PHIL. 1. 27.
WE have preached (you know) many Sermons upon this necessary and seasonable Duty;* That as Christians are to sanctifie the Name of God in Worship: so in their Conversati∣ons: their lives and Conversations must be such as becomes the Gospel of Christ, [worthy] of the Gospel of Christ, (for so I told you the word signified.) Now we are upon this great point.
What Conversation is that which becomes the Gospel of Christ.
I'le only add one Scriptare more to the last thing I named, and then proceed.
Page 115 That the revealing of the glory of Heaven in the Gospel should work mightily upon our hearts to labor for a Conversa∣tion sutable thereunto. In Titus, 2. 11, 12, 13. For the grace of God (saith he, that's the Gospel) that bringeth salvation, hath ap∣peared to all men: (What doth it teach us?) That denying ungod∣liness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. We have made use of this Scripture thus far already; but that which I quote it for, is the refference of this to the next words, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glori∣ous appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. Here's a Scripture that if ever the Lord did enlighten us in the things of the Gospel, that we have been brought to beleeve it's a Scripture that would mightily work upon our hearts to live godlily and holily: The grace of God that bringeth Salva∣tion; what doth it teach us? Not to be licentious, and vain, and slight, and bold in our sinful courses; but teaching us that de∣nying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Mark, it is not enough to live soberly, not to be a drunkard, to live righteously, that is, not to wrong any body, many think that's enough: But mark, indeed the light of nature (as I told you) would teach us that; but now the grace of God that bringeth Salvation teacheth us more, To deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, and that in this present world: though we live in the midst of a wicked tempting world, yet to live godly. And what's the great argument in the Gospel to cause us to live godly in this present world? Looking for the bles∣sed hope: Oh we look for a blessed hope that the Gospel reveals, Oh we did not understand this hope, this blessed hope till the Gospel was preached to us; but since we apprehend a blessed hope, the holy Ghost hath raised in our hearts a blessed hope of glorious things: What glorious things? Looking for the bles∣sed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. We have some little glimps of the great God when we set forth to Sea, and launce into the deeps, we see the glory of the great God, who rideth upon the wings of the wind, and whom both the Winds and the Seas obey: Oh but we look for another manner of the glorious appearing of the Page 116 great God than ever yet hath appeared. I beseech you consider of this text, God did never appear great and glorious in com∣parison of what he will appear, and blessed are those whose Con∣versations shall be such, that can look upon the face of this great God with joy when He shall appear in glory; we look for this blessed hope, and then when this great God shall appear in His glory, then we shall have our blessed hope, and this teaches us to deny all ungodliness, and worldly lusts, the knowledge of this; Oh do you look to be saved? have you a blessed hope, and do you expect the appearing of the great God in glory? hath the Gospel revealed these things unto you? O let this that the Gospel reveals teach us to deny all ungodliness, and all worldy lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.
But there are yet some other things that the Gospel holds forth that are very remarkable, for the furtherance of our godly Conversation in this world, and if we would live as becomes the Gospel, we must have a right understanding of these things, or else we shall never sute our selves to the Gospel, except we do therby apprehend these great points that are published to us in and by the Gospel.
