Gospel-conversation: wherein is shewed, I. How the conversation of believers must be above what could be by the light of nature. II. Beyond those that lived under the law. III. And suitable to what truths the Gospel holds forth. By Jeremiah Burroughs, preacher of the Gospel to Stepney and Criplegate, London. Being the third book published by Thomas Goodwyn, William Greenhil, Sydrach Simpson, Philip Nye, William Bridge, John Yates, William Adderly.
Burroughs, Jeremiah, 1599-1646., Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.

Only let your Conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ.*

THE Apostle (in the 23. verse of this Chap∣ter) we find to be in a straight what to do, whether to be willing to live, or to die; for his own inclination or desire it was rather to die, because then he should be with Christ, which was best of all: A notable Scripture to prove the Immortallity of the soul. For if so be the soul did die with the body, it could not have bin bet∣ter for Paul to have been dead than to live, it were better that Page  2Paul had lived even to the day of Judgment than to have died, and so to be nothing and turned into dust; but he saith, that when he died, he should be with Christ, which was better for him; but that which swayed him on the other side, why he should be willing to live, it was this, That he might be useful to the Churches, Nevertheless, it is better for you that I should abide in the flesh.

Service to the Churches is the great cause that makes one who hath made his peace with God, to be willing to live, it is not that he may live in ease, and enjoy pleasures to the flesh, but that he may live and do service for God, that makes him wil∣ling to live. And then he tels them, he is confident he shal con∣tinue with them a while for the furtherance of their faith, and that by his coming to them their rejoycing should be more a∣bundant; but in the mean time, whether I do come, or come not, Only let your Conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ. As if he should say, I shall the more willingly live, my life wil be the more comfortable to me; it will somthing recompence my absence from Heaven, my staying from the joyes of it; if your Conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Jesus Christ: If I may hear from you being absent, or when I come to you, I may see that your Conversation be as becommeth the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the dependancy of the words.

For the opening of the words.

Only] Only let your Conversation. That is as if he should say, be not solicitous about me and my sufferings, and what shall become of me, and whether I shall come to you or not, be not so careful about that; only let your care be taken up about this great business, That your Conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ: for saies he, this should be the main thing that I should aim at if I should come to you; this is that I should put you upon and give you directions about, That your Conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Jesus Christ: And if I be absent there is not any thing I desire more to hear of than this, That you that have received the Gospel of Christ from my hands (as it were) through my Ministry, that your Conversations be as becometh the Gospel of Jesus Christ▪ Brethren, if we had Paul here present with us, or preaching among us; or if he were a∣live Page  3 and could write an Epistle to this Congregation, or any o∣ther Congregation, the main drift of his preaching or writing would be, to those that had heretofore received the Gospel, That they would make it their great care that their Conversa∣tions be as becomes the Gospel of Christ.

Only let your Conversation] The word here, is a word taken from the ordering of a City, or a Common-wealth, wherein e∣very one acts in their own sphere, and is serviceable each unto other, to the publick good; so saith he, the Church of God, it is as a City, as a Common-wealth wherein every Christian is to act in his own sphere, and every one laboring for the good each of other in a comely order, that so there may not only be peace in the Churches, but edification of all, and the Gospel may thrive and prosper, that's the meaning of this word tran∣slated here, Let your Conversation; As if he should say, Do not think it enough that you have some enlightenings, that you have some stirrings, some affections are moved by the Ministry of the Gospel, rest not there, but look to your Conversation.

It is not enough for Christians to have knowledg, and to be able to speak of the Gospel, and have some stirrings of affecti∣on, but they must look to their Conversations, Let your Con∣versation be,

As it becometh the Gospel of Christ] For the opening of these words there are these two things considerable:

First, What is this Gospel of Christ that here is spoken of?

And secondly, What is it so to live as becometh the Gospel of Christ? Let your Conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ.

The Gospel of Christ in general is this: It is the good Tydings that God hath revealed concerning Christ, This hath come unto your ears, the good Tydings concerning Christ, for so the word [Gospel] the Greek word signifies nothing else but the good Tydings;* the good Tydings that comes from Heaven unto you concerning Jesus Christ, that's the Gospel of Christ.

More largely it is this, As all Mankind were lost in Adam, & become the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God though he left his fallen Angels, and hath reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet he hath thought upon the children of men, he hath provided a way of atone∣ment Page  4 to reconcile them to himself again. Namely, the second Person in Trinity takes mans nature upon him, and becomes the Head of a second Covenant, standing charged with mans sin, and to answer for it in a way of suffering what the Law and Divine Justice required, and for making satisfaction, and keeping the Law perfectly, which satisfaction and righteous∣ness he tenders up unto the Father as a sweet savor of Rest for the souls of those that are given to him; and now, this media∣tion of Christ is by the appointment of the Father preached to the children of men, of what Nation or rank soever, freely of∣fering this unto sinners for atonement for them, requiring them to beleeve in him, and upon beleeving, promising not on∣ly a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall never enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthi∣ness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through him be received into the number of Sons, that they shall have the Image of God again to be renewed in them, & that they shall be kept by the Power of God through faith and salvation, that these souls and bodies shall be raised to the height of glory that such creatures are capable of, that they shall live for ever enjoying the presence of God, and Christ, in the fulness of al good; this is the Gospel of Christ; this is the sum of the Gospel that is preached unto sinners: when you hear speaking of the Gospel your thoughts may be about this, this glad Tydings that is come into the world for salvation of sinful creatures through Jesus Christ, and all the good things that Jesus Christ by his blood hath purchased for sinners. When Ministers are cald the Ministers of the Gospel, the mea∣ning is, they are appointed by God Ministers to declare and to preach this glad Tydings to the world: Oh it is glad Tydings indeed to the world; could there be such glad tidings preached at Hell gates, that there were any such way of reconciliation of them to God, we could not but conceive there would be joy there, they would account it acceptable news indeed.

