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.
Page  96


PHIL. 1. 27.
Only let your Conversation be as becomes the Gospel of Christ.

THE Ninth thing that the Gospel holds forth is this, That our Conversation should be sutable to spiritual worship, the spiritual worshiping of God. The worship that there was in the time of the Law, it was carnal in comparison of what there is in the time of the Gospel: And therefore a great part of the worship of God is called, a carnal commandement, and rudiments of the world, and beggerly things; If you reade the 2d of Colossians, there you have strange expressions about that which was even the worship of God: and so in the Hebrews divers times. But now you know what Christ saith in John 4. to the woman of Samaria, The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this Mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father: But the hour cometh, when the true worshipers shal worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for such the Father seeks to worship him. We must not think to worship God in such carnal waies as before. I beseech you consider this one thing, Certainly God wil have as much worship in the time of the Gospel, as ever He had: But where we have one external thing to worship God in now, in the time of the Law there was an hundred, an hundred to one of external things: yet now this worship of God must be made up some way; we are not cal'd to those out∣ward worshipings, offerings, sacrifices, and costly things as they were in the time of the Law; now, how should this be made up, but in spiritual sacrifices, in presenting our bodies and Page  97 souls to God as a living sacrifice, therefore such men and wo∣men as altogether are for the out-side of things in the worship of God, and because God hath appointed but a few things in his worship; we have use of no other creature in the worship∣ping of God, but meerly the Bread and Wine, and Water, on∣ly these elements; and the Man to speak to us, to be either Gods mouth to us, or our mouth to God; there's all we have appointed in the Gospel for the worship of God; therefore it is expected if we would have our Conversation be as becoms the Gospel, to be very spiritual in our worship, and therefore to take heed of thinking to make up Gods worship with external things of our own, that's exceedingly unbeseeming the Gospel: Many thought in former times, they did honor God much by adding to His Worship ceremonies, external things; and peoples hearts are set most upon them, because they are from man, they are humane: I'le give you but one-Scripture to shew how we should for ever take heed of traditions of men, and of mixtures in the Worship of God, because that the Gospel points at spiritual worship: That place in 1 Pet. 1. 18. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold: from what? from your vain Conversations received by tradi∣tions from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot. See what an argument the Apostle uses here unto those he writ to, saith he, There was a time that you worshiped God in an external way, and in a superstitious manner, according to the traditions and fancies of your fathers, this was before you knew Jesus Christ; but (saith he) now you come to know Jesus Christ, know it was the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed to redeem you from this vain Conversation that you received by tradition from your forefathers. I do not know any one Scripture hath more po∣wer in it to take off mens hearts from all false and superstitious worship, from all old customs that they had from their forefa∣thers, (as people are mightily set upon old customs, to wor∣ship God according to them) what a stir and do had we to get off men from their late Service-Book (the great Diana of England) which was made up of the ends and shreds of the Romish Mass-Book, Page  98 only printed in an English letter; and reading and bab∣ling over Burials, and such kind of trumperies, Oh how were those old Samaritan customs setled in the hearts of men? as co∣ming up to the Communion Table, and there to kneel down at Rails like so many Beads-men to the Pope, & Votaries to Rome. Mens hearts are mightily set upon such foolish things as these are. But now this text tels you, that if you know what it is to be redeemed by the blood of Christ, you must know that the blood of Christ was shed for, to take you off from your vain con∣versation received by tradition from your forefathers: Christ shed his blood that he might deliver you from all such traditi∣onal things, that so you might worship God in spirit and in truth; this becomes the Gospel. And at your leasure do but reade over that second Chapter of the Epistle to the Colossians, speaking of men, that in a voluntary humility, worshiped Angels, in∣truding into those things which they have not seen, and vainly puft up by their fleshly mind. And then in the 16. verse, Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, not that you may not eat flesh at such and such times in the year) or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath daies, (the Jewish Sabbath day:) let no man judg you (saith the Apostle) in regard of these things, which are a shadow of things to come. Then in the 19. vers. And not holding the head. Those that stood upon such things as these are, they are here charged for not holding the head, that is, they did not hold Christ; as if the Apostle should say, If so be that you hold Christ, and profess Christ, you would not stand upon these things, upon these kind of superstitious waies in the worship of God. And you shall find in the Epistle to the Galatians, the Apostle telling of the GALATIANS about such kind of waies of continuing and holding of the worship of the Law, saith he in Gal. 4. 10. Ye observe daies, and months, and times, and years: What then? I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain. As if the Apostle should say, I profess I see you stand upon such old things, and worshiping of God in an external way; I am afraid of you, lest I have be∣stowed all my labor in vain: This is so opposite to the Go∣spel, as makes me think, and am afraid that all my prea∣ching of the Gospel to you is in vain: and yet mark my Bre∣thren, Page  99 what were these daies, and months, and times, and yeers? they were such as God heretofore had appointed, but now they were ceased, after Christ came, out of date, and yet they sticking to them after the death of Christ (saith the Apo∣stle) I profess I am afraid of you, that all my preaching in vain to you: Now my brethren what shall we say to those that stick upon these things that God had never appointed, but were of Popish ordination: As keeping one time more holy than ano∣ther, and thinking thereby to tender up service to God: Why should we not keep the memory of such and such times? Now as to keep them so as to think that they shall sanctifie any time, is a dangerous thing, a sign that they understand the Gospel but lit∣tle, to think that any men upon any reason whatsoever should be able to sanctifie a time, to make that time to be holy, (I say) that's unbeseeming the Gospel; no man can make a holy day un∣der the Gospel.

