PHIL. 1. 27.
WEE concluded the last day with an exhorta∣tion to Christians. Do you hope that God hath wrought the work of Convertion? Be you careful of your Conversation. And many motives there were to stir up Christians to be careful of their Conversations. I shall not look back, but proceed; only give unto you some few Rules that I desire to add unto the Motives, and then we shall come unto the Second point.
Look to your Conversations, and especially observe these Rules.
1. Rule. First, If you be convinced that it ought to be your care to look to your Conversation, then have a special regard to the duties of your Relations. The work of Grace in mens Conversations doth appear much in the duties of their Relations; as children towards their parents, parents towards their children; servants towards their masters, masters towards their servants; husbands towards wives, wives towards husbands; the younger towards the elder, the elder towards the younger: if you stand in a private, or publick place, Majestrates, or Subjects; if you profess godliness, manifest in your Conversations in performing the duties of your relations: what soever men may talk of godlines, except it appear in their relations, except a servant be a diligent obedient and a faithful servant, all his, her or their talk of Re∣ligion Page 26 is to no purpose; except a child be an obedient and lo∣ving child, a wise an obedient and loving wife, all profession of Religion is to no purpose; and so on the otherside, except masters, and husbands, and parents be careful in their places to perform the duties of their relation, all their Religion will come to nothing; look to your Conversations in the duties of your relations.
2. Rule. Secondly, Look to your selves in those things that especi∣ally you are most in danger to offend in, take heed of that speciall sin that you are most inclined to, that that do not break forth in your Con∣versations. It may be in your Conversation you will have a care that you do not offend in such and such things that you see other men offend in, but there is some special haunt of evil, there is some other sin that your natures are most inclin'd unto, and you (it may be) give liberty to your selves in that; this spoils your Conversations, this darkens your Conversations, whatso∣ever good you do otherwise this spoils it all: If you give but li∣berty to your selves in that corruption that your natures are most prone unto, nay if you be not more watchful against that corruption than against any, your Conversation will have no beauty at all in it, God will have no glorie by it, you will but dishonor your profession; therefore if you would make con∣science to have your Conversation to be rightly ordered, be very watchful over your selves in that special sin that your nature is most inclin'd unto; Are you one that find your self very hasty by nature? it may be you are not guiltie of other sins so much, I but that will spoil the beauty of your Conversation; a man or woman that is a froward peevish and passionate Professor, there's no beauty in their Conversation: And so if you find [ 1] your disposition to ponuriousness, and coveteousness, that will darken all, and carry you into foolish lusts (as the Scrip∣ture speaks) Oh how have men that have made profession of Religion, by one fit of base covetousness been carried into such foolish lusts that every boy in the streets could point at them as foolish and silly ones, and crack their credits, and names, and wound their own souls, yea, and endanger their lives, and make them a by-word to all, and dishonor their profes∣sion, and get nothing by it at length! Coveteousness carries Page 27 into foolish lusts, foolish base sordid extreams, unbeseeming the Gospel of Christ; as we shall hear more when we come to speak of what Conversation we should have as becomes the Gospel of Christ; take heed of your special sins if you would be careful of your Conversations.
3. Rule. A third Rule is this, Take heed of temptations that you are liable to without, by reason of your calling, by reason of your places wherein you are, or through any providence of God that may be; these temptations that do most attend your condition, take heed of them. Eve∣rie one should consider this; what temptation am I most liable to? some mens callings are liable to some temptations, other mens to others, some men by reason of their businesses and occasions in the world are liable to such and such temptations as others are not, and sometimes a man is liable to some tempta∣tions that he is not liable to at another time; when you are at Sea you have your temptations there in forraign parts, and when you come home you have other temptations, yea manie times when a man is at home among his neighbours there he dares not take that liberty that he doth when he is gotten a∣broad in a journey, then he thinks he is free when no bodie knows of it, there's his temptation; and so you that come from Sea, when you were there you were kept short of manie com∣forts and of much companie; now when you come home, the companie comes about you, now theres a temptation comes that was not heretofore; now if you would make conscience of your Conversations, you should look to your temptations, and consider, what temptations am I liable to now, that I was not before, and let me be careful of them. This you pray to God, that you may not be led into temptations, but delivered from evil; if you would not dally with God in your prayers then be careful of your selves when a temptation comes to such and such evils: this is a vain plea for men and women to say, Oh the temptation was a strong temptation: God expected there∣fore (if you have the Spirit of Christ and wisdom) that you should fore-see temptations, and especiallie that you should be careful when temptations come, you should watch against all temptations: What a vain plea were it for a Soldier that keeps a Town, to say, Oh but they came against such a weak part Page 28 of the Town with a great strengh; That's no argument to ex∣cuse him; for if you knew that that was the weakest part, you could not but know that if the enemy knew of it he would come against that with his greatest strength, and therefore you should have man'd that part rather than any other part of the Town; so let not us say, O the temptation came stronglie upon me in such a thing: we should watch the more against that that the temptation comes strongest upon us in, for the Devil knows wherein we are the weakest. And that's the third Rule for the helping of us in our Coversations.