Now then, Those that do beleeve this Gospel, or do profess it, that they have entertain'd this Gospel, this glad Tydings, they must be careful to walk in their Conversation so as it be∣comes this Gospel, as becomes such glorious glad Tydings as are sent unto them from Heaven.

Page  5As becomes] The word signifies,*Worthy of the Gospel, that that is translated in your books become, it signifies, worthy of the Gospel. But this cannot be meant as if so be that our Conversation should be such as deserves al the good that there is in the Gos∣pel, No, but Worthy, that is, as much as Beseeming the Gospel, as meet for the Gospel, or as it is translated in your books, Becoming the Gospel; as he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks his own damnation; Can one eat and drink so as to be worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ? No, but he that eats and drinks so, carries himself so in that Ordinance of the Sacra∣ment as is unbeseeming the Body and Blood of Christ that he comes to receive; and on the other side, those that do eat and drink so, as to sanctifie Gods Name in that Ordinance (as you have heard) they do it worthily, for so the same word is here, Worthy of the Gospel of Christ. And so bring forth fruit worthy of re∣pentance, saith John to those that came to him, that is meet, sit for repentance, such fruit as may manifest your repentance, as is sutable unto such men or women that do profess their repen∣tance for their sins. Further, I find that the word that is here translated Becoming, in another place is translated Convenient and meet, and can be understood in no other sense; as in 1 Cor. 16. 4. If it be meet that I shall go also, the word that is translated there, [meet] it is in the Greek [worthy] the same word that we have here translated Becoming,* if it be a comly thing or a meet or con∣venient thing then I'le go: so then it's cleer that this word that we have here is, meet, convenient, sutable, or, becoming the Gospel, Let your Conversation be such, as it meet for, or becoming the Gospel.

You will say, What Conversation is that which is meet for, or be∣coming the Gospel?

To that I answer, First, a Conversation raised to a higher de∣gree than the light of Nature, or than the Law can raise one to, it must be that certainly, it is not a Conversation becoming the Gospel, except it be a Conversation raised higher than the light of Nature, or than the Law can raise one to, it becomes not the Gospel else.

Secondly, A Conversation sutable and answerable to those many blessed and glorious truths that are revealed in the Gos∣pel, Page  6 there is much of the mind of God revealed in the Gospel, glorious truths are there presented to us, that is a Conversati∣on becoming the Gospel that is sutable and answerable unto these blessed and glorious truths that are revealed in the Gos∣pel.

Thirdly, A Conversation manifesting the power of the Gospel.

Fourthly, A Conversation that is sutable unto al the Ordi∣nances of the Gospel, agreeable unto whatsoever there is in a∣ny Ordinance of the Gospel.

And then fiftly, A Conversation holding forth the beauty, excellency, and glory of the Gospel before those with whom we do converse, here's a Conversation becoming the Gospel; when those that are Christians professing that the Lord hath revealed the Gospel unto them, and that in some measure they have been brought to beleeve in the Gospel, when as now their Conversation is beyond that which any man can attain unto by the light of Nature, when it is beyond that that any man by the Law can be raised unto, when it's answerable to the many blessed and glorious truths that are revealed in the Go∣spel, when it manifests a power of the Gospel in him, when it's answerable unto the blessed Ordinances that he doth enjoy in the Gospel, and when his Life and Conversation holds forth the beauty, excellency, and glory of the Gospel before the world, here is a Conversation becoming the Gospel; and this is that which the Apostle here exhorts unto, Only let your Conversation be such, as becomes the Gospel of Christ. Thus you have had the words opened.

Now for the Doctrinal Points in the words, only these two, the first is but to make way to the second.

1. Doct. The first is this, That those that profess the Gospel, must have a great care of their Conversations.

2. Secondly, This Conversation of theirs must be such, as be∣comes, as beseems the Gospel. These are the two main Points in the Text. I shall this morning but make way to the second Point which is the great Point in the Text.

First, That Christians that do profess the Gospel, must have a great care of their Conversations, to look to them. They must not satisfie Page  7 themselves with what is inward in their minds, or in their af∣fections, but look to their Conversations; You think, or hope at least, that through the Gospel there hath been conversion wrought in you: After the Lord hath wrought conversion, he doth expect that you be careful of your Conversations before men: you have knowledge, you can speak well, you have some stirrings of heart that you have felt in hearing of the Word, preaching of the Gospel, but now look to your Con∣versations, and know, there is a bond laid upon you more than ever was, to look to your Conversations: in James, 3. see the exhortation of the Apostle there, at the 13. verse, Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among yeu, mark, let him shew out of a good Conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. It is a very sweet and excellent Scripture, Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you: What should he do? Let him shew out of a good Conversation his works with meekness of wisdom: here is wise, and knowledge, and wisdom again. If you would manifest that God hath wrought any true saving know∣ledge, any wisdom in you to save your souls, why know that God requires that you should show your good Conversation & that with meekness and wisdom, your Conversations, you must have a care of them, both in respect of men, and in respect of God.