Obj. But you will say, We keep daies of fasting, and thanks∣giving.

Ans. But there's a great deal of difference between them and these times that here the Apostle speaks of.

Now the keeping of holy daies is this: We account the time holy, and the very duty is more acceptable because it is perfor∣med at that time; as now on the Sabbath day, there may be a Sermon on the week day, but certainly it's a more holy wor∣ship of God to hear upon the Sabbath, than on the week day, and we sanctifie Gods Name more on the Sabbath than on the week; why? Because the time doth sanctifie the duty, being set apart by God: As in the Temple, the duty was more accep∣table than in any other place, why? because it was set apart by God; but we cannot make any place holy, and so no time holy: so that our daies of fasting & thansgiving are only thus, that we wil spend that time in holy duties, to humble our selves, or to bless God, but not to make this time holy, so that the duty should be holy because it's on this day rather than on ano∣ther day; that's the superstition of it, when a duty should be holy rather on this day than on another; as now, some they think it's a more holy thing to receive the Lords Supper on an Ester day than on another day; this is superstition, to think Page  100 the duty is more holy by any holiness that men put upon a thing, that's unbeseeming the Gospel; and we are redeemed from such vain Conversations by the blood of Christ; and while men stick upon these things, and say, let them do what they will me thinks these things are good and right, it's very evil. Thus it was with the Galatians, they had more seeming reason to think that those things that they stuck upon were ac∣cording to God than you, yet saith the Apostle, I am afraid of you lest I have spent all my labor in vain, lest I have been a burning and shining lamp to no purpose: and truly there's no people of which there can be less hope that the Ministry of the Word should work sayingly upon, than those people that are set upon old customs in the worship of God, as wines upon their lees: and till the Lord be pleased to take off your hearts from old customs in the service and worship of God, there's a plain demonstration that the preaching of the Gospel hath not prevailed with your hearts, for you do not live as becomes the Gospel: That which becomes the Gospel it is worshiping God only in a spiritual way, the consecrating of your souls and bo∣dies. and all you have to the worship of God, in making them to be an holy sacrifice to God, and that according to the rules of the Gospel, which is your reasonable service. And that's ano∣ther particular that the Gospel teaches: And therefore to live as becomes the Gospel is, to worship God in spirit and in truth.

The tenth thing that I shall further add of what the Gospel holds forth to us, and that is of such consequence that I shall a little insist upon it, that is, The near relation that we are in to God and Christ, and spiritual union with him. This is opened in the Gospel more fully than ever it was before. The relation to God.