As now, this is a great point, That the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is not of this world. The Gospel holds forth this to us, that Jesus Christ the Son of God, having taken our nature upon him, he is a great King, He hath a Kingdom, but He hath a Kingdom that is not of this world, neither is Christ of this world, nor His Kingdom of this world, nor the Saints, those that are the Subjects of His Kingdom are not of this world; the right under∣standing of this would much help us in our Conversations, and a Conversation beseeming this would much honor the Gospel. First, We shall shew how the Gospel holds forth this, That the Kingdom of Christ is not in this world, mark those Scriptures in John, 18. 36. Jesus answered, My Kingdom is not of this world: if my Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my King∣dom not from hence. Therefore (as if he should say) you must not wonder or think much that I am thus apprehended, and delivered up to men, that they do with me what they please; Page 117 though I be the great King of my Church appointed by my Fa∣ther, yet my Kingdom is not of this world, and I came not hither for pomp and glory. The glory of Christ in His King∣dom, here is Spiritual. Indeed when this world shall be at an end, then Christ will appear gloriously, though the Scripture speaks of a world hereafter wherein Christ shall appear glori∣ously, but whether personally or otherwise that we speak not of: But that Christ shall appear a glorious King even in the world, not this world, but upon the earth, and yet the Scrip∣ture speaks of that as another world, a new Heaven, and a new Earth, but for the present; for that that the Scripture cals this world, we must not expect a pompous and glorious Kingdom till ther ebe a new world, till there be new heavens, and a new earth, this the Gospel holds forth. Whereas the people of the Jews they thought as soon as the Messias came, He presently should be an outward Monarch, in outward pomp and glory; no saith Christ, this world must pass away first, I must come first and reign spiritually in another way, and for my King∣dom there is a time for the glory of it to appear when another world shall come, but while this world lasts, never expect any such outward pomp and glory in the way of my Kingdom, I have a Kingdom indeed here in this world, but it is not of this world, I have a Kingdom wherein I reign spiritually in the hearts of my people, there I have set up my Throne, and therein I have writ my Laws by which I guide and order all things for their eternal salvation, but my Kingdom is not of this world: yea and he saith likewise in John, 8. 23. I am not of this world nei∣ther. And John, 15. 19. (for John that beloved Disciple who lay in the bosom of Christ he knew much of the mind and heart of Christ, and was much instructed in this mystery, and indeed none of those that did converse with Christ knew more of the bosom of Christ than John did) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. So that as Christ is not of the world so the Saints are not of the world: in the 17. of John, 14. I have given them thy Word, and the world hath hated them, be∣cause they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world▪ Mark, as I am not of the world, so they are not of the world: thus Page 118 Scripture is cleer, that neither Christ nor his Kingdom is of this world; and therefore beleevers are not of this world. And hence then, what Conversation becomes this Gospel of Christ? even a Conversation sequestred from the things of this world, a Conversation that shall manifest the hearts being ta∣ken off and disingaged from sublunary comforts and accom∣modations, a Conversation which proves that the soul seeks not great things for its-self here below, but is fully content with a morsel of bread and a cup of cold water, though others fare deliciously every day; so beleevers should manifest in their Conversations that they do not much pass or care how things go in this world, because Christ is not of this world, and the Kingdom of Christ in which they make account their happi∣ness to be involved, that is not of the world, yea they are men redeemed from this present world; Gal. 1. 4. it is said, That by Christ we came to be redeemed from this present evil world; (it's a very remarkable Scripture) who gave himself for our sins; (to what end?) That he might deliver us from this present evil world, accor∣ding to the will of God, and our Father. I beseech you observe this text, Christ gave Himself to deliver us from our sins, that we might not perish eternally: And was that all? No, That He might deliver us from this present evil world; I do not know a more forcible text in all the Book of God to take off the hearts of those that profess the Gospel from the world, so as they should not whine and murmur at the loss of every little thing in the world, nor be solicitously careful for the things of this life, nor be offended though the men of the world prevail in the world, and have the upper hand, and carry things in a world∣ly way, let them go on in all their pagentry and greatness: but if thou beest one that belongst to Christ, know that Christ hath laid down his life to purchase this for thee, to deliver thee from this world; Now, is Christ blood laid down to purchase this? and yet wilt thou have thy heart glewed to the ground, and wholly place thy contentment in the earth, and seek for thy happiness here in the dust? Oh get up thy heart then from all these things, and make it appear by thy Conversation that thou art one that by the vertue of the death of Jesus Christ art delive∣red from this world, and therefore though thou hast not such a Page 119 portion in worldly goods as other men have, never envy them, for Christ hath ransomed you from the world, there's another kingdom that thou hast thy portion and interest in, Christ hath made us Kings and Priests to his Father, and hath made us heirs and co-heirs of that Kingdom that His Father hath given Him, yea, and that He Himself hath purchased; and so you must in your Conversations make it appear, that you do see another kingdom beyond this kingdom of the world that you are made partakers of, wherein you shall reign with Christ for ever: now this Conversation doth beseem the Gospel. And therefore you shal find it in the 10th of Matth. about the 37. vers. Christ shews what kind of Conversation He would have in those that once come to beleeve in Him, (saith He) He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me: And he that taketh not up his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it. Here he shews what it is that would make the soul worthy of Christ in a Gospel sense. If our hearts be taken off from father and mo∣ther, and those comforts & relations that are the dearest in the world, brother, or sister, or son, or daughter; not to take off our natural affection, but to take off our hearts so, as they should not be hinderances of us in spiritual things, that our main af∣fections should flow forth after spiritual things; then we come to be worthy of Christ: then the other conversation is unwor∣thy of Christ. Didst thou ever know the Lord Jesus Christ and the way of His Kingdom? Then why is thy heart set upon the world as the hearts of other men that are strangers to Jesus Christ? In Eph. 5. 3. (when the Apostle speaks of those things that most men in the world are greedy after) But fornication, and all uncleaness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh Saints. As if he should say, Saints, those that know Jesus Christ, and the way of His Kingdom, for them to have their hearts either set upon bodily lusts, or covetousness, the things of this world, it doth not becom them, it is not a Gospel Conversation becoming Saints; a heart greedy of the things of this world, and wallowing in the lusts of this world, Oh 'tis unbeseeming Saints! those that do profess the Gospel of Christ Page 120 that shews unto us that the Kingdom of Christ is not of this world.