In respect of men, 1 Pet. 2. 12. Having your Conversation ho∣nest among the Gentils: And (the latter part wee shall speak to by and by) so that Christians they must look to their Conver∣sations in respect of men.

And then in respect of God: In 1 Pet. 1. 15. But as be who hath called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of Conversation; There you have Honest Conversation; and in this scripture, holy in all manner of conversation: so that you are to have regard to your Conversations, both in respect of men, and in respect of God: and upon these grounds.

First, in general.

First, in regard of God more generally, that God may be honored by your Conversations. Oh! you that have ever heard from God the glorious glad tydings of Salvation in the Gospel, Is it not in your hearts to do what you can to ho∣nor Page  8 him? now let your Conversation be such; have a care of your Conversations that God may be honored; the Name of God will be blasphemed, except you have a care of your Con∣versations, in Matth. 5. 16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorifie your Father which is in Hea∣ven. As if Christ should say, What, hath God brought the light of the Gospel to you? hath it shined into your hearts? and hath He revealed unto you those glorious Mysteries of Salvation in Him? O then, let this light break forth and shine in your Con∣versations before men, that others seeing your good works may glorifie your Father which is in Heaven. Some men and women are ready to say, what do they care what others observe in them so that God knows their hearts? I but that's not enough, if it could be so that you could have good hearts unto God without good Conversations; but we shall see that there cannot be any such thing, and it is required of you, your works should shine forth before men, that they may see your good works, and glo∣rifie your Father which is in Heaven. 'Tis one thing to do a good work that may be seen, and another thing to do a good work that it may be seen; to do a good work that may be seen that is lawful, though we should not do them principally aim∣ing that they may be seen, but our works should be such, that of their own nature they may be seen, but not to make that to be our main end, that they may be seen; so, as aiming not so much that they may may be seen, but that being seen, men may glorifie our Father which is in Heaven, that God may be ho∣noured. Now God is honoured by the Conversations of His Saints many waies, and therefore they should be very careful of their Conversations.

As in the first place, The people of God, Saints, Beleevers, they are the great Witnesses that God hath in the world, to witness for Him against the corruptions of the world; If so be that you are not careful of your Conversations, God will lose witnesses to His Truth: Now a witnesse is not a thing that is kept within, a man cannot be a witness by keeping things with∣in his own thoughts and heart, he must manifest something to witness. The Lord makes use of the lives of His Saints to be His Witnesses in the world, to stand and witness for His Truth; Page  9 whereas others they will think when the Gospel is preached that it is but a meer notion, or imagination, and that there is no reallity in what is preached: No saith God, look here upon the Conversations of these that have beleeved the Gospel, do you not see they witnesse, that there it a reallity in those things of the Gospel? look what a change my Gospel hath made up∣on them in their lives and conversations, those that were before proud, how humble they are; that were before froward, how meek they are, and the like; these are my witnesses. Many Scriptures might be given, especially that in Revel. 11. 3. where the Saints in general are called witnesses: And that's the first thing. You are to look to your Conversations, that you may be Gods witnesses.

Secondly: That you may hold forth the Image of God in the world; that Image that God made man in at first, by the sin of man was lost; but now through the Gospel it comes to be re∣newed, and God delights to have His Image held forth in the world, that men may behold somewhat of the glory of His I∣mage: But how can the world see the Image of God? They can∣not see it in your hearts, but now God would have it conspicu∣ous, therefore have you a care of your Conversations, that in your Conversations you may hold forth the Image of God in the world. It's much to the glory of God to have His Image held forth in the world. As men that would honor their pa∣rents, and other dear friends, if they have a curious Picture of them, when their image is drawn, they will not see it abused and sullyed, but they will keep it fair; a man that hath the image of his father or dear friend, will not hang it in a smokey hole behind a chimney, or door, but in some conspicuous place; so we should hold forth the Image of God conspicuously, it should appear in our lives and Conversations.

Thirdly, By your Conversations God may be honored, for you will further the great designs that God hath in the world: the holy and gracious lives of the Saints serve to further the great designs that God hath in the world to do.

And lastly, They may serve to make up the great dishonor that God hath from others; the Lord hath abundance of dis∣honor from most in the world; but now there are some that Page  10 God cals out of the world, and He gives his Grace unto them to the end that He might have some of the great dishonor that He hath in the world from others made up; now such as are care∣full of their Conversations, as walk exactly and closely with God (I say) they are made use of by God for the making up in some part of the great dishonor that God hath in the world. What honor should God have in the world were it not for the holy and gracious Conversations of some of His Saints? and therefore you who profess the Gospel, look to your Conversa∣tions that God may be honored by you.

Secondly, Have a care of your Conversations, look to them in respect of wicked men among whom you live.