First, God as a Father, and Beleevers as Children, yea, and as Children of age; for though in the Law, it's true, we find that God was there a Father, and Ephraim was his deer son: But you shall find in the 3. of Galatians, That now we are as Children of age; whereas Beleevers in the time of the Law were under age. Now you know any of your children when they come to be of age, and to live to themselves, and out of their Apprentiships, then their lives are after another manner than Page  101 when they were little children in their non-age, now they come to have stocks in their hands, to trade for themselves, and not to be any more as servants; a child before he comes of age is un∣der Tutors and Governors in the family, but when he comes to yeers of discretion, then he lives like a man, and commands ra∣ther in the family, and is serviceable to none, but his father and mother. So we should live as becomes children of age, that is, manifesting in our Conversations a staiedness, wisdom, and gra∣vity, and now to live more above the things of this world than before we did, as children of age.

And for the union we have with God, that is, That the Saints now are made one with God, and with Christ his Son: In 1 Cor. 6. 17. He that is joyned to the Lord, is one Spirit. It's a very strange expres∣sion, we are one Spirit with God and with Jesus Christ. O what Conversation becomes this, that we should be principled and acted with the same Spirit? surely such a one as must mani∣fest that we are crowned & graced with the same Spirit, that is Gods Spirit, and the Spirit of Jesus Christ his Son; now surely that must needs be a very holy spiritual Conversation. 1 Cor. 3. 16. Yea, the Spirit of God dwelleth in you (saith the text) and 2 Cor. 6. 16, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my People. See the neer union that we have with God that the Gospel holds forth to us. Yea and there is another phrase which is very remarkable, That as the Spirit of God is in Beleevers, so Beleevers are in the Spirit: Gal. 5. 25. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (saith the text.) The Spirit lives in us, and we live in the Spirit, what Conver∣sation must there needs be here then? Oh let us walk, not in a fleshly way, to satisfie the lusts of the flesh, but in the Spirit, the fruits that do become the Spirit of God: You shall see them in this 5. of Gal. 22. vers. &c. But the fruit of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no Law. And they that are Christs, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts of it. If we walk in the Spirit, then here's the fruit of the Spirit; Would you have your Con∣versations such as becomes the Gospel, then mark but these three phrases.

1. The Spirit of God is in you, in a constant way taking up Page  102 his habitation and residence in your bosoms.

2. You live in the very Spirit, as in the proper element of a Christian.

3. You are one Spirit with God. Put these three, and Oh now, how unbeseeming to these three expressions (that we have in the Gospel and no where else) is it for professors of the Gos∣pel so satisfie the lusts of the flesh? Oh how unsutable are fleshly lusts to a spiritual man? Oh take heed of this for ever you that make profession of the Gospel, do not wallow in the mire of uncleanness, do not give liberty to the lusts of the flesh, but mor∣tifie the lusts of the flesh and the deeds thereof, for you are joy∣ned so neer to God himself, ye live in God too: Col. 3. 3. Your life is hid with Christ in God. It's a very transcendent phrase that the Saints do live in God; you do not only live in the aire, and breath in the aire, but while you live here in the world you live in God, Oh the wonderful mystery of the Gospel! and the high things that are held forth in the Gospel, That Gods Spi∣rit is in us, and we are in the Spirit, and we are the same Spirit with God, yea, and we live in God; Oh then what a Conver∣sation should be sutable to these things; seeing these things are thus, what manner of persons ought we to be? Yea, and there is another expression and that's more full than any of these, and that's in the prayer of Christ, in the 17. of John, 21. That they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Ʋs. The Gospel discovers this union, for the Saints to be one with the Father and Son, as the Father and Son are one; now those that are joyned so neer to God, their Con∣versations had need be holy, and blameless, witnessing the glo∣ry of that God that they are so neer related to. I remember in handling of that point in drawing nigh to God in his Worship: There we shewed what holiness is required in those that are so nigh to God; but those that are one with God, and in God Oh how much of God, of Jesus Christ should shine forth by their lives in the faces of others? Reade these scriptures and by faith make them real to your souls, and then let your consci∣ences tell you what Conversations is required of you: If you be a Beleever, this is so: Charge your souls with this, when any temptation to evil comes; What, is it fit for such a one as I to Page  103 live thus, who have the Spirit of God dwelling in me, yea and I dwelling in the Spirit of God, and joyned so as to be one spirit with God, yea and to live in God, and to be one with God, as the Father and the Son is one? and is this conversation such as beseems one that is raised to such a height of honor as this is? Christians, remember this, it wil be a mighty help to your ho∣ly Conversations, to put you on to shine before men in a holy Conversation, to walk in the Spirit, considering the near union we have with God; we should never have known these things had we not had them revealed to us by the Gospel. Oh this glorious Gospel that hath revealed such glorious things to us as this is.