Fourthly observe this, Take heed of defiling your selves with the sins of the times wherein you live. That the Lord doth expect from everie Christian that he should look to himself in regard of the present times wherein he lives, and consider what's the special sin of the Time, Age, or of the Place; cōmonlie as there are some truths that are more eminentlie revealed in one Age than ano∣ther, so there are some sins that more prevail in one Age than a∣nother, and in one Place than another, everie Countrie almost have their sins that are most predominate; you should consider (I say) what are the sins of the Times, of the Places where you live; manie they think to excuse themselves because that which they do it is but what others do, it is the common sin of the Time and Place where they live, thou shouldst be so much the more careful to avoid it, that thou maiest keep thy self undefi∣led in thy way; and that's a fourth Rule for the helping of us in our Conversations.
A fift Rule for the helping of our Conversations is, To live so that your lives shall be convincing lives. Then take heed of anie secret sin, take heed of keeping anie sin at all within thy heart, for it will break out, take heed of entertaining sin so much as in thy thoughts or affections; what's the reason that some that have been Professors of Religion a great while and seem'd to be verie glorious in their profession, and yet at length break out into some vile scandalous sin? Surelie the reason is, they have kept hid some corruption within, and they have thought it were a verie horrible thing that this corruption in my heart and thought should break out, Oh God forbid (saith he) I hope I shall never live to that time to be so left of God as to Page 29 commit this sin! well, thou thinkest verily that thou shalt not commit it, I but if thou takest libertie to dally and play with this sin secretlie in thy thoughts, and affections, it is just with God to leave thee to thy self to shame thy self, to leave thee to the commission of that sin thou hast for a long time kept dandling in thy thoughts and affections within, although it be with resolution not to commit it; that man that shall please himself in any kind of secret sin (I say) it were just with God to lead him forth with the worker of iniquity, so as to lay his shame open and naked before all that he lives with: there∣fore you that are Professors of Religion be careful of secret sins, if you would never dishonor your profession in your Conversa∣tions.
A sixth Rule is this, If you would be careful of your Conversati∣ons, do not so much look at those that are beneath you and in the lower form; as let your eye be upon those that are most eminent in their Con∣versations, look upon them rather as your mark and aime. Manie Christians live, and their Conuersations are very dark and no beauty at all in them; Why? Because they think they live as o∣thers do, they look upon such are beneath them, and they think their lives are rather better than some others that have made profession, and this makes them go on in a dull and slug∣gish way; but now, if you would have your Conversation in∣deed as it ought, so as to be convincing, set before you the ex∣amples of the most eminent of those whose Conversation doth most glister, not a meer glistering shew, I do not mean them, But that glistering that comes from Diamonds and Gold and Pearls, that have the excellencie of Grace shining in their verie Faces and Conversations, set them before you, and labor to imitate them, and so this will help you in your Conversations. We have in Heb. 13. 7. a Scripture for this, Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their Conversations. 'Tis sup∣posed that they should be most eminent, Such as have the rule over them, that are their Guids; but mark, he speaks of those that had spoken unto them the Word of God, for he doth not speak of the Rulers in Civil States, but of the Ministers that were their Guids, for so the word is: now though there be a Page 30 work of Ruling besides Teaching, we find in Scripture; yet we find no Rule of anie Minister but over those that they speak the Word of God unto, what Ruling any Minister hath (I say) it is over such people as he speaks the Word of God to: If anie Mi∣nister shall come to rule over a people, that people may well ask them, Have you spoken the Word of God to us? Do you teach us the Word of God? Do you chalenge Rule over us and have not spo∣ken the Word of God to us? Remember them which have the Rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God, whose Faith fol∣low, considering the end of their Conversations. They were it seems eminent in holiness of life, and eminent so as they continued in that way of eminencie, and the Apostle would have all Chri∣stians to look at them; it's a notable Scripture to shew that the Ministers of the Word should be eminent in their Conversations everie way, and that all those that they speak the Word of God to, should see in their Conversations the Beautie and the Excellencie of the Word of God that they speak to them; for people look at the lives of Ministers as well as at their Word, it is not enough onlie to be a good man in the Pulpit, except it be in the constant way of their Conversations.
