consider this note, for it is as discerning as any: If so be, that thou be'st most thy self, then thou be'st most free for thy sin; know, that thy sin is that that comes from thy natural di∣stemper, and not from any accidental distemp∣er: I shall shew you what I intend, by this: There is Poyson in a Toad, and there's Poy∣son got into a mans body: Now the Poyson that is in the Toad, is sutable to the nature of the Toad, and therefore the Toad likes well enough of it: But now let but a drop of Poy∣son be in a mans body, O, it presently makes a great deal of stir, and makes him deadly sick; why, because there's that got in, that is contrary to his nature:—Here's the difference between the sin of a wicked man, and the sin of a Child of God: The wicked man's sin is like Poyson in a Toad, that's sui∣table Page 54 to his nature; But the sin of a Child of God is like Poyson in a mans stomack that is contrary to his nature; when a wicked man sins, he sinneth of himself, as it's said of the Devil, he is a lyar, and when he lies, he ly∣eth of himself, it comes from his own nature; so is the sin of a wicked man; sin is in it's pro∣per Element in him, and that's the reason that wicked men are so unsensible of sin, be∣cause it is in its proper Element; But now the sin of the Child of God is out of his place, and that's the reason that makes him feel it so much.
Now you will say, How may a man make use of this Note to know the nature of his sin? There are five or six particulars that I shall name about this.
First, When a Man or Woman is alone in secret, that no eye takes notice of them, then to examine themselves; how doth thy heart stand then, when thou art in secret, alone? thou canst not discern what the tem∣per of thy heart is when thou art in company; thou arr most thy self when thou art in secret, alone; and, O what hearts of wickedness are there when thou art alone! whereas a godly Man, though he may be overcome with sin in Company, yet when he is alone, his heart is more for God, and set against his sin.
Page 55 Secondly, That may be said to be a mans self, that is the First spring of his soul: As now, the thoughts and affections in the first rise of them, how are they, how is the guise, as I may so say, or the temper and dispositi∣on of thy thoughts and thine affections in the first rise of them? As now you may know what is the proper nature of the Fountain, by that that is next to the Spring: Perhaps if the Fountain runs a Mile or two off, then there may come that that may alter the stream, that it may not be of the nature of the Foun∣tain: So thou mayest know what thy nature is, by examining what the first working of thy thoughts and thine affections are, when thou art alone.
And Thirdly, Thou mayest know thy self in this, how thou standest when thou art got abroad from those that know thee not: You shall have many men, that when they are at home, and among their neighbours, they live very fairly and civilly; But let them go a journey abroad among some strangers, there they will be roaring, and filthy and unclean, there they all discover themselves: Therefore examine your selves in that.
Fourthly, You may know when you are your self, by examining your heart, how it works most naturally when you are from un∣der government: Young people, many of them, Page 56 they live fairly and civilly all the while they are under Government, but let them be once themselves, that they are free-men, from under any Government, then will be the most natural workings of their hearts: O! then presently you find that they fly out into wicked Company, why, that was the natural temper of their hearts before.
Fifthly, You may kn•w when you are yourself, by what you are in time of prosperity and peace; in time of affliction, then you are, as it were, in Gods Fetters and Irons, and then you will speak very well, and promise very fair; but when you are at most peace in your own spirits, when you have the World at •ill, how do your hearts work then? the natural temper and pulse of your hearts is then when you are in the most peace, and the most prosperity; when you have all things about you according as you do desire, then is the most natural working of your hearts: It may be you think your hearts is good; why, because you have many good moods in times of sickness; O no, your heart may be very bad for all that: But look how your heart doth work when you are most in peace, and free from danger, that's the most natural working of a man's heart.
And then Sixthly, That's the most natural working of a man's heart, when he is himself, Page 57 which he doth with most deliberation; a man may do otherwise then the natural temper of his heart would carry him on to, on a sudden; But it cannot be said, a mans self, as Paul said, It's not I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me: But now when a man upon deliberati∣on and examination, will do a thing, then he doth it when he is most himself: So that by this you know the difference between the sins of one, and the sins of another:—The sins of wicked men are such as comes from their natural temper, that their hearts do close with∣all when they are most themselves: But, the sins of the Saints are such, that let them come but to be themselves, and then their hearts will not close with them so much: When temptations rise, it may draw awaytheir hearts: I, but when they are themselves, and are a∣broad, they keep godly and gracious; and likewise, when they are from under Govern∣ment, they are rather better; one that was a servant, and gracious then, when he comes to be for himself, he is better then, then he was before, for when he was a servant, he was much hindered; But when they come to be for themselves, then they appear to be more gracious: And though upon a suddein, they are overcome, yet let them come to deliber∣ate, and then they are most for God; so that their sin comes not from their natural disposi∣tions—Wicked Page 58 men when they are most themselves, they sin most; but the Saints, when they are most themselves, they serve God most: And here's the difference between the spot of the wicked, and the spot of Gods Children:—