As first, That you may convince evil and ungodly men a∣mong whom you live in the world. 1 Pet. 2. 12. Having your Conversation honest among the Gentiles, that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorifie God in the day of visitation. This likewise doth confirm what was said before, for the glory of God, and the conviction of wicked men; That they beholding, may glorifie God in the day of visitation. There are many interpretations upon this place, In the day of visitation, the day wherein God shall visit them. Though now they rail against you, yet when God shall visit them, either in His stroke upon them by sickness, then they will acknowledg you to be righteous, and holy men, and wish that their condi∣tions were like yours; or in the day of visitation, if God shall visit their spirits to turn them, or in the day of visitatiō (as some think) in the day of Jesus Christ: But I find others looking nar∣rowly into the words, In the day of Over seeing, the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 from whence the word Bishop comes, it is an Over-seer, now this word visitation, signifies nothing else but an Overseeing; as if God should say thus, walk ye honestly, and holily before the world, perhaps they will vail your glory, & one will say this, & the other that, but go ye on in a constant way and course, there will be a time that all things shall be over-seen, all things shall be examined, and narrowly searched into, and when that day comes, the wicked men shall be convinced, and shal be forced to give glory to God, and shal say, that whatsoever aspersions there were cast upon you, yet certainly you were the servants of the Page  11 living God, in the day of inspection, of overseeing; therefore be ye careful of your Conversations in respect of wicked men, to convince them.

Secondly, In respect of wicked men, to stop their mouthes, their malice, violence, and rage, 1 Pet. 2. 15. For so is the Will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.* The word there translated Put to silence, it is to put (as it were) a bridle into their mouthes, or to stop their mouthes, you may even stop their mouthes by your holy Conversation; Oh Christians look to your Conversations, that by them you may stop the mouthes of wicked and ungodly men, that they may not be able to say any thing against your holy Conversations; so in 1 Pet. 3. 16. Having a good conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsly accuse your good Conversation in Christ.

Thirdly, Yea, you may by your good Conversation be a means to convert other men, to bring wicked men into the love of the waies of God: 1 Pet. 3. 1. 2. the exhortation there is directed to wives that had wicked husbands. Likewise ye wives be in subjection to your own husbands, that if they obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the Conversation of the wives, while they behold your chast Conversation coupled with fear. Mark, how the Apostle urges upon wives to look to their Conversati∣ons to the end that they may be a means to gain their husbands. I am verily perswaded that there are many gracious women that would give (if they had it) a thousand worlds to gain their husbands to those waies of godliness that they have found so much sweetness in, but perhaps they cannot get them to come and hear the Word, and if they do, their hearts rise against it, or it may be they little regard it; but you by your Conver∣sations may do that which the world will not do, you may be converters of them; and in this sense indeed; there may be wo∣men preachers, that is, preaching in their lives and Conversa∣tions, and that's all the preaching that the holy Ghost allows women, let them preach that way, in their lives and Conversa∣tions in their families, and preach every day a Sermon, and neither God nor man will find fault with any such thing, and this is the way for them to do great service for God; and so Page  12 likewise should husbands do to convert their wives, you com∣plain one of another, but do you labor to convince and con∣vert one another by your holy Conversations? I am confident that there are many that are able to say by experience, this; That the Lord struck upon my heart and conscience by seeing the holy Conversation of my wife, since she went to hear the Word, by seeing the wisdom, humility, obedience and carri∣age of my wife, it struck upon my heart. There is many have given glory to God and acknowledged this, both wives by their husbands, and husbands by their wives; and sometimes the pa∣rent in seeing it in the child, or the child in the parent, or brother in brother, or one servant in another, it hath been a means to turn them unto God.

In the last place, If they be not turned to God, then your conversation shall serve to condemn them, to aggravate their sin, and their condemnation in the day of Jesus Christ. As it is said of Noah, in Heb. 11. 7. that Noah prepared an ark, by the which he condemned the world. He condemned the world by that course of his, in beleeving in God, and in making the Ark, every nail that he smote into the Ark, was (as it were) a condemnation of the world: and so the Saints by walking in their holy conver∣sation, shal be the Judges and Condemners of the world. Ther∣fore you are to be careful of your Conversations, in respect of wicked men.

Also, In respect of the Saints, we must be very careful of our Conversations.

1. For by your Conversation you will rejoyce the hearts of the Saints. Oh those that are godly, when they see others that profess godlines to walk in a strict and holy conversation, how doth it rejoyce their hearts? it is the comfort of their lives.

2. Besides, they blesse God for it; they not only rejoyce in it, but bless God for it; when they get alone in secret they are blessing God for the gracious, and holy, and convincing Con∣versations of such and such kind of men that they converse with.

3. And by that means the Saints they have a boldness before men, they can lift up their heads wheresoever they go, when they know that all such who make profession of Religion in Page  13 the places where they live, they walk unblamably: upon that godly men can hold up their heads with boldness, whereas o∣therwise it makes such as are professors of Religion ashamed, when they see and hear of such and such that make profession of Religion to walk scandalously, and loosly: but of them we shall speak presently.

4. Then further, Your holy Conversation it will establish the hearts of the Saints, it will settle young beginners; there are many that are giving up their names to Christ, when they see the holy and gracious Conversations of these that are Ancient professors, Oh how are they stablished in the waies of god∣linesse.