The seventh and last Rule, you have it here in this Scripture Heb. 13. 7. Whose faith follow, Considering the end of ther Conver∣sation. That is, be not only careful of your Conversations at first, when you begin to be professors of Religion, then to be ex∣act, but be constant to the verie end. Mark, Considering the end of their Conversations: he doth not mean the end onlie, the reward that comes upon their Conversations, that they shal have a glo∣rious reward, but considering the end, as if he should say thus, look at these that have spoken the Word of God to you, they come not onlie at the verie first to you and speak great things, and seem as if they were Saints or Angels come among you, but they go on in a constant way, whatsoever discouragements they have they go on in a constant way to the verie dying day; observe not onlie what they were when they came first among you, but what they are in the end of their Conversations, and follow them: this is a notable Scripture to shew how careful Christians ought to be, not onlie to be holie in their Conver∣sations when their hearts are first stir'd by the Ministrie of the Page 31 Word as 'tis with many, many there are that when the Word of God comes first to them, when they are first enlightened, and first converted, Oh how strict are they! Oh how careful are they! then they walk exactly, and they are afraid of the least sin, and examine everie thing by the Word, Oh how curious are they in everie thing then! and-their consciences are verie tender, and are afraid that this is sin, and that the other thing is sin, and there is a mightie change in the familie, their Ma∣sters, or Parents they see them so afraid of everie thing, and careful of their verie words, on the Lords Day careful in see∣king of God, and attending upon Ordinances, and in their particular calling at the first verie strict: But now, within a little time you shall find manie of these that by degrees they grow more loose, and especiallie in these times, because in these times there is a way that the Devil hath to get men to be loose in their Conversations, that hath not been known in Eng∣land; indeed in Germany it was known, and there it was or∣dinarilie in the beginning of Luthers Reformation; that it is weakness in men to make conscience of dutie, to be troubled for their sin and be humbled. Paul and Peter and David, it was their weakness when they were troubled so much for their sin: Oh this is a most horrid and abominable wickedness that doth dishonor the Gospel of Christ, and will make it rediculous to the world! (I say) such carriages of people, to think that they may take libertie to walk in a loose way because of the Gospel. But that we shall come more fully to, when we speak how our Conversations should be becoming the Gospel of Christ. But I speak this in this point as a preparation to that, & especiallie to young Professors that have been wrought upon by the Word within these few yeers, since there hath bin more freedom of preaching the Gospel; and I verily beleeve that divers of you in this Con∣gregation do know many young ones and others, that have been wrought upon by the Ministrie of the Word, that for the first yeer were verie exact, and verie careful of their lives, and verie punctual in every thing, but you now see them begin to grow loose and wanton, and vain in their Conversations: Oh this is a sad and an evil thing! If you would be careful of your Conversations observe this seventh Rule; Be not onlie careful Page 32 at the first work of God upon you when you begin to be en∣lightened, but in the constant course of your lives; Oh give me a professor of Religion, that was wrought upon when he was a Youth, or a young Maid, and yet continues till they be old disciples in a constant way of holiness and strictness, Oh! They are the most beautiful objects that are in the world to be∣hold! the Sun in the firmament is not so glorious, as an ancient professor of Religion that hath continued constant in the waies of godliness from his youth, that can say as good Obadiah once said, 1 King. 18. 12. I have feared the Lord from my youth, and my conscience, though it tell me of many failings and weak∣nesses, yet my conscience excuseth me in this, that I have endea∣vored with a good conscience to walk with God, and without offence to man, and not given way to my self in any way of loosness since God made known Himself to me; Oh such may have an abundance entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, and die with abundance of comfort. But thus much for this first point: That Christians ought to be careful of their Conversa∣tions.