Again, Another great point that the Gospel holds forth to us, is this, The great difference or the change that it makes in the estate of a man or woman when once it prevails with him: then the great difference is made in him, from what he was before, and from other men; this is held forth in the Gospel and no where else: I say the wonderful change that the Gospel makes in men when once it comes to work upon their hearts in the evidence and de∣monstration of the Spirit, and the great difference between their estates before and what now is, and between them and other men; I put these two together,
First, The great change that the Gospel makes in the hearts of men from what there was before the Gospel came. You know the Scripture in prophesying of the times of the Gospel saith, That the Wolf shall eat with the Lamb, and the Lyon with the Kid, and the child shall play upon the very hole of the Asp: the meaning is generally carried thus, that when the Gospel comes it shall change the hearts of men so mightily, that though they were wolvish before, and cruel; as if you should see a Wolf changed into a Lamb, or as if you should see a Lyon changed into a Kid, you would say, this were a mighty change; the Gospel makes such a change as this is, they that are in Christ are new crea∣tures, it's a new Creation; suppose God should make a new world, what a mighty thing were this! or a new Sun should be created in the Firmament that never was before, how would we stand and wonder! Those that are in Christ are new creatures, God puts forth a creating power upon them, 2 Cor. 5. Old things are pass'd away, all things are become new (you know the Apostle saith:) and the change that is made, it is called a new birth, Except you be born again, you cannot enter into the King∣dom of Heaven, John, 3. If there were a new soul put into one, or if God should infuse a rational soul into a beast, here would be a mighty change; thou wert a beast before, but here is the soul of grace, there's a new birth when the Gospel comes to prevail, and to enter in upon an heart, and it's call'd a new resurrection; if there should be a voice come from Heaven that should open all the graves that you have here in the yard, and Page 121 all the dead bodies should stand up and live, what a mighty change would there be? Such a change doth the Gospel make when it conquers a people; indeed the Gospel may be preached and little change may be wrought, because the power of the Gospel prevails not with their hearts; but when it doth pre∣vail in their hearts there is such a strange change.
Oh then, What Conversation become this? it must be a Conversation that doth hold forth to the world that there is such a mighty change wrought in you: Now I appeal to you, you that make profession of the Gospel, you know what you have been heretofore, worldly, and base, and carnal, and sensual, and froward, and peevish, and prophane men, altoge∣ther unsavory before the Gospel came to you; now you pro∣fess that God hath begun to work upon you by the Gospel, What change hath it wrought in you? Can those that live with you see your Conversations so changed as to make them stand and admire at the work of the Gospel upon your hearts? the husband to stand and admire at the work of God upon the heart of the wife as if she were another woman, and so the wife to admire at the grace of God upon the heart of the husband, as if he were another man; and so your children and servants not the same that heretofore they were? Oh what honour would this be to the Gospel, that in places where it comes to be preached in power there might appear a change, that becomes the Gospel of Christ? Certainly if your Conversations be not such as holds forth a mighty change that God hath wrought in you, then it is not such as becomes the Gospel of Christ: It may be you are somewhat better than heretofore you have been, as not to be a common drunkard, you see that's despised by men; Who regards drunken fools, mad-men, very beasts? Ther∣fore you come to be of more understanding, that you will not be so prophane and lascivious as you were wont to be, but live somewhat better. Oh but this change is not that change which holds forth the work of the Gospel, for when the Gospel prevails it makes the gre•test change that ever was made in the world, we may boldly ascert this, that since the Creation of God in the first six daies, there was never such a change made in the world as the Gospel makes; and therefore a Conversation becoming Page 122 the Gospel, must be a Conversation that must be a changed Con∣versation, must be mightily different from what they were be∣fore: sometimes we see it so through the mercy of God, that when men and women come to hear the Word in the cleerness and power of it to be revealed, they have such changes, that al their friends stand wondring at them, What shall we have of you now! Oh such have cause to answer and say, Blessed be God it is so, it is the Gospel that hath made such a change in me. I, this becomes the Gospel, when it shall appear that your Conversation is so changed, so holy, and godly, and gracious now over it was before. But you whose lives are not better than they were before; before you made some profession, only your profession now is greater than it was before, but your lives no better, know, this is a Conversation that doth no way become the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Christ hath no honor by this Conversation of yours.