And then, Our relation and our union with Jesus Christ. You know the Scripture makes Christ sometimes to be the Root, and we the Branches, therefore we are to bring forth fruit, seeing that we are Branches in Him that is the Root: Bring forth fruit sutable to the Sap. You that bring forth sowr grapes, grapes of Gomorrah, that have bitter tart spirits, and live in any wic∣ked and sinful way: Is this the Sap that is sutable to the Root? You are graffed into Jesus Christ, and not into a Crab-stock: And do you receive this Sap from the Root? Oh you are a dis∣honor to the Root you grow upon. I am the true Vine (saith Christ,) and every Branch in me beareth fruit, and my Father purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Christians should so live in their Conversations as to manifest the fulness of the sap and juyce that there is in the Root, the Lord Jesus Christ; it's not enough here and there to have a leaf, and a grape or two, but full ripe clusters of grapes becomes those that grow upon such a fruitful Root.

And then you know, Christ is the Head, and we the Members. Then do not dishonor your Head: When there is a temptation comes to any sin, but will not this be a dishonor to my Head? do I receive such a spirit from the Head to act after such a sinful course? Oh be not a crown of thorns to your Head Jesus Christ. Yea, and the Union is very great; for it is not only that we are Members of Christ, and so we are in Christ; but Christ in us: the Root is not in the Branch, though the Branches be in the Root: and the Head is not in the Members, though the Head be Page  104 joyned with the members. But Christ is in us, as we are in Him, and so the union is very glorious and mysterious. You com∣plain of weakness: But is there not strength in Christ? are you not joyned to Christ thus, and a member of Him, and a branch in Him? what ever infirmities you have which bows you down, yet there is power enough in Jesus Christ to convay to any, to enable them to walk in an holy Conversation before the Lord, to renew their strength as the Eagle: Manifest then the vertue of your Head, from whence all the sinnews of every members strength doth arise.

And then, you know the relation we have to Christ, As He is the Husband, we the Spouse: Oh do not discredit your Hus∣band. Any wise vertuous Wife would make it a mighty argu∣ment against any evil way; It will disgrace my Husband; e∣specially if her Husband be a publick man in place and autho∣rity. Oh let this be an argument against every sin, even the ap∣pearence of evil, it will be dishonorable to the Lord Jesus who is my Husband, How can I do this wickedness against my Lord, and my God, who hath betrothed me to Himself, so that I am bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. That's the second thing.

And then a Third thing that the Gospel holds forth to us that we should labor to sute our Conversations according, is this; The near Ʋnion that the Saints have one with another. It's not so revealed any where as in the Gospel. Rom. 12. 5. we are said there, to be members one of another, as we are members of Christ. (I beseech you observe it) so we are members one of another. That Scripture may be in stead of all for this, in Ephes. 4. 4. the exhortation there to unity; We must endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Why? For, there is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your cal∣ling. One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. See, here's some seven ones to be an argument of unity. One body, and one spirit, and called in the hope of one calling, and one Lord, and one Faith, and one Baptism, and one God: Where have you such a unity demonstrated but in the Gospel of peace and love? And I do not know in all the Book of God where any one duty is more pressed than unity. Somewhat we hinted Page  105 in speaking of the love of God, which is a great design of the Gospel to hold forth, and there we spake somewhat of Love: But here of the unity of the Saints, being so neer united into one thing, the Saints should be one; and certainly it's the most un∣beseeming thing in the world that can be for Saints to be divi∣ded in their affections upon some little differences in judgment; Let me argue with you, What? was the Coat of Christ with∣out any seam, and shall the body of Christ be rent all to pieces? Fy for shame, the Gospel of Christ is in your hands which tea∣cheth another lesson. Next to our salvation, the Gospel intends the union of Saints, & there's nothing prest more strongly in eve∣ry leaf of it, and it's here in my very text that makes me to speak to this; for mark the very words that follow in this of my text, Phil. 1. 27. Only let your Conversation be as becomes the Gospel of Christ.