5. And it wil edifie the Saints, they wil edifie and grow up in holiness, they will imitate you, and will find the graces of God not only strengthened, but increased in them by your Conversa∣tions, Oh the abundance of good that you may do; and ther∣fore Christians have a care of your Conversations.

6. Then, You in respect of your selves, by this means you wil have an evidence to your souls of the truth of grace in your hearts, which you cannot have if your Conversations be not right. In 1 John, 1. 6. mark what the Apostle speaks there, If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lye and do not know the truth. And again, you have a notable Scrip∣ture in the 3. chap. 7. vers. Little children, let no man deceive you; He that doth righteousness, is righteous, even as He is righteous. As if he should say, there are a company of deceivers in the world, and they think it enough to talk of righteousness, they say they beleeve in Jesus Christ, and it's Faith that is only required of them; and as for the other, that's but a meer legal thing, for men to make conscience of duties, and of their lives, this is but legal, but let them trust in Jesus Christ, Christ hath done all, what can we be saved by our lives? hath not Christ done all? Is there not righteousness in Him? Let no man deceive you (saith the Apostle) If there be not a doing righteousness, there is no righteousness in you, He that doth righteousness is righteous: You have nothing to do with the righteousness of Christ as your own applied yet unto you, except you do righteousness; therefore have a care of your Conversations, that you may have evidence to your souls of the truth that there is in your hearts.

Page  14 Secondly, Have a care of your Conversations that you may continue and encrease that which is within you; certainlie those that make profession of Religion and have not a care of their conversations, they wil never continue in their profession, mark that, they may be a Comets a while, blasing-stars, but they will vanish, & within a little while you shall find that their profession will wear away; where there is not a godly life to∣gether with profession, profession will vanish and come to no∣thing, their very common graces will be taken away from them if they have not a care of their lives, but if they have a care of their lives they wil continue in the waies of godliness and grow up and encrease more and more.

Thirdly, Have a care of your Conversations, that you may get honor in the very consciences of men.

Quest. Some will say, Should we have a care of our Conversati∣ons that we may get honor?

Ans. Yes truly, a man may desire to have the testimony of the consciences of those that he lives withal, it's no matter for their talking this or that, but that you may get into their con∣sciences, God gives you liberty for that.

Fourthly, You by this means will be Instruments of a great deal of publick good, if you live according to your profession, otherwise no body will regard you, you are reffuse, no man will imploy you, you will be contemn'd and slighted, but when they see mens Conversations according to their profession, eve∣rie bodie loves to make use of these men, they know they shall find them faithful in whatsoever they are imployed, and so they come to the Instruments of much publick good.

Fifthly, You will further a joyful account against the great day; for you must be call'd to account, not only for your thoughts, and the inward workings of your hearts, but for whatever you have done in the flesh, we must appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to answer whatsoever is done in the flesh: Oh be careful of your Conversations that so you may be able to give a comfortable accompt.

Sixtly and lastly, Be careful of your Conversations in re∣spect of your profession: This should be the care of those that make profession, that we may keep up the succession of the ho∣nor Page  25 nor of Religion from one generation to another: Heretofore there were some godly people that liv'd, and they kept up (in their generation) the honor of the profession of Religion, Wel-now, we are upon the stage of the world; and God looks upon us that we should in our generations keep up the succession of the honor of the profession of Religion: and so afterward in another generation, as men come upon the stage of the world and live here: God expects succeeding ages should keep up the honor of the profession of Religion in their times. And this one consideration might go to the very heart of ungodly men (if they would mind it) that it may be thou art the man or woman among others that keeps up in a continual succession enmity against God in the world; do but consider of the diffe∣rence between these two, one mans Conversation is wicked, and anothers is holy and gracious, thou that livest wickedly this e∣vil is charged upon thee, that thou art the man that joynest in this work to keep up a continued succession of enmity against God in the world, ever since Cains time there was an enmity a∣gainst God, and Cains posterity kept up the succession of it; and so from one generation to another there hath been wicked men keeping up the succession of enmity against God, and thou in thy generation art come to it, and this (it seems) is thy work: but now on the other side, ever since Adams and Abels time, there hath bin godly men in the world, and in every generation some have kept up the honor of profession: and now, hath God been pleased to reveal his glorious Gospel to thy soul? why now, thou being careful of thy life and Conversation, God imploys thee in this work to keep up the succession of the honor of pro∣fession in the world. And this is a comfortable life indeed.

And thus we have done with the explication or the Point.

Now I shall only give you some passages for the Application of it.


Only (saith the Apostle) let your Conversation be as becomes the Gospel of Christ. Have a care of this above all things, Oh you would fain get more knowledg, and be accounted some∣body in the place where you live, and be an eminent professor Page  16 where you live; Well, whatsoever you would fain be accoun∣ted of, let it be your only care, that your Conversation be as becomes the Gospel of Christ. Oh! this point speaks bitter things, and sharply rebukes the carelesness of the professors of the Gospel in point of their Conversation.