And then, The great difference that the Gospel makes between one man and another. As now, those that the Gospel doth not pre∣vail upon, the Scripture tels us, they are the children of wrath, they are dead in trespasses and sins, they are under the curse of the Law, they are even enemies to God; this is the condition of al men before this Scepter of Christ conquers their hearts, chil∣dren of wrath, enemies to God, dead in sins, under the curse. But now, when the Gospel comes to prevail over mens hearts, then they come to be the Children of the living God, Heirs of Christ, Co-heirs with Him, they come to be partakers of the life of God, they encrease with the encrease of God, and their lives are hid with Christ in God, and they come to be reconci∣led to God, to be friends with God, to be at peace with God, and to inherit blessings: Oh the change that the Lord puts up∣on the heart and state of the Saints when the Gospel prevails! How high are they raised above other men? Therefore you must not make other men to be your example in your way, you must not think to live as the world lives, and to say, I do as other men do; the Gospel makes a mighty difference between your estate and the state of other men, therefore never look to what other men do, but consider as God hath made a vast difference between you and other men, so let there be a great difference Page 123 between your Conversation and the Conversation of other men. Now this meditation should have a mighty deal of power to prevail upon the heart; I beleeve that I have such and such pri∣viledges beyond other men, and I look for such and such mer∣cies above others; now what things I look for beyond others, I must labor to be as much beyond them in holiness of Conver∣sation, as God hath made me beyond them in spiritual priviled∣ges, and spiritual mercies; I think sometimes I would not be in the condition of such men as are in their natural estate for a world, nay I would not be one our in their estates if I might have ten thousand worlds, for fear I should die that hour, and then I should be lost for ever; Well, hath God made such a dif∣ference? then let not my life be like theirs for one hour, nay for one moment. Oh this meditation (through Gods blessing) would mightily help us in our Conversation.
Our Conversation should be such as becomes the Ordinances of the Go∣spel: The Word, and Sacraments, they have a great deal more in them than the Ordinances of the Law; but because I spake of the Gospels being higher than the Law heretofore, and these things may fall something neer, yet had I time I would speak a little concerning these, and shew how we are to hold forth a Conversation sutable to them.
Our Conversations should be sutable to the power of the Gospel: there is a great deal of power in the Gospel; it's call'd the power of God unto salvation, in the 1. of the Rom. 16. The very light of the Gospel it is a transforming light, it hath a mighty power in it, the Gospel it's called, the Wisdom of God, and the Power of God, 1 Cor. 1. 24. it brings a great deal of power with it to help men against strong corruptions, to overcome violent temp∣tations, to carry them through in any difficulties: Powerful corruptions, powerful temptations, powerful difficulties are overcome by the power of the Gospel; and therefore it is said by faith, that is, by faith in the Gospel, we overcome the world; the Gospel certainly doth not only stir in some men and women, some wishings, and wouldings and faint desires, but it brings a power to transforme their hearts. to make a metamorpho∣sis there; when there comes the light of the Gospel there comes the light of life together with it; as that Scripture Page 124 in Heb. 10. 32. After ye were illuminated (that is, by the Gos∣pel) then he speaks of their great sufferings, they were willing to endure any thing for Christ; therefore a Conversation that becomes the Gospel is such an one as exemplarily demonstrates the very power of godliness, that men and women should not be alwaies learning and never come to the knowledg of the truth, not alwaies wishing and desiring, and never come to any power∣ful resolutions and determinations, for certainly where the Gospel hath the upper hand in a soul it doth bring power, but I do not say it brings power so as to overcome all our lusts, so as there should be no sin remaining, for so long as we live we must be hungering after a further degree of righteousness and sanctification; but certainly when the Gospel prevails there comes a great strength; there's the strength of Christ put forth, the Spirit of power (as the Apostle saith) We have not received the spirit of fear, but the Spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind: be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. As if Paul had said to Timothy, it's true, you meet with many difficulties, but hath not the Gospel given you a Spirit of power? There's spi∣rit of power and resolution when the Gospel comes in. Timothy was a poor weakly, sickly man in his body, and Paul himself had no bodily presence with him, a poor contemptible man in regard of his bodily presence, but he had a Spirit of power given him by the Gospel; so we should manifest a Spirit of po∣wer, that is as becomes the Gospel of Christ.