Now if you should say, Wherein should we walk so? The A∣postle doth answer then, That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel. Mark, striving together, he would have the Saints to be strivers: I but strivers for what? Not for their own will and humors, and opinions, and fancies, and customs, and traditions which are out of date; But strivers for the faith, for the faith of the Gospel, for the Do∣ctrine of faith; and they should labor to joyn all their strength together (both shoulders and hearts:) There's a great deal of striving now, Professors of the Gospel they strive asunder; but the holy Ghost would have us strive together; and this is as be∣comes the Gospel (saith the text:) The Apostle here doth in∣stance in this particular above all others, that to live as it becomes the Gospel, it is to stand fast, with one Spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel. Oh how unbecoming the Gospel is the waies and lives of most Christians now!

Q. You will say, From whence are these sad divisions and risings up of hearts amongst the Tribes, so that one thinks that he hath the truth, and another judgeth that he alone is in the right way?

A. I beseech you therefore, because it's so fully instanced in the very words of the Text, that the Apostle instances in this particular, give me leave to speak of it in a few words, certainly Page  106 his meaning is not (when he saith, that you shall be of one spirit, and of one mind,) that men should give up their judge∣ments and consciences to the opinions of other men, that others (according to their power) may again lord it over us and so en∣slave our selves, to draw in their yokes, to grind in their mills, and plow with their asses, yea that were against other Scrip∣tures. No, but the meaning is this, That we should labor to find out what is truth, search for it as for silver, and go according to what light we have, but yet so, though we should differ, to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, and joyn in al things that we can, and walk so lovingly, that it may appear, that if there be difference, it is meerly that which conscience makes, because we dare not deny what we are perswaded in conscience is a truth: We cannot put out the convincing light of the can∣dle of the Lord which is set up within us, yet we can live in uni∣ty and peace and be useful one to another, communicating our gifts, and graces, comforts and experiences one to another as it becomes Christians. And indeed it is a greater honor to the Gospel, for men though they do differ in their judgments, yet if they can keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, I say, it's a great honor to the Gospel than if they were all of the same mind. You know the Turks they are al of one mind, but I can∣not say so of the Papists, yet they have a chain to keep them to∣gether. We read of the Egyptians, that when it was darkness among them, they sat still and kept close together, but when it came to be light, every man went about his own business: so when light doth begin to break forth, and there's liberty given to search into truths; we cannot imagin that at the very first men should be of the same judgment, except they will give up their consciences and sacrifice their reason one to another, but though they be not of one judgement, yet there may be kept a blessed unity of affection, there may be a golden girdle clap∣sed about their loins: yea and of practice so far as men can with peace of conscience and joy in the holy Ghost, so as not to sin against conscience and light; Unity of affection and practice should be endeavored to the utmost, and it is a most Christian thing so to do; and certainly this should be studied and endeavored by us, as much as lieth in us. Me thinks Page  107 when I reade over the Epistles of Paul, or any part of the new Testament, I see nothing more pressed than this (next to belee∣ving in Jesus Christ,) and therefore it should be the care of Christians. And as it ought to be the care of Christians to study unity and peace; so I beseech you that small differences may not be abused and heightned so far, as because some do differ from others, that therefore presently (if they be the least part especially) all the odium should be cast upon them, though they can appeal to God that they do endeavour to know the mind of God, and to keep unity so far as they can without sin. And we shall see that the Scripture doth never lay the sin of de∣vision upon any, except those that do lay it upon them are a∣ble to say, that those make division from some corrupt end or other of their own: and then it charges them deeply; as that place is most famous that you have in Rom. 16. 17, 18. (and I verily perswade my self that there is many of your that hear this text very much abused) Now I beseech you brethren, mark those which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. This is the great place against that sin which we call schism, for schism is nothing but a rending a∣sunder, That cause division, [schism] contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. Now you know the sin of schism was cast by the Popish Bishops heretofore upon all that would not be of their minds in any ceremonies and will-worship, and because many would not come up to the Rails, and submit to receive the Lords Supper by kneeling in that way that it was then admistred by our Prelatical Priests, therefore they were termed schismaticks: And so at this day, many cry out of o∣thers if so be they cannot swallow Camels with them, if so be they differ in some things wherein they cannot joyn with them because it would be sin and a snare to them, they presently say they are guilty of schism, and faction (There is a great deal of taking Gods Name in vain in this thing;) yet they do not tell you what the true nature of schism is, but if any persons joyn not with the greater part (which is usually least conscientious) that's schism in an high degree; this is not that that becomes the Gospel, presently to judg all that differ from us. But mark the next words and there the Apostle tells what schism is.