Oh Lord, how have we cause to bewail the loosnesse of the professors of the Gospel at this day! and I fear, that some may be present whose consciences may tell them that they are very loose in the point of their Conversations. Thou professest thou knowest Jesus Christ, that the Lord hath made known the glorious Mysteries of the Gospel to thee; What is thy life? Canst thou say as in the presence of God, that thy Conversation is answerable? I beseech you as in the presence of God, examin but this, see whether thou art able to say, Lord, thou knowest according to what light thou hast given me in the Gospel, it hath been my care to look to my Conversation, Oh that I might live to thy honor, and be a witnesse to thy truth; that I might hold forth thy image and further thy designs, and make up the dishonor that thou hast from others in the world; and that I might convince wicked men, and stop the mouthes of those that are opposite; and that I might be a means to con∣vert those that I live with, or otherwise to judge them; Oh that I might rejoyce the hearts of the Saints, that they might lift up their heads with boldness because of me, that they may, and so I might be stablished and edified! Go along in the rest of the heads. Can thy conscience tell thee that thou hast done so? No, but its quite contrary in some. The Lord speaks now to the consciences of those that this point concerns, that have been negligent in the point of their Conversation, thou art the man or woman that God hath as great dishonor from as from most in the world, yea certainly, there is no men upon the face of the earth that darkens the glory of the blessed God so much, as professors of Religion who live loosly, al the prophane ones, all your drunkards that reel up and down in the streets, and your blasphemers, yea name what sinners you will, there is non that do darken the glorie of God so much as thou doest, who art loose in thy Conversation, and yet a professor of the Go∣spel, thou castest dirt upon the blessed Image of God, thou doest Page  17 as much hinder the designe that God hath in the world as any men whatsoever, thou standest against the great works that God hath to do in the world, Oh wretch that thou art, what is this a time to be loose and wicked in? There was never a time that the Conversations of the professors of Religion were so pried into as now, and never a time since Christian Religion was professed upon the earth that the loose Conversation of Professors have done more hurt; and I verily beleeve never a time wherein there were more loose Professors. If so be that our fore-fathers that were godly and holie, and kept strict with God were now alive again, they would spit in the faces of ma∣nie that would think themselves eminent Professors of Religion, because of the looseness of their Conversations: And this is the worst, that they can all put it upon Christ, and the Do∣ctrine of Christ: but of that we shall speak more when we come to shew how our Conversation must be as becomes the Gospel of Christ: Certainly it is that that is quite opposite to the Gos∣pel of Jesus Christ. The Lord rebuke thee this day, and let this point be as a dart in thy liver, thou art the man that livest in this generation as if thou wert born to do mischief; no men live so as if they were born to do mischief as the Professors of the Gospel that live looslie in their Conversations: If I should give a mark of a man that were born on purpose to do mischief, it's that man that lives in these times and walks looslie. What, doest thou convince wicked men, and stop the mouthes of wicked men? Oh no, thou hardenest them, and openest their mouthes, nay, all the scorns of Religion thou art char∣ged with, and shalt be brought to an account for it; I say such as live looslie in their Conversations they shall be one day charged for all the scorn that is cast upon the profession of Religion, and for all the opposition of it, and for all the persecution of it, and for all the dishonor of it; it is because of you, you harden the hearts of wicked men, that they think they do God good service in following and persecuting such and such men so forward in Religion, for they think they are all like to you, what care they for mens talking and professi∣on when they see your Conversation loose and wicked, there∣fore they be hardened by you; and the Saints they fare the Page  18 worse for you, they are ashamed of it, when they go in the streets and meet with some of their acquaintance, Oh say they, Do you not know such a one, what he did such a week in his house, how false he was, and how he plaid the knave? What! one that would go in a morning to hear, and rise early in the winter time, and take so much pains, and yet do such and such things! it casts a mighty scorn upon all professors of Religion, and upon the Ministers of the Gospel, and the waies of the Gospel, all (I say) is scorn'd and contemn'd and men be hard∣ned against it, meerly for thy Conversation; and it may be some that were coming on, and began to think that the pro∣fession of Religion was the way to Heaven, and for them to be more strict than they were, and to enquire after the waies of God more than before, and to attend upon the Ministry of the Word; but since they heard of such a miscarriage, such loos∣ness in such a ones Conversation, their hearts rise against it, and they blesse themselves from such a way, God blesse me (say they) from such waies! If this be the fruit of their profession, and of their talking of Religion, to do thus and thus! So that thou provest to be a stumbling block that others stumble at and perish by, and dost thou think that (they stumbling and peri∣shing at thy sins) that thou shalt go scot-free? Canst thou think that thou that art a means to send so many to Hell, that thou shalt not go thither thy self? Certainly there's no men in the world that are the causes of sending so many to Hell, as such as live loosly in their Conversations, when they make profession of Religion. Canst thou have any evidence to thy soul that there is any work of grace in thee, and yet live looslie? Oh! Christ and His Gospel will scorn such as thou art, such wicked loose ones, thou art a dishonor to Jesus Christ, a dishonor to the Go∣spel, and I may say of thee that dost so, as it was said of Judas, It had been happy if thou hadst never been born: especially to be born in these times. But we shall meet with these again, when we come to the point in the particulars, how we should walk as becomes the Gospel; this is but only in the general for such as are loose in their Conversations; for certainly this must be granted as an everlasting rule, That that man or woman which makes not conscience of every thing in their Conversations, Page  19 makes conscience of nothing, if there be anie that upon deli∣beration, and knowing this or that to be sin beforehand, and yet for by and base ends, will sin to get monie, or the like, and so think to gain or free themselves from some trouble, by going against their light, and that upon deliberation, let that man or woman know that they can have no evidence that they ever made conscience of anie one thing: He that breaks one Comman∣dement breaks all; and there is such a bond in the Commande∣ments, and conscience doth knit the bond so uniformlie, that where there is one bond thus broken, the truth is, all is broken: Knowest thou not (saith Saint James) Oh vain man, what doest thou talk of faith if there be no works? thou art a vain man and thou doest deceive thy self. Certainlie those men that are loose in their Conversations, if God doth not humble them, and bring down their hearts, they will grow in time not onlie to lose their pro∣fession (as I said) but to be enemies to those that are stricter than themselves; that is, when men have corrupt hearts, and can∣not get up to that height of strictness that others do, they fall to persecute that way which is above them.