We come now to the second, and that is the main point in the Text.
Let your Conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ.
2. Doct. Every kind of Conversation of professors is not enough; it must rise to that height as must be sutable to the Gospel of Christ, meet for the Gospel that they do profess. That's our point.
Now we shall come to the Particulars, what Conversation it is that is meet for the Gospel of Christ. I gave you the Heads in the opening of it: But now I shall speak to them.
First, That Conversation that is meet and becomes the Gospel of Christ, must be a Conversation raised to a higher degree than the light of Nature will raise it. That Conversation that is no higher than possibly may be raised by the light of Nature, certainly that's not a Conversation becoming the Gospel of Christ, that's beneath not fit for the Gospel of Christ. As thus,
Suppose a man in his Boat here in the Thames rows, very ex∣actly, I but this is not a work sutable to shew the skill of a Na∣vigator, Page 33 of one that professes the art of Navigation, it's be∣neath that. Why so; To live exactly according to the light of Nature it is beneath the Conversation that becomes the Gos∣pel of Christ: if so be that a man should make his boast that he hath great skill in the art of Navigation; And how will he shew this skill? he will go into a Boat and there he will row over the Thames, and by that you may see what a mighty Na∣vigator he is; this would be ridiculous to any man. And so if one that professes the Gospel of Christ, would manifest that he is a good Christian, What doth he do? the life that he lives it is no other than a man by the light of Nature may be enabled to, this is even as ridiculous as the other.
1. As now for instance; The light of Nature that will teach this: That we are to worship God: the Heathens have worshiped God in their way.
2. Yea, the light of Nature will teach, That we must live justly among men, yea, and that we must do as we would be done to: This the light of Nature will teach. Many of the Heathens have had that principle, to be just with men, to do as we would be done by. The light of Nature condemns grosse sins, of Drunkenness, Adulterie, Swearing &c. I could give you many instances in the Laws of Heathens, punishing those sins very severely, and some of them with death.
3. Yea the light of Nature will rise thus high, That a man should be consciencious, should make conscience of secret sins, of sins that none in the world could know of, or are ever like to know of. As I remember sometimes I have told you of one of the Heathens that did but owe for a pair of shoos to a Shoo maker, and no body knew it but only the Shoo-maker himselfe; the Shoo-maker dies, no body could challenge this of him, yet his conscience would never let him be at quiet, until he ran and threw the money into the shop, and said, Though he be dead to o∣thers, yet he is not dead to me: whereas he had a temptation to have kept it because no body could challeng it; he knew it was not his, he knew it was either the Childrens, or Executors, and so he restortd it. Many particulars might be named to shew how far we might go by the light of Nature; but now I only bring it in to this end, to shew that if we would have our Conversations Page 34 such as becomes the Gospel of Christ, we must go beyond what ever anie have done by the light of Nature: and yet Oh Lord how short do manie Professors of Religion come of this! How manie that will profess they hope to be sav'd by Christ! I sup∣pose there is not anie one in this Congregation, or if I should go to everie ones house that belongs to the Parish, they would say they hope to be saved by Jesus Christ; and yet what wor∣ship of God is there? And what justice is there among men to do as they would be done by? Nay, this is a Rule that will ex∣amin manie professors of Religion, and their consciences would tell them that in such and such things they would be loth to be dealt with as they deal with others: And for gross sins, manie Professors of Religion break out into them also, for all are a kind of Professors of the Gospel at large, Drunkards, and Adulterers, and Blasphemers, and yet they will come and make profession of Religion, and think it very much if they should be denied the Sacrament of the Bodie and Blood of Christ, Why, are they not Christians? and their children Christians? and yet must they not be Baptized? And yet they are beneath Hea∣thens, Heathens will rise in Judgment against them. And for conscienciousness in secret, I appeal to everie one of your consciences, are there no sins that you live in that your consci∣ences condemns you for? A Heathen would not do it, a Hea∣then would not wilfully live in a sin that his conscience tells him is a sin, manie of the Heathens came to that: And what way have you made in profession? Perhaps you have seemed to be in the School of Christ manie yeers, and others take you for a forward Professor, and yet your conscience tells you that you live in some sins that are known sins to you, but because they are secret and none knows them but your self, therefore you have continued in them, and ventured upon them hoping of Gods pardon, being perhaps but one and no great one, (I say) in this you are beneath the light of Nature, and therefore you are far from having your Conversations such as becomes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Conversation of yours is not such as becomes the light of Nature; divers Heathens would abhor such Conversa∣tions in Christians, yea, if it were among themselves, and they would hardlie companie with you; there are manie that make Page 35 profession of Religion, that (I say) if they lived among Hea∣thens, Heathens would not keep companie with a great part of this Kingdom, yea and of most Congregations, and therefore they should not think much though they may not be admitted into such a near communion as the Lords supper.