Page  108 First, it must be contrary to sound doctrine, for (saith he) They that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words, and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple: The Apostle could take it upon his conscience by seeing the behavi∣our of these men, that the cause why they differed from others it was, not out of tenderness of conscience and desire to know the mind of God, but by their behavior he saw enough to satisfie his conscience, their Conversation gave their profession the lye; and therefore (saith he) avoid such. So I confess, if men can take it upon their consciences, as they would answer to Jesus Christ; I see such and such men to differ thus; but I can appeal to Christ in it, that upon these and these grounds I am perswaded it is not out of tenderness of conscience, and I am verily perswaded that there is no willingness in them to know the mind of Christ, but it is to serve their own carnal ends, and purposes. I confess if we can take this upon our consci∣ences as we will answer it to Jesus Christ, that there are such and such grounds upon which we beleeve Christ wil so account, that such men do not differ through their tenderness, but from their own carnal ends, these men may be accounted schis∣maticks: This is the sin of schism, when through want of love and to serve their own by-ends men shall rend one from another: But now is it possible to think that the holy Ghost should lay so great a load (as to command the Saints to avoid such per∣sons) upon men whose consciences are upright with God, sure when a man shall be able to appeal to God, and say, Lord, thou that knowest all things, knowest that it is the desire of my soul to know thy will, and I search for it, and pray for it, and it is the affliction of my soul that I differ in any thing from my brethren that I see to be godly, and if I knew thy mind, thou knowest I would quickly close with them, and account it the greatest happiness that can befall me in this life to shake hands with them in such and such particulars; But thou hast laid this charge upon me, that I must do what I do out of faith, and I should sin against that rule of thine if I should yeeld to that that I see no footing for out of thy Word. Now if a soul should make this moan to Jesus Christ, do you think that Christ would ac∣count this man a schismatick? and that he must be avoided and Page  109 persecuted 〈◊〉 a schismatick? no certainly there's a great mistake in this, and this is meerly for want of charity; and that which the holy Ghost is so bitter against is, when men for want of love to their brethren, and for to serve their own base ends make breaches and rents in the Church; judge such now to be guilty of the sin of schism and no other; for that is to break unity, to judge others guilty of schism, meerly because they differ from you, and cannot reade by your spectacles, these extreams that I have spoken of are waies that are very much unbeseeming the Gospel of Christ, for men our of base ends to break unity, to rend from the Saints; or otherwise because men joyn not with you in every thing you desire, therefore presently to put such a brand upon them, as to stigmatize them for schismaticks, certain∣ly this unchristian like nicknaming the children of God main∣tains the breach and widens it more and more; whereas the Conversation that becomes the Gospel is to study, to find out the truth. And do I see Learned and Godly men of another judgment? Let me pray more unto the Father of lights for the Spirit of revelation: It may be I may mistake; If I be mistaken, Lord discover it, let me not go on in the waies of darkness, but take away the scales from my understanding, that I may see in∣to the deep things of God and his Gospel; And therefore others that they differ from should tender these as brethren, and look upon them and see, are they not consciencious in all their other waies? Can I be able to find any fault with them in their lives and Conversations? It may be it's their mistake, then let me pray for them and labor to help them, and tender them all I can, it may be God will reveal his mind to them more fully af∣terward: Now in what we have attained let us walk, and if a∣ny be otherwise minded God will reveal his mind to them, and this carriage should be in Christians one towards another, that differ one from another, and this is a Conversation becoming the Gospel: But when one differs from another, for to give re∣viling speeches, and names of disgrace, and to cast dirt one up∣on another, this is exceeding unbecoming the Gospel, yea, if the Heathens were amongst us, they would even loath the Gospel of Jesus Christ to see the carriage of Christians that there are at this day amongst us: But the Conversation that becomes Page  110 the Gospel of Christ, is that which manifests unity, to live in unity one with another, for the Gospel preacheth to us the greatest unity of Christians that possibly can be between man and man.