First, They begin to envie others that live better than them∣selves, and after having envied them, then they will begin to have their hearts rise against them, and to hate them, and after hating to speak against them, and after speaking against them, to persecute them, and thus by degrees men that have been for∣ward professors, now they grow as bitter persecutors as others, Oh therefore look to your Conversations.

And that should have been the exhortation, Christians be careful of your Conversations in your families, be careful there. Psal. 101. 1. you have an excellent Scripture of Davids professing his care of his Conversation in his familie, how he would walk, I will behave my self wisely in a perfect way: when wilt thou come unto me? I will walke within my house with a perfect heart. Oh I beseech you look to this Scripture; I will behave my self wiselie in a perfect way; mark, I'le look that my way may be perfect, everie way right and square to the world, and when it is so, I will labor to behave my self wiselie, I will not carrie my self foolishlie in those waies that are good: and then, Oh when wilt thou come unto me? Mark, it was a time Page  20 that God was absent from him, and yet then he professes that he will behave himself wiselie in a perfect way; and I wil walk in my house with a perfect heart: There are some that make pro∣fession of Religion indeed, and if you come to them before o∣ther companie, then their conversations seem to be very fair and square; but if you do but follow them to their families, and see what they do there, Oh those that live with them in their families, after they have been abroad in companie shall see in what guiz they come home. Shal they see their conversations to be holy as becomes the Gospel of Jesus Christ? But thus it was with David, saith David, Let those that live with me in my house mark me as narrowlie as they can; I will walk in my house with a perfect heart; what I am in the Congregation or among those that are godly, or any company; I will be in my family, that those in my family shall see my Conversation to be thus and thus. Oh that pro∣fessors of Religion would look to this, not only to live before others in the parish or the town where they live, but to walk in their familie with a perfect heart, so as all in their family may even bless them and say, Oh how doth my Master or Mistriss walk! how graciously in their whol course from morning to night! observe them in all their waies and you shall not be a∣ble almost to see anie miscarriage in them: Oh that's excellent, when a man shall have a better testimony even from those in his familie than from those that are strangers; it may be they think though thou makest profession of Religion, yet all things are not answerable; but those that see it everie day can testifie all things are answerable; thus it should be wth every Christian that professes the Gospel, to walk with a perfect heart in the midst of his family, & so to converse in the world. Divers Arguments I shall give you, to stir you up to look to your Conversations.

1. Arg. First, It is the mercy of God that you have your Conversations among men to this day, that you have not your Conversations among De∣vils and Reprobates, it might have been your portion that your Conver∣sation might have been among Devils and Reprobates, God might have sent you down to your own place to have conversed with them. Let this be an Argument for you to look to your Conversations.

2. Arg. Secondly consider this, Wicked and carnal men (among whom you live) have no skill in the principles that you walk by, but Page  21 they have skill in your lives and Conversations, they are able to pass judgment upon your lives and Conversations, but not of your principles. Godlie people are acted by such and such principles that are mysteries to carnal men; but when it comes to their lives they can understand them; they cannot search into their prin∣ciples, whether such a Doctrine be true or no, or such a thing be according to such a Scripture, whether there be a right interpre∣tation of such a Scripture that carries them on in such a way, they take no pains to look after this, but they look to your lives, there they have skill to discern how you walk, and whe∣ther you walk to the rule or not in your lives and Conversati∣ons, and therefore let it be your great care to look to your Con∣versations.