Lastly, The Gospel of Christ is a glorious Gospel. 1 Tim. 1. 11. it is call'd there by the title of a glorious Gospel, According to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. Mark, what a title is here? the Gospel is the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, that is, the glory of all the Attributes of God doth appear in the Gos∣pel more brightly than they do appear in all the works that God hath made; There doth appear indeed a great deal of the glo∣ry of God in the Heavens, Earth, and Seas, and you have seen much of the glory of God there, but I appeal to you in this, Have you seen more of the glory of God in the Gospel, than ever you did in all the works that God hath made? that were a good argument that you have had a true understanding of the Gos∣pel, and that the Spirit of God hath shined into your hearts, Page 125 if you can say, Lord I have seen much of thy glory in thy Works, when I have been abroad in the mighty waters where Gods paths and foot-steps are, Oh the Seas they are thy glori∣ous creatures, but thy Gospel that's glorious beyond all, there do I see thine infinite wisdom, and infinite power, and infi∣nite justice, and infinite mercy, and infinite faithfulness, and the Lord knows that all the glory of the creatures hath been darkned in my eyes since the Lord hath shewed me the glory of His Gospel, Can you say so? This is a good evidence that the Gospel is a saving Gospel to your souls, if you stand and ad∣mire at the glory of God in the Gospel; Certainly there's none though never so weak in parts, yet if so be that God hath revea∣led Himself in the Gospel to them, they see that which makes them stand and admire at God, and darkens all the world in their eyes; have you seen the Gospel thus? then it is to you the glorious Gospel of the blessed God: and in the 2 Cor. 4. 4. In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which be∣leeve not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine into them: Oh reade over this Scripture again and again, The God of this world hath blinded their minds. Mark, compare this Scrip∣true with that I said before of Christ, that His Kingdom is not of this world, but the Devil is called the God of this world, note this, he hath blinded the minds of them which beleeve not, if any which live under the Gospel beleeve not, it is be∣cause the Devil as he prevails in the world and by worldly things, by the pomp and vanity of the world he hoodwinks the eyes of those which beleeve not, lest the light of the glori∣ous Gospel of Christ who is the express Image of God should shine into them, Oh the Devil is loth that the gloriou Gos∣pel should shine into the hearts of men; he is content that they should come and hear the Gospel, but he labors to keep off the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, that it shine not into them, for he know when once it hath shined into mens hearts, then all the glory of the world will be darkned in their eyes, and they will admire then at nothing but Christ; Oh none but Christ, none but Christ, Whom have I in Heaven but Christ? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of my dearest Savi∣our, who is the fairest of ten thousand; I never knew God before I Page 126 saw him in the face of Jesus Christ; and now I see God in the face of His Son, I see him in another way than ever I did; O the Gospel is a glorious Gospel, there is more of the glory of God in one sentence of the Gospel, than in all the Heavens and Earth beside; this we may boldly aver. Now our Conversations must be as becomes the Gospel, then there must be a glory in our Con∣versations, we must hold forth the Gospel in our Conversations: therefor Professors of the Gospel they should shine as lights in the world.
I beseech you mark this one Note. I remember in the close of all the last day, I shewed you, that the Saints and godly people are call'd, the glory of Jesus Christ Himself; surely you that are Professors of the Gospel should live so as to be the glory of the glorious Gospel, and what manner of persons ought we to be then? it's not enough that our Conversations be not defiled with the most filthy and abominable pollutions of the world, but our Conversations should be such as should be a glory to the glorious Gospel: Look in the Gospel, there shine the Attributes of God in glory, so in our lives there should be shining the glo∣rious Attributes of God, that all that behold our Conversations may admire the Attributes of God shining in our lives, and glorifie our Heavenly Father. Certainly a child of God that keeps close to God, and lives holily in his life, doth let out more of the glory of God shining before the world than the Sun in the Firmament; A Christian that professes the Gospel, and doth walk answerably to the Gospel, I say he is a more glo∣rious creature in this world than the Sun in the Firmament; certainly if we do but consider this, that we are appointed here in this world while we live, to hold forth the glory of the Go∣spel, to make it to be a glorious Gospel before all that we live among, it would cause another manner of Conversation than as yet we have.