Q. You will say then, But what is that Conversation becoming the Gospel, that is beyond the light of Nature?
First, The light of Nature teaches to worship a God: That many of you do, you worship God: But this is that that be∣comes the Gospel of Christ, To worship & honor God as a Father, & as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; this goes beyond the light of Nature in that particular; not only I am convinc'd that there is a God, that He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and my Creator, and therefore I'le worship Him; but I do not do that that becomes the Gospel of Christ, til I get my self to this, That I am able through the grace of the Gospel to worship God as a Father reconciled to me in Christ, and as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so do I come and present all my services unto God: This few of our Civil men do; yet your Civil men will make a profession of the Gospel too, and your Civil men they worship God, but it is in a meer natural way. The God of Heaven and Earth, that made them, is to be worshiped: they can say their old Catechism.
Q. Who made you?
Q. Wherefore did he make you?
A. He made me to serve Him &c. I but doest thou (when thou comest to serve and worship the Lord) look upon God as a Fa∣ther reconcil'd in Christ, and as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? and so doest thou tender up all thy services to God? Thou art not raised to that that becomes the Gospel of Christ, except thou doest thus worship God in this way; that's that which becomes the Gospel of Christ; and know that all other worship that thou tenderest up to God, meerly as God is Crea∣tor, God that made thee, and therfore thou must serve him: I say al that worship (if thou goest no further) God rejects it; indeed we are to worship God as a Creator, God would have that; I but, if He hath not that and the other too, and if He have not Page 36 both, he will not accept of one, for the first is included in the second, but the second is not included in the first. A man that worships God as a Father, and as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he doth worship God as a Cretor too; but a man may worship God as a Creator and not at all be acquainted with Him as a Father, and as the Father of our Lord Jesus, and therefore till the Lord in the Ministrie of the Gospel hath been pleased to shine in upon thy soul as a Father, and the Fa∣ther of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thou comest to worship God thus, or at least this is the endeavour of thy soul that thou maiest worship God in this way, thou art not satisfied in worshiping God after the other way, because he made thee, and thy heart works after this, indeed I have not got this full assurance that he is my Father, but this is that my heart is unsatisfied untill I have got it, and I cannot be quiet in anie other kind of worshiping God, till I find some abilitie to ten∣der up all to him as a Father, and as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (I say) till thou comest to this, thou doest not in that particular worship God as becomes the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And so in the point of Justice, thou doest give every one his own. I but this is beneath that that is required in thy dealing with men according to the Gospel of Christ. If you reade the 5. of Mat. there you shall find when Christ comes to preach what he requires, he raises the point of Justice beyond doing as we would be dealt with: saith Christ there, You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despightfully use you, and persecut you; this is higher than meerly to be just, and for one man not to wrong another; you shall have manie men say, Who is able to say black is mine eye? I live and no bodie can say I wrong them; you think this is an excellent Conversation, it's true, it is good in its kind and it were good if all Professors of Religion could say they live so that no body can charge them for unjust dealings, I but this doth not rise to that height to be the Conversation as becomes the Gospel of Christ; you must come to this height, to love your enemies, and to bless them that Page 37 curse you, you must do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despightfully use you and persecute you; Can you find this: this is somewhat like the Gospel of Christ, this is some∣what more than to do no wrong to others.