3. Arg. A third motive is this, There are some things that you can∣not but do, that will displease wicked men, if you will act according to your Principles. Well, but this should make thee so much the more careful of thy Conversation in all other things, that so wicked men may be convinc'd, that if such men do some things that I do not understand, yet surelie it is for some thing that God hath made known to them more than to me, for I find this, that in all things that I do understand there they walk exactly, therfore though there be some things that they do that I cannot understand, why should I be enraged against them? As now in point of institution of Worship, which doth not depend upon the light of Nature at all, but meerly upon Scripture, and such and such interpretations of Scripture; and such principles wic∣ked men have no skill in: Now the professors of Religion they are tyed up by institution, and by the words of Scripture thus interpreted, which they think in their consciences is the truth, they having compared all things together think this is the mind of Christ rather than the other, and so long as they think thus they must follow it: Now there's many of these things that car∣nal men understand not, (for they take no pains to search in∣to them) and therefore they will be angry with you for them; and indeed they will have cause to be angry with you for those things they understand not, if they see you make no conscience of those things that they understand; but if in other things that they do understand you walk circumspectly, and that it Page  22 appear to them that in those things they understand they walk conscionably, then they will beleeve that it was meer conscience that made you differ from them in those things which they un∣derstood not, or had no skill in; this will make them ready to stand for you, yea to speak and plead for you (no such way to get true libertie of conscience as this is) if you be careful to walk blameleslie in all those things that they understand with whom you converse; they will be convinced in their consciences that if these men differ from us, it's conscience that makes them differ, for (say they) we find that in all those things we understand these men walk conscionablie. Certainlie a holie Conversa∣tion will make manie men (even carnal men themselves) plead for libertie of conscience (so far as things be not destructive to godliness or the Kingdom) for such men, they will say, were they all such men as these men are they might verie wel be born withal, for they differ in nothing but that conscience puts them upon, (say they) for we find them in all their waies square and just, they walk conscionablie. Therefore be careful of your Conversations, because in some things you cannot but do that which will displease wicked men.

4. Arg. Fourthlie, Consider that your lives are but short, within a while you must have your Conversations either among Devils or Angels, one of the two; and how soon it may be, only God knows. Now then I would appeal and put this to your consciences, Are your Conversations now, such as can give you comfort? Oh I hope within a while I shall have my Conversation among Angels; I desire now that the will of God may be done in earth as it is in heaven, and that my familie and life were as it were a heaven, I would fain have my Conversation in heaven now, and this gives me some good hope that my Conversation shall be with Angels within a while.

But on the other side, Will not mens consciences mis-give them, if you would make a judgment of what your Conversa∣tion shall be within a while by that they are now? are not the Conversations of many of you in your families, and when you come in some companie more like to those that are appointed to have their Conversation among Devils?

Why? what's done among Devils? there's hatred Religi∣on, Page  23 and of God, and of his Saints, there's railing and blas∣pheming, the Devils they accuse the Brethren, and blaspheme the Name of God; And what is your Conversation otherwise than theirs? Know, that your Conversation is such as is an evi∣dent fore-runner, that if you continue as now you are, that within a while your Conversation will be among Devils; for that's the most sutable to you.

And my Brethren consider further, The eyes of the world, yea the eyes of God, and of Christ, and the Angels are upon you, to see how grace acts in your Conversations; the eyes of the world are upon you watching for your halting, and re∣joycing: remember but this; that your Conversations are not onlie before men, but the eyes of God, and Christ, and His holy Angels, they look upon you where ever you are; when you are in your familie, there God, Christ, and His holie An∣gels stand looking upon you to see what your Conversation is with your wife, husband, children, servants; when you come into companie, there the Lord God, and Jesus Christ, and An∣gels stand looking upon you: and therfore look to your Con∣versations.

And besides, The eyes of wicked men are upon you, they watch for your haulting, and they would rejoice to see any thing that they might have against you. That place that we had before, in 1 Pet. 2. 12. where the Holie Ghost saith, That whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorifie God in the day of visitation. The word is thus: that is, Beholding with a narrow circumspection; it is not onlie seeing, but with a narrow circumspection: Oh! it's an excellent thing, that when wicked men bend their eyes and look narrowlie upon the Saints, and would be glad and rejoice if they could find them halting, yet that they are able to find nothing. As it was said of Christ, the Pharisees sent to watch Him, but they could find nothing amiss in Him. And so though others should be sent on purpose to watch your lives, yet your lives should be so exact that they might find nothing amisse in you.

And I conclude all with that excellent promise that we have to such as are careful of their Conversations. In Psalm. 50. 23. Page  24 These times you all crie out of, as dangerous times: Mark, that one Scripture will help you that are careful of your Conversa∣tions, against the danger of the times wherein we live: Who se offereth praise, glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his Conversation aright, will I shew the Salvation of God. These are times that you are called upon for praises and thanksgiving for mercies, we are bound to do that: but mark, Do not put off God with a verbal praise: it's true, he that offereth praise, honoreth me; but yet together there must be an ordering of our Conversati∣ons; and to him that ordereth his Conversation aright, will I shesh the Salvation of God: This is that which is required of Christians, to order their Conversations aright: Oh! it's an excellent thing to see the Conversations of Christians in due order, all guided with Spiritual wisdom and holiness; Oh that man or woman that is careful to order their Conversations a∣right, here is a promise to them: That the Lord will shew them his Salvation: What ever times thou livest in, though never so dan∣gerous, though God apear never so dreadful in the times where∣in thou livest, yet if thou canst have but this testimonie of thy conscience, Lord, thou knowest it is the care of my soul, not on∣ly to make profession of Religion, but to order my Conversati∣on aright, therefore Lord, save me in evil times, Lord shew me thy salvation: thou maiest take this promise and lay it to thy heart, and comfort thy heart with it, thou maiest plead it with God in prayer, Oh make it to be a matter of thy prayer to God In these evil times, that the Lord would shew His Salvation to thee, because He hath put it into thy heart through His Grace to order thy Conversation aright.