But to wind up all in a few words of Application, more par∣ticularly (though all the way as I have gone I have labored to apply it) all that I shall say may be refer'd unto these two par∣ticulars.
And the first is, For the rebuking of those whose Conversations are not as becomes the Gospel.
Page 127 I appeal to your consciences, Do not your consciences in hea∣ring these things condemn you? If this be a Conversation be∣coming the Gospel, O Lord, how far are we from honoring the Gospel in our lives? for how do many of your Conversations disgrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ? you put Jesue Christ even to open shame by your Conversations; and such as you are, are blots to profession & stains to Religion, and the truth is, it had been better you had never bin born, if God doth not work upon your hearts in some measure before you die to recover the ho∣nor that you have taken away from this glorious Gospel. Gal. 2. compare the 11. vers. and the 14. together, and in the. 11. ver. you shall find Paul, when he did but see Peter to walk not as he ought to do, (saith he) I withstood Peter to his face: What's the matter? You shall see the cause in the 14. verse, (for saith he) He did not walk uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel: In that one particular (it seems) Peter was blame-worthy, O how was Pauls spirit stir'd! I resisted him to his face saith he. Though Peter was a glorious Apostle, yet because in that thing he did not walk according to the truth of the Gospel, Paul resisted him to his face. And are there any that make profession? and do you see that they walk not according to the truth of the Gospel? Resist them to their faces, though they be never so eminent, ei∣ther in Church or Common-wealth, to be head and shoulders above others, yet these are to be resisted to their face. Oh the Gospel was precious to the heart of Paul, and therfore he could not bear, no not a Peter, not to walk according to the truth of the Gospel. Oh how many! how many are there among you that do not walk according to the truth of the Gospel? Now the Lord cause your consciences this day to resist you to your faces, and to speak in secret to you, and to convince you of the dread∣ful evil that you are guilty of: is such a Conversation as you walk in such as become the Gospel? I remember I have read a story, you shal find it in Richard the first, when he prevailed in warr, and took a Bishop, the Bishop of Bevoice, the Pope was angry, and sends and expostulates with him, that he would pre∣sume to meddle with one of his Sons, and imprison him. The King sent this answer again to the Pope: He takes the Habergion and other warlike instruments that the Bishop had, and sends Page 128 them to the Pope with these words; See, Is this thy Sons Coat? is it fit for him to wear such things as these? So I may say con∣cerning many professors, look upon their Conversations, and what is this the Coat? this the Conversation of the son of God? As that Richard the first, thought it such an unbeseeming thing for a Bishop to have warlike instruments about him, and to be taken clad in armor. On 'tis an unbeseeming thing for such as profess the Gospel of Christ, to have instruments of death about them, to have wicked Conversations, to live in wicked and un∣godly waies, Oh! 'tis not Christs Livery, not the Coat of one that professes godliness: Certainly there must be another man∣ner of Conversation than this.
And therefore to close all in a word or two of Exhortation. Oh that God would move our hearts now by what we have heard, to labor to honor the glorious Gospel that we do pro∣fess, O that that worthy Name (in Jam. 2. 7.) may not be blas∣phemed by wicked men; Oh let not that worthy Name of God and Christ (which you profess) be blasphemed for your sakes, but walk wor∣thy of that worthy Name of the Lord, and of his Christ, and of his Go∣spel. My brethren, know that when you undertake the profes∣sion of the Gospel, you undertake a great matter; do not come to the profession of the Gospel and look upon it as if it were a slight matter; 'tis a great matter, the profession of the Gospel: In 1 Tim. 2. 10. it is a good Scripture for women, he speaks of women, that they should walk as those that do profess godliness, such should preach the contents of the Gospel in an Evangelical be∣havior before others, they should therefore bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, or meet for repentance: Hath the Lord wrought upon your hearts, to chang your minds and turn your hearts to him? O then bring forth fruits worthy of repentance; that is, your Conversations must be worthy of the Gospel, and that is fruit worthy of repentance: and in Acts, 26. 20. Works meet for repentance. Oh you say, you have repented you of your sins: the word that is translated there repentance; it is, change of mind: Oh hath God changed your mind? Then let there be works worthy of this change of mind.