And to do as we would be done to, we must go higher, we must not onlie set this as a pattern, I'le do as I would be done by. No, But I'le labour to do to another as God hath done to me. This is higher; that's thus, hath God shewed Himself gracious un∣to me? I'le labour to do that good to others as much as I am able even as God hach done to me: You have for that those two Scriptures, Ephes. 4. 31, 32. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice, and be ye kind one towards another, tender hearted, forgiving one another. The light of Nature now will justifie all this: But mark the conclusion, Even as God for Christs sake hath forgiven you: Set the example of God before you, what God hath done for you for Christs sake, and let that be the great motive; Do not only argue thus, well, I would be forgiven if I had offen∣ded; and I would not have another to bear anger and malice against mee, and therefore I will not be angrie with them nor malign them; this is a low principle: but if I find that this is revealed in the Gospel, that the Lord for Christs sake hath for∣given me, and it's this that quiets my passion, when I feel my corruption rising and stirring against any that hath offended me, when I do but think of Gods mercie in forgiving me for Christs sake, this quiets me. I this is somewhat like as becomes the Gospel of Christ, when we walk upon such principles as these are. And so you have it in Col. 3. 13. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another: If any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgive you, so also do ye. It is very unbeseeming such as profess the Gospel of Christ to be quarrelsome with their neighbours: Now you shall have some that are of very meek and quiet dispositions naturally, I love to live quiet (say some men;) thus far thou maiest come by the light of Nature not to love to quarrel: But now when any doth cause any quarrel, doest thou labor to quiet the quarrel upon this ground: Evn as Christ forgave me: O I have found the Lord Jesus Christ, not∣withstanding my wretchedness against Him, and all the wrong Page 38 I have done Him, He hath forgiven me, and therefore seeing Christ will not take advantage against me as He might, I will not take advantage against another: Is it upon this ground? And dost thou raise thy Conversation with thy Neighbor in keeping from quarrelsomness, and contentiousness, dost thou naise it to this height, upon this ground, so to forgive as Christ hath forgiven you? I will not forgive only in this particular, or in this lesse offence, But as Christ hath forgiven me. We shall still have further occasion to mention these things, in opening the sutableness of our Conversations to the Gospel; that is, for the point of Justice, it must rise higher than that of doing as we would be done by.
And then for grosse sins, thou keepest from them, thou than∣kest God, thou art no Swearer, no Drunkard, no Whoremon∣ger, such kind of notorious sins thou art not guilty of: but what art thou in respect of inward sins? what art thou in re∣spect of secret sins? Mark that Scripture in Matth. 5. 10. saith Christ there, I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall ex∣ceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. We shall likewise speak fur∣ther of this, when we open that of the Law, that our Conver∣sations must rise higher than the Conversations of those did that lived under the Law, or else it doth not become the Gospel of Christ. You shall find further in the Chapter, how Christ would raise them higher than meerly not to commit adulterie, or to be openly prophane: Verse. 17. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whol body should be cast into Hell. And then, If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off. And so in the point of Anger, in the 21, & 22. verses, Ye have heard, that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the Judgment. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say unto his brother, Racha, shall be in danger of the councel: but wosoever shall Page 39 say, Thou fool, shal be in danger of hell fire: That is, liable to the same judgment that you think murder is. Now is your conversations as becometh the Gospel? Here Christ is a great Preacher of the Gospel; and shews that there is more strictness in the Gospel than ther is by the light of Nature, or by the Law, or by that that they understand by the Law: This the light of Nature doth dictate, that men should not Kill, nor commit Adultrie, but now, If thy Conversation be such as becomes the Gospel, then thou must make conscience of Anger, and tremble at that as a natural man would tremble at Murder, for that becomes the Gospel; (I say) one that is a professor of the Gospel, he should tremble at sinful anger as a natural man would tremble at murder; for observe it here, look what (they said) murder did make a man liable to; the same thing (Christ saith) Anger would make a man liable to; therefore one that would walk as becomes the Gospel, must tremble at the inward sin of Anger, as a natural man would tremble at the outward sin of Murder.
And so for Adultry, Thou art no Whoremonger. But one that professes the Gospel, must look at the lusting of the eye, and of the heart, as a natural man that hath but the light of Nature would look upon the cōmission of Adultrie, for Christlaies that upon the lust of the heart that they lay upon the commission of Adultrie. This is as becometh the Gospel.
Further, By the light of Nature a man may be consciencious. That is, make conscience of several sins.
Q. But now you will say, Wherein should a man go beyond this as becomes the Gospel? What can any man that professes the Gos∣pel go beyond this, of making conscience of a secret sin, that though he knew that no bodie in the world did know his sin? nay, suppose he knew certainlie that it should never be known, yet he dares not do it, how can a man go beyond that?