Again, The Gospel holds forth this, The glorious happiness of the Saints in Heaven. You cannot find much of that in the Law, in all the old Testament you find but little of eternal life, I can∣not discover three texts from Genesis to the end of Malachi that doth cleerly hold forth eternal life; it's true, our forefathers (no question) in the old Testament did know that there was e∣ternal life, and some Scriptures there are that do tend that way; but I beleeve there's none of you can give many texts from Ge∣nesis to Malachi that do expresly hold forth the Glory of the Saints in Heaven. Now the Gospel that holds it forth in 2 Tim. 1. 10. saith the Apostle there (speaking of the glory of the Saints and immortality) in the 9. ver. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which he hath givin us in Christ Jesus before the world began: But is now made manifest by the appearance of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. How comes life and immortality to be brought to light through the Gospel? Did not our forefathers know of life and immortality before? Yes, but very darkly, and some of the eminent ones knew but little of that exceeding riches of glory and happiness the Saints shall be crowned with in Heaven, life and immortality is brought to light through the Gospel.

In former times was it known (till Christ came in the flesh) that the happiness of the Saints should be in the vision of God, in standing before the face of God, and beholding him in glory in Heaven?

Did they know the communion that the Saints shall have wth God, and with Jesus Christ in his bodily presence in glory?

Did they understand the fruition of God, and Gods being all in all to the Saints, as he shal be in the communication of all fulness of good?

Did they understand the inheritance of the Saints which is in light?

Page  111 Did they know that the Saints were not only Heirs, but Co-heirs with Jesus Christ? These things are known only in the Gospel, the glorious reward of the Saints.

Did they in the time of the Law, know that these bodies of ours should be made more glorious than the Sun in the firma∣ment? This the Gospel tels us, that these lumps of clay which we carry now about with us, shall be one day more glorious than the Sun shining in his luster.

Did they know that our bodies should be made like to the glorious body of Jesus Christ? That it is sown in weakness; but it is raised in power; sown in dishonor, but raised in glory; sown a na∣tural body, but should rise a spiritual body; and sown in corruption, and should be raised in incorruption? Certainly these things were very little known to the forefathers, (if known at all.)

Now these things were the great Counsels of God, that were kept hid from all eternity, only the Lord did reserve the dis∣covery thereof to the coming of his Son, that was the time for opening of Heaven, Heaven was shut, and there was little seen of the glory thereof till Christ was incarnate in the flesh, the Lord (I say) reserved the opening of the Gates of Heaven, and the shewing of the glory of it to the Saints till the coming of Je∣sus Christ. Christ now tels us of mansions that He is gone be∣fore to prepare for us, and when our earthly tabernacle is dis∣solved, we have a building, not made with hands, but eternal in the Heavens. Oh now my brethren, how ought we to live? It's the argument of the Apostle when he speaks but of the great chang in the Church here (speaking of new Heavens and a new Earth) it's meant of the state of the Church that it shall be in even here; nd saith he, What manner of persons ought we to be in all holiness and godly conversation? But then when we hear of the highest Heavens, Abrahams bosom, the Paradise, the Saints shall be living with Christ, wrapt up to the third Heavens (as the Apostle was:) Oh what manner of persons ought we to be in all godliness and holy Conversation?