Page 129 And divers motives there should have been named for the stir∣ring up of your hearts to walk worthy of the Gospel: O con∣sider what's this Gospel you profess, the Scripture cals it as here the Gospel of Christ: So the Gospel of the grace of God, Act. 20. 24.
It's a Gospel by which you are begotten, 1 Cor. 4. 15.
Thirdly, It's the Gospel of your salvation, Ephes. 1. 13.
And fourthly, It's an everlasting Gospel, Revel. 14. 6.
And then as you had it before, a glorious Gospel.
Oh walk worthy of this Gospel that you have got so much good by. I appeal to you any that have had the Gospel wor∣king upon your hearts, Have not you got so much good by the Gospel that you would not part withal for ten thousand worlds? Oh then walk worthy of that Gospel, seeing you have got so much good by it. And I beseech you consider that motive in the text, Only let your Conversation be as it becomes the Gospel of Christ. [Only] as if the Apostle should say, the Gospel hath many things that darkens it, and many adversaries that do oppose it, Oh but, Only let your Conversation be as it becomes the Gospel; you need care for nothing that opposeth, so you walk worthy of the Gospel, only let your Conversation, be as becomes the Gospel. Now what a many enemies hath the Gospel at this day? and what errors and divisions are there to ecclipse this Evangelical Sun? Why now, Only let your Conversation be as it becomes the Gospel: That is, in these times wherein there is so much done against the Gospel, as if the Apostle should say, Let all Devils and wicked men do what they can they shall never prevail against the Gospel, if your Conversations be as becomes the Gospel; this is enough to stand out against all that is done against the Gospel: Oh me thinks this argument should be a prevailing argument. Oh! do not your hearts bleed when you hear what opposition is made against the glorious Gospel of Christ that should be ten thousand times deerer than your lives? here's the way that the Gospel should stand a∣gainst Hell, and the gates of Hell, all counsels of the enemy shall not prevail against the Gospel, if your Conversations be as becomes the Gospel, This will do it. And mark what Paul saith, he looks upon it as a thing thing dearer than his life, to walk so as might further the Gospel, 1 Cor. 9. 12. We suffer all thingsPage 130 (saith he) lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ: Mark, (as if he should say) Oh 'tis more dear than our lives a thousand times, we will do any thing, and suffer any thing; Oh the Apostles spirit was filled with the sweetness of the Gospel, he had found the good of it. And here in this Scripture he saith, Oh what shall I do? what shall I suffer that I may not hinder the Gospel? Let them do any thing that possibly can be to me, or take what they will from me, I crave not, we suffer all things that the Gospel may not be hindred.
Now you will neither do nor suffer for the Gospel, you will not part with a base lust that the Gospel may not be hindred; one professor being overtaken with an apparent sin may do more hurt to the Gospel than he can do good all his life, let him live as long as Methuselah; that sin of yours that is so dear to you, Will not you part with it? it will hinder the Gospel, Oh wilt not thou part with thy sin, when any temptation comes to sin? Let every one of you that profess you love the Gospel, but think thus, Oh but shall I not hinder the Gospel if I listen and yeild to this temptation? indeed this will bring me a great deal of comfort and content, and I shall get so much by it; Oh but will it not obstruct the Gospel? the very thought of this that it pos∣sibly may hinder the Gospel, should cause your hearts to rise with indignation against that temptation, and cast out that sin; God forbid that I should meddle with that sin which wil hinder the Gospel. And therefore in Act. 20, 24. the Apostle professes, that his life is not dear to him, so be it he might but further the Gospel: And in 1 Cor. 9. from the 12. vers. to the 23. he professes there, he would become all things to all men, he would be a servant to any man, and yeeld to all things that he could, so be it he might not sin against God, to be never so vile in the eyes of men, and all that he might but further the Gospel. Oh that it were but so in our hearts. We reade of an excellent commendations of one, in the 2 of Cor. 8. 18. That his praise is in the Gospel in all the Churches. Oh this is an excel∣lent thing, when it can be said of a Professor of Religion (it may be this man hath not any great commendation for parts, no but) his praise is in the Gospel. As the Saints of God and all the Churches of God that knew him, they highly commended him, Why? Because that the Gospel is furthered by him, his Page 131 praise is in the Gospel: this we should labor al of us what pos∣sibly we can. My brethren, what a mercy is it, that God should account any thing that we do worthy of the Gospel! Mark the Text, Why, can we poor worms do any thing worthy of the Gospel? I but though you can do but little, God will account your endeavours even worthy of the Gospel. John saith, that he was unworthy to loose the latchet of Christs shoe, nor worthy to carry the shoe of Christ•: Then, are we such as can walk wor∣thy of the glorious Gospel? Oh 'tis Gods infinit goodness that shal account us to be worthy of the Gospel. The Apostles did not account themselves worthy to suffer for the Gospel, Acts, 5. 