Ans. Yes, You must labor for the mortification of the body of sin that is within you; not onlie to make conscience to keep from the act of secret sins, but thy work must be to labor for the mor∣tification of the bodie of sin and death that is in thee, that's that that is reveal'd by the Gospel, that no man by the light of Nature ever knew; you shall never reade among all the Phylo∣sophers of the point of Original sin, nor of mortification of the Page 40 body of sin and death, this the light of Nature never tels. So that now, when a man come to his height, that is, first my conscience being enlightned by the Word so that I dare not commit any secret sin for the world, though there be none but God and my conscience together, but besides that, Oh I carry a∣bout with me a body of sin and death, a root of bitterness, that original corruption, and this makes me cry out, Oh wretched man, Oh wretched woman! who shall deliver me from this body of death? and Oh that I could find this mortified in me, this is that that is the strength and endeavor of my soul, to get this bodie of sin to be mortified, I, this is as becomes the Gospel, so to live in your Conversations as it may appear that you are not content meer∣ly to keep from actual sins, though in secret, but it is your great care and endeavour to mortifie this verie bodie of death that is within you; and by this a great manie of your Civil men, and meer moral men will or at least may be convinced that their Conversations comes short of that that becomes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for they are not acquainted with this.
Lastly, If you would have your Conversations such as becomes the Gospel of Christ, you must not only think to make conscience of secret sins, but that which you do, you must manifest that it doth proceed out of Love, not only that you do obey, but that you love the Commande∣ment that you do obey. Now this, neither any hypocrit or meer moral man doth, if you take it universallie one Commande∣ment as well as another.
Obj. You will say, Love is a secret thing?
Ans. But as you may know in your family the difference be∣tween your childrens obedience to you and your servants, so there may appear a difference between the obedience of one that is meerly moral, or doth it out of conscience, and the o∣ther that doth it out of love; therefore you must know that you do not rise beyond the light of Nature, except that you do love the Command as well as obey the Command, and so car∣rie things in your Conversations as you may make it appear that all those waie of God that you make conscience of, that you likewise have a love unto them, and do them out of a principle of love, and thus you come beyond the light of Na∣ture, and in some measure it is as becomes the Gospel of Christ. Page 41 And that's the first thing how we should walk in our Conver∣sations as becomes the Gospel of Christ. But now this is the lowest of all.
The second is, That our Conversations must be such as is beyond such as live under the Law, for the Law of God goes higher than the light of Nature, for there's more reveal'd there than in the light of Nature. It's true, that that you call the moral Law, the light of Nature, if it be cleer it is sutable to it, to the most part of it, only there is some part that is positive, but most part is but sutable to the principles of Nature if they were cleer and pure; but now because, since the fall of Man, the light of Nature is darkned, and the principles of Nature are much corrupted, therefore God hath given His Law, that is as it were a glass of His Will, that is, the cleer glass of what was written in the heart of man in Innocencie, that's the Law: Only there is that of the limitation of the seventh Day particularly from the Cre∣ation that hath somewhat positive in it, but take all the other and (I say) it is nothing but as a glass of what was written in the heart of man in the time of Innocency: There was written in mans heart to keep some solemn time for the worship of God, only the specification was by revelation, but the substance of all those ten Commandements (I say) is the glass of what was written in the heart of man in Innocency: And because God saw that this writing was so much blotted out, almost all obli∣terated, therefore God wrote it in Tables of stone, whereas it was written in the Table of mans heart at first; But now when He comes to bring men to the Gospel there He writes over that Law again in the Tables of their hearts: At first it was written in the heart of Adam, but he falling, doth blot it out in a great measure, then God writes it over fair again, but how? He writes it over in a fair Copie, but it is in Tables of stone: but when God receives any soul in the Gospel He writes it over a∣gain in the Tables of their hearts; Now this gives you a little hint of the difference between the Law and the Gospel, be∣tween the Conversations of men that were meerly Legal, and the Conversation that is Evangelical: but the opening of it to shew the difference between the Law and the Gospel in refe∣rence to this, and to shew how low the Conversation was that Page 42 was meerly Legal, and how high raised the Conversation of a Christian ought to be if he would make it Evangelical, such as becomes the Gospel of Christ, would ask more time, and therefore we must defer that to the next day.