Now if you should ask me, what Conversation is becoming the Gospel? I would tell you, that which we have in the third Chap. of this Epistle; For our Conversation is in Heaven. Upon what ground is it? from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Page  112 Jesus Christ, who shall chang our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to His glorious body. We look (saith he) for the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven, who shall put forth such a power as shall change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto His glori∣ous body; therefore our Conversation is in Heaven. Do you expect that this flesh of yours should be made like the Sun in the Heavens, like the glorious body of Jesus Christ? Oh then do not abuse your flesh to sin, make not provision for the flesh to satisfie the lusts thereof, let no member of your body be a wea∣pon of unrighteousness to sin against God withal: when you are tempted to any bodily sin, stop your selves with this medi∣tation: Shall I sin against God with this body of mine that I beleeve shall one day be more glorious than the Sun in the fir∣mament, which ere long will be made like to the glorious Bo∣dy of Jesus Christ? Have we the hopes and promises of such an inheritance in Heaven? Oh then, let not only our thoughts be there, but our Conversation, our Trading, our only business be there also; Oh let it appear that we have heavenly hearts, and spiritual carriages, that we live as it becomes those that hope within a few daies, or months, to be possest with the glory of Heaven which Christ hath prepared for us; such should our Conversations be, heavenly Conversations, shining with the light of the glory of Heaven upon us, Heaven should appear in our Conversations now, so that they who look upon us and con∣verse with us, may truly judg, these are the Citizens of the new Jerusalem, free Denizons of Heaven, they speak the very lan∣guage of Canaan already, and ere long they wil be possest of that promised Land.

I'le conclude all now with one Scripture, in 2 Cor. 3. 3. For∣asmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the Epistle of Christ ministred by us, written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. Mark; the Apostle here tels the Corinthians that they are manifestly declared to be the Epistle of Christ: observe the text, the People of God, Be∣leevers, are manifestly declared to be the Epistle of Christ.

Quest. Epistle of Christ (you wil say) what's the meaning of that? or what use can you make of that to your point?

Page  113Answ. The meaning of it is this, That Christ doth by them, or in them, write an Epistle to the world, to declare to the world His mind and His will; 'tis as if the Apostle should say, You that are beleevers, know that Christ makes use of you to declare to the world, what He is, what His glory is, you are His Epistle; Christ sends by you the knowledge of Himself in∣to the world, so that when the world looks upon you, they that run may reade in your lives and Conversations, and exam∣ples the very Epistle of Christ (transcribed to the life) whereby He declares to the world His excellencies and His glory in live∣ly Characters. Now my brethren, this should be the Conver∣sation of all Saints, (that is) They should in their lives be the Epistle of Jesus Christ, there should be (as it were) fairly writ∣ten in their lives the graces of Jesus Christ, the mysteries of the Gospel, the deep things of God. Would you know what Christs mind is? and what the excellencies of Christ are, and of the Gospel? Reade it in the Saints, in their lives, see their waies and you may know much of the mind of Christ in them, you that cānot tel a letter in the book, yet you may read this Epistle, you may reade the Epistle that Jesus Christ sends to the world, to convince the world: Now the Epistle that Christ sends to the world, is not only in His Word (there indeed is a great Epistle that Christ hath sent, for the Scripture is no other, but as an An∣cient cals it, the Epistle of God to the world, God sends His Let∣ter to the world) but the Saints are Christs Epistle likewise wher∣in Christs mind is to be read and known; then let your Conver∣sations be such, as that you may be a full Epistle of Christ to the whole world, that all the world may reade what Christ is in you, take heed of blotting and blurring this Epistle. If there be a Letter sent from a great man, if a Prince or a King send a Letter, it uses to come fairly written, and if those that should bring it, should all besmeer it, and blot the Letter so as it could not be read, it would be taken exceeding ill. So, you that pro∣fess your selves to be Christians, you do not bring the Letter on∣ly, but you are the Letter, therfore do not blot & blur this Epi∣stle of Christ, but keep it fair, that all with whom you converse, all in the family may every day reade somewhat of the mind of Jesus Christ in your Conversations, that so you may be the glory Page  114 of Christ, as in that scripture, 2 Cor. 8. 23. it is said of Titus and other fellow-helpers, That they were the Messengers of the Chur∣ches, and the glory of Christ. Oh! this all Professors of Religion should endeavor to be, the glory of Jesus Christ; that wheresoever they live, all might see the glory of Jesus Christ held forth there; whithersoever you go, you may carry the glory of Jesus Christ about you. Oh Christians! I appeal to your consciences, Do you live so, as the glory of Christ shines in you in the course of your lives? As the shine of the Candle goes through the Lan∣thorn, so the shine and glory of Jesus Christ should go through Christians in their Conversations to dazle the eyes of the world; Oh! do not darken the glory of Christ, but make it as bright as possibly thou canst, that so this publind world may be able to see somewhat in the glory of Christ in your Conversations; this should be the great care of your lives.