41. And shall God account us to do that which is worthy of his Gospel? Oh this should be a mighty encouragement to us, to walk worthy of the Gospel. And there is an notable encouraging text, in Luke, 21. 36. Walk worthy of the Gospel: And then you shall see what God will account you worthy of: Watch ye therefore, and pray alwaies, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to passe, and to stand before the Son of Man. Watch and Pray, be watchful in all your con∣verse, keep your communion with God close: What will be the fruit of this? That ye may be accounted worthy to escape these things: that is, the many afflictions, dangers, and evils that shall come upon the world, you shall escape the evil of them at least. And to stand before the Son of Man. Here's a nota∣ble Scripture to quicken up our hearts to walk conscionably and strictly in our Conversation, watch over your waies, stand upon your guard, and pray, that you may be accounted worthy to stand before the Son of Man: Why? Is there any that can stand before the Son of Man in glory? or that shal be accoun∣ted worthy to stand before Him? Yes, a godly and gracious man or woman that walks conscionably in their Conversation, when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, they shal be able to stand before Him, and be accounted worthy. Oh then, let your Conversation be as becomes the Gospel, and you shall be accounted by God, worthy to stand before the Son of Man. Jesus Christ▪ He walks towards you as becomes a Mediator; yea Christ doth al things that are sutable to His relations, as a Husband, as a Sa∣vior: Oh do you all things that are sutable to your relations.
Page 132 And for the close of all, I beseech you lay but to heart the great Design that God hath in the Gospel, think thus with thy self, Surely the Work of God in the Gospel is a glorious Work: Well then: surely God hath some great Design that He drives on in the Gospel. What is it? Let me labor to serve it whatso∣ever in me lieth. Now if you reade in the Gospel you shall find that the Design that God hath, it is, To purchase to Himself, a pe∣culiar people, zealous of good works: to promote holiness and godliness, that we being redeemed from the hands of our enemies, might serve him in holiness and righteousness all the daies of our lives. This is the Design that God hath: I see that Mankind is fallen from me, and the people in the world are generally fallen into wickedness, the whole world lieth in wickedness, over head and ears in sin; but I would have holiness advanced, I would have my Image renewed, I would have a peculiar people that might live for ever to serve and worship me: Here's the Design of God: Oh let me now serve this design of God, and labor to do all that I can to serve, and honor, and blesse, and mag∣nifie that God that hath wrought such glorious things for us, as He hath wrought in the Gospel. And as Christ saith in Mat. 3. when He came to be paptized of John, It becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Now shall the Lord Jesus Christ Himself say thus, It becomes us to fulfill all righteousness; surely then it becomes you to fulfil al righteousness. Would you walk as be∣comes the Gospel? Give up your hearts, strength, and endea∣vors what possibly you can to fulfill all righteousness, do not say, Why should I do thus? and why need we be so forward and strict? Oh remember the text; If any talk of too much strictness, and too much forwardness; then answer thus; I heard in such a place such a Text opened and applied to me, that my Conversation must be as it becomes the Gospel; and certainly let me do what I can, I cannot do so much but that the Gospel will require ten thousand times more than I can do, and therfore I do endeavor to walk as becoms the Gospel: And I hear that Christ Himself saith, that it became Him to fulfil all righteousness; And why should not I walk as Christ Himself walked? O my life hath bin too vain heretofore, my heart hath been dead, and I have not been quickned up so as to walk wor∣thy Page 133 of the Gospel; but for the time to come my care and en∣deavor above all things in the world, shall be, That I may ho∣nor this glorious GOSPEL of Jesus Christ, from whom I do expect to have such glorious things hereafter.
Consider now what hath been said, and the Lord give you understanding in these things, that you may be kept blameless unto the coming of our Lord JESUS CHRIST.